Very happy to announce that Brett Story’s feature documentary THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES will screen in New York as part of the Art of the Real showcase at the Lincoln Center on April 17th. Here are some of the reviews the film has gotten so far, following its world premiere at the True/False festival in Missouri last week – click the links for the full articles:

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes has a consistent formal beauty that sets it apart… With only seven-and-a-half minutes, on average, to make an impression, Story and her d.p., Maya Bankovic, make concise statements through carefully composed and often dreamily stylized images.”
– Scott Tobias for VARIETY
“…it’s an artfully made work, lyrically filmed (by Maya Bankovic) and scored (Olivier Alary), with Simon Gervais’ ambient sound design as crucial an element as Avril Jacobson’s elegant editing.”



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Stereogum launched my new video for The Weather Station yesterday – it’s made up up of Tamara Lindeman’s own footage from her travels intercut with a portrait video I shot of her against winter in Canada. Nadia Tan edited the video, interspersing Tamara’s footage into nostalgic fragments that flash across the screen like random access memory moments. The track, FLOODPLAIN, is off of The Weather Station‘s latest album Loyalty.


From Stereogum:  The accompanying video is a tribute to remembrance and the changing seasons. Lindeman stands in a wintery light as her memory flashes back to a companion, maybe a lover, swimming in the summertime. It’s an eerie, nostalgic piece. 

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SILENT SHOUT premiered the new Rae Spoon video this week – check it out! Rae and I co-directed the video and shot it in their 1907 home in Victoria, BC, lighting it as a 1970’s horror scene. Why? The song and video are about haunting.

In Rae’s words:

“Written Across The Sky” is about my own desire for legal recognition of my agender identity––right now, for example, I am still required to have my assigned sex on my identification. It is about my hunger for rights for trans people, especially those most vulnerable to systemic oppression, including sex workers, indigenous peoples and undocumented folks.”

The music video for Rae Spoon’s song “Written Across The Sky” from their new album Armour is an ode to 1970s’ horror film lighting and all things haunted. Spoon co-directed the video with Maya Bankovic, an award winning cinematographer whose work has screened at TIFF, Sundance, VIFF and many other festivals. The two previously worked together on the NFB documentary-musical My Prairie Home, a five-year project. Shot in Spoon’s 1907 Victoria home, the new video shows the ease of their working relationship through the intimacy of the close-up shots and moving portraits.


SPECIAL THANKS to Nadia Tan for those lightning fingers, and to Kendra Marks for helping us make the video happen.

Really happy to announce that both Chelsea McMullan’s MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN and Brett Story’s THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES will be having their US premieres at True/False in Columbia, Missouri in early March.

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Thailand and the Philippines, 2014 for MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN:F1040024F1040001ThreeJs

THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES is a cinematic journey through regions across the USA where prisons, unseen in the film, affect the trajectories of lives and local economies existing in the shadow of the prison industrial complex.

MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN tells the story of a murdered police officer-turned-bike gang one percenter who left a family in Ontario – including two young children named Michael and Shannon – and began a new family in Thailand, having two more children – naming them Michael and Shannon. Now adults, the siblings meet for this first time and try to decipher the patchwork mythology surrounding their father’s life and death.


Congratulations to directors Chelsea McMullan and Doug Nayler on the Canadian Screen Award nomination for the film WORLD FAMOUS GOPHER HOLE MUSEUM. The museum for which the film gets its name sits in a trailer not unlike a high school portable, but inside the atmosphere is cavernous, like a temple, or a crypt. Or a loving monument. Inside dozens of glowing dioramas sit elaborate tableaux of taxidermied gophers, all carefully dressed and arranged in ornate, handcrafted scenes paying homage to a way of life in rural Torrington, Alberta, a town of less than 200 people. Most of the dioramas represent specific community members and events, forever immortalizing an increasingly forgotten region that has been changing due to the economy and the encroaching exurbs of Calgary.

