Summer is typically the time of year when we can slow down a little and relax outside, whether at the cottage or at the beach. Summer is also an opportunity to watch new blockbuster movie releases from Hollywood or to catch up on old favourites via downloads or rentals through cable TV. If you are looking for the latest in Canadian short films, however, look no further than CBC-TV’s Short Film Face Off. Now in its ninth year, Short Film Face Off comes to you for four weekends in a row with nine filmmakers hoping to win one fantastic filmmaking prize.
The sought-after prize is a $45,000 film production package with $30,000 coming from Telefilm Canada and an additional $15,000 contributed by William F. White International Inc. The prize will be awarded at the end of this season’s fourth and final episode.
Face Off went through some changes since it last aired in the fall of 2015. Firstly, the show’s broadcast dates were moved to the summer months of June and July. Secondly, William F. White became the newest contributor to the prize awarded to the show’s winner. And, thirdly, filmmaker Nadia Litz made her debut as one of the show’s panelists.
This newest and ninth season of Face Off took place on June 18th. Steve Patterson resumed his role as host of the program. Joining Nadia Litz on the panel of judges were veteran Face Off panelists Mohit Rajhans and Eli Glasner.
Tonight’s contestants were Jennifer Walden (Painted Girl), Mark Slutsky (Never Happened) and Ross Moore (The Woman in White). Painted Girl looked at the transformation of a young woman by the arrival of her grandfather’s painting kit in the mail; two business colleagues attempt to wipe away the memory of their affair in Never Happened; a young girl and an older man talk about their sibling rivalries in The Woman in White.
Painted Girl picked up 11.5 votes, while both Never Happened and The Woman in White earned 13.0 votes. After a tie-breaker huddle by the panel, Never Happened won and became the first short film of the season to advance to the final round.
These three shorts were a powerful way to start the ninth season of Face Off. It was very encouraging to see the woman determined to keep going with her painting despite the abuse she suffered in Painted Girl. With her strong memories of her grandfather and a growing talent in painting, it came as no surprise that she connected with the subjects that she painted. In Never Happened, you can definitely feel the anticipation and attraction between the two colleagues. Using their phones to delete the affair from their memories was a clever commentary on how technology has become pervasive in our personal lives. The Woman in White showed us how deeply sibling relationships impact our lives in some way. However, it also reminded us to remember the good times we had with our siblings when an unexpected turn happens to that relationship.
A well-deserved ‘congratulations’ goes to Jennifer, Mark and Ross. Good luck to Mark in his quest for the $45,000 production award. Visit the CBC Player to watch the entire episode again or each film separately.
It’s always good to receive comments from Short Film Fan readers and it’s equally a pleasure to read them. One of SFF’s newest subscribers, Angela Perez, recently sent in some of her thoughts about Canadian shorts. Angela immigrated to Canada from Colombia a few years ago and has been working and raising her family here ever since. Passionate about languages and cultures outside of her native Colombia, Angela enjoys learning more about the different cultural aspects in Canada. Here’s what she had to say:
“What could possibly be a better way for an immigrant like me to get immersed in a culture than watching some locally-made short films?
I came across Short Film Fan one year ago and I loved the idea. These short films are a very fun and quick way for me to learn about the different aspects of the prolific Canadian culture. One thing that I find so charming about Canada is the diversity of the population. As fascinating as it is to know people from all around the world in one of Canada’s cities, it is also interesting to explore the very own Canadian way of living and those everyday occurrences in people’s lives than bring them together.
The films on Short Film Fan focus on a variety of topics, which is one of many things that I like about the blog. In addition, I really enjoy the way that it engages the viewer. Participating in the selection of the best films keeps you not only captivated, but also fills you with anticipation about the next film that will be posted.”
Thanks, Angela, for letting us know why you like Canadian shorts and how they’re helping you learn more about Canada. Thanks also for being a Short Film Fan subscriber!
Would anyone else like to write or comment about Canadian shorts or the blog? You can share your thoughts directly on any blog post or send in your note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from you soon.
Right around Easter time, school-aged kids get a break from the classroom routine with a week off from their studies. For some families, it’s an opportunity to get away from it all and take a small vacation either at home or somewhere far away. For those lucky parents who can take the time off from work, it can also mean a temporary reprieve from needing a babysitter to care for their young children. Babysitting can not only cost in terms of money, but can also cost in terms of less time spent with one’s kids.
The 6-minute Canadian short Five Dollars is a powerful look at how babysitting can affect a relationship between a small boy and his mother. Written by Chris Cromie and directed by Reza Dahya, Five Dollars stars Lyric Justice as Anthony and Tika Simone as his mother. Anthony’s mother needs a babysitter to take care of him while she is at work. Anthony has fun at the babysitter’s, but happily looks forward to her return at the end of the day.
Typical of little kids, Anthony asks his mother questions around the topic of money. He asks her how much money she makes at work, which makes her uncomfortable at first. But, she eventually reveals to Anthony her wage of $20 per hour. Later, Anthony asks her for $5 which she originally refused (thinking that he wants to buy another video game). She later changes her mind and gives him the $5 as she tucks him in bed at night.
Anthony then shows his mother his stash of money hidden in a teddy bear. Concerned, she asks him why he had almost $20 saved. Anthony happily replies that he was saving the $20 so that she could leave her work one hour early and that they could spend time together.
Check out the film here:
Five Dollars is a film that really hits home and that most, if not all, people can identify with. What kid wouldn’t want to be with his or her mom or dad at such a young age? What parent wouldn’t want to have the chance to spend more time with their young kids instead of leaving them with a caregiver? Both actors’ portrayals of mother and son in the film were extremely realistic and moving. The part where Anthony browsed through the toy flyer was a clever distraction, as it made it seem like he really was saving his money for a game. His true intention for the money was a delightful and unexpected twist.
Babysitting is a fact of life and a necessary option for many working parents. It has its obvious benefits; parents get inexpensive childcare and the babysitter learns valuable life skills. But, it still doesn’t replace the time and effort needed to build that special bond between child and parent.
When we come up with an idea for something, two things can happen. Either we criticize, over-think and shelve the idea, or we embrace it, give it some serious thought and bring the idea to fruition. In the case of BJ Verot, director and producer at Strata Studios in Winnipeg, MB, he and Brad Crawford (who co-directed and produced the film with BJ) chose the latter path with the hilarious short film, Loss of Contact.
Loss of Contact, about a champion racewalker who drops out of a race due to an injury, was a runaway success for BJ and Brad lately. This past February, Loss of Contact earned the duo a Windy Award in the Director: Short Fiction category from the Winnipeg Film Group. Last October, the film helped BJ and Brad win a $45,000 film production prize package in front of a national audience on the CBC-TV show, Short Film Face Off.
Short Film Fan caught up with BJ Verot during his very hectic schedule and he shared some of his thoughts about the television show appearance, the idea behind Loss of Contact and his career in filmmaking.
Short Film Fan: First of all, congratulations go to you and Brad on winning last year’s CBC Short Film Face Off contest with Loss of Contact. What was it like being, competing and winning on the show?
BJ Verot: It was great to be a part of the show. We went in with tempered expectations, and were looking to meet and hang out with other filmmakers from around Canada. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking when you’re up in the hot seat open to criticism. But, it comes with the territory. Film is such a subjective thing, that we really weren’t sure if the panellists would be into our film. But, luckily, they really enjoyed it. In some ways, once we made it to the final round, the pressure was off. It was up to Canada to vote, so you really can’t worry too much about how it’s going to go. All three films in the finals were solid, so it was just going to come down to the numbers. That being said, we did receive a HUGE amount of support through our local film industry here in Manitoba (Manitoba Film & Music, Winnipeg Film Group, On Screen Manitoba, and ACTRA Manitoba).
SFF: Where or how did you come up with the idea to produce Loss of Contact?
BJV: The idea came up when I was sliding around on my friend’s hardwood floors. There was a mirror on the wall and I thought that the hypnotic gyrations of my hips reminded me of racewalkers who competed in the Olympics. I couldn’t shake the idea, and by the time I got home, I already had a rough trajectory of the story arc and some of the characters that would be involved in the film.
