Fort St. John artist Ovvian Castrillo-Hill has completed her series EX-SITU: Thriving In Our New Bayan, which documents the history of the Filipino community in the Peace region, and is already moving onto a new project.
She has once again been selected through the Telus STORYHIVE Voices program for emerging content creators and will be producing a second series of EX-SITU, which means living and thriving in a place that’s not your habitat.
“There was no guarantee that just because you participated in the first that they would select you for the next one so I was especially happy that I am able to continue,” said Castrillo-Hill.
While her first project focused on interviewing individuals about their experiences coming to Canada, the second documentary series, called EX-SITU Interaction, will focus on how Filipino Canadian culture adapts to a new environment.
“It’s about how the Filipino Canadians in town are interacting in various ways for instance, through music, through food, through tradition, through art, and this kind of thing.”
The Filipino community makes up the largest group of immigrants in the Peace Region and Castrillo-Hill, a first-time filmmaker, said she thinks it’s important that Filipino Canadians feel seen and heard.
She also hopes her project helps children and future generations know the journey their families took getting to Canada, to show gratitude, and to share Filipino culture with Canadians as well.
“What I hope is that our culture, our food, and the elements of the way we live, what we bring in here to Canada, that it won't be foreign anymore,” said Castrillo-Hill.
“We'd like for us to not be different from everybody else and that can only happen by exposing the rest of Canada to what it is that we bring.”
Castrillo-Hill made eight episodes of the first series of EX-SITU and says while she hasn’t yet mastered all of the technical aspects of filmmaking, the community is appreciative that these stories are being told.
“I might be interviewing just a handful, but their experiences are kind of a mirror for almost everyone who has come so they'll see parallels to their own stories and they can relate to them.”
She’s currently working on EX-SITU Interaction, which will be composed of six 25-minute episodes that she hopes to complete sometime this summer.
“This is a very big learning experience for me. I've seen a lot. I've learned a lot of skills. I'm also discovering my weaknesses but it's helping me grow and at the end of the day, that's what I want to continue doing.”
Becoming an emerging filmmaker at 50-years-old, Castrillo Hill also wants to encourage anyone who has a story to tell to give it a shot.
“I'd like to encourage anyone who would be interested in doing something like this to give it a shot, because that's what I did and I'm quite happy to add that I've had this opportunity to do what I wanted.”