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$20K grant will help Victoria screenwriter produce Black history horror film

Joel Brewster one of 30 Black creators chosen to receive Telus Storyhive/Black Screen Office grant
Victoria-based screenwriter Joel H. Brewster (left) is pictured on the set of his 2016 short film, The Man in the Rabbit Mask. He won a $20,000 Black Creators Edition grant to support production of his next short film, The Victoria I know. (Photo courtesy of Joel H. Brewster)

Victoria-based screenwriter and director Joel H. Brewster got a $20,000 boost to help make his horror short film, one of 30 Black creators to be selected for the production funding grant under the Telus Storyhive program.

The 34-year-old filmmaker of Barbadian heritage grew up in Victoria and said he has always had an affinity for horror and science fiction – a medium through which he can convey inclusion and diversity.

He earned the grant for production of The Victoria I Know, a collaboration with Filipino director Mik Narciso. It tells the story of a Black photographer who struggles to see herself represented in Victoria – until she meets the ghost of Martha Ann Telfer, mother of Sir James Douglas.

Telfer is a prominent Black figure in B.C. history and Brewster wanted to bring light to her story since there is very little written about her.

Writing this screenplay was important, he said, because he doesn’t know many people who are well-versed in Victoria’s Black history, especially when it comes to Douglas and Telfer.

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“I also wanted to highlight the main character in the story who is a biracial photographer, and her best friend in the story who is Indigenous,” Brewster said. “I’ve never seen that sort of friendship onscreen – they have a very fascinating conversation about race and how they have experienced erasure in Canada.”

Through the story, Brewster explores a world of horror and secrets that touch on micro-aggression, erasure, and the experiences of minorities in Canada.

Telus Storyhive and the non-profit Black Screen Office, which supports Black Canadians in the screen industries, selected 30 Black creators from across B.C. and Alberta to receive $20,000 each in production funding, plus personalized training and mentorship, as part of the first-ever Black Creators Edition.

Its aim is to address the underrepresentation of Black voices in the Canadian film and TV industries and help jumpstart the careers of emerging creators,” a release said.

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