BY GEORGE MARATOS

“Lots of bad things happen when people drink, and driving is one of them.”

Those are the sentiments of Jamie Popper.

The Vanier high-school student is hoping to drive that message home to her fellow peers, and the 18-year-old is going about doing so in a unique manner.

Together with fellow Grade 12 student, Wren Hookey, Popper has been busy shooting, editing, directing and even acting in a public-service announcement (PSA) that hopes to send a direct message to young Yukoners about the dangers associated with drinking and driving.

And their main sources for relaying that message are the popular websites, Facebook and YouTube.

The young filmmakers have been getting their “Speilberg” on since late February, creating the video PSA.

Popper was first approached by friend Tracy Erman, program and research officer with Highways and Public Works, about creating a device that could be used to educate and inform teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving.

“In the past, it has always been a radio PSA, so I suggested we do a video and Tracy liked the idea,” explained Popper.

Once receiving the OK on the video proposal, Popper flanked her friend, Hookey, someone she knew had an interest in video production and was capable of taking on the project with her.

“We have a sisterly relationship,” describes Popper, who attended the MAD program with Hookey for two years.

Hookey and Popper say that, while they’ve worked on videos in the past, this project has been much different, particularly because they’ve had the opportunity to work with professional filmmakers and equipment.

The duo, along with a small cast made up of Vanier and MAD students, has been working with Ross Burnet, of the Yukon Film Society, shooting at Yukon College.

Both say that while they’ve made films before, through MAD, this experience has been entirely new.

“It’s a lot like some of the extras you see on DVDs with white sheets and lav mics,” says Hookey. “Working with professionals has probably been one of the most exciting aspects of the whole project.”

In addition to having the opportunity to work with professionals, Popper and Hookey say that being able to create a video on a subject they are both passionate about was also very motivating.

“I haven’t had any negative personal influences from drinking and driving, but it is a major concern of mine,” explains Hookey, who, this fall, will be furthering her filmmaking studies at the University of Winnipeg.

“Both my parents were very conscious of not driving after consuming any alcohol, and I remember that. Even if it is was just one glass of wine, my Mom would never drive.

“It’s something very important to me, and I get antsy when I see a person get in a vehicle after one beer … let alone several.”

For Popper, her involvement in developing the PSA has hit closer to home, saying only that drinking and driving has touched her family and it is that experience that she has put into creating the video.

Hesitant to share too much about the PSA entitled “Remember When …”, and based loosely on a script written by Vanier’s Creative Writing 12 class, the filmmakers say the premise involves a group of teenagers coming together following a drunk-driving incident that ended tragically.

“We’re not trying to say in this video that every time you get in a car, and you’re drinking, that you’ll crash, just that it may eventually happen and several lives are on the line when you do so,” says Hookey.

And while Hookey admits to not knowing how serious a problem drinking and driving is amongst teens in the territory, Popper says it is a reality: “I don’t see a lot of great things happening there [at parties].

“There’s never one particular incident, but you hear things and we’re just trying our best to prevent more of it from happening.”

Remember When … can be accessed via YouTube and Facebook and is going to be distributed to all of the graduating classes throughout the Yukon.

In an effort to encourage more viewer-ship, a contest pertaining to the video can be answered through Facebook, and there will be a number of draws for various prizes.