It has been a hot summer so far in Canada, and this season’s Short Film Face Off on CBC definitely played a part in the rising heat levels. For the past three weeks, fans of Canadian short films tuned in to the program and witnessed nine sizzling filmmakers burn their way up the points scale for a chance to win a $45,000 film production prize generously sponsored by Telefilm Canada and William F. White International.
This season’s fourth and final episode of Short Film Face Off began with the re-introduction of the three finalists: Mark Slutsky (Never Happened), Mike Fardy (Moving On) and Hector Herrera (The Ballad ofImmortal Joe). All three films were re-screened for the viewers and studio audience, the directors spoke briefly about the production of their films, and panelists Mohit Rajhans, Nadia Litz and Eli Glasner shared their parting comments to Mark, Mike and Hector.
Three alumni of Short Film Face Off were also featured in small interview clips throughout the show. James Stewart, Stephen Dunn and Ashley McKenzie let the audience know about what new projects they were working on and how appearing on Short Film Face Off was a boon to their filmmaking careers. Last year’s Short Film Face Off winners BJ Verot and Brad Crawford were also interviewed and shared the exciting news that one of their recent film projects had made it all the way to Cannes.
Viewers from coast to coast had the opportunity last weekend to vote for their favourite film and the ultimate winner of the $45,000 prize. To present the award to the winner, Francesca Accinelli, Telefilm Canada’s Director of National Promotion & Communications, joined host Steve Patterson to make the exciting announcement. In the end, this season’s winner was Mike Fardy! Congratulations, Mike!
Kudos also goes out to Mark and Hector for making it to the final round. You can catch tonight’s season finale, the three previous episodes and all nine shorts at CBC Player.
This season’s Short Film Face Off had an excellent variety of professionally-crafted shorts produced by filmmakers from across the country. It is good to have a program like Short Film Face Off available to Canadian audiences. Not only is it an unique platform Canadian filmmakers to be seen and to get a boost in their careers, it also gives fans and admirers of the genre access to a vast array of shorts that they may not otherwise get a chance to see. The show’s intimate format brings the audience and producer closer together and having the films accessible on the website makes it easier for fans to find them and to watch them again and again.
Next year is Short Film Face Off’s 10th anniversary. It will be interesting to see which films will be featured and if any special events will take place around its milestone year. Maybe some special award will be handed out on the show, such as a People’s Choice Award or a 10th Anniversary Award for an alumnus of the program. Looking forward to Season Ten!
The last trio of Canadian filmmakers appeared on the third episode of CBC’s Short Film Face Off on July 2nd. They all had their spotlights beaming on the $45,000 film production prize to be won on next week’s finals courtesy of Telefilm Canada and William F. White.
This time, it was Hector Herrera (The Ballad of Immortal Joe), Daniel Boos (Bound) and Rachelle Casseus (The Buckley Brothers) who were featured on the program and made their pitches to the panel. These three short films were brimming with romance, drama and comedy. In the animated The Battle of Immortal Joe, a cowboy monster recounts his tale of love and sadness; a shopkeeper in Bound is torn when he discovers his brother employs foreign workers; two brothers born of different fathers are convinced they are identical twins in The Buckley Brothers.
In the end, The Buckley Brothers finished in third place with 12.0 points, with Bound coming in second place with 13.5 points. The Ballad of Immortal Joe clinched first place with 14.0 points and was the highest-scoring film on the program this season.
Tonight’s shorts had certain characteristics to them that should make them audience favorites at future film festivals. The Ballad of Immortal Joe was an entertaining and unique tribute to the old cowboy stories of The Old West. We also learn the lesson that despite our sorrows, there are others who are worse-off in life. The shopkeeper faced a difficult situation in Bound – how to deal with the fact that his generous brother is also using foreign (read: illegal) workers at his sawmill. The appearance of the small paper note signified the seriousness of the plight of these workers, while the mystery of the unknown message written in the note has the ability to raise curiosity levels in any viewer. The two brothers in The Buckley Brothers symbolized that one can be happy and accept others despite overt differences. The two young girls’ memories of their dates with the brothers were funny and the children who played the brothers as young kids bore an almost uncanny resemblance to the grown actors.
Hats off to Hector, Daniel and Rachelle for competing on Short Film Face Off. All the best goes to Hector as he approaches possible immortality on next week’s season finale. Viewers have the chance to vote for their favourite film from the past three weeks at cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff or by phoning 1-877-876-3636 until Sunday night.
You can watch tonight’s episode and each of these three films again online at CBC Player.
