In The Toronto Film Challenge part 2 of 4

A Night in Pictures

Friday night found me shoving a change of clothes, more make-up than I ever need, and a blue wig into a backpack while impatiently waiting for my friend Mike to call me. 8:03pm, 8:15pm, 8:25pm - if I'm going to make it to Scarberia on time we have to leave, NOW. I leave a message on his cellphone and my sister Sam and I leap into my trusty Echo and head for the 401.

The Toronto Film Challenge began at 8pm, and as I was grabbing the last few necessities for a mad few hours of non-stop filming, Mike and his friend Aaron received our assignment. We were on the DVP when we finally got the info.

The breakdown - kind of like in Clue (or an improv game), each team receives a Location, a Crisis, a Prop and a Genre for their film - no less than six minutes, no more than eight. Signed, sealed and delivered in 48 hours.

I don't want to spoil the surprise, but let me tell you, we were excited when we found out what genre we'd lucked into.


Arriving at Mike's, we found Aaron trying a few things out on the keyboard (he's going to score the thing) while Mike's girlfriend Marsha diligently banged away at a script.

Sam and I got the plot breakdown from Mike and started to think logistics of shooting and what our jobs would be.

At this point I have my doubts and, I'm ashamed to admit, a little grief that I don't get to appear in the film, though I'm excited to be gaffer (lights) and determined to throw in my suggestions as the shoot goes on. It seems very ambitious, especially given the time constraints.

The plan - start shooting no later than midnight. 12-15 hours later, finish filming, start digitizing and editing. Saturday night - shoot pick-ups, finish the soundtrack, and take a well-deserved nap for the 10 hours remaining in the 48 hour challenge.

Within two hours of our arrival (at 9:30pm), the rest of the team arrives - the actors - Matt, Warren, and John (aka 'Kraft'), and we have a shooting script.

As we begin, the manic pace and energy of what we're doing starts to catch up with me. Although I'm secretly impressed with the complicated plan, I'm also worried about Murphy's law - and trying to get over my frustration about some of the choices. But hey, this time around, I'm not the director, and soon the caffeine (a quick run to Mac's and Tim's around 2am) and adrenaline kicks in and I'm wired and excited.

My faith is entirely returned and I get really and truly excited while we start filming the final scene just before dawn. My little Echo got a bit more of a workout than I expected.

Soon we're inside, shooting in a rapidly set-decorated basement, throwing lights up, grabbing close-ups, and getting some really sweet foley sound. Mike and Aaron are so excited by some of the shots they can hardly contain themselves. Me, Sam and Marsha (the rest of the techies) find ourselves laughing and shouting delightedly with them when we nail some really choice visuals.


Including the hole that got punched in the wall. Kraft promises to help Mike replaster the drywall, so we grin at the vraisemblance and keep going. Somewhere around this time we decide on the film title, The Blue Seal. (No, not the mammal).


We're 80% done shooting, and I'm amazed to find it's not yet 9am - so we break for a much-deserved breakfast. We head to the Golden Griddle - welcome energy after the quick fix of cheap cookies in the wee hours, though we're so tired we don't even know if we're hungry.

Aaron tucks away a massive load of food from the buffet, while a near-traumatized and sleep-deprived Matt can barely bring himself to eat his fruit (though he grabs a little something more from Warren's plate). Sam and I opt for pancakes. No caffeine now - we're well into morning and the daylight and promise of a mere two or three shots is enough to fuel us for the remainder.


After the last few pickup shots, Warren and Matt get themselves cleaned up and off home to bed. Kraft, Marsha, Sam and I stick around for a bit to watch the footage as it's digitized in preparation for the marathon edit Mike and Aaron have ahead of them.

It looks as good as we hoped.

Sam and I are getting more than a little bug-eyed at this point, so we bid the others well and hop back into the car, headed for home. 48 hour challenge and we're home by 2pm on Saturday - plenty of time to nap before bed.

And now? We wait for the edit. I can't wait to see the screening - I wonder what the other 56 teams have done?

Madness. Glorious madness.

All the entries will be screened this week at Innis Town Hall, 14 films per night (assuming everyone finished, right?), from June 27-30th. Tickets will go on sale the night of at 6pm, the screening will run from 7-9pm. Each screening is 10$ (free for us sleep-deprived fiends filmmakers). The schedule is posted on the TFC website.

You can also get a screening + Gala ticket and save some cash OR you can keep an eye out for my next post because I'll be offering FREE passes to the Gala on July 7th (worth 60$) where prizes will be given to the deserving, the deservings' films will be screened, and you can enjoy the wet bar until 2am.

Trust me. You'll want to see this.

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