by Dave Stewart
Dave Ward is one of those guys that everyone in the Island’s filmmaking community knows—tall, ponytailed, on-hand to help everybody with their projects, a Jack-of-all-filmmaking-trades. But not everyone knows much more about him than that. Until now…
Dave Stewart: What’s your filmmaking background?
Dave Ward: I started in University. I worked in the UPEI AV Department where I was also enrolled in an experimental multi-disciplinary arts course called the “Pilot Project”. From there I took 16mm film workshops in Toronto with the Toronto Independent Filmmakers Co-op. When I got back to PEI, I started working with a group project run by the PEI Home & School Association, producing video documentary pieces on education for cable. After that it was working with Points East Productions and other independent and commercial companies as crew.
Stewart: Can you give us an idea of roles you’ve played on other people’s projects?
Ward: IMAC, when it started, was a 16mm film co-op. It created a lot of opportunities for people to shoot their own films in a professional medium. I always looked at filmmaking as a labour of love and for that reason, I gave freely of myself to others who were making their own films. Actually it was the spirit of the time. I’ve been involved in dozens of projects in various capacities, doing sound, director of photography, camera, camera assist, lighting, sound cutting, picture editing, sound mix supervisor, etc. I was even Director of Photography on PEI’s first dramatic feature film, Unspoken, directed by Tony Larder.
Stewart: How many films have you made?
Ward: Altogether I’ve made about a dozen 16mm short pieces. I’m working on another two. As well, I have a handful of documentary video projects to my name.
Stewart: Retrieval sticks out in your filmography…
Ward: Retrieval is about a sculptor, Don Tryon, who after being away for five years, retrieves an unfinished sandstone carving to complete it. Unfortunately, before the sculpture was finished, he left town to attend to his dying father, then the piece disappeared. I never saw Don again and the carving’s whereabouts was unknown. So the film looked further into the works of the sculptor, his creative psyche and it ends on this mystery. I didn’t find out until a year after completing the film that Don had committed suicide. Although this film is a positive look at creation and the spirit of creativity, one realizes that in the aftermath, there’s (for those who know) an ominous tone.
Stewart: How has filmmaking changed on PEI over the years?
Ward: First there’s the coming and embracing of digital technologies. For Island filmmakers, digital video has created a revolution that has put more equipment in to the hands of many more people. There is a whole generation of Island digital video artists making a name for themselves and an impact on the Canadian scene. Also there is the coming of the Island Media Arts Festival. IMAF was able to put on nine screenings across the Island, showing only films by Islanders. IMAF also has sparked connections. Filmmakers from all across the Island are now discovering each other. As well, the different generations of filmmakers are now interacting.