The story of the search for Ryan Shtuka doesn't have an ending yet, but after the Telus Storyhive competition announced its grant funding on Friday (Sept. 7), it does have a crew to begin to tell it.
A trio of locals — Jared Featherstone, Russell Walton and Allan McVicar — entered their documentary, Peaks and Valleys: The Search for Ryan Shtuka, in the competition a few months ago. On Friday, it was announced the documentary was one of 30 to receive $50,000 in grant funding from Telus to help make the 20-minute film.
"We're ecstatic about getting this kind of funding to tell the story we want to tell," says Featherstone.
They were also awarded an additional $7,500 from Creative B.C., which Featherstone says will only help improve their production value.
The film will provide background information on Ryan and tell the story of how the community of Sun Peaks and his hometown of Beaumont, Alta. have come together to help with the search. Ryan was last seen leaving a residence on Burfield Drive in Sun Peaks on Feb. 17, 2018, around 2:10 a.m.
But with a story still full of questions, Featherstone says they have to be flexible as they make the film for next May's deadline.
"The biggest challenge is being adaptable. A lot of times when making a film you have to plan for months, but when it comes to a documentary where the story isn't finished, things can change at the snap of a hat and you have to change your direction right away. Obviously, if any changes were to happen, we'd hope for Ryan to be found."
The group found out that they had won the grant Friday morning and already, they're working on developing their production schedule, building around the Shtuka family's availability.
The group wasn't told if they were one of the 15 selected by a jury or one of 15 voted for by the public. But either way, they're thankful for the support.
"Thank you to everyone who came out and voted for us. Without their support, we wouldn't have even been able to get this project started, so words can't really express how appreciative we are and the Shtuka family is for all of the support that we've been given for this project already. It's absolutely unreal. It's still kind of sinking in as the day goes along."
The competition was open to filmmakers in B.C. and Alberta.
Heather Shtuka, Ryan's mom, took to social media on Friday to say thank you to everyone who voted (check out her video below).