Jenina McGillivray and the benefit of little miracles

Local filmmaker Jenina McGillivray, painted here by John McDonald, could use your help. And hey, couldn't we all use a good night of dancing?

On January 18th, some of St. John's finest musicians -- Mark Bragg, Pilot to Bombardier, Green and Gold, and the Pathological Lovers with Tim Baker, to name a few -- will hit the Rockhouse stage for Jenefit, a fundraiser for Jenina McGillivray. The Facebook event is here.

According to the event description, Jenina was admitted to the hospital just after Christmas with severe abdominal pains and dangerously low blood pressure. By morning, she was in critical condition and rushed to surgery where doctors figured out what was wrong and fixed her up. She's out of the hospital, but will be out of both work and commission for the next few months as she recovers.

Jenefit organizers have also set up a silent auction and donation site here. Prizes include a private concert by The Once in your own home.

If you're curious about just how brilliant and kind and generally awesome Jenina is, I caught up with her before Christmas to interview her about her short film "Boarding," which she was just gearing up to shoot through NIFCO's First Time Filmmakers program (a program you should really check out if you're interesting in making a film). Here she is:

Tell me about the film that you’re heading off to shoot. It’s a film that’s based on a true story that happened to my sister. It’s about a girl who is going through a bit of a breakdown and she’s at an airport and she’s trying to get home. She encounters some difficulties with that, and a random act of kindness from a stranger helps her get through that time.

You’re making this through First Time Filmmakers. What's the process for that program? Well, through NIFCO, you do a course where you learn basic filmmaking skills and you’re mentored by people in the community. You get support from NIFCO after you complete the filmmaking course to then go out and make your own film. They offer you the equipment that you need, and a mentor to help you along. My mentor for this film has been Mark Hoffe and I’ve had a lot of great crew members come on board and volunteer their time to do this. I think it’s a mark that independent filmmaking is really alive in Newfoundland and in St. John’s. People really want to come together to try to help you realize your little dream of making your first film.

So you haven't made any films before? Nope, this is my first one. I have a few other scripts, too, but this is my first. For me, this is a learning experience. I want the film to be the best that it can be, but for me the most important thing is not that it’s the best film I’ll ever make, but that it’s the first one.

So you just walked into this totally green. Yep! I mean, I’ve worked on crews. I started off in makeup and wardrobe and I did some production work and took a lot of different workshops and I’ve always been around the film industry in some way.

Were you nervous when you applied? Do they scrutinize your script and accept you and all that? Yeah. I think if you have a pretty solid idea, they will help you through it. But yeah, I was glad I got a good response on the script, that made me happy; people seemed to like it and to want to support it.

What did you guys do in the filmmaking course? You learn the basics of scriptwriting, camera, editing, some post production stuff, sound. Everybody in the course gets a chance to try the different elements. And then we write a script together and make a film together.

So for someone who just wants to make a movie and has no experience, this program would work for them? If you have the passion and the desire to tell a story, and you think film is the medium you want to use, that’s enough. This program will teach you the skills you need, and we have a supportive, mentoring community here. What you get out of the program will be dependent on how much passion you have for the idea of making your own film. Because it’s not an easy thing to do. I think Paul Pope said at the Women’s Film Festival one year that it’s a miracle that any film ever gets made. That’s true: it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of dedication. So, I would say that if you have that and you really feel that film is the best way to tell your story, then you need to have that drive.

A film needs a lot of people coming together, it’s a lot of organization -- it really is a little miracle.

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