Beyond the Dark Side with Gada Jane

Genre film has, for a long time, been a mode of storytelling perfect for communicating both the personal and the social. A horror film and a western can both be analyzed in terms of cultural milieu, or they can be seen as indicative of a filmmaker’s mood—or some combination of both. Thus, genre film is a valuable tool for understanding human experience, whether or not you enjoy gore, ghosts, or fantastic creatures. Each genre has its own complex set of images, character-types, styles, and techniques which, when used skillfully, pay clever homage to earlier films and push the boundaries of what film can say or do to an audience in the future. Genre films are an integral part of the larger cinematic conversation, whether they speak in the language of sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, western, or horror.

Thus, it is important to keep the door open to new and emerging genre filmmakers. In doing so, the creative conversation maintains its richness and its innovative streak. The From Our Dark Side Incubator Program is designed to prop open the door and let fresh ideas in. As a program meant especially for the development of women’s genre projects, it provides space for “the rebirth of genre” as a diverse medium. To quote the program’s webpage: “From Our Dark Side sees limitless possibilities in genre for women storytellers [and is] designed to provide [filmmakers] with a better understanding of the market, the fans, and the kinds of stories that will connect and kick some genre ass.”

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Gada Jane

Testifying to the success of the program is former participant Gada Jane, a filmmaker and new-media creator from Kitchener, Ontario, who took part in 2016. She found out about the program through a friend on Facebook, and was soon in Vancouver, BC amongst a group of talented and enthusiastic filmmakers and storytellers, all with a passion for genre. She then had the opportunity to network, collaborate, and build lasting professional and creative relationships, both during the 2016 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival and afterwards. Most notably, the program participants travelled to Montréal that year, where the Frontières Co-Production Market took place as part of the city’s Fantasia International Film Festival. While there, Jane and fellow From Our Dark Side participants further connected with professionals in the genre community. When asked about experience, Jane highlighted its value as a networking platform: “Going to Frontières was a big thing for me, because I’ve kept in touch with a lot of the people who I met that first year. Even now, I’m in [Tallinn, Estonia], and I’m supposed to meet someone who I met at Frontières, to talk about various projects, and we might actually do some work together soon. That [connection is] coming directly out of Frontières, and From Our Dark Side.”

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Gada Jane pitching thier web series at Storytek demo day. Photo by Laura Oks (@photosbylauraoks)

Not only did the experience strengthen Jane’s professional connections, it changed the way she thought about networking as a process of collaboration. In her words, “people often think [they] should network because it’s good to network and I should find the person who can do this thing for me, but I feel like what networking actually enables you to do is find the people [who] are aligned with what you want to do [and] also help you understand how to shape what you want to do so it works with the industry… you have to find the points of intersection.” Jane says she uses these learned skills all the time, and in various fields of work. She works in new media research at the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute, and told me about how useful her knowledge of the film festival environment has been within the scope of her career. In fact, her department sent her to the Cannes Film Festival, two years in a row, in order to connect with new partners and extend her network. Her creative projects have directly benefitted from her From Our Dark Side experience as well; she was asked to take her latest project, a web series titled “La Boheme,” to an accelerator program in Estonia. Making connections, she says, “is a much more personal process… it’s about finding teams that I want to work with in the long term, and developing relationships.”

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Gada Jane and her business partner Victoria Buchy at Storytek in Tallinn

When asked to impart any advice to new From Our Dark Side program members, Jane had this to say: “It’s really valuable to use to program to figure out what you actually want to do. You get access to all these different people and conversations, [but] that becomes most useful when you can check it against what you actually care about, what you actually want to accomplish. I think we often get caught up focusing on one side or the other—[either] shutting out the outside, or absorbing it and adjusting until you lose track of why you started in the first place. I think if you can constantly be checking between the two, you’re going to find yourself in a much stronger position.”

