U of L grads from Coaldale receive $50,000 grant for ammolite documentary

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
October 9, 2018 - 2:16pm

COALDALE - The story behind one of the world's rarest gemstones found in Southern Alberta will be told in the form of a 15 to 20-minute documentary thanks to a $50,000 grant from STORYHIVE.

Since 2013, the STORYHIVE program has been offering production grants and distribution opportunities for filmmakers, musicians, storytellers and creators in B.C. and Alberta.

Megan Lau says they're basically like a community access program for TELUS.

"We were founded in 2013 with a mandate to support independent and emerging filmmakers in B.C. and Alberta. Every cable provider in Canada is required to provide access to their infrastructure to tell local stories, and this is our version of that," Lau said.

Ammolite: Gem of the West by Coaldale's Clayton Varjassy and his team, which includes his twin brother Joel and wife Alison, was recently selected as one of 30 winners out of over 296 entries received.

On top of being from Coaldale, Clayton and Joel are also both graduates of the University of Lethbridge.

Much of the local population is unaware that ammolite is one of the rarest gemstones on earth, and that the only known deposit exists along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Using a combination of interviews, CGI, voiceovers, and on-location filming, the Varjassy's will be working with KORITE International, the Blackfoot Nation, independent geologists, museum experts, and others to bring the story of ammolite, past, present and future, to life.

Ammolite: Gem of the West is part of STORYHIVE's first ever Documentary Edition, which opened for submissions back in May, and marks a new milestone for STORYHIVE by providing a dedicated Edition to non-fiction project funding for the first time.

"Some of the projects were picked purely based on community support, so sort of the number of votes they got during the voting period," Lau continued. "Then some of the projects were selected by a jury composed of TELUS team members and industry experts."

The Documentary Edition requires that 87 percent of the project be filmed locally, and each project must include a self-identified female in a key creative role.

All of the final projects will be available for viewing this spring.

Construction to begin next year on University Drive twinning

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