CineVic's short-film fest stars our beautiful coast

What: Short Circuit Film Festival

Where: The Vic, 808 Douglas St.

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When: May 2 and 3, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10 nightly, or $15 for both, available at Lyle’s Place, CineVic, at door


Films showcased during CineVic’s Short Circuit festival to celebrate B.C. and Pacific Northwest filmmakers this weekend might be short in duration but they are long on quality and accolades.

Two featured local filmmakers and members of the Victoria film co-operative have also been selected by Telefilm Canada to receive funding to support their feature-length film debuts.

Jeremy Lutter, whose entry in the third annual festival is Floodplain, and Connor Gaston, whose entry is Owl Creek, are among a few emerging filmmakers whose feature debuts will be supported through Telefilm’s Micro-Budget Production Program.

The filmmakers, both University of Victoria writing department alumni, have also received nominations for 2014 Leo Awards, which honour excellence in B.C. film and television production. Gaston was nominated for best student film for Till Death, his short film about a boy’s mission to bring his lost soulmate back to life. It won the Metropol Audience Favourite short film award at this year’s Victoria Film Festival.

Lutter received seven Leo nominations for Floodplain, based on a story by fellow UVic grad D.W. Wilson, in the short film category for best picture, director, writer, cinematography, production design, music and female performance.

Floodplain, produced by Daniel Hogg with support from the National Screen Institute and BravoFACT, stars Victoria native Cameron Bright (The Twilight Saga, Motive) and Sarah Desjardins as two high-school sweethearts who take a life-changing trip across a B.C. floodplain in a personalized raft. The film, which also recently won two awards at the Vancouver Short Films Festival, was shot in the fall at Widgon Marsh north of Port Coquitlam, in a swimming pool in Tsawwassen and in a UVic biology lab.

Lutter got the news about the Telefilm win for development of Shadow in the Woods, his upcoming horror film scripted by Ben Rollo, while at the Sonoma Film Festival for Floodplain’s U.S. première.

“It’s a story about evil fairies in the woods, based on folklore, except we have a monster this time instead of a robot,” Lutter said, referring to Joanna Makes a Friend, his award-winning short that Rollo wrote about a lonely young girl’s friendship with a robot she makes from spare parts.

“Isn’t that crazy that they [Telefilm] picked two people from B.C.?” Lutter said. “I guess it shows good movies are being made on the West Coast of Canada.”

Gaston’s Owl Creek focuses on a man who develops a sleeping disorder following a crushing breakup with his fiancée.

He was no less enthusiastic after learning he would also receive up to $120,000 in financial support to develop The Devout, his master of fine arts thesis project he submitted with Daniel Hogg.

“It’s big news for me,” said Gaston, who is also heading to Cannes Film Festival, where Till Death will be showcased. “I’ve got my year planned out now.”

The Devout focuses on a family in a Baptist community in northern B.C. whose four-year-old son is terminally ill and “recounts this arcane information about the Apollo 1 space mission,” Gaston said.

“The dad starts to believe his dying son is the reincarnation of an astronaut and he goes on a blasphemous journey. It’s based on true events.”

Lutter and Gaston have become good friends and are playfully competitive, applying for similar grants and entry into the same festivals, Gaston said.

“I told Jeremy first that I won [the Telefilm support] and he said, ‘Congratulations,’ ” he said. “Then there was this long, awkward pause and he said, ‘Oh, I got one, too.’”

Gaston said he was tickled that both filmmakers representing B.C. also happen to be UVic writing alumni.

“UVic’s not a film school so that’s pretty cool,” said Gaston, commending UVic professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley for inspiring him.

CineVic executive director Bryan Skinner said Floodplain is an example of the festival’s mandate to showcase the region’s geography.

“We’ve also got Morgan Tams’ Killer’s Crossing, which really features the Gulf Islands, and Part of the Cycle, which uses animation to show waterways and the importance of water to Seattle,” he said. “And there’s Michael Smith’s Kelowna film Wolf Lake, and Supa Natural, which continues Michael Venus’s “Supa Series” about B.C. [and its UFO sightings], which is very region-specific.”

The wildlife sanctuary north of Coquitlam where Lutter shot his visually ravishing film Floodplain is a star in itself, especially since it’s posing as Invermere, Lutter said.

“The location did most of the work,” he said. “We needed a place that could double as the Rockies. We had very specific requirements for scenic mountains with water nearby.”

After scouting near Invermere with his father two years ago, Lutter realized it would be too costly to shoot Floodplain there on a short-film budget, he said.

“We fooled the people in Invermere, so mission accomplished,” Lutter joked.

Other films in the two-night festival programmed by local photographer and filmmaker Arnold Lim include This/Next/Last/Time, from directors Jeremy Klassen and Christopher M. Hernandez, about a man whose conversations with a friend at a bar over a few years centre around his inability to express his feelings for a girl; Magic Ferret, Vancouver filmmaker Alison Parker’s portrait of a six-year-old orphan and his pet ferret; and Denver Jackson’s Cloudrise, inspired by the Victoria filmmaker’s passion for animated films and storytelling.

For a complete list of films visit cinevic.ca.

mreid@timescolonist.com

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