Lines of Perspective (for those who don’t have the time)

•November 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Published Nov. 27th, 2013

Lines of Perspective

Perspective – or “the concept of perspective” as I have begun to refer to it lately – has been a beacon for many experimental filmmaker and their cinematic investigations.

It may be the fundamental ability of motion film and video in particular to capture space, multiplied through motion and divided by time. Or it may be that the fundamental rule of perspective becomes so shockingly malleable when implemented into one’s artistic practice.

The films of Takashi Ito – so abrasive and alienating yet beautiful – are commonly experiments with changing of perspective. As his camera moves through space we can see a manipulation of perspective. One may guess that his inspiration came in part from his teacher Toshio Matsumoto whose film ĀTMAN (1975) is also a precise survey of perspective.

Then you have Al Jarnow, the New York-based filmmaker whose animated investigations of shapes and space somehow bridged the gap between the avant-garde and Sesame Street. His masterpiece, Celestial Navigations is a portrait of celestial perspective in which Jarnow tracks the sunlight as it migrates across his studio wall for the course of an entire year.

And who can forget Len Lye’s Free Radicals, the film in which Lye scratch animates abstract lines as if they were slowly rotating in perspective.

Myself and Rhayne Vermette recently curated a program for Open City Cinema that compiles these classic examples of perspective in experimental cinema. With it we did an open call, and we found that perspective is still going strong in underground cinema.

I saw Naren Wilks’ Bridge Study at The 8 Fest in 2012 and found it utterly hypnotizing in it’s precision, much like Takashi Ito’s films. Also reminiscent of Ito, is Maxime Corbeil-Perron’s illuminated opus Ghostly in which the filmmaker experiments with open-exposure photography, light painting, and other techniques favourited by Ito.

In contrast, Alexander Stewart’s Iceland Spar is an investigation of cubic movement and is a great contemporary companion film to Al Jarnow’s Cubits.

One artist that fit perfectly into our program was Jane Cassidy, who has a number of experiments with perspective in projection. Her film Square Ball was perhaps the only film in the program to investigate the “vanishing point”.

Local filmmaker Ryan Hill also fit snug into the program with his humorous exposé called The Perspective Myth.

Our only regret was not quite being able to fit in Ben Balcom’s wonderful piece Reginald, but you can always check it out here!

Below you can find the (nearly) full program from Lines of Perspective, for those of you that didn’t have the time!


-Aaron Zeghers


Open City Cinema presents
Nov. 26th at RAW Gallery, 7PM

curated by Aaron Zeghers and Rhayne Vermette


Notes on a Triangle – René Jodoin

Cubits – Al Jarnow

Drill – Takashi lto

Manipulating the T-Bar – Bruce Naumann

Free Radicals – Len Lye

Cellestial Navigations – Al Jarnow


The Myth of Perspective – Ryan Hill

Lines Postfixal – Christine Lucy Latimer

Iceland Spar – Alexander Stewart

Regina 25 – Gerald Saul

Square Ball – Jane Cassidy

Ghostly – Maxime Corbeil-Perron

Underpass – Wendy Morgan

Bridge Study – Naren Wilks (ON SUPER 8!!)

The Voice of God – Bernd Lützeler (trailer)

Winnipeg Film Group circa ??

•August 17, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Posted August 17, 2013
by Aaron Zeghers

Winnipeg Film Group retro tshirt

Cineflyer is seeking more information regarding the above Winnipeg Film Group t-shirt design! Any information leading to the successful apprehension of the parties involved in creating and disseminating said shirts could result in a celluloid prize!

Please contact if you have any information regarding the whereabouts of the hooligans that designed this fabulous spectacle from the Winnipeg Film Group glory days.

John Paizs’ Vow of Silence

•August 13, 2013 • 2 Comments

Published August 14, 2013
by Aaron Zeghers

I was first alerted to this rash decision of Paizs’ – this decision to embark on a multimedia vow of silence – by fellow Winnipeg filmmaker Mike Maryniuk.

And where more fitting for this story to begin than inside Winnipeg’s infamous Wagon Wheel Restaurant.

The Wagon Wheel, famous for it’s home-cooked Club Sandwich and old fashioned sentiments, was the subject of Maryniuk’s latest in a spree of experimental documentaries. And there he was one afternoon when who but John Paizs walked through the front door. The prodigal son had come home for the traditional feast.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Maryniuk approached John, re-introducing himself.

The two had a pseudo-introduction years before, when Maryniuk programmed John’s Highway 61 Revisited for a screening titled Craptastic: Juvenile Craptastic Gems. Needless to say, Paizs was none too happy to find his early film under this banner of shame. But Maryniuk quickly explained that he believed Highway 61 Revisited to be “the cornerstone of a fun and raw cinema in Manitoba”, and the day went on without blows.

Their second meeting was kinder. Maryniuk voiced his respect for Paizs as an early film pioneer in Winnipeg and a great Canadian filmmaker.  He went on to explain that he himself was a filmmaker and that his latest film topic was the restaurant that they sat in. “Would you be interested in doing a quick interview?” asked Maryniuk.

Paizs hesitantly agreed and excused himself to order his food. But when Maryniuk returned moments later with a camera and sat down across from Paizs in that booth, Paizs immediately seized up. Paizs said he couldn’t appear on camera or film at all, and that he didn’t realize that it was that sort of interview. Maryniuk empathized with him and suggested they just audio record their conversation. Paizs once again said, “No, no, no, no…” saying that he also couldn’t be audio recorded.

