Stimulating the senses 

TWSSF’s range of multimedia offerings: photos, film, and ThreePointOh

click to enlarge Capturing Action Five photographers will present slide shows of their work at the upcoming Pro Photo Showdown, one of the key artistic events of TWSSF. Photo by Ian Ruhter
  • Capturing Action Five photographers will present slide shows of their work at the upcoming Pro Photo Showdown, one of the key artistic events of TWSSF. Photo by Ian Ruhter

While there's plenty of action planned for the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains during the 10 days of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, this year's artistic offerings look equally promising. But it's the multimedia events on the schedule that really stand out: in particular, the Pro Photo Showdown, 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, and the new ThreePointOh Multimedia Challenge.

"There are iconic events that have come to be associated with the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival that sell out every year, like the Olympic Pro Photo Showdown and the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel when the wheel is perfectly true and rolls really, really smoothly," said Lisa Richardson, spokesperson for Watermark Communications, the company that organizes TWSSF.

"Those two events just keep getting better and better every year, I think because the traction that they have and the reputation that they have, sort of increasingly international, is drawing more and more talent."

This year, the Pro Photo Showdown drew 26 applicants from all over the world. The five finalists - Scott Pommier, Ian Ruhter, Christian Pondella, Daniel Blom and Jordan Manley - come from as close to home as Vancouver /Whistler and as far away as Sweden.

"I think last year we saw a little bit of a shift, or just a door opening a bit, with Kari Medig. He was saying, 'I'm not really 'action sports,' I'm a little bit more soulful. I have a little bit more of a documentary feel,'" Richardson reflected.

It turns out that both the audience and judges received this deeper approach to photography very well - Medig ended up walking away with first place.

"When I spoke with Kari about his experience last year and what it was like, for a photographer not from Whistler, he was like, 'it's pretty incredible to see how informed the audience is about what makes a good photo and what makes a good action sports photo,'" Richardson said. "So it's a medium that people out here get, and I tend to think that people who are drawn to live in the mountains have a heightened sense of aesthetics. That's why you would forgo all the other benefits of living in a city."

The Pro Photo Showdown takes place on Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m.

Another popular multimedia event is the 72-hour filmmaker showdown, which seems to get bigger and better each year.

Over time, Richardson has watched the competition evolve and become more sophisticated, with filmmaking teams coming from as far away as Los Angeles and Montreal to create five-minute shorts that focus on an incredible range of subjects, all produced in just three days.

"The bar continues to rise," Richardson said.

As of last Thursday, 40 teams were signed up to compete, and organizers expected to receive up to another 15 applications before deadline. Then, a screening review panel will select eight finalists to have their films screened at the competition on Tuesday, April 21 at 8 p.m. There, a different panel of judges, which includes Jerry Wasserman, Glen Schaefer, Norman Reedus, Kevin Eastwood and Trent Carlson, will select the best in show.

The filmmaking event has become so popular that last year organizers decided to add Second Cuts, an event for people who couldn't get tickets to the sold-out first showing to come out and see all of the films that were made as part of the competition,  including the top eight. The Second Cuts screening is also an attempt to ensure that all of the filmmakers who dedicated time and energy to the competition have an opportunity to see their finished product on the big screen, even if they don't make it to the final screening.

"A lot of filmmakers say to have the opportunity to see your film on a big screen with a live audience is what you're doing it for," Richardson said.

Last but not least, this year, the art offerings at the TWSSF have been expanded with the addition of the ThreePointOh Multimedia Challenge. It offers a soulful new take on the traditional artist approaches to film, photography and sound tracking.

"As event producers, you want to do stuff that's new and you want to try and change up the formula a little bit, and the Pro Photographer Showdown and Filmmaker Showdown are sort of too 'holy' to mess with - you can't change them up!" Richardson said. "But as technology is evolving, it sort of leaves a bit of a gap that we weren't really addressing."

While the Pro Photographer judges have been careful to stay true to old school photography skills, organizers also saw a chance to integrate the ever-expanding digital media world into the festival.

"I guess they're kind of short film clips, short video clips... a whole gambit of things, and some really poetic stuff. It's hard to explain - it's visual," Richardson said. "For all of us who were spoon-fed on the visual generation, it just makes sense to us."

Organizers invited people to submit their open-form projects, and the search has yielded some "phenomenal" results. Between eight to 10 pieces will be screened at the event on Monday, April 20 at 8 p.m., with Best in Show awarded $2,500 in cash and prizes, and additional prizes awarded for Audience Choice.

"It's just going to be a really beautiful visual journey," Richardson said.

Tickets to all TWSSF events can be purchased online at the festival e-store .



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