Joseph Fourre

July 21, 2022

Métis filmmaker hopes to shine at Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition

Artist Joseph Fourre is eager to compete for the grand prize in the 2022 RBC Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition.

A Red River Métis Citizen is vying for the 2022 RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition.

Joeseph Fourre was one of nine competitors who entered the competition and one of five to move on to the live pitch competition at the Gimli International Film Festival.

For Fourre, this marks a tremendous journey of growth and accomplishment.

"Three years ago, I was homeless and living a very dark life," he said. "You know, there was a series of bad events and bad decisions, I'll say, that led me to that position in life. I knew I either had to change or die."

The budding filmmaker credits his daughter for inspiring him to get back into writing, partly because he did not want to return to the trucking industry.

"(My daughter) said, 'why don't you start writing again? I remember when you were writing, you were happy.' So, I looked at writing, and I'm a graduate of the Aboriginal Journalist Training Program held back in the '90s, and I had a career with the CBC from '91 to '95," he said. "I mean, life is life, and I wasn't quite prepared for that type of stuff. So, as I ventured into looking, I went and saw some old classmates of mine and my old instructor to see what I needed to do to get back into the industry. One of my biggest regrets in life was leaving the industry."

Fourre faced a learning curve while being reacquainted with the industry due to the leaps and bounds in technological advances since the '90s. He recalls many organizations telling him he was too old to pursue a career change, and many establishments focused on giving funding to Youth.

"I met with Manitoba Industry and Training and gave them my background. Against all odds, they said, 'normally, we don't fund these types of programs, but given your background, it makes sense,'" he said. "So, they took a chance on me, and I completed the (Broadcasting and Media Communications) program. I graduated and won the 2019 Herzing Cup International for a presentation I made on Residential Schools. So, that reiterated the fact that I was on the right track here."

Since graduating, Fourre has been enthralled with becoming a respected storyteller and is making strides to attain that status. He recalled one of the first works he released.

"My first short film, called 'The First Day,' was a film about an addict in recovery and the first day of school, the first day of his new life, and all the internal things that he had to battle in order to walk out the door that first day," he said. "That (film) won the Audience Choice Award at the University of Winnipeg Film Festival in 2020 and was screened at the Aboriginal Film Festival, and Storytellers' Film Festival in The Pas."

The Gimli International Film Festival runs from July 20-24.

Fourre has been honing his craft and getting more experience by working on some high-calibre projects, including on camera. He said the rewards of the industry have been funny.

"My stepdaughter called my wife recently and said, 'oh my God, I just saw dad on TV.' I did a small part in SkyMed, and then had the wonderful opportunity to work with Paul Rabliauskas during an Eagle Vision production of DJ Burnt Bannock on APTN lumi, and then that started it all," he said. "I did my internship from Herzing - you had to do an internship, and I did my internship with Eagle Vision. They recognized that there was something here with (me), and they took a chance. They pushed me to be better."

In the three and a half years he has been working in the industry, Fourre said it's not about being in movies. It's about being there and learning in real-time.

"I've put myself out there to do background work, so I've been on probably about 15 different productions, doing background, and just learning, being on set, learning what does it take to make the film, the people that are involved in the making of the film, and the chains of command."

Fourre credits his daughter for gifting him the original script of 'The Dress,' which he reworked to make into the current pitch he will be presenting at the Gimli International Film Festival. He also credits Angela Chalmers from As It Happened Productions for mentoring him in producing and directing, as well as pushing him to submit his work. When Fourre sent it in, he didn't think it would be nominated.

"I never in a million years expected myself to be chosen as one of the five finalists," said Fourre. "It's an overwhelming experience. It's been a long journey over the last three years to get myself re-established, and this goes a long way in helping me gain recognition as a respected storyteller."

The five finalists of the competition will have a three-minute opportunity to pitch their submitted short film idea to a jury and audience at the film festival. The winner of the pitch competition receives $10,000, a $5,000 equipment rental grant, mentorship from the National Screen Institute - Canada, as well as their film being screened at next year's festival. Win or lose, Fourre said this is a daunting opportunity because this is such a prestigious film festival for the Prairies.

"There are only four in Canada, others being Toronto, Vancouver, Whistler, and Gimli. So having this opportunity to participate at the Gimli Film Festival is a step in the right direction. I'm very humbled by this experience," he said. "Coming from where I've come from throughout my life, to stand with these incredible people and have the opportunity to pitch a story and a film I would like to make is a wonderful opportunity to expand."

'The Dress' is a story about two Indigenous sisters who lost themselves, and lost each other to trauma, Fourre explained.

"One sister, on her healing journey, learns of the jingle dress ceremony and sets out to make the dress to present to her sister with the hopes of healing their broken relationship," he added.

Win or lose, he still hopes to pursue and create this work, but acknowledges the money from the pitch competition would go a long way in helping the project.

When Fourre isn't busy with filmmaking, he serves as a program support worker in the addictions field. He tries to incorporate his experiences and success as a catalyst for others.

"I use that in my work, being a support worker with other people who are at that same pinnacle in life, trying to create change, and so I share that you find your passion, you believe in it, and do the work."

Fourre has been connected to his Red River Métis roots since being raised by his grandparents in The Pas. He also served as the Chair of The Pas Local back in the 2000s.

"I'm always around AGAs and then trying to stay close to what's happening in our community," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out a way to get re-involved in the Métis community. Filmmaking and storytelling is the way of doing it, and that's what I do."

When asked about future goals and projects, Fourre admitted he is working on a five-year plan.

"I'm in year two, and my goal is to make it to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). I'm presently writing a feature script, it's not finished yet, so I'll hopefully have that finished by next year, and then we'll be shopping that around," he said. "If by the good graces of the spirits and the filmmaking gods, if I get chosen as the winner of this year's Film Festival and get to make this film, that gets me one step closer to that goal."

Throughout Fourre's journey, he has been grateful for the constant support from his wife Vera and his children.

"I couldn't do this without them," he said. "The one thing that I've learned is that one person can't make a great film, it takes a team, and I am blessed right now to be surrounded by such beautiful and talented people."

The pitch competition begins on Saturday, July 23, at 10 am at the Gimli Theatre as part of the Gimli International Film Festival, and the pitch event is free to attend.


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