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High school feature film turns art into reality

L.V. Rogers High School students (from lefy) Matt Howroyd, Alecia Maleschko, Olivia Bogaard and Susannah Rebar spoke to City council about the feature film production, Project Turquoise Snowflake, and its scope Monday night — Timothy Schafer photo.

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

Art will emulate reality as the students of LV Rogers secondary school are moving into the filming stage of their environmental-themed feature film.

Four budding filmmakers began their public career in film as they pitched the idea for their first feature film, Project Turquoise Snowflake, on the public stage of City council Monday night in the committee of the whole meeting.

With the two-year-long project already set to move into filming, one of the camera operators, Susannah Rebar , said the production contained a twist.

"What is interesting about our project is the overlap of reality and fiction," she said.

Students will be coming together to formulate an action plan for continuing the environmental movement that is spoken about in the film, said Rebar, by contacting some of the elders in the greater community and seeking some direction.

Director, writer and drama teacher from LVR, Robyn Sheppard, said by April 22, 2012 (Earth Day) when the film is slated for release in theatres across the country, the students will have put themselves on the real road to action.

"It begs the question, 'Do we want to wait for an apocalypse or do we do something right now?'" she said.

The two student producers of the film, Matt Howroyd and Olivia Bogaard, also gave people a view of the resources they will be using for the production of the film. They were also accompanied by makeup artist Alecia Maleschko.

Filming will begin this month every Saturday and Sunday and will wrap up near the end of the school year in June. Editing will take place in summer and then next fall the film will be going to be entered in the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival — the final goal of the project.

There is still room for additional help from the community, said Howroyd. He noted those who would like to contribute time and expertise on could contact them through the website (

"It sounds like a great start," said acting mayor Deb Kozak.

The film is a coming of age story about Carly Dutoff, a doukhobor girl growing up in the Kootenay region with her curmudgeonly deda during her final year of high school.

“An ardent environmentalist, Carly’s sense of urgency, unyielding determination and belief that there is still hope for the world spark a youth-driven plan, which impacts not only her small town but also the entire country,” read the letter the students had sent to council.

For more on the project, see


The odyssey of the project

The project is deemed ambitious and experimental, with students from grades nine through 12 working with professional volunteers during pre-production.

Through the principles of paying it forward (giving freely of oneself and instead of expecting repayment, having your good will passed on to another) and teamwork, the students will realize anything is possible.

Beginning in September it was an intense period of hands-on preproduction throughout the first semester, and now the students move beyond basic film theory to practical application.

Student alumni and professional volunteers (coaches) have been teaching students the roles that they will be performing on set.

They are learning how to break down a script, to generate call sheets and shooting schedules, to operate cameras, to boom talent and to hone all the necessary skills needed to become a production unit.

In the current second semester the students and the production go on location to begin filming the motion picture at various locations in the city.

"Give us a wave if you see us out filming," said Bogaard.


Logline of the movie

With global warming escalating and eco-terrorists attacking oil companies, an unlikely group of teens organize a youth driven movement, which challenges an indolent Canadian government to step up and show global leadership.



Project Turquoise Snowflake is a coming of age story about Carly Dutoff, a Doukhobor girl growing up in the Kootenays with her curmudgeonly deda (grandfather) during her final year of high school.

Her sense of urgency, unyielding determination and belief that there is still hope for the world spark a youth-driven plan (Project Turquoise Snowflake), which impacts not only her small town but also the entire country.

Alienated from her peers — many of whom support the pressing environmental issues in principle, but still want “to have fun during our grad year” — Carly finds support in Ruby Gootrie, a Grade 6 girl whose desire to “save the planet” is directly linked to her profound love of animals.

Michael Parsens, a Grade 9 boy from Fort McMurray with a personal and tragic connection to the Alberta Tar Sands, also joins the PTS team, despite his father’s disapproval.

After an explosion in northern Alberta at Horizon Energy's main oil extraction plant, leaving eight people dead and many others injured, there is a rash of fires across the country, including one in their town.

Carly and her troupe, steadfast in their commitment “to do more before it’s too late,” are questioned by the police and then told “to settle down a bit. Don’t get too involved.” Although Carly hates violent protest, her rage is evident when she later debriefs with Jenna Monroe, her inspired social’s teacher who has also been asked by the administration and by the authorities to curb her classroom discussions.

“Collectively all the companies extracting oil from the sands in northern Alberta are the single largest industrial emitters of C02 on the planet and they tell us to settle down a bit.”

Carly’s plan to challenge the Canadian government and to demonstrate real leadership comes with complication for all three, but the innocence found in these youth, especially in Ruby, gives the story hope.

“Anything is possible if you can imagine it and if you refuse to give up.”

Compelled to continue the environmental work and to uphold the social justice principals of both her recently deceased baba (grandmother) and her once radical “hippie” mother, now lost to drug addiction in Vancouver’s East Side, Carly’s involvement in Project Turquoise Snowflake brings hope as she begins to accept her troubled past and to believe again in the possibility of a better future.

The journey forces her to question motivation, family dysfunction and finally grief. This tender story addresses the challenges involved in growing up under difficult family circumstances as well as the challenges all of us face living in the 21st Century.