Sharing a love for film

There are meetings.
There is paperwork.
There are grants to apply for and cheques to sign.
But, for Jessica Hall, being the president of the Yukon Film Society is all about… people.

“The thing I really like about being on the board is my fellow board members and the staff,” she said.
“They are all amazing people.
“We are 50 per cent production people – those who create kinetic art – yet we come from different backgrounds.
“So, I am exposed to the opinions of people who don’t run in my circle normally.”

Then there are members of the society who do not have a background in film production or its industry. Hall says they have an honest opinion of film based strictly on the storytelling.

“They are just great people,” she said. “They are kind, compassionate and passionate about film; so, it is like having a built-in audience meter as they watch a lot of films and have their own perspective, that is different from people who work in film.”

That is a lot of opinions on an art form that permeates society in so many ways: from art house films to YouTube; from Hollywood blockbusters to television commercials; and from schlocky cult favourites to documentaries.

As the film society’s president, Hall challenges herself to hear and respect every voice.

Her own passions for film began with her parents who had a large collection of VHS tapes.

“When I was in junior high, my best friend’s dad was an early adopter of technology, so he always had the latest things like a camera and a really crazy audio setup where we could play a record and CD, or a record and tape, and then record it down to another tape.

“With a camcorder and a monitor with an RCA Out and a couple of VCRs, we could make videos.

“We did that for fun… what connectors go where and, well, we just figured it out.”

She ended up in Simon Fraser University’s film and communications programs.

“The focus was independent cinema and it was about learning the craft and telling a story,” Hall said.

“It wasn’t about working in Hollywood, it was more on the arts side of filmmaking.

“That was good for me as it makes you think more about the process and what filmmakers are saying with their work and celebrating film.”

Today, Hall is a freelance editor and freelance video producer who works on industrial and promotional videos or works on other people’s projects.

She has worked in the industry as a production coordinator and worked in casting for television shows and movies.

Joining the Yukon Film Society in 2000 was a way to get involved in filmmaking and make connections.

Today, the society gives her a chance to meet people she would not normally meet.

“I think it is important for everyone to to get out of their comfort zone and meet people,” Hall said.

“Everyone has a different reason for being there.”

But, from Feb. 3 to 11, they all do have a common opportunity to enjoy films. It is the annual Available Light Film Festival. Planning takes all year, but it kicks into high gear in the fall.

Then there is programming throughout the year that includes a monthly Available Lights Cinema at the Yukon Arts Centre and a new screening series called Cult/Occult that focuses on “retro-cinema, weird cinema, old Hollywood”.

And there are monthly residencies at the Jenni House in Shipyard’s Park and production workshops and equipment rental.

Hall’s board has a staff of four that handles most of the details. But the board ensures the mandate is adhered to and looks at the bigger picture.

“We are a consensus board, so my vote is just as important as everyone else’s,” she said. “The role of president isn’t some kind of dictatorship because that is not healthy.”

Hall says her two-year stint as president expires at the AGM this spring/summer and she is excited to see someone else bring a different perspective to the role.

Details on all of the upcoming events are available at

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