By Meghan Power
A feature film is a right of passage for any director and filmmaker and one that has been 14 years in the making for Berkley: “It’s the credit you need to show people what you can do—that you can handle the crew, the scale, that you can get it made. I’ve been working towards this for 14 years. Without Indigenous focused funding, or any grants funding, it would’ve taken me even longer to get to this milestone.”
This isn’t the first time that Berkley has applied and received funding from CADA. “Grants have an accumulative effect. Smaller grants over the years have assisted with smaller projects that have helped me prepare for this feature film—to build the stamina, the skill set, and to be able to bring together the creative teams with the skills needed to make a feature film a reality.”
Berkley also acknowledges the importance of CADA’s funding model and how it is helping to create space for Indigenous focused funding and allowing for artistic autonomy. Berkley was able to use the funding to hire Indigenous people to be part of the crew and to create opportunities for on-the-job mentorship and training. She also believes in the importance of flexibility in grant funding. She was particularly appreciative of how flexible the funding from CADA was. It allowed her to easily adapt to the changing needs of the project, which are bound to happen with any film project, but seemed to be even more prevalent while trying to make a feature film during a pandemic.
These grants are important to the future of film in Alberta and for Indigenous-led projects. “Western Canada is at a disadvantage,” Berkley says. “The film industry in Canada is very much based in either Ontario or Vancouver—not a lot in-between. Having the funding to make these types of quality projects is what is growing Alberta’s reputation in the film industry and increasing the presence of Indigenous people in the film industry. It gives us the ability to not only offer professional training, but produce projects that can compete internationally, and be produced locally. These funds help to build an Indigenous working community, in Alberta and in Canada’s film industry—a network that continues to grow, and work together to support each other.”