Four Surrey filmmakers are gearing up to compete in an annual short film contest.
Ellie Harvie, Tarun Keram, Shelby Wilson and Alayna Silverberg are among 30 finalists whose projects were chosen from across B.C. and Alberta in an annual Telus-sponsored Storyhive contest and each team has received $10,000 to produce a film. Once completed, the shorts will be open to public voting in order to win the grand prize of customized career training and a scholarship to attend the Banff World Media Festival next June.
The rules for this year’s edition specified that all directors must be female. Films must also be no shorter than three minutes, no longer than 10, and fall under the categories of either comedy, drama, documentary or experimental.
Silverberg said her drama Static Alex, starring Taylor Russell (Falling Skies, Strange Empire) as a high school student who gains superpowers involving static electricity, was inspired in part from her own experience as a student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School.
“It’s about the troubles of being a teenager and then having this added annoyance,” said Silverberg, who enrolled at Capilano University’s Acting for Film program after graduating in 2003. “It’s about her embracing her weirdness and in the end discovering something really great about herself. This is my message to teenage women, teenage men, and I took a lot from my own personal life. It touches a little bit on bullying and, I won’t say how, but she is saved from some bullies in a really cool way.”
Silverberg, whose short comedy The Blower won an Award of Merit at last year’s Canada Shorts Film Festival, said she hopes to shoot the project in Surrey.
“I grew up in Surrey and I really want to bring production back there. Hopefully we can connect with a school and I am trying to do that right now. I have some friends who are teachers and hopefully we can get it arranged through the school board.”
The writer/director said she and her team are grateful for the opportunity to create their own film.
“Storyhive is all about supporting filmmakers. It’s not really about making a film, it’s more about helping to create filmmakers and helping to build your career.”
Harvie said she also hopes to shoot her own short film, Scattered, in Surrey although for more practical reasons.
“(The film) is about two women scattering their friend’s ashes and B.C. is full of beautiful scenery but it is pretty prohibitive as far as permits and costs go for public parks, and so I am looking for private property and that will be much easier on our budget,” said Harvie. “Ten thousand dollars goes very fast.”
She said she hopes to find a suitably scenic spot for scattering remains in the South Surrey area.
“I lived there for 13 years but I just moved from South Surrey to Coquitlam to be closer to my husband’s business and my son’s hockey, but I want to go back because I’ve a couple of spots in mind and I only know South Surrey.”
Harvie is making her directorial debut with the comedy written by Audrey Martin but is far from starting out on her film career. The 51-year-old has been acting in front of the camera for decades and her film credits include such high-profile roles as Morticia in The New Addams Family and Mrs.Bubkes in the ongoing YTV series Some Assembly Required.
“I’ve been on set tons and I pretty much know what it going on but I just need to know I can do the job,” said Harvie. “There are facets of it I had no inkling of and am now understanding. I’m at the age where the roles are so small now, they don’t even have names, just characters with names like ‘Lawyer.’ I just want to continue to be creative and productive and so I think moving into directing would probably be a good thing for me, so here I go!”
Wilson, a graduate of École Panorama Ridge, is the writer and director of Drift Softly, a drama about the tale of two strangers who connect at a high school reunion party. Keram, whose last short film Son of Surrey focussed on the city’s gang violence problem, is the executive producer of the supernatural drama The Man in the Rabbit Mask.
All completed projects will be distributed online and via TELUS Optik TV On Demand. The voting period is scheduled to begin Feb. 6, 2017. Visit storyhive.com for more information.