zeeBigBang spoke with her about the screenplay that won her this mentorship award, and the lessons she’s learned from past mentors throughout her career.
Her winning entry for the Kodak New Vision Mentorship award was an original screenplay for Merv, a coming-of-age story about a man starting over at the age of 59.
"I was inspired with this story because my mother was getting laid off of a job and being forced into early retirement. Although she’s very vivacious and looks great for her age, when she went out in the workforce after being somewhere for so long, she found it really, really difficult. Since that time she hasn’t been able to find a job that pays as well and that makes her feel as good about herself. A lot of the roles that she was self-identifying with through her job, and through her day-to-day life, have suddenly gone and she’s struggling with identity at this time in her life. I used that as a jumping off point for creating this screenplay," said Chichester.
As the winner of the Kodak New Vision Mentoship program, Chichester will receive coaching and mentorship from Tamara Shannon, Vice President of Marketing at Entertainment One Films Canada and Ingrid Veninger, internationally-acclaimed producer/director.
About her mentors Chichester said, “I’ve known Ingrid for a few years so it’s really nice to be able to sit down with her and to hear, on a more in depth level, how she makes films. I’ve also met with my other mentor, Tamara and she’s been really great. I’m currently looking to partner up with a producer, so I hope to use these two mentors [Ingrid and Tamara] to help introduce me to some new relationships and to meet as many people as I can to line up the project to be production ready.”
Chichester appreciates the role, rewards and challenges of being a mentor having been one herself during her time as Program Director with Presenting Our Vision. While there, she mentored marginalized youth in a weekly film making program.
"It [Presenting Our Vision] helped remind me of what I loved about film, just being around so much new and fresh energy and constantly seeing somebody that has a fresh perspective towards it [film]. I had come out of the Canadian Film Centre’s director’s lab, which is a really challenging program in terms of how much time and space it takes up; so it was exactly the thing I needed to go to to get out of my head space and use the skills that I had just been nurturing to help other people get excited about film," said Chichester.
When asked what she learned from mentoring and from her past mentors at the CFC and throughout her film career, Chichester said,
"Ultimately what I’ve learned, time and time again from people is that you have to have a lot of clear and good passion for this kind of career in film making. A lot of the time, it’s all-consuming and it can be very, very tiring and it can also feel a little thankless at times. I mean you spend a lot of time by yourself, working on your project, so I think having discipline around how you work and just keeping your chin up and staying passionate and keeping your life full of inspiration helps you to be a better artist. I don’t know if that’s come from any one person necessarily but I feel like what I’ve picked up is that everybody, no matter how big they may seem, in terms of how established they are, everybody goes through the same kind of slog and everybody struggles to remain inspired and everybody wants to make important and good work."
Chichester made her directorial debut in 2007 with a feature-length documentary called Chichester’s Choice. The film followed her on a journey to the streets of Guyana and Brazil to find and reunite with her father who had abandoned her at the age of six.
Since then, Chichester has been working on several projects in various phases of development and post-production.
For more information on Chichester’s work, check out her website.
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