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Artist in residence leaves city after almost three-month stint
New local film to be produced from experience

Nicole Garbutt
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
Saskatchewan filmmaker Clark Ferguson has been in Yellowknife for the past two and half months as an artist in residence with Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP). Although Ferguson was scheduled to head out on Saturday, he said he will most likely be back to finish up a film project started while in the city.

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Visiting filmmaker Clark Ferguson screens a clip from his upcoming film, titled In the Shadow of a Giant, which he is developing with Lesley Johnson of the Western Arctic Moving Pictures film society with Lesley Johnson. One of the interviewees for the film was Davis Heslep, pictured on screen. - Nicole Garbutt/NNSL photo

"The project by the end will be an interactive web documentary," he said.

The documentary, tentatively titled In the Shadow of a Giant, focuses on the remediation of Giant Mine and Con Mine.

"The way it affects the community happens in different ways," Ferguson said. "We interviewed people and asked them to re-imagine it into something positive for them and the community."

Yellowknife filmmaker Lesley Johnson has been working closely with Ferguson on the project, and Paige Saunders, owner and operator of SOS New Media, will be doing the programming for the website.

"Lesley really knows the background to it, the policies and legislation behind the remediation, which was crucial in developing this story," Ferguson said, adding the film will feature "little vignettes" of people being interviewed on the land.

As the interview subjects describe what the area could be re-imagined into during the film, an animation of their ideas appear on screen behind them.

Ferguson made a film with a similar theme titled Boom Town, which re-imagines vacant lots and empty buildings in Saskatoon's core neighborhoods.

Ferguson said he aims to show the character of the mine sites, instead of just focusing on the terrible legacy.

Before Ferguson left Yellowknife, he held an artist talk at the Yellowknife Artist Run Community Centre last week.

During the talk, he screened clips from a number of his past projects, including Open Studio with Garth Jergenson.

"This is how I think artist talks should go," he laughed, before screening a satire of a talk show between a fictional host, who clearly knows nothing of art, and an artist.

"It's the idea of an everyday person who doesn't have the language to talk to artists, and let them speak about their work in a comedic way."

Ferguson also screened a few clips from In the Shadow of a Giant, one of which featured WAMP's own Davis Heslep, who grew up at Negus Point.

Heslep was interviewed with an old Con Mine tailing pond at his back while he discussed the idea of creating an amusement theme park in the old mine.

"What would you call it?" the off-screen interviewer asked.

"I don't know, Contamination Land?" Heslep answered with a smile.

Ferguson was emphasized that not all of the interviews are quite as lighthearted as Heslep's.

Ferguson said he may be returning to Yellowknife in the spring to finish up some of the outdoor interviews and filming.

In the Shadow of a Giant is scheduled to be released this summer.

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