A&E » Arts

Changes to 2014 Intersection brings filmmakers in March

World Ski and Snowboard Festival event starts shooting seven-day movie competition early



Restless, the beautifully shot six-minute-plus film that won 2013 Intersection for Leo Zuckerman, is a story of dreams, both waking and sleeping.

It starts with a sleeper dreaming of being outside, anywhere but in bed, and ends with a dreamy looking young man staring into the camera in the middle of Whistler Village. In between, the narrator tells us, is a dream that is "a surprise... a dream which isn't under control."

Perhaps Zuckerman realized this dream of extreme jumps, icy rails and backcountry skiing down gnarly peaks, but another dream of his was also achieved.

In the year since he won the competition, Restless has had over 150,000 views on Vimeo.

Intersection is one of the keystone filmmaker events of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF), which takes place in Whistler from April 11 to 20. The winner takes home a $10,000 first prize.

Past winners have included Nulife Films, Heart Films and Voleurz.

Teams of competitors do everything to make their film within a seven-day period, shooting, editing, and creating the final cut. Those who miss the deadline are out. Two teams, in 2012 and 2013, were disqualified for being late.

Zuckerman, in his final year of film school at the University of British Columbia, is not sure whether the number of views or winning the competition itself has had the biggest impact in the last year.

"It got a huge amount of attention. I have had a lot of advertising opportunities because of that, you get an email because an art director has seen your work," he says.

"In terms of a presence in the industry and creating more of a name for myself, it's definitely good for that. Because I'm still pretty young in university and I hadn't had professional exposure in the industry."

Whatever the reason, Zuckerman says Intersection was "a good stage to show my work to a large, 1,500-plus audience."

He adds: "It all went very smoothly last year. It was crazy. We put so much work into preproduction and first day we just had to execute the plan. Not to say it was easy, I've never worked so hard in my life. For seven days it was intense, but it was extremely rewarding and a lot of fun."

His team of 18, most of whom were the athletes, filmed and worked flat out.

Jaime Kerrigan, multimedia events producer with WSSF creator Watermark Communications Inc., has run Intersection for three of the four years it has been part of the festival.

She says there are changes afoot this year for the five to seven teams taking part.

"The event itself is pretty dialed now.Overall it the same as other years: a 72-hour challenge to shoot, edit and produce a five-to-seven-minute ski and snowboard film within 100 kilometres of Whistler," Kerrigan says.

Traditionally, this has taken place in the seven days leading up to the event itself in April, but following feedback from previous participants and the slow start to the season this year, Kerrigan says they decided to move the seven filming days to March "to hopefully provide people with stronger conditions."

Filming days for 2014 Intersection are March 19 to 26, subject to weather conditions.

Another change is that teams originally needed to have one skier and one snowboarder included in their films, but this year the rule has been removed "so competitors can focus on what they know and feel passionate about." The choice is up to individual filmmakers.

Kerrigan says teams always pulled off the requirement to stick to both forms of getting down a mountain, but many teams are specialists and prefer to concentrate on what they do best.

"It had added to the challenge, for sure but did it add anything to have one skier go off a jump. It wasn't really needed, I feel," she says.

"I hope it will make things easier for everyone involved, from the directors and athletes because many crews are in the thick of filming in March, everyone is still motivated."

But Kerrigan knows Intersection is ever-growing in popularity, especially for the filmmakers.

"I think that on the night of the event, seeing your film on the big screen at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival with a big audience, it's huge. I think some of the crews do it just for that moment, being on the stage," she says.

"They never disappoint. It's so impressive to see what they come up with in seven days. Knowing that each team has the exact same seven days to work with makes it unique."

This year, Zuckerman isn't able to return to Intersection, as he is busy with projects that are part of his UBC program.

"Last year was such a great experience and I would totally do it again if I could," he says.