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Student Filmmakers Descend on Haskell

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--February 23, 2011.

larger_film_4-larger.jpgThe Haskell Free Library and Opera House was awash in wires, microphones, spotlights and cameras last weekend. A crew of four filmmaking students from Montreal -- Hervé Goyau, Émilie Guertin, Jérôme Bérubé, and Clément Machet, along with their teacher, Stéphane Tremblay -- were in Stanstead for two days to shoot a pair of documentaries on the Haskell and its colourful history.

Tremblay, who teaches filmmaking at the venerable Conservatoire Lassalle in Montreal, spent two gruelling 12-hour days at the Haskell with his students, filming on both the inside and the outside of the building.

larger_film_2-large.jpgThe crew divided their time between the library on the first floor and the opera house on the second and third floors. Almost every corner of this internationally recognized historic site was recorded on film.

There were also shots of patrons using the library, as well as interviews with librarians Nancy Rumery and Marie-France Journet.

larger_film.3.jpgIn the library, the crew shot film in the reading room, with its famous black line demarcating the international border across the floor, the stack rooms, the children's reading room, and at the circulation desk.

In the opera house, several sequences were shot in the auditorium. These included views of the magnificent drop curtain with its vivid scene of the Venice harbour, the stage and painted backdrop of a street scene, the balcony, the ticket booth, and the dressing rooms, where generations of performers have signed their names on the walls.

larger_film.9.jpgThis project is being funded by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) as part of its Heritage Online Multimedia Enrichment Initiative (HOMEI), which is itself funded by Canada Economic Development. The aim of the HOMEI initiative is to assist heritage-related organizations around Quebec to better promote themselves via the Internet.

When completed, the two documentaries produced for the Haskell -- one in English and one in French -- will be made public on the Internet as a way of calling attention to this wonderful, historic institution.

larger_film_1-larger.jpgStéphane Tremblay, who is a documentary filmmaker as well as a college professor, is familiar with the border area, having worked on a number of projects here already. When he heard about this project, he jumped at the chance to produce the documentaries, and at minimal cost, as a class project. The project is the first that these particular students have undertaken.

larger_film_5.jpg"They were so motivated," Tremblay told the Record last weekend after the shooting had wrapped up. "I have no doubt that this is going to be an excellent promotional tool for the Haskell."

Tremblay described his class's two days at the Haskell as "an incredible experience." He said that he was proud to see his students, who are all new to this line of work, "act like pros."

As the weekend progressed, Tremblay explained, the students "took more control of the project and became very much perfectionists in regard to detail. They really wanted to do a great job, worked well together and very professionally for the good of the project, and forgot all about time."

Tremblay attributed much of that spirit to the inspiration the group received from their magnificent surroundings. "They were all honoured, as was I, to have had this opportunity to work in such a beautiful place."