What makes this webseries different than all the other indie films and romantic comedies? Is it just because she’s First Nations and he is a white suburban guy like myself?
Well, there’s that.
But to me as one of the writers on the show, Ollie and Emma is something that needs to happen. We need to see cultures coming together and making connections. We need to see First Nations characters played by First Nations actors in day to day life. And while there is certainly very serious and sobering realities about Native culture that everyone should research, there is also laughter, love and friendship.
My working partnership with Saulteaux comedian Cheri Jacobs is an example of this. We started work together almost four years ago now on a previous project and the subject of her being of Indigenous heritage never really came up until we started the first initial sketches of Ollie and Emma. I didn’t inquire before that or think “How do I work with this person? Do I have to be careful how I talk here?” It was more like “let’s write something funny!”
Since Ollie and Emma, and with some of the other First Nations projects we started (some more serious in tone, some set in earlier times) I have been asking more, reading more and listening to Elders speak about culture and holy cow…I have been just overwhelmed by the diversity of history, language, complex social structure, traditions and folklore. It is such a steep learning curve that for anyone to think “I’m going to learn about Native culture”, I like to say it’s a little like saying “I’m going to learn everything there is to know about Europe, Africa or Asia.” Dude, they’re all huge! You’re going to need an absurd amount of Red Bull, and even then you won’t get through it in one lifetime!
So yeah, I’m mostly focused on Coast Salish culture now. And even then, I have stacks of books to plow through (and being mostly an oral history, books are more of a tip-of-the-iceberg starting place!)…(whew!)
Returning to my point thought, Cheri and I are an example of where we are right now and how we all could one day be, all over the world. We can all make connections like this. I grew up on shows like Robotech where the whole world pulled together to make the impossible possible.
But don’t get scared after my little(ish) rant! Ollie and Emma is fun. It’s non-political, get’s a bit meta and plays with stereotype. I am so lucky to have worked with not only such a kickass co-writer/co-producer but also such a hardworking and talented cast and crew and of course our production team of Less Bland Productions and Telus Optik. I still stand in wonder how they took us on (not that we’re not good, but wow!)
To me, I’m still Jim and Joan Pogson’s kid whose somewhere in the rumpus room, sitting crosslegged somewhere amongst the storage boxes in the old house we had in Langley, BC, reading books and making up random stuff.
Enjoy the show!
Just click the link below!
well, well, well, you’re a dark horse aren’t you? I happened to come across a photo of you online and clicked on a link to a page that said you are taking writing at UVic, have your own production company, and have produced a multi-cultural comedy!!! And here we thought ‘all’ you did was play with Cookeilidh and work at a restaurant or coffee shop in Victoria (I’m kidding about the ‘all’). You’re so quiet about yourself. Good for you!
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Cheers, thanks guys!
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