Southwest Alberta filmmaker looking at the disappearing grain elevators

Erin Chase (from the production's website).

Alberta resident Erin Chase is able to chase her dream of preserving the history and memory of grain elevators through her documentary The Vanishing Skyline because of a $50,000 grant from STORYHIVE.

“Chase's project is one of the 30 projects selected out of 382 applications to received $50,000 from TELUS STORYHIVE’s Documentary Edition,” Tiffani Lee, an Associate with NATIONAL Public Relations, said. “Since 2014,TELUS STORYHIVE has proudly provided mentorship, long-term support and resources for creators across BC and Alberta to grow their careers and empower them to amplify their stories to inspire audiences around the world.”

The Vanishing Skyline, which Chase serves as director for, follows the slow disappearance of these sights as technology and sustainability have changed demand for these grain elevators, Lee says. 

“Chase can speak to important history and impact of these elevators for their communities and how we can pay homage to our past without destroying it completely,” Lee says. “Chase remembers seeing the frequent grain elevators as she grew up on the Prairies. These colourful wooden titans were landmarks that could be seen from every highway and acted as a visual indicator to travellers and a warm homecoming to town residents.”

In addition to directing this project, Chase is an avid reader and traveler who lives  in Lethbridge with her two dogs and significant other. She is also close to her parents, as they too live in Lethbridge. Chase previously worked as a screenwriter on , but this is her first time directing a project.

“It's truly an incredible feeling to receive this funding, as it means we're able to go ahead with our project and help document in a session and essential part of our local history,” Chase says. “The grain elevators have always been a part of the local economy and landscape. My maternal grandfather was actually an agent for the Alberta Wheat Pool, so the subject has always been dear to me.  My father also did a photo project on the vanishing skyline and that project shaped my idea.”

Chase says that her documentary will touch upon the disappearance of the grain elevators in Southern Alberta and how technology has driven the closure of these buildings and, and brought it into the urban center. Chase also wants to spotlight how the future looks for the wheat and grain sectors.

“I'm just a very humble storyteller who is going out to create every day and trying to show people our area,” Chase says. “It's always been an honor to create, to edit, to post,and  and to show things to people that don't quite know what's going on in the area.”

Chase says that she and her associate, Jonathan Blackwood, are currently in the initial stages of the project in that they are trialing, gathering footage, and conducting interviews.  

“I think that preserving history is invaluable,” Chase says. “There'll come a day when when freight elevators are completely a foreign topic or nonexistent. This is a way that we're able to document history for current and future generations.”

Blackwood says that Chase came up with the documentary idea and they then had to create a pitch video in order to apply for the funding. Chase and Blackwood say that making the pitch video was a cool process, as they had to think about how they would market the video  and how to treat it. Eventually, they put the idea in a nice little package that impressed STORYHIVE immensely.

“Working with STORYHIVE is turning out to be a really positive experience,” Chase says. “You can tell that they really want to support their winners because they're giving us opportunities to take classes. They also provide ongoing mentoring, support, and thorough encouragement.” 

Chase says that the deadline for the project is June 2020 and so there will be plenty of opportunities for her and Blackwood to create their vision with STORYHIVE's help. Chase emphasizes that she and Blackwood want to highlight the subject properly and create a phenomenal project that a diverse collection of people will be able to appreciate.

For more information about The Vanishing Skyline and the people involved, visit:

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