Seasonal Life tells the story of Latin-American migrant workers who travel annually to Quebec to participate in the harvesting of vegetables.

Inspired by  the co-creators’ interest in wanting to explore the daily life of seasonal migrant workers that “come to work several months a year in order for us, to be able to eat local food.” Co-director and editor of Seasonal Life Sophie Guerin, chats to us about her experiences while creating this web series.

What inspired your web series?
Actually, we have been working on this project for so long that we can’t even remember, why, at first, we wanted to work on this project :) Rodolphe, one of the co-directors wanted to explore the notion of the migration… Then, we thought it would be interesting to explore the daily life of the seasonal migrant workers that come to work several months a year in order for us, to be able to eat local food.

Why did you choose web series as your format?
Seasonal Life talks about the same situation but from five different points of view. We found it would be interesting to create a web series and make these different points of view interact with each other. The web series format allowed us to explore these different points of view. What we thought would be feasible turned out to be some sort of a challenge for us!

How long did it take to produce and shoot the series?
We initiated the project 5 years ago. Every year we were going back to take some pictures and do some research. But it is not until we got a grant, that we started to produce the web series. So in 2015, we produced and shot Seasonal Life, over almost a season. The prep and final research was done in May, we shot in June-July and edited in August-September.

As the series reveals the hardships seasonal workers face in Canada, how did you find your interviewees?
The workers didn’t want to talk about this subject with us. They were afraid to talk. Afraid to loose their jobs, to be fired. I had several conversations about their conditions off the mic but when I would ask them if the wanted to talk to me about it on camera, or only with the audio recorder, they would immediately leave. It was really hard for us to get the point of view of the workers about that.

Most scenes in the series feature the workplaces and accommodation of the seasonal workers, was it difficult to gain access to these areas?
We had a contact there that really helped us get access to these accommodations. But it was actually easier than we thought. The guys were happy to have people visiting them. They were happy to show us where they lived. It was way easier to get access to their accommodation than it was to get them to talk about it.

What are the challenges you came across when making your series and how did you overcome them?
As I said earlier, the biggest challenge was to avoid the workers to tell us that everything was fine and perfect with their condition of living. We had to be strategic and take time with the workers to get a testimony closer to their reality.

How did you fund your series?
We got a grant from the Fonds TV5 which is dedicated to the production of web series.

What do you want your audience to take away from this series?
The more people can see our web series, the happier we are. We’d like the audience to get to better know the reality of a seasonal migrant worker. We think it is important for Occidental people (especially from North America) to be aware of this agricultural phenomenon, in order to know that it is not something that will soon disappear. We are importing cheap labour without taking responsibility as a country. These migrant workers only cherish one dream: to get a better life for them and their family.

What did you learn from making this series? What would you do differently?
We learned a lot! It was actually our first documentary web series. The format was new for us. We encountered a lot of challenges. The harder part has been to try to make sense of everything we had shot in 5 different little stories.

The other challenge we had was that we were waiting a lot. During our shooting days, we would be there, on the field waiting for someone to call us, or searching for workers in the field. It was  research and shooting at the same time. We didn’t know were we were actually going at first,  but as we were shooting, we got closer to our subject and to the goal which wanted to achieve.

As it was our first project like this, I don’t know what we would do differently. Everything has been part of the process.


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