It’s lights, camera, action for aspiring Northern filmmakers looking to take home $20,000 in Bell Media’s short film competition.
The Northern Shorts contest invites teams from the NWT, Yukon and Nunavut to submit a short film script of 10 pages or less, along with a director’s vision statement and a brief synopsis of the five- to 10-minute film.
A panel of representatives from each territory will review the submissions, along with the Harold Greenberg Fund (HGF) – a division of Bell Media dedicated to supporting Canadian film and television.
With the majority of national funding opportunities going to experienced filmmakers, Camilla MacEachern, promotions manager of the NWT Film Commission, said the Northern Shorts competition is an opportunity for emerging producers to build their skills and make a nationally supported movie.
MacEachern said the judges are looking to award the funding to unique scripts and solid teams. Often the director is also the writer and the producer, which is why the program encourages more defined roles to “evenly distribute the work,” – though MacEachern acknowledges that’s not always possible.
The deadline for entries is Dec. 4, and winners will be announced four to six weeks later.
The contest launched last year under the name “HGF/Territories Short Film Program.”
Mason Mantla was the first to win the NWT title with his film Nahga – a short horror film that follows a dutiful Dene teen babysitter protecting her younger siblings from a shape-shifting, child-snatching monster.
Alan Bacchus, program manager with the HGF, said as an agency of the Canadian film and television industry, the HGF is “continually seeking ways to elevate Canadian cinema and nurture the next generation of filmmakers.”
“Audiences are always seeking new stories and fresh voices and there are exciting stories from the North not yet told, and terrific filmmakers in the North who may not have the resources to express their stories on film,” Bacchus said. “This program seeks to find those stories and help bring them to screen.”
The program is a partnership between the HGF, the NWT Film Commission, Yukon Media Development and the Nunavut Film Development Corporation. All agencies contribute to selecting the winners in their respective jurisdictions and to financing the projects.
With the funding comes a mentorship component, as the HGF supports winning teams “every step of the way,” MacEachern said.
The film and media sector is a “very important contributor to the economy,” she added.
She explained guest producers, who travel to the territory to make films, leverage funding into the NWT through hiring residents, putting money into food, accommodations and other goods and services.
NWT producers are important too she said, and hopes the Northern Shorts program can “empower our local producers to write their own scripts and tell their own stories.”