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Fall workshops: PEI Crafts Council

The PEI Crafts Council presents fall workshops at their new location at 98 Water St, Charlottetown:  [ ... ]

A Course in Miracles

Every Friday evening at 7 pm a group meets for an in depth study and discussion of the text “A Cou [ ... ]

Louise Lalonde

Island Imagemakers
by Dave Stewart

Louise LalondeDave: How did you get involved in filmmaking?

Louise: At the age of 48, I found myself at a crossroads when a friend came along and offered me a producer assistant job on a feature film being shot in Halifax, The Magic of Marciano, starring Nastassja Kinski.I’ve never seen the final cut, and as far as I know, it never even made it to video, but that doesn’t matter because by the end of the eight-week contract, I had the bug. I knew I had stumbled onto a real opportunity to combine my lifelong interest in photography with my work experience.Now, all I had to do was figure out how to go about it.

As the next logical step, I applied and was accepted to the Film and Television Production Program at the Trebas Institute in Toronto, and I spent a year there learning about the industry.This was in the year 2000 when we knew something was going to happen with web productions, but nobody was quite sure how anybody was going to make money, kind of like it still is today.I found it a fairly steep learning curve to really understanding this industry’s system of financing and the procedures associated with the beast, and I really admire people who can make this industry work for them.

While I was at the Trebas Institute, it also became clear to me that what interested me the most was screenwriting.I have five feature-length scripts in the works and all at varying stages, but these five seem to have passed the test of time and I keep going back to them as my main body of work. It took a while for me to realize what a long process it can be to develop a script from seed to shooting script and to find the money to produce it.You can’t be in too much of a rush, and you have to learn and practice your craft every day.

Dave: How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?

Louise: I still have a lot to learn.Directing is not for the faint of heart. I’ve directed a few shorts, some on Super 16, some on video, some on green screen on HD—all of them with very different challenges.It boils down to having a vision and holding your ground not matter what happens.You have to be prepared to fight the necessary battles and until you have some serious money to work with, learn to beg and borrow.I’ve discovered that I’m not crazy about being on set during production, but I would love to write the script and have someone of my choice direct the film.That could work out well since the writer is usually banished from the set once the director takes over.That’s how I feel right now, and that could all change tomorrow.I’ve recently had a revelation that I’m finding some experimental work that I like.It feels good to know I still have an open mind.

The scripts that I’m developing are the kind of films that I want to make.One thing I would like to state categorically is that there will never be a weapon in any of my films and no one will ever be murdered.My favourite genre is comedy, but my ultimate favourite is when you have a blend of drama and comedy.Those are the kinds of movies I would like to make.

Dave: Of the projects you’ve directed, which are your favourties?

Louise: My favourite project for sure is Looking for Mr. Right, a five-minute Super 16 mm short that is a quiet  nod to Looking for Mr. Goodbar, a 1977 socially relevant film about sexual deviance that left a lasting impression on me.Another film that made me stand up and pay attention was My Brilliant Career, an Australian independent film that was a beautifully produced story.Somewhere between those two films are the films that I would like to write and very possibly direct.In my opinion, creating shorts is the absolute most important step in advancing your career either as a writer, director, or any crew position, and shorts are difficult to write.Mostly they are based on activities around an incident so that there’s no time for character development, and the best shorts are usually twelve minutes or under and disturbing or funny.

I had a lot of fun making a short documentary of Chris Corrigan, in 2007 when he won an East Coast Music Award for Musician of the Year.The documentary also won a challenge from the Island Media Arts Coop for best ECMA documentary that year. 

Dave: What other film-related work have you done?

Louise: The Canadian Antiques Show is where I learned how to herd people, which might come in handy some day if I ever shoot a reality show.I did a lot of craft services work for the first couple of years, and I was always heartened by the stories I heard of how just about everyone in the crew right up to the production manager had done some craft services work to get where they were.So, encouraged, I continued to soldier on.The first non-student video I produced was a French re-enactment of an Acadian tradition through the Arts Smarts Program, which is a fantastic program for learning through the arts.

Dave: Tell us about your Bootcamp.

Louise: After attending the Trebas Institute, I found that there was nothing available in terms of mentoring and training for emerging screenwriters.Everyone wanted you to have screen credits before they’d invest in you, but you really needed the mentoring before you could get the credits.This gave me the idea to develop a project through the Island Media Arts Coop that would be fully funded and barrier-free to writers from Atlantic Canada who have a flair for writing and a solid idea for either a feature length script, teleplay, adaptation, or series.

