Every year, five emerging Ottawa-area artists are selected to participate in SAW Video’s mentorship program, JumpstART. The program gives them the equipment, advice, and moral support that can be hard to come by for new filmmakers. This year’s batch of artists will be screening their works Thursday night at Club SAW. Ottawa Magazine’s Emma Paling caught up with SAW Video’s administrative coordinator, Lesley Marshall, for background on the program.
The five artists will be showing and discussing their works at a free screening at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7. Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St., http://www.sawvideo.com.
How did the JumpstART program start?
The JumpstART program was a part of SAW Gallery when we were one organization, SAW, and it was an emerging artist program specifically for people who have never created a video before. We worked with crossover artists coming from a painting or visual arts background. Or people who were amateur artists, before they were even emerging. If this was the first time they’d ever picked up a video camera, this was designed for them. In 2009 we reshaped the program as a mentorship to help incubate those first works. We had really seen what the challenges were in getting emerging artists to create that first work. It can be really difficult and they needed more support than just the equipment access we were able to give them.
Other than the obvious financial barriers, what other challenges do emerging filmmakers face?
Learning the institutional mumbo-jumbo and language around applying for grants can be a deterrent. Our grants are usually the first grants artists apply for before they apply for city-wide grants, Ontario Arts Council grants or the Canada Council grants, which are the biggest grants you can get in Canada. Grants like ours can really help artists get contacts in the arts world. We offer hands-on training on how to dissect the process around applying for grants and the individual steps it takes to create a grant application. It can be quite extensive, especially for video.
How do you select the filmmakers?
For each of the grants we select a jury to choose the recipients. They have to be able to create and finish the work in the Ottawa area, or at least the eastern Ontario or western Quebec area. We select the jury from previous members and previous grant recipients. The projects also have to fit into the one-year timeline given for the JumpstART program.
How many applicants do you get per year?
It’s really wide-ranging. It depends on whether or not Canada’s in a recession, because more artists may be looking for work. For instance, this year there are 12 applications, last year there were 9, and the year before that there were 28. It really goes up and down and is always pretty competitive.
What’s special about this year’s crop of filmmakers?
This year’s great because there are a wide range of projects. Although it is a bit more documentary-focused, the ways the projects are being exhibited is pretty interesting. We have one installation piece, which is experimental animation about an immigrant experience in Canada. Adam Meisner’s video uses a verbatim theatre approach to tell the story of how his parents were married, but through the perspective of the queer community.