Full-circle moment for CNA Digital Filmmaking grad

Program prepares for 10th anniversary milestone

6/22/2021 11:42:40 AM

STEPHENVILLE, NL – The Digital Filmmaking program’s intersession Film Festival is about to reach a significant milestone.

This year marks the 10th anniversary, and to commemorate, the public will be treated to five films, including The Webber, set to be shown on Saturday, June 26, 2021 via live stream on Facebook and YouTube.

Another interesting aspect of this year’s Film Festival is CNA student Donovan Johnson. If the name sounds familiar to anyone following the festival over the years, it’s for good reason. The soon-to-be graduate of the Digital Filmmaking program is having a full-circle moment. Not only will this festival be his final graduating project; he also starred in the first-ever movie produced by the program when he was just nine years old.

One of this year’s graduates to work on the Intersession Film Festival is having a full circle moment – Donovan Johnson starred in the first-ever production when he was nine years old, and he is now involved in the 10th anniversary production as well.

Johnson credits this early life experiences with piquing his interest in films and filmmaking.

“It was very much a positive experience,” said Johnson, adding that he always had an interest in movies and TV while growing up in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).

He started acting with Theatre NL and stuck with it until he graduated high school. Johnson’s first film role was in a movie called A Faerytale that was filmed in the Bay St. George area of the province. He explained that being an actor in film helps him understand what it is like to be on both sides of the camera.
Donovan Johnson, CNA’s Digital Filmmaking program.

“It had a huge impact on me,” he said, “It helps me be a better director.”

Set to graduate in June, Johnson said he highly recommends the Digital Filmmaking program to those who may be considering it.

“It feels good to do something I really want to do,” he said, adding that he plans to attend an eight-month program called Script Writing for Film and Television at the In Focus Film School in British Columbia.

Major support
Peter Buckle, Film and Video Production instructor at CNA’s Bay St. George campus, said that in past years, the film premieres have been sold out.

“The community has been so supportive of us,” said Buckle.
Over the past 10 years, CNA’s Digital Filmmaking program has tackled some local storytelling for its major Intersession Film Festival projects. Here in 2015, the crew was working on Emile Benoit, a story about a local fiddler from the Port au Port Peninsula.

Brenda Tobin, Dean of the School of Academics, Applied Arts & Tourism, says the college’s Digital Filmmaking program is on the leading edge in preparing students for the filmmaking industry and its quality has enabled exciting partnerships to be expanded. One prime example is a recent transfer and articulation agreement reached with Grenfell Campus, Memorial University that permits graduates of this two-year program to apply to the university’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (with a major in theatre [technical]) and receive block transfer for courses completed at CNA. Ongoing collaborations help ensure CNA’s program remains current and connects graduates to various career pathways.

“Our students are doing fantastic work and we hear more and more how our graduates are highly sought after by industry,” said Tobin. “The annual intersession project highlights their hard work and showcases the skills these students have learned during their time with us. Hearing Donovan’s story of being so interested in movies and filmmaking from a young age, and now seeing him complete the program to take his passion even further, makes me so proud of the differences our faculty make in people’s lives. I am sure we will continue to hear about our graduates’ future successes and the contributions they will make in the important filmmaking sector and associated cultural and creative industries."
Over the past 10 years, CNA’s Digital Filmmaking program has tackled some local storytelling for its major Intersession Film Festival projects. Here in 2017, the crew was working on Off Course, a story about the diversion of passengers to Stephenville during 9/11.

Buckle echoes this sentiment and explains that students gain extensive experience during their two years at CNA – they work on every aspect of the filmmaking process from the script and costumes to set design and post-production. All are essential skills for success once they determine their career path.

“The students are using their art form to tell stories,” he said.

To date, the intersession projects have included the stories of local Bay St. George (where the program is based) legends as Mosey Murrin, Emile Benoit, Maxim Mazumdar and Mattie Mitchell, to name a few.

To learn more about the Digital Filmmaking program and others, visit: www.cna.nl.ca

Media Contact:
Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic