So You Want to Be a Filmmaker?

I was lucky enough to see the two winning entries from the recently held Yukon 48 competition, in which filmmakers had exactly two days to shoot and edit a movie.

Gordy by Traoloch O Murchu is about a man living in the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse. Told with stark, snow-swept vistas and unflinching voiceovers, it rips the viewer in two directions: the images are beautiful, the story is horrific. The whole is compelling.

Moira Sauer’s Sauer Burning is a comedy telling of one woman (guess who) and her quest for romance in the darkness of January. Sauer’s visuals are often presented in ironic contrast with the narrator’s apparently delusional perspective — a comic technique she uses well.

The tonal gap between the films is vast, but the similarities should be noted.

They were produced quickly with small budgets and they both exude quality and professionalism. I didn’t think they would be as good as they are.

The history of filmmaking is one of democratic evolution. Hollywood (the state of mind) thrives on a culture of exclusivity.

“We make the movies; you watch them,” it tells us. “That is the natural order of things.”

The American independent film movement of the 1990s made me aware that the above-mentioned dictum is not inevitable. I was particularly inspired by the story of a hyperactive (semi-autistic?) kid who still lived with his mother — Quentin Tarantino.

With one slice of a razor blade Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs inspired a generation of filmmakers to pick up a camera and challenge the staid conventions of Hollywood.

Since the 1992 release of Dogs, filmmaking equipment has become more available, the expansion of the Internet has increased marketing and screening options (Facebook and YouTube, for example), and the VHS revolution of the 1980s ensured that every subsequent generation of auteurs could watch and re-watch movies until the grammar of filmmaking became second nature.

In other words, no one who wants to make a film has an excuse.

That Moira Sauer and Treoloch O Murchu were able to make flicks of such quality in 48 hours makes one wonder what they could do when less constrained.

Regardless, the Yukon filmmaking scene appears to be in good shape. The only thing it’s missing is your movie.

Peter Jickling is a Whitehorse playwright and the assistant editor of What’s Up Yukon

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