An Okotoks artist who put her painting skills to the test in a filmmaking competition last month has come away from the experience with two awards.
Elisa Shigehiro entered herself, friends Patrick Brown and Kiera Roxburgh of Calgary and Robin Haynes of British Columbia into the Okotoks Film Festival Society’s annual 48-Hour Filmmaking Challenge, requiring them to work remotely while creating a three to six-minute film amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-May.
Their creation, Yellow Crane, was named Best Picture and Audience Choice during the June 11-14 Okotoks Film Festival. The team, who called themselves Pineapple Tuesday, completed the task in 40 hours.
“I was really happy with the team I was able to put together,” said Shigehiro. “I’d initially planned to do the challenge by myself. I’m an artist, so the thing I had in my back pocket was to draw everything. I set a plan for 24 separate images and to spend 20 minutes per image and still have time to edit.”
When the competition launched at 6 p.m. on May 15, each team was given a different line of dialogue, the same prop (a paper crane) and a genre.
Pineapple Tuesday was given the line “We’re not so different, you and I” and the genre 'lone survivor.'
The foursome created a storyline in two hours before tasking two teammates to write the dialogue and Shigehiro to draw the storyboard. When their tasks were complete, the team further refined the script.
With watercolour paints and ink on hand, Shigehiro drew 34 frames of a lone character by the sea making paper cranes. She filmed the experience as a time lapse, giving each painting about six seconds of play.
“Each frame you can see the painting start from the beginning to end,” she said. “It let me test that art style to see if audiences would like it. While the films were streaming there was a chat for people who were watching to comments and we really got a good response. It was very gratifying.”
Festival director Katie Fournell said the society considered cancelling the 48-Hour Filmmaking Challenge this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but decided at the last minute to go ahead with the competition.
“We felt that with everything being cancelled we didn’t want to be one more cancelled event,” she said. “We thought our teams can find a way to still participate even though they have to be distant. It just adds to the challenge and the excitement.”
Fournell said the society received confirmation that it made the right choice when the competition reached its 21-team limit for the first time.
“It’s our most popular event that we do and we’re so excited that we got to see so many new teams this year and so many creative investments,” she said.
Of the 21 teams, 17 completed the challenge in the allotted time.
Among them was Okotoks’ Finale Films with the film One New Friend, produced by Alberta High School of Fine Arts graduands Will Whaley and Ty Bekkering.
The team was given the line “__ is my middle name” and the genre 'artificial intelligence.'
After entering last year's competition and winning an award, Whaley said they were up to the challenge again.
“It’s fun doing things under pressure," he said. "We had a lot of fun last year so we thought it would be fun to do it again.”
The pair wrote a script about a lonely teen, Tyler, who finds an android online to serve as his friend. Bekkering played Tyler and Whaley played the android, Charlie.
“It’s about Tyler learning to make real friends and the android teaches him how to do that,” Whaley said. “They have this fun montage together, then Tyler goes to school and comes home with a real friend and pushed the android into the closet.”
Bekkering said they filmed One New Friend in his basement while attempting to maintain their distance as much as possible.
“It was a bit of a challenge,” he said. “It definitely made it difficult when you’re used to working in close proximity to one another.”
The pair worked right up to the last minute and almost missed the deadline.
Their hard work was rewarded when One New Friend won the award for Best Use of Genre.
“It’s always nice to win an award,” said Whaley. “This year, because everyone was in quarantine and had nothing else to do, we were worried the bar would be set a lot higher than it was last year.”
Winning the challenge is a feather in the cap for Whaley, who is enrolled at Mount Royal University’s media broadcast design program this fall and Bekkering, who is enrolled at Simon Fraser University’s film production program.
Other winners of the competition include the Calgary team Cinema Buns for Best Line, the Calgary team Isometric Films for Best Prop and the Okotoks team Classy But Sinister for Best Socially-Distanced Team. The winners were announced during the Okotoks Film Festival on the evening of June 14.
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