Samantha Loney, From Our Dark Side Winner, Dishes about the Highlights (and more) of the 2017 Frontières Market

We asked Samantha Loney some questions about taking her project Married to Murder to the 2017 Frontières International Co-production Market and Networking Platform and here is what she had to say. 

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What were your Top 3 Highlights from your time at the Frontières Market? 

1 – Seeing a rough cut scene from George A. Romero’s Road of the Dead!!!

2 – Getting the chance to pitch my project alongside some amazing ladies and be berated in front of an audience by an amazing group of judges. Was a great learning experience.

3 – The Femme Fatales ladies only gathering was amazing. It was a safe space to discuss our period cramps, and how to overthrow the patriarchy. Stay tuned world.

What was one of the lessons learned through the experience?

Grey Nuns Residence is a great place to stay because you’re a block away from all the events at Frontières, but is it worth it when you have to lay awake at night dressed in nothing but your own stank? For lazy people like me yes, but warning to future participants Grey Nuns has no air conditioning.

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If you had to pick only one, tell us about your favourite moment.

The farewell dinner. After spending four days of talking we got to eat some amazing food, and dance away all the calories from the wine we had consumed all week.

What impact do you feel being at Frontières Market had on your project?

I’ve made quite a few connections, and have been in talks with a director, which I hope works out well so we can take Married to Murder back to Frontières next year to beg for some money on the big stage!

If you would like to learn more about From Our Dark Side, click here.

 

From Our Dark Side Winner, Elle Wild, Shares Her Experience at the 2017 Frontières Market

 

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Elle Wild – Strange Things Done

 

What an exceptional experience FRONTIÈRES is for new filmmakers! First and foremost, it was great to catch up with my fellow Dark Siders and see their projects flourishing. Initially, when we found out that we were winners in Women in Film’s “From Our Dark Side” genre writing contest, we knew we’d be attending FRONTIÈRES, but we weren’t expecting the opportunity to pitch there. Later, the Dark Side gals were invited to pitch as part of Fantasia – and a new focus on women filmmakers – in front of a panel of industry experts. I confess that I wasn’t sure how this would go when I packed up my shiny new promo materials (thanks designer Sara Bailey and WIFTV!) and copies of my novel, Strange Things Done, and boarded a plane for Montreal. Strange_Poster_FInal

When we arrived, however, we received such a warm welcome that I immediately felt very much at ease. Also, we had a full day to observe other pitches and relax before our own presentations, so that by the time it was my turn to take the mic, I felt well-prepared.  I think it’s fair to say that we were all a bit trepidatious about what the panel’s comments might be, but I found them to be supportive and insightful. I also thought it was helpful that, when you were booked in a 20-minute meeting with producers, many of them

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Elle Wild and Mariel Scammell, 2017 F.O.D.S. Winners

had already heard the pitch, so you could get down to details. Finally, I loved that FRONTIÈRES offered writers their own table (conveniently close to caffeine) in a collective meeting room, so that instead of scurrying from place to place to pitch your project, all you had to do was show up. I think this helped to emphasize that writers are not beggars at the filmmaking feast, but are an important guest at the table, and I appreciated the gesture. 

 

Did I mention that our schedules were absolutely packed with producer meetings? Plus, Montreal! Quelle ville spectaculaire! 

Thank you Women in Film, Dark Side sponsors, and FRONTIÈRES!

-Elle Wild, Filmmaker/NovelistIMG_0739

Heather Hatch on What She Learned at #Banff2017

We caught up with Heather Hatch, the 2017 Banff World Media Festival Mentorship recipient. This mentorship awarded Heather a pass to attend the Banff World Media Festival, June 11- 14, 2017 at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Prior to the festival, she had a chance to consult with her mentor, Cynde Harmon, Producer and CEO for “Really Real Films Inc.” (Stranger In The House, If I Had Wings), as well as meet with members of the WIFTV team both before and at the festival. Here is what Heather had to say.

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2017 Benff Mentorship Recipient, Heather Hatch

How was the Festival? What was the biggest highlight for you?

