Anyone who stepped into Kingston’s Grand Theatre this past Saturday may have assumed they’d been transported to a Hollywood movie premiere, as the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF) pulled out all the stops for its Slaight Music Video Showcase. The evening marked the culmination of the 2023 Music Video Initiative, a program spearheaded by the Kingston Film Office and KCFF, which paired 11 Kingston-based production companies with local bands to create almost a dozen new home-grown music videos.
The videos each had their world premiere on Saturday night, as hundreds of festival goers packed inside the Regina Rosen Auditorium to see Kingston’s emerging musical and filmmaking talent displayed on the big screen. Before the showcase officially got underway, KCFF staff organized a red carpet event, with many of the artists stopping to chat with members of the media and pose for pictures. The excitement all evening inside the Grand Theatre was palpable.
“I feel like everybody at KCFF has been super welcoming and lovely letting us walk the red carpet,” said Ciara Roberts, who produced a video for her band Tiny Horse through her production company Little Friday, alongside Soren Gregerson.
“On a scale of one to 10, [I’m at] 11… Not only is it good exposure and for networking and to meet people, [but] it also just makes you feel really special,” said local singer Hayley Miller (Hayley), who worked with Michael Pointbriand of YourTV to film her video.
As part of this year’s program, artists were invited to apply to the initiative in the spring of 2022, with organizers paring-up successful musicians with 11 different Kingston-based production companies. Each team was given $2,000 to make the video a reality. For some artists, like country singer Scott Owen, the funding allowed him to create his first-ever music video.
“I [have] not produced a music video before because it just seemed kind of intimidating and you don’t know how much you’re going to get into. So, this program was a very good jumping-off point, [and it] helped me realize how important and how cool it is to have that visual representation of yourself,” said Owen, who worked with JL Creative Agency to shoot a video for his single ‘The Saints That Save Us Sinners,’ with filming primarily taking place at the Brass Pub in Downtown Kingston.
Mickayla Pyke of Mickayla Pyke Media had limited music video experience before teaming up with local singer Alex Mundy. “I was part of a previous production company when they tried to do one during the pandemic… I kind of started that one, but wasn’t able to see it through. So, it was really nice this time around to go from the beginning right to the end of the entire process,” she said.
Many of the artists walking the red carpet on Saturday noted that grants like the music video initiative play an important role in supporting Kingston’s emerging film and music artists. “We all know how much music videos can cost… I think it’s really great that everyone can be brought together [to] support local artists,” said Liv Whitfield (Luella), whose video was produced by Happy Kid Productions, and tells the story of the artist’s break up with her favourite pair of Converse sneakers.
For Lucas Henry of James Media, who produced a video for local rapper Keaton, the program plays a key role as a community builder. “I think [the initiative] is super important… Over the last couple of years, it’s been kind of easy to be in your own space. I think programs like this not only help artists and production companies, but they also help build a better community overall, because it brings people together.”
Kelsey McNulty and Josh Lyon (AFALK) teamed up to produce one of the evening’s most innovative videos, which featured a collage of different animations. According to Lyon, the program’s funding provided the artists with a significant amount of creative freedom. “I think it’s great to have an opportunity for collaboration between filmmakers and musicians being able to do all sorts of interesting things that we wouldn’t necessarily get to do otherwise,” he said.
Soren Gregersen, who directed and filmed Tiny Horse’s video, ‘The Girls,’ echoed some of Lyon’s comments. “I feel like it’s been an incentive to go the extra mile, to do something that you normally maybe wouldn’t do… But to have that extra support from KCFF has opened doors for us that [weren’t] really possible before.”
Kassador’s Borris Baker reflected on ways the program encourages members of Kingston’s film and music industries to work together: “It puts [musicians] in collaboration with people [whom] we never would have gotten to collaborate with otherwise.” Baker and his bandmates joined forces with Outpost 12 and Visual Menace to create a visually stunning video for one of Kassador’s upcoming singles.
It wasn’t just musicians and filmmakers benefiting from this year’s music video initiative, as local actors were featured in a number of the productions. “I enjoyed it very, very much. [Michael and Hayely] were great to work with, [it was] a very different experience,” said Cindy Chappell, a veteran of many Kingston theatre productions who made her music video debut as part of YourTV’s production.
“You have to do things several times, [and] do a lot with your face. There’s no voice, so there’s no lines to rely on or anything like that, it’s strictly facial expressions, the way you hold your body, the way your move,” Chappell added.
The following is a list of the 11 production companies and musicians who took part in this year’s program
- bnice films – Savannah Shea and Aaron Holmberg
- Happy Kid Productions – Luella
- AKAFLK Productions – Josh Lyon and Kelsey McNulty
- JL Creative Agency – Scott Owen
- Jamstone Productions – KaKow
- James Media – Keaton
- Little Friday – Tiny Horse
- Mickayla Pyke Media – Alex Mundy
- Michael Pontbriand (YourTV) – Hayley
- QR The Band
- Outpost 12 and Visual Menace – Kassador
Following Saturday night’s Slaight Music Video Showcase, several of the videos were recognized during KCFF’s closing night awards reception on Sunday, Mar. 5, 2023. Taking home the Favourite Music Video award, as voted on by audiences, was Little Friday and Tiny Horse for ‘The Girls.’ Meanwhile, the Best Music Video award, as voted on by a jury featuring Sarah Harmer, Hugh Dillon, and Javiera Quintana, went to Kassador’s video, produced by Outpost 12 and Visual Menace.