Getting to portray the positive and funny relationships between Indigenous cousins is important, says Joy Haskell whose project for Telus Storyhive was recently green lit for $20,000 of funding.
Haskell’s project Hey Cuzzin was one of several projects funded through Telus Storyhive’s inaugural Indigenous Storytellers Edition. Hey Cuzzin, according to Storyhive’s website, “is a look at the lives of First Nations cousins on the reservation and in the city.”
“The cultural connection we have with one another and how close we are,” it reads. “Cousins are like our brothers and sisters. It’s a comedic look at how we interact with one another and the antics cousins get into.”
The 10-minute pilot episode will be featured on select Telus platforms in the fall, according to Storyhive.
Haskell said she was planning to start filming in April, and throughout the process, she gets to work with a story editor.
“Because it’s my piece and I created it, I kind of know where I want the actors to be, I know what I want them to say, i know how i want them to act,” Haskell said. “I just feel like it’s a part of me, like when I write, I already know where I want everything to go.”
Haskell, a Surrey resident, said one day she just started writing about the antics and interactions about her cousins.
“I just think that a lot of my cousins are funny, and then even with my other Indigenous friends, when we get together we talk about stuff that we say to our cousins or stuff that our cousins do,” Haskell told the Now-Leader.
Haskell said when she found out her project had received funding, she was at Capilano University with the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmakers course, surrounded by students and directors.
“There was a few of us there and we were checking our phones and we just kept refreshing, standing there checking our phones and then I found out,” she said. “I didn’t even believe it because someone else told me, so I logged in just to make sure that it said, ‘You have been awarded funding.’
“It was very cool and so I got a little emotional.”
Being able to tell Indigenous stories, Haskell said, is “wonderful.”
I’m so excited because I get to portray kind of how funny Indigenous people are and some of the things we say to each other or some of the antics get in and do, but in a positive manner.
“It’s important to me to represent and hire the right cast, like if someone is Indigenous, I want them to be Indigenous… The casting part, that is one of the most important things for me.”
Haskell said one person who has been cast is actually her cousin, Trisha Abraham.
Smita Acharyya, project manager at Storyhive, said this Indigenous Storytellers Edition is important to Storyhive because it is committed to diverse content and inclusivity.
“For all of our editions we ensure that there’s gender parity and there’s people of colour represented and people from under-represented communities,” Acharyya said. We wanted to be sure we were getting more applications from Indigenous creators, so although there’s an Indigenous edition, we actively encourage Indigenous creators to apply for all of our editions.”