Paizs said he didn’t do that kind of thing anymore and Maryniuk admitted defeat.

^ A still from Paizs’ Crime Wave.

Another local filmmaker Ryan McKenna made an attempt to lure Paizs into the public eye for his documentary on Paizs’ early bulldog of a producer, Greg Kylmkiw.

The completed film Survival Lessons: The Greg Klymkiw Story really is a fabulous spectacle of personality. It’s a must-see for any Canadian film buff and it pays a very well-deserved homage to Kylmkiw, a pillar of the Winnipeg and Canadian film community.

But while watching this great film I had to wonder, “What would John say?”

Lucky for me, a like-minded film goer posed my question to Ryan McKenna and Greg Klymkiw after a screening of Survival Lessons at the Winnipeg Cinematheque. McKenna explained that he did contact Paizs, and in turn Paizs informed him that he no longer did audio or video interviews.

“Jeez, Ryan, so sorry, but I have to respectfully, and regretfully, decline. I’d love to help you out, help out a fellow filmmaker, especially one just starting out, but giving recorded interviews is just not something I feel comfortable doing, or like doing. In fact in the last year, I turned down three interviews, one for a podcast on a film of mine, one for another Winnipeger who wanted to do a doc on my filmmaking in Winnipeg, and one for a certain freelance journalist. So, that gives you an idea of where I’m coming from. Sorry again, Ryan. Wish I could help. But good luck with it!!” wrote Paizs.

McKenna too admitted defeat… kind of.

“John did participate in a way,” says McKenna. “He gave me permission to use clips from ‘Springtime in Greenland’, but none of his other films. He felt the digital transfers were not good enough (John is an extreme perfectionist). I ended up convincing John to let me use clips of Greg in “Oak, Ivy…” and “The International Style”, but the deal was that the clips could not be used with any reference to Paizs or his films,” said McKenna via email.

Twists Crime Wave Paizs
^ A still from Paizs’ Crime Wave.

The good news for those of us that still have questions for eternally Silent Nick, is that he still does written interviews, at least for Jonathan Ball who is the author of an upcoming critical monograph titled John Paizs’ Crime Wave.

“Paizs has been plenty chatty to me and definitely helpful with the book,” says Ball via email.

“About half of the book analyzes Crime Wave. The other half situates Paizs and his 1980s films within cultural and theoretical contexts,” says Ball, who pits Paizs as the first post-modern Canadian filmmaker and the founder of prairie post-modernism. The book – to be released in 2014 – focuses on Paizs’ first feature film because it “stands as the apex of Paizs’ artistic development, and Paizs’ last effort, to date, as a writer-director,” says Ball.

John Paizs Crime Wave

Much is also said about Paizs’ Crime Wave in the very revealing hour-long documentary On Screen! Crime Wave, part of the On Screen! TV series that chronicles early Canadian cinematic success.

In the film Paizs is interviewed in detail about Crime Wave. While his difficulty in writing Crime Wave is evident in the content of the film itself, it becomes clear in On Screen! Crime Wave that the release and distribution of the film took a great toll on Paizs’ gusto as an early underground filmmaker.

One specific devastating moment was the film’s premiere at TIFF in 1985.

“I was working feverishly to get the film done in time and I actually picked up the final reel of the film on the way to the airport,” says Paizs in the made-for-tv doc, On Screen! Crimewave. “I was sitting at the airport with the final reel fresh off the printer. I remember I felt very depressed, thinking that its out of my hands now.”

Once Paizs arrived at the festival his sense of excitement returned and he eagerly if not nervously looked forward to the screening.

“It seemed to be going great. There was a lot of laughing at all the right spots and it was loud. I was standing at the back and my heart was just racing and I was really electrified by the whole thing as it was unfolding,” says Paizs in the doc.

Crime Wave Paizs poster^ The Crime Wave poster.

“There was a lot of anticipation. The theater was full. It was an evening screening,” says author Geoff Pevere in On Screen! Crime Wave. “Then, there was a massive malfunction which caused a breakdown in the projection of the film.”

“I think it was 10 or 15 minutes later that finally the film was up and running again,” says Paizs. “But the momentum was lost.”

“It also happened to occur right at the point where the movie’s tone turned. I think a lot of people thought they were watching a different film. They weren’t able to experience, this change in tone kind of organically,” said Pevere, author of Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey.

“When the screening finished it didn’t matter to me for some reason how well the first part of the film was working,” says Paizs in the doc. “I’d hit rock bottom again. It was like a rollar coaster. I went back to my hotel room and went straight to bed. I woke up the next morning feeling kind of numb and I was wandering through the lobby of the hotel when someone came up to me and they said, ‘Have you seen the review of Crimewave in the Globe and Mail?”

^ The Globe and Mail review of Crime Wave from TIFF 1985 by Jay Scott.

“They thrust it in my hand and it began with something like, ‘If the Great Canadian Comedy ever gets made that I may be the person to do it.’ Suddenly I was feeling pretty good again about it. The review did go on to say that the last part of the film was just a lot slower in pace and there weren’t as many gags in it and I wasn’t following my formula…”

“…and so,” says Paizs, “I decided that I would re-write and re-shoot the last quarter of the film.”

“He was going to actually take his film out of circulation, and completely re-shoot like the last third of the picture,” says Paizs’ friend and producer Greg Klymkiw. “A very brave move for someone that had no money.”

