DEMONSTRATION-École Mother Teresa Catholic School students Sheldon Therriault

Local cinematographer shares skills with local students

Red Deer cinematographer Nick Saik recently spent time sharing his extraordinary craft with students at École Mother Teresa Catholic School.

Saik, also a producer, writer and director, gave all kinds of valuable pointers on camera techniques and the intricacies of film editing to the school’s ‘Discovery’ students last month.

“I always loved capturing things on film,” he said during a recent chat from Vancouver, where he is lining up projects.

An early love for storytelling fuelled that passion as well, said Saik, who has family that live near Sylvan Lake.

As for sitting down with young students and talking about the world of cinematography, Saik enjoys connecting with like-minded individuals.

To connect with young students who have their eye on a similar career path is a joy. “I remember being in that position.”

Their enthusiasm is contagious. “I love passionate people.”

Years back, he participated in Teen Video Intensives at Red Deer College and it only solidified his passion for cinematography.

But some time passed before he decided it would be his life’s work.

He also took a couple of years off after high school to work at a range of jobs while he figured out what he wanted to do.

The jobs he took seemed rather random at the time, but Saik said they’ve all brought important elements to the mix in his evolution as an artist. “Every skill I picked up mattered.”

The comparatively unstructured nature of working in the film industry was also appealing. “I wasn’t too much into the nine to five thing,” he said with a laugh.

He later returned to supervise sessions of the Teen Video Intensives, and the career stage was set — so to speak.

Saik, 23, wrapped up his studies in the Motion Picture Arts program at Red Deer College in 2009.

He’s been a busy man since, in everything from imaginative, insightful corporate video projects to events coverage, feature films and powerful documentary projects.

He journeyed by Sudan in the summer of 2010 and captured all kinds of stunning scenes and poignant situations on video.

It was a powerful, life-changing experience and Saik said that in reflecting on it, he wonders sometimes where he got the strength to do it.

“It was by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done — extremely intense, emotional, visceral and real,” he said. “I watch the footage now, and I can’t imagine how I handled it emotionally.”

But he wouldn’t trade a minute of it. In fact, Saik said that kind of intense documentary genre is pretty much his favourite.

As he points out, the camera can capture so much. “I would love to end up doing more intense documentary stuff like that.”

These days, what was shot in Sudan is in the hands of an editor, so Saik isn’t certain when the project will be a wrap. He’s comfortable with letting his work be ‘shaped’ by an editor, pointing out that it’s all part of building a team of artists and technicians to work with that you trust implicitly.

“I’ve always been a really creative guy, but this process is really cool because it’s really collaborative,” he said. “You get to work with lots of different people, and it also allows you to focus on the one point you are passionate about.”

To this day, he credits Red Deer College with being a significant part of his success. The diversity offered, thanks in part to having the theatre program offered as well at RDC, offers filmmakers a treasure trove of opportunities to see their visions come to fruition.

Glenn MacLeod, vice principal at École Mother Teresa School, said that connecting with professionals in the community is one of the goals of the ‘Discovery’ program, and that it helps to inspire students to pursue their interests and passions.

“The students will continue their learning by networking with Mr. Saik on-line.”

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