Cinema in Brief: Toronto Short Film Project

Cinema in Brief: Toronto Short Film Project

This month: Fostering the creation of short film in Toronto, and an interview with Geo Pal, founder of the Toronto Short Film Project.

A recent conversation I had reminded me of one thing that I may have forgotten in the past little while: film festivals are integral to increasing the exposure of short film in Canada, but equally important are the structures in place that make creating a short film possible. In that spirit, this month I went looking for some independent filmmakers to ask them about the challenges in crafting their films — a step that comes much before deciding how to get people to watch their creation.

The big challenges I came across were almost all logistical: most of the people I spoke to said that finding the perfect idea, the creative inspiration was the easy part (I wish that was the case when I did my writing) but the large obstacles could be summarized in three words: funding, equipment, and talent. Finding the money, tools, and people with which to make a film was the primary challenge in the filmmaking process. It was with these obstacles in mind that I discovered the Toronto Short Film Project.

The Toronto Short Film Project, which launched in May of this year, addresses one of the major challenges in creating a short film: finding the right people to work with. Not only does the club facilitate networking between aspiring and seasoned filmmakers, but it also gets people working together in order to learn through creation.

The club is open to people interested in all aspects of creating a film: directors, writers, actors, photographers, technicians, and more. Members are grouped and sent out to create short films, which are then screened to other members of the Toronto Short Film Project in order to get feedback. The club also features workshops on various aspects of the filmmaking process, including camera work, lighting, directing, editing, writing and more, and is open to anyone in Toronto interested in creating short film, regardless of skill or experience.

I recently had the chance to talk to Geo Pal, the creator of the Toronto Short Film Project, and ask him a bit about the project and his thoughts on short film in Canada. Geo Pal is also the founder of the Giggleshorts International Comedy Short Film Festival, and idea he conceived while working for the Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto. The Toronto Short Film Project is among the many projects he's working on right now, including producing two upcoming feature films (E-Driver and Bad Actors) and a new series of the Giggleshorts TV show on Movieola. He took some time to share his thoughts with me:

blogTO: What was the impetus behind creating the Toronto Short Film Project? Why is this kind of community important?

Geo Pal: The TSFP was created to have a self contained network of people who help each other create short films. Many film makers have brilliant ideas but the biggest problem is finding people to help with the projects when it's time to shoot. as most shorts are made on a low/no budget, its difficult to gather up cast and crew. Sometimes take weeks to get a small crew together. The project has a pool of people waiting to work on the shorts. This way all involved get the experience and networking they are looking for. The club meets at the Brunswick Theatre Wednesday nights, new people are put into crews each week. There are quite a few crews at any time in all stages of development.

blogTO: What do you hope to achieve through this project? What kind of response have you received so far?

GP: I hope to create a large community of film makers, actors, editors, writers, etc. who concentrate on making the stories people want to see, Thinking more about the stories than the technical aspects. Also hoping to make Toronto a large cultural centre where short films are conceived, created and marketed. One day , Toronto may be the short film capital of the world. We have had very good response, many people have commented that they have learned more about the art and science of film making than the schools they attended which cost thousands of dollars. We charge only $20.00 a month membership. We are a social film makers club. I have seen many great connections made between members who have met in the club.

blogTO: What kind of support do short filmmakers in Toronto have in order to pursue their craft? What more needs to be done?

GP: In Toronto , there is very little support for novice film makers. There is very little money unless film makers have some experience and made a few films. Getting the experience is very difficult for most film makers, we hope to generate more film production making more opportunities for the film makers and actors.

blogTO: Why is the development of short film important to the future of Canadian cinema in general?

GP: Short films seem to be just catching on recently. as an art form and entertainment. People's attention span is getting smaller all the time. There is an increase in short film festivals all over the country. There are still many people who still have never seen a short film. There are few places to see shorts on TV. We hope to create more TV shows which present short films to a general audience, not a specialized one, as a regular weekly basis on mainstream TV.

The Toronto Short Film Project currently meets every Wednesday night at the Brunswick Theatre. You can find more information about the club on its website.

And on a complete tangent, Jason Reitman (son of Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman and director of this year's upcoming hit comedy Juno) is hosting a special YouTube short film contest called Project Direct. If you've got a film that fits the criteria and looking for some exposure, check out the contest.

Cinema in Brief is a 12-part look at short film in Canada, with a special focus on the people making, supporting, and watching short film in Toronto. It will appear on the final Wednesday of every month until August 2008.

The title image is a photo of members of the Toronto Short Film Project working on a new film. It is provided courtesy of the TSFP.

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