A Filmmaker for Social Change

For filmmaker Kathleen Jayme ‘06, making a difference behind the camera is not enough.
A graduate of UBC’s film program and a production co-ordinator at the National Film Board of Canada, Kathleen lives and breathes film. She is also committed to using it as a tool for social change. This is evident in her latest short documentary, the 21-minute Paradise Island, which focuses on the lives of children living in the tiny Philippine island of Boracay and making sandcastles on the beach for money. You may recall hearing about it in our Spring 2013 issue of La Petite Fleur. Well, Kathleen’s documentary has come a long way since then, but we’ll give you some background before the update.

As a frequent visitor to Boracay from the time she was three years old, Kathleen began to notice just how polluted and overcrowded the island had become. Boracay is only 10.32 km square, but it has become one of the foremost beach destinations in the world. The environmental impact of tourism on such a small island is becoming increasingly apparent. In 2009, Kathleen began to connect with the children who live on the island. “That’s when I started to feel very uncomfortable about what we all do when we’re on vacation,” she says. 

“I started to ask myself: What are we doing to their home? What future do we have if we keep doing this?”

Paradise Island was shot in the summer of 2012 and completed three years later. As the writer, editor, and producer, Kathleen spent many long nights completing the film while maintaining a job at a coffee shop and an internship at the National Film Board. In May 2015, the film brought her to a different kind of beach: The 
French Riviera. It screened at the 68th Cannes Film Festival as part of the Short Film Corner. Kathleen describes her Cannes experience as “Disneyland for filmmakers” and “a total celebration of film” but doesn’t downplay how much work is involved. “You’re there to meet people, and you’re there to network,” she says.

Her work behind the camera, however, is only part of how Kathleen works to protect the world’s beaches. She is currently the volunteer coordinator for the Vancouver Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Through Surfrider, Kathleen organizes monthly beach cleanups and helps run grassroots campaigns to encourage people to keep our oceans clean. “I love Vancouver, and if you take pride in something, you want to protect it,” explains Kathleen. “You want to keep it as beautiful and pristine as it is.” A notable campaign that Surfrider is currently running is called “Hold on to your Butts,” which aims to eliminate cigarette butts as the last socially acceptable form of litter and raise awareness about their impact on our coastal waters.

Kathleen is truly an environmentalist both behind the camera and beyond the camera. “You make documentaries because you feel like you’re being active and you’re telling stories that need to be told,” she says. By taking it one step further and bringing real change to the Vancouver community, Kathleen proves that she is not only a talented filmmaker but tirelessly committed to protecting her own backyard.


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