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Obelisk film fest looking for new talents

Call going out to high schoolers across the Edmonton region

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 06:00 am

Dave Edwards teaches film studies at Bellerose Composite High School, and organizes the annual Obelisk Film Festival for high school students across the greater Edmonton region.
Dave Edwards teaches film studies at Bellerose Composite High School, and organizes the annual Obelisk Film Festival for high school students across the greater Edmonton region.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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It’s time for high-schoolers to dust off their video cameras and hone their screenwriting skills. There are movies to be made and prizes to be won.

The competition is now open for the third annual Obelisk Film Festival, a home-grown high school moviemaking challenge. Organizer Dave Edwards is hoping that the call for submissions will go out far wider than it usually would within the confines of his film studies classes at Bellerose Composite High School.

“This year we’re trying to get even bigger, opening it up to basically anybody who’s a high school student in St. Albert, Edmonton … wherever,” he said. “We’re trying to get as many kids involved as possible and give them a chance to showcase their skills.”

He said that, in theory, he would even accept submissions from anywhere across the province and the country. “There’s nothing stopping somebody from Calgary, I suppose, from getting in there. I just don’t know how they would hear of it.”

That’s why he has issued this open call to all budding Kubricks or Spielbergs who are at least 16 and still in high school. This is the only local film festival that is specifically for that age group, he continued. Despite the strong interest that he says his students have in the subject, there are only a handful of high school film studies classes in Edmonton or St. Albert, his included.

“It came from the kids in my film studies class. We came up with this idea. We started out very small with just kids from our school and then we opened it up to the kids from the other high schools in St. Albert.”

Each edition of the event has featured several short films, all between three and seven minutes in length. There are other stipulations that must be met by all entrants. This year, each film must incorporate the word ‘dragonfly’ somewhere onscreen at one point. The cost of submission is $20 per entry.

Oh, and every film must adhere to what Edwards calls ‘PG-13’ guidelines. “If you're not sure what that means,” the festival’s website prompts, “keep it in the guideline of ‘I would be proud to show this to my school as my work.’”

Ideally, he hopes that word will spread like wildfire and the publicity will generate 25 submissions from which the top 10 can be chosen for the actual screening date. There are no other pre-requisites for entering the competition, only the interest in making movies.

“I think it’s pretty well received. It’s student films so you get some kids who are really interested and skilled in the area and you get some kids who just want to try it out and have some fun with it. We see all different levels.”

There are different categories for awards including best original screenplay, best cinematography, best film and best use of sound. It’s not just about who has the best editing software, Edwards continued.

Past festivals have already helped to foster one emerging film talent. Jesse Platt won last year’s contest said that things were “a bit chaotic” but everything worked out nicely in the end.

“My experience with the Obelisk Film Fest was great! I have always wanted to be in film, forever: making them or acting in them.”

He explained that he always had ideas for films but needed a little extra help to spur on his creativity. Edwards convinced him to put himself to the test and he hasn’t looked back since.

“Honestly, it was a trigger not just to make a movie but for me to follow through on something, and not just for my sake but everyone involved. He gave me a chance at responsibility. The film festival was literally a chance for all the naysayers to say, ‘Okay, we've heard your bark, Jesse … now you’re not only allowed to show us your bite, but we will present it in the school gym, on a big TV to people who actually want to be there!’ So obviously, I was like ‘Hell yeah! I want to do this!” And I did.”

Platt is just finishing his first year at the prestigious Vancouver Film School. He hopes that the film festival continues to grow in order to give other new film talents their first glimpse of “The Biz.”

All of the information that anyone needs to get involved can be found on the festival’s website at www.obeliskfest.com. For more information, contact Edwards at hey@obeliskfest.com.

The deadline for entries is Saturday, May 31. The third annual Obelisk Film Festival takes place at the Arden Theatre on Tuesday, June 10 at 7 p.m.


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