If local film events were family shows on TGIF, Crazy 8’s would be Full House, because well, the theatre is usually full. That and everyone gets along with each other because for the most part, we all know each other. Everywhere you look, everywhere, there’s a face of someone you worked with. I’ve been waiting for this amazing anniversary for many years now and it has finally happened. This year everyone really took things to the top. I’d like to give shoutouts to Paul Armstrong for making this event an opportunity every single year, Co-Executive Director Erin Mussolum, Co-Producers Alicia Bernbaum and Ingo Lou, Associate Producers Kent Donguines, Sophie Caird, and Nathanael Visser, Alexandra Staeson for serving as Digital Media Producer, Vivian Chen for her beautifully designed graphics, Wendy D for taking great photos of the event, Owen Cameron for providing media passes and reliable interview sources, both content juries, the Story Editors, the Founders and Board of Directors, the spectacular six teams who made it, and everyone involved who helped make the event happen. Commence Event Highlights!
Opening Reception – For the last couple years, me and the team of Hollywood North Magazine usually ended up at the top of the building because that’s usually where the exclusive guests went. Not this time. We were instead stationed in a room that we never even knew existed. A room where all the film teams and sponsors socialized. This was a special opportunity for me to get some interviews with members of each of the film crews, and the exclusive treatment was rather swanky compared to last year. Complimentary wine, A stage for speeches, Numbered coat rack with lots of space, it doesn’t get more exclusive than that. Since I was here for the whole reception, I have no idea what happened on the other floors, but I bet everyone else was having just as much fun upstairs as we were downstairs. Right before the show, we got a speech from founder Andrew Williamson who explained the beginnings of Crazy 8’s and what its purpose was. Sue Biely from the Board of Directors had a lot to say too. It’s nice to know after over a hundred films by Crazy 8’s, Vancouver filmmakers are getting lots of recognition. Time to get to the showcase.
Introduction – Before we get into the short films, things had to get started with a speedy opening. The hosts of this year’s Crazy 8’s were hosted by Amanda Tapping, well known director who had a director mentor job on Meet Cute from #Crazy8sFilms16, alongside Lorne Cardinal, who everyone knows better as Sergeant Davis Quinton from Corner Gas, and to some as Joesph Stillwater (the bad guy) from No Reservations from #Crazy8sFilms17. Props to the creative minds who got these two fantastic folks hosting, I like how they did it. There were speeches by many individuals including John Depalm, Prem Gill, the producing team of Crazy 8’s and quite a few more people who worked in BC politics. I’m not going into full detail because everybody wanted things done fast. After all, we were planning to get out fast so we wouldn’t have to deal with rushes from two other particular events that night. Come to think of it, we would’ve been packed solid if it weren’t for yet another cartoon film sequel about dragons and a hockey game happening (Nothing against Dreamworks and the Vancouver Canucks). We then got treated to the official BTS films which showcased not only the fun, but also the hardships of this years film shoots but even though despite the chaos from on-set injuries, electrical problems, and that big surprise of snow, they managed to pull through and get some things made. I personally sympathize with the crews because I was 1st ADing a short film that weekend myself and things were hectically changing last minute. Now back to the event, and all 6 films.
Unkept – Anyone who knows me knows I’m not into sports very much. I may have joined in soccer once in a while just to be with the cool kids, but that was a long time ago. Unkept tells the story of a young boy named Kamal as he joins a baseball team. Despite getting along well with his family, he’s not happy being on the team. The big personal issue being their faith requires him to keep his long locks of hair neatly tied up in a turban. This of course makes it difficult for him to wear a hat of any kind. I used to have this problem myself having a head as large as my own (it’s not all hair) so I could relate to this in a sense. The team isn’t exactly the most friendly as evidenced by a 2-second shot of some boys, and Kamal decides to take this matter into his own hands, which is not a good idea. Not just because his mother said so, but because the outcome would become atrocious. This film had inflicted a very sad feeling for me and the audience really let out quite the gasp during the revelation. Based on a similar experience by writer/producer Pawan Deol who happens to be South-Asian, the film was a simple but moving story which shows how connected many families can be just through their beliefs. Director Michael P. Vidler explained that even though there was quite the pressure he had so much fun and they actually managed to avoid the snow unlike some other shoots.
The Mirror – Anyone who knows me very well knows I have an unnatural fear of mirrors. One reason being is what happens in this movie. Directed by Nessa Aref who explained there were a lot of issues that made the shoot seem crazy, specifically the snow dump, a power outage, and a last minute schedule flip, but everyone managed to pull their weight and even the cast managed to form a good bond together. In The Mirror, Olivia and her two friends sneak away from their prom and trespass into an abandoned house put up for sale. It isn’t long before their trouble causing antics get them into some serious problems, and the film goes from funny to disturbing in just a matter of seconds. All from looking into a cursed mirror. A great mix of genres, some good ominous lighting, and incredible storytelling. Everyone did a good job on this, especially those I knew personally. That’s right, Chrissey and Shaun. You two did great in your respective departments of Makeup and Editing.
