By Sean Willett
A film isn’t something that can be slapped together in a couple of days with only a camera, a Macbook and grim determination– unless you are competing in NUTV’s 48-Hour Eco Film Challenge, of course.
Normally, it takes a team of filmmakers a monumental amount of time and money to finish a project. Even short films usually require weeks to months of work to complete, and production costs can demand a significant investment. Kicking off the second annual NUTV Greenlite Arts Festival, the challenge is for teams of four to write, shoot and edit environmentally themed short films in two days. Registration was open to students and non-students, with everyone in the general community invited to participate.
While there are prizes awarded at the end of the challenge, it isn’t about who wins them. “We keep it a non-competitive festival,” says Greenlite co-ordinator Kim Faires. “It’s more about fostering creativity, getting people thinking about sustainability issues, learning a little about film, T.V. production and community outreach.”
An emphasis is placed on the environmental message of the films, and giving people a platform through which they can discuss the issues affecting our planet, explains Faires. “Through these films we’re encouraging filmmakers, either fledgling or expert, to make their comment.”
Teams will be randomly assigned themes on which they must base their films, all of which have to do with the environment. Each team will also be given a prop and a line of dialogue, with the requirement that at least one is incorporated in the film.
Amanda Zotek, a communications major at the University of Calgary, participated in the 48-Hour Challenge last year. Her team’s theme was “the planet,” which they chose to represent using the human body.
“We connected seven vital organs in the human body to seven types of pollution,” she explains. “It was called ‘One Body, One World.’”
Teams are only allowed to shoot footage on the U of C campus, encouraging creative use of available locations. “It takes a lot of innovation, because you have to think about what stuff on campus will get your point across,” says Zotek. “I feel like last year’s films were a little bleak because it was extremely cold outside and there was a lot of snow that weekend, and that kinda came through.”
Due to the pressure imposed by the time constraint, Zotek and her team worked around the clock to finish their film. “It was pretty intense. We were there really late on Friday and Saturday night, and on Sunday we just tried to scramble to finish it.”
This rushed process meant that there were technical bugs that had to be left in the film in order to meet the deadline. However, Zotek feels that this only added to the experience. “It showed a sort of authenticity,” she explains. “It felt so amazing to see it all come together so quickly, and work so well, with this group of people I had never met before.”
Zotek is participating in the challenge again this year, along with dozens of other aspiring filmmakers from across Calgary. Filming will begin on March 23 at 4:00 p.m. and end on March 25 at the same time, giving teams exactly 48 hours. The finished films will be shown on NUTV’s closed circuit televisions starting at noon on March 26.
Although the 48-Hour Eco Film Challenge is a large part of the Greenlite Film Festival, it is far from its only part. On March 27 there will be a screening of the film The Clean Bin Project, a Canadian documentary chronicling an attempt by a Vancouver couple to live waste-free for a year. Windfall, a documentary about the negative side of wind power, will be screened on March 28 with a panel discussion to follow. Both screenings will take place in That Empty Space at 6:30 p.m. The festival will end with a gala in the Gallery Room of the Taylor Family Digital Library on April 4. In addition to a screening of this year’s short films, there will be an exhibition of the top submissions from Greenlite’s annual photography competition, as well as an awards ceremony.
After an unusually warm Calgary winter, one can’t help but feel the shadow of global climate change looming over the horizon. Faires hopes that the Greenlite Arts Festival and the 48-Hour Eco Film Challenge will encourage U of C students to take a larger role in shaping the future of our increasingly fragile environment.
“It is meant to encourage dialogue about sustainability and our world, and how we can move this world in a more positive direction.”