Edmonton production company earns accolades for series
On large scales and small, there are countless efforts underway around the world to combat our collective environmental crisis.
Here in Edmonton, a locally-produced online series called Sustainable Me is winning praise and accolades for what its first season has delivered to that end.
“The philosophy behind the series is to try and break through the sense of hopelessness that some people have about the challenges facing them, with the tipping point, with the environmental verge that we are on,” says Terri Wynnyk, the mastermind behind Sustainable Me and founder of Company of Women on the Screen (COWS)—the production company behind the series which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
“We are inspiring people to engage and start being creative,” she says. “Once you take that first step, it becomes a little easier to take that second step and the third step and so on.”
Following an Emerald Award nomination this spring, handed out by the provincial foundation recognizing environmental efforts across all sectors, Wynnyk found time to chat while returning home from the Yorkton Film Festival where Sustainable Me was nominated in its documentary series category.
“It’s a huge honour to be nominated when you see the calibre of the productions that you are in the same category with. It’s pretty humbling,” Wynnyk says, noting her series was competing with VICE and Vancouver General Hospital.
Hosted by local actor Paula Humby, season one is all about local efforts, exploring subjects from alternative transportation solutions and options for energizing homes to rethinking our supply chain of products and sustainable food options.
Breaking from COWS comfort zone in the arts, Sustainable Me “was, initially, a very mercenary kind of decision,” says Wynnyk, along with her writer, were exploring a grant option from Telus Optik Local Funding whose priority that year was youth and the environment.
“The idea began evolving and it took shape,” she says. “There was a lot of work done in the research and the writing stage so by the time we got to filming, we knew exactly what we were shooting.”
The next seasons are already mapped out and Wynnyk is hoping to have season two, which is all about water, launching for World Water Day on March 22, 2018.
“It’s extremely challenging because water is one of the hardest things for people to wrap their heads around,” she says, explaining how far removed city people are from water’s source when they simply open a tap to make it flow. “Also, water is tricky because it is a global problem, but it’s a very localized resource. One part of a country is flooding and another part is dealing with drought. Part of the country has got overflowing rivers and the other one has glaciers drying up, too much snow and not enough snow. So, local solutions do become very important.”
Partly because the series is aimed at inspiring the younger generation, and partly due to today’s media context, there are companion podcasts and even micro videos on the website that compliment the subjects and dig a little further into the material. Other than directly through its website, the first season of Sustainable Me can be watched on Telus Optik Local on Demand, as well as through YouTube and the series’ Facebook page.
Wynnyk says she’s gained much more than her initial goal ever laid out.
“The biggest gift that working on this series that I could have possibly gotten was just meeting and working with young talent in the community. Not just the crew that I had, who blew me away with not only their abilities but their creativity and their imaginations,” she says.