THE CALGARY COLLECTION

Mike Tod

Mike Tod

LOCAL FILMMAKER STARTS UP WEB SERIES WITH LOCAL FOLK MUSICIANS

Twenty-something Gillian McKercher is a chemical engineering grad from the University of Calgary. She’s smart, funny and fancies filmmaking as her ultimate passion hobby. Her newest project is a web series profiling Alberta folk musicians, a project Calgary folk singer Mike Tod approached McKercher about back in May 2013. It is not the first time McKercher and Tod have worked together. In fact, March’s $100 Film Festival – a local film festival dedicated to 16 mm and Super 8 mm filmmaking – marks their first collaboration of music and film nature.

“The film/music explosion is where an up-and-coming filmmaker and a local musician collaborate,” she says.

Tod’s song, “The Crow,” was the song selected for the CJSW co-presented live performance and McKercher’s Super 8 film was selected to accompany the live performance. McKercher and Tod initially briefly met at the CJSW’s record library to talk about their set-up.

Just a couple of months later, Tod emailed McKercher about his idea of documenting Calgary’s folk community – a community McKercher says Tod is equally passionate about and involved in – and asked her if she was interested in helping out.

“I am a casual folk listener. I am one of those people who thought Mumford & Sons was folk music,” admits McKercher.

“As the project progressed, I [went] from being like, ‘Oh, OK, this is a good opportunity,’ to really caring about it, being passionate about it,” she says.

Just recently, McKercher and co-producer Tod decided to call their web series The Calgary Collection with a release date to be set around October 19.

John Leeder

John Leeder

McKercher and her crew went into the homes of eight local folk singers: Nathan Godfrey, Spencer Jo, Robbie Bankes, Barry Luft, Tim Rogers, John Leeder, Matt Masters and Mike Tod himself. They spent about three hours with each musician and got a feel for who they were in their intimate spaces. In three hours, they got a solid interview and two performances from each performer making for well-rounded short profiles.

The first “episode” was filmed back in June and production wrapped up in September. Moving quickly, the editing phase was nearly finished within the month, with only two more episodes to put together at the time of interview.

McKercher’s drive is indeed inspiring and her excitement for The Calgary Collection is sparking interest.

“We’ve definitely talked about potentially in the future making a fuller, longer documentary but, of course, it’s one of those things you need to finish, then you can move on. It [would] be like taking out a cake before it’s done. You’re so excited but you can’t eat it [yet] because it’[d be] bad on the inside,” she explains.

McKercher and Tod will have to wait and see what kind of response the “cake” will get.

“I think the biggest challenge is going to be people who aren’t directly involved in music or the folk scene. That’s the hardest one. We have eight profiles and each one is unique and they have different perspectives but why [will] people want to keep coming back [to the website]?” she says.

Like the idea? Like folk music? Follow Gillian and Mike on Twitter for updates on the release of The Calgary Collection at @GMcKercher and @miketod respectively. 

By Claire Miglionico
Photos: Dan Crittenden (top), Kaz Nagao (middle)

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