SFF: Why did you choose filmmaking as a career path?
BJV: I didn’t choose film – film chose me (ha-ha). When I was young, I was allowed to watch a lot of intense films such as Terminator, Jaws, Aliens, Predator, and I loved it. As a kid, I was blown away that people could make a living making these crazy stories for people to enjoy.
SFF: What specific challenges do you face as a filmmaker when producing a short film?
BJV: Oftentimes, you have to be quite ambitious on very little money. I guess for me personally, my biggest challenge is trying to make sure I can get the most value on the screen and finding fun ways to do so. When I’m talking with Brad, or Andrew (another member of the Strata team) we often ask: “What is something visually inventive we can incorporate where people might say, ‘how did they do that’?” We want to impose challenges on ourselves on set so that we can continue to grow as well. That approach feeds into the next project, and how we tackle larger, and more tricky sequences.
SFF: Do you have any new short film projects on the horizon?
BJV: I always have new short film ideas popping into my head. The key is finding the right one to put your time and energy into. I have a few key concepts in mind, and with the prize money we earned through Short Film Face Off, we’ll be able to really push the envelope in terms of what we’re able to do. Comedy and science fiction are probably the two genres I enjoy the most, so I’m pretty sure the next short we pump out will fall into that spectrum.
SFF: What other film projects do you work on besides short films?
BJV: We primarily focus on film/television. Around 2011-2013, we were heavy into documentaries. Some of our most notable works in that field are: 100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience and Scheduled Violence. We’ve had a pretty strong shift into narrative projects since then, and we have a few major projects in development at the moment. I can’t quite go into detail just yet, but things are on the verge of getting pretty hectic.
SFF: What are your hopes and predictions for the short film industry in Canada?
BJV: I want the short film industry to keep expanding, with new initiatives for emerging filmmakers. It also seems that with digital distribution becoming so commonplace, it’s easier to find ways to get your project out into the world and extend its shelf life for people to enjoy.
SFF: Do you have any advice for any up-and-coming Canadian short filmmakers?
BJV: Make the film you want to make, and don’t worry too much about what people think. A lot of people get hung up on what opinion people will have of their film, and will hold off making it until all of the conditions are perfect. The fact of the matter is that the conditions will rarely (if ever) be perfect. You create your own momentum based on the projects and content you create. If you don’t take the first step, it’s increasingly more difficult to take the next one.
Focus on specific elements for a project and see if you can incorporate that into the tapestry of the film. Want to use a Steadicam? Consider a short project that might benefit from that cinematic style. Remember, anyone can try to emulate another person’s style, so focus on finding your voice as a filmmaker and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Ultimately, if you begin to find success, it’s much sweeter if you get to do it with your own style attached to the projects you get to work on. And finally, have fun! I weigh a lot of my decisions moving forward on how enjoyable my time will be while working on a project.
We can’t wait to see which new short film idea BJ and his cohorts will bring to the big and small screens next. Whatever genre it may be, we’re sure that it will have the same quality, humour and unique style as Loss of Contact. Maybe another award-winning short is forthcoming? Only time will tell.
We wish BJ all the best of luck for the future. Follow him on Twitter to see what he’s up to!
The Canadian Screen Awards is approaching fast. Fans of Canadian television, film and digital media will be tuning in to CBC-TV on March 13th to watch the winners accept their well-deserved awards that night. Canadian short films will also be a part of the week-long celebration; a total of 15 Canadian short films were nominated in three categories. Information about the films and categories were listed in January’s post, 2016 Canadian Screen Awards Short Film Nominees Announced. Here’s where you, Canadian short film fans, can show your support for these shorts while having some fun in a Tweet-Out!