We began shooting the project in the fall of 2012 and wrapped in early 2015, making six or seven trips over the years to catch up with the town and with museum director and co-founder, Dianne. Some trips were entirely devoted to hours spent capturing each of the dioramas in macro detail, shooting everything from the brushstrokes of the backdrops to the caption bubbles and miniature outfits and objects in each scene. We saw Torrington through all of its seasons, and watched as young commuter families moved in while lifelong residents moved away. We also went square dancing.


“Finding a deeply human soul in its even more deeply quirky subject matter, all of it presented flawlessly in a quietly understated yet deeply evocative style, World Famous Gopher Hole Museum evokes the very best work of Errol Morris while marking McMullan and Nayler as significant young talents to watch.” – Todd Brown, Twitch Film 
“This documentary is a piece of pure, unadulterated Canadiana as carefully woven as the crochet and knitted items sold in the Gopher Museum gift shop.” – Geek vs. Goth
“Invoking the Pyramids of Egypt, the film questions the human desire for legacy in the face of mortality. This struggle is visually represented through the Gopher Hole Museum, as the gophers are destroyed, taxodermied, and recast into an idealized version of the country town of Torrington.” [Official press release]


Susan Sontag once wrote this thing, “All photographs are memento mori“. She said that to take a photograph is to acknowledge “time’s relentless melt.” Relentless – what dread, what urgency, what resentment oozes from that word. So I can’t help but consider the opposite: That capturing an image of a person is not merely an acknowledgement of their inevitable death, but rather a commemoration of their having lived – and inspired you – right then and there. It’s a tribute to their existence. And we’re selective about to whom we pay tribute, aren’t we. Do we take pictures of every person we come across, even though we easily could more than ever before? No, we actually don’t. We choose when and who and why. Sontag says that taking a photograph is an act of aggression. I think it’s an act of reverence.

This is what happens when I look back on pictures of the dead: I, of course, consider their deadness for a second, but mostly I consider their pulse beating in that moment, or that they held their breath to smile for me. Or, if caught off-guard, I consider their gesture captured mid-action, their body, once moving, now frozen in time. That they were living beings then, and so forever will be, in this image. If it’s a moving image, the kind I normally shoot, then that’s all the better: They had a voice, this was their kind of body language, this is how their brains worked, and this is how much I wanted to capture all of that.

Why write this? Because when I’m at my luckiest I get to see people come to life for the camera, and these moments of transformation should not be taken lightly by those of us who do it. In these moments I know that the person feels they are being looked upon with love and respect, because that’s when they give it back. That’s when you get an incredible performance, a moment of honesty, or humour, or whatever surprising and authentic turn you couldn’t have even thought up in your wildest designs. Sometimes I tend to brush that feeling off as simply “a shoot gone well”, professionally speaking. But truthfully, and especially in the documentary realm, this is a really special switch to witness in somebody. And this is also when the exchange takes place: You gave this moment to me and, hopefully, I can give this feeling to you. You’re enough. And what you do is all that I need you to do. Nothing more.

My friend Chris once took a walk around Queen’s Park in Toronto with the film director Wim Wenders, who told him that when you capture somebody on camera you are bound to that person for life. Oftentimes that connection isn’t entirely up to us, of course, because we are just one half of the exchange. We can’t control what happens next. But does that moment, no matter how brief (1/1000 of a second in some cases), does it indeed create a current that permanently connects us, as Wenders says? Yeah, I’d like to think it does, so long as we care enough, and so long as our memory holds out.

And if our memories eventually fail us? Well, that’s what the images were for in the first place. You may only see one of us in the shots, but we were both there.


Big thanks to Redlab Digital for their work on Brett Story’s documentary THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES, seen here projected upon picture editor Avrïl Jacobson and Brett herself at last night’s final colour session: imageWe shot the film over the past 18 months in various parts of the US, where Brett explored the ways in which the prison industrial complex permeates ordinary daily life in American communities in both massive and subtle ways. The message is delivered impressionistically, with details of each community being explored visually and the connections to prisons themselves being left intentionally vague: These are stories that happen around the prison, that happen because of the prison, but never inside of it.

You can also check out some of my pictures from our trip to Kentucky in 2014 here and here and here.