Fabulous geek on fire

A profile on the talent of a writer, producer and comic book guru

Hanna Fridhed, Connect Contributor

Ashley Laurenson at the 2016 Fort McMurray In- ternational Film Festival. The local film director is currently awaiting the results from her debut short film movie People Watching to see if she scored a $10,000 grant from the Telus Storyhive competition. Photo by Tito Guillen, Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association

Ashley Laurenson at the 2016 Fort McMurray International Film Festival. The local film director is currently awaiting the results from her debut short film movie People Watching to see if she scored a $10,000 grant from the Telus Storyhive competition. Photo by Tito Guillen, Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association

Eight years ago, a fireball named Ashley Laurenson made the move to Fort McMurray from her home in New Zealand. As a young girl, she always had her parent’s camcorder ready, trying to record her friends doing silly things, stunts and scenes from Shakespeare. Now that she is all grown up, her desire to create movies and tell stories are a strong influence in her everyday life here in northern Alberta.

Laurenson quickly became involved in the Fort McMurray film making community, meeting two of her close friends, Toddske Bradley-Thomas and Tito Guillen through local Twitter gatherings. Together they created short films for the 48 hour film challenges, which were part of InterPlay and WinterPlay back then. This was when she took her first steps from the unscripted “just for fun” videos of her earlier years to a more formal and refined way of creating film.

Working at the local comic book store Nerdvana, Laurenson is surrounded by all things fabulously geeky, which comes across in the projects she has been involved in. After Laurenson and a group of friends went to Edmonton for the midnight release of The Dark Knight Rises, and they came up with the idea to make a fan film called Arkham Rising, which went viral.

“From there we’ve made several other films, including The Good Survivor [about a young man with cerebral palsy surviving the zombie apocalypse] and Nerdvana the Series – and we haven’t looked back,” said Laurenson.

Her first venture as a director and writer of a short film movie, called People Watching, is currently entered into the Telus Storyhive competition, where a $10,000 grant to make the film a reality is up for grabs.

“The film itself is about Melanie and Cole, who are a couple who enjoy the game of People Watching whenever they head to the bar for a few drinks,” explained Laurenson. “One night however, their game changes and once their shenanigans from the night before end up on the news, they realise that just because they don’t remember it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

As a part of promoting People Watching, she directed a series of short bartending videos with drinks based on different characters from the film, including the “Sneaky Cobra” and the “Sexy Buffalo”. “I was the actor in these videos and it’s quite difficult to direct while you’re on screen,” laughed Laurenson, and adds; “I’ve definitely caught the directing bug!”

Her involved with the Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association and the Fort McMurray International Film Festival has played a big part in her development as a film maker and artist.

“The Filmmakers Association has grounded me as a film maker,” she said. “Having a local community to work with makes art so much more worthwhile, and I feel that helping others by putting on workshops, events and showcases is a part of my calling.”

The New Zealand native is showing no signs of slowing down, as the results of the Storyhive completion is released in October. Besides People Watching, her future projects include continuing on with Nerdvana the Series, as her and her team plan on crowd-funding the series episode by episode.

“We are very excited to see where that takes us,” she exclaimed.

– Connect Weekly –