Good things definitely come in threes, especially when it comes to Canadian short films. For three weeks, Canadians from coast to coast watched and cheered on a brilliant assembly of short filmmakers on CBC’s Short Film Face Off. During these three weeks, three short films went head to head for a grand production prize of $45,000. On the 3rd of October, three filmmakers remained.
Only one would walk away as this year’s winner.
On the last episode of Short Film Face Off this season, we were reintroduced to Scott Simpson, Allison Coon-Come and BJ Verot (with co-director Brad Crawford in the audience) along with their respective films The Toll, Eddie and Loss of Contact. Each film was shown one last time to the viewing public, while the panel of Mohit Rajhans, Michelle Latimer and Eli Glasner shared some of their final thoughts.
We were also treated to some updates from Short Film Face Off alumni Kyle Rideout, Jordan Canning, Madison Thomas and Alan Miller. They brought the audience up to speed on what kind of projects they were working on and how Short Film Face Off helped their filmmaking careers.
The $45,000 prize is a combination of the Telefilm Short Film Face Off Award of $30,000 and $15,000 in equipment rental from SIM Digital and PS Production Services Ltd. With viewer voting results from last weekend tabulated, the time had arrived to make the big announcement. Francesca Accinelli, Telefilm Canada’s Director of National Promotion came on stage with cheque in hand while host Steve Patterson withdrew the winner’s name from a sealed envelope. BJ Verot and Brad Crawford were declared the winners! Congratulations BJ and Brad!
It was a pleasure to watch Short Film Face Off’s eighth season on CBC-TV. We met and connected with a group of talented short film makers from diverse regions of Canada. We viewed nine unique, fascinating and well-made short films that were humorous, thrilling and thought-provoking. We heard commentary and analysis from an experienced film industry panel. We had a chance to vote for our favourite short film and support Canadian filmmakers in the process. Canada has an excellent film industry and the short films that competed on Short Film Face Off this season are a testimony to that. Hats off to everyone involved at Short Film Face Off for bringing these films to our televisions and mobile devices. Looking forward to Season Nine!
It’s hard to believe, but today is Short Film Fan’s first anniversary! When I launched the blog last year, it was definitely a different venture for me. I never saw myself as a blogger, yet I wanted to create a place where I could write about and share my interest in Canadian short films with the public. The one question that went through my head at that time was: “Will anyone even read it?” Suffice to say, I’m really happy with the results, so far.
As of today, Short Film Fan has been read over 1,200 times in almost 40 countries, including Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and various countries in Europe and Asia. Thank you so much to all those readers out there! I’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to meet and connect with various people in the Canadian broadcast and film industry. Their interest and participation in my blog via interviews, research and information has helped make the blog what it is today!
The good news is that I have no plans in stopping. I look forward to posting more film reviews, interviews and general information posts about Canadian short films in the coming months. As a fan blog site, it’s my pleasure to inform other fans, and potential fans, about the great wealth of Canadian short films that are out there.
If you haven’t done so already, why not let others know about Short Film Fan? Maybe you have a friend, relative or co-worker who would be interested in knowing about Canadian short films? Also, if you have any comments or questions about the blog or about any of the posts, please feel free to post one at any time.
The NHL playoffs are in full swing and Canada Day is still a few months away. If you are looking for another event this week that celebrates Canadian cultural pride, look no further than National Canadian Film Day.
In its second year, National Canadian Film Day will take place across Canada on April 29th , thanks to Reel Canada and a host of sponsors. The one-day event will offer a wide variety of Canadian films for your viewing pleasure. The films will be shown in accessible facilities such as local libraries and schools; in some cases, they may even be viewed online.
When someone is searching for a career path, the advice that is often given is “follow your passion”, “give it your all” and “do what you know”. It is evident that Canadian film director Alan Powell has followed this advice to the letter. Powell first began his career in Toronto, Ontario, with acting. In 1991, he launched PNA where he was a voice over agent, producing and directing voice overs for a vast array of clients. In 2005, Powell founded his creative and video production service company, Facilitator Films. He has directed programming for such television channels as The History Channel, The Biography Channel and FX. He has also worked on educational projects for the Centre For Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children.