In the original ending Steven Penny narrowly escapes rape, torture and death when the deranged Dr. Jolly suddenly collapses dead for no apparent reason. In the dark night, Steven runs from the crime scene and is hit by the truck-driving dog Polo, seen earlier in the film. By a stroke of luck Steven is saved by some backwater hillbillies who teach him to follow his dreams, giving him the strength to complete his colour crime script. The pacing of this original ending is far slower, darker, and creepier than the revised ending, with an added tack-on summary care of Eva Kovaks that reverts to the film’s original style.

^ A still from the original ending of Crime Wave.

Paizs sold his car and returned to the drawing board to create an entirely new ending – the ending that Canadian cult film fans would come to cherish. In this ending, Stephen Penny is struck with a falling light standard and experiences a spiritual transformation of sorts that kick-starts his creative drive, shooting him into fame and fortune as the greatest colour crime filmmaker to ever live! In the final moments of the film and his life, Steven Penny a la Citizen Cane types his final words: “I really did mean to be good.”

“I think he was deathly afraid of being taken as a pretentious artisté who’s speaking above an audience’s head,” says University of Manitoba film professor George Toles in On Screen! Crime Wave.

^ A still from Paizs’ Crime Wave.

Upon re-completion of his underground blockbuster, Paizs acquired a Canadian distributor for the film and set his hopes high for its release. But the release never came.

“The distributor wasn’t coming up with a lot of plans to distribute it. There’s a history in Canadian distribution, I think of individual films that are not handled well,” says long-time Winnipeg Cinematheque Head Programmer, Dave Barber.

“I’d always imagined that this would play at a midnight movie, kind of a cult movie and that this needed special handling. It needed to be directed at the same audiences that were going to see, for example, Lynch’s Eraserhead. That wasn’t part of the market that they had experience,” says Paizs.

When Paizs looked closer at his distribution contract, he saw that his payment was to come after the film’s theatrical premiere. He found no additional clause saying that the distributor was bound to release it theatrically. So instead of paying Paizs the money he rightly deserved, the distribution company abused this loophole, refusing to release the film theatrically and refusing to pay Paizs.

“John went into considerable debt to make this picture and he was banking on this money that wasn’t being paid to him. And it wasn’t being paid to him in a legal fashion,” said Greg Klymkiw in On Screen! Crime Wave.

^ A still from Paizs’ Crime Wave.

The distributor shelved the film without giving it a single theatrical screening. Crime Wave eventually played locally for four days – an attempt by an “arthouse theater in Winnipeg” to help the financially-strapped Paizs, who was working as a door-to-door salesman to make ends meet.

Three years later the lackluster distribution company handling Crime Wave finally gave the film a ill-timed and ill-marketed VHS release. The film was retitled to The Big Crime Wave to avoid confusion with Sam Rami’s Crimewave, released the same year. The Big Crime Wave was then released on VHS mere months before the distribution company went out of business all together.

“To this day it’s barely played outside of festivals or film society screenings,” says a disgruntled Paizs.

^ The VHS cover of Crime Wave aka. The Big Crime Wave!

It would be our famed national broadcaster that would step in to save Crime Wave from complete obscurity and assist in building its cult audience.

Crime Wave in it’s own way on the CBC in Canada eventually started to reach people that it never would have reached before. And this sort of sparked an interest in the picture,” says Klymkiw in On Screen! Crime Wave.

“There’s a lot of Canadian films that are kitchen sink drama style of film and this film just blasted out of nowhere. So a lot of other filmmakers in other cities noticed this film,” says Dave Barber, Winnipeg Cinematheque programmer.

“It was I think the first time I had seen a Canadian film that I loved,” says Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald. “And it was kind of a remarkable moment for me cause I was just starting to make films and I’d never seen a film like Crime Wave before. Such a remarkable feat of filmmaking I think.”

John Paizs Crime Wave Alternate End^ Paizs in a familiar looking pose from the original ending of Crime Wave.

Paizs would continue on as a director for hire and eventually film instructor, but Crime Wave would mark the end of Paizs’ short-lived prairie post-modernist auteurship.

“I decided I wanted to pull the plug on what I was doing. I could have kept going — I had more ideas for silent man films, I even had a kind of sequel to Crime Wave, but I stopped myself. It wasn’t that I was creatively dried up or couldn’t get money, it was because after nobody would play Crime Wave, even as a midnight movie, I figured I wasn’t going to get where I wanted to go by doing the silent man thing. Festivals may like it, but that’s where it was going to end. I was very ambitious at the time, and I wanted my films to play at the local theatre. I made some choices that probably set the occasionally bumpy road of my career, post-Crime Wave . . . but I didn’t see that I had a choice. And I still don’t think I had one,” said Paizs in a 2007 Canuxploitation interview.

While some may assume that Paizs’ decision to “pull the plug” was born purely from the commercial failure of Crime Wave, Jonathan Ball expresses a different opinion in his upcoming book John Paizs’ Crime Wave.

“We might view this form of ‘early retirement’ from personal filmmaking as not just a commercial but an artistic choice. Certainly, it seems in keeping with Paizs’ decision to reshoot the ending of Crime Wave rather than let it proceed on the festival circuit with a flawed ending despite positive reviews and reactions. This line of thinking refuses to cast Paizs in the victim’s role — sufferer of bad luck and bad business deals — and lets us view his 1980s work as the culmination of a significant oeuvre rather than an arbitrary end-stop to career cut short,” writes Ball via email.

