Turning a creative passion into a career was not something that Carr Sappier thought was an option when they were younger, but that creative passion has sparked the beginning of positive impact through film for Indigenous peoples across Canada.
Growing up in Neqotkuk (Tobique) First Nation, Carr found their love for filmmaking in high school, which started with creating fun YouTube skits with their friends. This soon turned into a larger passion for them when they were selected to help make a series of anti-drinking public service announcements in Grade 11, teaching Carr about the different programs and equipment that professional filmmakers use.
In high school, without fully understanding the opportunity that existed in film, Carr considered becoming a psychologist, saying: “I was a peer mentor, and they were pushing me to do psychology.” Carr ended up trying one semester in psychology, soon realizing it wasn’t the career path for them. Carr reached out to their sister, Natalie Sappier, for advice.
Natalie encouraged Carr towards film, saying: “what are your passions, what do you love to do? Go to school for something that you love… Go to film school!” Carr did just that and joined a two-year filmmaking program in Fredericton. This program only inspired them to learn more about video production and the film industry. After graduating, Carr decided to go to Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and studied film in depth for five years.
In B.C., Carr started blending their Indigenous culture with their work in film. Understanding that there was a lack of Indigenous representation in film, Carr co-founded the Skoden Indigenous Film Festival. “There has to be Indigenous voices in this space,” Carr says, stating that this idea to create an Indigenous film festival at their school “stemmed from the idea of what reconciliation is.”
The film festival was a success and made a great impact for Indigenous peoples in the industry. In order to have the festival live on after they graduated, Carr got approval from the school and lined up funding and mentorship to turn the Skoden Indigenous Film Festival into an accredited course at Simon Fraser University. On top of that, as Carr graduated and moved back to Neqotkuk, for the last two years they have continued to help teach and mentor this class virtually from New Brunswick.
Currently, Carr is part of JEDI’s Internship Program working with RayneMaker Productions, a Fredericton-based video production company. Carr is quick to share how great working with RayneMaker Productions is, saying: “I feel like my opinion matters, I feel like my ideas matter… I never felt that before.”
On top of supporting the RayneMaker team with their projects, Carr is also learning the business behind a video production company such as budgeting, hiring, proposal writing, and more. RayneMaker is also giving Carr the freedom and space to lead their own project, an Indigenous mental wellness documentary. “We have a really great working relationship and they’re very supportive,” Carr says about the team at RayneMaker.
Carr shares that their internship with RayneMaker has helped with their future career, saying: “they gave me more confidence to believe in the work that I do, and to have confidence in reaching out to people and asking for help.”
Looking forward, Carr plans on growing their film career at home in Neqotkuk, continuing to focus on promoting more Indigenous representation through film. Next on their to-do list is to produce a documentary sharing stories and educating people on two-spirit Indigenous peoples, elders, and youth. We look forward to seeing Carr continue to make a difference for Indigenous peoples in the film industry, encouraging everyone to share their stories.
Carr’s advice to future Indigenous creatives looking to turn their passions into a career is “to do it, to try it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
The Joint Economic Development Initiative is an Indigenous organization dedicated to working with partners to foster Indigenous economic development in the province. This blog post was originally published by JEDI on July 27, 2022.