Friday, October 7, 2022

‘Writing saved my life’

By Ryanne McIsaac

Kayla LaSaga has found herself working with some big stars since graduating from the Digital Animation program at College of the North Atlantic (CNA) in 2008.     

Kayla LaSaga works on the set of an independent project she was working on for a friend called, Plains of Snow

LaSaga has worked as a production assistant and has rubbed elbows with the cast and crew on the movie Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, and the TV shows Supernatural and A Series of Unfortunate Events to name a few.

“Every day feels like a scavenger hunt, from finding crew park, a shuttle van, catering, work trucks, the washroom and eventually set,” said the Stephenville native. “Not knowing where the workday will lead me is all very exhilarating.”

She is currently working as an on-set dresser for a children’s show called Ivy and Bean with Netflix.

“The magic of set decoration is planting subtle suggestions of the character’s personality and history without ever mentioning it through dialogue,” LaSaga said from her home in Vancouver, B.C. “We are creating a world for the audience and often use foreshadowing through material processions to pull a story full circle for that magical ‘A-ha!’ moment. “

Her current project involves a lot of reading between the lines; something LaSaga says she enjoys a lot.

“I wouldn’t call myself a filmmaker, but as someone who enjoys storytelling, I thrive in the process of watching a script come to life,” she said.  “I am Invested in telling more than what’s written on a page, and as an on-set dresser, I get to watch the sets evolve with the maturity of the plot and the growth of each individual character.”

LaSaga’s talents don’t stop there. She is also an accomplished writer. She has two children’s titles under her belt called Roar Baby Dinosaur and The Polka Dot Frog, as well as a novel set to come out next year called Dragum. She says she uses her novels as a platform to discuss her journey with her emotional well-being.

Kayla LaSaga at a reshoot for Shadow and Bone. The scene required Kayla to reset the fake blood on her set decoration as it would get washed away by water each take, causing her get some of the fake blood on her hands and face.

“These books have become my tools to my darkest battle with mental health,” she said.

Her soon-to-be-released novel tells the story of a young girl coming of age and experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.

Despite her challenges, the CNA grad says she always looks for the silver lining and has created a blog called Borderline and Boundaries as an outlet for her mental health diagnosis.

“I really want to break the stigma around mental health and show how human we all are to experience extreme emotions, or lack of, to cope with difficulties,” she said. “Writing saved my life.” 

LaSaga has some words of wisdom for those considering a job in her field.

“The film industry feels anything but boring, typical and uniform,” she said.  “The longer I’m in the industry, the more people I know with each new film set. It feels like a really big extended family where most are willing to help each other out, on and off the clock.”

Kayla LaSaga smiles for the camera. Kayla currently works as a production assistant in Vancouver, BC

She says it is important for people to put their mental health first and to take a break when they need it.    

“Trust me, there will be some years you’ll want to step back for an extended duration and recharge from this very mentally and physically demanding job,” she said. “Whether you decide to take a break for three months or many years, the connections, the collaborations and the community needed to make a pretty picture tie a storyline together will be awaiting your return.”

For more information about CNA programs, visit: www.cna.nl.ca.

Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne recently moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.

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