John Paizs Crime Wave^ A still from Paizs’ Crime Wave.

Perhaps this is true and Paizs’ multimedia vow of silence is born of the same ilk as his decision to leave behind his silent protagonist nearly 30 years ago. Perhaps it is an artistic choice, not just an arbitrary decision caused by a shyness or reluctance to speak on the record.

“He’s the silent man in his films, so it kind of works,” says Ryan McKenna, director of Survival Lessons: The Greg Klymkiw Story.

“I think John may merely feel that it’s a case of put up or shut up,” says friend and cohort George Toles via email. “Why talk about things when you’re not in the midst of doing them?”

And considering how much Paizs has already said about Crime Wave “on the record”, it comes as no surprise that he has put an end to these constantly re-surfacing questions.

With his vow of silence in full effect, the John Paizs mega fans can only guess what his final words might be:

“I really did mean to be good.”

-Aaron Zeghers

For additional reading on John Paizs and his films please check out these great articles, interviews and resources:

Interview: John Paizs by Canuxploitation : 2007

2011 Podcast on Crime Wave by “The Projection Booth” with guests Eva Kovaks, Neil Lawrie and Greg Klymkiw

Then From The North…
Or, my weekend with John Paizs By Skizz Cyzyk from Cashiers du Cinemart

Tragically Obscure: John Paizs’ (The Big) Crimewave by Skizz Cyzyk for Cashiers du Cinemart

Interview with John Paizs by Robert Price

Homage to John Paizs’ Crime Wave by Andy Jones

An Interview with John Paizs by Thomas Scalzo (June 20, 2010) for

Crime Wave Fan Site! created by Frank Norman

Crime Wave (John Paizs 1987) on House of Self-Indulgence Blog

John Paizs’ Crime Wave on RHIZOMICON

CBC video from 1987 on Crime Wave

The Film Prayer

•July 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

The Film Prayer

“I AM FILM, not steel; O user, have mercy. I front dangers whenever I travel the whirling wheels of mechanism. Over the sprocket wheels, held tight by the idlers, I am forced by the motor’s magic might. If a careless hand misthreads me, I have no alternative but to go to my death. If the pull on the takeup reel is too violent, I am torn to shreds. If dirt collects in the aperture, my film of beauty is streaked and marred, and I must face my beholders – a thing ashamed and bespoiled. Please, if I break, NEVER fasten me with pins which lacerate the fingers of my inspectors.

I travel many miles in tin cans. I am tossed on heavy trucks, sideways and upside down. Please see that my first few coils do no slip loose in my shipping case and become bruised and wounded beyond power to heal. Put me in my own can.* Scrape off all old labels on my shipping case so I will not go astray.

Speed me on my way. Others are waiting to see me. THE NEXT DAY IS THE LAST DAY I SHOULD BE HELD. Have a heart for the other fellow who is waiting, and for my owner who will get the blame.

I am a delicate ribbon of film – misuse me and I disappoint thousands; cherish me, and I delight and instruct the world.”

Reprinted by Crawley Films Limited
Ottawa – Toronto – Montreal

*Thanks to John Porter for solving the riddle of the missing text!

núna (now) presents Icelandic Films

•July 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

On July 25 and 26, núna (now) will be co-presenting two film programs, combining the work of local Icelandic filmmakers and native Icelandic filmmakers.

On Friday, July 26th is Fins n’ Flora, an hour-long program of four short films hailing from Manitoba and Iceland, co-presented by the Gimli Film Fest.

The program begins at 8 P.M. on Friday, July 26 at the Aspire Theatre, 76 – 2nd Avenue, Gimli, Manitoba. Films include May We Grow by Erika MacPherson, Thompson and <a href="; title="Fish Finder 3000 by Mike Maryniuk“>Fish Finder by Mike Maryniuk, and The North Atlantic Miracle by Örn Marinó Arnarson, Þorkell S. Harðarson and Arnar Þórisson.

All the filmmakers will be in attendance, and there will be a Q & A along with an opportunity to chat with them at the informal reception after the show.

The evening before, Thurs. July 25th, núna (now) and the Winnipeg Film Group are presenting Living Dead: HAM, a documentary about an astounding heavy metal outfit from Reykjavík, Iceland, perpetually on the rim of international stardom but always tipping back into the volcano.

The film includes original footage from throughout the group’s active years, the late 1980s and early 90s, and goes on to chronicle the rebirth of HAM in 2002 and it’s inevitable second death three days later.

“It seems evident that I am the world’s greatest living musician.”
– Sigurjón Kjartansson – singer and band-leader

Living Dead: HAM screens at the Winnipeg Film Group Studio, 3rd Floor, 100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg, on Thursday, July 25 at 8:00 P.M. Filmmakers will be in attendance, ready to answer questions!

Heidi Phillips vs. Scott Fitzpatrick

•April 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Published April 17th, 2013

Two of Winnipeg’s heavy-weight filmmakers go toe to toe tomorrow night (Apr. 18), in what will undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated Winnipeg underground film events of 2013!

Heidi Phillips, Winnipeg’s avant-garde queen, will be fighting to retain her metaphorical film nerd championship belt from the rip, roaring, direct animation up-and-comer, Scott Fitzpatrick.

