Belle Plaine: CD Release Party

I have known Belle Plaine (Melanie Hankewich) for about three years and have filmed her off and on since her decision to make music full time. Her sound is unlike anything I have ever heard. I was lucky enough to hear what she has coming down the pipe with her next album (not this one) and I personally believe it is some of the best stuff coming out of Saskatchewan, if not Canada!

For this project, I wanted to do a little film for the CD Release Party. Initially, I was thinking about doing a montage video from the CD Release Party but after viewing the footage, decided to contact Mel and get her to do a quick sit-down interview talking about the album.

I wanted to take a different approach to this video and limit it to the two events (Live Performance & Interview). I thought about overlaying BROLL over the interview but liked the vibe of it without so left it without the BROLL.

I shot the live performance with another 5D shooter, Alex Stevens. We shot with two 5D’s and one 7D. For the interview, I shot it with a 5D and a 7D. The sound for the interview is pretty noisy and I have finally decided to invest in a nice shotgun microphone so I can avoid the ambient noise you get for Lav’s.


The shooting of both the Interview and Performance was pretty straight forward. In order to match the 7D to the 5D’s, I turned the sharpness up a two notches higher than the 5D’s but shot neutral profile settings.

In post-production however, I struggled with the colour correction of this piece. For some reason, (assuming it was my choice to shoot Adobe RGB) the image’s colour changed drastically when uploaded to vimeo. Everything looked over saturated and very red. I ended up re-doing the colour, compensating for the change that was occurring during upload. It was a game of trial and error which was so frustrated. I will be investigating why this was happening (as I am sure there is a simple explanation). What troubles me however, is that out of over 400 uploads, I have never had this issue!


Born and raised on a farm near the village of Fosston, Saskatchewan, Belle Plaine, aka Melanie Hankewich, is a true prairie girl. A performer by the age of five, she was the ringer for every local musical event. Classical voice lessons began at age six and continued through high school. At 18, she knew what she wanted: to write songs, perform and have a home recording studio.

But when she moved to Edmonton to study jazz at Grant MacEwan College, her focus shifted toward a more technical aspect of music: sound recording. After graduation, she worked in a recording studio in Calgary – close to the action, but not in the game. She occasionally sang jingles for commercial radio, but the work felt meaningless.

“I gave up on music in Calgary. I’d lost touch with my own voice. I had years of education, but artistically I felt drained.” Hankewich recalls.

After two years at the studio Hankewich realized she was better off waiting tables. Eager for change, she enrolled at the University of Victoria as an environmental science major. Science was not the right choice, but she had found the right city.
Having fallen in love with Victoria’s vibrant arts community she dropped out of school. She also began to sing again.

Two co-workers heard her voice at the Cook Street Village coffee shop where they all worked. Soon after they informed her that they were starting a band and she was in it.

A handful of performances at open mic nights followed. Hankewich began to write. An itch to travel carried her to Sydney, Australia. She waitressed at a dodgy restaurant, lived in a house with 10 boozy Australians and played gigs with a pack of mongrel musicians. There were pub shows, garage demos and back-up vocals. During her year abroad, she discovered she wanted to be a singer. Again.

In 2006, Hankewich returned to her home province of Saskatchewan. She had not planned to live in Regina, but quickly found a home in the city’s arts community. The scene was small and welcoming. She decided to stay.

By this time, Hankewich’s notebooks were filled with words and melodies. Having quietly decided to pursue music, she was now searching for the perfect moniker. While contemplating this very question on a long drive, she passed by the village of Belle Plaine. The name stuck.

Hankewich left her job to perform full-time as Belle Plaine in early 2010. Appearances that summer included the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Gateway Folk Festival and the Regina Folk Festival. After hearing her sing, Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio 3 included her in his Summer of 2010 Musical Discoveries podcast.