Peachland is set to be the backdrop for a short feature film about N’xaxaitk’w, known to many as the Ogopogo.
Asia Youngman wrote the script and will be directing the short fantasy thriller about an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity.
The story is set in ’80s Peachland, where the protagonist is pressured to search for N’xaxaitk’w, who is said to live in a cave below Rattlesnake Island, across the water from the town.
Here, the film will explore themes of identity as the young woman comes into herself, Youngman said.
“It’s kind of like an homage to some Steven Spielberg movies set in the ’80s along with some of my own experiences growing up,” she said.
Some of those experiences, she said, included some of her Okanagan friends scaring each other and daring each other to find the Ogopogo.
“I think I was just fascinated about it at that age, that mystery around it and that imagination you have as a younger person.”
She said part of the reason she wanted to set the stage in the ’80s is to change the narrative a bit.
“We hardly see films from that time period that don’t show Indigenous characters who are only experiencing trauma and hardship.
“I wanted this film to have a nostalgic tone, but I also wanted to address larger issues as well.”
Youngman said throughout the writing process, she consulted with Coralee Miller from Westbank First Nation. While Youngman is Indigenous, Youngman is not from an Okanagan nation, and she wanted to create a story that is accurate and respectful of the Syilx people.
“There have been a lot of films made about the Ogopogo, but none of them have actually been from an Indigenous perspective,” she said.
“The film addresses a serious subject matter but for me, it also shows an Indigenous character who has universal experiences, so I think many people will be able to relate to those experiences.”
And while filming takes place, local Indigenous youth interested in the many facets of filmmaking will have a chance to take a peek and receive some guidance from the crew on site.
“It’s important to give back to communities, especially because I’m going into a community that’s not my own,” she said.
“I think it’s important that we have opportunities like this for youth who aren’t in large cities… I just wanted to offer this to the Syilx youth and give back to this community.”
Filming in Peachland is scheduled for June 24 to 28. If you are interested in the mentorship program, you can email the production crew at email@example.com.
Youngman said the goal is to finish the film by September and should be available online after.