The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is one of the most respected (if not the preeminent) adventure and outdoor film festival in existence. It is held for nine days every fall in Canada’s oldestÂ national park, Banff. Afterwards, select films are screened in forty countries during their World Tour. I have been attending the World Tour in Pasadena for the last few years looking forward to a time when I could attend the festival itself (hopefully as a contributing filmmaker). With the release of G.O. Get Outside, this seemed like the ideal year to take that step.
While reviewing their site for submission information, I stumbled across their Adventure Filmmakers’ Workshopâ€”an intensive 8-day program during the festival focused specifically on outdoor and adventure filmmaking. I decided to both submit G.O. to the festival and to apply for the workshop. The application process may have been more involved than my college applications and was the first time I have written a resume in several years. In the end, G.O. was not accepted to the festival largely because it was too rudimentary and instructional for the festival crowd. I was, although, one of the studentsÂ selected forÂ the workshop.
November 1st was a busy day. I woke early for a 12-hour shoot, went immediatelyÂ to a Day of the Dead party afterwards, and then directly to the airport for my international flight to Alberta, Canada and the beginning of 10 long and fantastic days at the Banff Centre, an arts school situated in a national park. Each day there was as busy as that day before I arrived, packed full of some combination of classroom time, festival screenings, socializing and parties, and churning out a short movie. It was like being in college againâ€”little sleep, lots of fun and productivity (and a little stress). I had beenÂ unsure about whether the workshop would be a valuable investment of time and money. In the end, it may have been one of the best decisions I have made in years. The instructors (Michael Brown and Keith Partridge) were extremely knowledgeable and all-around great people. My fellow students were also awesomeÂ peopleâ€”everyone was eager to help each other and share knowledge. I hope to work with many (or all of them) in the future and I look forward to seeing what they all create. We also had access to facilities and festival events most attendees do not. I left with an inundation of pertinent information and valuable contacts it would have taken many years to accumulate.
As part of the program, we were broken into six groups and tasked with creating a short movie (everything from shooting to final post production and screening) within two days (while also finding time to party in town at night). Unbeknownst to us, a panel of judges incorporating festival filmmakers and employees of Red Bull and National Geographic were going to screen our shorts alongside of us and then choose their top three to play during the actual film festival. My group came in second place. G.O. didn’t make it into the festival, but our two-day student film did.
I’ve already started working on my submission for next year.