-Written by Sarah Bakke

To check out Gada Jane on Instagram, click here. To find out more about her web series and other creative endeavours, go to: @thevelveticons or www.gadajane.com

WIFTV presented From Our Dark Side genre concept contest, in partnership with Creative BC, Super Channel, Telefilm Canada and Telus. For more information on From Our Dark Side, click here

Sarah Bakke interns at WIFTV, where she gets to write all kinds of film-related material––a cinephile’s dream! When she’s not scribbling film notes or watching movies, Sarah can be found at The Cinematheque as a weekend theatre manager.

 

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From Our Dark Side Winner, Sandi Gisbert, Shares Her 3 Tips for attending the Frontières Film Market

Attending the Frontières Co-Production Market is the high point of the From Our Dark Side program. You get to pitch your project, meet cool filmmakers and industry professionals from all over the world, and if you’re lucky you’ll even catch some movies. If Frontières will be your first market, here are some tips on how to make the most the experience.

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Sandi Gisbert Pitching “Opal” at the Created By Women Pitches at #Frontières2018

Before you go: Do your research. Review the program guide and rank your meetings. Everyone attending is listed and you can learn a lot about who they are, what they do and what kind of projects they’re interested in. If they list a website, check that out too. You’ll get something from every meeting, but you’ll get the most interest from companies that are well suited to your project.

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At the market: Pick a hotel close to the venue. The Market runs from 9am to 5pm and you know you’ll be going to the nightly cocktail parties! They are a must: tasty snacks, cold drinks and an opportunity to network in a more relaxed atmosphere. By the end of the evening, you’ll be exhausted so you don’t want to have to commute to a hotel. If you can’t afford the sponsor hotel, try Airbnb. I stayed with two other writers in a little condo a few blocks from the venue and it was a blast! It was like a writer’s sorority. It gave us time to debrief about that day’s meetings and prep for our next ones over cheap noodles at the pho place next door. If you do go Airbnb just make sure there’s AC. Montreal in July is HOT.

After the market: Follow up with everyone you met. Send them an email. Thank them for their time. Remind them of who you are and how cool your project is. But don’t fire off those emails the moment you get home; wait a few days. Everyone will need some time to decompress and catch up on their business affairs. Including you!

Sandi Gisbert

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Submissions for the 5th season of From Our Dark Side are open until October 31st, 2018. Click here for more information on the program, for application guidelines, and to check out the project one sheets of the past winners. To stay up to date on all things Dark Side follow us on Facebook and Twitter

From Our Dark Side Winner, Nicole Steeves, Shares Her Experience at the 2018 Frontières Market

Being chosen as one of the six women to pitch at the Directed by Women Networking and Pitch Session at the Frontières Co-Production Market at Fantasia was an invaluable opportunity.

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Nicole Steeves Pitching “A Method” At the Created By Women Pitch Sessions at

I didn’t quite know what to expect as it was my first film market, and I was blown away by the professionalism and experience of the industry experts with which we met with. I was given great advice and had considerable interest in my project, A Method. I’m looking forward to the feedback I’ll be getting once I send the finished script.

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From Left to Right Maude Michaud, Nicole Steeves, Alison Hepburn, Carleen Kyle, Sandi Gisbert, & Jessica Tremblay

As a woman in the Film and Television industry, I have noticed that often we are put in a “training loop” however this experience felt different. I felt that I was treated as a professional artist with a project that had merit and potential to become a produced piece.

Being part of the From Our Dark Side has been nothing short of inspiring. I got to meet and work alongside some incredibly talented women and share the exciting experience with them. I’ve made new friends and professional contacts. I am excited to move forward with my project and all the better to do so because of the experience.

Nicole Steeves                                                                                                              Writer/Director

A Method

Submissions for the 5th season of From Our Dark Side are open until October 31st, 2018. Click here for more information on the program, for application guidelines, and to check out the project one sheets of the past winners. To stay up to date on all things Dark Side follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Mariel Scammell on Frontières, Fantasia, & From Our Dark Side

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Mariel Scammell

Participating in the 2017 Frontières Co-Production Market at Fantasia this year was both an honour and an incredible opportunity. The five-day market was a whirlwind of industry panels, pitch sessions, networking cocktails, and meetings. As an emerging writer, director, and producer, I gained invaluable insight and experience into the production, financing, and distribution of feature-length genre films.

