B.C. stories are screen-worthy, too 

The Whistler Film Festival Society hosts a second film-commissioning program, with a province-wide focus

The Whistler Film Festival Society is not only interested in Whistler stories but B.C. stories, too.

A new short film commissioning and mentorship program, called B.C. Stories, is calling for proposals from B. C. filmmakers to produce a short dramatic film based on stories inspired by B.C. and the four Olympic pillars of culture, education, environment and/or sport.

“It’s a natural evolution of Whistler Stories and hopefully it will lead to bigger things in the future,” said Bill Evans, festival program director. “Short films are a good testing ground for emerging filmmakers to hone their filmmaking chops.”

Whistler Stories is the original film-commissioning program hosted by the Whistler Film Festival Society. The annual program funds four filmmaking teams $5,000 to produce five-minute short films based on Whistler and the Olympic pillars. Films can be documentary or dramatic in content. Already 11 films were produced over the program’s three years, with eight more leading up to 2010.

The B.C. Stories differs from Whistler Stories in a number of ways.

B.C. Stories’ content extends itself to all parts of B.C. The short films must be dramatic and no longer than 10 minutes in length. And the program includes a workshop and mentorship component as well as funding up to $25,000 for the production of the project.

“They are going to have an opportunity to work with mentors during the festival,” Evans said. “They will get a chance to workshop scripts with actors, meet with professional casting agents and get pointers on the projects.”

Filmmakers will enter phase one of the project by attending intensive workshops during the Whistler Film Festival Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. The seminars will provide participants with training and project development that will prepare them for the development, post-production and production process. Taught by senior professionals active in the industry, the workshops will give participants a chance to revise their scripts and improve their budgets and production plans.

Phase two of the project will follow after the festival. Filmmaking teams will deliver final shooting scripts, budgets and production plans by February 2008. Following an adjudication of the packages, successful projects will be awarded cash commissions and in-kind services to produce their films. Films will be shot and completed under the guidance of a key mentor assigned to the project.

“You can do a lot in a short film if you are inventive and imaginative and have a good story to tell,” Evans said. “We are encouraging people to write scripts with actors in mind. Dramas are very difficult to do.”

The Whistler Film Festival Society is partnering with Telefilm Canada on the new film-commissioning program in an effort to develop new Canadian filmmaking talent.

“The value added by seasoned industry professionals will bring them one step closer to joining the next generation of successful feature film creators,” said John Dippong of Telefilm Canada.

The deadline for proposals is Sept. 28.

Submission guidelines and forms are available at whistlserfilmfestival.com.

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