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Larica Perera

Sheridan grad Larica Perera

Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design

Degree: Media Arts

Year of graduation: 2013

From Fable to Fact: How filmmaker Larica Perera uses fairy tales to spotlight real-life issues

Media Arts graduate Larica Perera has always been a teller of stories, from the time that she was a child learning about the folklore of her native Philippines. “My mother grew up with seven brothers and sisters, and our family would get together a couple of times a year and sit in a circle and exchange tales heavy with spirituality and religion,” says the 2013 alumna. “My grandmother, especially, was a master of scaring us with a lot of haunted ghost stories about the places we lived."

Today, Perera continues this tradition in her work as a filmmaker, although both her circle of story tellers and the audience within it has grown. She strives to bring a representation of her life in the Philippines to the Canadian viewer through her films. “We don’t really see a lot of Filipino representation in mainstream culture, she says. “I wanted to be a part of showing more than the stereotype — not a joke or punchline.”

Perera — along with fellow Media Arts graduates Bea Macapagal, Michael Peeling, Melanie Mckechnie, Nick Coffin, Laszlo Borondy, Jeff Kaczmarek and Lucas Joseph, as well as actor Leo Sciara — formed Hamilton-based film collective Camp 905. “It’s really important coming out of a program like Media Arts that we had a support system,” says Perera, who points to professors such as Stephen Barden as instrumental in encouraging the group’s success. “With our Sheridan family, we all have the same goals and want to get to the same place.”

As many of the Camp 905 members are young filmmakers who, like Perera, graduated in 2013, the collective must deal with the challenges of small budgets, often between $200 and $300 per film. Camp 905 received a boost recently when Perera won the Female Filmmaker Grand Prize at the 2016 My Rode Reel world-wide short film competition for her film Tik-Tik, based on one of the monsters of Filipino folklore. The prize endowed Camp 905 with over $40,000 dollars of software and equipment, which the group plans to use to establish itself in Hamilton, collaborating with local businesses that give back to the community.

For Perera, her future as a filmmaker includes circling back to the personal nature of storytelling and a sense of communal gathering. Tik-Tik is set at the bedside of a woman nearing labour, as fearful villagers gather to prepare for the presence of a sinister and mystical creature. “Tik-Tik was branching off into a genre that I had never pursued before, but it's been the most successful film I've done so far,” says Perera. By sharing simple and humanistic stories through sophisticated technical elements, Perera hopes to bridge popular 'high-concept' genre ideas with very real issues such as mental health and marginalization. “There’s something to quiet moments and small struggles that people have to deal with on a daily level,” says Perera. “My goal is to take what seems modest and infuse it into a story that is larger than life.”

Sheridan’s media arts program has evolved into the Bachelor of Film and Television.
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