The highlight for me was participating in the first year of the Directed by Women Networking and Pitch Session. This session provided a challenging and supportive environment to present my first feature project, The Lot, a supernatural thriller developed through WIFTV’s From Our Dark Side Incubator Program. I received expert feedback on the project from industry professionals and connected with an impressive slate of producers, distributors and sales agent in a series of one-on-one meetings. At this event, I also had the opportunity to watch six other fantastic projects presented by incredible and inspiring women. As an advocate for women in genre film, participating in this event was truly inspiring.

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Mariel Scammell’s “The Lot” table for Pitching at Frontières

At Fantasia, I also had the great honour to present Undress Me, a short body-horror film I recently produced with director Amelia Moses at the Born of Woman shorts program. This screening, which featured nine female-directed genre shorts, was an amazing compliment to the Directed By Women Pitch Session.

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Amelia Moss (left) with Mariel Scammell celebrating the screening of their film “Undress Me” at the Born of Woman shorts program at Fantasia

These back to back experiences were wonderful, and express the growing commitment to broadening horizons for women creators in genre film. I was honoured to be a part of of this year’s events, and the experience I gained and the connections I made during Frontières will be invaluable as I move forward with The Lot.

 

Follow me:

www.marielscammell.com/

Twitter : @truesweetheart_

Instagram: marielscammell

If you would like to find out more information on the From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition, click here!

 

 

From Our Dark Side Winner, Melanie Jones Shares her Thoughts on Frontières 2017

My thoughts on Frontières …
 
Attending Frontières is one of the most rewarding experiences of my film career so far. When I applied for the From Our Dark Side Competition, I knew that we would be able to attend Frontières as guests to observe and learn. Shortly before we left for the event, myself and the other winners were told that we had been invited to actually pitch our projects, LIVE, to a panel of industry professionals and a room full of producers, distributors and financiers attending the market. We also received official placement in the market guide. Seeing the other live pitches was essentially a master class in pitching: Frontières is a competitive market – filmmakers from all over the world submit and only 20 projects are chosen to pitch to a live audience of industry professionals. This year for the first time, the festival directors added a “Directed By Women” section and we were the first group to participate. To have ourselves and our work highlighted this way was a huge honour and increased the value of the experience tremendously. It essentially transformed me from a guest to a VIP.
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Melanie Jones at Frontières

I love pitching, especially in person, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to pitch my upcoming feature project Switchback to a room full of professionals along with a panel of jurors. I was given immediate feedback and asked questions that allowed me to go into greater detail on my story and understand what resonated with people. I received excellent feedback and encouragement and then had 28 one-on-one meetings with industry people from around the world. Many expressed interest in reading my script, producing it or even funding it. Even those who could not “do business” with me (because they only fund European filmmakers for example) took the time to come by my table and tell me they were intrigued by my script and looked forward to seeing the film when finished. Several meetings allowed me to talk about other projects I have in development or about my previous feature film FSM. Among the most exciting meetings I took were with the head of Fox Searchlight, the lead programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival and several prestigious international distributors and agents whose films have been nominated for Oscars or premiered at TIFF or Cannes Film Festival.
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Melanie Jones’ Switcback table for Pitching at Frontières

A particular highlight for me was popping over to Fantasia Fest to see a short film program in which one of my fellow FODS winners had a film playing. In a weekend filled with possibility, it was inspiring to see something concrete that grounded what we were hoping and dreaming for in a tangible reality. A great reminder of why we are working so hard to pitch our films.
 
I also felt so warmly welcomed by the Frontières staff and programming team – they made such an effort to make us feel like we belonged there and our projects mattered – this is no small thing in a competitive industry! Simply by virtue of being in the company we were in, and treated like professionals, I felt a surge of confidence in my project and in my future as a writer/director not just in Canada, but Internationally.
Melanie M. Jones

2016 From Our Dark Side Winner Gada Jane’s Tips on Attending Frontières the Second Time Around

The Frontières Co-Productions Market is a small and very friendly genre film market that takes place in Montreal as part of the Fantasia Film Festival. I’ve attended for the past two years, first as one of the 2016 winners of the WIFTV From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition and then to pitch my film, Tricks, as part of the Directed by Women program. 20171024_153135

The market is designed to enable connections that facilitate genre film financing and North American-European Co-Productions. A number of successful projects have come through the pitching program including RAW,TURBO KID, LES AFFAMÉS, and the documentary 78/52 which have screened at various 3festivals including TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes.

