In the Thick of It: Duking It Out for CineCoup

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Two weeks ago I wrote about taking the plunge on the CineCoup Film Accelerator, making a trailer for Starkers, a feature-to-be in the hunt for $1 million in Cineplex funding. We’re definitely swimming in the deep end; no water-wings for the teams competing from all over Canada. When the contest opened there were ninety-one teams. Now there’s eighty-two. Fourteen days, and attrition has set in.

We’ve done two Mission Videos already in that time. Every Sunday, the CineCoup teams scramble to get a video in by midnight, which appears for public viewing starting the following Monday at 9pm. The first Mission Video was a “power trio” vid, giving each team a chance to introduce their members. Teams leapt at the chance to unleash their pent-up creativity. Check out the the three top videos so far after the jump!

Uprising: A great slick pitch from a very young team for their sci-fi actioner. These guys are seriously talented, and are gonna do cool things. Undoubtedly.

Post-Apocalyptica: Hands-down the funniest pitch vid of the competition. These three buds toss off a smartly edited, witty pledge to their determination to make their movie, an end-times survival flick with nods to Westerns and war movies.

Long Distance: The only all-female team in CineCoup, they give a heartfelt pitch for the ideas behind their relationship movie. Tackling the challenges of women’s careers, relationships and health, it’s an interesting introduction to the team, confronting some of the criticism they’d gotten in reviews.

We took the opportunity to show our serious side. Starkers took some shots in review commentary, too, for being an exploitation flick. To be fair, it is about a porn-star and a deranged fan. But director Paul Thompson is at pains to show the other relationship that drives the story, between adult star Kate and her daughter Charlotte, given up for adoption years before. Their fledgling and tenuous trust is the only thing that might save them in the end.

The second Mission Video just aired this Monday. This time, CineCoup teams had to post what techniques or tricks they used to make their trailer on the cheap. The top three here:

Long Distance: A very smart mock 50s science film about the principles of production design, with the team hamming it up as a “scientist” narrates.

Uprising: They confidently strut their tech skillz, showing how they relied on compositing and VFX to create a convincing visual future.

Grade Nine: Goes to the well of great story and strong performers in interesting roles. Hey, when it works, it works.

For Starkers, this was a chance to rework some elements of the trailer we just didn’t have time to do right initially. We decided to show how with a few favours and talented people, we could dramatically improve the sound and picture, getting composer Marc Koecher, award-winning sound designer Geoff Raffan (Flight 93, In Darkness) and colourist Chris Dover to work their studio magic on the trailer.

It was an eventful week too. We did interviews with Katie Uhlmann of KatieChats.com, and sat in with Richard Crouse at CFRB 1010 and Brad Pelman from CineCoup to talk about the contest. The Crouse interview will air on Saturday, March 23rd at 4:30pm, and the podcast will appear at 4pm.

Now we’re in the thick of two more missions. The first is to design two movie posters for Starkers, which the voting public will choose between. The second is to do a scene or sequence from our film without dialogue, relying on sound and action to carry the emotion. Can’t wait to get ’em out there!

And on top of all that, the first real voting phase has begun. As of Thursday, March 21st, you can earn votes and give them to your favourite films. The voting will run all weekend, closing on Sunday, March 24th at 11:59pm. Starkers is running a giveaway to fans who earn the most votes. It’s a chance to land free movies passes, if you earn 11 or more votes in the CineCoup voting challenges. Post a screencap of your CineCoup profile on our Facebook page, and you’ll be entered into the draw for five pairs of movie passes, and one Grand Prize of a Cineplex Movie Night Out plus a Blu-Ray/DVD of all the Starkers Team’s films to date. Not too shabby!

The CineCoup contest is proving to be seriously draining, and challenging, and a fantastic showcase for aspiring filmmakers, too. If you want to see the next wave of Canadian moviemakers, they’re all here, gutting it out for their dream-feature. The viewers are what make it all happen, so get in on the act. Watch two or three trailers, and you’ll be hooked.

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