During the month of March, the CBC-TV program Canadian Reflections will be screening four of these CSA-nominated shorts before and after the March 13th broadcast of the awards ceremony. The shorts and their broadcast dates are as follows:
Roberta (March 6th)
Autos Portraits (March 13th)
The Little Deputy (March 20)
She Stoops to Conquer (March 27)
Whether you decide to watch Canadian Reflections when it’s on-air or if you would rather record the program and watch it at your convenience, be sure to Tweet-Out which film you watched by using this phrase:
Just watched CSA-nominated (film title) on @CBC #CanadianReflections @karenteezang #CdnScreen16 #cdnfilm #shortfilm
If one of the above films is a winner at the CSA, use this Tweet:
Just watched CSA short film winner (film title) on @CBC #CanadianReflections @karenteezang #CdnScreen16 #cdnfilm #shortfilm
Note to Short Film Fan subscribers outside of Canada: you won’t be able to view Canadian Reflections in your country. But, you still may be able to view these four films by finding and streaming them separately online. We hope you’ll still be able to participate with us.
Don’t have a Twitter account? No problem! If you have a Facebook page, you can still join in the fun. You can use the above-mentioned Twitter messaging to come up with your own Facebook post. Remember to tag the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and CBC in your post so that they know they’re being mentioned!
Check your local TV listings to find out when Canadians Reflections will be broadcast. You can also watch the show at http://www.cbc.ca/player/tv/Canadian%20Reflections
A big ‘thank you’ goes out to Karen Tsang, Development Manager and Canadian Reflections Programmer at the CBC, for her support and enthusiasm behind this Tweet-Out. Don’t forget to include her Twitter handle in your Tweets: @karenteezang
CBC-TV’s Short Film Face Off has announced it’s returning to the airwaves this spring (June 2016 to be exact) and has put out a call to all Canadian filmmakers to submit their short films for a chance to compete in this year’s contest.
Filmmakers from all across Canada are eligible to apply. Those who are selected to compete on the program will have a chance to win a generous film production prize. The competition is filmed in the spring in Halifax, NS and is then broadcast nationally on CBC-TV.
Valentine’s Day is coming. On February 14th, the malls will be packed full of men and women buying gifts for their significant others. Dinner reservations will be made, cinema line-ups will be a little longer than normal and romance will fill the air. For singles, the day might consist of sad recalls of past relationships, questions surrounding unrequited love and increased visits to dating websites. It’s definitely a day where each of us can take a step back and examine how relationships can impact our lives for better or for worse.
Numerous films over the decades have dealt with love, romance and relationships from all sorts of angles and plots resulting in predictable endings. However, the Canadian short The Date is not your typical dating and relationship film. Written and produced by Mazi Khalighi, and starring Katie Boland and Noah Reid, The Date is a unique look at the beginning, middle and ending of a relationship between two people.
The Date takes place in only one location: a hamburger restaurant. The film begins when Steph (Boland) and Mike (Reid) meet up with each other at the restaurant sometime after their relationship ended. Afterwards, we watch as Steph and Mike start, sustain and end their relationship at the same table in the same restaurant. Just like many real-life relationships, everything is positive and shows potential at the beginning. After a few years, the relationship plateaus and becomes routine. In the end, as problems and hard feelings have surfaced, Steph and Mike split up and go their separate ways.
Watch the film here:
In terms of a dating and relationship film, The Date was brilliantly presented and is perhaps one of the best Canadian short films made in a long time that deals with this topic. It was different and refreshing to experience the story only from the perspective from the restaurant conversations. Boland and Reid did a great job in executing their roles. The emotions and body language looked and felt extremely real; it was as if we were sitting in the restaurant right beside the couple.
So, whether you’re with your sweetie or doing some online dating on Valentine’s Day, pull out a chair at your favourite burger joint, sit down, take out your laptop or tablet and check out The Date.
If you’re a Canadian short film fan and ever wondered if any of these quality films and their passionate filmmakers are acknowledged and awarded, look no further than the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Canadian Screen Awards.
The Canadian Screen Awards will be celebrating the best in Canadian television, film and digital media during Canadian Screen Week from March 7th to 13th this year. The fun culminates on March 13th at 8 p.m. with the 2-hour broadcast of the awards ceremony on CBC-TV.
