Virginia Barter Métis Filmmaker & Television Producer

John Gaskin’s Blog re: Virginia Barter and HEARNE

Film Production and The Money

John Gaskin’s Blog

Yes, Virginia, There Really Is A Film Career

April 19, 2011 

On the last 2 Saturdays I delivered workshops to a Women In Film and Television in Toronto – about 20 people attended.  I was blown away by most of the attendees. Their determination to get their stories told is something that I admire and learn from – especially the story that Virginia told me (yes, Virginia really is her name – Virginia Barter).

She really blew me away. Virginia made a short film with relative ease – mostly because no one had told her how hard it was. She schmoozed a masted sailboat owner, talked her way through period costumes, as well as an historical fort and managed to tell a story that the schools are interested in – she’s even making money from her short.

The story is about a little known explorer, Samuel Hearne, who isn’t a celebrated hero or anything, but who did some amazing things in his life.  (You can see his history on Wikipedia.) When I asked her how on earth she came up with the story at all, she sent me the following narrative. I hope it gives you the same goose bumps it gave me:

“John, you might say my ancestors guided me.  It’s a story that goes back into my family history.  My great-great-great grandmother was a little girl in Fort Prince of Wales when the French attacked.  The native women and children who were left behind (partners and children of the European fur traders) walked 150 miles to York Factory for help, but it too had been destroyed.  No one died as a result of battle, but thousands died as a consequence. Thousands of natives died that winter of starvation and small pox.  Hundreds of the Frenchmen died of cold and starvation before reaching France.  

My g-grandmother survived that whole ordeal.  Her name was Margaret Norton, or “Nahoway”, as she was later called.   Hearne’s wife, Mary Norton, was likely her her aunt or sister.  Mary Norton died on the trek.  Some years later, Nahoway married William Sinclair, a young fur trader who had been taken prisoner with Samuel Hearne.  Their prolific family became one of the most important Metis families in Manitoba history.”  

The HEARNE story deserves to be a huge epic production . . . big budget for sure. 

I will definitely be staying in touch with her.

You can see her “Hearne Trailer” on YouTube. (Note: her husband Sandy Barter plays trumpet in the film.  She composed the music herself).  LOVE THE MUSIC!

Best / John


John Gaskin is a professional film production accountant and auditor.  Since 1985, he has worked on 43 different productions of every size in 5 different countries, with producers such as Ron Howard and David Cronenberg.  His self-published book, “Walk The Talk” is written for film students and working professionals who haven’t had the chance to learn how to ‘Direct the Money’.