With the COVID-19 pandemic making it hard for local filmmakers to exhibit their work, the Winnipeg Film Group (WFG) decided to share the backlog of Winnipeg-based productions through their members’ screenings. The first screening took place on March 19, and the following two will happen on April 2 and 22.
With a commitment to supporting emerging filmmakers, the WFG offers a wide swath of resources for folks starting out, from professional-development workshops to film distribution. Their active support has led visual artist Diana Thorneycroft to leave her comfort zone and experiment with stop-motion animation for the first time.
“I am very new with film, so I have to say that the Winnipeg Film Group has been amazing in welcoming me into their fold. What I realized from taking their courses is that I can’t do it alone. Visual artists, we are used to working alone, but for filmmakers, it’s just too big,” she says.
While finishing her latest project, Thorneycroft relied on help from filmmaker Mike Maryniuk and animator Evin Collis with camera work and editing. The sound effects were created by Winnipeg singer-songwriter Christine Fellows.
Thorneycroft’s short film is a seven-and-a-half-minute production about a dysfunctional love story. It was included in her exhibition entitled Black Forest Sanatorium, which ran at the PLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts in September 2021. Now, people will get to see her film through the WFG members’ screening sessions.
“Because it was my first animation, I didn’t know what I was doing. It was a very intense time for me. The end product has gone to over 13 festivals, and I won a couple awards for the film. I couldn’t have done it without the people that helped me do it,” she says.
Like Thorneycroft, actor and filmmaker Chelsey Mark participated in many WFG workshops offered after he moved to Winnipeg from China. With the organization’s assistance, he became equipped to create short films such as Vengeance and The Callback. The latest earned Mark a spot in the Whistler Indigenous Fellowship, and he became a finalist in the Gimli Film Festival’s RBC Pitch Competition. The Callback is also featured in the members’ screenings.
“This film is (about) basically my life as an actor and the rabbithole that every actor goes through after doing an audition,” he says.
Mark says opportunities like these to share local films are crucial for exposure. After all, it’s hard for non-established filmmakers to share their projects with other people in theatres.
“Screenings are important locally, more so for filmmakers than the audience. It’s really exciting for emerging filmmakers like myself to see your film screened and enjoyed by other people. It’s a very rewarding experience. If the (Winnipeg) Film Group didn’t do this, most often than not, no one will see your work.” he says.
The member’s screenings are divided into three nights to ensure that each session has a consistent runtime of 83 to 87 minutes and that the selected films have a similar feel to each other.
For more information on the screenings’ lineups and schedules, visit winnipegfilmgroup.com.
Published in Volume 76, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 31, 2022)