The true story of a grandmother and her best friend, the discovery of a magical keyboard in the forest, and a COVID-19 PSA using stop-action jelly beans are a few of the entries from this year’s FIN Kids Film Competition.
The twelve youth-made shorts ran the gamut of the heartbreaking to the whimsical with the top prizes all going to young Nova Scotia filmmakers.
“Though the choice to go online was made for us by the pandemic, it actually represented an opportunity to reach more people throughout Atlantic Canada than we normally would, and we’re really pleased with the result and level of engagement from the public,” says FIN Kids program manager Alex Brundige in a media release.
Taking home this year’s People’s Choice Award for her documentary short Anatomy of a Friendship is 16-year old director Victoria Adams. The film features an interview with her grandmother Mary and best friend Jessie about their longtime friendship.
“Originally, I wanted to film interviews with three different friendships, but once I interviewed my grandmother and her best friend, I decided just to stay with the one because I like their story,” says Adams in an email interview.
Her first serious film, beyond a couple of travel videos and vlogs with her friends for YouTube, Adams initially caught the filmmaking bug from her father.
“When we were young, he would make videos of our family vacations, and I thought it was so cool,” she says. “When I was in grade four, my friends and I would make skits, and he would show me how to edit them on our computer. Ever since then, I’ve been interested in filmmaking.”
Already working on her next film documenting her summer vacation and plans to do another short with friends, it is setting the foundation for Adams’s future plans as she enters her senior year of high school in the fall.
“I would definitely love to have a career in film. Cinematography is my dream job,” says Adams. “I’m actually looking into studying film at university or college.”
Surprised by her win at this year’s FIN Kids Film Competition, Adams feels honoured by the reaction to her film. “I couldn’t have done it without my amazing support system who promoted my film and the festival,” she says.
Other winners this year include filmmakers Theo and Della Crocker, who took home the best film award by a filmmaker twelve years or younger for their short Forest Keys, the story of the discovery of a magical keyboard deep in the woods.
Just twelve and ten years old respectively, the idea for Forest Keys came from spending time early in the pandemic at the river near their home. The second film for the brother and sister team, the duo took on multiple roles in the filmmaking process.
“Della worked the camera, handled the dancing twigs and was also a great source of input and encouragement. I wrote and directed the film, as well as acted in and edited it. I also played the piano overdub,” says Theo in an email interview.
The two created the dancing twigs with a little low-tech magic. “We tied a fishing line around the sticks, and Della tugged on them to make them dance and levitate,” says Theor. “It was very frustrating trying to do because we’d always get the lines tangled in one another or in the surrounding trees.”
Theo’s interest in filmmaking came from a short film based on the poem The Land of Nod, created for a school project. “My friends and I really enjoyed the process of making the film and decided to make a sequel which we made much better and independent from school,” he says. “Ever since, I have loved to make films.”
Already working on his next solo project, AEUO (Ancient Entity of Unknown Origin), the film short will tell the story of a little worm that is taken by a drone and experimented on. “It is a mix of animation and video,” he says.
While filmmaking remains a passion, Della is not interested in pursuing a career in film while Theo is still not sure. “I am definitely passionate about filmmaking, but I am also very interested in other types of visual arts like drawing, which I would like to pursue more,” he says.
In Film Camp: Fun or Fraud?, a quartet of young filmmakers – Liam Furey, Will Abbass, Kevin Chen, Xander Christian – took home the top spot in the fiction category. In this ironic mockumentary, a young reporter goes inside a summer film camp to get the real scoop.
The best documentary award went to director Sascha Patel for David, a film about Nova Scotia environmentalist and retired biology professor David Patriquin.
Chosen by a jury from the Atlantic Canadian film community, including Amy Trefry, Jon Mann, and Kayla Flinn, the winners and runners-up each received prizes to help further their budding filmmaking careers.
Since 2002, FIN Kids has grown into an Atlantic Canada-wide youth initiative that brings the FIN experience to school groups and communities across the region, presenting films for youth, tackling issues from multiculturalism and community to sustainability and creativity.
The program’s activities introduce students to the world of filmmaking through hands-on media workshops, with the FIN Kids Film Competition providing a platform for young filmmakers and has become a proven launching pad for the next generation of talent like Victoria Adams.
Editor’s Note (30 June 2020): This article was edited to include our interview with filmmakers Theo and Della Crocker.