It’s one thing to actually make your first video documentary. It’s quite another to win two national awards for it. Then factor in—this was done by two King’s journalism students in the Video Documentary Workshop, Ellery Platts, BJ(Hons)’20 and Travis Devonport, BJ(Hons)’20, during the pandemic when the university was closed down. At King’s, students learn to use adversity to their advantage.
“I think that’s exactly what King’s has prepared us for,” says Travis. “Anyone that goes to this university knows the insane pace we work at. When news broke that the world was flipping upside down, for us it was just another day in the classroom.”
Still, as Ellery says – “When we found out the school was closing it was kind of a frantic scramble to figure out a plan.” And they did. They were able to work side by side for three days on their documentary The Lonest of Wolves before Ellery had to leave for her home in Calgary. There, Ellery continued editing.
“At the end of the first draft of the doc I sent it to Travis and we video chatted to discuss things that should be tweaked. We ended up going through eight drafts before it was actually done but I think I can speak for both of us when I say it’s better than I could have anticipated and I am extremely happy with how it turned out.”
So were the judges with the Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF). They awarded Travis with the Atlantic Broadcasters of Canada Scholarship and Ellery with the RTNDF Scholarship. Each came with a two thousand dollar award.
“We definitely think of them as shared as we have shared everything related to the doc,” Ellery says.
Travis says the awards are vindication for everything they went through to complete their documentary.
“I think everyone just wanted to move on after COVID. Having this recognition by the RTDNF makes me feel like what we did actually mattered.”
Sue Newhook, Assistant Professor of Journalism, led the workshop. She is justifiably proud of Travis and Ellery and not just for the awards. She is proud of their amazing tenacity and devotion to their project.
“They weren’t doing it for marks,” she says. “They were doing because they wanted to get it done.”
The Lonest of Wolves tells the story of Steve Skafte, an independent photographer, poet and storyteller. For more than a decade he has been capturing forgotten parts of Nova Scotia—abandoned homes, roads and businesses. As Ellery and Travis put it, “he’s looking to become a part of a home’s history, not just to document it.”
Travis adds, “I don’t know a man out there that treats derelict homes like they have souls. That’s what’s special about the man, in a world filled with doom and gloom, you actually get to see someone live their life with compassion. ”
The film making duo, working as Snapshot Productions, have applied to have The Lonest of Wolves screened at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival. Ellery says, “We just want to get our doc seen. We are going to try for more festivals and potentially try and get it onto a network after that or maybe CBC. Only time will tell but we are super optimistic that everything will work out for us.”