Come June, the high school class of 2015 will be parting ways, possibly forever. As the traditional yearbook signature “have a nice summer” now becomes “have a nice life,” one such graduate is trying to leave a much different—much bigger—tradition in his wake. Glebe Collegiate senior Sanjay Dhawan is not only running the third annual Glebe Film Festival, but taking it city-wide this May to create STUFF: the Ottawa High School Student Film Festival.
“It all started back in Grade 10 during my Communication Technology class,” says Sanjay when describing the origins of his idea that became city-wide. Local videographer Kevin Millington visited the Glebe class to help the students improve their movie-making skills, or “film technics” as Dhawan puts it. Millington brought up the idea of a film festival after seeing the talent in the class, and Dhawan and fellow comtech student Sebastian Packer rolled with it. They opened the contest up to all students of Glebe, visited local business for sponsors, sold tickets within the school and donated all profits to CHEO. Upping the ante the next year, for the second Film Festival in 2014, the two students brought in the band Eleven Past One to play before the films were showed. The third Film Festival has since grown exponentially.
Submissions can now be made by any high school student in any high school in Ottawa so long as they come in by the submission deadline of April 15th. There are two ways to submit a film (both are listed on the Ottawa STUFF website). Entries may either be handed in on a USB stick to the main office at Glebe Collegiate Institute, where the movies will be played, or participants can upload their movies to YouTube or Vimeo and send the link and completed form to [email protected] or [email protected]. The criteria for film entry could not be simpler. They must be under 15 minutes, appropriate for school and applicants MUST complete a submission form to be considered. All films will be shown during the evening show open to the public, at Glebe Collegiate, however only Glebe films will be played during the school’s show.
But wait, there’s more! Not only is the STUFF going to be recorded and shown on Rogers TV, but all applicants’ films are judged for prizes. The criteria they will be judged on are fivefold: Production Value, Story, Creativity/Originality, Entertainment Value and Acting (further details available on the site). As for judges, the original idea man Kevin Millington and the founder of the Ottawa International Film Festival (OIFF) Nina Bain are lending their film critique skills to decide the first, second, and third place winners who will receive various cash and donated prizes. Stella Luna Gelato Café has already generously given several gift cards to award the student movie makers.
Bain and Millington aren’t the only recognizable figures who will appear at STUFF 2015; mayor Jim Watson is planning to attend as well as this year’s musical guest Karl Wolf. Known for hits such as “Africa” and “Summertime,” songwriter, producer and singer Karl Wolf’s performance, Dhawan hopes, will encourage some viewers who may not necessarily have a love of film to attend. “It’s a fun night” says Dhawan, “even for people who wouldn’t normally attend film festivals.”
Having a passion for films himself, Dhawan would often make short videos as school projects and always has his own submission for the Film Festival. He has even been known to win by majority vote, only this year his work’s up against all high schools. Packer and Dhawan are hoping this inspires some school pride: “we pretty much want [STUFF] to spread to every school around the city,” comments Dhawan when asked about his hope for this year’s festival, “we want to pump up student bodies across the city for a friendly competition.” The co-creators can’t wait to see the community cheer on their respective schools and “appreciate the works of their peers.”
There lies the goal of the Film Festival, to showcase the talent of youths across the city, in an original venue maybe unexplored by them before. STUFF 2015 encourages teenagers to submit their work in a friendly environment to be viewed May 7th in the high school Glebe Collegiate Institute’s auditorium. All are welcome to come view the event, tickets are available both at the door and online and, as always, all profits are donated to CHEO.
“We want to make the entire city aware of a great initiative for kids, started by kids” ends co-creator Sanjay Dhawan.