Who knew the love of storytelling would grow into a production company? Aretha sure didn’t. She originally went to school to be a web designer, earning a Digital Interactive Media diploma from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). After doing web design for a while, she began to think about starting her own business. With limited education and experience, she was advised to continue her education or gain more experience. Back to the classroom she went, this time earning a degree in Communications and Professional Writing, simply because of her love of storytelling. We chatted with Aretha to get the story on her startup.
Working on a project with Indigenous youth, Aretha and her two co-founders realized how well they worked together. With identical beliefs, making the decision to form a production company together was simple. With that, Miyo Pimatisiwin Productions, which in Cree means “leading a good life” or “walking a good path” was born.
“We all had these ideals that were very similar to one another. We felt that with everything we do, we should have some kind of mentorship aspect to it—mentoring youth. If doing projects, we should do something to be proud to stand behind and do things that really show that we are walking a good life.”
A Business “Screenplay”
Aretha first came to us looking for answers. Thinking like a producer, she believed in order to make it big she would have to be in a city like Toronto or Vancouver. She wondered if the idea would even be feasible in Edmonton. We provided her with market research which gave her the green light she needed and set the course for her startup. In her case, it didn’t matter where the company was located, it’s where they shot the production that mattered. In addition to support from us, Aretha worked closely with the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA), which supports all practitioners in all areas and disciplines of media arts. Attending film festivals and workshops was also instrumental in the production company’s growth. FAVA brought in professionals like entertainment lawyers who gave free legal advice, which was immensely helpful for Aretha’s venture.
Making It Big
Aretha’s biggest struggle has been finding time and money. As a producer of her last project, donating time was necessary to ensure the rest of the crew was paid and production continued. That struggle made Aretha think about what they would need to do to become a financially sustainable business. Taking a producer workshop at ImagineNATIVE helped provide some answers and gave her a clearer direction to move towards. Her challenge now is focusing on post-production, which requires a lot of commitment.
Amidst the challenges, Miyo Pimatisiwin Productions has already had great success with their first production “Journey to Reconciliation.” They supported a group of Indigenous youth in their personal journeys as they learned about the history of the residential schools and discovered a connection to the legacy. Through the lens of a camera, these young people explore intergenerational trauma and Indigenous resistance and resilience.
Moving Forward with the Next Big Thing
Miyo Pimatisiwin Productions’ new project will have a theme related to “characters you meet on the way to a pow wow.” This project touches more on the humorous side of things, which is very different than her first production. Stay tuned on social media for that and more great things to come in local film!