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THE MAKING OF...

In 1996, Tom Konyves, the owner of AM Productions was approached by the principal of White Rock Elementary School (which Tom's children attend) and asked if he would be interested in documenting a young native artist carving a totem pole at the school. Intrigued by the idea, Tom met the 19-year-old Kwakwaka'wakw carver, John Walkus Green, and agreed to provide the necessary equipment and crew.

Through the two-year process which followed, it became clear that this was no longer a story about a carver and his totem pole, but the story of a young adoptee as he wins back the respect and acceptance of his native community.

Tom learned that John had been adopted out of Tsulquate, a small native village on Vancouver Island. He grew up in White Rock B.C. As a child, John was encouraged by his elementary school teacher, Jean Guy Rousseau, and his adoptive family, to express himself through carving, therefore following in the footsteps of his grandfather, John Walkus and great grandfather, Charlie G. Walkus, both great carvers.

By the age of 19, John had produced more than a hundred masks, impressing everyone he came into contact with; carving was becoming a bridge between the white culture he had been adopted into and the native world he had been taken away from.

In June 1998, producer/director Maureen Kelleher viewed all the video footage and was touched by John's story. With the help of editor Neil Thompson and AM Productions, she assembled a 12 minute video of the material, wrote a proposal and started pitching the project.

With broadcast commitments from Vision TV, CTV, SCN, and Knowledge Network, Annie Fraziér Henry joined the team as aboriginal consultant and producer. Maureen and Annie agreed to combine their strengths and direct the project together. By the summer of 99, The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network commitment was in place – Shaw Television Broadcast Fund joined Telefilm and Global Totem Pictures was formed to produce this powerful story.

Shooting began in September 1999 with DOP Neil Thompson and was completed in December 1999. In March, the prestigious Taos Talking Pictures Festival invited the documentary to make its theatrical premiere on April 15, 2000.

 

GLOBAL TOTEM PICTURES LTD. 48 EAST 6TH AVENUE,
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