Whistler Beer has been a "gold sponsor" of the Whistler Film Festival for two years now and this year, rather than simply provide sponsorship dollars, the company decided to take on a more active role in the festival, hoping to engage the public and aspiring filmmakers with their inaugural short film competition, dubbed the Brewskis.
"We were looking for ways to deepen our relationship with the film festival and do it in a way which was fun and offered young filmmakers to try out their skills and to extend themselves in a 'toe-in-the-water' way into the film festival," explained Bruce Dean, principal owner of Whistler Brewing Co.
"Young filmmakers have got to start somewhere, so what better way than to sponsor a short film competition and give them the opportunity to win a few bucks, and come experience the film festival as an industry delegate!"
Whistler Brewing worked with WFF staff to coordinate the competition - as Dean explained with a laugh, "I make beer, not movies!" - issuing a call for submissions for aspiring filmmakers in Alberta and B.C. The call was to make one- to three-minute short films that tell the audience about "A Great Beer Experience" using three mandatory props - a mask, a pair of skis and an authentic Whistler Beer.
The top 10 entries' trailers were unveiled on You Tube on Nov. 15, with the top five announced on Nov. 17. They were selected by a four-member jury that included local filmmaker Robjn Taylor, film producer Kryssta Mills, film producer/Crazy 8's producer Marc Stephenson and Whistler Brewing's Dean, who judged the submissions based on creativity, personality, quality and originality and overall impact.
The top five finalists are "A Johnny Brewski Tale" by Ryan Kenny, "Broke Beer Mountain" by Grayson Grant, "Thirst Quenching Quest" by Justin Hannewyk, "Two Minutes" by Ian Dunsmore, and "Summer Mountain Mix Up" by Fish Boulton and Kevin Hardiman. For their efforts, they received three nights accommodation in Whistler, an Industry Pass to WFF and a Whistler Brewery gift basket.
Three of those finalists are actually from Whistler, which speaks volumes about the capabilities of our local filmmakers.
"I think that the creative arts is one of the hallmark attributes of the Whistler community," Dean said. "Whistler was built with construction and real estate and those are the origins of the community, but as the community has matured, I think we're seeing a more sensitive side... I think we're seeing a different kind of culture emerge."
All of the top five films will be screened at WFF's Closing Gala on Sunday, Dec. 5, where the winner will be announced and presented with a $5,000 cash prize and the Best of The Brewskis title for 2010.