What we have now is the PEI Screenwriters’ Bootcamp that runs for five days and provides intensive mentoring in developing an idea through to the stage of writing a treatment for a feature or an outline for a web or television series.Our aim is to bring in the best teachers we can find and ensure that the writers who are invited to attend are here to advance their careers. A big part of Bootcamp is also to introduce the writers to pitching their ideas in order to secure the interest of a producer and funding, so on the last day, we bring in producers and broadcasters to meet with the participants and hear their ideas.

Once these writers have been through Bootcamp they are then better equipped to apply to other programs such as Inspired Scripts at the Atlantic Film Festival and the National Screen Institute to get to the next stage of their professional development.Our workshops are made up of small groups and only open to writers from Atlantic Canada and each province helps their respective constituents with expenses.Our main funders are Telefilm Canada and Innovation PEI as well as the Independent Production Fund, Astral Media, and the Bell Fund and their goal is to develop a pool of talented Canadian writers telling Canadian stories.As we enter our sixth year, we are seeing incredible success with several writers obtaining development money.

Dave: Where can we see some of your work?

Louise: You can view Looking for Mr. Right onthe Island Film Factory site www.islandfilmfactory.com/works. Other works are available through the Island Media Arts Coop film library and the spoken word piece, Hole in My Heart, based on a poem by Laurel Smyth is in post and should be ready for screening at this spring’s Island Media Arts Festival.My biggest challenge yet this year has been to learn to shoot on green screen, which is certainly what I did on this last project.I learned all the things NOT to do, and it has been exceptionally unnerving, but I have a genius editor, Dave Bennett, working on it.  So, I’m hopeful.

Dave: What’s in the future?

Louise: I will keep on writing every spare moment that I have and keep networking until someone pays attention or die trying.The PEI Screenwriters’ Bootcamp will continue to be an annual event and I’m hoping that we can develop the training components further and offer online introductory training sessions as well as an incubator program that would follow a writer through the all the steps in developing a final draft of a script or bible for a series.

As much as things are changing in the industry, much is staying the same since you can’t have a good product without a good script and that means that screenwriters will always hold the key to a successful production whether it’s on the silver screen, television or the web.Even reality television requires some scripting.  I’m not a fan of reality tv, but I will admit that I’m hooked on The Amazing Race, and I even have a wager on this current one.I have an idea for a cooking show that has been simmering for a while and I’m hoping to pitch it to the right broadcaster soon and make it happen.Of course, in the midst of all this, I have to earn a living, so, until I get my big break, I continue to look for work in media production.

Joey Weale

Island Imagemakers
by Dave Stewart

Joey WealeJoey Weale has been a part of PEI’s film and theatre scene for longer than you’d think, both onstage/on camera and behind the scenes. What’s uniquely characteristic about Joey’s film work here on the Island, to this point, is his use of Super 8 film stock to create short action oriented films that are completely without dialogue.

Dave: How’d you get started filmmaking?

Joey: Back when I was going to UPEI Steve Balderston did a class on Super 8 filmmaking at the Arts Guild. I made a film called Death by Frisbee. Then I bought a Super 8 camera, and in a few years made a film called Flagwar. Dave Moses was very supportive of the film, and hired me at Moses Media where I’ve worked ever since as the cameraman.

Dave: How would you describe your filmmaking style?

Joey: I like to do it all myself! That’s why Super 8 works so good for me. It’s just me, the camera, and the actors. No sound, no lights, and you can go, go, go. So, it’s not a very polished thing I go for. I think many of my favourite films have a bit of dreamlike quality to them, so I’m drawn to that. I like a lot of action and a lot of moving bodies. I like long takes and tracking shots, and just letting the actors do their thing in real space and time. I base everything, including the writing, around the actors. I find it impossible to finish writing or planning for a project unless I know who’s going to be in it.

Dave: Tell us about your film work.

Joey: Flagwar was about a giant game of Capture the Flag on the streets of Charlottetown. Home Guard was about armed conflict in a snowy rural community, but it’s very similar to Flagwar in a lot of ways. They’re both about thirty minutes long, silent, Super 8, and action based, with huge casts of people running around and falling on the ground. My latest project is a big departure because there’s sound and dialogue, its shot in HD, there’s a cast of four, and no one dies, except a tree. It will be done in November, and it will be interesting to see if it feels at all like the others when it’s done. I’ve also shot a lot of Sketch-22’s videos, and I helped shoot Vast by Harmony Wagner and Jason Rogerson’s Lucky 7, both of which are in the Atlantic Film Festival. I collaborated with Mille (Clarkes) on a Nudie and the Turks video too.

Dave: Where can we see your films?

