The 2014 Academy Award nominees for Best Live Action Short Film are currently being screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox until Feb. 27. It is a fantastic line up of five short films and the screening includes videos of exclusive interviews with award winning filmmakers. The filmmakers discuss the significance of short films and the power of conveying a story concisely in a short time frame.
The following lists the nominees:
Helium (dirs. Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson, Denmark/Danish, 23 min.) – A dying boy finds comfort in the hospital janitor’s tales of a magical land called Helium.
The Voorman Problem (dir. Mark Gill and Baldwin Li, UK/English, 13 min.) – A psychiatrist (Martin Freeman, The Hobbit) is called to a penitentiary to examine an inmate named Voorman (Tom Hollander), who claims to be a god.
Avant que de tout perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) (dir. Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras, France/French, 30 min.) – A woman runs away from her abusive husband and takes refuge with her children in the local supermarket where she works
Aquel no era yo (That Wasn’t Me) (dir. Esteban Crespo, Spain/Spanish, 24 min.) – A Spanish aid worker has a harrowing encounter with an African child soldier.
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? (dir. Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari, Finland/Finnish, 7 min.) – A Saturday morning turns into comic chaos as a harried mother frantically tries to get her family ready to leave the house for a wedding.
Click here for a full list of screening times.
So the 2014 T24 Project 24-hour film challenge is less than two weeks away and we wanted to offer some tips to all participating teams so you can create some great films that we are proud to showcase.
1) FORM A PROPER TEAM - Make sure you have a well-balanced team that can properly back you up, ESPECIALLY if you are new to the medium. Make sure that at least two out of the four people on the team understands the most basics of video technology, ESPECIALLY the post production side (half the game is in post-production). Having two people work on different sequences at once and then link up later can save you time.
Team members – don’t leave your Team Captain hanging. It’s only 24 hours, tough it out! Alternate in taking naps if you must but don’t just abandon the game. Assign specific roles to each other and keep each other busy. The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of the rush and have the captain go on auto-pilot solo. It has happened so many times and it always kill the vibe and hurt the product. Show your leader your dedication. Don’t assume you’re useless if you’re not contributing on a technical level. Help out by brewing coffee or making runs to get some. Help feed the crew. Crack a joke to keep the energy going. Get some sleep so you can be the one alert enough to drive the team to drop off the film.
2) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER ACTORS!!! This cannot be emphasized enough, The biggest cringe for most people when watching a film is bad acting. For the T24 Project, this is usually the result of a team with zero experience performing who underestimates the skill it takes to carry a narrative on screen. That being said, you don’t need professional actors per se but those with experience and charisma on camera will take your film much further. If you choose to make that epic dramatic narrative with characters crying or professing their love for each other, make sure you have people that can REALLY sell those scenarios. Also, play the proper age. Nothing is more laugh worthy than seeing 20 year old kids trying to play roles meant for 40 year olds and it cheapens the film.
Sara Jackson & Owen Van Houten in Face the Strain
2012 Visual Thesis Award winner
3) IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY - Work on the story and script! The first 3-5 hours should all be about writing. Yes, filmmaking is a huge technical exercise but this is a 24 hour challenge so a technical glitch here and there will be forgiven. But an unpolished and uninspiring story is not. A good story has subtext and meaning and it’s the soul of any film, no matter how glossy it looks. A proper story will get you so much farther than fancy camera work or that pile of special effects. A strong performance or solid script has nudged previous juries to award a film over another before, despite being “technically inferior”.
4) GET THE PROPER EQUIPMENT - The great thing about the T24 Project challenge is that one doesn’t require super fancy equipment but you do require the basic necessities, which are: a camera (duh!), preferably one that has an audio input jack of some kind and a microphone of some kind. Anything else like lenses and fancy lights are nice-to-haves instead of must-haves (though it will be very helpful to have some lamps and some white bristol board to bounce things off and these things are easily acquirable). Cameras need not be expensive or fancy. You can still tell a good story whether you’re using an iPhone, DSLRs, or RED. Just know the limits so you don’t hit a pothole during production.
That being said, if you plan on recording audio of any kind, it is HIGHLY recommended you use a microphone and NOT the one on board the camera or computer. Though a quality mic will get you better results, even ANY cheap microphone you can get at a computer store or the dollar store will be better than no mic. Whether it be live dialogue or voiceover, DO NOT record any audio using the camera’s on board mic. Attach something, ANYTHING! Use your uncle’s karaoke mic if you have to but use SOMETHING. Earphones/earbuds will also help you monitor sound levels while recording so you end up with fewer ugly surprises during post.
Use visually interesting locations.
5) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – The T24 Project challenges filmmakers to be creative with your surroundings and the exercise as a whole is meant to showcase various aspects of the city. Having your entire film take place inside your house, apartment, or condo defeats this purpose. Yes, it is a safe and convenient choice but it’s also incredibly boring unless you have a really good story to tell. Scout for interesting locations that you can use at night (remember, most of your shooting time will be dark). It’s a great opportunity for you and eventually the audience to explore the city. If you MUST set it inside your house, give the audience, the festival staff and the jury a really good reason why we need to be inside your house.
That being said, be respectful of other’s property. And because it is winter, weather and road conditions can be crazy. Be safe and don’t do anything to risk your health. A film is not worth getting hurt over.
