Youth Build is a carpentry apprenticeship program that operates out of the Pollack’s Hardware building one block north of Higgins and Main in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Rob and his Aboriginal students build a school together in the north end of Winnipeg, and in the process also re-build their lives.
Writer/director/producer: Stephen J. Payne
Producer: Scott McKay
Bricks and Mortar is a collaboration between three filmmakers and a teacher. We got a small contract to do a short promotional piece for Job Works through a university buddy, Rob Loiselle. When we looked at the footage my business partner Scott and I realized there was an awesome story there.
Rob was on board and his students opened up to us, sharing their lives on camera. Not one student refused to be on camera – it was clear they trusted us.
The story unfolded as the year progressed literally right before our eyes. We had access to every aspect of the student’s lives including shooting a morning sequence at one student’s home.
The creative process for us, my collaborators included, is to keep things simple.
As we were shooting we decided to profile four or five students going through the process of re-building their lives. It worked as each student came to the table with some issues and drama which became part of the story.
The most important aspect of Bricks and Mortar is the positive message the project revolves around. The heroes of our story are the students.
We decided to follow the current trend in doc storytelling using first person narrative. This approach works because we had a strong lead character in the teacher (Rob) whose passion shines through. Another very strong character is Wendelle and his wife Helen, two incredibly brave people doing a stellar job of raising their children.
Bricks and Mortar is a story of hope, a positive look at the potential of our marginalized Aboriginal people.
The film would not have been possible without the efforts and support of MTS Stories From Home, Cam Bennett, Kim Bell and Greg McLaren.
The Totem Studios crew, myself, Scott McKay and Dan Boey thank you for taking the time to check out our documentary.
About Steve Payne
Bricks and Mortar is the first major broadcast sale for Totem Studios, a partnership between Steve Payne and Scott McKay.
In a career that spans a quarter century, Steve Payne has worked at all levels in the industry. In 1993 he moved to Winnipeg after a stint with CBC Radio in the Maritimes.
Steve is one of a short list of filmmakers that have worked with 16mm and 35mm film.
He also taught screenwriting and digital filmmaking at Winnipeg’s Red River College in and at high school level. His documentaries have won awards nationally and internationally.
A previous series on Aboriginal commercial ice fishing, entitled Ice Works and Troubled Waters, was the first collaboration with Steve and Scott McKay.
Steve and Scott break the rules of documentary filmmaking as they infuse themselves into the story. This allows them access and footage they might not otherwise get. The passion they bring to a project is a major part of the genuine nature of the stories Steve and Scott choose to tell.
Steve and Scott believe strongly in the Aboriginal voice and will continue to work with Aboriginal subjects, telling Indigenous and First Nations stories.