In Heidi’s corner is collaborator and sound-art strong-arm Michel Germain. Don’t let him fool ya folks! Those nimble fingers can create some of the strangest and technically innovate sounds in the Winnipeg sound art scene.

Read more below!

And see you at the show!


Originally published by the Winnipeg Film Group’s Cinematheque, Spring 2013.


Heidi Phillips, Michel Germain and Scott Fitzpatrick

Thursday, April 18 at 8:00 PM
Venue: Negative Space, 253 Princess Street

In a collaboration between Heidi Phillips and Michel Germain Forsaken alters images rescued from Klass “A” Auctions before the family run auction house burnt down in Saskatoon. Deep Sea Adventure, Mission 22 Orbits and My Next Door Neighbour are just some of the amazing titles amongst the 40 films. Phillips alters images by using various techniques including by-packing positive and negative to reprint using a contact printer (from Phil Hoffman’s film farm), a method gleaned from Owen Land, a well known avant-garde American filmmaker. Muscle men, machinery, and building climbers become foreboding figures in this darkly apocalyptic film performance. The optical sound reader from the film projectors is adopted to read the image as sound. Germain will manipulate these tones to create a live soundscape for the work.

Shade and Wingdings: The Musical!
Two expanded cinema works by Scott Fitzpatrick, both handmade on 16mm film using experimental, non-photographic animation techniques. Basic hues keep time and improvise a choreographed dance; unexpected conversions rates relate font-size to audible tone (in search of a tune) interested in colour and sound respectively, Shade and Wingdings: The Musical! are exercises in total cinematic reduction.

Heidi Phillips is an experimental filmmaker and installation artist from Manitoba with an affinity for the tactility of the filmic medium. Phillips’ often uses thrifted super 8 films, contact printing and darkroom experiments to push her work into new places. Phillips’ old school process frequently becomes part of the content, as grainy scratched films are merged with images lifted from found footage to create mesmerizing, transcendent works.

Michel Germain is a musician, audio artist and technician based in Winnipeg. His work ranges from improvised, electronic music and rock n’ roll performance to sound design for film, video and installation projects.

Scott Fitzpatrick is a visual artist whose film and video work has screened at underground festivals and marginalized venues worldwide. He studied film theory and production at the University of Manitoba, and began conducting lo-fi moving image experiments in 2010. Though primarily a filmmaker; he is also invested in photography, re-photography and collage.

“Land, ho!” at Gimli Film Fest

•April 16, 2013 • 2 Comments

gimli screen

Good news for local filmmakers wanting to be a part of Gimli Film Festival 2013!

The Gimli Film Fest and their partners the NSI announced on April 15th that they would open a “special call” for local films, with an all online submission process that is open until May 15th. The films will be eligible for a special one-hour short film program of “exclusively Manitoba films completed within the last year”, in addition to the other 6 hours of shorts programs that will be culled from the NSI’s Online Film Fest.

The festival’s director said this added “special call” was a response to the recent reaction by local filmmakers to news that Gimli would be closing their short film open call for the first time in the festival’s history.

“It’s an attempt to acknowledge the feedback we’ve received,” said Gimli Film Fest director Cheryl Ashton in a phone interview with Cineflyer.

Ashton said it was money matters that forced the festival to choose between dropping their short film programs entirely, and partnering with an outside organization that could handle the task of programming 7 hours of short films.

“We’re doing this out of necessity, not out of want,” said Ashton, the festival’s sole year-round employee. “This is a year that we’ve kind of had to adjust, and at the same time there is no new funding being announced anywhere. It’s tough times out there. Just hanging onto the sponsors we have had has been tough enough.”

Ashton said it has been challenging to raise money for the festival because it’s currently not eligible for public sector funding because of the cash prizes offered by the festival. Ashton said the organization is hoping to make changes to their structure so they may become eligible for arts council funding in the future.

But for local filmmakers who felt their participation in the festival was seemingly ousted, this announcement is a sweet victory and proof that local stink-raising can pay off.

See more about this ordeal in this previous Cineflyer post.

And if you’re a local filmmaker, why not submit to Gimli Film Fest!

Originally published on the NSI website, on April 15, 2013

Special call for Manitoba-only short film submissions for the Gimli Film Festival 2013


Manitoba short filmmakers – you could win up to $2,000 in prize money at the Gimli Film Festival which takes place from July 24 to 28. Submit your film – which must have been completed after January 1, 2012 – through the National Screen Institute. Submissions are being accepted until Wednesday May 15, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Get the submission form and details.

NSI has partnered with the Gimli Film Festival to deliver seven hours of shorts programming for their annual festival in Gimli, Manitoba, 90 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Six hours of programming, including comedy, drama, animation, documentary and more will be selected from the NSI Online Short Film Festival archives.

The seventh hour will be exclusively Manitoba films made up of submissions received as part of this call.

Entries cannot be longer than 30 minutes – the shorter the better. Drama, comedy, animation, documentary, sci-fi, horror, music video and experimental films are all eligible.

Films must be produced by Manitoba filmmakers, completed after January 1, 2012 and have not previously been programmed at the Gimli Film Festival. There is no submission fee. Your screener must be available online for the jury to review. DVD submissions will not be accepted.

