If you’ve been watching Knowledge Network’s program Canada Over the Edge and thinking that it is a terrific program, but wondering why are they only featuring the east coast of Canada, then you’ll be very glad to hear that the west coast is about to get the same treatment as the east.
Doug Graham and Andrew Killawee
Producer/Director Andrew Killawee and cinematographer Doug Graham, both of Halifax, Nova Scotia, are currently touring the British Columbia coast, capturing some incredible highlights of the area for the western portion of the Canada Over the Edge series. They work for Arcadia Content, the company that produces the series, which was originally developed and funded by HiFiHDTV for their Equator Channel. Killawee and Graham have collaborated on such other programs as ‘Go Deep’ and ‘Templar’s Last Stand’.
The filmographers have a hectic schedule. As Killawee explains, “It took about a year to produce the first 13 episodes for the initial series about the east coast of Canada. It was a learning situation. Now we intend to cover the West Coast in just six weeks.”
When asked how they could manage to film the whole series in such a short period of time Killawee replied, “We have a really concise shot list.”
This approach is evident by the manner in which these two East Coasters plan their day. Killawee initially contacted me at the Museum at Campbell River about three weeks ago to see if they could interview someone about the infamous Ripple Rock, a marine hazard near Campbell River that was eventually destroyed in 1958. I recommended that they interview museum volunteer and docent Danny Brown, who has been with the museum for 13 years. They arrived at the museum at 4:00 p.m. on August 23rd, coming from Port Alberni and Qualicum Beach where they had been filming earlier in the day.
As they like to film with the water as a backdrop and where it is relatively quiet, instead of filming at the museum, we headed over to Tyee Spit, a thin wedge of land that has gorgeous views over Discovery Passage. Killawee had initially estimated that they would be able to complete the interview with Brown there and the filming in two hours, and they did.
Our skipper Eric Borgfjord
The following morning, I met them at the early hour of 6:00 a.m. and they followed me up to the port of Kelsey Bay, about one hour north of Campbell River. There we met Eric Borgfjord, owner/operator of Hardwicke Transportation. We boarded his Sealander landing craft, and set off for Yorke Island, site of what was once a World War II coastal defence fort. After a 15 minute boat ride, we arrived at the only accessible piece of shoreline at the south end and our skipper pulled right up on shore, lowering the ramp so that we could walk straight onto the beach, and easily unload the film equipment.
We hiked up to the top of the island, which rises 200 metres above the beach.
In front of the Observation Post on Yorke Island
On the way, as I discussed the significance of the fort and Yorke Island’s unique history, Graham filmed the remarkable remains of the brick and concrete fortifications and Killawee took photos of the impressive views. They both agreed it would be a good segment, and I asked them how their experience filming in British Columbia has been so far.
“The difference I find between here and the east coast is that stories are everywhere,” Killawee told me. “The east is more spread out. Here, everything is bigger, but at the same time closer together,”.
He also commented that “Knowledge Network has been great. They have helped mold the series for West Coast audiences.”
Sealander off Yorke Island coast
Cameraman Graham made the observation that the West is what many people imagine Canada to be like. He was very impressed by the enormous trees in Cathedral Grove near Port Alberni. He also sees a difference in the light here. “It is some of the better that I’ve seen around the world, there is a bluey colour to it and you can see it here in the forests.”
By 9:30 that same morning, we were already back at Kelsey Bay and undaunted by time and distance, the two intrepid filmakers went on their way to catch a ferry at Port McNeill, two hours to the north, so that they would be on time to film a Namgis First Nation’s traditional dance in Alert Bay.
Killawee and Graham have plenty of coast to capture. Their west coast journey began on August 19th at the south end of Vancouver Island and in and around Victoria, and they intend to cover more of the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine coast and on up to Haida Gwaii.
They will complete the ground work first, then shooting of the aerial segment from a helicopter will follow. Michael Darby of Toronto, who did the aerial filming for the first episodes, will be shooting for this series as well.
Killawee expects the West Coast series, still to be called Canada Over the Edge, to be aired on the Knowledge Network beginning in February of 2013. The purely visual impact of the current series and the excellent writing makes if very special, and it will be thrilling to see the BC coast treated with the same professionalism. The first series is currently on the air and can also be viewed online on Knowledge Network’s website, www.knowledge.ca.
Andrew Killawee, Catherine Gilbert and Doug Graham at Kelsey Bay dock
Catherine Marie Gilbert is promotions coordinator at the Museum at Campbell River and author of ‘Yorke Island and the Uncertain War, defending Canada’s western coast during World War II’. www.catherinegilbert.ca.