A picture tells a thousand words, they say, and sometimes when the picture moves across a screen, so too does the story it tells move the viewer.
A young man from Greater Victoria will get the chance to tell his tale in a short documentary thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Telus Storyhive program. The money, awarded to an Island-based filmmaking collective Empress Avenue Media, will bring to the screen Frankie Edroff’s journey transitioning from female to male.
“I’ve always been interested in video and short films. And, I’ve found a new community by making people smile on social media platforms like Musical.ly,” Edroff said, adding he is excited to explore storytelling through a new medium.
Edroff will serve as writer, with Joseph Boutilier in the director’s chair, accompanied by filmmakers Emery Wright, Mia Golden and Jamie Francis.
“To work with this team to take [this] to the next level and create something with real depth feels like the natural next step in my journey,” said Edroff, whose story was so compelling it was one of 10 submissions the program called “outstanding.”
Edroff is widely known across the region for his philanthropy as Penny Girl – also the title of the film – having collected more than $1.5 million in pennies for Variety, the Children’s Charity.
Diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when he was just three years old (the genetic condition causes tumours to grow on nerve tissue), Edroff’s legacy is also marked by Jeneece Place, the $6.5 million home at Victoria General Hospital where children and their families stay while receiving care.
Because of the medical aspects associated with transitioning, there is a risk to Edroff’s life as a result of potential complications from his neurofibromatosis.
But, he is determined to use the film as a way to communicate the discrimination and isolation trans people often face, while also shedding his public image of a vulnerable young person battling a rare disorder.
With a community focus, the mission for Empress Avenue Media is to tell “important local stories” according to their bio.
“I can’t think of a more inspiring person than Frankie, who has more insight on health, the media or the power of community,” said Boutilier, who also serves as producer for the project.
“If we can capture just a small part of that insight and wisdom, then I’m sure Penny Girl will have a profound effect on its viewers,” he added.
– With files from Kendra Wong