The first meeting I attended with my team, I did not say a word, I just smiled and nodded, but the BBC can be overwhelming for a first meeting. So, at first the festival was very intimidating but attending the parties and meeting people in the industry at these event made it easier. The biggest highlight was meeting people who have sat on committees for some of the grants I have gotten and getting good news in a pitch meeting.

 

What did you learn throughout your Banff World Media Festival Experience?

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From left to right: Tami Gabay, Cynde Harmon, Karen Wong, Heather Hatch, Pamela Jones

You have to put yourself out there, and working as a team makes it easier. Even if your pitches are not what somebody is looking for, asking them what they are interested in can help you choose projects you want to invest in creatively. Write down on the business cards, something about the person and your conversation so that you can remember them, and make possible connections after the festival. If you have meetings, look them up so you know what they look like, and can talk about some of their projects to break the ice. When booking a meeting, pick a location or it can get hairy trying to find them. Attending the workshops is full of information and can help you meet people.

 

Did the mentorship benefit you? What did you learn from your mentor and how did she help you?

The mentorship with Cynde Harmon, was unbelievable, she was a bubbling well of information, from how to organize my computer files, pitching advice, getting business cards, how to navigate the Banff media website, and how to keep track of and schedule meetings. Mentorship is so important in this industry, you can learn so much form a veteran of the trade, its knowledge that you can not gain through education alone. My Banff experience would not have been as successful without her guidance.

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Heather Hatch (centre) with her mentor Cynde Harmon (left) and WIFTV Treasurer Karen Wong (right)

Do you have any new projects on the Horizon? Or further development of current projects because of this experience?I was lucky enough to get the Telefilm micro grant this year to make a feature length documentary, the story of an Elder who wants to fight for her land that will be flooded by the Site C Dam in British Columbia which you can follow at #DellaFilm. The show that Women in Film and Television sent me to Banff for was a successful pitch meeting that turned into development, which was unbelievable. This show involves indigenous language and storytelling for children, and was created with alliance between myself and my team which you can check out at catapult pictures and open sky pictures.

Screenwriter Carla Custance – Life After VIWIFF2016

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Official Selection Screenwriters and Jurists at VIWIFF2016

This year was the second season for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival’s International Screenwriting Competition. Carla Custance impressed the jury with her feature screenplay, Resurrecting Jane Doe, and walked away from the festival with the top prize.

We caught up with Carla back home in Ottawa for a discussion on her writing process and what happens next for Carla and her award-winning screenplay.

Your script, Resurrecting Jane Doe won this year’s Screenplay Award at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. What’s the story about and how did you decide that this was an idea you wanted to focus on?

The logline is “When a lonely mortician identifies a Jane Doe, he tells her family a tall tale about her to help them grieve and falls in love with her sister. Things get complicated when he uncovers Jane’s real story – if he can’t keep it under wraps, it’ll break their hearts and end the only real relationship he’s ever had.”

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Carla with her prize for Best Screenplay

I chose this story because it appealed to me thematically. I think that we all tell ourselves “stories’ so that we don’t have to face certain truths and this script allowed me to explore that.

What comes first to you in your process, the character or the story?

The character usually comes to me first. For Resurrecting Jane Doe, the idea for the main character came to me about a year before the story did.

How do you approach building the layers of your story?

I’m very structure oriented. I write numerous outlines, breaking the story into eight sequences or mini-movies and then layer in subplots that work towards the same theme. I use the outline as a starting point, but once I start writing script pages, I let the story take me where it wants to go. In my rewrites, I work with the various story elements until it feels right.

How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?

I find my ideas everywhere, as I go about my daily life. Often I’ll observe something or hear something that makes me ask, “What if?” Other times they come solely from my imagination. They often come in snippets.  A character, a setting, an obstacle, a statement I want to make. I write them all down in my “ideas” notebook and eventually when the right ones connect, I have my story.

What has this award meant for you?

Carla Custance

Carla is already working on a new screenplay.

I’m thrilled to have my work recognized by such an amazing festival. It gives me visibility and access to the industry that I didn’t have previously. Getting to spend a week with so many talented writers, directors and producers was inspiring. And it all happened the week that the National Film Board announced parity for women in film in Canada.

