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Students tackle ZOOM fest challenge

December 15, 2017
Violetta Kryak / North Shore News
Julia Havert was one of the participants in a two-night media workshop for North Shore students hosted by Vancouver Film School at Argyle Secondary on Dec. 11 and 12. Photo CINDY GOODMAN, NORTH SHORE NEWS

A prop and a theme are revealed and the 48-hour countdown for the high school students to make a seven-minute-long film begins.

The ZOOM Film Festival, which started on the North Shore and in recent years has grown to include the whole province, announced its winners on Dec. 2, with teams from Mulgrave, Argyle, West Van and Collingwood schools picking up awards. Teachers say the time constraints of the festival force students to produce some of their greatest work.

Lian Anson, who co–ordinates the festival along with Katherine Kohler, says the tight time-frame gives students the real-world experience of having to meet a deadline. “Sometimes the best work of the entire year is produced during that time, because they are actually forced to be collaborative, they have high hopes, they are forced to do it all – but they also have that deadline component,” she says.

Anson has gone through it all herself, participating in similar contests during her high school years and says she made some of her closest friends through those festivals.

There were 98 entries in competition this year. Aiden Carere, a Grade 12 Mulgrave School student who was part of the creative team that won best screenplay for The Terminal, has participated in five ZOOM festivals.

“This year was actually one of the most stressful, because we realized in the morning that the script was just too big, so I rewrote it in an hour or so,” Carere says. “As an artist, often, you want to give your absolute best, that perfectionism, and it’s hard to do that in 48 hours.”

Mulgrave School films also won in the best technical and best male performance categories.

Robert Wong, vice president of CreativeBC, a company that helps to strengthen B.C.’s motion picture industry, says it takes a lot of effort to create a film in the time frame given to the students.

“You have to manage your expectations with something (like that),” Wong says. “What it (does) is demonstrate the ability to come up with a creative vision and to be able to execute something in a very short period of time.”

Ryanne Bergler, a teacher at North Vancouver School District’s Digital Media Academy, based at Argyle Secondary, says that as a teacher, she has a supporting role to play in the festival.

“We teach (students) here not only in film class, but in the project management class, how to collaborate, how to work efficiently within a group, keep things on a schedule and maximise the time so they are successful,” Bergler says.

Metanoia, produced by a group of students from the Digital Media Academy, was awarded for Best Cinematography.

Before, the students would stay at their school all day to film, but now, with advanced technology, they are sent home to work on their projects after the prop and the theme are released, Anson says.

In 2017, the prop was “a stamp” and the theme was “blessing in disguise.” Anson says that junior students often finish well in advance, while the senior students take their time.

“The seniors are pushing themselves so hard, they are using every last second. They usually don’t sleep,” Anson says. “They often would go in shifts to (work) all night.”

For more information visit All film entries are available for viewing on YouTube.

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