A filmmaker’s story
My name is Mark Ennis. I have roots in Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick, a wonderful place to escape the trappings of the big cities in which I often find myself working and dwelling. I’m not here to sell you anything, or preach on any given topic. I’m here to share a few aspects of my story. I’m a filmmaker but it took me some time to embrace that description.
In 2012, after a very difficult 2011, I decided to embark full-time on a journey towards becoming a filmmaker. I always psyched myself out, telling myself that I was crazy to consider such a notion, that taking such a risk would be tantamount to financial ruin. Once I realized I was fine with the craziness of it all as well as the risk, I knew I could push forward. Not everyone is predisposed to these tendencies and nor should they be…it can be quite a challenging lifestyle. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So I finished RED CLAY in 2013, a sample TV pilot which inspired ROAD OF INIQUITY, a feature film that I wrote and directed two years later. RED CLAY did well and was accepted at a number of festivals. It helped pave the way in all aspects for the feature, which has been the hardest thing I’ve done career-wise. I’ve learned a lot, swore a lot more than I’d like to admit, but came out on the other side.
And while everyone thinks their “baby” is the prettiest, I really am fortunate for the work I’ve been able to create. I was one of three in the country to be granted a 2014 Telefilm Aboriginal Microbudget Production Grant, which was the first year of the program. I also told a contemporary Aboriginal story with a largely Aboriginal cast filmed on a First Nation. There’s some action, humour, and a good amount of pathos without the sanctimony. You won’t find Native stereotypes in this film and that alone makes me proud to say that I tried something a bit different.
What have I learned? Tell the stories you want. Tell them well. Tell them with heart and grace and truth. Use negativity as a galvanizing force, a weapon against any built-in inclination to stay on the safe path. If you’re an artist, you won’t have much of a choice in the matter. Creating is like eating…you do it to survive.
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