Interview with Filmmaker Mike Morash (NEW-CHAH-NULTH: RECLAIMING TRADITION)

NEW-CHAH-NULTH: RECLAIMING TRADITION was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the December 2021 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Growing up in Canada we learned a little bit about Residential Schools but only what the curriculum deemed appropriate. Plenty of details were omitted, and as we started working with more and more Indigenous communities we realized that many of these stories had not been told. One piece led to another and eventually the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribal council asked us to document some of their songs and dances for archival purposes. They told us their budget for the piece, which was much larger than we anticipated, so we suggested using the funds to create a larger, narrative form video.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Pre-production took just over 1 month, production took 10 days, and post-production took 1 month.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

That’s an easy one: Reclaiming tradition.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Working as white male storytellers, we come from a place of privilege. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth people do not, in fact they have been the subjects of discrimination from people who look and sound like us. Dismantling those social barriers isn’t easy, but once they let us in we were like family to them.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

We got chills watching the audience’s reactions. The story resonated with the viewers as much as it resonated with us, which is something that doesn’t happen too often.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

As a very young child after watching the works of Spielberg like E.T., Jurassic Park, and Indiana Jones. He showed the world that every movie was a simulated adventure and he took us along with him.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Jurassic Park, the original.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I don’t know to be honest. Maybe more referrals and networking opportunities with other festivals?

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Very easy. We didn’t know it existed until this year but we’re really liking it’s interface.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Crepes with a heap of fresh fruit 🙂

11. What is next for you? A new film?

We’re currently finalizing post-production on a film with another Indigenous nation from BC, the Lhtako Dené, which focuses on very similar themes and stories. We will be releasing it and submitting it to festivals in the new year!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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