Britany Sparrow (in the Luongo hoodie) peeks through the camera as Becky Forbes performs a scene in the short film

Local auteur finds success out east

Kalamalka Secondary School grad Britany Sparrow makes her mark as a filmmaker in New Brunswick.

In her full-time job, Britany Sparrow basically plays the role of a CSI agent. Part detective. Part problem solver. She pays attention to details and records as she pries for information on death, marriage and birth records.

Outside of working at the provincial archives of New Brunswick in Fredericton, the 27-year-old Kalamalka Secondary grad is a filmmaker who just won the Linda Joy Media Arts Society’s New Brunswick Joy Award to help in her upcoming fifth film, Earth and Fire.

The award, presented at the 11th annual Silver Wave Film Festival, is worth $25,000, including $10,000 in rental services from PS Atlantic (Halifax), $7,500 in HD video finishing and audio mixing from The PostMan Post-Production Studio and $5,500 in equipment or facilities from the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative.

She also received $1,000 cash from the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative and $1,000 in film stock from Kodak Canada Inc.

“To apply for this award, I had to submit a short treatment plus a script and a budget to the Linda Joy Media Arts Society,” said Sparrow, a self-admitted fun-loving chatterbox. “I feel very strongly about the story and the characters so I was hopeful, but you never expect to actually win these awards. I was actually fairly close to speechless when I won.

“Most of the $1,000 in cash will go towards film processing costs. I’ll probably end up investing between $1,500-$2,500 of my own cash as well.”

In this year’s film festival, Sparrow’s flick, Gamers: A Love Story, earned nominations for Best Actor and Best Screenwriting, both in the comedy category.

Sparrow, who has worked on more than 40 films, produced Gamers after a bunch of her Dungeons and Dragons friends joked somebody should make a movie about their adventures.

“I love the idea of having a geek girl as a lead character.” said Sparrow, who is home in Vernon for Christmas. “There’s a bit of me in Cora, the female lead, although I’m not as romantic as she is. She really wants to believe in true love and the perfect man, but unfortunately her expectations are just a little too high.

“David, on the other hand, is a boy in a man’s body and embodies the stereotype of the geek living in his mom’s basement playing video games. He tries to live up to Cora’s high expectations but his geek reflexes interfere. This is by far the most ambitious film I’ve ever made and I’m very happy about how it has turned out.”

Sparrow, who also won a Silver Wave Volunteer Recognition Award for her contribution to film and video in New Brunswick, loves how the actors made their characters come to life.

“The secondary actors are just as good as the lead actors and they still make me laugh, even after seeing the film hundreds of times. I also have to mention my art department, because with over 35 costumes, fantasy elements, and a 1980s flair to everything, they took the film to a whole other level. The weakness of the film is probably the length. Running just over 18 minutes, it is a very long short film. I’m actually working with a story editor now and trying to trim it down to a more reasonable length so I can submit it to more film festivals. Hopefully it will find its way out to B.C. some time in the new year.”

Born to read – she was a bookworm at age three and was writing short stories in Grade 1 – Sparrow graduated from UNB with a bachelor of arts major in English with a focus in creative writing and also a certificate in film production.

All throughout school, she was involved with drama, discovering early on she preferred to be behind the scenes rather than on stage. After university, she joined the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative as a volunteer. After working on a low-budget feature and several shorts, and after much persuading, she directed her first short film.

Her favourite actors are Ewan McGregor and Robert Downey Jr. and her favourite movies are Moulin Rouge and The Lion King.

She was assistant director on the CBC historical drama, Délivrance, which aired in August, and will likely spend her entire life in the movie industry.

“I will use the Quentin Tarantino quote I’ve been using since I began promoting this film: ‘We do it because we love making movies.’ The amount of work that goes into a short film, from writing the script to finding cast and crew and locations and props and costumes, to lighting and recording sound and shooting the film and perfecting the performances to the music and editing and sound effects is enormous. And we all do it for free. The amount of hours people volunteer to work on each other’s films is insane, and there’s no way we could be as successful as we are without the love for the art.

“I think that’s part of what makes New Brunswick so special is most of us don’t have a lot of money, and yet we still manage to churn out a record number of films each year, and they keep getting bigger and better. It’s a labour of love in the truest definition of the word.”

Sparrow was recently recruited by the Women in Film and Television Atlantic branch to serve on the board of directors. She currently lives in New Maryland with her soundman, Rob Gemmell, and their two cats. Her website is www.sparrowhockproductions.com.

 

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