In the span of a decade and a half, Anne-Marie Jackson went from pursuing journalism at Lethbridge College to creating a documentary that won Best Documentary Shorts at the LA Film Awards. But throughout her professional journey, she never forgot her roots. “All of my dreams came true from this small town in Alberta,” she says.
Anne-Marie’s film, Fentanyl and the 14th Floor: The life and death of Justin Lidstone, explores the heartbreaking consequences of opioid overdose. “It was the culmination of all of my years of journalism training and I needed every skillset that I acquired over 15 years,” says Anne-Marie. Interviewing grieving family and friends meant gaining and maintaining trust to tell a story with many dark corners, which is an important journalistic skill, in addition to the actual storytelling. It can be viewed online at vimeo.com/amjvisuals.
Anne-Marie says journalism can be a daunting field. To inspire her students at Centennial College, she uses many of the same techniques her teachers used during her student years at Lethbridge College. “I specifically wanted to teach in the college setting, and impart all of the things my teachers did with me,” she says. “I want to encourage them to explore what their interests are, and open their minds to the different types of media they can be involved in.”
Anne-Marie’s exploratory roots of the world of journalism began in Edmonton through an elective that opened her eyes to the field. Lethbridge College’s reputation as a hands-on school compelled Jackson to move to southern Alberta. While she was still a student, she was hired at the Lethbridge Herald after a brief internship. “Lethbridge College is where I found my passion and desire to be a journalist, and honed those early skills I needed to build up to where I am today,” says Anne-Marie.
After graduation, she went on to earn a diploma in photojournalism from Loyalist College, and then worked for a number of news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Now, Anne-Marie focuses on teaching while managing two media companies: First Capture Studios, which teaches visual journalism to marginalized communities; and AMJ Visuals, where she has her eye out for the next big project.