DARC: Support for Ottawa Media Artists

An excellent Ottawa resource for all emerging digital artists.

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In June, DARC asked me to write a blog post about my experiences with them for their website and newsletter. DARC has been a very supportive organization during my journey into filmmaking, so of course I was happy to write this post for them!

You can view the original post here.

The first step

In 2018, I found myself at a career crossroads. I had signed the final contract renewal for a project that was coming to an end and I was starting to think about my next steps. I’d been studying and working in academia for more than ten years and I knew I was ready for a change. So after decades of secretly fantasizing about becoming a filmmaker, I finally took a leap of faith.

That same year, DARC partnered with the DOC Institute to offer a mentorship program–the Short Film Lab–for emerging documentary filmmakers. The timing couldn’t have been better. I applied, was accepted, and began learning the ropes of documentary production. At the same time, I started work on my first feature (yes, a crazy move for a beginner) and officially launched my video production business creating audio/visual content for clients. 

Through it all, the Short Film Lab was a fantastic resource and certainly helped to jumpstart my career. Not only did the program equip me with essential knowledge for producing films and videos from start to finish, but it also introduced me to a growing network of creators from across Ontario. 

Ongoing Growth

This network has proven invaluable to my film work over the past three years. Through it I have accessed new mentorship opportunities with the National Film Board and Arts Network Ottawa. I’ve scored creatively inspiring gigs with clients like ACTRA and the Ottawa Dance Directive. I’ve hired and worked with talented individuals and companies, and I’ve had many people gift me an hour or more of their time so I could pick their brains about some new aspect of filmmaking that I needed to learn to keep growing.

DARC has also been directly supportive beyond my time in the Short Film Lab. For example, my documentary short ROAR (one of the films I’m most proud of creating so far) was selected and screened as part of Resolution 2020. That night I was paid my first ever artist fee! A workshop titled Girls, Girls, Get That Cash, which was part of DARC’s Plan F programming, was one of the first times I actually considered incorporating parking, mileage, and equipment wear and tear costs into my estimates for client projects. When I was applying for my first Canada Council grant to fund my feature documentary, DARC provided a letter of support attesting to my growth in the Short Film Lab. And when I began to slowly stretch my practice into the media arts realm, one of DARC’s employees set aside time to help me learn some basics about ambisonic recording.

In my experience, network and capacity building is really the core of what DARC has facilitated in the Ottawa community since its inception. For those of you starting out in video production or the media arts, I highly recommend checking out all DARC has to offer. It truly is a special and supportive space where creators and artists can develop and grow!

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