By Michael Grondin
CALGARY — Kino Sum Productions is a new multi-talented, multi-disciplinary team of creatives pushing to make world-class cinema with the city of Calgary at its heart.
Led by local filmmakers Gillian McKercher and Guillaume Carlier (who listed name after name after name of friends and collaborators on their team), Kino Sum aims to showcase lived experiences through a gritty perspective of augmented reality.
“When we talk about Kino Sum productions, and we talk about our films, we’re not just talking about ourselves. We’re talking about long-term collaborations,” says Carlier. “Kino Sum comes from years of making connections, and meeting people, and gaining trust within this community and building it up.”
The company’s first feature, Circle of Steel, funded by the Calgary Film Centre, is McKercher’s semi-autobiographical narrative about a young engineer struggling in Alberta’s oil and gas sector, and is currently in production.
“Circle of Steel is about workplace ambivalence in Alberta’s oil and gas fields. More specifically, it’s about a young engineer in her first field rotation, and layoffs are announced. So she watches the degeneration of morale across the company,” says McKercher.
With many other projects in the works, Kino Sum stems from a huge passion for film in all its aspects.
“When I saw our company come together, our voice seems like a magical, gritty contrast with a feel of heightened reality,” reflects McKercher. “This place is full of stories, and the experience of living here is pretty fascinating, and we want to tell these stories.”
Carlier adds that both filmmakers have an immense love for Calgary, but the film scene still has a lot of room for growth.
“Our inspiration comes from the simple fact that we want to make films period. That is it. However, there are add-ons to that simple fact,” he says. “In Calgary, we don’t have the same kind of access to national funding, we don’t have the same access to national level talent, and we don’t have the same means to make big productions. So, for film makers that will make films no matter what, we have to be creative in different ways.”
Kino Sum will explore many different styles of telling these stories, such as music videos, documentaries, features and installations.
“The important thing is to focus on our inspiration, energy and style. And if you look around, and this applies for any artist in Calgary, this city is strange, and the environment is bizarre and interesting,” says Carlier, adding that such elements will add to their pieces.
In 2018, Carlier will be releasing a film titled Everybody Altogether Now.
“It started out as just a short here and there that I would do on interesting people that I know. Sometimes it was a documentary, and sometimes it was like a reenactment of something we experienced together,” he explains. “Gillian noticed that if I were to add them all together, it would be a collection of portraits of my friends and these strange, weird people I meet in Calgary.”
Going forward, these ambitious creatives have high aspirations for where their films can and will go.
“We always talk about wanting to be bigger than just what is accepted in the local scene, and not to reduce what is happening here, because Calgary is still at the heart of it all, but we aspire to make content that can compete nationally and internationally,” says McKercher, concluding, “The risk is much greater, but it’s a risk that we’re willing to take because we want this company to make world class narratives while collaborating with interesting people.”Calagry, film, Kino Sum