Logan MacGillivray of Bedford, Nova Scotia is a youth documentary filmmaker. Logan made an award-winning film about the hardships children face in Northern Provence, Sierra Leone and spearheaded the project that sent a 40 foot shipping container filled with educational, building and recreational materials to refurbish seven schools and build a community resource centre for students and teachers at the cdpeace headquarters at Mayagba, Sierra Leone. It is our pleasure to feature Logan and his passion project and film “Listen to the Children”.
Danielle Noble, Lunenburg Doc Fest’s Youth Program Coordinator and recent recipient of the 2014 documentary Doc Accelerator scholarship awarded by Hot Docs, interviewed Logan.
Please enjoy the interview, like it, share it, and remember that Lunenburg Doc Fest is inviting youths ages 11-18 to participate in a free documentary workshop September 13 and 14.
D: Can you tell me about the Listen to the Children project?
L: Listen to the Children is an organization that I created when I was about 10, and with it I’ve sent two containers over to Sierra Leone in West Africa and in the second container I sent the supplies to build a children’s multipurpose centre. In that multipurpose centre there’s going to be a classroom, music room, a library, computer arts room, an outdoor recreational area and it’s going to serve up to 40 villages and over a thousand kids. Education, I find, is incredibly important – especially in rural countries. A lot of the problems they have, especially in the rural villages, are that a lot of the youth want to leave and want to go to the main cities and there’s no way for them really to rebuild because there’s no one there – no one with the education. So when a kid gets an education they can become an engineer, they can become a doctor, and they can help rebuild those areas. So education, I find, is really important in helping rebuild any country or any area. I also love basketball, so I do a lot of recreational stuff as well where I sent over a basketball program which included eight nets, and like 80 jerseys, over 100 shoes – so kids also have something fun to do, because, you know, kids need to have fun in their lives, right?
D: So as 10 year-old you, what made you want to do this project?
L: I don’t know – my mom introduced me. My mom is in the maternity business, and she wanted to do a program and she wanted some kind of African design, and so she was hooked up with these people from Sierra Leone. She didn’t know them or anything, but they came over to give her an idea of the culture and stuff like that, and I was just there and they were showing us pictures, and what I saw were kids that were my age working in fields and they weren’t in school. I don’t know, I was only 9 and had never been exposed to that before – I had never seen that, and they talked to me about their lives there. There was an 11 year war in Sierra Leone, which kind of destroyed almost everything. I saw pictures of their house where before they had a brick house and after there was just nothing, it was a field. It was all destroyed, and I just decided that I wanted to help. It helped that I was really young because I didn’t realize – a lot of people are set back from the thought of all the challenges, and the thought that they can’t complete it where I’d never tried anything like that before, so I was kind of naïve and I didn’t expect there to be any problems. I think that was why I was able to do it; because I didn’t let anything hold me back just because I didn’t there was anything to [hold me back].
D: So what made you make the documentary film?
L: Well I had to go to a lot of businesses – I had spoken with a lot of businesses and a lot of schools, and one thing I noticed was no one really knew about Sierra Leone. In 2010, the United Nations stated that 70% of the people in Sierra Leone are living in poverty and 50% live on less than two dollars a day. I find that they’re not one of the countries that are really recognized, and that get enough help, where other countries are more focused on. It just amazed me that there are countries like Kenya and Ghana that I had always heard about, but I had never heard about Sierra Leone, and when I actually found out the facts and everything, it just stunned me. My mom introduced me to those people, and no one really knew that much about it, and so I just thought it would be important to raise the awareness, and I thought also that if you could see that a kid could send over a container like that then other people would be inspired to do similar things. I’m sure I would have been.
D: And what was the response from the film?
L: Well with sending the second container I got a lot of help right away, because people were very excited. People realized that the project could be completed. I know a lot of people that started doing things at their own schools because I went to a lot of schools. So a lot of them started doing pencil drives, things like that. It really inspired a lot of people.
D: What was your favorite part about making the documentary film? Was there any particular part that you enjoyed?
L: The amount of people that came forward to help me I thought was incredible. At the end of the film, in the credits, in about an eight-minute film there are hundreds of names that are mentioned in there. It really is incredible how much people help you, help anyone. Any project, whenever you hear of someone heading a project, it’s not their project, it’s the community’s and, you know, it was the province’s project. So many people come forward to help.
D: Now, in the Lunenburg Doc Fest Youth Program, there are going to be people your age making films. Is there any advice you would like to give them?
L: I used to do a lot of films. I used to do a lot of clay animations. So if they do a clay animation they just have to have a lot of patience. But, I don’t know, the more people you have around you, the better. It’s better when you have a group of ideas rather than just one idea.
D: What do you like about film? Why do you like to do these projects?
L: I don’t know – I find you always daydream. I like to daydream a lot and you can make those daydreams come to life. Anything that you’re feeling you can put into a film. I find people are more responsive to something that they see on a screen then sometimes what you say in person because they can feel it more, and when there is a big picture they are really emotionally inclined to listen to it.
D: How did making this documentary film help the Listen to the Children project today? Has it made any headway with it?
L: Yes, because whenever I go anywhere to speak to a company or something, especially the businesses that I go to because I’m sure that they get each year thousands of donation requests, but when you have a documentary like that I can show – it’s short, they can watch it in one sitting, and when they see that then they realize how important the project is and they really want to donate.
D: Why do you think people have such a response like this to documentary film?
L: Every day you hear about problems in the world and you hear about things going on and it’s hard to be able to filter in what you actually listen to and what you don’t listen to. But when you see a film and you see what it’s like over there, it’s easier to prioritize what’s important.
Lunenburg Doc Fest thanks Logan for the interview and for agreeing to be the Youth Program’s guest of honour during the free Youth Workshop on the weekend of September 13 and 14. To learn more about the Youth Program and Workshop go to http://www.lunenburgdocfest.com/youth-workshop/.
Please learn more about Logan’s project, Listen to the Children, at http://www.listentothechildren.net.
Lunenburg Doc Fest