melissa-kreilRed Deer’s Melissa Kreil will receive $10,000 from Telus Optik to create a short film about a woman’s mental struggle “between darkness and light.” The short experimental film, Henna, is being produced by Kreil, a recent graduate of the NAIT film program in Edmonton. It’s being written and directed by her former NAIT classmate, Sami Kaur, who was born and raised in India, and supports the global empowerment of women, said Kreil.

The 21-year-old Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School graduate believes everyone battles with positive and negative thoughts, but she believes females can be particularly hard on themselves.

“Sometimes you are your own worst enemy,” said Kreil, who feels one’s image and self-worth are always on the line, “so it’s hard to ignore those negative thoughts.”

Since this round of the Telus Optik Storyhive project is helping foster original filmmaking from Western Canada women, Kreil was excited to hear there was a greater-than-expected outpouring of applications.


Henna was among 15 finalists chosen for $10,000 or funding towards production costs.

While female directors and producers have complained they are not getting a fair shake in Hollywood, Kreil noted that more young women are getting into the film industry, so she hopes this soon changes and they get an equal chance to tackle big projects.

Although this is Kreil’s fourth effort for Storyhive — she previously assistant-directed the indie films Plight: The Comic Book Rock Opera, Heartsong, and Co-Dependent Ghost Girl — “it’s the first time I’m taking the wheel” in overseeing budgeting and staffing for a production.

In Henna, the symbolism of Indian henna tattoos, which traditionally represent life and lightness, is flipped to mean something darker. Kreil said two actresses will represent the two sides of the mental struggle.

When the five-minute film wraps shooting in Edmonton with a small crew, it will be seen online at Viewers can vote for their favourite Alberta film during a five-day period in February. The winners will be sent to the Banff World Media Festival.

Kreil said, “It would be a really nice networking opportunity,” but feels fortunate just to be a Storyhive finalist.

Henna is expected to air on Telus Optik’s YouTube channel and then its on-demand service in the spring.

by Lana Michelin, reporter for Red Deer Advocate published on October 21, 2016.