Joey: In Steve Balderston’s attic! That’s a joke, but I’m really behind the times, and they’re not on the web yet. I used to dislike the whole idea of people watching them on their computer, but I’m going to break down and get a Vimeo account. This latest project I’m now completing will be on the Charlottetown City web site along with works by four other filmmakers awarded funding for the city’s Cultural Capitol of Canada designation. After that, I’ll probably focus on some other aspects of my life for a while, read a novel, and maybe then something will come to me. If all else fails, I’ll just do a Flagwar sequel.

PEI Music Videos

Island Image Makers
by Dave Stewart

On the set of Racoon Bandit’s “Hat” video directed by Adam Perry. (photo: Mille Clarkes)With the ECMAs taking place here on PEI this month, it seemed fitting for Island Image Makers to get all music-like and focus on Island music videos. I asked some of the folks who’d previously been the subject of an Island Image Maker profile for their picks for favourite PEI music videos. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Peter G. Murphy: Racoon Bandit – Hat. ‘Cause it’s got Johnny Mack in it.

Adam Perry: Two Hours Traffic – Territory, directed by Jeremy Larter. The most controversial PEI music video ever made. So controversial it was never released and no one saw it save a handful of people. THT goes for a jog with Dennis Trainor. Need I say more?

Millefiore Clarkes: How ’bout Boxer the Horse – Bad Apples – beautifully shot by PEI’s best cinematographer (in my opinion) – Ray Lavers – directed by up and coming director Gavin Keen (who has a keen eye). Richie Mitchell has done some good work also – Treaty Connector by The Danks – shot at the Montague Elementary School… and by the way…I was one of the few to see the THT music video for Territory (I was on B camera for the shoot) and it is/was a damn brilliant video. Minor tragedy that the band/band manager put the kybosh on it. Alas.

Jeremy Larter: In no particular order: Racoon Bandit – Hat directed by Adam Perry. A simple and perfectly realized concept. Boxer the Horse – Bad Apples directed by Gavin Keen. The video has great energy and is beautiful to look at. Smothered in Hugs – Passmore Radio directed by Mille Clarkes. Some of the best live performance footage I’ve seen. Great editing. Two Hours Traffic – Happiness Burns directed by Richie Mitchell. Slick, nice photography, captures what it feels like to be a kid and defend your fort in the woods. Nudie and the Turks – Dear Departed directed by Mille Clarkes and Joey Weale. Highly underrated video by Mille and Joey. I don’t know if Mille likes it but I think it has a wonderful atmosphere with the gritty black and white 16mm film stock.

All these videos are worthy of your time. Look for other videos by Island musicians there including The Living End, the video that Sketch-22’s Rob MacDonald and I slammed together for our “ponk” (pop-punk) duo Chimp with essential assistance from Jason Rogerson; in it, you’ll see a Charlottetown that doesn’t exist anymore. Rob’s also got some videos on YouTube as Moe Gorman, so give that a search to discover an Island tradition of publicly denouncing in song those who’ve done you wrong.

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Adam Perry

Island Image Makers
by Dave Stewart

Starving artist Adam PerryAdam Perry is part of a small but choice group of PEI filmmakers I first became aware of about 5 years ago. They were (are) all making interesting, mostly short flicks that reflected PEI with a more wide-reaching sense of humour. Recently, Adam worked with Chef Michael Smith and the Culinary Alliance of Prince Edward Island to create “Food Country,” a web series showcasing Island eats. Adam is also the man behind Jiggers; to my way of thinking, it’s one of the ultimate Island films. With this CV, how could I not want to know more about Adam, so I had to ask:

Dave: What got you into film making?

Adam: Watching movies, of course. I’ve always loved stories, characters, and photography. Filmmaking was a natural step for me.

Dave: How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?

Adam: Tough question. One word that gets thrown around a lot is “quirky,” but that usually pertains to my work. I’m just a guy with an odd sense of humor that is fortunate enough to be surrounded by some really talented people that like to work for peanuts and credits.

Dave: How has PEI influenced you as a filmmaker?

Adam: It’s given me some beautiful locations to exploit and some of the most colorful characters to draw upon when creating fictional ones.

Dave: Which of your projects would you most like people to see? Why?

Adam: Without a doubt, Zapped! A 30-minute action movie I made years ago with no money and a borrowed camera. The picture and sound quality are terrible, but it taught me a lot about the process and the end product is an adventure I’d love to revisit someday. No one saw it, but it’s floating around the dark voids of Youtube somewhere.

Dave: Where can we see your stuff?

