Favourite Local Filmmaker

Kayla Jeanson

Photo by Callie Lugosi

1. Kayla Jeanson
2. Guy Maddin
3. Sonya Ballantyne


For filmmaker Kayla Jeanson, dance was a gateway to film.

She started taking film studies classes in university but didn’t pick up a camera until her third year.

“I hadn’t had any interest in image-making outside of dance. But I immediately fell in love with it, particularly with documenting the creative activities of my friends. So I started following everyone around, filming as much dance as I could and just trying to find an interesting story,” Jeanson says.

Jeanson has been prolific in her film and videography, working as a director, cinematographer, choreographer, editor or some combination of all. Her work spans documentary, dance film, art film and narrative fiction.

She stresses collaboration in her work. Many of her films credit her as a co-author with dancers, poets or other artists.

“I think I learn the most about filmmaking through the art of collaboration and trying something with someone new,” Jeanson says. “I’m currently looking around thinking, ‘Who can I work with next?’”

Not that Jeanson is short on work. She directed or co-authored three original works in 2016. Mino Kii-Kii-Mah Ghe-Win, a documentary about education for residents of Berens River First Nation, premiered at the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. 

Walrus Sausage, a surreal animated poem, screened at F-Wordz, while Shenanigans at Sunset, a doc about an Oak Bank dinner theatre, will be released soon on MTS Stories from Home. She also worked as choreographer for Madison Thomas’s upcoming Exposed Nerves.

Despite her varied portfolio, dance is still the primary fuel for her creative fire.

“The movement of the camera feels like a dance to me,” Jeanson says. “Even in docs. I’ve done the talking-head style, but I’ve discovered that when I follow a subject, see them moving and talking, using their body, I’m more in the room with them.”

Published in Volume 71, Number 13 of The Uniter (December 1, 2016)

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