What has happened for the screenplay in the month since the festival? Have you been contacting production companies?

I’ve just started querying producers about the script. Interested parties can contact me via my website http://www.carlacustance.com

What are you planning to follow this script with? Do you have another script you’re working on?

I’m working on a new comedy screenplay, which will be finished this summer.

By Michelle Muldoon

Close Up of the 2016 From Our Dark Side winners

Let’s have a closer look at the Top Five winning projects and their writers of #FromOurDarkSide’s second season, who were announced on February 29, 2016.

Ana de Lara, Victoria, BC — The Chosen One

Headshot, Ana, Director 2Ana de Lara is a Filipina-Canadian award-winning filmmaker who likes to explore a variety of genres.

The Chosen One is a feature film thriller about a Filipina-Canadian playwright who must stop dark forces that have been summoned by Filipino witchcraft from attacking her sanity.

“As a filmmaker it’s always been my intention to branch out from comedies and dramas,” says de Lara, who intends to direct her script. “I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to explore my dark side and to advance a script concept I’ve had for years.”

de Lara is also one of eight female Canadian directors selected for the 2016 Women in the Directors Chair Story & Leadership Program to develop her first feature film script: The Virgin Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Follow Ana de Lara on Twitter @anadelaraonline.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi, St. John’s, NL— Fly Girls

Elisabeth de Mariaffi_Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the Giller Prize-nominated author of one book of short stories, How To Get Along With Women and the literary thriller, The Devil You Know, which is currently in development with New Metric Media. Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published in magazines across Canada. Elisabeth now makes her home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she lives with the poet George Murray.

As a novelist and literary activist, Elisabeth de Mariaffi writes mostly about power. A self-professed ‘fraidy-cat, Elisabeth has nonetheless written one novel about serial killers and is now face and eyes into a new book — and it’s a ghost story.

In her thriller Fly Girls, flight attendant trainees trapped overnight on an island airport fight off a four-man crew of vampire pilots who arrive unexpectedly from Alaska.

“The idea for Fly Girls was planted when I did real-life overnight training for my own (short-lived) career as a flight attendant,” says de Mariaffi. “I’ve been dying to write a flight attendant vs. vampires movie ever since. Having spent the last few years working solely on fiction, I’m excited for the opportunity to develop a new story in what is for me, a totally new way — film.”

Follow Elisabeth de Mariaffi on Twitter @ElisabethdeM; Facebook as well as her website www.elisabethdemariaffi.com.

Gada Jane, Kitchener, ON — Video Star

Gada Jane - 15Gada Jane is a filmmaker and writer who specializes in conscientious sensationalism. Her films explore the rawness of bodies in a world of screens and social media. Jane’s most recent project is a short film about celebrity, death, and getting attention online called John Orpheus is Dead. The film was part of a multidisciplinary collaboration that includes an album, concerts, music videos and a jewellery line. With a masters degree in drama from the University of Guelph, she started her career as a theatre director and dramaturg developing scripts for production. Jane has since made music videos, short films and a touchscreen interactive tour of a Quantum Physics Lab. She is a writer equally proficient in the technologies of new media creation. From her home in Canada’s Tech Hub, Kitchener-Waterloo, she writes scripts for projects based all across Canada.

In her dystopian assassin story, Video Star, Aasha and her friends are lured into a deal that promises fame and fortune for murdering people for audience entertainment but ultimately threatens to destroy their friendship and their lives.

“I’m very excited for the chance to work with some of the amazing mentors assembled by WIFTV for From Our Dark Side,” says Jane, who intends do direct the film. “As I am just beginning work on my first feature, the support and guidance of these professionals could not come at a better time.”

Follow Gada Jane on Twitter at @gadajane, Instagram @gadajane and her website.