Adam: For those of you that want to type out these links the old fashioned way:

Food Country: www.foodcountry.ca

Jiggers: www.jiggers.ca

ProfilePEI: www.profilepei.com

I also have some music videos and short films online here:

http://vimeo.com/user1316245/videos

Dave: What’s next for you?

Adam: Supper and then probably some Wii.

JoDee Samuelson

Island Image Makers
by Dave Stewart

Filmmaker/animator JoDee Samuelson sailing in Charlottetown Harbour, “just floating along, letting others do the work”Dave Stewart: So, what got you into filmmaking?

JoDee Samuelson: My friend Vian Emery phoned me to say there was an animation workshop at the Island Media Arts Coop and was I interested. At the time I was substitute teaching, and I thought anything would be better than that. I think this workshop was a JDP (Remember those?). We got paid a stipend to show up and draw every day. It was fabulous. Aileen Brophy was the instructor and it’s because of her that I really got going. She was so beautiful and such a great artist. I loved hanging out with her. Peter Richards also played an important part in my career. He was the coordinator of IMAC at the time. A very inspirational guy. I was so lucky to have these wonderful people around me at that important time. And of course Dave Ward, what would I have done without him? He taught me everything I know about 16 mm film.

Dave: How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?

JoDee: I am a beginner.

Dave: Why animation?

JoDee: I like to draw; I draw every day, so it seems a natural fit.

Dave: Any interest in trying live action?

JoDee: I’ve done a bit of writing and directing live action. It’s way more fun than animation. But I don’t know, it’s pretty intense and I'm kind of a hermit.

Dave: You’ve developed a relationship with the NFB. What has that been like?

JoDee: It’s been cordial. Animators used to work full time for the NFB, with dental benefits and all that. Those days are gone. Everything now with NFB is by contract; you have to have your own company which means doing payroll and monthly tax contributions. It’s a lot of trouble. On the other hand, animating every day year after year is hard on the back, shoulders, eyes. Those old animators who made those fabulous films like The Big Snit, Bead Game, Sandcastle, The Street, The Owl Who Married a Goose…so many more…these artists certainly earned any retirement perks they might enjoy. I don’t put myself in the same category as Carolyn Leaf or John Weldon or any of them. Those guys were creative geniuses.

Dave: What films of yours would you most like people to see? Why?

JoDee: All four of them (The Bath, The Sandbox, Mabel’s Saga, Uncle Bob’s Hospital Visit)! They’re all different and all the same. A well-known Nova Scotia cameraman, Kent Nason, says that we keep making the same film over and over again.

Dave: What’s next for you?

JoDee: I’ve been lounging around for a year, doing art just for the fun of it. I’m giving my eyes a break. My last two films were done at a computer and I find staring at the monitor very tiring. Last year I was painting portraits of my neighbors. Lately I’m into carving owls. Not realistic owls, but kind of folk art owls. It’s as much fun as I’ve ever had. Standing outside whacking at a chunk of wood is very rewarding. But I’ll probably do one more film.

To see some of JoDee’s work, logon to www.onf-nfb.gc.ca.

Dave Ward

Island Imagemakers
by Dave Stewart

Dave Ward in the Island Media Arts Council officesDave 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.

Mille Clarkes

Island Imagemakers
by Dave Stewart

Mille ClarkesMille (pronounced Mill-ah) Clarkes helps other filmmakers get their projects done. And if there’s a film festival or screening happening on PEI, it’s generally a safe bet to assume that Mille is involved. She’s a smart, thoughtful person who’s deeply interested in telling stories. Here’s part of her’s:

Dave: What lead you to filmmaking?

Mille: Happenstance and serendipity. A confluence of forces. One day I made a super-8 experimental film, and ten years later I call myself a filmmaker.

Dave: And what lead you to PEI?

Mille: Being only 11, I had no choice but to follow my father when he moved here. The streets of Toronto are mean to a pre-teen.

Dave: What attracts you to documentary filmmaking?

Mille: I was thinking about that the other day. It’s amazing how many forces work upon your life and only looking back can you see how they accumulated to shape your world. When I was a teenager I worried about my tendencies to be an “observer.” At the time this seemed like a shortcoming; being an “observer” meant I wasn’t an “act-er.” Now it’s that very same passion for observing that informs my practice. I was also a great lover of “other people’s worlds.” As a child I used to stay with friends and their families for days on end, absorbing their familial culture, smelling their smells, feeling their rhythms… I always loved entering in and out of worlds. I think these two factors (and a million more) have drawn me to documentary as a form of expression.

Dave: How would you describe your filmmaking style?

