April 19, 2012 Features & Images » Feature Story

Beating the Clock 

A behind-the-scenes look at the madness and magic of the 72hr Filmmaker Showdown by Dawn Green

Whereby this intrepid writer follows in the footsteps of five film crews, out of 30, to experience firsthand the mammoth effort, along with the belly-aching laughs, involved in pulling together a show-stopping short film extravaganza. The 10 finalist filmmakers, four of whom I followed, presented their finished works April 17 (see page 66 for story on the winners). Pique hopes this peek inside the trials and tribulations these five groups faced will give readers some perspective on the insane pressure these artists work under during this project.

Day 1, April 13, 2012

9:02 a.m. Whistler Conference Centre, Grand Foyer

The atmosphere in the room is tangible — it's a nervous, edgy and excited vibe I pick up on as I enter and take a seat. The feeling is contagious and soon I find myself tapping my feet in anticipation. It's Friday the 13th but no one seems overly superstitious, or else they would have rolled over and stayed in bed today. Because luck is definitely needed, along with blood, sweat and tears, for anyone attempting to pull this one off, I reckon.

I am at the mandatory directors meeting for the launch of the Olympus 72hr Filmmaker Showdown, watching the steady trickle of directors enter the foyer, get registered and sit down or gather at the back of the room. Some wear colourful attire, some appear nervous, others look like they just woke up — yet what they all clearly share is a passion and intensity for filmmaking, with perhaps a streak of recklessness mandatory to undertake an enormous endurance venture such as this.

A guy sits down beside me and it turns out it's director Harley Francis, whom I have interviewed on the phone, and who has agreed to have me watch some of his filming today.

"Hey, can we kill two birds with one stone and have you fill in as an extra?" he asks me with a pleading look in his eyes. I laugh and tell him I would be delighted to help out — after all, what better way to experience filmmaking than from both sides of the camera?

Francis is determined not to repeat history, describing last year's efforts as "disastrous and stressful." Nearly everything went wrong that could possibly go wrong, he says, and yet his film was one of the finalists.

"I don't want to come across sounding jaded," he insists as we sit and wait for the meeting to commence. "It's something that's insanely fun. It's what I want to do ... it's an excellent opportunity to showcase and create a short film to an amazing audience."

I nod in agreement.

After the registration process is complete and sufficient mingling time has lapsed, Jaime Kerrigan, Watermark's multimedia event producer, kicks off the meeting. She reports that there are 30 teams in total who will have 72hrs to complete their short films (Watermark Communications Inc produces the festival).

Speaking of WSSF, Film

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