Tag Archives: winnipeg film group

View Shorts & Vote For Your Favourite At WFG’s 48-Hour Film Contest

For short film fans living in the Winnipeg area, the summer weather has been very hot and humid this past while. If you are looking to escape the heat while enjoying 27 newly-minted Manitoba-made short films at the same time, come down to the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Wednesday, August 2nd  at 7 p.m. for the 48-Hour Film Contest.

This annual event organized by the Winnipeg Film Group encourages the creation of short films made by Manitoba residents. Participants are tasked to write, shoot, edit, score and complete an original short in just two days.

Not only will the audience be treated to some quality short films, there will be a reception after the contest with a chance to win some prizes and an opportunity to mix and mingle with the filmmakers and members of various arts organizations.

Hot off of the 48-Hour Contest premiere at Gimli Film Festival, Short Film Fan caught up with Ben Williams, WFG’s Production Centre Director, to learn more about this year’s 48-Hour Film Contest at the Met:


Short Film Fan:  What genre of shorts will be screened at this year’s contest?

Ben Williams:  Actually, every year the filmmakers are given a challenge to produce a film within a set of parameters called “The Key”. The Key changes every year and each year there is a different plot theme, at least two camera techniques and the use of a music score. It is within these parameters that each filmmaker crafts their film. This year the plot theme was titled “The Quest”: There’s comedy, drama, LGBT content, special effects, some action and even puppets in this year’s crop of films.

SFF: Which categories will these shorts compete under?

BW:  At Gimli, there was a jury selection for Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editor, Best Sound, Best Score, Best Actor and Best Actress. At the Metropolitan, the audience gets to decide on the People’s Choice Awards for Best Film and Best Score. If you attend this event your vote will count.

SFF: Which filmmakers should the audience especially keep their eyes on?

BW:  I can honestly say that this year’s crop of films is stronger than it has been in the past four years. If we judge it by what the jury and Gimli crowd felt… filmmakers like Julie Epp, Cleo Leslie, Michael Sanders, Jhurmel Pasqua, Vincent Tang, Carter Hadlow, Lasha Mountain, John Titley and Lucky 7 Studios (composed of 7 teenagers ages 13-17) each have quality films. The bar is getting raised higher each year and we are proud of the results.

SFF:  Why should short film fans attend this year’s 48-Hour Film Contest?

BW:  There will be a reception afterwards with appetizers and a cash bar served from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. We will have a silent auction with generous sponsorships from: Royal MTC, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Ballet of Winnipeg, Landmark Cinemas and other great prizes. All ticket holders will receive 10% off at Chosabi (printed on the ticket). There will be many filmmakers, musicians, actors, film industry folks, local business arts supporters and arts organizations in attendance a great opportunity to build and network.


For tickets to the screening, click on the Winnipeg Film Group’s website: https://www.winnipegfilmgroup.com/event/48-hour-film-contest-2017-at-metropolitan-entertainment-centre/

For directions to the Met, check out  http://www.themetwinnipeg.com/contact-us/

A pair of free tickets is available to a lucky Short Film Fan reader in Winnipeg. Just email your name and phone number to cdnshortfilmfan@gmail.com and two tickets will be waiting for you and a guest at the door.

Happy viewing, short film fans!


Always ‘Make The Film You Want To Make’: Spotlight On BJ Verot

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 and Brad Crawford (Photo by Robert Short)
BJ Verot and Brad Crawford (Photo by Robert Short)

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?

BJ Verot (Photo by Robert Short)
BJ Verot (Photo by Robert Short)

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?

BJ Verot (Photo by Robert Short)
BJ Verot (Photo by Robert Short)

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 Manitoba Online Short Film Festival Showcases WFG Talent

A new Canadian online short film festival is up and running thanks to CBC Manitoba and the Winnipeg Film Group.

Launched in April 2015, the CBC Online Short Film Festival currently features five short films made by Manitoba filmmakers through the Winnipeg Film Group. A CBC Manitoba personality, from both radio and television, picked one film as their favourite and provides a brief defense of his or her chosen short. Viewers are able to rate each film by selecting a number of stars on the webpage. CBC Online FF

The WFG hopes that the online festival will get more viewers interested in watching short films. Monica Lowe, Distribution Director at the Winnipeg Film Group, shared some of her thoughts regarding CBC Online Short Film Fest:

Short Film Fan: How does the WFG feel about these films being featured in this online film fest?

Monica Lowe: We were excited to be approached by the CBC to have our films involved in this new initiative and have them championed by CBC personalities. It is also great that the filmmakers will receive artist fees for their participation in the festival. CBC Manitoba knows that filmmakers deserve to be compensated for their hard work and we are very happy to be able to support them and make screenings like this happen for them.

SFF: What are your hopes for this online festival? Is it increased exposure for the film makers? Build more public interest in short films?

ML: My hope is that more people will watch short films and realize that there are a lot of interesting and diverse independent works being made here in Winnipeg. Being able to tell a poignant or funny story in under 5 minutes is a real skill and I think these filmmakers demonstrate a real knack for storytelling.   I think the festival will also help expose these filmmakers to a wider audience and hopefully will encourage more people to watch independent cinema at the Cinematheque or come to the WFG to make their own films.


Iris Yudai, Executive Producer at CBC Mantioba, envisions the festival as a way to create a connection between the filmmakers and the audience. She also explains how the films were chosen and what kind of impact the festival has made on the local community:

Short Film Fan: Why were these five Manitoba films chosen out of so many that are available?

Iris Yudai: It was incredibly difficult to choose just five shorts out of the many brilliant films out there. Because this was a pilot, we didn’t do an open call. Instead, we relied on the folks at the Winnipeg Film Group to provide us with a selection of their favourite short shorts (under five minutes). From there, it was up to our CBC champions. They each selected a film they felt passionate about – one they were moved to shout from the rooftops about. I like that the result is such a mix. Loss of Contact and The Touchdown are both set in the sports world, but they are wildly different!

CBC Online FF

SFF: CBC Manitoba has broadcast short films such as these on television as special summer programming, for example. Will we be able to watch these films from this online festival on CBC-TV this summer, or is this strictly an online feature?

IY: Our goal with the CBC Manitoba Online Short Film Fest is to make connections between our province’s filmmakers and our audience. We want to do that on all our platforms – which is why we’re talking about the films on radio and TV as well as online and through our social media channels. This year the films are online only but we’re not ruling out a TV broadcast in the future. Meantime, you can always find shorts on CBC TV’s Canadian Reflections (www.cbc.ca/reflections) and Short Film Face Off (www.cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff).

SFF: Are there any plans to hold another online Manitoba short film festival in the near future?

IY: I love the way the short film fest has been embraced by the film community and our audience. It’s been fun to get a conversation going about some of the films, and to get people watching sharing short films who ordinarily might not. It’s definitely something we’d like to repeat soon. After all, during the long Winnipeg winter, wouldn’t it be nice to curl up with some made-in-Manitoba short films?


Indeed, the winters in Manitoba make for excellent short film watching! We wish all the best for CBC Manitoba’s first-ever online short film festival. Congratulations goes out to the Winnipeg Film Group and its filmmakers for having their hard work recognized in this fashion. The festival is definitely an excellent opportunity to connect short film fans with the creators. But also, it’s an exciting platform to show short film fans all over the world just how talented Manitoba short film makers are.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Catch Canada’s Top 10 Shorts At Winnipeg Film Group’s Cinematheque, March 18 & 19

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!

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)