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Charelle Evelyn

Charelle Evelyn

Reporter for the Prince George Citizen

Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

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The reluctant genius Chad Magnant never intended to get behind the camera. But after years of prodding from high-school friends who wanted him involved in projects, he finally gave in about four years ago.

The Prince-George raised Magnant always had a creative streak.

“I was always into music and I was doing music,” said Magnant, whose industrial Scorpion Frequency work can be found online and in film.

The availability of technology made it harder for Magnant to resist film.

“Everything’s so cheap now – like cameras – it was almost stupid not to do it at this point. I think more back in the day, in the 90s, it was so expensive even to do a low-budget movie. Now everyone’s shooting with offthe- shelf cameras and it looks good,” he said.

The writer-director’s credits include Defenseless, Through Blood Like Ice, Stalking and Pigboy and a variety of other short films. He also worked on the music video for Jeremy Breaks’ Come Down (shot in Barkerville) and directed William Kuklis’ Save Me (shot in P.G.). He has regular collaborators, such as Norm Coyne and Michael Kroestch, but said the writing is his gig.

“I’ve been doing the writing out of necessity – because no one else will,” he laughed. “But when we get down to actually doing it, it’s definitely collaborative.” It’s a bit of a thrill seeing his work on a big screen, Magnant said, when festivals around the country pick up the films. His latest flick Pigboy – a found footage-style short – was selected for the Fright Night Theatre Film Festival in Hamilton, Ont.

“It’s kind of cool to see people watching something you made,” he said.

The unlikely duo Technically, it actually makes perfect sense that Daniel Stark and John Chuby ended up working together.

A University of Northern B.C. basketball player with a dislocated shoulder and a physiotherapist were probably fated to meet and start talking about film. Luckily for Stark and Chuby, that destiny was theirs to discover about two years ago.

In his senior year as a Timberwolf, Stark had plans for getting together with some Vancouver friends to shoot a swampmonster movie. He was finishing up his marketing degree and would have the time to finally do a big film project.

Chuby had already been testing the film waters and when colleagues heard about Stark’s plans, encouraged the two of them to put their movie minds together.

“Meeting Dan and actually finding someone that was actually into the same stuff and had the same kind of drive that I did with it was a huge asset because film’s not something you can do by yourself,” said Chuby. “There’s certain things you can do, but with productions at the level we’re trying to do you need a creative team to pull things off.”

“It was love at first sight,” said Stark.

Chuby helped out with Stark’s Summit Lake shot horror film but the next collaboration was what really set them on their path. Along with Chuby’s high school friend Jeremy Abbott, the trio put together a CBC ComedyCoup sit-com pitch Geoff and the Ninja, which made it just shy of the competition’s top five.

“Geoff and the Ninja opened up a new door for us. We decided that we have to keep riding this wave and put our smaller projects on hold for a while,” said Stark. The duo wants to take advantage of connections made through the process that have put eyes on their work.

They’ve spent the summer fleshing out the most-Canadian of feature film ideas: a hockeythemed horror comedy called Penalty Kill.

With the writing process wrapping up, Chuby and Stark are hoping to shoot a trailer and start finding financing over the next couple of months.

Under the Umbrella

PGSG-151019-MZ-A.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro 2015-11-16 14-41-57“Business is tough,” said Digital Umbrella Creative’s Elisha Brown, “but it doesn’t always have to be serious.” Brown’s business, launched in May 2014, creates media materials and marketing products. Together with web designer Lakeysha O’Neill, Brown is able to use her skills as a graphic designer – and bubbly personality – to help make clients pop.

Just take a look at the logo and website for Northern FanCon. Brown’s design won the event’s Facebook contest for design, which opened the door for O’Neill to craft the website.

“That was just fun,” said Brown of the logo designs they both submitted. “That wasn’t work for us. We wanted to make sure with where we are in business and the name we’re trying to establish for ourselves, that we are part of the community and wish to be involved in these kinds of events and contests. It’s a lot of fun for us to do because we’re passionate about it - something we get to play at after hours.”