Hatch – Okay, Now this, THIS, was one that people really enjoyed. Hatch is the hilarious and dark sci-fi type short which tells a rather strange story about a young lady who has suffered a miscarriage which really gets to her. In a strange manner of coincidence, an alien egg happens to be discovered in her backyard so she adopts the strange looking egg and names it Eric. I spoke to producers Robin Macabulos and Brent Dawes, who were practically prepared for the fun insanity, from working as PA’s the year before, and getting a generous amount of financial support from Crazy 8’s and a lot of friendly sponsors. I honestly almost felt some connection with this one as I personally know some people (maybe a little too personally) who have had miscarriages. Hatch had everything, a disturbing opening which I feel I’ve seen before somewhere, a creative sci-fi concept, cameos by the Robbin twins, and a way to give a miscarriage a rather comedic feel. Hey, if the geniuses behind Bojack Horseman could make a catchy song about abortion, and Panta Mosleh was able to address religious conflicts with sheer hilarity, anyone can take any bad time and make it somehow more enjoyable in a funny sense.
Okay, this is the moment where the intermission came through. During this time, and before the show, the announcer practically had to say the same thing twice about the show starting in two minutes. I didn’t do any mingling because there’s never a lot of time to do so. Besides, almost everyone I knew was on the bottom level this year while I was up in the balcony. Next year, I’m definitely staying on the bottom. But shortly before the films started again, we got provided with another short explaining the origin of Crazy 8’s, back when the number 8 was more than just 8 days, but also 8 lucky winners who financed their films with 800 dollars. Clever. It was a good and interesting super short doc that showed this great event lasted for 20 years despite so many people not wanting to sponsor it because they didn’t take the concept seriously at first. What are they thinking now? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them changed their minds.
Parabola – Written and Directed by Lee Shorten, he described the shoot as his most stressful experience of all time, and he says that’s based on his past experience as a lawyer. Parabola is an ominous but powerful film that shows the story of a Japanese woman who has multiple family problems. One of them being the fact that she’s divorced and never gets along with her ex-husband, especially when they meet for the brief moments when she drops off her son for visits. Another issue is her father, an ex-con who has finally finished doing time in jail. So naturally, reconnecting with him is a burden, she practically spends more time sitting in a bar trying to drink her issues away. It induced quite a lot of feelings and the shoot itself may have been the most craziest of all. Because of the frustrations of location scouting and timing, there were lots of issues. But everybody personally knows it as the craziest due to the fact that the smoke alarm went off for two hours due to a miscalculation with a smoke machine (oops) and they had to go on with the shoot. Still they evened those odds, in the most professional way possible. It was believed they had to shoot with the sound of the alarm, but they didn’t. I’ve experienced something similar myself so I can relate to alarm malfunctions.
Ada – Taking us back to the early Victorian times, Ada Lovelace has plans for the future, to create a machine that later gets used by every single person. That’s right. The computer. But when she hosts a get-together none of the men at the table take her financial request seriously. So she has to only go for another option against the word of her butler and her brother, through gambling. When I spoke to Julie Bruns regarding this role, she said Ada was a completely different character than she’s ever played before, but she was able to completely identify with this lady who faced a lot of adversity bringing the life-changing device we all know and depend on. I really learned a lot about this film, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people learned a lot of interesting facts themselves. Quite impressive to know that the blueprints for the first computer were designed by a woman. But then, I’ve always said women were very skilled. This film proves plenty of points besides just that.
Idols Never Die – What happens when a K-Pop star takes a wrong step in life, like overdosing, inappropriately touching someone, or in this case, committing suicide? Jerome Yoo found a fun catchy upbeat way to make this scenario interesting with a story about Korean superfans. Known for his Storyhive Selection, Gong Ju, Yoo coasted along this production despite the plethora of issues such as locations and actors. In a mad scramble they managed to get great performances from inexperienced actors who have just begun their legacy, a location in Coquitlam that was much better than they ever envisioned, and a final production that was all around fun. So in the short film, fictional K-Pop star ND (Never-Die) surprisingly dies despite his name. But when a school club of his hardcore fans hear a secret message while playing his record backwards, they decide to fulfill his final wish of his ashes being scattered around a broken tree in the woods. I had a lot of fun watching this, it was edited perfectly by two great fellows I know, Lawrence Le Lam and Thomas Affolter. The whole plot was funny and engaging, the characters were outstanding, and the whole outcome was flawless. Add some karaoke in the credits at the end and I had such a great time. I will admit I have a bit of a guilty pleasure for K-Pop, but that’s because someone introduced me to it long ago. Given her dislike for male K-Pop stars, I wonder what she would think of this?
Afterparty – Okay, before I plunge right into the details of this, the Crazy 8’s crews squeezed their ways onto the stage for the quickest photo op ever. After that, everyone scattered out the door to make it down to Science World (or Telus World of Science) where the Crazy just gets crazier. This was a better chance for me to mingle with people as I got around and associated with everyone. Nowadays, this is the only time of year I go to Science World, and more than half of it is usually closed off. But there’s a good chance of purchasing drinks, having a couple Female DJs in separate locations, and some exhibits that the adults got to try out. A new addition (or something I never noticed before) was free food, which was also part of the sponsors party. But for those who just didn’t want nachos, spreads, and breads, the bar also featured sandwiches and other goodies for purchasing. Crazy 8’s was at an all-time high this year in both the screening, and the afterparty. I’m excited to see where these short films will be headed within the next few years, and I’m especially hoping for Crazy 8’s to last for over another 20 years. It’s sure to last a long time if it’s already 20 years old.