The second episode of this season’s Short Film Face Off aired on June 25th with three more talented Canadian filmmakers. Each had their camera lenses focused on winning the $45,000 film production prize contributed by Telefilm Canada and William F. White.
Mike Fardy (Moving On), Michael Chen (Lost) and Brett Ferster (Claddagh) joined host Steve Patterson as they each presented their own skill at short filmmaking. There was a mix of humour and seriousness in tonight’s films. A woman tries to convince her partner to take their relationship to the next level in Moving On; a young girl in Lost finds peace through a relationship with a stuffed toy rabbit; the oldest of three brothers has to decide between the telling the truth and protecting his siblings in Claddagh.
While Lost came in third with 10.5 points, Moving On won tonight’s round with 12.5 points by narrowly passing second place Claddagh, which picked up 12.0 points.
It was good to see a mixture of intensity and lightheartedness in tonight’s shorts. Moving On was a funny look at the age-old struggle that confronts most people at some point: the desire to have things to stay the same versus the need to progress with life. The magic wands were the perfect props; in our culture, they have come to symbolize our desire to have the power to get what we want without pain or working for it. The anguish and sadness suffered by the little girl in Lost was difficult to watch, but it is an unfortunate reality that is experienced by many children in unhappy homes. However, the short-lived happiness she felt by playing with the toy rabbit was uplifting. Claddagh reminded us that we can count on certain members of our family to help us out when a situation feels unescapable. It also showed that help and compassion can come from the most unlikely of people; the sheriff knew the brother was covering-up for the other brother, but gave the boys a chance to disassociate themselves from the fisherman’s death.
Congratulations go out to Mike, Michael and Brett for appearing on Short Film Face Off. All the best to Mike as he ‘moves on’ to the final round. Watch tonight’s episode and the films online at CBC Player.
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!
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.
CBC’s Short Film Face Off aired its third episode on September 26th with its final trio of talented filmmakers. From this group, the third finalist was chosen to appear on the October 3rd episode for an opportunity to win $45,000 from Telefilm Canada, SIM Digital and PS Production Services in a film production prize package.
The last group of filmmakers for this season comprised of BJ Verot (Loss of Contact), Patrick Hagarty (The Golden Ticket) and Nina Reed (Nervous Poo). Humour was the order of the day for all three films. In Loss of Contact, a champion race walker bows out of a competition and opens the door for a new winner; a nice guy having a bad day gets a chance to make things right on The Golden Ticket; a young woman in Nervous Poo is trapped on a toilet while her date waits on the other side of the bathroom door.
Loss of Contact moved on to next week’s final round with a strong 13.5 points. Nervous Poo took second spot with 11.0 points and The Golden Ticket secured 8.5 points for third place.
There was no lack of humour in any of these films. Loss of Contact was a funny send-up of documentary-style films. The use of a German narrator and the race walking theme gave the film a quirky European feel. The Golden Ticket was a light-hearted look at misunderstandings and aggressiveness; Carlo Rota’s role in the film made for a convincing ‘wish granter’. Nervous Poo was a comical take on first date anxiety. Instead of locking eyes in a restaurant, the couple experienced that moment in a bathroom.
There was humour on the stage as well as the films. Michelle could not keep herself from laughing during the review of Loss of Contact. The film’s German voice-over and her realization that BJ was the French race walker made her giggle. Also, Nina’s revelation that the ‘nervous poo thing’ was worsening since making the film was hilarious. Not only did she laugh at the situation, but so did host Steve Patterson and the studio audience.
Since the winner of the $45,000 prize will be reavealed on the October 3rd episode, viewers of Short Film Face Off are encouraged to go to http://www.cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff/ to vote for his or her favourite short film either via telephone or the website. Voters have until Sunday night to cast their ballot.
The second round of CBC’s Short Film Face Offaired on September 19th with a new group of fascinating filmmakers. Just like last week’s contestants, each of them had an opportunity to advance to the show’s final round for a chance to win a coveted $45,000 film production prize from Telefilm Canada, SIM Digital and PS Production Services.
The second group of filmmakers to grace the stage were James McLellan (Period Piece), Allison Coon-Come (Eddie) and Martine Blue (Me2). These three films were creative, memorable and reflective all at the same time. A filmmaker attempts to produce a love story during adverse situations in Period Piece; a lost toy car in Eddie drives itself in an attempt to find its owner; a novelist clones herself in order to spend more time with her family in Me2.