A total of 15 shorts are nominated in three categories and are as follows:
Best Short Documentary:
Bacon & God’s Wrath – Sol Friedman
The Little Deputy – Trevor Anderson, Blake McWilliam
Quiet Zone – David Bryant, Julie Roy, Karl Lemieux
Rebel/Bihttoš – Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Laura Good
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum – Chelsea McMullan, Douglas Nayler
Best Live Action Short Drama:
Blue Thunder/Bleu Tonnerre – Philippe-David Gagné, Jean-Marc E. Roy
Mynarski Death Plummet – Matthew Rankin, Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette
Overpass/Viaduc – Patrice Laliberté
Roberta – Catherine Chagnon, Caroline Monnet
She Stoops To Conquer – Zack Russell
Best Animated Short:
Autos Portraits – Claude Cloutier, Julie Roy
The Ballad Of Immortal Joe – Hector Herrera, Pazit Cahlon
BAM – Howie Shia, Michael Fukushima, Maral Mohammadian
In Deep Waters – Sarah Van den Boom, Julie Roy, Richard Van den Boom
The Sleepwalker/Sonámbulo – Theodore Ushev
Hopefully during the television broadcast we’ll get to see clips of all the shorts, as well as a chance to see the filmmakers in the audience. Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards ceremony!
Tweet With Canadian Reflections and SFF in March: As an added bonus to Canadian short film fans, some of these nominated shorts will also be broadcasting on the CBC-TV short film program, Canadian Reflections, in March. Stay tuned to Short Film Fan for details on which films will be aired on the show and for information about some fun Tweeting that you can participate in!
Whenever we’re in a mood to learn something new or want to briefly step away from the entertainment side of films, chances are we will tune in to some sort of documentary. In terms of time, most documentaries can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. But, did you know that documentaries can also last the length of an average short film?
The National Film Board recently launched on its website a short documentary film project called 5 Shorts Project. This initiative is a film production partnership between the NFB and various Quebec artist-run production centres.
The first five short documentaries currently available through 5 Shorts Project were made in conjunction with Spira, an independent film co-op. The shorts deal with a range of interesting issues. Here’s a list of what you’ll see. Click on each title to be directed to the film:
At the Beach by Jeremy Peter Allen – burn victims enjoy a day at the beach.
Hey Lou! by John Blouin – scenes of life and death are contrasted together.
The combination of the documentary and short film formats worked really well with these films. The production quality made it feel as if you were actually in the films with the other participants. Just like a short film, the length of these documentaries was enough so that the stories could be told concisely while stirring up the viewer’s imagination.
Short Film Fan Pick: Interview With a Free Man.
The next set of short documentary films for 5 Shorts Project will be made in partnership with La Bande Sonimage.
It’s been a fantastic year for Short Film Fan in 2015. This was the first full year of posted articles for the site. From January to December, Short Film Fan had the pleasure in publishing a wealth of fascinating filmmaker interviews, film reviews and general news items about short films in Canada. It was enjoyable to meet, correspond with and interview so many people directly involved with these films. New colleagues and friends have been made as a result of these articles.
Short Film Fan has also increased its subscriber base from last year! It’s pleasing to know that readers liked the site so much at that they took out full subscriptions so as to not miss out on any future posts. Hope to see you continue your subscriptions and that you’ll encourage your friends and colleagues to subscribe, as well.
As well, Short Film Fan experimented with guest blog posts. It was an excellent opportunity to receive and share perspectives about Canadian short films from others. Katy Swailes was our guest blogger this year and we hope that she’ll return next year with more well-written articles. Short Film Fan encourages other filmmakers, actors, marketers (not to mention other Canadian short film fans) to contribute a guest post to the site.
Short Film Fan also increased its presence on social media this year. In the fall, a Facebook page was launched and, just recently, a Google Plus page has entered into the mix. These pages will act as supplemental places to have conversations about the posts and Canadian shorts, in general.
As for 2016, Short Film Fan will keep bringing you more quality articles along with some experiments thrown in now and then. With the new Google Plus page, Short Film Fan may even try its hand at making and publishing ‘short films’ made via smartphone technology!
A big ‘thank-you’ goes out to everyone who was involved with Short Film Fan this year. There are too many names to be mentioned here. But, to everyone who agreed to be interviewed for articles, contributed guest posts, shared your short for a review, featured the site on your social media pages or simply sent a message in appreciation of what’s been written, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for supporting Short Film Fan!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best to you and your family in 2016!