Jennifer Krukowski, Toronto, ON — Right Hand Rule

Jennifer KrukowskiJennifer Krukowski is a Toronto-based actor, writer, life model, and odd-jobber, with a particular interest in horror, dark comedy, and true crime. She was born in Ottawa, Ontario to a painter and a musician. Jennifer graduated from York University’s Theatre Studies Program in 2010 and became a full ACTRA member in 2013. An emerging screenwriter, Krukowski has recently begun to take sitcom writing classes, and is currently in pre-production as a producer and director on a true-crime documentary.

In Right Hand Rule, a gang of rebellious delivery girls plot to win back its newest member when she is recruited as a corporate secretary in this nostalgic action-comedy.

“They say that constraint breeds creativity. Having worked as an actor for nearly a decade, I sometimes feel helpless about the quality and quantity of roles available to female actors. Rather than letting my frustrations discourage me from continuing to pursue work in the film and television industry, I feel compelled to take a more proactive approach to affecting change by way of creating more female roles and role models as a screenwriter,” says Krukowski. “The From Our Dark Side contest is a unique and important opportunity for women in film and television to be heard, not in spite of our frustrations or quirks, but in celebration of them. Being recognized as a finalist has made it feel possible to take my writing to the next level. Writing can be a very solitary process, and getting a sense of support and community in the pursuit of professional development as a writer is enormously encouraging.”

Follow Jennifer Krukowski on Twitter & Instagram: @jenkrukowski.

Ashley Lynch, Burnaby, BC — Suicide Girl

Ashley Lynch - headshot 01Ashley Lynch is a writer, director and editor specializing in creating female-led genre stories. As an independent writer/director, she has worked on many short films. Lynch is also an experienced post-production professional and owner of Gingerbreadgirl Post, specializing in genre editing, colour grading and theatrical trailer campaigns. Her work has been seen on Telus Optik, Discovery Channel and A&E as well as many film festivals around the world. Her first feature film, Chloe Didn’t Come Home Last Night, is currently in development.

In Suicide Girl, the suicidal but unkillable Morrigan Nevaro is targeted by an opportunistic pharma CEO intent on harvesting her ability. She has to fight to protect her friends and prevent her curse from being mass produced.

“Winning the From Our Darkside mentorship is an incredible privilege and honour,” says Lynch, who intends to direct her action thriller. “My personal mandate is to tell genre stories of female heroes to inspire a new generation of young women. I call this .44 calibre feminism, or equal opportunity ass kicking. This mentorship will enable me to tell those stories and help to bring them to an audience.”

Follow Ashley Lynch on Twitter: @ashleylynch, on Facebook and on her website www.gingerbreadgirlpost.com.

 

From Our Dark Side Announces 2016 Winners

DarkSide-website_0000_headerWomen In Film + Television Vancouver’s (WIFTV) is delighted to announce the 2016 From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition and Mentorship winners!

The competition closed submissions on January 4th, 2016 with over 150 entries from across the country. Once again, women writers sent a powerful message that there is a large, untapped talent pool in Canada and a desire for more female-driven genre stories on our screens.

“We are very happy to be a part of this innovative initiative,” said Melissa Kajpust, Head of Creative Development for Super Channel. “We strongly support projects that advance the voices of women filmmakers in the industry and genre films are something we embrace on Super Channel, so this competition is a perfect fit.” Continue reading

UBC SCREENWRITING AWARD FINALISTS at #VIWIFF2016

UBC_Creative WritingThe Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is grateful for the ongoing support of the UBC Creative Writing Program. Once again, in a show of generous support for the development of screenwriting in the Vancouver community, the UBC Creative Writing Program is sponsoring and presenting the UBC Creative Writing Award to the winner of this year’s International Screenwriting Competition. Continue reading

Vancouver International Women in Film Screenplay Competition announces Official Selections

 

Being a writer can be a solitary experience. Developing story takes time, patience, and a focus that demands persistence, and a dedication to craft. This year’s official selection list has those qualities in spades.

With submissions received from Canada, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong, the competition was exceptional. Getting on this list is a major accomplishment. Our jury for this year’s event are all experienced in script breakdowns and understand the art of the craft extremely well. They read blind, with only Competition Coordinator and Creator Michelle Muldoon knowing who wrote what (and Michelle did not have a vote in the results).  Continue reading