By Michael Grondin
CALGARY – Aspiring filmmakers in Calgary are given a new opportunity to express their creative vision with the Big Rock Eddies this year, as the festival focuses on short films rather than commercials for the first time in its 22-year history.
The Eddies were named after Ed McNally, the late founder of Big Rock Brewery, who in 1993 came up with the idea to let fans of the brewery produce their own commercials. However, Big Rock is taking a step in a new direction.
The first annual Eddies Short Film Festival has a theme of “tradition,” and filmmakers were encouraged to go wild with creativity. The submission deadline was earlier this month, and a festival and screening party will occur on June 6th.
“If you are a filmmaker, and you are looking for that step up, we really want to help you get to the next level,” says Mike Garth, Big Rock manager of sponsorships and partnerships. “It can be anything, from documentaries, comedy, cartoons… whatever.”
Big Rock will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Founded as a small craft beer brewer in Calgary, Big Rock will be expanding to other parts of the country, opening a new brewery in Vancouver this year with hopes to open shop in Toronto in the future. Big Rock has sponsored film festivals, such as the Calgary Underground Film Festival and the Calgary International Film Festival for several years.
The top place winners of this year’s Big Rock Eddies will be given $10,000.
“If you are an up-and-coming filmmaker, that can go towards buying a new camera, or producing a film,” says Garth. “We’ve partnered with CIFF [Calgary International Film Festival] and CUFF [Calgary Underground Film Festival], and the winning short will get to go on to be premiered at the CIFF short film program, and the CUFF short film program this year.”
Garth says, “Last year we received just shy of 60 submissions. We then narrow them down to just 10 for an independent panel of judges to determine a first, second and third place winner. Not an easy task.” He says that high production value and product placements are not necessary. “What we’re looking for is clever ideas.”
Brenda Lieberman, CUFF founder, festival director, programmer and CIFF programming manager, will be a judge of this year’s Eddies. She says she is excited for the new format and hopes that up and coming filmmakers get an opportunity to explore their passion for film in new ways.
“Ultimately, what the Eddies is trying to do and what we try to do as film festivals, is encourage and foster independent filmmakers and production in Calgary,” says Lieberman. “We’re trying to help energize a new generation of filmmakers and try to build new creative opportunities.”
Lieberman says CUFF and CIFF are great resources for aspiring filmmakers to find encouragement, as well as a starting place to build teams, something she says is the most important aspect of making films.
“If you’ve never picked up a camera before, made a film before, this is a great chance to piece together a team,” she says. “It’s really going to open up a new scope of creativity and it will be really interesting to see what comes out of it and how the filmmakers interpreted the theme.”
Tickets for the screening are on sale for $75. The event will be at Theatre Junction GRAND.
“Part of Big Rock’s production now is innovation and to be deliberately different. We’re always trying something new,” concludes Garth. “Because we sponsor so much film, we thought it would be a great if we gave back a little bit, so this year’s Eddies are about film, and going back towards film.”
Catch the Big Rock Eddies Short Film Festival at Theatre Junction GRAND June 6, 7 p.m.AB, Alberta, Big Rock Brewery, Big Rock Eddies, Calgary International Film Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival, CIFF, CUFF, Ed McNally, Eddies Short Film Festival, Theatre Junction GRAND