Powell is an accomplished short film maker, producing a number of short films that have earned him nominations and awards from film festivals in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. In 2014, he was a contestant on the CBC program, Short Film Face Off, in which he advanced to the show’s final round.
Now living in London, UK, and working on his newest short, ‘As One’, we reached out to Powell to learn about him, his work, and his thoughts on the Canadian short film industry.
Short Film Fan: At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to become a film maker? Were there any family, friends or teachers that encouraged you to pursue this career path?
Alan Powell: I was an actor first, then a voice over agent for 10 years. Then, I returned to acting. At that point, I found that I started to become very frustrated with the acting process mainly because the directors hadn’t a clue how to direct actors and/or they had no creative vision or statement they wanted to make with the script. And here I was – I knew what the material was saying and I was passionate about channeling that; but, there is only so much I could do as an actor to affect the final product. That’s when I decided that I needed to direct.
Once I made the decision everyone I knew was supportive of me. Mind you, one friend (more like one of my kids’ parents’ friends) had said to me about ten years ago something to the effect of ‘it’s going to be difficult because you’re older now’. I had no idea what he meant by that and I thought he was just being negative. But now, 10 years later, I realize what he meant. Basically, I had to start all over. Build new contacts, create the relationships and wait for those relationships to develop over time. As those contacts continue to flourish in the industry, more opportunities arise for me.
SFF: As your website and CV state, you’re passionate about telling ‘emotionally driven stories’. What fuels this type of storytelling?
AP: Experience. 🙂 Everyone, at some point in their lives, goes through their own ‘ring of fire’; an emotional journey or experience that changes their life forever. When it happened to me, it was so overwhelmingly powerful and so awesomely life changing that I realized this is what my life is about. It’s about being true to ourselves and the struggle; the sacrifice to make that happen. For me, directing actors in emotionally driven stories is a constant reminder of that. My ongoing fuel is staying authentic and true to myself so I can always bring my A game to every project.
SFF: You’re originally from Toronto, Ontario, but you now call London, England home. How do these two cities compare in terms of making and screening short films?
AP: This could be just my experience, but I found the London film community to be more active in their outreach to support short film. For ‘Phone Box’, I had people coming to me and saying I want to help; in Toronto, I found it a little more challenging to get people on board. I’m talking more about the early years of my career in Toronto in 2005. It could be that in Toronto, I was just starting out; compared to landing in London in 2013 and already having two shorts playing festivals worldwide to critical acclaim and each picking up multiple awards. Ultimately, I think the short film communities in both cities are equally supportive. It just depends on your level of experience and success as to how quickly people will jump on board to support you.
SFF: Your short films include ‘Across The Hall’, ‘Sunday Punch’ and ‘Phone Box’. These films have been seen internationally and have garnered you awards. How do you account for this success?
AP: Being true to my voice and listening to my heart. I don’t take on a project unless the theme resonates with me, affects me, makes me emotional or gets me passionate. That’s the reason I direct and sometimes write because whatever is on the page has to be said and I’m the one to say it. It’s part of me – of who I am. If I feel that strongly about it, chances are the target audience will connect to it as well. I also think that the emotional journeys of the characters in my films are universal. Everyone has experienced similar emotions and can relate it back to their own life in some way, shape or form.
SFF: Can you tell us more about your newest project, ‘As One’?
AP: It’s the second short film that I’ve written (‘Sunday Punch’ being the first). It’s actually based on a storyline from a film I wrote and directed in 2009 that didn’t get much exposure. I pulled a storyline from that film and developed it further. Basically, it’s about a 50-something, twice-divorced, single woman whose loneliness becomes unbearable on the evening of her daughter’s wedding. I let the idea brew in the back of my mind for almost three years before I decided to write the script. It was originally set in Toronto; but now that I’m living in London, I decided to set it in a classic black cab as it drives the private wedding party through central London on its way to the civil ceremony. The story unfolds in the cab as it picks up each passenger. Very excited about this project, as the lead character speaks to a feature film I’m developing about the power of denial.
SFF: What specific challenges do you face as a film maker when producing a short film?
