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Community Mobile Media Lab receives Intentional Initiative Award from Research Nova Scotia

Solomon Nagler
Sobaz Benjamin
Joshua Schwab-Cartas

Solomon Nagler, filmmaker and professor of Media Arts and Film at NSCAD, has received the Intentional Initiative Award from Research Nova Scotia to further his work with the Community Mobile Media Lab (CMML).

The CMML is a mobile media production hub, with film production equipment, that can be temporarily set up in Nova Scotian communities. The media lab will house a series of post-production workstations, a mobile sound mixing studio and professional film production equipment.

“I feel very privileged receiving this award,” says Nagler. “I’m really a passionate researcher, but university research can be very inward-looking. So, how do we contribute to not just equitable spaces in the universities, but to our greater community, and how do we share this knowledge and learn from other people outside the university to make our educational institution a better place?

“With this grant, it’s all very outward-looking,” he continues. “It’s about leaving the university, traveling to communities, learning from them, and nurturing filmmakers who didn’t necessarily have a similar opportunity to go to university and register for four years of education. It’s about learning how these processes can do a lot for diversification in the film industry, but also diversification in how we teach and how we learn about filmmaking here and abroad.”

This innovative model of co-creation, training and mentorship is one of the many reasons the CMML was granted this award.


The award comes as a $220,000 grant from Research Nova Scotia over the course of three years. This will help the CMML to fund projects, hire mentors and acquire more training materials for participants.

In addition to mentors, the CMML will be partnering with its primary community collaborator, Sobaz Benjamin, who is the Founder and Executive Director of In My Own Voice (iMOVe); and with institutional collaborator, Joshua Schwab-Cartas, who is an assistant professor in the Master of Arts Education program at NSCAD.

“These are two people that I have such an enormous respect for and what they do,” says Nagler. “We all have a vision of art as a means of changing the world for better, and the work they do is going to be integral to anything that we’re going to do in the next three years.”

Nagler sees this funding as an opportunity to combat accessibility within the education sector, which is something he has seen in the last 16 years of his teaching career.

“It’s kind of evident that universities are not the most accessible places for a lot of people,” he says. “Things like cost, accessibility [to equipment], class, and racism; these are some of the obvious reasons that post-secondary education wasn’t in the wheelhouse for some people… and you see that in the population that’s in front of you while teaching. So, there has to be a way to make these spaces and educational process more accessible and more equitable to tell these stories that need to be told.”


One of the projects Nagler hopes to produce with the CMML is a ‘micro-films festival,’ which will showcase the works of participants and hopefully put budding filmmakers on the map.

“As the folks are producing their films and shooting them, we will then help them produce these works, with the intention that these works will be distributed in festivals here and abroad,” says Nagler. “So, they can start building their portfolios, and once you start building portfolios, you can start applying for funding, which can then be used for university applications.”

For Nagler, hosting these sort of screening events would be a way to celebrate the participants, their labour and the communities that they are a part of.

Right now, Nagler, Benjamin and Schwab-Cartas are putting together the infrastructure to get the CMML up and running. This includes a $75,000 Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant that will go towards purchasing the van and equipment for the mobile lab.

“At the heart of it, this is a learning opportunity to see how we can work with communities outside of NSCAD, nurture the robust creative community of making, and ultimately, do good in the world,” says Nagler.