At the end of the episode, Allison Coon-Come’s Eddie advanced to the final round of Face Off with 11.5 points. Period Piece came in a close second with 11.0 points, while Me2 finished in third place with 10.5 points.
These films had an educational appeal. Period Piece taught us to never give up in the face of adversity. It was also an entertaining salute to the different film genres of romance, horror and action. Similarly with Eddie, the toy car symbolized the human need and desire to keep going until one finds what he or she is looking for. It was touching to see how the toy car eventually got back together with its original owner. Me2 was a funny lesson in the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’, as the novelist clearly got more than what she bargained for. The film also had a great roster of familiar Canadian actors such as Cathy Jones, Susan Kent and Jonny Harris.
During the panel’s scoring of Eddie, Eli made a reference and comparison to the 1966 classic NFB film Paddle to the Sea by Bill Mason. In this short film, a miniature wood carving of a canoe sets sail on a journey to the sea. For those who have never seen the film before, you can watch it on the NFB website: https://www.nfb.ca/film/paddle_to_the_sea/
Autumn in Canada can mean only one thing for fans of Canadian short film: the highly anticipated eighth season of Short Film Face Offon CBC-TV. For new fans of the genre or for those who are curious about the show, Short Film Face Off is the kind of program that will greatly influence your admiration of and desire for Canadian shorts.
As in previous seasons, you will see well-crafted films, meet the creators and vote for a prize winner. For four weeks, nine filmmakers will vie for a substantial filmmaking prize of $30,000 from Telefilm Canada and an additional $15,000 from SIM Digital and PS Production Services. A panel of three judges will choose three finalists to advance to the final round on October 3rd. The winner will be announced in the fourth and final episode after all audience votes are tallied.
Tonight’s contestants were Scott Simpson (The Toll), Anna Sikorski (W-A-L-K) and Joshua Demers (Emily) and they competed with three very powerful shorts. In The Toll, a lone tollbooth operator’s dull night becomes unexpectedly eventful after a car crash; a 12-year old girl learns to handle high heel shoes in W-A-L-K; a young boy in Emily has to decide whether or not to join his sweetheart in the afterlife.
While Emily garnered 10.5 votes from the panel, both The Toll and W-A-L-K earned 12.5 votes. A tie-breaking decision was required from the panel. After a quick huddle, The Toll was selected to advance to the final round.
Each of the films had their own special qualities that drew you in and made you focus. The Toll was dark, grim and suspenseful with a surprise ending. Using smartphone text message bubbles was clever and reflected the reality of today’s phone communication. It was nice to see a mix of English and French dialogues in W-A-L-K. Although the girl wanted to be grown-up with high heels, eating ice cream was a great way to take time getting there. Emily showed us that letting go of the past is a hard decision for anybody to make. By letting go, the boy showed maturity; preferring life over death.
Steve’s reference to the band Trooper at the beginning was funny; it was also cute to see Anna wear the high heel shoes on the show.
Congratulations go out to Joshua, Anna and Scott. We wish Scott all the best as he advances to the final round in October for the $45,000 production award. Visit http://www.cbc.ca/player/tv/Short%20Film%20Face%20Off to watch the entire episode and each film separately.
Someone once said “do what you love and the rest will follow”. Certainly good fortune has followed the love Lisa Rose Snow has shown for the arts and short film making.
Lisa Rose Snow is a young film maker originally from Nova Scotia who now resides in Toronto. Since childhood, she has involved herself in a variety of artistic pursuits, including acting. Her onscreen credits include appearances on the CBC comedy program, ‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes’, and the 2002 mini-series, ‘Trudeau’. Her experience in acting then led her to learn more about film making.
As a result, Snow won the Best Canadian Short Award at the Silver Wave Film Festival with her short film ‘Two Penny Road Kill’. As well, she picked up the Audience Best of the Fest Award at the San Jose International Short Film Festival and the National Screen Institute Drama Prize for her short, ‘When Fish Fly’. In 2013, Snow established Organic Water Productions Inc. with her friend and producer, Lora Campbell. The production company focuses on female-driven stories with realistic and complex characters.
Short Film Fan recently caught up with Snow to learn more about her background, her career path and her insights into 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?
Lisa Rose Snow: I’ve been involved in the arts since I was a child, taking piano, dance, and acting lessons since an early age. My first time on a film set was when I was in high school on the CBC mini-series, ‘Trudeau’. I continued to act and about five years ago, began learning and experimenting and mentoring under some wonderful people behind the camera. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
SFF: What specific challenges do you face as a film maker when producing a short film?
