Kaayla Whachell (Submitted photo)

Woman from Abbotsford gets $20k Indigenous film grant

Laura’s Report will be Kaayla Whachell’s first directing role in several years

Kaayla Whachell was on set when she got the call to tell her she had won a $20,000 film grant.

“So I was running around, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, who’s this number?’ ” said Whachell, who is originally from Abbotsford but now works in Vancouver’s film industry.

“I had to go off set for five minutes just to scream and be excited and then go back to work.”

Whachell has worked on a number of projects through Storyhive, Telus’s platform to support and fund independent filmmakers, but Laura’s Report will be Whachell’s first in several years as a director, having worked mostly as cinematographer.

RELATED: Storyhive looking to fund Indigenous filmmakers

“There are a lot of female directors, but there are very few female cinematographers. So I’ve been trying to focus on that and get my name out there, because a lot of women quit right away, because there’s a lot of politics with it,” Whachell said.

“Being a cinematographer, working so closely with directors the past few years, I definitely feel confident in that I know what I want and I know how to achieve it, and I’ll be able to communicate that with my cinematographer very clearly.”

Laura’s Report explores the nuances of Indigenous identity that can be lost in the criminal justice system, told through Laura’s experience with a Gladue report. A Gladue report is ordered by courts to explore how traumas resulting from colonialism have led an Indigenous person to the criminal justice system. They are submitted as mitigating factors for judges to consider in sentencing.

In Laura’s case, she is hoping a reduced sentence will help her regain custody of her child.

But Laura finds herself caught up in a process that she feels demeans her life experiences and reduces her to Indigenous stereotypes.

“[Laura] never thought of herself as somebody that has undergone a lot of pain or trauma,” Whachell said. “She just thought of it as her life and just accepted it, but her Gladue writer, just by not being properly trained, starts to suggest that she should be more upset about things that have happened in her life.”

Whachell says the idea came from film work she has been doing recently with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which introduced her to people who had undergone Gladue reports.

“The film is completely fictional, but I just started to think more about it, and basically came up with the script through questions that I had about the process, myself. So the problem is not supposed to be: Is a Gladue report good or bad? It’s more: Is there maybe a problem with the system?”

The grant awarded for Laura’s Report is part of the Storyhive’s first Indigenous Storyteller grant, totalling $600,000 among 30 B.C. and Alberta residents.

The final projects will be available in fall 2019 on Telus’s on-demand TV service, and Whachell said she will be able to submit her project to film festivals.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of robberies included convenience store in Abbotsford

The Offspring and Sum 41 announce show in Abbotsford

Bands play Abbotsford Centre on Nov. 30 as part of Canadian leg of current tour

UFV men’s basketball hosting NCAA’s Roadrunners

Cascades challenging Cal State Bakersfield in exhibition game on Monday

New hospice programs aim eyed for at-home patients and caregivers

Abbotsford Hospice Society set to launch day program for people living at home with terminal illness

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in Manning Park backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Mouse infestation hit Langley hospital’s kitchens

Droppings and urine were found by Fraser Health inspectors in the spring

‘Person of interest’ identified after suspicious meat left in North Delta park

Piles of meat have been dumped near the 63rd Avenue trail entrance four times in the last 30 days

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

B.C. mom mourns 14-year-old son whose fatal overdose was posted online

Chantell Griffiths misses the son she hadn’t seen much in recent years

Oppenheimer Park residents told to leave, clear out tents by Aug. 21

Police say park has seen influx of residents, violence in recent months

Most Read