Roll cameras! And Action.


Photo by Kristian de Lespinois

Filmmaking takes cooperation and teamwork, but what do filmmakers do when the star of the film doesn’t show up?

In late April, students from Noatak and Kivalina spent a week in Kotzebue producing short films with 18 of their peers. Working with Kristian de Lespinois and Mick Pacifici, Evergreen Films, and Brice Habeger, Piksik, the students secured actors, camera, and the fishing gear to make a film about fishing on Kotzebue Sound. But when the cameras were rolling and no sheefish were biting, they quickly discovered that they had to rewrite their movie.

These juniors and seniors were filmmaking as part of Northwest Arctic Borough School District’s ReadiSTAR program. Piksik and Evergreen worked with the students during one of their two-week stay.

“When we bring students in for two weeks, we are focusing on preparing students for life after high school,” said Zonda Martin, a Secondary Career and Technical Education Specialist with the School District, about the ReadiSTAR experience. “Giving the students the opportunity to work with industry professionals allows the students to explore occupations that a village school would not be able to offer.”

Students produced their own films. At the start of the week, students developed story ideas into a script. Then the students worked in groups as they acted, directed, and shot their films. All students undertook the final step of editing the group’s footage, as they produced their own version of the final short film.

“My favorite part of working on filming was editing the clips. It was fun seeing how all the work came together,” said Lynette “Maayuk” Adams, an 11th grader from Kivalina, as she worked on her laptop putting the finishing touches on her film Living the Iñupiaq Values.

The week ended with a film festival at the new STAR dormitory. Sitting back in their chairs, the appreciative audience of students and instructors shared laughs, and bags of popcorn, as they watched their first experience in filmmaking with titles like Empress Attack, Ice Fishing on the Kotzebue Sound, and Kung Fury.

Reflecting back on the week Habeger said, “Our favorite part is showing all the films, and listening to the audience having a good time. Sharing is what filmmaking is all about.”

Piksik, a subsidiary of NANA Development Corporation, is based in Anchorage. It provides support services to commercials, television shows, and feature films shooting in Alaska. Piksik recently announced a partnership with KTUU (an NBC-affiliated TV station serving Anchorage) to produce an Alaska-based docu-reality series for network television.

Evergreen Studios, based in Los Angeles, produces content and builds narrative worlds for theatrical, television, comics, web, mobile, and video game platforms. They produced the 20th Century Fox film Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, based on the BBC series.

This is Piksik and Evergreen’s third year jointly funding a filmmaking workshop for students in the NANA Region.

To see the students' videos, visit the NANA Development Corporation YouTube channel.