Kate Bond is a Vancouver lawyer, the mother of a young child – and an aspiring writer. She has written eight novels, showing most of them to nobody.
In the winter of 2015, she decided to try her hand at screenwriting. She was busy – with a full-time job working as a litigator at the federal Department of Justice, an 18-month-old son who wasn't always sleeping through the night, and a husband who worked night shifts as a firefighter. Still, over the course of eight weeks, Ms. Bond wrote most of the first draft of a film script during her commute.
"The bus to and from work was my free time each day," says Ms. Bond. "And it really was a lifeline. I could open up my computer and be absolutely lost in this other world for as long as the commute" – about 25 minutes each way.
The screenplay has earned Ms. Bond the $25,000 Daryl Duke Prize for up-and-coming Canadian film and television writers.
"I really was very, very surprised at the outcome – and obviously thrilled," says Ms. Bond, now 34. "I burst into tears."
Trapline is the story of a 17-year-old who decides to take over her dead grandfather's abandoned trapline in the remote Yukon wilderness. Things take a turn when she is joined by her recently paroled foster brother, the trapline's legal owner.
The world depicted in the script is very different from the urban experience of Vancouver's No. 20 bus, which took Ms. Bond from the Commercial Drive basement apartment where she lived at the time, across East Hastings through the Downtown Eastside and finally downtown.
"This sounds a bit cliché, but you become so focused, so absorbed, I really wouldn't notice anything. And that was a kind of opiate really. It's such a clear form of escape and solace," says Ms. Bond, who held summer jobs in northern B.C., Alberta and Yukon while she was studying English at the University of British Columbia. "I'm lucky I don't get motion sickness," she adds, laughing.
She was ritualistic about the experience, choosing the same seat every day and listening to the same music as she wrote. She figures she probably listened to Corb Lund's album Cabin Fever about 60 times.
At night, after putting her toddler to bed, she would do research – watching YouTube videos on subjects such as how to dye a beaver trap or release a lynx that's been caught in a trap.
Ms. Bond entered her screenplay, hoping it might help her get over her fear of letting anyone see anything she has written.
"I think it was this idea that it was a low-stakes way to send a piece of writing out into the world; that some stranger, some third party will read it and it will help kind of alleviate this great phobia I have of showing anything to anybody," she says.
The jury, which is chaired by acclaimed Canadian actor R.H. Thomson, selected Trapline from 100 entries for the prize, which is in its second year. It recognizes excellence in a screenplay for an unproduced long-form dramatic film telling a fictional story. The financial award is meant to allow the winner time and support to complete a new draft, which is to be submitted to the jury subsequently.
Daryl Duke, who died in 2006, was an Emmy-winning director whose projects included the miniseries The Thorn Birds. Born and raised in Vancouver, he worked for the National Film Board, the CBC and CTV. In the United States, he did work for all three major networks and most of the major Hollywood studios. He also founded and launched Vancouver independent TV station CKVU in 1976.
Ms. Bond has since quit her secure federal government job with benefits to spend more time on her writing. (The bonus is spending more time with her son Will, now 3 1/2). She also works as a research lawyer, part-time.
In addition to revising and workshopping the script, Ms. Bond says the prize money will allow her to take a professional trappers' course up north. Also, there's the validation that comes with winning.
"It certainly helped a lot with my fear of showing my writing to people," says Ms. Bond, who completed another novel just a few weeks ago. "Now I feel like I can kind of have the moral courage to send it out into the world too."