Opening scene: the Burton beach stretches out, the camera pans across the blue water reflecting the sky and green mountains. In the distance, a family plays on the sand and in the long grass.
As the camera zooms in, we see the family is the Alaric’s, who are having a picnic.
The scenery jostles about as the camera is set down on its tripod.
The operator comes out from behind the video camera and walks down to the beach, her blonde hair swings back and forth as she walks. When she turns to check on the camera, even though she is shading her eyes against the sun, we can see the operator is Rory Case.
JoAnne Alaric and Rory Case are two of three parts of the Number Five Video Productions team, the other third being Nancy Rosenblum, their teacher and mentor as well as their partner.
Based in the Kootenays, the company has the skills needed for complete video production, from coming up with an idea and producing a video, all the way through to posting it on YouTube.
Both Alaric and Case are Kootenay girls through and through, and are making a living for themselves thanks to high-tech as well as more traditional methods like word of mouth promotion.
“I wouldn’t be able to live in Burton without the Internet,” JoAnne said, “What we do is so technical. Eighty percent of our job is done in front of a Mac; the paperwork and the editing and post-production work.”
Thanks to the Burton Internet Society, Number Five Video Productions has been able to have their business based in the small community of Burton.
“I’ve been in Burton nine years, and I’ve had to leave twice because of economics, but we keep coming back – we keep trying to live here,” Alaric told me, a familiar story for many people in the Kootenays. In her words, she has had to get creative to stay here, and currently works at the school board as an educational assistant as well as doing video production.
Case and Alaric graduated from school together, and have been collaborating on projects together ever since. Their love for the area is clear, and their documentaries focus on local subjects, taking them out to the world.
“I’m from Nakusp, Crescent Bay,” Rory Case told me, and after a couple of years in Nelson, she’s back in Nakusp now, when she’s not on the road working. What keeps Rory travelling is her work in live broadcast as a camera operator and lighting technician for ColossoVision, a Calgary-based production company.
Even though she travels a lot with the company, Case is still able to do work for her own company on the road editing, by virtue of the Internet.
Both have won awards for their documentary portrayals of the people and places here in the Kootenays. Case’s “Box Mountain Bowyer” tells the story of local bow maker Clark Dennill, and “Our Bus” is Alaric’s film about the kids who ride the school bus from Edgewood to Nakusp.
Even these short documentaries can take six months to a year to finish, and both filmmakers say they are never really done.
The Kootenays are a source of constant inspiration.
“There are so many stories here,” Alaric said, who is currently working on “The Uphill Baker,” a documentary about a Nelson baker who delivers his bread by bicycle.
Other than their own films, Number Five Productions are kept busy making videos for local organizations.
“The majority of the work we’ve done so far are promotional videos for non-profits,” something Alaric wasn’t expecting. Most of their clients are local, like the Summit Lake Racers and the Burton Community Co-op, with the videos being used mainly on the the web or at trade shows.
These web-based videos serve to promote not only the group commissioning the work but the area in general as well, which both Alaric and Case find easy to do.
Having a video production company run by locals who love where they live is a huge benefit to anyone local who is interested in putting promotional materials together. But Number Five isn’t well-known, yet.
“I think a lot of people don’t know we’re here,” Alaric said, “We’re a new business; we’ve spent a lot of our money on equipment.”
Even so, the two partners say the future is looking bright for their ten-month-old company.
“The more experience and the more videos we get, the better we become,” Case said.
“A year ago we didn’t have any equipment, we didn’t even have an idea for a business,” Alaric added, “We both wanted to work in film and our true passion is our own documentary films, but this allows us to have that balance. By doing projects for other people it keep our skills up and keeps us connected with the community.”
The company puts the Kootenays square into the “YouTube world” as Alaric dubbed the Internet-saturated present-day culture. Getting local videos online shows the world what we’ve got.
The Nakusp Chamber of Commerce recently awarded Number Five Video Production the contract for a short promotional video.
In the treatment that won the bid, the gorgeous geography, unique hot springs and the affordable quality of life were all highlighted as elements that would attract professionals to the area.
For both Alaric and Case, the end goal is to work as full-time video professionals themselves, on projects ranging from Nelson through to Revelstoke. Being that kind of professional is seriously fun for them both.
“The video work is not really work,” Alaric said, and Case nodded in agreement. They are getting to do what they love, and the flexibility of the work means they can often do it wherever and whenever they like.
“It is insanely flexible,” Alaric said, “lots of times I’ll be editing in the middle of the night or early in the morning in my pajamas with my coffee.”