Dene filmmaker Kelvin Redvers announced this week he is launching a new production company called IndigiFilm.
The Indigenous community has “a lot of creatives but there’s really not many Indigenous-owned production companies,” Redvers, from Hay River, told Cabin Radio on Thursday.
“If Indigenous creatives want to get their projects off the ground, they often have to partner with non-Indigenous production companies.”
IndigiFilm will be based in Vancouver and focus on Indigenous stories while making room to tell compelling stories of any origin.
“Of course we’re going to create really great Indigenous content, but it won’t be exclusively,” Redvers said. “I come from a mixed background – my mom is Dene and my dad is not Indigenous – and so we will also tell great stories, regardless of the subject matter.”
Redvers is excited to partner with industry veterans Mark Miller, co-founder of Great Pacific Media, and Neil Thomas, co-creator of the Discovery series Highway Thru Hell, on his latest venture.
“The feeling was that this is kind-of a great mix, where I’m on the younger side, sort-of a young, emerging producer, teamed up with some seasoned veterans who have a lot of business experience,” he said.
“We have everything that’s needed to create something that can be substantial and make an impact in the Canadian media market world, but also to the world.”
Redvers said in some ways, the project was years in the making.
“When I was a teenager in Hay River growing up, my dad had helped me to start a video production company, and so I would do little videos for local businesses and for First Nations,” he said. “I always had that sense of enjoying that process and doing things that way.
“For most of my life, I would also produce all the things that I made myself, like all my short films. It was a really good insight into just how much I enjoy the business side of things.”
Redvers said the best part about launching his own production company is the creative freedom that comes with it.
“It’s nice to have that feeling of autonomy … that we didn’t need to sell the idea to a non-Indigenous production company in order for it to get made.
“We’d also love to work on mentoring and bringing up some Indigenous talent as well, to be a place where Indigenous creatives can feel comfortable bringing their ideas, that they’ll be really heard and, if we take them on, that they’ll be told with respect.
“And yeah, down the road, Oscars and Emmys, for sure.”
Next film features Hay River
Redvers’ announcement follows his being turned away from a screening at May’s Cannes Film Festival for wearing moccasins with his tuxedo. He said at the time festival organizers had apologized.
The first production to come out of IndigiFilm will be Redvers’ existing feature film project Cold Road, shot partially in Hay River.
“It was a dream to be able to shoot my first feature in my hometown. A lot of times, indie low-budget features are a labour of love and to get them done, you need to count on a lot of support,” Redvers said.
“It wasn’t until we made the decision to switch to Hay River that everything kind-of clicked into place.”
Redvers fondly recalled working with high school students and other locals to bring his vision to life.
“It was just a joy because, when I was 15 or 16, I started basically doing exactly the same thing: pulling people from high school to be in my little silly short films at the time.”
Redvers said he’s looking forward to sharing IndigiFilm’s first feature in winter 2023.
“It’s gonna mean a lot to see that logo at the beginning of the movie.”