Yellowknife filmmakers of all ages hit the streets and the studio from June 11 to 13 to create entries for the 48-hour Film Festival.
Participants had 48 hours to shoot, act, score music and edit their work into a four-minute movie for the Canada-wide film contest.
At 5 p.m. on June 11, filmmakers received an email from festival organizers notifying them of this year’s theme: “grey place.” They had creative license to develop their work around the theme as they chose.
Twelve teams in the NWT entered the contest, including 11 from Yellowknife and one from Fort Simpson, said Courtney McKiel, a executive director of Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP), which coordinated the NWT activities for 48 Film Festival Inc, a non-profit Canadian arts support organization.
READ MORE: The National 48 Hour Short Film Challenge
READ MORE: 48 Film Festival
Among the teams in Yellowknife was a group of five children aged 10 to 12 from Froggy Productions, the sole youth team that submitted its film by the deadline.
In the afternoon of July 12, they shot a scene at the government dock with their simple set-up of an iPhone mounted on a tripod.
They waded into the water, creeping up on the dock to film a flash-back scene involving two of the characters.
“(Our film) is about a girl whose sister dies but she keeps pretending she’s there,” said director and actor Nora Swan. “She’s trying to find her ‘grey place’ between happy and sad. She imagines her sister comes back and that lets her find her grey place.”
The group inserted a lot of references to grey into their movie, such as Earl Grey tea that a therapist character likes to drink.
They scored their movie to the music of Yellowknife artist Andrea Bettger, who is also the mother of Sadee Mitchell, one of the director-actors.
The five have made movies before, such as a 10 episode series called Dearly Devoted, said Mitchell. They’re currently writing up a script for a zombie-apocalypse flick.
Keeping their feet a bit drier in a downtown studio, Harrison Roberts and Martin Rehak approached the film theme from a mental health perspective.
The pair did most of their shooting in Second Space, a set of rooms beside the Yellowknife library which are used by the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre for its artist mentorship program.
Both Roberts and Rehak shared the project duties of shooting, acting and editing. Roberts did much of the music production.
“We’re looking at mental health and things that take place in the mind. There’s only so much you can do with that when you have 48 hours to make a movie,” said Rehak, who also runs his own production company Absurd Turd Media.
The pair shot their scenes using the video function of a DSLR camera. They also made animation sequences by shooting still photos of animal images cut from magazines.
“It’s about two friends hanging out and just talking. That’s as grey as you can get,” said Roberts, with a slight laugh.
“How we all feel on the inside but don’t show it. Every time they have a conversation we zoom into their heads. We demonstrate how someone’s energy in the moment can affect the other person in negative and positive ways.”
One scene features Rehak speaking Czech on the phone with his parents which satisfies one of the bonus criterion of the festival: submissions can include some auditory or written content in a language other than English.
Registered filmmakers who submit their film by the deadline of 5 p.m. on June 13 will have their work screened online on June 19.
The top two films selected from each province and territory will be shown on the big screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)’s Bell Lightbox cinema in March of 2022.
The first place winner will receive NWT Film Commission swag and $500 in “WAMP bucks” redeemable for WAMP video production equipment rentals.
The second and third place winners will receive $250 and $100 worth of WAMP bucks, respectively, and Film Commission swag.