Field Notes

A dream Cannes true
Two first-year Ryerson students from St. John’s are about to get what some filmmakers have spent their entire careers wanting — a kick at the Cannes.

Alex Fox, who studies fashion design, and Stephen Dunn, who studies film, along with five other Ryerson students got together last fall to make an entry for the 48 Hour Film Project, where—you guessed it—the object is to make a short film in two days.

Dunn wrote and directed their effort, and Fox served as assistant director.

Their film, called “The Hall,” went on to win the 48 Hour Film awards for Best Picture, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Leading Male and Female Actors, and the Audience Choice award. Then it went to Filmapalooza in Miami and got in the top 15. The eight-minute long wonder will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

“I felt like a deer in headlights when I received the e-mail about going to Cannes,” Dunn says. “My body was temporarily paralyzed.”

“The Hall” is about a shy guy who wants to give Olive, his secret crush from across the hall, a birthday gift. Unfortunately, his anxiety over rejection, represented by a downright menacing owl, gets in the way of that goal.

Check out the trailer here:

Writers turn winners
And keeping on the topic of recognition, we’re in the midst of the book awards season—and those with the chops are getting mad props. Field Notes brings you the Coles Notes on the winners and nominees.

Michael Collins, writer of poems, stories, and non-fiction, won the 2008 Lawrence Jackson Writers’ Award on April 15. The award comes with a $500 cash prize.

The list of nominees for the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards was released on April 9. These awards honour excellence in poetry and non-fiction.

This year, media types dominate the nominees for the Rogers Cable Non-fiction Award: Ray Guy is nominated for Ray Guy: The Smallwood Years, CBC network producer Marie Wadden for Where the Pavement Ends, and former Telegram editor Russell Wangersky for Burning Down the House.

The finalists for the Book Awards’ EJ Pratt Poetry prize are: 2008 Winterset award winner Randall Maggs for Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems, George Murray for The Rush to Here, and Agnes Walsh for Going Around with Bachelors.

There will be a reading on April 30 at The Ship Pub, and the winners will be announced on May 6 at a presentation at Government House. The winner in each category receives $1,500; other finalists receive $500.

Sara Tilley, executive director of Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador is up for Atlantic Ink’s 19th annual Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize for her 2008 novel Skin Room. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Halifax on May 8.

Young artists get organized
Vanessa Wade wants to make the arts scene at little less intimidating for young artists in St. John’s.

Wade wants to address the need for a local advocacy and information resource-sharing network for young artists through the St. John’s Youth Arts Network (SJYAN).

She says arts mentorship and education is especially useful for those wanting to break into a career in visual art.

“I’ve met a lot of young artists who don’t really know where to get grants and stuff, in the province or nationally,” she says.

The St. John’s Youth Arts Network will host regular meetings, exhibitions, fundraisers, and workshops to help young artists connect with their peers and better their crafts.

The first exhibition is taking place on May 16, and the deadline for submissions is on May 8. E-mail for details.

Check out SJYAN on Facebook at

Anthology of the unexpected
“Writing speculative fiction requires letting go of preconceived ideas, and allowing your imagination to shape the world,” reads the website of NewFoundSpecFic.

Co-founded by Devin Drover and Jennifer Graham, who are both students, NewFoundSpecFic just released its first anthology of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy stories written by local authors.

The first edition was published out of their own pockets under Newfoundland writer Matthew LeDrew’s Engen Books, Drover says.

Graham and Drover are now accepting submissions for the second edition—the deadline is July 6.

Drover says they are looking for “anything that tests the mind and science and basically goes beyond what normal fiction is. Interesting stories, really.”

For more info check out

Doctor, doctor
MUN is honouring three creative careers at its convocation ceremonies next month.

Richard Gwyn, a political columnist and author of six books, including a biography of Joey Smallwood, will be receive an honorary doctor of letters on May 29.

Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland’s Artistic director Jillian Keiley will receive a doctor of letters as well, for her contribution to theatre.

Photographer Ben Hansen, who has published 12 books of photography, will also receive a doctor of letters at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College’s convocation ceremony.

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