Get your cameras rolling and warm up your gear because the annual Yukon 48-Hour Filmmaking Challenge starts on Friday, January 12. It’s a yearly team-up between the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture in Dawson City and the Yukon Film Society in Whitehorse.

The event gives participants two days to complete a short film with a maximum length of five minutes on (almost) any subject and submit it by the Sunday deadline. The films are entered into a competition for the chance to win any or all of three prizes.

The number-one winning entry – which is decided by a jury – is to be be screened at the 2018 Dawson City International Short Film Festival and the 2018 Available Light Film Festival in Whitehorse.

The winners of the two Audience Awards are decided (by mob-justice) with Whitehorse and Dawson audiences voting on the outcome.

Dan Sokolowski, a producer and coordinator at the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture in Dawson City, said that although “hometown crowds” do sometimes vote along party lines, the numbers tend to balance out both in terms of talent and audience.

“Most years it’s a pretty even split between the two communities,” he said. So you get a fair shot wherever you’re based.

The screenings happen simultaneously in Dawson and Whitehorse on Thursday, January 18 at 8 p.m, giving participants a bit of Yukon exposure, win or lose.

“It gives filmmakers have a chance to get their ideas off the script and on screen. It’s a way to get your ideas out there,” Sokolowski said. “It’s always a really enjoyable screening.”

Some of his personal favourites from past screenings have included, “Hot Nuts,” which is based on life in Dawson, and a Canada 150 themed short about the Calgary bartender who invented the Caesar.

“I love the originality!” he said, noting that one of the big draws to the challenge is the spontaneous creativity that comes from last minute thinking.

“A lot of people start off like a painter with a blank canvas,” he said. “You can start with a blank screen and let the ideas flow from there.”

Sokolowski tells would-be participants not to feel intimidated by the project. “Dive in, don’t be afraid. Everybody has the same time limit.”

With easy file transfers facilitated by the internet, Sokolowski said that anyone can join the challenge from wherever they are in the Yukon, Canada or abroad.

“People from other communities are welcome. Anybody who wants do do it, really.”

All genres of film are accepted (with the should-be-obvious exception of anything pornographic) and Sokolowski has seen all kinds of submissions.

“We get animation, comedy, drama… it’s very open.”

Yukon Film Society Programs Coordinator Helen O’Connor said that she’s excited for her first 48-Hour Filmmaking Challenge. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the creativity,” she said. “The short deadlines really get the fire going. People really step up.

“It’s a great event for first time filmmakers. We have equipment available to rent, some really nice cameras, and Takashi (Simon-Sakurai, technical support at the Yukon Film Society) will be happy to help with tech support on the Sunday. The event is really there to support first time filmmakers. It can be a big boost to see your work on a big screen for the first time.”

O’Connor said that she encourages people to get out of their comfort zones and work with what they’ve got.

“Also, it would be really fun to have more submissions from youth in the communities,” she said. “The screening at the KDCC is a bit of a party. It’s a lot of fun. It gives people a chance to network and get out of the house in the wintertime. There’s a bar and snacks, too,

“It’s a nice, accepting venue for filmmakers.”

All material used in the short-films has to belong to the filmmakers or be cleared for use and copyright. Participants can plan filming locations, scripts and casting in advance, however all filming and editing must be done within the allotted timeframe.

Participants are given 48 hours from the time of registration to submit the final product via DV tape or Quicktime file on Sunday, January 14.

Submissions can be made by groups or individuals and participation is open to people of all ages. Footage needs to be shot during the 48 hour time period with a 20 per cent limit on archival material. Participants are given a surprise prop at the registration deadline and that prop has to be incorporated in the film.

People who need to borrow equipment should book it ahead of time, because of a limited number of rentals available. Some limited tech help is also available through KIAC in Dawson and the Yukon Film Society in Whitehorse.

The competition starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, January 12.

The completed films will be shown simultaneously in Whitehorse and Dawson City on January 18 at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.) at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and the KIAC Ballroom in Whitehorse and Dawson City respectively.

For more information visit DawsonFilmFest.com or enquire at the Yukon Film Society in Whitehorse or at the KIAC in Dawson City before January 12.