AP: If you’re fortunate enough to have an awesome producer on board (which is a challenge finding in of itself), then you don’t have to worry about producing at all. You can focus on the creative challenges. Mind you, a producer will tell you that raising funds is an extremely creative challenge. But for me, if I’m producing, it’s always about the money 🙂 . The projected budgets never match the actual budgets. So you end up with the mammoth challenge of convincing people to work for low rates or to offer their services ‘in kind’. This speaks to the above answer about “how do I account for my success”; you have to be incredibly passionate to convince others to jump on board your project for no or very little pay. It’s true about the old adage ‘ask and ye shall receive’. There’s also the risk of using up all your favours; but, if you’re loyal to the people you work with and you have a solid relationship and you give them paid work, then chances are they will want to do their best to accommodate your non- or very low-paying passion projects.
SFF: In your opinion, why do you think people like to watch short films?
AP: I can speak to why I like watching short films – because they’re short 🙂 . We’re inundated with films on the internet. I like that I can get a powerful message in a short time. During the day, I may watch a short because I have 3, 5, 10 or 15 minutes to spare. I rarely watch feature films in the middle of the day. Features are for my evenings. If we’re talking about industry reasons, short films are an excellent tool to pitch ‘proof of concept’ for feature films and TV series.
SFF: What are your hopes and predictions for the short film industry in Canada?
AP: I would like to see the return of the Calling Card program and more funding opportunities for short films that speak to feature films. In England they are very methodical and supportive with their schemes and lottery funding in the arts. Each scheme feeds into the next. At the end of it, they spit out a feature film director. I would like to see more dovetailed funding programs in Canada that support the director at each stage rather than leaving them at the curb side after a successful application to fend for themselves.
SFF: Do you have any advice for any up-and-coming short film makers in Canada?
AP: Get lots of feedback on your scripts before you shoot. Seek out mentors who you know you can learn from and make you a better filmmaker. After you’ve shot and edited, get feedback on the fine cut too. It may scare you or make you anxious that someone may tear your film apart or your script apart but you want to make excellent films, don’t you? That’s how it’s done. Rome not only wasn’t built in a day, it was constructed with the help of a community. Choose your community and ask them to help you construct your Rome! Oh, and make sure you have an excellent sound recordist!
We wish Alan all the best in his production of ‘As One’. A funding campaign for the film has taken place on Indiegogo’s site: http://igg.me/at/asonefilm and we look forward to seeing this film in the future.
Spring is here. Time to get things cleaned up from this past winter. Spring is also a chance for renewal – a look back at the past or into our soul, and attempt to make changes for the future ahead. Spring is also a time for romance; now that warmer temps have returned, our romantic desires can kick into gear. But sometimes, our past or our soul-searching gets in the way with our chance at meeting that special someone.
We see that happen in ‘Better People’, starring Georgina Reilly as Natalie and Mark O’Brien as John (which Mark also produced, directed and wrote). Natalie and John meet each other at a local bar. Both young and good looking, John and Natalie take their ‘getting to know you’ conversation outside the bar. When it’s time for them to part ways for the night, John stops himself in his tracks and prevents himself from pursuing Natalie because of a relatively recent break-up he had. He feels he’s not ready for anyone new. Watch the full film below:
First of all, I really liked the mix of music that was featured throughout. I also enjoyed how the film didn’t start with the typical “Hi, how are you?” conversation that you would expect in a ‘boy meets girl’ film. Instead, it opens up with the couple already past that stage – a refreshing change of pace. There is so much to take away from the film: don’t let the past negatively affect your present; don’t let fear get in the way of love; don’t let a good thing slip away from you forever.
I’ve seen ‘Better People’ aired a few times on CBC’s ‘Canadian Reflections’. According to the NSI website, the film has won awards at the Atlantic Film Festival in 2012, the Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival in 2013, and the WorldFest Houston Film Festival in 2013. It’s a relevant and powerful short film. Enjoy!
Attention all Canadian short film makers: CBC Television’s short film contest, Short Film Face Off, will be returning this fall for its eighth season. As in past seasons, Short Film Face Off brings together film makers from all over Canada, where they compete for a generous prize package of $30,000 in film production costs. For four fun-filled weeks, viewers will be treated to the newest crop of Canadian short films. Each film is carefully reviewed by a panel of judges, while the winning film is chosen by a studio and television-viewing audience.
The deadline to submit your film to the show is April 10, 2015, 5 p.m. local time.
