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Southwest Stories premiere everything Gull Lake couple had hoped it would be

Written by  Ryan Dahlman

It was the moment they had waited for for months and finally unleashed Feb. 4 at the historic Gull Lake Lyceum Theatre.

Southwest Stories, the well thought-out, well-researched and well-executed documentary creation of Craig and Layla Baird, was premiered in Gull Lake and it was a success. Despite the poor weather conditions earlier in the week, the theatre was still relatively full come the night of the premiere.
“We estimated based on the number of seats empty that we had about 140 to 150 people, which is nearly a sell out and a very good night for the theatre on any given night,” explains Baird. “People began to arrive right at 6:30 and there was a steady stream until we started the films. Overall, it was more than we could have hoped for.”
The film has been well received, receiving a lot of local, but also provincial media attention.
MLA Wayne Elhard sent a letter of congratulations.
Besides Southwest Stories, two other documentaries were shown including the Clearwater Documentary and the Pig Spleen Men.
Narrated by Jason Hall, Baird described Southwest Stories as four months of planning, six months of shooting, and four months of editing. According to Craig’s twitter account, the Bairds drove 20,000 kilometres, shot more than 40 hours of footage and recorded a total of 1,000 videos.
The documentary is well done but even still, there is always trepidation upon a film’s release. Fortunately, any doubts were erased by those in attendance.
“(It was) overwhelmingly positive. For a few days after people stopped me in Gull Lake to comment on how much they enjoyed the film. I had a lot of people at the premiere tell me they really liked it. The response was really amazing and it made it all worthwhile,” explains Baird.
“(During the premiere’s start) there was a lot nervousness. After one year of filming, editing and everything, it all came down to that moment when the film came on. You begin wondering if people will fall asleep, walk out, anything. I spent the first half of the film pacing in the lobby listening to the film, thinking of things I could have changed, fixed, and more.”
It was a big undertaking for the Bairds who have set themselves up well in Gull Lake now doing a lot of freelance work including shooting Gull Lake’s entry for the Hometown Hockey contest.
They have put themselves on the map as they toured every town in southwestern Saskatchewan. They have stories from all  the places and have made friends along the way.
Looking back on the actual work done and how he and Layla were able to shoot and garner the stories, they can be proud of what they accomplished. A lot of work went into the entire process.
Craig followed it closely and kept track of how he documented southwest Saskatchewan’s history which made for some interesting times this winter.
“I use an app on my phone called TimeHop, and it shows you what you posted on that day in the past. So it is funny to see me talking about filming, raising money for filming, planning out the things I am going to film and then thinking of all the work I had ahead of me, looking at it from today,” explains Baird. “As for those small sequences, we really wanted to make it a professional looking film. So, I spent an entire day just working on each location’s five second intro using some special effects software I have. It was an immense amount of work, but it looks way better to have a 3-D title that says Grasslands, moving with the camera as the landscape reflects on the letters, than to just have a black screen with Grasslands in white print. Editing the film, I was often thrown back to the day when I filmed something, which would be weird when it is -25 C out and I am editing something from a day when it was over 30 degrees. It messed with my head a bit.”
The Bairds have the film online now and they are trying to get it out there as much as possible. Prairie Post received a letter from a fan who wants to see it as part of the school curriculum. Craig wouldn’t mind having it submitted to the National Film Board, or something like that. They are doing up DVDs and he hopes to get some at information kiosks around the southwest.
Craig and Layla worked extremely hard and feel fortunate with all they have been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time.
It’s not just the attention, contacts or business partners they have been able to earn, Craig says the life lessons, contacts and experience in producing such a project in the past year have been educational on so many levels.
“I learned an incredible amount. I had never filmed a documentary or anything longer than 10 minutes before taking on this project. We both were excited about it, but the amount of work was really staggering and that was just for an hour and a half long film. It took 200 hours just to edit the 40 hours of footage we had. There were a lot of times we sat in the living room watching footage and making notes. I literally have pages and pages of notes we have made,” says Baird.
“The overall process was a lot of fun and now that it is done and over with, I think the film turned out great. I had some people tell me that we should submit it to festivals, but I haven’t decided if I feel it’s good enough for that, but I am my own worst critic.”
There is more coming from the Bairds. They now have a new company name and are going to continue to tell more stories.
“We just rebranded our company under a new name (BlueBox Media/ thanks to some marketing workshops we have been at, and we just finished Gull Lake’s Hockeyville video which was a lot of work but a lot of fun to make,” explains Baird.
“Now, we are going to concentrate on our video marketing business, but I am planning to do another documentary about Canada, kind of a larger scale Southwest Stories, if we can get the grants. If we don’t, then I may just spend my summer around Saskatchewan again, filming and doing what I love for the heck of it.”

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

Southwest Stories premiere everything Gull Lake couple had hoped it would be GULL LAKE SouthWest Saskatchewan  Gull Lake Lyceum Theatre

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