A new horror short film featuring the historic Black experience in Victoria is set to go ahead to production after receiving a $20,000 grant.
“I knew there was a history of black people in Victoria from … hundreds of years ago so I really wanted to bring that forward,” said Joel H. Brewster, screenwriter of the short film.
The Victoria I Know follows a local biracial photographer, Amber Ryley, who struggles to see herself reflected culturally in the photos she takes of her hometown. That is, until she has a chance encounter with the ghost of Martha Ann Telfer, mother of Sir James Douglas.
“It was interesting growing up here and seeing the Douglas name on so many different things,” Brewster said. “And then to find out that his mother was biracial and also from Barbados originally — there’s a lot of history on him everywhere here, but it’s very hard to find anything on his mother.”
“For a person that grew up here as a minority not really seeing anything to do with Black history, I was kind of blown away,” he added. “So I really wanted to look into that further.”
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Inspiration struck and the idea for The Victoria I Know was born.
Brewster is one of 30 Black creators from across British Columbia and Alberta to receive the $20,000 grant from TELUS STORYHIVE to assist in production funding, personalized training and mentorship. Those in British Columbia also received additional funding from Creative BC.
“We are excited to honour, spotlight and amplify the voices, stories, and lived experiences of black creators and their communities,” said Ryan Logan, project manager for TELUS STORYHIVE.
The grants are given through the Black Creators Edition, he said, and are specifically meant to address the underrepresentation of Black voices in Canadian television, while also helping jumpstart the careers of emerging creators.
“It’s very important for Canadians from all walks of life to hear these stories,” he added.
The short film is expected to be released sometime early next year on TELUS Optik TV and the STORYHIVE YouTube channel.