Aaaand That’s A Wrap — Let’s Recap! ESFF Film Panel A Success!

Aaaand, That's A Wrap -- Let's Recap! ESFF Film Panel A Success!

If you were to have walked into the theatre at NAIT during this panel you would have seen full seats, an attentive audience and eager minds. The Edmonton Short Film Festival put together a very successful and informative event that attracted a crowd from all different career levels. The 6 speakers that presented, offered valuable information based on education and experience from established filmmakers, giving various topics and perspectives, all of which was useful in career building. This FREE event offered and encouraged networking, sharing, collaboration and community. 

Sharlene Milang-Borst:  Director of Edmonton Short Film Festival

Two incredibly important factors to keep in mind when working on projects are teamwork and collaboration. And you may be thinking, aren’t those the same thing? No, they are not, but they do complement each other. 
Teamwork is the combined action of a group of people, and collaboration is the combined efforts of working with someone to produce or create something. These are essential keys for successful endeavours and with proper collaboration, you create equal and balanced professional relationships that set the foundation for building a great team, thus leading to efficient teamwork and a successful project. 

In Sharlene’s panel, she explained the importance of reaching out and working with people in a non-competitive way, to build each other up and create more successes for everyone. 

In today’s highly competitive markets, this advice is incredibly valuable. We have so many barriers existing around the success of a project, such as entering content into a large market, political issues, funding, etc, (this list could go on for a while!), that by simply finding individuals/organizations/companies, to collaborate with, even on a very basic level of just sharing each others work, we are eliminating some of those barriers, helping each other grow, creating community as well as creating a larger voice for your local film industry. 


Eva Colmers: Director, Producer, Head of No Problem Productions Ltd

Eva’s endeavours have been mostly categorized as experimental in nature. Experimental films are focused more on creating a mood versus telling a story. They are more like pieces of art and break the barriers to the creation and implementation of traditional film.

During Eva’s panel, she shared one of her film strips where she scratched the actual film’s surface and painted each frame, creating a whole new textured element to display on the screen.

“Basically, anything that doesn’t fit into traditional filmmaking is considered experimental. It breaks genres and perspective norms. There is no limit to what you can do and you can be as creative as you want to be!”

Eva continued on to explain that it can be difficult to market experimental films because a lot of the time, film festivals are unsure as to where to place them in regards to genre in their events, however, there are a lot of upsides too. Because these films are based on feeling as opposed to a story, it breaks the language barriers, making the film viewable and enjoyable in any language and country around the world. 

Kevin Martin: Owner of The Lobby DVD Shop on Whyte

If you are a lover of media, then you need to talk to Kevin and check out The Lobby. Kevin has dedicated the last 15 years of his life working on keeping media alive, by sourcing out everything from foreign, independent films, hard to find, limited editions and more! But The Lobby is so much more than just a video store, it is a place that has cultivated its own following, culture and became a hub for other projects and creativity. One of the biggest takeaways from his panel is that persistence pays off — never give up on what you want to achieve. 

“The video store knocked off a new passion into filmmaking for myself. From this I have created some films and started my own film festival (Dedfest)… And to go with the theme here, collaboration is what created it all and helped the video store too. “

One of Kevin’s films that can be viewed now, is Straight to Video: The B-movie Odysseywhich features 84 minutes of nostalgic hilarity. Be sure to check out his page because there is more coming soon!

Dylan Pearce: Director at Northern Gateway Films

Dylan took on the subjects of creating commercial viability, pre-selling your films, financing and embracing technology into independent filmmaking. The difficult thing here is to simply put EVERYTHING that was covered in his panel as he probably could have expanded all of what he wanted to share into a whole days worth of time. So, because we can’t do that, I will paraphrase in bullet points below and suggest that if you need assistance, guidance or coaching in any of these areas, Dylan is a valuable source and a willing participant in helping fellow filmmakers succeed.

Some of his lessons are as follows:

  • Cap your expenses. It is easy to spend money
  • Get a lawyer
  • Pay attention to your distribution deal and cap this as well
  • Understand your deliverables
  • Maximize your dollar through grants and funding (EFTTC, CBC,CAVCO are some examples)
  • The USA is your trigger point. From here, you can open up a lot of viewership and doors for your film
  • Know what you have to pay back at all times. Remember, it is easy to spend money in film
  • Have fun on set, create community
  • Always know why you are making your film
  • Create a pitch deck as soon as you can
  • Do what you are passionate about
  • Create balance between the professional shoots and your passion projects
Always remember, there are multiple audiences to appeal to when it comes to your finished film and keeping your commercial audience in mind will make marketing your film to them a lot easier when you are prepared to do so!

Daniel Foreman: Director of Edmonton Short Film Festival

Daniel’s panel was all about establishing yourself in the industry, and preparing for the process of entering your film into festivals. 

Daniel’s ideals behind starting the ESFF (with partner Sharlene), was because he wanted to create something that supported Alberta based short films. He wanted to develop a platform to offer recognition, viewing and promotion for filmmakers and to assist them in furthering their careers in the field. 

Some of the advice he offered from the perspective of a Film Director, and Director/Founder of a film festival were:

  • Form your strategies early on
    • Budget accordingly and remember to include marketing and film festival fees into that budget for after your film is completed
  • Build a strong social media presence
  • Create an impactful poster
  • Always use external mics
  • Keep your trailer concise and impactful as this is a big selling feature
  • Don’t make half your movie the credits
  • Make music an important part of your film
  • Don’t forget your behind the scenes and publicity stills
  • Be smart and plan ahead for your premiere 
  • Create reciprocity with promoting with others
  • Strategize and be selective as to where you submit
  • Look at what a film festival will be giving you back after you give them your submission money
  • Before you submit, have everything ready
  • Read the rules and regulations BEFORE submitting
  • Be able to say what your film is about in a few sentences
  • What is your USP? (Unique Selling Proposition)
  • Submit early if you can. This can also save you money for early bird submission fees

Gilbert Allan: Producer/Director/Actor

Being established with 9 feature films, several shorts, acting, and more, Gil shared his experiences with dealing with distribution and distributors. 

“This is really where the film business starts after you are done making your film. This is the dollars and cents, the selling and distribution of the film you just created”

The pool when looking for distributors is deep. You will find about 6000 firms for independent films in Canada alone. This could lead into a lot of questions, not knowing who to choose and wondering if self distribution is the way to go — IF you are willing to put in the work, and it is a lot of work.

Gil explained that with the constant change that the film industry is always going through, you will always have to be ready and willing to learn. Currently, he stated that we are going through a paradigm shift, where streaming has come into play several parts, becoming both the best and worst thing to happen to the industry today. 
This has made the business of distribution harder to navigate, so it is very important to get informed and research what is right for your project.

Some things to consider when getting into distribution are: Will you choose to be exclusive, blended or self distributed? Who is your demographic – prime demographic and breakdown for different regions? Be aware of bundling and remember to cap those distribution fees. And lastly, remember that every jurisdiction is differently priced.

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