More details about Short Film Face Off, including the show’s guidelines and submission form, can be found by clicking on the link below:
Just like last year, Short Film Fan will be offering a viewer’s insight into the episodes and the competing films by posting reviews of each episode on this blog site. Have a look at last year’s episodes here:
You can ‘like’ the program’s Facebook page and follow @cbcshortfilm on Twitter.
Let’s get the show off to a strong start by having a flood of entries from East to West. And to film makers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, in particular: don’t be shy! Send in your short films and show off your talent on national television.
There is an audience out there looking for the best Canadian short films and to learn about their talented creators. We’ll find them on the newest season of Short Film Face Off. I can’t wait!
Spring is on its way to Canada. What better way to welcome the warm temperatures than to watch brand new Canadian short films, thanks to the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival? This festival is organized by the Toronto International Film Festival and features some of the best original Canadian films.
At the Winnipeg Film Group, two nights in March are dedicated to featuring some of the most outstanding new Canadian short films from 2014. On March 18th, check out the top 10 student-made films; while on March 19th, enjoy the best 10 shorts from Canada’s current independent film makers. Both shows start at 7:00 p.m. and will be introduced by Dave Barber, Programming Coordinator at the WFG and juror for the Top Ten events. The schedules and film listings are found in the links below:
It’s still refreshing to go to an actual cinema to watch short films, despite their ever- increasing availability on the Internet. Festivals at cinemas, in particular, can be an excellent way for short film makers and the short film audience to get together and share their passion for this type of genre with each other. The audience gets to learn more about the film maker, while the film maker can get a sense of the impact his or her films are making in the public. Last but not least, attending a film festival is a great way to support your local independent cinema theatre!
To all who will be attending the March 18th and 19th screenings: have fun and enjoy!
‘Seth’s Dominion‘ by Luc Chamberland and ‘Jutra‘ by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre were nominated as Best Short Documentary Film, while ‘Me and My Moulton‘ by Torill Kove and ‘Soif‘ by Michèle Cournoyer were nominated as Best Animated Short.
The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television annually presents the Canadian Screen Awards in celebration of Canadian film, television, and digital talent both on-screen and behind the scenes. This year’s awards ceremony will take place in Toronto at the Sheraton Centre on February 24 and 25 during Canadian Screen Week. A 2-hour live broadcast of the awards gala will take place on CBC-TV on March 1st at 8 p.m.
Congratulations goes to the film makers and the NFB. Best of luck to everyone!
It’s January, and we’re all back in our routines. For some people, the new year is a time when we look back on the past and strive for a better year ahead. In some cases, having a better year may mean improving on our work and personal lives. In the short film called ‘How To Keep Your Day Job’ (2012), we are presented with a humorous tutorial on how exactly to accomplish this task.
Written by Lesley Krueger and directed by Sean Frewer, ‘How To Keep Your Day Job’ is based upon the short story of the same name. It follows the life of a young woman (played by Georgina Reilly of CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries) and her daily struggle to balance the demands of her workplace and her boyfriend. The film is narrated by a male voice, and this voice dispenses advice that the woman tries to follow. Watch the entire video below:
It was funny to watch the contradictions happen between her actions and the voice’s advice. It was equally funny seeing some of the advice not working out for her, such as giving “advance notice” at work. Of course, the advice given to help her handle her workplace was also applicable to navigating and surviving her relationship with her guitar-player boyfriend. I found the scene where she fell down the stairs an interesting way to introduce the turning point where she literally ‘saw the light’ and everything changed for her.
Georgina Reilly did an excellent job playing the office worker and girlfriend. She’s definitely busy these days on the Murdoch set, but we hope to see her in other Canadian short films in the near future.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit and read Short Film Fan since it was launched in May 2014. Never could I have predicted the number of visitors to the site from so many countries. I hope that everyone has found my posts interesting to read and the films fun to watch. It’s my wish that you will return next year.
A big thanks goes out to everyone at CBC Short Film Face Off for allowing me the opportunity to review the show’s episodes in the fall. Thanks also goes out to Jennifer Liao, Ez-Reklama, all my blog followers, new Twitter followers, and everyone who has shared my blog posts via Twitter re-tweets.
I am looking forward to taking Short Film Fan into 2015 with more reviews news and information on the extremely fascinating topic of Canadian short films.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. See you next year!