At Frontières, the morning of the first day is devoted to pitches. Each project has 8 minutes to pitch to an audience of financiers, sales agents, producers, production companies, distributors and other types of film humans. After this, there are lots of meetings. As part of the Directed by Women section for projects in early stages, I pitched along with this year’s From Our Dark Side winners at a smaller pitch session the next day and then we began our meetings.

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L – R – Samantha Loney, Melanie Jones, Mariel Scammell, & Gada Jane

The market is set up really nicely to be a frame for meeting people. This means your experience will depend a lot on what are looking for and whom you meet. Pitching projects are set up with their own tables where they have a whole series of 20-minute meetings. There are also lounges in the building,  restaurants, and coffee shops nearby where you can have more meetings. Also, everyday there is a cocktail party where you can continue to meet people and then people usually gather at the Irish Embassy.

Frontières is a remarkably pleasant film market. The people who run it work hard, are very helpful, and set a quite delightful tone for the event. It’s relaxed. It’s Canadian. It’s genre. This all comes together to mean that Frontières is mostly full of people who just want to make cool things. Not everyone has the same definitions of cool or fun or worthwhile or even marketable, but it’s a great place to go to find people who share yours.

By: Gada Jane

If you would like to find out more information on the From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition click here.

From Our Dark Side Winner, Bridget Canning, Talks about Projects and Pitching at the 2017 Frontières Market

Less than a week after the 2017 Frontières International Co-Production Market in June, Bridget Canning was listed on IndieWires “The Best Horror Films Yet to Be Made” List. Here is what she had to say about her time at Frontières.

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Frontières was amazing. I left feeling much more confident in my ability as a writer and storyteller and with more “tools” for getting my work out there. Pitching was nerve-wracking, but overall, the experience was worth it – especially as the pitch session worked as an ice-breaker for meetings. Many meetings went from discussing my project to talking about stories themselves; it was great to get to the heart of why people work in film.  I left Frontières with many contacts I feel would be a pleasure to collaborate with.

If I was to do it again, I think I would spend more time researching participants to get a closer “fit” as to what we are both looking for. And I would gladly do it again.

        — Bridget Canning; Author

To find out more about the From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition click here.

Samantha Loney, From Our Dark Side Winner, Dishes about the Highlights (and more) of the 2017 Frontières Market

We asked Samantha Loney some questions about taking her project Married to Murder to the 2017 Frontières International Co-production Market and Networking Platform and here is what she had to say. 

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What were your Top 3 Highlights from your time at the Frontières Market? 

1 – Seeing a rough cut scene from George A. Romero’s Road of the Dead!!!

2 – Getting the chance to pitch my project alongside some amazing ladies and be berated in front of an audience by an amazing group of judges. Was a great learning experience.

3 – The Femme Fatales ladies only gathering was amazing. It was a safe space to discuss our period cramps, and how to overthrow the patriarchy. Stay tuned world.

What was one of the lessons learned through the experience?

Grey Nuns Residence is a great place to stay because you’re a block away from all the events at Frontières, but is it worth it when you have to lay awake at night dressed in nothing but your own stank? For lazy people like me yes, but warning to future participants Grey Nuns has no air conditioning.

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If you had to pick only one, tell us about your favourite moment.

The farewell dinner. After spending four days of talking we got to eat some amazing food, and dance away all the calories from the wine we had consumed all week.

What impact do you feel being at Frontières Market had on your project?

I’ve made quite a few connections, and have been in talks with a director, which I hope works out well so we can take Married to Murder back to Frontières next year to beg for some money on the big stage!

If you would like to learn more about From Our Dark Side, click here.