The Fort McMurray International Film Festival: Meet the Gang!
With the 48hour film making challenge well underway, workshops with local director and writer Cody Bown coming up, followed by the main event; the Fort McMurray International Film Festival (also known as the YMMiFF) I wanted to take this opportunity to ask the organizers a couple of questions.
Tell us a bit about the start of the YMMiFF!
Ashley: The YMMiFF started way back when Toddske and Tito were heading up the YMMPodcast events themselves. They approached Events Wood Buffalo about starting up a film festival as part of interPLAY, the summer festival that used to happen here in Fort McMurray. The interPLAY film festival was born. Steve: Back when it was the Fort McMurray InterPLAY Film Festival and attached to that particular Arts Festival, I was a member of the audience and made 48hr film challenge entries. [...]. The next year we organizers decided to build a foundation for the film festival to stand on independently and, like some sort of insect metamorphosis metaphor, it became the Fort McMurray International Film Festival – now going into its 5th year! Tito: As the festival grew so did our ambition to build upon the success of each previous year. It very much became its own event outside of interplay in a very short time and grew to be the Fort McMurray International Film Festival.
Do you have a favorite category?
Steve: That’s like asking about a favorite child in that it is a very difficult question to answer. I get so much out of all the submissions. A category I would love to see expand as far as total submissions go is definitely Music Videos. That art form marries two of my favorite modes of story-telling and unites them into one piece. Ashley: Personally, my favorite category is the 48hr film challenge. These film challenges are actually one of the big reasons I met Todd and Tito and joined the Filmmakers Association in the first place, as I was one of the competitors! I love seeing the creativity that flourishes is such a short period of time. Putting people under the hammer really brings out some excellent film making and zany stories to try include the 3 elements we give. Tito: Currently, I personally enjoy the flavor of the shorts category [...]. While features hold the prestige of being considered true ‘film,’ the short narrative really shows the talent of filmmakers in their ability to evoke a powerful response in a short amount of time without wasting a frame.
What has been your favorite YMMiFF moment so far?
Tito: Seeing the growth of our homegrown talent emerge throughout the years within the framework of the festival has definitely been a highlight. If you look at the history of the local submissions and 48hour challenge entries, there’s a distinct upward curve in quantity and quality of films being produced in our region. Ashley: Seeing locally made films on the big screen has a special place in my heart. There is something so magical about seeing a filmmaker see their piece on the big screen. The community support is outstanding here too, so having people see something made here in our home city is wonderful. Steve: I don’t know if I can pick one point in time, but I can tell you what my favorite moments have in common: reaction. When a film connects with an audience and you can feel people experiencing something special. Or when a filmmaker sees their film in the winner-clip for an award category and you feel their surprise, joy, and pride and you share that moment. Or even when people simply arrive to the red carpet reception and realize that something amazing and a little different is happening right here at home.
What are your hopes and dreams for the YMMiFF in the future?
Ashley: I truly hope that the YMMiFF attracts more national and worldwide filmmakers to Fort McMurray. Last year we had a few folks come from around Canada to see their film play in our festival, and they left with a whole new idea about what Fort McMurray really is. So many people believe we are just a Boom Oil Town, but those filmmakers left knowing we are a happy, art loving, welcoming community. I also hope that we can extend the festival over more days in the coming years. We get so many outstanding films, it’s hard to narrow it down to only 3 evenings of programming! Steve: Expansion is the word. Last year we expanded the awards categories, specifically making an award designated for filmmakers with a local connection to Fort McMurray and area. This year we have expanded by working with the Arts Council Wood Buffalo to add a pair of film making workshops to the weekend’s calendar of events. Next year we’d love to have even more evenings filled with film submissions and possibly day-time events tailored to family enjoyment. And on that note, we welcome all discussions of sponsorship so we may continue to expand the YMMiFF and build its legacy. Tito: The word ‘sustainable’ is thrown around a lot within our community. My hope for the YMMiFF is that those that enjoy attending this event continue to develop to the point of being inspired and more involved. We have ideas every year but fresh faces with new exciting concepts are always welcome. My dream for the YMMiFF is to be able to attend it one day as a patron and not an organizer and see it become something sustainable within the community of Fort McMurray.