Collaboration with SFU students results in new skills
Deron Hamel

The Stage Door Theatre Troupe, a successful theatre program for stage actors who have a disability, is creating new storytelling opportunities by branching into film and video, thanks largely to a partnership with film students from Simon Fraser University (SFU).

As part of the collaboration, two film students, who have since graduated, worked with the 16 actors once a week for eight weeks to share their knowledge of working with film and video equipment. This provided the troupe with additional skill sets to build upon their acting talent.

The students brought video equipment to Stage Door’s site at Vancouver’s Heritage Hall, and taught the actors about all aspects of creating movies, including lighting, cameras and everything else important to video production.

“They mentored us in film, basically taking us through the process,” explains Don, a posAbilities support worker involved with the Stage Door program.

And what better way to teach people then to have them create a short film?

The actors started off by coming up with an idea for a film, and then split into three groups. Each group then created a script, followed by storyboards — hand-drawn images of each scene — and then the students filmed the actors in their roles.

The result was three five-minute films.

“To finally see the videos at the end was very cool,” says Don. “We were really proud of them once we were done, we were really happy . . . to see the whole process from beginning to end.”

Since then, the troupe has continued to work with video equipment a couple of times a week, Don adds.

A major benefit from the experience has been that the actors have had increased interest in their craft.

“(The actors) all have an interest in film and TV,” says Don, adding that the actors are also becoming more interested in the behind-the-scenes component of filmmaking.

“There’s a general energy and excitement about it.”

Dan, one of the students involved with the collaboration, says the opportunity to work with the actors was an enriching experience both professionally and personally.

“It was a really unique and amazing experience for me because it was my first time in a position of teaching and passing along some of the knowledge that I’ve acquired to people who can really put it to good use,” he says.

“(I) really connected with these guys in a way that is really personal.”

— More to come

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)