About the Writers’ Room

Spring 2009. In the University of Victoria’s Writing Department, professor/filmmaker Maureen Bradley started to throw around some crazy idea about getting a bunch of students together to film a web series that summer. I’m pretty sure the majority of us Writer’s Room participants were over-eagers who would casually pack up their bags at the end of class (at a very slow pace) commenting to Maureen about how, you know, we’d be totally into that.

Right before finals hit, a call for submissions for a web series screenplay was sent out to Fine Arts students. The chosen script was Freshman’s Wharf by third-year student, Rachel Warden.

When summer started, a group of us began to meet with Maureen and discuss the direction we wanted to take with the project. Since all of us wanted to give up every waking hour to its completion, the Writer’s Room was turned into a class in the Writing Department.

The next month was spent in pre-production: story editing, casting, location scouting, lining up every little detail n’ tying up all obstacles that could potentially snag us on the shoot…and there were many: a seaplane, a boat, a toddler all being rather essential to the storyline. But we made it, and, alas, after two 12-hour days of shooting we were nothing short of ready to keep on going.

There’s been a lot of talk about why the Writer’s Room’s first production, Freshman’s Wharf, has been such an incredible learning experience for the students involved. Beyond that, why have we enjoyed it so much? Was it the fact that this was all new? Was it that we’d each researched our designated positions to a tee? Was it our total and complete preparedness? Our undying enthusiasm? Our ambition?

Uh, yeah. Probably has something to do with it.

In a nutshell, everyone wants to make movies. Most people don’t know where to start, and up until a few months ago, most of us were included in that category. Being involved in the Writer’s Room has given us the opportunity to plunge right in, regardless of our experience. With mentors leading us (each of whom has a CV longer than all of ours put together), we could take risks we wouldn’t have been willing to take on our own. We were placed in a learning environment where messing up was totally fine, no big deal at all, expected even.

The result? Well, two episodes of a web series that we’re all pretty proud of.

And thirteen UVIC writing students ready for their next project.

Julia Dillon-Davis

Producer, Freshman’s Wharf

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