Filmmakers are as important as bankers, Henry Wong is setting out to prove.
That’s why he’s organizing the first annual Toronto Youth Film Festival, seeking submissions from amateur filmmakers from universities across the GTA.
“Just because someone’s made something, and it may not stimulate the economy as directly as, say, a banker would, that does not mean that the thoughts and perspectives of this person does not reflect society,” Wong says.
He’s looking for entries that “demonstrate both an art and a social commentary of some sort.”
Wong wants the submissions from filmmakers age 18 to 26, with preference given to students. The goal is to motivate students to produce high-quality work, as opposed to “stuff that people like to put on YouTube simply for the sake of putting it up,” Wong says.
“Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it has to suck.”
Wong wants to encourage development of the craft, as many students end up pushing their filmmaking to the side, where it becomes more of a hobby.
The plan is to screen the submissions in June before a crowd of journalists and film scholars, so those who submit will be able to “motivate themselves to go all the way out in terms of their filmmaking.” By impressing a professional crowd, he says, participants will not only get to showcase their work but also get feedback, to help them improve on any future endeavours.
Wong has even struck a deal with Cineplex to show the films on one of their screens, charging half the normal admission.
Submissions will be judged based on their storytelling prowess, and how the screenwriters, performers, editors, and cinematographers tell the tale. Aside from this, as long as the work is professional, anything goes.
“Films could be as simple as demonstrating the value of friendship,” Wong says. “Or they could talk about the meaning of life.”
Subjects could be as simple as how videogames affect your life, or as profound as doctors being given the right to decide who lives and who dies.
The grand prize will be presented at an awards ceremony at Centennial College on Progress Ave.
More information can be found on the festival’s website, torontoyouthshorts.com.