So this is the first ever guest post on my blog, but as editor of Reel West it was making me crazy when our winter issue was delayed and um since I don’t actually know how to use the cool program that generates our newsletter…  Welcome to my blog and a great preview of the 2016 Whistler Film Festival by one of the BC screen scenes true champions  – producer Paul Armstrong.


The must-attend Whistler Film Festival is upon us again. I have attended all 16 of them since the first short film I produced screened at the inaugural edition, and once again I am looking forward to seeing another great crop of BC short and feature films at the Festival.

I Love You So Much It’s Killing Them, a Crazy8s film written and directed by Joel Ashton McCarthy and produced by Marena Dix, Nach Dudsdeemaytha and Keli Moore, is a pitch-black comedy about a lonely serial killer whose three loves in life are math, accounting, and killing random people. This all changes when she meets the handsome Alex, a colleague at the insurance company where she works.

McCarthy and Dix have an affinity for the Whistler Film Festival as it’s where they met and have had many other premieres of their films there. As McCarthy admits, “I need a vacation. This way I disguise my vacation as work. It’s the perfect scheme. And the Festival has this wonderful sense of community and comradery.” Dix adds that “I always leave the Festival inspired to continue creating”.

Next up for the pair is filming a web series, Inconceivable, that was one of two overall winners in the StoryHive web series funding intake. 

Trying, a short written and directed by Shauna Johannesen, tells the story of a couple who think getting pregnant will be super easy but instead find out it can be hard and annoying and chafing and ridiculous. They learn ‘What to Expect when you’re Not Expecting’.

For Johannesen, Whistler is,  “a fantastic venue for a film festival and has a great tradition of being a very supportive, filmmaker-focused festival and the films, industry events, seminars and networking reflect that. It has the feeling that everyone there is at some glorious film-based Winter-camp”.

She also made Trying through Crazy8s which includes cash and in-kind services from major sponsors, and “also the blood, sweat and tears of all the people who donated their time and services to make it happen”.

Trying was at the Cannes Short Film Corner where it caught the attention of an American studio executive who connected her with an American production company to develop Trying as a series. The film also helped her meet producers who received development money for a feature, Common Grace, which is based on a play she wrote and acted in at the same time as directing Trying.

Along with several other short films, Trying screens at the Whistler Film Festival ShortWork Showcase hosted by Crazy8s, along with films made in the inaugural Whistler Film Festival Canon Hi5 Short Film Challenge developed by the Festival and Sarah Thomas Moffat, one of Canon Canada’s Northern Explorers of Light.

Moffat is currently DOP on the CBC Documentary Channel’s Cool Daddy directed by Roger Larry who serves on the Whistler Film Festival International Documentary Jury this year.

In the Canon Challenge, 5 selected teams have 5 days to shoot a 5 minute film. Moffat says, “A key purpose in Hi5 is to motivate filmmakers and cinematographers to think about lighting and how it is built into a story—using only ambient light—that’s the challenge!”

One feature film screening at the Festival is raw*, written and directed by David I. Strasser and produced by Arshia Navabi and Mert Sari, who together recently produced the Crazy8s film Iteration 1.

raw*, in the running for the Borsos Competition, sees a delinquent youth on a downward spiral, sentenced by the courts to spend time on his uncle Joseph’s organic farm on Salt Spring Island as he soon discovers that not everything is as idyllic as it first appears.

Navabi and Sari came on board as producers “to make history” they say. “Having the chance to be behind the very first feature film to be shot on Salt Spring Island and the idea of producing the second only feature film in Vancouver Film School’s 28-year history were the two key factors that motivated us most.”

The film was funded through in kind resources given by Vancouver Film School’s Film Production final project program, a successful crowd-funding campaign and generous donations from friends and family, in addition to in-kind sponsors.

They are excited to premiere at the Whistler Film Festival because “from the inception of the film, Whistler seemed like the absolute best fit for raw*, because Whistler focuses on Canadian stories. raw*, having been the first feature film shot on Salt Spring Island, encompassing the lives of such characters that we only see in this part of the world, seemed like the perfect fit.

Another competitor for the Borsos is Lost Solace by writer, director, producer and co-editor Chris Scheuerman and also produced by Andrew Jenkins, Lori Triolo and David Angelski.

In this Vancouver feature a psychopath who never felt empathy or guilt takes a new drug that takes him on a mind-bending trip down the psychedelic highway of consciousness to come face to face with his own morality and own twisted soul.

Scheuerman wanted to explore “a time when my sanity slipped into a panic disorder, as well as the possibility of psychopaths developing empathy”.

For Triolo, a Vancouver actor, acting teacher and head of the Cold Reading Series, after having come on board first as an acting coach and a script consultant, and then casting the film, becoming a producer “was the natural progression. I was excited to help create a supportive environment on and off set.”

Following their US premiere at Cinequest Film Festival, they selected Whistler for the Canadian premiere because it “puts a highlight on fresh Canadian filmmakers, while also attracting distributors and sales agents that are searching for acquisitions. The networking opportunities are tremendous” explains Scheuerman.


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