Mille: Organic. Filmmaking is a difficult medium, there are so many elements that go into each moment on screen that unless you have a million dollars and a highly professional crew willing to work for your vision, it can be a challenge to convey what is exactly in your head. Since I’m working independently and with modest budgets, I try to pare things down to the basics. There is a great communicative strength in attempting to convey something within the limitations you are given. I think meaning comes from the tension between elements. Many of the amazing new technological tools at our disposal today actually detract, rather than add to a filmic expression. Some of the best moments on film come from what is left out, what is suggested rather than revealed.

Dave: Which of your projects should people see to get a sense of you as a filmmaker?

Mille: Stalking Love was my first major work. It is a documentary about love and it will always be my quintessential film (See it at www.OneThousandFlowers.tv- Ed). Also short experimental works like If My Silence and Crows and Branches (playing at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival—Ed).

Dave: What’s next for you?

Mille: I’m deep into the production of a new feature documentary and web series entitled The Telling. It is a portrait of a place and its people. That place is Prince Edward Island. It should be out in Spring 2011. Being a filmmaker on PEI at this juncture is a good thing indeed. Our media arts community is strong and strikingly prolific. I feel like there is a critical mass… amassing; I’m happy to be a part of it.

John Hopkins

Imagemakers
by Dave Stewart

A youthful John HopkinsI’ve known John for a long time through osmosis via the local film community. I’ve seen some of his projects, I’ve been a member of the Island Media Arts Co-op with him, and I’ve had chats with him, but I’ve never gotten in-depth with him about what makes him tick film-wise. Here, in less than 550 words, is an attempt to get at the tip of the iceburg.

Dave: I imagine you grew up in a very creative environment. Can you tell me about that?

John: My whole life from Day One has all been about the act of art, and notions of creative concepts. Hilda Woolnough, my mother, was a dedicated full-time professional artist, and we’ve always had a studio everywhere we lived, and original art works about the house. Reshard Gool, my mother’s partner, was a poet and novelist and had an amazing vinyl jazz collection, so it was an “arts and letters” household.

Dave: What lead you to filmmaking?

John: I came to media through Martin Dorrell who was an executive producer for CBC Radio here. I worked as a freelance radio journalist. My training was very simple: “This is a micro-phone, and this is a tape recorder. And this is audio tape and a cutting-block. You take this razor and you cut. That is called an ‘edit.’ Then you tape the two pieces together. Now go out there lad, and good luck.” And with that he was gone and that was it, the 5 minutes that changed my life in this direction.

Dave: Tell me about your filmmaking and some of your projects…

John: I’m interested in stories that take us out of our perspective of what we think is going on in a dramatic or doc and then turn that inside out. All of my projects reveal parts of me, and what I am interested in, and I express them through the stories I tell as per my experience, and evolution of stages in my life. Portfolio was about time management and a loss of control, and about my dream of developing as an artist and an image-maker. Johnston was again about how one’s destiny is out of one’s hands, as pre-determined by the cogs and wheels of the society we live in. With Timepiece, I’ve broken away from those themes, and made a very personal film about my mother and about a person who is an example of how one can coalesce a lifetime of experience and failings in one’s experiments in creativity, and how that can be turned into an artwork of magnitude built upon “accidents and mistakes,” as Hilda described them.

Dave: What’s next for you?

John: My company, Square Deal Productions Atlantic Inc., has begun developing a new series on flyfishing for Atlantic Salmon, spanning two continents and cultures born of the same roots and history (cosmosquestproductions.com). I’ve been in discussions with the National Film Board and the Province on a documentary from the perspective of inshore Island fishers. I’m also going to do a second film on Hilda based on seven diaries I found in her studios, and I’m continuing to shoot TV commercials to allow me the income to keep the wolves at bay while I develop and make larger documentaries and series as described above.

Events Calendar

September 2018
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Some Upcoming Events

On the Bright Side

Barra MacNeils come to Harbourfront with new album October 5
Harbourfront Theatre  The Barra M [ ... ]

Summer 1993

Until September 26
City Cinema PG, some language, mature content
Dir: Carla Simón, Spain, 98 min. La [ ... ]

Pink Floyd tribute at Harbourfront

November 2
Harbourfront Theatre PIGS: Canada’s Pink Floyd will come to Harbourfront Theatre in Sum [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

Drawing the line

Profile: Sandy Carruthers by Jane Ledwell Retired for a year now after twenty-five years teaching  [ ... ]

Filmworks Summerside

Film series is back for 7th season Filmworks Summerside opens for their 7th season on September 12  [ ... ]

An Island wish

On August 23, 4 year old Cooper Coughlin will arrive on Prince Edward Island soil for a once in a li [ ... ]