As B.C.'s film industry struggles to keep its talent in the face of Ontario's aggressive film tax credits and the impending return to B.C. of the PST, the local industry has again thrown its weight behind a film competition geared at "seeding" the next generation of B.C. filmmakers.
Now in its 14th year, Crazy8s is a short-film competition that provides finalists with $1,000 plus equipment and other industry "in-kind" support to produce their project in an eight-day production blitz.
"Our mandate is to support the development of new talent in the province," said Diana Wilson, who co-produces the competition. "We're about not just supporting directors to tell stories, but also bringing together the whole film community to support that. So we like to see the building of capacity in the industry in general."
A year ago, Ontario's aggressive film incentives helped the province displace B.C. as Canada's largest film jurisdiction. Notably, B.C.'s 2011 domestic film spending shrank to a near decade low of $209 million while Ontario's surged by 32% to $852 million – the result, in part, according to the industry, of the Ontario-bound brain drain.
While the numbers aren't in yet for 2012, Liz Shorten, spokeswoman for the B.C. branch of the Canadian Media Production Association, said B.C.'s domestic film industry is doing "a little bit better" than last year, with a "modest increase" in dramatic TV series being produced.
But Shorten said B.C.filmmakers are still struggling with film incentive gaps compared with other jurisdictions and in light of the April 1 return to the PST.
Against that backdrop, she said Crazy8s is playing a key role in "seeding the next generation" of B.C. filmmakers.
"Whether it's in the directing position, the writing position or the producing position, this competition really gives folks a calling card to showcase what they can do," Shorten said.
The six finalist teams, announced earlier this month (see sidebar), are working feverishly to prepare for an eight-day filming blitz starting February 8.
"It's daunting," said Patrick Currie, the writer and producer of "dark comedy revenge action movie" Stewing, in partnership with director Sean Tyson.
Currie said he's already busy with production meetings and working with a production mentor; Tyson said he's been planning a "very large chase scene" downtown through Robson Square.
"I've been doing site surveys, taking detailed photos from all different angles, trying to figure out where I can put my camera, how I can construct my chase sequence," Tyson told Business in Vancouver last week.
Crazy8s finalist Mackenzie Gray, the writer and director of "homage to film noir" Under the Bridge of Fear, said he's already cast his project and begun read-throughs.
"I'll save my time shooting by preplanning," he said. "You have to be super organized to shoot it in eight days."
Like the other finalists, Gray's ambitions for his film don't stop at the Crazy8s February 23 gala screening. "I want to take it to Telefilmand see if I can make a feature," he said.
2013 Crazy8s finalist films
Under the Bridge of Fear
Writer/director: Mackenzie Gray
In this homage to the great film noir thrillers of the 1940s and '50s, hard-boiled private eye Hamilton Drake is hired to chase down the rat who's blackmailing rich dame Georgia Thurlow and her sultry movie star companion, Carrall Cordova. But in this sapphic underworld, nothing is ever black and white.
Writer: Patrick Currie
Director: Sean Tyson
Danny's over Jake, but that doesn't mean that Jake's over Danny. Six months after their breakup, Jake finally gets the call he's been waiting for: Danny needs him to come over. But when Jake discovers all his ex really needs is a dogsitter, mayhem ensues. A dark comedy revenge action movie about kicking ass, letting go and moving on.
Writer/director: Matt Leaf
In a dystopian near-future where controversy rages over the legitimacy of using memory-extraction technology on victims of violent crime, the race is on to decipher Phillip's final memories. A science fiction short with a dark sarcastic edge, Braindamage imagines a future where our minds are no longer our own.
Writers: Christopher Lee and Ryan Haneman
Director: Ryan Haneman
A quirk of evolution has caused men to begin having periods, and Peter cannot believe his misfortune. While trying to devise the perfect male hygiene product, he must simultaneously deal with unsympathetic doctors, a heartless girlfriend and overly emotional buddies. An unapologetic role-reversal comedy.
Writer: Orsy Szabó
Director: Nimisha Mukerji
Jodi's mother passed away from cancer five years ago, and since then, her father has pretty well stopped living as well. Arriving unannounced on his doorstep one day, and with shattering news of her own to share, Jodi is determined they both make the most of the time left to them.
When I Saw You
Writer/director: Jane Hancock
A playful riff on the value of human connection, When I Saw You gives voice to the "missed connections" ads written by people who wish they were brave enough to speak up and take chances. In a world of missed opportunities, mixed signals and the fear of appearing vulnerable, will anyone be bold enough to start the conversation?