By Mark Weber - Red Deer Express
Central Alberta-produced film She Has A Name took the award for Best Production Design at the recent 2017 Alberta Film and Television Awards.
Production Designer Shari Aspinall received the award on an evening that honoured Alberta-made productions.
“The acknowledgment of an established community of creatives such as Alberta Film and Television is not only satisfying but affirming of the heart and hours invested into independent films like She Has A Name,” said Aspinall, who shares a production design credit on the film with UK-based Donna Abraham.
“My hope as both producer and designer is that the visual grit and beauty allows our audience to emotionally encounter the humanity of the characters and to attribute value that shifts paradigms currently facilitating child slavery,” said Aspinall.
She Has A Name was produced in Red Deer, filmed in Thailand and features an international cast and crew.
The film was directed by Matthew and Daniel Kooman from the screenplay by Andrew Kooman. The Kooman brothers, along with Donna Abraham and Aspinall are producers. Lance Kadatz and Dean Kohut were the film’s executive producers.
Aspinall, also one of the film’s producers, hails from Red Deer.
She Has A Name exposes the $150 billion global human trafficking industry that sells children, women and men as commodities.
As a release points out, the film’s, “Visually rich style, vibrant colours and gritty cinematic look has been receiving acclaim around the world, including four other nominations at Rosies, including Best Dramatic Feature.”
Aspinall has been friends with the Kooman brothers for some time, and that connection led to the opportunity to work on the film. That included scouting for locations in Thailand and Cambodia, looking for those ideal places that showcased both the striking beauty of both countries but also the gritty, darker side of various communities where human trafficking takes place.
“When we went there back in 2013 - part of the my mandate was to take in as much as possible and what it felt like to be there. How could we reproduce or re-create that in an authentic way that would allow people to encounter what it felt like to be in that environment? The production value of being in Thailand, working with our line producer, was really professional. The team worked tirelessly and it was amazing to be with them,” she said.
“There’s this kind of tension that kind of happens in the production design between this beauty that kind of grabs people’s attention and the grit with what is going on at the same time,” she said.
As to the process of finding that perfect look and tone for a film, Aspinall said it’s a bit like sculpting.
“It’s a bit like watching a sculpture appear in front of you - you slowly chip things away. This is what is felt like in my heart; this is what it looked like in my head,” she explained. “It’s a huge endeavour, and it’s taken a lot of years and a lot of hands that have put their touches on it. It’s a wonderful process.
“I love seeing the creativity manifest, whether that’s designing a room, or seeing an artist evolve, or seeing a film come to be - I love seeing it all happen,” she said.
Meanwhile, affectionately known as the Rosies, the award ceremony took place at a gala event on April 29th at the SHAW Conference Centre in Edmonton.
She Has A Name was released in December 2016 in select theatres globally and is currently expanding to exclusive screening engagements across North America.