New Edmonton Short Film Festival open to anyone

GigCity Edmonton Short Film FestivalIt’s wonderful that anyone with an iPhone can become a filmmaker these days. But who has time to sit through 100,000,000,000 YouTube videos to find one or two gems?

That’s what film festivals are for – and there’s a new one looming on the local horizon that’s open to anyone who coughs up the $20 submission fee. Films for the first (hopefully annual) Edmonton Short Film Festival – happening Oct. 5 at Concordia University College – can be in any format, says producer Daniel Foreman. Music videos, home movies, old Super 8 reels, trailers and teasers and yes, even iPhone cinema, on YouTube or not, are all welcome. Like the Fringe, there will be no adjudication for entry. All submissions will be screened (within reason) and a cash prize will be awarded for the best, determined by people’s choice.

The issue of charging artists to submit creative work (or be considered for an award) is a contentious one, but it’s necessary when you’re not operating on grant money, says Foreman, who points out that $20 barely gets you a movie and popcorn.

“There are costs,” he says, which include venue rental, projection and computer equipment, program printing, and so on. Additional income will be made from alcohol sales and selling $10 tickets to the event.

This will be the first stand-alone festival in Edmonton devoted to shorts, Foreman says. Metro Cinema’s “Metro Shorts” series that commences in October – where filmmakers actually get paid at least $50 to show their films – is technically not a festival, it’s a competition, and they get grant money. So does the Edmonton Film Festival (Sept. 26 to Oct. 5), which has a short film component and waives submission fees for Albertans; outsiders must pay. Same deal for Global Visions. But most major film festivals have submission fees. Sundance charges up to $80 US a pop, and it’s hard to get into Sundance.

Local film people polled have offered guardedly positive reactions to the new festival. One said $20 for an unproven event might make it a tough sell, but most generally welcome any new opportunity to showcase independent film, which as mentioned there sure is a lot of these days.

It’s not easy breaking into the business, as Foreman knows, being an aspiring filmmaker himself. Along with his producer-partner Sharlene Millang (who works at Concordia), he started the Edmonton Short Film Festival out of frustration with the “politics” of getting an unknown work on a big screen.

“This is a new thing,” Foreman says. “My thing personally is that I’ve faced rejection that wasn’t necessarily due to the quality of the work, which is mildly upsetting and it’s easy to beat yourself up over. But I talked to my producer and thought, why don’t we create something where we try to minimize that as much as possible and let people be creative? … I’ve been through a lot of politics with different arts groups in the city, and the reason we created this is that it’s based on merit, not on who your friends are.”

Asked what you get for $20, Foreman replies, “The biggest thing is that for any grant submission, or anything you’re going to take things further with, you need a public screening of your film. It needs to be documented. We’re giving people a chance to get their stuff, rather than on a tiny computer screen, on a big screen.”

The trailer for Foreman’s latest film, “A Seduction Spell,” will be screened at the event, but will not be eligible to win the people’s choice prize. The amount of the award, Foreman says, “will depend on the number of submissions.”

Films must be 20 minutes or less; the deadline is Sept. 1. Click HERE for more information.