New Brunswick

Amanda Dawn Christie launching documentary about demise of RCI towers

Moncton artist Amanda Dawn Christie says after six years, her documentary Spectres of Shortwave, about the fall of the Radio-Canada International towers in Sackville is nearly complete.

Documentary 'Spectres of Shortwave' to be finished in time for possible premiere at Toronto's Hot Docs

Moncton artist Amanda Dawn Christie says after six years, her documentary Spectres of Shortwave, about the demise of the Radio-Canada International towers in Sackville, is nearly complete.

"A project like this is very hard," Christie said in an interview on Information Morning Moncton. "When I went into this project they weren't supposed to be tearing the towers down."

After budget cuts in 2012, CBC announced the shortwave service would end after 67 years of broadcasting around the world.

Christie calls that decision a loss for the international community.

"Shortwave communication is something that will always get through. Even though technology advances and people rely on the internet — not everyone can afford a computer or digital receiver … Canada was known for more objective, non-biased broadcasting."

Film project challenging

Initially, the CBC tried to sell the towers and the land, but when a buyer couldn't be found, the towers were demolished in March of 2014.

Christie says one of the biggest challenges of producing the two-hour documentary has been working alone for many of the 46 days of filming, including the days when the towers came down.

She says it was tough, but she will remember what if felt like to gain the respect of the demolition crew at the site.

"I think in the beginning they didn't know what to make of me … but after two months of seeing me everyday with a 50-pound camera going out in the snow 12 hours a day, working just as hard as they were, it was nice to see that work acknowledged."

Christie says the other challenge has been shaping those hours of footage and interviews into a feature length documentary with a "micro-budget." 

"The average one hour TV documentary in Canada costs about $400,000 to produce and right now my film is sitting at close to two hours … and I'm working on a budget less than $100,000," she said.

Christie is hoping her film will be accepted and shown at Toronto's international documentary festival Hot Docs in April.

She says funding from Hot Docs has helped her to complete the project, as did a visit to New York where she showed her film as a work-in-progress to an audience unfamiliar with the towers.

"The response was really positive in New York and that really gave me the motivation to go, 'Okay, I'm on the right track, now let's finish this.'"


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