Fawnda Neckoway

Making Movie Magic: Fawnda Neckoway Creates Representation and Films that Matter

“I've always been interested in film and the whole magic behind moviemaking,” says Fawnda Neckoway, an Ithinew (Cree) filmmaker and director from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. She has a background in talent relations and started her own production company called Nikâwiy Productions in Winnipeg where she has always lived. 

“One of my mentors told me early on, we never stop training.”

In the beginning, Neckoway worked as a production assistant, completing internships through Film Training Manitoba. She started to get curious about casting and auditioned and won a scholarship for Academy of Acting, and started her acting school journey. After acting school she participated in a National Screen Institute program for new voices, then went on to do more work in production assisting and coordinating. 

Casting is where Neckoway jumped next, following a short break from the industry, but the pandemic made a pivot necessary. She completed a virtual education program called Indigenous Women Exploring Business, studying casting and ultimately deciding to take that more seriously. She went back to school for digital film and media production programs and started her company, grateful for all the opportunities to learn and network.

“It is a lot of smaller training opportunities that I've taken, a year here, six weeks here, but all of those pieces really came together and taught me quite a bit.” 

Health challenges were an obstacle Neckoway had to overcome, taking a break and finding ways to get things done working from home. Contingency planning is important to accomplish her goals while wrestling with the unexpected. Balancing parenting, school and her homelife has made it tough to be present in the way she would like but she’s been fortunate to have a strong support system. With amazing teachers and great mentors, she hasn’t had to go through it alone. Recovering from an accident, she learned how supportive her industry and her network could be in continuing to motivate her to put her work out into the world. 

These days she’s very busy but she hopes in time things will settle to a comfortable pace. Her passion for the work she does keeps her going along with the opportunity to include her family in projects. Spending time with her son brings her joy and she relishes the opportunity to take a break and disconnect so she can focus on her family outside of her work responsibilities. 

The production company she started came from a vision she had long ago, when she was acting and just wishing there were more people like her on TV. She hoped to translate her ideas to the screen.  “Being able to do something from start to finish in a creative mindset, for me, is something that's inspiring,” she beams. Neckoway wants to show her son that anything is possible and that she’s working hard for them every day. He constantly inspires her to do well as he learns alongside her. 

Illustration by Shaikara David

With the film she’s been working on, Language Keepers, she’s trying to attract a younger audience, in keeping with the generational work in her past two films. “I know how important it is to our elders for us to carry on the language. I've seen that spark in their eyes,” she muses. Her first film drilled into her the importance of learning her language and she’s been looking to carry that wisdom into future work. She’s been learning her language and hopes the film inspires others to do the same. Neckoway has noticed the ease young children have picking up their language where it’s been more of a challenge at her age. 

If Neckoway could share advice with the younger generation it would be to go for what they want and to work as best they can to make their dreams happen. “If you're having to leave your home community, you're braver than you think… A lot of the things that I'm doing, I'm learning as I'm going. It's really about just taking that first step and doing it,” she confides. 

What she advocates for is setting goals, working hard and finding success through perseverance. “Your family's gonna be so proud of you… hopefully you'll find a support system along the way to champion you with that… People want to see you succeed,” she concludes. 

As someone who has always been interested in film and the whole magic behind moviemaking, Fawnda Neckoway is now making that magic happen. While she’s building her skills and her career bit by bit through learning opportunities, she’s creating the representation she once wished she saw on TV.. She’s turning her ideas into movies and turning heads as an Indigenous filmmaker on the rise.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
  • Province/Territory
  • Date
    March 5, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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