It all started with a plate of wings.
Tahir Chatur and Moiz Karim – both fourth-year students at UVic – were sitting in Felicita’s Pub when Karim made his pitch: let’s start a festival for young, amateur filmmakers.
“He had done something like it in high school, and I said, ‘Sure, let’s do it,’” said Chatur.
“In Grade 11 and 12, I did a film festival with a couple of my high school friends,” said Karim. “When I got to UVic, I really wanted to do something on a larger scale. The focus and where I am right now as a person, I think it’s the right time to pursue it.”
That’s how the Shoreline Film Festival was hatched by Chatur, Karim and fellow classmate Matt Power. Tentatively scheduled for March, the fest aims to give amateur directors, actors, producers and writers a platform to show their work to a live audience and make connections with industry professionals.
While neither Chatur nor Karim are film students, both are movie buffs, drawing inspiration from cult classics like Pulp Fiction to modern blockbusters like The Imitation Game for their own short films.
“I never got the chance or the opportunity to take film in university, but it’s a huge hobby of mine,” said Karim. “If you go through my laptop, you’ll see a whole lot of scripts that I’m just waiting to write and film.”
Karim hosts his short films on a YouTube channel, one of which boasts more than 54,000 views. But while YouTube has drawn more eyeballs to his work, Karim said it hasn’t led to more networking options for pursuing film.
“I got a bunch of views, but who was watching it? Just average YouTubers,” he said, noting he wants the films in the festival to draw the attention of those in the film industry.
“There’s not a lot out there for amateur filmmakers. You have VFF and TIFF, but that’s for feature-length films and you’re a professional filmmaker. This is more for two or three kids with a video camera.”
Short films 10 minutes or less in length are eligible for the festival, so long as they were made no more than two years prior to the March 1 deadline. The festival is open to students 25 and under, as well as non-students between the ages of 17 and 25.
There are some restrictions (no copyrighted music and no excessive gore, profanity or violence), but when it comes to genres, the organizers are open to everything.
“Anything works – you could film a skateboard trick. You can put your face in front of the camera and talk. You can do a standup act,” said Karim. “You could submit a Vine – honestly, anything.”
The organizers are currently lining up potential judges for the film festival, ranging from producers to animators to film professors. They are also trying to get some judges from the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission.
Chatur said they expect to screen seven or eight short films at the fest, with the judges selecting a handful of films for prizes.
“We really just want the one night where we can get together, meet each other, get accolades and just fuel (film projects) throughout the rest of the year,” said Chatur. “The main goal is to start the community.”
The festival will also feature live performances and an art auction, in an effort to reach out to “other forms of creative being.” The artwork will be donated by students, and money raised from the auction will be split between the artists and a yet-to-be-chosen charity.
While the location hasn’t been confirmed, the festival will likely take place at UVic’s Vertigo lounge in the Student Union Building. The festival will be open to the public, said Chatur, in the hopes that it will spark some creativity not just at the university but across the Island.
“At the end of the day, this is for Victoria as a whole, to fuel the arts all over the city,” he said. “We want everyone to be there.”
For more information and updates about the Shoreline Film Festival, visit shorefilm.com.