LRS: There are many challenges short film makers encounter when producing a short, and a lot of them are similar to the challenges of producing a feature! Even though the projects are shorter, there is still much paperwork, prep and factors that arise out of your control. And funding – there’s always the challenge of funding.
SFF: Last year, you were one of the competing film makers on CBC’s ‘Short Film Face Off‘ with your film, ‘Two Penny Road Kill’. What was it like being on the program and what did you take away from that experience?
LRS: It was a real honour to be a part of ‘Short Film Face Off’. It’s an incredible program and it really highlights the talented shorter form work coming out of Canada. It was a great chance to meet film makers whom I admire, and have a chance to share my story with a larger audience. I am always intrigued by audience reaction and love having an opportunity to have dialogues with people who may not have seen the film otherwise.
SFF: Your film short film, ‘When Fish Fly’, premiered at The One Film Festival in Ottawa on May 23rd. In your opinion as a film maker, how important is it that film festivals such as this feature short films as part of their programming?
LRS: ‘When Fish Fly’ had its Ottawa Premiere at The One, and we were so happy to have a chance to play at this new festival. I think it’s extremely important to program shorts. It’s always so interesting to condense a story down to its essence, and with a short you really get to focus on what it is you’re trying to say. Also, there are so many great short film makers in the world; a shorts program is a perfect way to see a variety of artists’ work.
SFF: Can you tell us more about, ‘When Fish Fly’? Where can we watch it if we can’t attend The One?
LRS: ‘When Fish Fly’ is a dialogue-less exploration of grief told through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl. It’s about courage and letting go. It’s currently making the festival rounds and we have some exciting news to share, but I’m not allowed to say anything yet!! Check us out on Twitter for all the updates as we are allowed to share them: @WhenFishFlyFilm
SFF: Do you have any new short film projects on the horizon?
LRS: I always have a number of projects on the horizon; that’s the way it seems to work; various projects in various forms of development/completion. I tend to focus on women-driven character pieces, and have an action adventure short in pre-production that takes place in the 1920s and a family comedy about an 8-year-old girl’s first crush.
SFF: In your opinion, why do you think people like to watch short films?
LRS: People these days can have shorter attention spans, and because everyone’s time is so precious, a short gives them an opportunity to have a mini-escape, feel some feelings, but still be able to get all their own stuff done.
SFF: What are your hopes and predictions for the short film industry in Canada?
LRS: My hopes are that it continues to flourish and continues to be funded. There are a few really great programs that offer some financing and opportunities for broadcast, so my hopes are these programs continue to be active and supportive of sharing Canadian content.
SFF: Do you have any advice for any up-and-coming short film makers in Canada?
LRS: Just do it! Nike really said it best. Don’t just talk about making shorts; actually make them. And don’t be afraid to ask questions; people will help you! I owe a lot to the people who let me pick their brains and ask a million questions, and patiently shared their knowledge and skills. Also, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Do you have a story you need to share? Then share it! Don’t do it for glory. Don’t do it for money. Just do it for the love of it.
We wish Lisa Rose Snow a very successful film making career and we hope to see more of her short films in the future! Follow her on Twitter: @lisarosesnow
Check your local independent cinema or festival listing for a showing of ‘When Fish Fly’. You can also follow the film on Twitter: @WhenFishFlyFilm
CBC’s Short Film Face Off recently announced the program’s newest contestants for its upcoming season this fall. The following films and film makers will compete for a combined cash and production equipment rental package prize valued at $45,000:
The Toll, by Scott Simpson (Halifax, NS)
W-A-L-K, by Anna Sikorski (Montreal, QC)
Emily, by Joshua Demers (Waterloo, ON)
Period Piece, by James McLellan (Winnipeg, MB)
ME2, by Martine Blue (St. John’s, NL)
Eddie, by Allison Coon-Come (Montreal, QC)
Loss of Contact, by BJ Verot (Winnipeg, MB)
Heer, by Honey B. Singh (Brampton, ON)
Nervous Poo, by Nina Reed (Whitehorse, YT)
After reading each of the film summaries on the website, they definitely sound unique and
fascinating. A variety of themes and issues will be explored as comedies and as serious works. What’s also interesting is that the cities of Montreal and Winnipeg will each
be represented by two films. For information about each film and Short Film Face Off, check out: http://www.cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff/index.html and http://www.cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff/about.html
Absent in this year’s contest are short films from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. However, we go further north this year for a short from the Yukon. It will be a long wait through the summer to find out who the winner will be, but the wait will be well worth it. Good luck to all the contestants on this year’s Short Film Face Off!