By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
Over the weekend, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) was in Magrath gathering video footage at various Magrath Days events. The footage will be compiled into a short documentary later this year and will highlight the importance of volunteerism and community spirit in order to have a growing and vibrant small-town.
“It’s not so much a film about Magrath, it’s just that Magrath is a really good representation of the kind of volunteer spirit that you need in a community,” clarified Scott Parker, director, The Grasslands Project, about the reason behind the film.
The Town of Magrath was one of nine communities selected by the NFB to take part in The Grasslands Project. A series of short films about people and issues in the southern prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The idea to use Magrath as an example of volunteer spirit was suggested by Magrath residents during a public consultation held at the museum at the end of February.
Parker said that a lot of people talked about community spirit and how it manifests itself in the festivals that small communities have. He added that Magrath is not alone in the fact that volunteers successfully organize a fun weekend of events; it is common across the prairies.
While in Magrath, Parker got a good behind the scenes look at what goes into making Magrath Days a success. Some of his highlights on Saturday included watching parade marshall Tracie Smith organize the parade floats, visiting a large family reunion, watching the lawn mover races and being nearby when volunteers set off the fireworks.
He spent most of the day following different volunteers around to see and capture what kind of volunteers it takes to put on the kind of event Magrath hosts every year. Aside from video footage he also gathered short interviews and sound bites of the volunteers in action.
“We were really lucky because we got to get on the inside, we were invited to a big family reunion, said Parker. “It was also really cool to watch the parade get organized and just see how everyone kind of got their act together and lined up.”
Parker admits the lawnmower races exceeded his expectations. He thought people would be driving around slow regular lawn mowers, so when he saw the guys souped up rides moving really fast, he got extra excited to film them.
To cap off the day, Parker stumbled across the people who were in charge of the fireworks and they were nice enough to let him hang around. He got to film the setup, sit with them and watch the fireworks be set off and capture the colourful explosions in the night sky.
“Getting the kind of access that we did helped us to make a better film. One thing that was great was that everyone was really helpful.”
The hour-and-a-half of video footage that he gathered will be compiled into a five to seven minute documentary, complete with sound bites and voice-overs.
Editing will begin in September, after Parker has finished all of his summer shooting in other communities, with the hopes of having all the films wrapped up in January.
The NFB intends to return to the featured communities with a draft of the film to screen it with an audience of community members and get input into the films before they are finalized.
“Our plan is to come back and screen the films and have a nice community event with people and I am pretty sure that is what is going to happen,” said Parker who is aiming to be back in Magrath in the late spring of 2016.