Jerome Skeete made the decision to enter the Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF) with less than two days till the deadline for submissions.
With time running short, he gathered his sister, her boyfriend and an old bike. Then he went off to make a movie.
The result? Beater, a silent, one-minute film that Skeete, 38, describes as the story of “a bike in transition as it moves from one owner to the next.”
It is a subject familiar to Skeete, who grew up riding his bike in Scarborough.
“I would spend my summers biking along the creek paths,” he said. “And I think that’s sort of part of me now.”
Skeete still rides his bike, but says now his main interest lies in writing.
“Writing my own stories, along with short films, is part of me being able to express myself creatively,” he said. “And so I just decided, ‘Let’s give (TUFF) a shot’.
“It served the purpose of trying to push me forward and do things creatively,” Skeete said. “That’s why I decided to do it.”
Beater is one of 82 films selected to show during TUFF’s 10-day run from Sept. 6 to 16 on screens throughout the TTC.
The festival, now in its seventh year, is working very well, TUFF executive director Sharon Switzer said. TUFF received 290 submissions from 32 countries just this year.
TUFF expects creativity, experimental work and people who think about their audience — commuters — when considering a film for a finalist spot, Switzer said.
Skeete’s expectations for himself were the same. Beater was shot completely in reverse.
“It’s not so much the story. It’s the experiment,” Skeete said. “Experimenting and playing: that’s what made me inspired to do it.”
Filmmaker Bruce McDonald, TUFF’s guest judge, is set to award prizes in different categories, including Viewers’ Choice, on Sept. 15. Audiences can vote online for their favourite film at torontourbanfilmfestival.com.
In addition to being shown on TTC screens around the city, all 82 films can be seen on TUFF’s website and this weekend — Sept. 13, 14 and 15 — at the Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W.