Monkey Beach

Just thinking about what to write about Monkey Beach makes me smile, take a deep breath and I get transported to being onset.  We made magic happen.  Collectively, it was about pride, it was about story and it was about creating truth.  Film makers have quite the job, taking the words of the script and creating the space for actors to become the character and live.  We did just that.  I recall moments onset grabbing onto a fellow crew members hand and squeezing, jumping up and down silently knowing WE DID IT!  We made magic happen on that monitor.  Just read this little snippet from IMDb about what we had to create:

Monkey Beach is a supernatural mystery. Layering tragedy, humor and redemption, it tells the story of Lisa, a rebellious young woman who must accept her true heroic nature in order to save Jimmy, her brother who is lost at sea.

I loved making these characters come to life.  I loved making the costumes.  As soon as I got the phone call on August 23, I started creating.  Sketching.  Designing.

First, honour the writer, and read Eden Robinson’s book, Monkey Beach.

After reading the book, and making notes and the visual started, I began creating, sketching.  And once I realized what was on my plate as Costume Designer, I made many of phone calls, calling all artists, I need:….and I got answers, I got equipment, I got schooled.

I was blessed with the space, the space to create.  Thank you to a good friend Teresa Weston, an award winning Production Designer.  She opened her home to me, she was on the Island designing for a TV series, so I was able to move into her space and create.  And create I did.  Many hours of painting, peeling, stripping, covering, altering…..making it work.  Those two weeks were well spent.  I woke every day, acknowledging what I was doing.  Every moment was meaningful.  I was honoured and challenged, I was working with the trifecta of Indigenous Film Makers, from the Writers, Actors and Crew!? WOW.  I knew I had to bring it.

We went up to to where the story takes place, Kitimaat.  We drive into the rez, we took space beside the all honoured soccer field, where many a game have been played, seeds were planted.  Right on the water, we anchored.

We were welcomed by the Community, The Elders, and we all did our best to respect each others space.  We filmed here for 3 weeks, this is where we met each other, took care of each other and made this movie, together.

There were many moments, we felt it happening.  Many a time, I walked to set, I crouched down while filming, I eyeballed the monitor, and seeing it all come together, you KNEW we were a part of something big.

It was fun making this movie.  It was brilliant, meeting each other, helping one another.  One of the crew members opened her house for filming.  The Community came in and brought Education, told Story, Participated, Taught, Minay as they say.  SNRK took over the mic.  I got to costume the Queen herself 😉 Wrapped in beads!

When I finally brought out my major costume design, I walked proudly with Mike Dengeli onset.  I had worked with Mike before on Red Snow.  During the fitting, I got goosebumps.  Perfect.  Once we had our days onset with Mike, I had my first, thank you from the Camera Department.

It was amazing to work with all these hilariously awesome Indigenous actors and crew.  We had fun, we challenged each other, we teased one another!

With the other major costume, I knew I could have fun outside of the lines.  I could layer and layer, and I could also be finite.  That necklace made a difference, that shred of cedar bark was needed.  I cut, I chewed!  It was real.  I was adding to the costume during blocking, right before we rolled.  Adding even after we rolled, knowing they won’t use that take.  It was crazy.  It had to grow with the monitor, the actor, with me.

After this I stabbed my thumb pretty decently, shoving a needle through the cedar, make it work!

I have worked on many a film set, and this one brings the most.  Just the most.  No more no less.  This one ranks top because of it all.  Culture.  Story.  Crew.  Actors.  Us


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