Adithya in the cold. Yes, it’s winter in Canada. Be prepared.
6) SCHEDULING - You should properly map out how much time you need for certain tasks. Account for editing time – A LOT of editing time (half the game is in post). DO NOT assume editing will be a breeze and will be done quickly. Account for time to export and test your file properly. And make sure you account for travel time, especially if you’re coming far from the drop site or if you’re terrible with directions! Traffic is not a valid excuse for being late. A group from previous years didn’t map out the drop site beforehand. They drove around the block 5 times looking for the building. They were two minutes late. On that note, having a powerful laptop that you can use for editing/exporting would be much more convenient due to its mobility than a stationed desktop machine.
7) HAVE FUN! We’ve had films where despite being incomplete or out of the running, they were great examples of how much fun the team had when they made it and that energy transfers to an audience watching it, making the screening an enjoyable experience. As much as it is a challenge, we want you to have fun when participating and making your film.
The deadline to register is Sunday, January 12, 2014. Good luck during the challenge. May the Force be with you or may the odds be ever in your favour!
The full lineup of the 2013 Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival has been officially announced and this is one of our biggest years ever. With 40+ shorts split into 5 distinct programmes across a single day, there’s something for everyone.
Eye of the Beholder features efforts that present an array of unique perspectives. At Odds with Our Surroundings explore the impact that our environments have on us. While Tensions deals with a myriad of dilemmas, Questionable Content revels in the “strange, the absurd, and the playfully lewd”. Finally festival-goers can enjoy heartfelt and hopeful stories of change and growth with Stages of Life.
Tickets are already available for purchase. Festival takes place June 15th @ Innis Town Hall.
Here is a sneak peek of what we have in store for you at the 2013 Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival.
Fists of Finance by Aaron Estrada
Pay your bills or face the consequences.
Don’t Get Mad, Just Get Used To It by March Mercanti
A documentary on the lives of several professional wrestlers.
Showdown at Dusty Springs by Myles Milne
Roy, the new kid on the playground stands up to Mickey, the bully. The children’s imagination takes the conflict to a new arena – the wild west.
The Forbidden Room by Kristina Mileska
William, a 6 year old boy with hemophilia, plays in a room full of sharp objects.
Sleepy Time by Jonny Micay
A boy tries but struggles to fall asleep. Winner of the 2013 Zoom Student Film Festival Jury Prize.
Weight by Zach Silverstein
Our wrong-doings bring us down more and more with each sin. Winner of Best Drama at the Toronto Student Film Festival.
Have you experienced ‘The Room’ yet? Tommy Wiseau’s roaring success – or should that be suckscess – of a movie is celebrating 10 years of inspiring avid film lovers to replace cast members half way through their incredibly expensive vanity projects and hurl plastic spoons (and heavy amounts of abuse) at screens. To celebrate, the Royal is hosting director Tommy Wiseau and fan favourite Greg ‘Mark’ Sestero for 6 screenings of The Room this weekend!
A monthly fixture at The Royal for the last 4 years, The Room is a movie going experience like no other. If you haven’t seen it yet (and why not?!) I’d rather not spoil it, but if you prefer your experience silent, self-reflective and civilised, this isn’t one for you. For everyone else, the audience is about as hilarious as the images on screen, and I truly feel for the clean up crews. Wiseau sunk $6 Million of his own cash into what is largely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, by critics and his own cast and crew alike, but has rather cleverly monopolised on the bad movie die-hards and good naturedly does the Q&A rounds at screenings across the world. While the film isn’t the deep and thought provoking dramatic tragedy it was so obviously intended to be (despite Wiseau’s adamant claims that it was always supposed to be a comedy), it certainly doesn’t disappoint on an entertainment level, and it will be extremely fun to gain a little more insight onto how and why this film ever saw the light of day, and how it feels to be make a success of a film more routinely savaged than any other.
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For more info and screening times visit the Royal’s event page.
Last Tuesday the Globe and Mail published an article regarding Finding Mr. Right: a modestly budgeted Chinese romantic comedy about a materialistic mother who travels to Seattle to ensure her baby an American passport. Bearing no discernible signs or trends that would foresee it as a box office smash, Finding Mr. Right became the ninth highest grossing domestic film in Chinese history. The film, however, was actually shot primarily in Vancouver and was partially produced by Shan Tam a Chinese-Canadian producer who is currently completing a BFA at UBC.
An exciting little patriotic pat-on-the-back-story, the success also teases at the possibility of Canadian cinematic projects finding pathway through further Chinese collaborations given the apparent allure of BC tax incentives, although not as necessarily co-productions (this film was not one). Perhaps only a dream. Still, it remains difficult to shake the imagination from wondering what such collaborations could bring with such an exciting industry. This of course is not the first instance of the industries coming together on BC soil in some way. With perhaps the most recent instance, as the article notes, being the Gateway for Film Script Competition at the 2012 Whistler Film Festival where Canadian script writers pitched ideas to Chinese producers.
Something else that comes to mind, even if associated a bit loosely, is the career trajectory of Martin Doepner. Who, while completing his MFA at Concordia, also completed a year of exchange at the Beijing Film Academy. He returned to China to work on a number of television documentaries. His film Rouge Sang took best feature at this year’s Canadian Film Festival.