Miranda Currie knows a thing or two about resilience.
After suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2011, the Yellowknife artist’s life was changed forever.
Depressed, facing a long and complicated recovery, Currie found comfort in creating characters and telling stories — first in her head, then on paper.
What started as a personal pastime turned into a career.
Already an accomplished songwriter and musician, Currie published a children’s book, the first of several in her Anna Up North series, in 2013. A children’s musical album followed.
But Currie, a “lifelong learner” always looking for the next challenge, is not one stay in her comfort zone.
Currie has set her sights on an unconquered creative frontier: filmmaking.
She’s one step closer to getting there.
Set to graduate from the University of Victoria’s Indigenous language revitalization program in March, Currie is one of eight students selected for this year’s National Screen Institute Canada (NSI) IndigiDocs training course in Winnipeg, a 12-day “bootcamp” aimed at honing the skills of budding Indigenous filmmakers.
“I was really surprised. It’s a pretty big honour I didn’t think I would get,” Currie told Yellowknifer in a recent interview.
Currie, who is of Swampy Cree heritage, will be mentored by industry professionals and top-tier documentarians when the course kicks off next month. Guided by some of the best in the business, including director advisor Shane Belcourt, Currie will learn the tools of the trade, from on-screen story and script development to post-production editing. Currie and fellow students will leave with a market-ready film proposal.
While telling stories on-screen isn’t new for Currie, she hopes the experience will bring her unique brand of filmmaking to the next level.
Two years ago, she began uploading educational outdoor adventure videos to her Facebook page. From birch syruping demonstrations to identifying animal tracks in the snow, the videos are fun, family-friendly and culturally relevant.
That’s the point.
“At the core of everything I do, my mission statement is to create Northern Indigenous content that’s accessible to children and families,” said Currie.
Currie wants to bring her idea of a Northern Indigenous children’s television show — in the works for some two years now — to life. To make the show reality, Currie said she needs more experience behind the camera. She hopes to gain that experience during the IndigiDocs training course.
Currie recently stepped away from her teaching role at Mildred Hall School to pursue filmmaking full time.
Each student will come to the course with a project idea — a vision they want to bring to life through film. With Tails on Ice, Currie’s proposed project, the emerging filmmaker plans to capture the relationship between Indigenous peoples, sled dogs and the land. Once she’s gained more industry knowledge, Currie hopes to begin filming in Tuktoyaktuk in the spring, with her own dogs getting leading parts in the project.
Currie’s theme? Resilience.
“That theme comes from me living through a traumatic brain injury and me living with depression and mental illness, but still finding the strength everyday to get up and produce something that will benefit the world,” said Currie.
With Tails on Ice, like other inspirational and empowering films that resonate with Currie, she aims to highlight the enduring spirit of sled dogs on the land. Unwavering in their determination, Currie draws parallels between the four-legged trekkers and their mushers – both resilient in the face of external pressures.
Currie wants to create an outdoor adventure film that doesn’t try to “conquer” nature, a trend she said she sees too often in mainstream movies and television. Rather, Currie is looking to highlight how Indigenous peoples and sled dogs live in harmony — not in combat — with nature.
“That is the inspirational part for me. If I can have a story reflect that, then I’ll be super happy with it,” said Currie.
It’s also an opportunity to overturn a longstanding lack of Indigenous representation in outdoor adventure films, said Currie.
Following a hands-on teaching and mentorship in the first week or “phase one” of the IndigiDocs training course, four of the eight students will be picked by a jury to advance to “phase two.” Selected students will receive a $16,000 and $10,000 of in-kind services to kick-start their career.
“You better bet (I’m planning on being one of the final four),” laughed Currie.