Two $1,000 audience awards are up for grabs – the Shaw Media Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Short Film, and Shaw Media Award for Best Manitoba Short Film.
About the Gimli Film Festival

The Gimli Film Festival, now in its 13th year, showcases features, documentaries and shorts from Manitoba, Canada and the world, that promise informative, fascinating and riveting entertainment. In addition to the indoor venues, the popular, free on-the-beach screenings will be back for 2013. Gimli, Manitoba is located about 90 kilometres north of Winnipeg, on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg.
About the National Screen Institute

The National Screen Institute is renowned for having given many emerging filmmakers, television writers and producers their first breaks, and for providing training and production support through courses like NSI Totally Television, NSI Drama Prize, NSI New Voices, NSI Features First, NSI Lifestyle Series Producer, Movie Central Script to Screen and NSI Aboriginal Documentary. NSI also offers national exposure through the NSI Online Short Film Festival and provides vast resources and support to those in the film, television, and digital media industry at

Originally published on the NSI website, on April 12, 2013

NSI partners with Gimli Film Festival

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is proud to announce its new partnership with the Gimli Film Festival.

NSI is programming seven themed hours of short films for the Gimli fest, which takes place from July 24 to 28, selected from the NSI Online Short Film Festival archives. Comedies, documentaries, drama, animation and more will be presented.

One of the programs will contain exclusively Manitoba films completed within the last year, and NSI is opening a special call for submissions, starting Monday April 15. Details will be available on the NSI website at that time.

“We are very excited to be working with NSI on this year’s festival,” said Gimli Film Festival director Cheryl Ashton. “Their extensive archive from the NSI Online Short Film Festival provides a wide range of films from across Canada, and we also want to give Manitoba filmmakers the opportunity to get their latest and greatest projects on the Gimli big screen.”

A jury will select the Manitoba films chosen for the Gimli Film Festival.

Two $1,000 audience awards are up for grabs – the Shaw Media Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Short Film, and Shaw Media Award for Best Manitoba Short Film.

“Although NSI is a national organization, it’s very important to us to support regional events in our home province,” said NSI CEO John Gill. “NSI has been attending and participating in the Gimli Film Festival for years and it’s great to see it grow in popularity. This new endeavour is a wonderful chance for us to work with them and extend a specific invitation to Manitoba filmmakers to submit their shorts.”
About the Gimli Film Festival

The Gimli Film Festival, now in its 13th year, showcases features, documentaries and shorts from Manitoba, Canada and the world, that promise informative, fascinating and riveting entertainment. In addition to the indoor venues, the popular, free on-the-beach screenings will be back for 2013. Gimli, Manitoba is located about 90 kilometres north of Winnipeg, on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg.
About the National Screen Institute

The National Screen Institute is renowned for having given many emerging filmmakers, television writers and producers their first breaks, and for providing training and production support through courses like NSI Totally Television, NSI Drama Prize, NSI New Voices, NSI Features First, NSI Lifestyle Series Producer, Movie Central Script to Screen and NSI Aboriginal Documentary. NSI also offers national exposure through the NSI Online Short Film Festival and provides vast resources and support to those in the film, television, and digital media industry at

Changes at Gimli Film Fest

•April 4, 2013 • 1 Comment

April 4, 2013

**Addendum, April 15, 2013 : As a reaction to a filmmaker outcry regarding the issues discussed in the article below, the Gimli Film Fest and the NSI have opened up a “special call” for local films. For more on this announcement, please see this Cineflyer article.

Interested Manitoban filmmakers can submit their films on NSI’s website before May 15th, with the option to also submit to NSI’s Online Film Fest, or not.


For the first time in it’s history, Gimli Film Fest will be closing it’s short film open call.

The festival has announced on their website that the National Screen Institute will instead be programming the short film component of their festival, culling exclusively from the films already available on NSI’s Online Short Film Festival.

This means that local filmmakers are blocked out of the festival, unless they successfully submit their films to NSI’s Online Film Festival. Sadly, the deadline for local filmmakers to do so has already expired for the 2013 festival.

This presents a number of problems for local filmmakers who don’t want their films online, added to the fact that neither Gimli Film Fest nor NSI pay filmmakers for the exhibition of their art. Also a source of contention is the fact that Gimli’s new head programmer (in 2012) is Joy Loewen, the former NSI Drama Prize program manager.

Many local filmmakers are also rightly worried that NSI’s Online Film Fest consists mainly of narrative-centric films that are mostly over two years old. I would bet that NSI will be hard-up to find a Manitoban film in their roster that hasn’t already screened at Gimli in previous years.

In the past, Gimli has been the best Manitoban film festival for local filmmakers of ANY genre to get a screening. It was a really fantastic variety, lovingly assembled by programmer Matthew Etches.

Gimli was – in fact – the festival that I first witnessed my own work upon the screen, and was a great stepping stone for many local emerging filmmakers. But in recent years, I have been nervously witnessing a festival steadily sloping towards a family-friendly, politically correct, festival for vacationing cottagers.

And, given the festival’s location, perhaps this is not a bad choice after all. But for filmmakers and film buffs in Manitoba, it certainly leaves a lingering thirst that Blue Hawii and Jaws 2 just can’t quite quench.

Local filmmaker Stéphane Oystryk’s said this about the recent changes to the short film programming:

“It seems to me that short film programs are the heart and soul of film festivals. They’re an opportunity to showcase up and coming talent as well as give a concise glimpse of where cinema might be headed in the future and what kinds of ideas are floating around out there. When a festival refuses to program their own short film programs and instead relies on another festival’s selections, they forfeit the chance to really define themselves as a festival and offer their audience something special and unique. Shorts are where all the fun is. At least in my opinion.”

