Inside The Book Shop on Main Street, where local poet Shane Koyczan will be filming a short film series in May. The filming will be happening at night to keep the store open for business. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Shane Koyczan filming short series in Penticton

The series will break from the ‘intensely personal’ spoken word art he is known around the world for

A Penticton poet, that is world renowned, is filming a different kind of project in town starting next month.

Shane Koyczan, who has delivered his spoken word around the world and is the subject of the documentary Shut Up and Say Something, is working on a short film series titled Literally. The project will be filmed in The Book Shop on Main Street, and will star Koyczan, but the crew is releasing few details at this time.

Related: B.C. poet pens tribute to Humboldt

Koyczan said the new project, set to start filming on May 13, is a break from his “intensely personal” spoken word performances.

“It takes a toll. I’d say there’s a weight that comes with it. You get a lot of letters from people who reached out about their own personal stuff,” he said.

“(I needed) to have some breathing room in terms of my own sanity, and I wanted to try something a little different and exercise some different creative muscles.”

Koyczan wrote the screenplay and is taking a major role in the visual aspects of the project, which will include eight parts of about 15 minutes and an epilogue. He said he hopes to provide a little vacation from a world that seems to be spiralling out of control.

Related: Koyczan eager to be in front of hometown crowd

“I wanted to sort of make a story that’s lovely, a story about gravity, a story about small towns and book stores and all those things. It’s about a lot of things,” he said. “I’m happy to be doing it in Penticton. I have a great fondness for this place.”

Shooting in The Book Shop, which will be done at night to not disrupt business, was something he wanted to do, but wasn’t initially sure he would be able to achieve.

“It’s the first place that I recognize when I landed here that’s still here. A lot of Penticton’s changed,” he said.

“I definitely wanted to do it there, and so I was very lucky that the Stevenson family (which owns the store), they’re so receptive and open to these kind of things, and they were like ‘of course, yes, come in.’”

The project will be his first full screenplay of his own initiative, and he said working on a larger project, which involves numerous moving parts with their own niche experts, has been a learning experience.

“It’s a question of being able to bring all those people together and create something that still works in the same language.”

Koyczan has collaborated on projects, and while he did note herding artists can be a challenge, there are also some benefits beyond that niche expertise.

“(It’s) also very exciting, too, because it’s kind of infectious when you work with those other people who then become excited about the thing that you’re doing,” he said.

While the film won’t have any sort of mention of poetry or spoken word art, editor Jean-Denis Rouette, who also edited Shut Up and Say Something, said the film still has its “Shane-isms.”

“It has a lot of his humour, which is sort of undeniable. He’s always had that. It’s always been a big part of him: his humour, and a lot of his compassion and his world view,” Rouette said.

Though he performs regularly on stage — and even then, he said performances come with a lot of anxiety — Koyczan said this is “a whole different beast.” But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any experience.

After enrolling in a drafting class, Koyczan was bumped due to overflow into the next class down in the alphabet: drama.

“I was very socially awkward and didn’t know how to talk to people, and it turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise, because it gave me a bit of that education, that sort of social education that’s needed,” he said.

The project will be holding a local audition in the next week, with information to be released, soon.

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