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L.A. Beat

LCI students putting Word On The Street on film

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 Word On The Street is just about ready to go, Sept. 25 with 16 live music acts, three live dance performances, 45 authors and 10 food vendors, who will all gather downtown to celebrate the joy of the written word. It’s a huge event for Lethbridge, as Cameraman Rhys Winders and Natasha Matejko prepare to film a scene for the LCI film production program’s documentary  about Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amerywe join bigger centres like Vancouver and Toronto who have been holding Word On The Street festivals for the past 20 years.

“We’re joining much larger centres like Halifax and Vancouver. Ours is the first festival to be granted a license in two years,” said Christina Wilson, Associated Director of Public Service for the Lethbridge Public Library.

“It started 20 years ago in Toronto as a national book and magazine fair, but it’s changed over the years. So for us it’s big,” she continued, adding they plan on making Word on The Street an annual event. The street will be blocked off 5th Ave South to 8th Street South with events happening all over and around the block including the Library parking lot.
“Just follow the big red dog, Clifford,” said Colette Acheson, one of the organizers.

 So because it is not only the first but also a big event for the city,  a group of LCI  students are filming not only the festival itself, but all of the excitement happening behind the scenes.

“September is the perfect month to do this, because it is the beginning of the publishing season, so big name authors are easier to attract and it is also the beginning of the awards season for writers,” said Acheson, pointing out September is also a busy month for Lethbridge Public Library which has programs like Raise a Reader on Sept. 28. She is working in close association with the Lethbridge Library to make the event a success.
 Acheson heard about LCI’s film production program through their productions “ A Work in Progress” and  “Inspired”, about one of the school’s dance presentations last year,  and called them up to see if they were interested in doing something about Word on the Street.
“We wanted to do something different. Something a little more professional than just a videography,” said teacher Dave Brown.
 Students, who come from all grades, meet after school, before school and weekends to complete their projects, including this one.

 While Brown is there to offer guidance and instruction, a lot of the project is on the students, who look for the proper camera angles, lighting and taking care of post-production.
“The kids have become problem-solvers. They are looking at the film in terms of problem solving. They are learning to anticipate problems and solve them before they happen,” he said.

They plan to have the footage and rough editing done by the end of September, early October, with the completed film done by February or March so it can be part of LCI’s film festival, which he hopes will also include their own projects. And while last year’s film festival had the full red carpet treatment outside the Yates Memorial Centre, this year’s festival will be more scaled down, taking place in the large lecture hall. He is proud of his students’ work and the positive response for this project it has received.Dave Brown instructs his students about how to set up a scene for their Word oN The Street Documentary. Photo by Richard Amery

“People are coming up and saying that it’s as good as the work coming out of the second and third year new-media program, and that’s not a knock on that program because it’s great. I learned a lot from it,” Brown enthused.
“ So it’s nice to hear a comment like that recognizes their talent,” he said.

 For the actual event, the students will each be given a camera to film the parts of it they are most interested in from their own perspective.

 Numerous musical acts including John Wort Hannam, Karen Romanchuk, Shocked Standards, Jean Greer McCarthy, the Necessities and Edmonton bluesman Marshall Lawrence will be performing at Word On The Street.
“ It’s a pretty diverse line-up,” Acheson said.

 There will also be a variety of authors speaking including mystery author and playwright Gail Bowen who writes the Joanne Kilbourne mysteries, Red Deer based young adult novelist Sigmund Brouwer, there are also  poets like Medicine Hat’s Niq Beat and Calgary poet Rosemary Greibel, teen author Intissar Louah and many more. All of that and Clifford the Big Red dog.
Acheson said Word on the Street began about 21 years ago in Toronto as the publishing industry wanted a way to connect authors and writers with the community.

There will also be panels of all sorts including one on freelance writing featuring representatives from The Alberta Magazine Publisher’s Association and  the Professional Writer’s Association of Canada (PWAC).
“ We have a real mix of national, regional and provincial musicians and authors. There’s some really amazing people,” Acheson continued.

They have got creative with the promotion of the event. They connected with the Most Vocal Poets and even planning a couple ‘flash mobs’ with local dance and school groups from LCI and St. Patricks.
“St. Pats had a Black Eyed Peas song worked out and changed the lyrics to be about reading,” Acheson said adding they went to one of the farmers markets and stood in the crowd, then began their song and accompanying choreography, moving to a central space and completed the number.

“They’re a lot of fun because people aren’t expecting singing and dancing in the middle of a farmer’s market ,” she said.
“It was pretty amazing,” she said.

 A version of this story appears in the Sept. 21, 2011 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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