“This turn by the Gimli Film Festival SMACKS of laziness,” said another Winnipeg filmmaker, Damien Ferland. “To rely on another organization to provide preselected films shows the indifference of the programmers. The diverse regional, national and international short film programming was something that worked well. There is a lot of potential that the Gimli Film Festival has but it’s sometimes plagued with some very bad decision making.”

There has been little reaction from the Gimli Film Festival over criticism of their recent changes, although they did remove the portion of their website that explained their engagement with NSI. I personally wrote Gimli chair and founder, Conservative Senator Janis Johnson, who replied “Thank you for your email re the GFF short film programming changes. You have made some good points but times change and with it film festivals.”

Johnson also recommended I contact Cheryl Ashton, the festival’s director, from whom I received no response.

Local filmmaker Shelaugh Carter won best Manitoba Short Film at the Gimli Film Fest in 2011 with her film One Night. She was a fan of the festival’s past short film programming, and wonders if the changes are a sign of budget constraints.

“[I] loved how they programmed before ( regardless if my films were chosen!!) I saw very creative films from International filmmakers – a wide range in approach ….. curating thru one festival to get to another seems to be happening across Canada…. I’m wondering if it is non profit choice re: tightening budgets and trying to survive,” she wrote via email.

-Aaron Zeghers

How to Apply for Film Funding in Manitoba

•February 9, 2013 • 5 Comments

February 9th, 2013
by Aaron Zeghers

You want to make a film, I get it. So do I. But what now?

Getting a film funded can be tough, especially if you are early in your career. It’s important that you make small, affordable filmmaking attempts yourself, before applying for most grants. And perhaps even more important is knowing the history of your art form – cinema! – and where your work fits into this milieu.

Most Manitoban filmmakers will need an history of exhibition to qualify for grants from the Manitoba Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and I believe the Winnipeg Arts Council grant has this provision as well. Basically, if you haven’t made a film and screened it somewhere (preferably a legit festival or curated screening), you’re going back to the story board. This is proof that distribution is key to your practice as a filmmaker, as troublemaker Clint Enns tackles for Cineflyer HERE!

However the Winnipeg Film Group does have a First Film Fund, that virtually any member can apply for.

There are also a number of alternative or corporate funding sources, like the BravoFACT fund, MTS’s Stories from Home, courses through the National Screen Institute, and additional funds from Manitoba Film & Music.


The Application

Most film and video grant applications are similar, though each will have it’s unique specifics that you must be careful to follow. Be sure to carefully read all the rules, regulations and required items. You can expect to include an artistic CV, synopsis, treatment or script, artistic outline, support material and budget in most applications. Other additions like storyboard or shot list, shooting schedule, letters of support, letters of commitment, cover letters, and proof of pre-existing funding may be required.

When writing a grant there is many things to consider, but perhaps most important is “know your audience”. Arts organizations will generally care about different things than, say, BravoFACT. Most arts organizations will want, first and foremost, a project that is artistically valid. Why are you doing what you’re doing? How does this project relate to your greater artistic practice? Do you exhibit a strong understanding of the medium you work in, as an artist?

On the other hand, BravoFACT or NSI jurors will probably be more likely to raise questions like: Is it marketable? Is it entertaining? What kind of audience does this have? Is it funny/cute/scary/thrilling/sexy?

However, all cash-money gate keepers will want to see your previous work. This is very important. Your support material is usually submitted on DVD (or VHS according to many of the guidelines!) and should show a strong relation to the project you’re applying to.


The Manitoba Arts Council

MAC is by and far the best funding organization within Manitoba. They have some great grants for local filmmakers from all walks of life, ranging from $6,000 to $20,000. The grants are relatively easy to apply to, and the gestation period after applying to a grant is usually pretty reasonable.

Here are the programs offered via MAC:

Travel / Professional Development Grant

Aboriginal Arts Creative Development in Film/Video // up to $7,500.

Aboriginal Arts Mentorship Training and Development // up to $5,000

Scriptwriting Grant // up to $6,000

Film Project Grant // up to $6,000

Film Production Grant // up to $20,000


The Winnipeg Arts Council

Twice a year there’s the WAC Individual Artist Grant deadline. Emerging artists can get $2,000 and mid-career or established artists can get up to $5,000. WAC accepts submissions from all artists, but from what I’ve seen filmmakers making tradition films are rarely funded. This is probably mainly due to the fact that a lot of artists apply and there isn’t a lot of money to be had.

However, it is far from impossible to get a WAC grant. I would recommend applying with an idea that you already have some momentum for. It seems like WAC bites when a) the project is semi-underway already, or b) if you will be exhibiting the final product at an art show. And of course you want to have a strong artistic explanation of what you want to do and why you are choosing to do it.


The Canada Council for the Arts

Another great place to apply for arts funding, no matter where you are within Canada. Their emerging artist film grants are perfect for those that have a few films and screenings under their belt. Established and Mid-career artists can get a maximum of $60,000.

Scriptwriting Grants // from $3,000 to $20,000

Production Grants // $3,000 to $60,000

Research/Creation Grants // $3,000 to $60,000

Aboriginal Media Arts Program // $3,000 to $60,000

Travel Grants for Media Arts Professionals // $500 to $2,500


The Winnipeg Film Group

The WFG has a couple of film funds available to its members.

