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Digital stills make for best film

Unlaced takes $10,0000 Best of Show at Filmmaker Showdown

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Best camera work would have gone to Feet Banks and Chili Thom’s film The Dick with the Long Face ; Best script to Rebecca Wood Barrett and Lisa Fernandez’s The Trailer Guy ; Best action to Al Crawford, Tyler Harris and Heather Paul’s Slade and The Bomber .

But there can only be one Best of Show at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown – a film that encompasses and excels in all of these components, and this year’s winner did so without ever taking a lens cap off a moving-picture camera.

This year’s showdown winners, filmmaker Philip Nee Nee and Director of Photography Chris Wayatt, held up a disposable point-and-shoot camera as their weapon of choice to create the five-minute short film entitled Unlaced .

"We took 7,000 pictures on cameras like these and went to 1 Hour Photo and asked them to develop them really quickly," the filmmakers joked.

They were joking about the camera (Nee Nee later confessed to a digital), but not about the amount of images, which were shot then sequenced in an editing program to make the photos appear as if they were moving film.

"I come from a still photography background," Nee Nee said Tuesday after receiving the Best of Show award. "I wanted to go back to the roots of film, which is photography, and create something from that."

The visual texture created from the process was beautiful and the camera angles as original as the concept. Judges touted the creativity and originality of the work as the reason behind the win.

The plot explored how one action can set off a chain reaction of events, starting with a man bending over to tie a shoe in a hotel underground parking lot, leading to a series of accidents.

The storyline was fairly straight forward; the shooting process was anything but.

The weekend warrior crew from Vancouver spent the first two days of the 72-hour showdown shooting the script, roughly 12 hours of photography. The underground parking lot kept cast and crew out of the weekend’s snow flurries, but not being able to close off "the set" Wayatt constantly had to frame out cars parking in their shots.

Twenty-four consecutive hours of editing followed on Sunday and well into the early hours of Monday.

The audience was receptive to the photograph concept but Nee Nee’s computer wasn’t, as the hard drive was forced to recognize the colossal 7,000 files that were merged into one file before Nee Nee could start chopping it up.

"I don’t remember too much of Monday," he said. "I was so excited to get the phone call (at 6 p.m. Monday) I didn’t get asleep until (Monday) at 11 p.m."

It was another exciting evening at the showdown Tuesday night at the Telus Conference Centre, where the film screened to more than 1,500 people. Nee Nee has entered the showdown five times but this was the first time his team had been chosen for the finals.

Having a background as a professional assistant director for commercials and feature films such as Twentieth Century Fox’s I, Robot probably helped, but Nee Nee said watching showdown competitors year after year was the key.

"Each year I come and see what people make and I get inspired," he said. "I like to see more interesting things than the Hollywood-type films. You get that here. It’s nice to be creative and see films that are not commercial."

Sixty films were entered in the showdown, and a five-minute collage of snippets from all 60 was shown Tuesday. All the films that didn’t make the finals will be screened Friday, May 5 at the Garibaldi Lift Company.

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