The Indigenous Screen Office celebrates Indigenous filmmakers, producers, writers, directors and more in this series. In ISO Storytellers, you will learn more about the artists who have benefitted from the support of ISO funding.
Jordan Waunch is a Vancouver-based Métis artist, producer, and content creator. Jordan is a graduate from BCIT’s Television & Video Production Program and Capilano University’s Acting for the Stage and Screen Program.
Jordan is a recipient of the ISO/Netflix Indigenous Production Apprenticeships and Cultural Mentorships Grant.
Interview with Jordan
ISO: Describe your project.
Jordan: This six episode limited series entitled the Shadow of the Rougarou is an energetic and gripping supernatural thriller that uses horror elements and traditional Métis mythology to tell the story of Sâkowêw, a westward bound Métis-Cree fur trapper called back home to rally recruits for the 1885 North West Resistance. Ambushed in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains by a hostile group of American Wolfers and stalked by an ancient evil deep within the woods, this young Métis woman must unravel the truth of her past if she is to return to her village alive.
Set amidst the shifting landscape of the 19th century fur trade, the first installment of Shadow of the Rougarou explores the spellbinding Métis legend of the wolf-like Rougarou set against a background of historical realities while our hero Sâkowêw must navigate the harsh mountain wilderness, the hostilities of colonialism, and the search for home, all under the mounting shadow of her darkest fears.
ISO: Why was it important to you to receive ISO funding?
Jordan: Having the support of the Indigenous Screen Office and Netflix through the Cultural Mentorship Grant was an essential part of the development and success of this limited series. The project, though fictional, was inspired and influenced by traditional Métis stories, historical events, culture, and language. It was really important for me and my team to honour that and to approach the story and language with respect and proper protocols. In order to do that correctly it was essential for me to work closely with the Elders and Knowledge Keepers in my community on the script development, the incorporation of multiple languages in the project, and how to best share communal stories in a good way.
Taking this community approach towards developing story is not the norm or always easy outside of Indigenous circles. In the colonial structure of the western film industry going to such lengths to work with and incorporate Elders into the filmmaking process is often met with backlash or confusion, and traditionally there is little to no support for projects wanting to step outside that colonial sphere of influence. This mentorship program offered by the ISO and Netflix to emerging Indigenous filmmakers like myself makes this type of work possible and creates a safe space for our stories to flourish and grow.
ISO: What is one of your favourite memories from this project?
Jordan: One of my favourite memories from this experience was seeing Indigenous languages coming to life on the film set, the cast was amazing and just rocked it! Our six episodes feature Northern Michif, Plains Cree, and an old West Coast trading language called Chinook Jargon (or Wawa). It was a really powerful experience watching our Elders teach the actors the dialects and to see the dialogue in action while shooting.
ISO: What best practice can you share that you learned from this project?
Jordan: The best practice I learned from this journey is that you can’t make a project of this nature without community. Every role is essential and your team must be treated with respect and heard. We had an amazing cast and crew on this shoot and I am so thankful for all the kind hearts who made this show possible. In all honesty, bringing any type of group project to completion whether it’s a TV show, video game, or documentary is a complete miracle. It takes a ton of commitment and teamwork, and to pull it off is celebration in itself.
ISO: If your film or project is finished, where can people see it?
Jordan: APTN has been a great supporter of this project and will be premiering Shadow Of The Rougarou on their streaming service Lumi in spring 2022. In the meantime those interested in the show can watch sneak peeks and see photos through our Instagram: @shadowoftherougarou.
ISO: Please add anything you’d like that we didn’t ask.
Jordan: This project was made with the support and guidance of Elders: Stella Johnson, Bruce Dumont, Don Campbell, Ray G. Thunderchild, and Theodore Starr; and Knowledge Keepers Lisa Shepherd and David Robertson.
Composition for the show was done by the talented team at Nagamo and each episode will feature an array of talented Indigenous musicians. This project stars the talented: Morgan Holmstrom, Cody Kearsley, Georgina Lightning, Theodore Starr, Isabel Deroy-Olsen, Wesley Salter, Grant Vlahovic, Leo Chiang, Sebastian Kroon, Cole Vandale, and Taylor Kinequon.