The First Film Fund is a perfect bet for young, enthusiastic filmmakers. You can get up to $3,000 cold hard cash and $2,000 services from the WFG so it is perfect for a relatively short idea.

The Production Fund is a maximum $2,000 grant available for either production or post-production of a short film. The truth here though is that there is WAY MORE money available for post-production than production. So, if you can get your shoot done this is a perfect grant to apply for some finishing funds!

Finally, there is the Hot House Award offered by the Winnipeg Film Group. Not to be confused with the NFB animation program by the same name that far precedes this award, the Manitoba Hothouse Award offers $10,000 cash and $5,000 services to one established Manitoban Filmmaker every year.


MTS’s Stories From Home (formerly MTS On Demand)

This local documentary series is a great opportunity for those that have some credible experience in making films. The key is to get in touch with the great folks that run this program, and have your Winnipeg-related doc pitch ready to go. Generally I believe they fund projects from $5,00 to $25,000, but there have been exceptions to this rule. Check out some of these docs on the Stories From Home Youtube channel here.



BravoFACT has been changing the format of its contact pretty drastically and often lately, so be sure to check out their website for details.

Right now they are looking for 7.5 minute “creative, narrative proposals” and they are offering up to $50,000 for it. Not bad bang for your buck!


The National Screen Institute

NSI doesn’t really provide film funding, it offers education programs through which you MAY be able to create your film. The successful applicants undergo rigorous training, jumping through hoops to the finish line that may or may not contain the funding for their film. I’ve never applied to NSI so it’s probably best for you to just check out their website.


Manitoba Film & Music

Manitoba Film & Music (MF&M) has two funding programs that can be of varying use to local, independent filmmakers, depending on your situation.

Most useful is the Emerging Talent Grant Program, which is for projects that have “received production funding awards through a competitive, juried process from a recognized industry organization.” In simpler words, if you have received a grant from MAC, WFG, WAC, CCA, or another juried application process, Manitoba Film & Music will match that amount up to $10,000. This is a really great way to beef up your budget, but beware! There is a TONNE of paperwork required by MF&M, and you must have a registered business and bank account for said business to even apply. That being said, don’t shy away from this grant, just be sure to keep very good track of every penny you spend, and perhaps seek out someone that has gone through this process before and get their advice.

There is also the Micro-budget Grant Program, which allows productions of less than $100,000 to get a 10% increase care of MF&M. In nearly every case this grant is useless, especially considering that receiving this grant will grind your Film Tax Credit.


Manitoban Film Tax Credit

For larger-budget productions it is wise to take advantage of the Manitoban Film Tax Credit which will allow you to get back up to 65% of your labour costs on the project, which can often be a LOT of cash. However, there is a lot of paperwork, dealing with the government, and business skills needed to do this on your own. You also have to have an incorporated production company with a Canadian Revenue Agency registered payroll. Just to incorporate costs $450, plus the costs of hiring an accountant to do your corporate year end taxes ($1000 ballpark). So I would say you’d want to have a budget of around $20,000 before taking advantage of this tax break.

If anyone is interested in this, feel free to message me and I can hook you up with my Film Tax Credit accountant and Corporate accountant!


Please consider this article a work in progress! If you have comments, additions, please leave a comment and I will add them, or email them to cineflyer at

Drugs ‘n’ Bugs : Lowlife in Winnipeg

•November 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Found just off the Atlantic coast, it is a strange beast indeed that rears its ugly head. Hopped up on psychedelic starfish slime and haunted by a mud monsters and creepy crawlies, Lowlife is the film to single-handedly coin the term “mudsploitation”.

The horror film’s strange aesthetic seems at home in Winnipeg, with its black and white, gritty, and surreal-at-times aesthetic. The film follows the ever-troubled musician Asa (Darcy Spidle) as he makes floundering attempts to win back his former girlfriend and maintain his addiction to the psychotropic substance he squeezes from the asshole of some unsuspecting starfish.

Lowlife is the first feature collaboration between Dog Day frontman Seth Smith and the non-actor’s actor Darcy Spidle, a big wig at Divorce Records / Obey Convention. Both of these music minded men took a break from their main projects to cast off into the emotional shallows of no-budget feature filmmaking.

But the $5000 gamble of self-financing paid off for director Seth Smith, who went on to win the $10,000 audience award for Best Feature at the 2012 Atlantic Film Festival, in addition to a host of media acclaim.

Vice Magazine called Lowlife “the feel-bad hit of 2012” and Fantasia Film Festival described the 2012 addition to their festival as “A chaotic labyrinth, LOWLIFE seeks inspiration from extreme narcotic-induced delirium to deliver unconventional visuals that recall ERASERHEAD.”

Lowlife certainly steals a page or two from Lynch, with perhaps some influence from early Cronenberg, Burroughs, and Luis Buñuel. But the final product is uniquely its own, a melange of recognizable if not obscure film fringe tropes and aesthetics.

As part of the film’s insanely ambitious 3-day screening bonanza in every province of Canada, Low Life plays Winnipeg on Nov. 17th at 8:30PM at Frame Arts Warehouse (318 Ross Ave.) care of Open City Cinema, Ghost Town MB, and Big Fun. You can find details about the Winnipeg screening of Lowlife HERE!

For more on this film check out this great feature article and interview with director Seth Smith, written by Fast Forward Weekly’s Josiah Hughes.

-Aaron Zeghers