Filmmakers win awards in Dead North Short Horror Film Challenge


photo courtesy of Dan Harrington
Dan Harrington, left, Craig Kovatch and Lyndon Dow film their psychological thriller ‘Spectormentia’ at The Rooster convenience store in the wee hours of the morning.

It might have been screams of horror heard on March 13, but they were certainly followed by yelps of excitement.

Those were yelps of support behind the Hay River filmmaking team that got together to make the psychological thriller ‘Spectormentia’.

Out of the four teams that entered the Dead North Short Horror Film Challenge this year, the locally-produced film won for best screenplay by Lyndon Dow and Daniel Harrington, and best actor for Matthew Nimegeers, who played Frank, a creepy, ethereal-type hobo.

The team also included Craig Kovatch on camera and sound; Jeremy Carroll as protagonist, James; and actors and actresses Trish Broedner, Jenna Snow and William Delorme.

We’re elated,” said Harrington. “It was a lot of work. I’m glad to be done with it.”

Members of the group drove to Yellowknife to view the screening for the challenge on March 13.

Their short film is a psychological thriller that plays on the fears of the audience. The main character, James, suffers from a justifiable paranoia that he is being watched while suffering insomnia late at night. In his travels between home and an all-night convenience store, he comes across the vagrant played by Nimegeers who seems to have an answer for his troubles.

He had to play a crazy weird character and he just gave ‘er,” said Jay Bulckaert, co-director of the Artless Collective in Yellowknife, of Nimegeers’ best-actor performance. “He just pulled it off. It was actually quite convincing.”

Bulckaert also said the script was the most professional submitted in the competition.

Writing is a very important part of the filmmaking process and we wanted to make sure people got into that,” he said. “They delivered a perfectly formatted, fleshed out, professional script. It was the best technical script and also an engaging and interesting story.”

I was blown away by everything and I’m not just saying that,” added Bulckaert. “People really took this seriously and took it to task.”

The challenge is part of a larger initiative to encourage film production in the NWT thanks to the two-year-old not-for-profit NWT Professional Media Association.

The group formed as a lobby group for the film industry in the North and ultimately hopes to make Yellowknife a Mecca for northern film production.

There are already 10-plus professionals employed full-time in the film industry in the capital, said Bulckaert.

For next year’s challenge, he said organizers hope to get entries from the Yukon and Nunavut, and maybe funding to help filmmakers with production costs.

Bulckaert said NWT filmmakers have an advantage of access to training and gear from Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP) in Yellowknife.

Winning entrants in this year’s challenge received a DVD package to send to other film festivals, and a gift certificate to access equipment from WAMP.

Harrington said the Hay River group hopes to again enter the competition next year.

They will be submitting this year’s effort to film festivals, and they are looking to hold a screening at the Frozen Grape Kitchen Shop in the coming days.

— Angele Cano