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Berkley Brady of Nika Productions - The Dreamers Q & A

ALBERTA STAR

Photography by the famous Andras Schram.


DARK NATURE (Alberta)

Director/Writer: Berkley Brady

Producers: Michael Peterson (Peterson Polaris Corp), Berkeley Brady (NikaProductions)



Band, Director, Editor, Writer, Producer, Production Design, Camera Operator, Lighting, Voice Over


I'm a filmmaker who's been working in the industry since winning an award for new producing talent from Telefilm in 2006. After working for several production companies in Canada, I went to the U.S. and got my MFA in film from Columbia University in NY, NY. While there, I was also a reader for Likely Story (Synecdoche, New York; The Ice Storm; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Cooper’s Town (Capote). A short I produced, The Immaculate Reception, premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Since then, I've directed music videos, shorts and directed two episodes for APTN's new show, The Secret History of the Wild West which has been received very well. I'm currently in post-production on my first feature, Dark Nature, which we shot this fall and am working on an adaptation of fellow-Metis artist Maria Campbell's iconic book Halfbreed.

Q AND A


What was your dream as a kid growing up?


To one day be an elderly Snow White; an old lady who lived in a forest cottage, making medicines and friends with animals.


What are the titles you want to be known by?


Filmmaker; artist.


Tell us the story of when you first took steps to start your dreams and career. How did it happen?


Choosing to study creative writing in University was a big leap and commitment to choose the art life over one with more security, though I lost my love of writing in the program (U of Vic). The best thing about going there was that I met the poet and dancer Erin Robinsong, and we became friends and roommates. She helped me see myself as an artist and is still a huge inspiration to me. From there, meeting other friends who were making it as artists and filmmakers gave me the gumption to apply to Columbia, which was a huge commitment to learning the craft of filmmaking.


Behind the scenes of shooting Dark Nature (Alberta), Director/Writer: Berkley Brady.


How has COVID effect your business and career?


Some aspects of work slowed down, especially in production, but I was lucky in that I was in a period of developing projects and writing, which is a fairly solitary process. COVID restrictions freed me from FOMO so I could buckle down like a hermit, guilt-free.


Where are you at now with your passion, dreams and life?


I'm proud of what I've accomplished and also burned out. Shooting a feature on locations in the mountains is no joke. I'm taking this time to regenerate and fill my creative cup, cook, spend time with my dog and be a pregnant lady. I'm also in post-production on the film now, and there's always something to do with that. And working on an adaptation of Maria Campbell's book Halfbreed with the amazing Michelle Thrush and the author herself.

WATCH BERKLEY'S REEL


How many times have you gone for your dream and had to take a break, went full into it and then started something continuous or new?


Too many to count. All my artistic work and dreaming seems centered around narrative of some sort, so I keep coming back to storytelling through paints, photos, words and film.


The concept and honoring your heritage how important was that to you as a film maker and how?


I'm interested in expanding the definition of what it is to be Metis woman today, and in not judging that or imposing any notions from the past onto that. Metis is a broad word, and there isn't a real pan-Metis identity, nor should there be.


I can say that we are the people who own ourselves, and I consciously avoid making work that will fit neatly into notions of what being a Metis person is; it's the rebel in me, because I want to challenge the easy notion that being Metis is something from the past, something that centers around sashes, wagon carts, or jigging, though those are beautiful aspects of the culture. For me being Metis is about having a strong voice, being able to disagree while also having a big heart. Being loud and not trying to be small or fit into colonial, patriarchal notions of control over bodies or land. It's about being able to create with contradictions.


For example, I can have my characters talk about the importance of land, or I can also feature the land as a character and let that have it's own effect on the audience. There's no right or wrong way to be Metis, and if there is, I'm not the one to judge it. I also have Scottish and mixed-European heritage on my mom's side, and I'm interested in how those cultures express themselves through me as well. There's a lot of similarities between how the Scottish were affected by colonial policies and how those policies were refined, and made more brutal, for Indigenous people on Turtle Island. It's important to understand the complexities of history and what connects us.


That being said, both my main characters in my feature were played by Metis actors and it's important to me to have Indigenous representation on screen, playing complex and modern characters.



Behind the scenes of shooting Dark Nature (Alberta), Director/Writer: Berkley Brady.


What was it like to make your first film Dark Nature?! Tell us how you first started that journey?! This was my first feature film, but not my first professional project. So having directed TV and many shorts really helped me understand what I needed to get, shot-wise. Mostly, I had already learned the hard way how it feels to be in the edit and not have what you need. That made me fight for shots and to know when we didn't have the best take. I think a lot of people want to be directors, but until you do it many times you can't know what the job really means. It is not about being the boss on set, though you are, it's about leading a group of very different people towards a common goal. The leadership aspect of directing isn't something they teach at film school, and no one's perfect. It's very humbling.


Where do you want to see your career at in 5 years?


I imagine I'll have a lot of TV directing under my belt, both on original shows and as a director-for-hire. What do you do to balance family and work?


I picked an amazing man as a partner, so I don't have to balance things on my own. We met on set--he's a cinematographer--and we have been working together ever since, and we're a strong team. He also reminds me to have fun and not work all the time, so that's helped me find balance. I know a lot of people in the industry who never walk away, and it's not how I want to live.

What are the funnest moments with your dog Zuma? Zuma is a beast on the streets and a lady in the sheets, lol. As a reactive rescue dog, walking her keeps me on my toes, but at home she's a straight snuggler. She makes the funniest grunts and groans to let us know when she's bored or getting impatient with us. I love her personality aka dogality and sharing the days with another creature. If I could have 3 big dogs, I would in a second.


Share an encouraging quote from you to the imherewithmag.com fans about achieving your dreams.


It's been said by different people in different ways, but there's truth and power in the idea that when you commit to something, really really commit, then everything conspires to help you achieve it.


https://www.nikaproductions.co/

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