Capilano dominates the finals in Vancouver's Crazy8s short film competition
// Claire McGilivray

“Like writing a sonnet, the constraints would inspire the art.” This statement is part of the back-story for Vancouver’s Crazy8s film competition, as listed on their website. The constraints referred to are eight crazy days being the amount of time that the triumphant emerging filmmakers have to create their short films on a minuscule budget of $800.

Currently in its 13th year of activity, the competition is a multi-step process that attracts dozens of hopeful amateur and emerging professional filmmakers. It was inspired in 1999 by the rapid-paced “Fly Filmmaking” at the Seattle International Film Festival. The idea began with filmmaker Rick Stevenson, and was enthusiastically supported by Rhonda Monteith, the past Executive Director of the Directors Guild of Canada, BC. Eventually, after the competition changed hands a few times, the not-for-profit Crazy8s Film Society was created to take on the job and the festival continued on as an annual cornerstone feature of the Vancouver film scene.

This year with their entrance fee, all 118 filmmaking teams were privy to an hour-long pitch workshop and educational experience with Mickey Rogers, a local entrepreneur and strategic coach. From 118 video pitches, 40 semi-finalists were chosen to present their concepts in person to a jury of film industry professionals.

Of these 40 filmmakers, 13 finalists were selected to workshop their script with a professional story editor. Capilano University made a name for itself in the competition with four of the 13 finalists being Capilano alumni, faculty, and even one current student.

Among the final films is Babies in the Wall, written/directed by Doreen Manuel and to be produced by Tamara Bell & Dwayne Beaver. Manuel is the coordinator of Capilano’s Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program and she is also the winner of the Women in Film and TV Spotlight Award for Excellence in Education.

Marshall Axani, a graduate of Capilano’s Motion Picture Arts program, placed in the top six with his film concept The Vessel, alongside producers Diana Donaldson and Graham Wardle. When asked, Axani describes the film as a “dramatic thriller with a sci-fi element to it.” As a filmmaker, he values “morally ambiguous films that challenge you to think in a certain way [and/or] pose questions you have to ask within yourself.”

As an already established filmmaker and the co-founder of his own production company, Awkward Moment Productions, Axani has already established himself in the industry.

Axani credits his university education for helping him develop his craft, and believes that it’s valuable to any artist. “[It] gives you the tools to get a lot of hands on experience. That’s the biggest thing for artists: unless you can make the mistakes and fail a few times, and succeed a few times … I don’t think you can really define who you are or present your voice in the way you necessarily want to; you haven’t found it yet.”

“When I came out I had the language, I had the experience, I knew what films I didn’t want to do and the ones that I did do, I picked what I enjoyed from them and continue to build on those experiences,” he explains.

Axani is also the recipient of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association Emerging Director Award.

Capilano Documentary program graduate Camille Mitchell (A Mother’s Love) also made it to top six Crazy8s finalists with her producer Jonathan Tammuz. Writer/director Wayne Robinson and his producer, current Capilano student Nigel Edwards, made the top 13 finalists, with their film concept, Nudis.

Each of these artists was selected to make their film concept and artistic vision become a reality.

“Crazy8s is truly the single best way in B.C. to launch your career,” states Zach Lipovsky, a Crazy8s alumni. Lipovsky is perhaps the most successful finalists the competition has seen yet. His one-shot film Crazy Late helped him secure a spot in the top five competitors on the Steven Spielberg reality television show On the Lot.

For potential winners, the competition offers fantastic exposure to leading industry professionals. Axani describes the competition as “a good launching pad for people.”

“There are a lot of good companies that put into it, through the industry. It’s building more of a relationship with them so that when you go on to do a bigger project, like a feature film, you have a standing with them,” he says.

As in the case of Lipovsky, some will go on to be incredibly successful filmmakers, with their work going on to be shared with an international industry.

Included in the support package for the top six finalists is a high definition camera, sound recording equipment, a lighting and grip package, complete production insurance, free location permits, all required paperwork, access to edit suites if required, and online editing. The editing includes features such as title generation, colour correction, and professional sound mixing capabilities.

Winners are also provided with access to the services of a casting director and discounts on vehicle/props/costume rental. These resources are crucial if they are going to stretch an $800 budget into a professional-grade short film.

For potential filmmakers, Axani has a few simple words of advice: “Go in with stories that you’re attached to personally. It has to be a story that resonates with you as an artist and one that you, personally, are very attached to and interested in. That human experience relates to everybody.”

The upcoming Crazy8s gala film screening is on March 30, 2012 at the Vancouver Centre for Performing Arts, 777 Homer Street, in Vancouver, BC. For further information regarding tickets, go to

//Claire McGilivray, writer
//Graphics by JJ Brewis

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: