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Korean students fly home with Albertan perspective

    Korean students who had been attending class at Drumheller Valley Secondary School and working in local hotels and salons have flown home as of December 22 with a new, Albertan, education.
    The students came to Drumheller to learn English and gain new insight into the fields of hospitality and cosmotology. They will be taking their new skills home with the hopes of advancing their careers.
    “This was a new venture for us,” said Curtis Lapierre, principal of DVSS. “Overall, this program was successful.”
    The students attended class at DVSS until December and then matched, based on their skills and interests, to local businesses. Some were sent to hotels to learn the ins and outs, others spent time doing aesthetic services.
    “When they first were going around asking us to take students, I wasn’t enthusiastic. But, we agreed to take a student, and they picked Emily, who had done cosmotology and had experience in a spa,” said Patrice Wolf, owner of the Heartwood Inn and Spa. “Oh my god we loved her. She was the best worker I’ve ever had here.”
    “It was interesting to have them. They were pleasant young people, and for the most part willing,” said Theresa Vyvey, manager of the Ramada Inn.
    There were some difficulties however.
    “The language barrier was hard on them and us too, because there’s a lot more you’d like to share with them or to help them with,” said Vyvey.
    “Despite that hurdle, the program was successful. For all of the students, their English did improve, especially their comprehension, but where they struggled was their ability to speak it,” said Lapierre.
    Lapierre explained that next year the program will be far better. There will be more time to develop courses and hire staff. Potential students may also be given coursework to help them learn English prior to coming. One initiative might be to host a workshop for participating businesses in how to communicate through a language barrier.
    No new students will be coming to Drumheller in January, but the DVSS may be welcoming a new crew of Korean students in September.
    “I would get involved in the program again,” said Vyvey.
    “It was a really good learning experience. I think the international students they bring in is great for Drumheller. Mr. Lapierre and the rest of the teachers really took it seriously and made sure those kids had a great Canadian experience,” said Wolf. “I would be the first person in line to take another student.”
    Some of the students have hinted they might return to Canada in the future.
    “The students had a wonderful experience, they would absolutely love to come back,” said Lapierre.
    “If Emily ever came back to Canada, I would hire her in a minute,” said Wolf.


Airdrie filmmaker chooses Drumheller to shoot sci-fi mystery

    Residents living across the street from the new Elim Pentecostal Church, formerly Central School, may have noticed some strange things afoot at the building during the months of December and January.
    Large gatherings outside the church at night, people running around with cameras, weird uniforms, guns, and shouting would have given anyone peering out their front window some confusion.
    Fortunately, nothing unseemly was happening, the clandestine activities were the principal photography of a new movie being filmed in Drumheller.
    Remember, a new movie by Airdrie based MovieMakers, was shot using the scenic badlands as a background for the science fiction tale of mystery and deception.
    The story follows Captain Carl Onoway, played by Justin Lewis, an animation specialist who has won contests for his acting ability. Captain Onoway is charged with protecting children in a near future where parents are no longer allowed to keep their children. Instead, the state takes children away from their parents at birth to raise in state run facilities.
    “It came from Plato’s Republic, not totally, but that’s where the idea comes from,” said Greg Lammiman, producer and co-founder of MovieMakers.
    In Republic, a dialogue between philosophers explores the ideas of justice, utopia, and the role of the state. One of the ideas was that parents should be selectively bred and their children be raised by the wise philosopher kings.
     Another aspect to the state run future in Remember is the use of memory blocking drugs. Whenever a person suffers a traumatic incident they are given drugs so they no longer remember what had happened. The drugs then became another tool used by the state to control its citizens.
    “What if it got out of hand, that every time people had uncomfortable memories, they would just take the drugs and it became pervasive. You would have a weak society and the government could use that to control the masses,” said Greg.
    The events begin when Captain Onoway suffers another traumatic incident and is forced to up his dosage of the memory blocking drug. When someone begins freeing children from the state run facilities, it is up to Onoway to investigate and stop them.
    “It’s got a lot of elements in there and a lot of interesting twists,” said Greg.
    Starring alongside Lewis is Rachel Peacock, whom some may know from the Rosebud Theatre, as Carl’s wife Wendy Onoway. Scott Heatcoat plays Onoway’s partner Lieutenant Andrew Turner. There are many other faces that some will recognize from Rosebud Theatre or Passion Play, and are providing support roles in the movie.
    “We know a lot of Rosebud people, which gives us an acting pool, and we’ve been in the Passion Play for eight years as a family, so we have a lot of connections with actors that way,” said Greg.
    The entire movie is being filmed in Drumheller, utilizing the town’s world famous scenery to add an otherwordly element to the film.
    “It’s a great setting for a sci-fi, especially with the snow. I love how it looks with the snow,” Dallas Lammiman, the young filmmaker directing the project. Much of the outdoor shooting took place around the Passion Play site in December.
    Indoor shooting was done primarily in the Elim Pentecostal Church. The church, because it is such an old building, was chosen for the many different looks, going from a dormitory, to prison, to police headquarters within a few metres.
    “What a facility, there are so many different looks in the building it makes it look like so many different locations,” said Greg.
    MovieMakers was created in 2006 by Dallas and his father Greg. Soon after, the whole family became involved. The business has focused mostly on educational films, such as The Amazing Map, Subitize Me, and Movie Making 101. Remember will be their first feature length fictional film.
    “That has been the goal since day one. We started with the educational films and then some documentary films. September came around and we decided to take the plunge. We’re amazed how it’s all come together,” said Greg.
    Filmmaking hasn’t been a lifelong dream for the young filmmaker, but a passion for the arts led Dallas inexorably down the path of movie making.
    “Sixteen was when I decided this was what I wanted to go into. It had always been art, but I wasn’t sure what area. Film brings them all together, a combination of them all,” said Dallas.
    The inspiration for Dallas to get into filmmaking was listening to filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, whose works include movies for younger crowds, such as Spy Kids, to movies that are not for the faint of heart, such as Planet Terror or Machete. Dallas credits the commentary by Rodriguez in Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams as giving him the motivation to start making movies.
    “The commentary didn’t talk so much about the movie itself, it was more talking to young filmmakers and encouraging them,” said Greg.
    When asked what advice he would give to young filmmakers, as Rodriguez had done, Dallas replied that young filmmakers get too hung up on equipment, rather than making a good story.
    “Generally you just go out and do it. With the equipment, there are not a lot of barriers to entry anymore. It’s a minor thing though, if you’ve got a good story, equipment doesn’t matter,” said Dallas. “It’s more about the creativity of the individual holding the camera.”
    Dallas does not have formal education in cinematography, but is passionate about learning through books, movies, and with the help of a community of indie filmmakers with as much enthusiasm as he.
    Remember has resumed shooting after taking a break for the holidays. Filming should be complete by the end of January, followed by post production work, and release scheduled later this year.
    “We’re hoping it won’t take more than six months to edit, but sometimes things get out of hand,” said Dallas.
    For more information about the movie or to pre-order a copy, visit its website www.theremembermovie.com or the Remember Facebook page.

Increased requisition only option for Seniors Foundation

    At the January 3, 2012, meeting of Town Council, Councillor Tom Zariski, Vice Chairman of the Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation, presented the results of a recent corporate study conducted on the Seniors Foundation. One of the recommendations from the study was that the foundation increase its requisition from the Town by a gigantic $100,000 per year.
    The increase would bring the total requisition for this year to $575,000.
    “Costs have gone up more than we can charge for rent,” said Councillor Zariski. “Our mandate is to provide for the seniors of this community a good quality of life. These are the seniors who have built the community and they deserve our support now.”
    Councillor Zariski explained that the costs of the Seniors Foundation have steadily increased due to the rising population of seniors, but the provincial government has not increased its contribution to seniors care.
    Concerns about the financial outlook of the foundation  have been brewing for some time. The number of seniors who rely on the foundation continues to swell.
    The critical realization that the foundation was headed for trouble came when the foundation had to increase its $35,000 line of credit to $150,000 last year. The foundation is also in danger of running at a significant deficit in the near future.
    “We discovered a couple years ago that the foundation has been in place for years but hasn’t changed with the times. The foundation is static,” said Councillor Zariski.
    To help address these concerns, the foundation hired Pommen Associates to do a corporate analysis as part of the foundation’s reorganization and revitalization process.
    “We have their report, and they’ve made a few recommendations in terms of restructuring,” said Councillor Zariski. “Overall they found the operation of the foundation is quite efficient, but we are implementing  a few of the changes they have recommended to make us even more efficient.”
    Pommen found that the foundation already runs on a skeleton crew of staff, has little room to increase revenue due to high occupancy, and cannot reduce its debt payments. The foundations’ total debt is around $7 million and $550, 000 is paid annually in principal and interest.
    The only option to ensure the budget was balanced, Pommen recommended, was increasing the amount of money the foundation requisitions from the municipalities in the area by an additional $100, 000 per year.
    Other recommendations from Pommen included improving the structure of the foundation and creating a reserve fund.
    Now, the foundation is looking forward and developing short and long term business plans that will ensure seniors in the area will have a high quality of life in the years to come.
    A priority for the near future will be to build a reserve fund. Traditionally, the foundation has relied on its line of credit to pay for any unexpected costs, such as replacing the water heater that broke down last year.
    Another priority will be to investigate the infrastructure of the seniors accommodations and make any improvements.
    “Infrastructure that we have, the original Sunshine Lodge, is old and it’s at the point now where it’s not particularly suitable. We’re looking at different scenarios to make sure our infrastructure will fit our clientele and the clientele we will have in two, three, five years from now.”
    The Seniors Foundation has reached a turning point in its operations. Considering the population of seniors in Canada it is expected to rise, greater pressure will fall on the Seniors Foundation to continue to fulfill its mandate of providing safe, affordable, and high quality housing for seniors.
    “I think it was necessary in that it reinforced that we are doing a good job,” said Councillor Zariski. “But, it also opened our eyes to some of the things that we could be and should be looking at for the future.”


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