Talking at Night
| 6 min 49 s
Selections and Awards
Saskatoon’s Mobile Crisis Centre provides 24/7 crisis resolution to people in distress. Its workers take calls from individuals in unpredictable and urgent situations, and respond in person when help is needed most. Director Eric Thiessen captures the behind-the-scenes experiences of the crisis centre’s staff, crafting a compelling observational portrait of a critically needed but largely unknown service.
Saskatoon’s Mobile Crisis Centre provides 24/7 crisis resolution to people in distress. Its workers take calls from individuals in unpredictable and urgent situations, and respond in person when help is needed most. For almost 40 years, this non-profit organization has been answering to the needs of its small prairie city, confidentially addressing a wide range of issues, from suicide prevention to child abuse. As frontline responders in conjunction with police, social services and emergency healthcare providers, they are a vital part of a community that depends on them day and night. Director Eric Thiessen captures the behind-the-scenes experiences of the crisis centre’s staff, crafting a compelling observational portrait of a critically needed but largely unknown service.
Doc Lab Saskatchewan
When director Eric Thiessen learned about the Mobile Crisis Centre in his hometown of Saskatoon, he became interested in the experiences of the crisis workers who are vital to the operation of the non-profit organization. It was immediately clear that making a documentary about these workers was the best way to convey their challenging and unpredictable world and offer a glimpse into the range and volume of crises experienced in Saskatoon on a given night. The centre receives over 26,000 calls a year, an overwhelming number in a city of approximately only 250,000. Thiessen felt that “the crises displayed in [the film] are relatable and understandable to almost anyone. I think it’s a great reinforcement that mental health, addictions and depression are much more common than we may tend to realize, but also that free and professional help is always available to those that need it.”
Working closely with producer Jon Montes and director/mentor Robin Schlaht, Thiessen was provided with the opportunity to concentrate on writing and directing, with the support of a seasoned filmmaking team behind him. “Because this was my first observational documentary, working with experienced mentors at every major stage of the project was very helpful,” says Thiessen.
Doc Lab Saskatchewan Filmmakers: Kristin Catherwood, Eric Thiessen, Louise BigEagle
Doc Lab Saskatchewan is a collaborative training initiative between the National Film Board of Canada, Creative Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, launched in the spring of 2017. Three emerging filmmakers were selected from an open call for submissions to individually create short documentaries, from concept to post-production, with a focus on visual storytelling. The successful applicants were provided mentorship and production support to develop films that shared perspectives about their home province, aiding their career development in non-fiction filmmaking.
Interview with Eric Thiessen
Photo : Taryn Snell
Eric Thiessen is a Saskatoon-based filmmaker as well as a Senior Communications Advisor with Federated Co-operatives Limited. His past work includes writing and directing for a Gemini Award-winning rodeo documentary series, Hell on Hooves. Eric holds a master’s degree from the University of Calgary and is an instructor at the Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon, where he teaches film history to the next generation of Saskatchewan storytellers.
Photo : Taryn Snell
Based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Robin Schlaht began his career in still photography before moving into writing, directing and producing both documentary and dramatic projects for film and television. Born and raised in a small prairie town, Robin has travelled the world to make and present his films, including at such prestigious festivals as TIFF, South by Southwest, FIPA (France) and the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Photo : Taryn Snell
Based in Winnipeg, Jon Montes has been a producer with the NFB’s North West Studio since 2016, and is currently developing a slate of documentary and animation projects in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. Completed projects include Talking at Night (dir. Eric Thiessen), To Wake Up the Nakota Language (dir. Louise BigEagle), and Ride (dir. Kristin Catherwood), all produced through the Doc Lab Saskatchewan initiative, as well as Breaths (dir. Nyla Innuksuk) and Music in the Prairie Night (dir. Mike Maryniuk), both made for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. As associate producer with the NFB from 2013–2015 in St. John’s and Montreal, Jon worked on the feature documentaries Gun Runners (Hot Docs 2016) and Danny (Hot Docs 2015), the animated short 54 Hours (Founder’s Award, Yorkton Film Festival), the interactive documentary Bubble Dancers (32nd International Environmental Film Festival, Paris), and the 10th and 11th editions of the Hothouse intensive program for emerging animators. A transplanted East Coaster, Jon holds an MA in Communication & Culture from York and Ryerson universities.
Written and Directed by
Director of photography
Sound recordist and assistant editor
Technical support – editing
Recording & re-recording
Jasmine St. Marie
Talking at Night
Devin McAdam and PAVED Arts
Robyn & David Parker
Michelle Van Beusekom
Centre operations manager
Katja De Bock
Dara Jade Moats
About the NFB
The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences. NFB producers are embedded in communities across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, working with talented creators on innovative and socially relevant projects. The NFB is a leader in gender equity in film and digital media production, and is working to strengthen Indigenous-led production, guided by the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. NFB productions have won over 7,000 awards, including 27 Canadian Screen Awards, 21 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 100 Genies. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.