Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chef Reminds Us Who Is Worthy Of Respect in ‘Pour Retourner’

‘Pour Retourner’ (2014) was directed by Scooter Corkle and written by Zack Mosley. In this film, a prison chef gets a chance at a new life in society when he’s released and finds a chef’s job at a local fine restaurant. The restaurant owner used to work under the wing of the former prison inmate, and is skeptical about hiring an ex-con. But, he takes him on regardless as his new chef.  Things get heated in the kitchen when the restaurant owner becomes verbally abusive to his new employee. As a result, the ex-con chef winds up back at the prison kitchen.

To me, this film had a couple of messages. The first was managing one’s frustration with authority figures. No matter how hard we work to do our best, we can never please everyone. But, it can get extremely frustrating when it is someone in authority (whether it’s a boss, client, parent, etc.) who isn’t happy with us.  The main character did an excellent job at keeping his cool – up until his breaking point.

The second message that I picked up on was respect: everyone wants to be respected. Although the main character did his best to earn respect, he didn’t receive very much of it from the abusive restaurant owner. In fact, he got more respect from the hardened inmates than a ‘civilized’ member of the general public. It’s as though his place in life really was in prison, not in free society.

This was a great short film. The tension between the ex-con and the restaurant owner was very powerful – a stark reminder that workplace conflict exists in all sorts of environments. On the flip side, you got a sense that his inmate friends were always accepting of him. It was nice to see them welcoming  our main character back so warmly upon his ‘retourner’ to prison. It’s a nice feeling of camaraderie that can make a workplace feel like a true home.


 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)



No Time To Rest In The Summer: NSI, WFG Looking For Short Films

Ah, summer. It’s a time when everyone can slow down and enjoy the warm weather and have fun outside. But, if you’re a short film producer, chances are you’ll be busy working on your project to submit to one of the following (or both) film entries:

National Screen Institute (NSI)  recently announced their call for short film submissions to be included in their Online Short Film Festival. Participants have  a chance to win up to $3,000 in cash awards.  Films will be accepted until August 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm CST. Click on the NSI weblink for more details:

Also, the Winnipeg Film Group is hosting the 48 Hour Film Contest. Film makers who are WFG members and Manitoba residents have the opportunity to make and submit a short film to be shown at a premiere on July 6, 2014. More details can be found by visiting the WFG’s link:

Looking forward to seeing these films either online or on screen. Got to love the short film making talent that’s out there.  Good luck to all the entrants!


Survival of the Prairie Fittest – NFB film ‘Wild Life’ (2011)

This animated NFB short by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis is a story about a young Englishman, known as a remittance man, who journeys to Alberta in 1909 in an attempt at a new life there as a rancher.  The young man proudly writes home to his family about his ‘good fortune’. We see him having fun playing sports and admiring the nature that surrounds him. Later, his letters reflect a more somber tone as the struggles of living on the Canadian Prairie begin to make an impact on him.

I enjoyed the humour in the beginning and the seriousness at the end.  The ‘interviews’ with the different people who knew the young man (I immediately recognized Luba Goy’s voice as the old lady) were funny, too.  Their personal opinions of this young man gave the audience a better understanding of what he was really like. His exaggerated letters to his parents brought a smile to my face, as he clearly stretched the truth regarding the situations in which he found himself (such as his pride in having secured a herd of cattle, when there really is only a colony of ants running around on the ground).

This film reminded me of the saying, “the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side”.  How many people have often moved from one city or province or country to another, only to find that the new location didn’t really live up to expectations?  The film also speaks to one’s ability or inability to survive in new and unforgiving situations. The animation by Tilby and Forbis was refreshing, and the characters’ voices were well-chosen.  Check out for more information about their work.

As an added bonus, have a look at this ‘making of’ video of Wild Life:




Winnipeg’s Madison Thomas To Compete For Top Prize on CBC’s Short Film Face Off

The Winnipeg Film Group (WFG) has recently announced that Winnipeg film maker Madison Thomas will be one of nine finalists competing on Short Film Face Off, coming up on CBC this fall.

Her short film, Out of Reach, is distributed by the WFG’s Distribution Department and is in competition for a total production prize of $45,000. Taping of Short Film Face Off begins next week with broadcasts this fall on CBC Television.

Read more about Madison and the WFG by clicking on  Follow them on Twitter: @WinnipegFilm @MadisonFThomas

For more info about Short Film Face Off, click on:  Follow them on Twitter: @cbcshortfilm

Congratulations, Madison, on becoming a finalist and good luck!!





‘My Guy’ – Can Larry Gowan Bring Two People Together?

My Guy (2011) was written by Dane Clark and directed by Simonee Chichester. This is a fun little film starring Allana Harkin (Shelly) and Daniel Lupetina (Oliver).  Teenage Oliver works for Shelly at a downtown diner. Oliver and Shelly are the only two employees at the restaurant that night, as the rest of the staff have left early to attend a local school dance. Attracted to Shelly, Oliver asks her to accompany him to the same dance. While clearly flattered, Shelly declines Oliver’s offer. A discussion then ensues about their present situation and potential future.

I think most of us can identify with one of the characters in this younger guy/older woman dichotomy. The film does a great job at contrasting the optimistic hope of the young versus the cold reality of the mature.  With only two main characters, the film has a nice simplicity to it. I also liked how Larry Gowan’s hit song, Strange Animal , was referenced in the film. Perhaps because both characters liked Gowan, Oliver hoped that this, in itself, would be enough to bind the two together (which also made me laugh). Ah, youth.

My Guy is a great Canadian short. I’ve seen the film a few times on CBC’s Canadian Reflections, and I believe it will be on the show again on June 16. I recommend watching the film at least once. But when you do, don’t be surprised if you get Strange Animal stuck in your head as an ear-worm.

Short Film Face Off returns to CBC Television this fall

In case you haven’t heard yet, CBC Television will be broadcasting the newest season of Short Film Face Off this fall. This program, being taped June 17, 18, 19 and 20 at its studios in Halifax, features 9 short film makers competing for the top prize of $45,000 in film production costs.

The film makers come from all across Canada and the featured films represent a mix of different genres. The show will be broadcast September 13, 20, 27 and October 4, and the viewers will have a chance to vote for their favourite film via telephone or online. Check out the website and YouTube clip for more info:

I’m happy to see this program broadcast on CBC-TV in the early evening (albeit on Saturdays). It’s a perfect way for the general public to get a glimpse into Canadian films and their creators. I also like the fact that the audience may participate with the show through voting. You can follow Short Film Face Off on Twitter: @cbcshortfilm

I’ll definitely be watching in September. See you there!


Quick Book Review: “Writing the Short Film” by Pat Cooper and Ken Dancyger

If you are a short film fan like me, you are probably curious as to how to they are made. One book that’s a great introduction into the short film world is ‘Writing the Short Film’ by Pat Cooper and Ken Dancyger (published by Focal Press, 2005).

In this 359-page book, we learn the principles of story writing and telling for the short film format. The authors cover the different story types (melodrama, docudrama, hyperdrama and experimental narrative). References are made and examples are used by previous short film makers, including the authors’ own students. Throughout the book, actual film scripts are reprinted so that the reader has a better idea of formatting.

This was a good read. All the concepts were explained very well and the film examples were interesting, as well. After reading the book, I felt very motivated to take a film making course or even just to buy my own little camera and apply the concepts that way. Either way, I recommend ‘Writing the Short Film’ to all fans of short films.