Terrain parks homage wins Coldfront online film festival and $10,000 

Geoff Hewat films eight friends having fun — and takes the big Whistler Blackcomb prize

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - okay, jump!  Filmmaker Geoff Hewat is ready for his next shot.
  • Photo submitted
  • okay, jump! Filmmaker Geoff Hewat is ready for his next shot.

Front Country, a three-minute filmed salute to Whistler Blackcomb terrain parks, has won the first Coldfront online film festival and taken the $10,000 first prize.

Shot and edited by 22-year-old Geoff Hewat, Front Country shows eight athletes playing in the park on a bluebird day.

It was shot at the end of last winter's season.

Overall, more than 13,000 people voted in the month-long Coldfront competition.

Starting on Sept. 29 for three weeks, two films made about the resort experience competed on the Whistler Blackcomb website each week, with the winner moving on to the next round.

In the final, ending Oct. 26, Hewat competed against Benjamin Webb and Ryan Kenney, and Heart Films.

The online voting in the final week was watched by Hewat very closely.

"It was a pretty big distraction... I was following the polls pretty closely. I was more shocked in the last day when I was able to pull ahead. I knew in the evening that I had a good chance," Hewat says.

Hewat took 42 per cent of the vote (2,406 votes), Heart Films came second with 33 per cent (1,925) and Benjamin Webb and Ryan Kenney came third with 25 per cent (1,400).

Hewat got 800 of those votes in the last 12 hours.

The other Coldfront competitors included Olliepop Films, Nuulife Films and Graeme Mieklejohn.

Hewat is in the third year of Capilano University's four-year film program. He is sharing part of his winnings with the athletes from his film. The rest will go towards new camera gear and his savings "because I'm still a student."

He wanted his friends to share "because I would not have had any involvement with Whistler Blackcomb if I didn't have friends who were so good at skiing."

His team included Jordan Innes, Max Morello, Matt Crawford, Matt Wilcox, Mack Jones, Sean McElligott, Brendon Reid and Jake Carney.

Hewat moved to Whistler from Toronto five years ago and has been a filmmaker since that time. He developed a web series called Westward, about Ontario skiers who head west to B.C. in order to make names for themselves.

His youth and his interest in the rest of the competition was apparent.

"The competition definitely had some really good entries from all the other contestants. It was a bit different than a judged thing. I'm much younger than a lot of them," Hewat says.

The terrain park became his location for practical, as well as fun reasons.

"It wasn't entirely by choice. Me and my friends are 22 or younger and most of the skiers and myself aren't paid athletes. So we don't have the resources to go out into the backcountry; we don't have cars, or trucks, or sleds. We were just confined to the park," he says.

"Along with that, it was late in the season to develop a concept to the video, compared with some of the Intersection videos."

Front Country was meant to be more fun.

"It was kind of a season recap," he says.

He added that his friends, networks and supporters voted for him once each for the whole contest and helped him secure the win.

The film joins his resume as a new filmmaker, so fresh to the industry that he doesn't have a website yet. This is partly because he is still trying to create the perfect demo reel. It will be up in the next year, he promises.

In the meanwhile, his work can be viewed on Vimeo and on the Whistler Blackcomb park videos.

"Coldfront gets my name out there and shows that on top of filming and editing, I have a good group of skiers to film with, and a large network for videos to be spread out over," he says.

Front Country can be seen at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/coldfront/index.aspx.

Next up for Hewat is planning a series of related web videos for the winter.

"And trying to finish up the semester at school," he says.

Chris McLeod, the Industry, Film and Communications Supervisor for Whistler Blackcomb, says they were pleased by the way the month-long competition went.

"Coldfront was a huge success from our perspective. Each film crew put together amazing content featuring Whistler Blackcomb, which helped to build the hype for the winter season," McLeod said in an emailed response to questions.   

He added that Whistler Blackcomb is still trying to work out whether or not to repeat the competition.

"We would love to bring it back, but want to get feedback from this year's participants before moving forward," he said.

McLeod wanted to thank filmmakers and athletes who took part this year.

"Everyone was extremely talented and great to work with. Each edit was an excellent representation of why we love to ski and snowboard here in Whistler," he said.

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