Brown and O’Neill met while both taking part in College of New Caledonia’s New Media Communications and Design Program.

While Brown was well versed in the arts – both theatrical and visual – but out of practice, O’Neill joked that visual arts weren’t exactly her forte.

But web design, thanks to an enthusiastic elementary school teacher, had left an impression.

“We were in Grade 5 or 6 and we were making websites and flash animations,” O’Neill recalled. “It was really exciting. I remember loving it, excelling at it and teaching other kids how to do it.”

Mentors – and strong support systems at home – have played a major role in the Digital Umbrella Creative origin story. For Brown, Lorna Steffensen at the provincial employment services agency helped kick her back in the design direction after a career in business and event management started to feel stagnant.

Now Brown and O’Neill want to help others be just as dynamic by removing the mystery about marketing tools. “One thing we both agreed upon, right at the beginning, was taking down the veil you tend to find between client and designer,” Brown said. “We want them to leave the project knowing more about how to make their business brand better – from being able to manage, or have someone in their employment manage, the content of the website, to seeing the difference between a vector image and a bitmap image – understanding better the details of what we do.”

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Find Digital Umbrella Creative online at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. DUC is now located at THINC.
Coworking 350 Quebec Street, Prince George, BC

There's no place like Home(Work)

PGSG-151019-MZ-A.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro 2015-11-16 14-39-35There’s no charred furniture or singed clothing on the sales floor, but the memory of the May 6 fire that destroyed Homework’s downtown Prince George location is still fresh for Anthony Voitik.

Watching a movie at home with their family, Voitik and wife Louise Fonda – co-managers of the gift, fashion and home decor store – received a phone call from their security company that the Third Avenue property’s smoke detector had been triggered after a fire had broken out in the neighbouring building. “I just drove down there as quick as I could and when I got there, the flames started leaping to our second floor,” Voitik recalled.

The blaze spread through that second floor and that was it. The first floor wasn’t engulfed, but it sustained water and smoke damage as well as more damage from the ceiling falling through. A fire is devastating in any circumstance, but those behind Homework felt it even more keenly having just reopened in the new location after six months of renovations.

“It was a complete shocker,” Voitik said. The nearly centuryold heritage building had been repurposed to blend the historic with the modern.

“It was so nice – like a gallery, almost. I felt it really showcased everything in the store really well,” said Voitik.

Since opening on Oct. 10, 2007, Homework has become a Prince George staple for anyone looking for unique and fun merchandise, following on the heels of its older sister store in Prince Rupert, headed by David Smook and Lucy Pribas.

After the blaze, Voitik and Fonda had to have some serious conversations with their business partners about the next steps – including whether to just call it a day.

“There definitely was a consideration on the table. You have option A, B and C. We definitely didn’t want to do that but we had to weigh everything and make the right decision,” Voitik said. “Thankfully the support from the community was a really huge boost. There were so many people on our Facebook page commenting every day and really excited to have us back.”

Barely two months after the fire, Homework reopened in Pine Centre Mall (it’s next to Sears) and has settled nicely into its new environment – so nicely that the previous tenant’s flooring and fixtures complement the Homework aesthetic so well there was little the Voitik and Fonda had to add to make it their own.

While the new location has brought new challenges – such as requiring more staff and bringing in different product lines so that they weren’t in direct competition with other mall tenants – it has also brought Homework new clientele and a renewed vigor.

Plans are in the works to rebuild and reopen in the nowdemolished downtown location and bring the total of Homework stores in the city to two.

“We were planning to start a mall location eventually,” Voitik said. “We’re just doing things backwards now.”

A little about me

ncoyne3Norm Coyne has been active in local arts, entertainment and promotions for 15 years. He developed the Scene PG to provide local artists and musicians with exposure as well as connect a broader audience to the events and talent Prince George has to offer.


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