Another round of Storyhive is drawing to a close, with voting for the newest round of Telus produced digital shorts ending at noon on Monday. Before then, we want to highlight the amazing Alberta talent putting their hat into the ring, and remind you that you still have the weekend to cast up to 5 votes daily.
The 30 most popular projects will receive grants to develop their projects into full short films, with the top project of that subset going on to receive more funding on top of that. Alberta is becoming a new hub of Canadian filmmaking, and we want to make sure that the local talent gets put front and centre.
Log into Storyhive and give our local talent some props for their hard work.
#5 – OUT FOR BLOOD: FEATURING STRIKER
A team of mercenaries is sent to capture Striker after they are summoned to the Supreme Keg Overlord’s home planet.
Okay, these guys have one of the strongest starting positions of any Storyhive team, regardless of province. They’ve been together eight years as a band, this short would be the third in the Striker film/music video series, and their extant videos have hundreds of thousands of views online. And they’re all great videos.
That’s not lip service. Striker is a tight metal band, and they’ve made a smart move teaming up with a great filmmaker. Director Lindsay Robinson makes imaginative, fun movies that just happen to be extremely silly. He has Striker travel through time, fight enormous stop motion keg-robots, tear apart henchmen with their instruments and cover rocker babes in buckets of blood. It’s over-the-top without taking itself seriously, in the most endearing way possible.
These guys could easily have topped our list… but they don’t need the help. They’ve already won a previous round of Telus funding for music videos. But if they’re going to keep putting out these great shorts, then Telus should keep giving them money. Good on you, mates.
#4 – ONE, ONE THOUSAND
A story of a photographers grueling ascent up a mountain in 1891 to capture an impossible photo.
Much like Longhorn Winter puts Albertan cattle at the centre of their story, One One Thousand focuses on Alberta by turning their camera on the Rocky Mountains. Edmonton creator Justin Brunelle has found a great justification for these jaw-dropping vistas, following the story of a 19th century photographer looking for a new angle, one birds-eye view that we take for granted in the 21st century.
Their additional pitch videos also take advantage of the mountains, taking us behind the scenes on Canmore’s Mt. Ha Ling as the team scouts locations. The challenges of recording sound atop a wind-blown mountain are obvious, but so is the teams dedication. This shoot is clearly very physically demanding, you couldn’t make this film without passion.
A western pioneer in both photography and mountaineering risks his life for the sake of his art. This could be a very cinematic story that speaks to Albertan values of hard work and love of nature, but could inspire any audience.
#3 – PSYBORGS
An elite team of psychic cybernetic super-soldiers band together to destroy the insidious forces of T.O.X.I.N.
Psionic blasts and laser shotguns. A man in a wheelchair barreling down the side of a rocky mountain. Pseudo-psychics straining to blast open doors with the power of their mind. Ill-fitting jackets, bandanas, and fingerless gloves for every single character. Psyborgs is wonderfully silly, over-the-top, and in many places just plain bizarre.
A loving genre homage from creator David Hiatt, Psyborgs is a retro action-comedy that has clearly committed to having as much fun as possible. Much like team Striker (apologies to Team Stryker), this team not only makes films that audiences will enjoy watching, but that the creators will enjoy making. Sometimes you see a project wish you had thought of it first. This is a project I just wish I could be a part of.
Uniquely, the Psyborgs team has fully committed to the community based aspect of Storyhive. Liking the Psyborgs fan page or following their Twitter account immediately enters you in a series of contests: Full size Psyborgs film posters (a glorious retro b-movie mess) are up for grabs, as is access to behind the scenes bonus content, and – here’s the big one – the chance to actually die a ridiculous on-screen death in the film itself. I signed up immediately, because it is a life-long dream of mine to have my face exploded on-screen, Scanners style.
#2 – MARAUDER
A wanderer in the post-apocalyptic wasteland seeks revenge on the men who stole her motorcycle.
A female-centric revenge story in a post-apocalyptic Alberta? I can’t speak for the masses, but between Mad Max and Fallout 4, my lust for high-octane ruined-earth scenarios has never been higher. Bring it on!
Brendon Rathbone’s teaser shows that he is sitting on some brilliant footage already, meaning this project is well underway and far past the pre-production stages. He’s made excellent use of the open badlands around Calgary, evoking the vast emptiness of a wasteland in which humanity is still collapsing. Visions of the original Mad Max trilogy leap to mind here, and this is one of the few projects with a clear projected trajectory from short to feature film.
My favourite selling point is a closing detail from their synopsis: The hero enters the final battle with only four bullets in her gun. That’s four focus objects driving tension for a climactic battle in which the protagonist is already outnumbered and outgunned. Wondering exactly how those four bullets will be used, and our expectation of clever twists in their use, is what keeps me coming back to this teaser.
#1 – WOLF HANDS
Vaughn arrives at a late night truck stop to save his girlfriend Jenny from a surprise attack by Professor Orchid.
Okay: we’re a little biased toward Wolf Hands, but it’s justified. Since we’ve reached the top of our top 10 AB projects, Let’s do the top 10 run down from the plethora of reasons Wolf Hands is our number one draw:
- This isn’t a horror/comedy b-movie. Straight out of a comic book? Of course. It sounds odd saying it aloud, but no matter how many Franencrime monsters stumble in with monitors in their stomachs, the heart of Wolf Hands is still in its characters. Vaughn’s struggles to come to terms with a new life he didn’t want, and Jenny’s fight to make their relationship work, remain grounded. These issues are played straight, not as parody, spoof or satire.
- Wolf Hands has a stacked deck of award-winning actors and filmmakers already on board.
- This is a film that would help shed light on one of the best indie comics being published out of Alberta, and we are all about home-grown indie comics getting the limelight they deserve.
- A strong and essential female character. Jenny’s serves a dual-role as both love interest and foil to a despairing Vaughn, but she’s far more in control of the situation than he is. She’s tough, unafraid to fight, and the entire reason their relationship doesn’t crumble apart under the terrible stress of these wolf hands.
- A fresh spin on our beloved werewolves – it’s just the hands! You do the math! But a creeping or partial infection does offer a new slate of opportunities past the traditional immediate full moon transformation.
- In the wake of series like Twilight and Talking Dead, we’ve long since succumbed to zombie and vampire fatigue. Yes there were werewolves in Twilight, but they don’t count so stop asking.
- Bitten and Wolf Cop have established that werewolves are a growth market. #sohotrightnow
- After this team’s intriguing pitches for Baby Face and Swagger were overlooked in earlier Storyhive/ComedyCoup competitions, we’d like to see these guys have an opportunity to bring one of their great ideas to life.
- A vibrant and unique range of colour combinations we don’t often see in comics, let alone film. Oranges, yellows, salmon pinks, teal, and aquamarine dominate the Wolf Hands series colour palette,
- It’s all out there already. The first two seasons (plus Christmas special) are already freely readable on the Wolf Hands website. These are comics, but they’re also beautifully detailed storyboards for this digital short. And, with any luck, the continuing web series adaptation that would follow.
Alright! You’ve heard enough from us, go over the Storyhive project page and make up your own minds about which Alberta projects deserve to see the light of day. Remember that your votes will bring 15 of these amazing ideas to life, so get out there and get involved!