News / Ottawa

Indie films show their stuff as moviemaking on track to grow in Ottawa

With a double bill of two made-in-Ottawa indie films about to be screened and another in production, young local filmmakers are out to prove the film scene is alive and well and ready for more.

"I've heard a lot about smaller productions, even Hollywood ones moving here," said director Jith Paul, who plans to show his short film Al-gebr(a) at Algonquin College Feb. 23 along with feature film Thirteen Downs, which he helped shoot. "The profile of the city is going up and I'm sure the proposed sound stage will add in that respect."

Along with the planned stage idea, floated by Invest Ottawa, around the city there are lots of people shooting in digital SLR cameras, Paul said, adding that competitions, such as Digi60, where filmmakers are given 60 days to write, shoot and edit a new film are challenging movie makers to raise the bar.

"Al-gebr(a) came out of Digi60. It was 13-and-a-half minutes, but I had to cut it down from what I wanted it to be to eight minutes or less," said Paul, noting the full version of the short will be presented in the College's new Algonquin Commons Theatre.

Scripted by local writer Jennifer Mulligan, the film tells the tale of a visual artist who loses sight in both eyes after falling in love with a new artistic muse.

Just a week before the show, Paul will begin filming his latest work called Cells at the Ottawa Jail Hostel at Arts Court. "It's very much a collaborative effort," said Paul of the film which he is financing, in part, through PayPal crowdfunding campaign where people can help microfinance the work.

"We have 30 people subscribe already," he said of the campaign. "The film is about five convicts who wake up in new jail cells and find out they're part of a game where they have to pick one person to be set free."

Nevertheless, Paul is excited to show of his recent work at the new theatre, indicating it could be just the launch pad that the city's filmmakers need to show their work.

"Ottawa needs more of these indie friendly venues," he said. "If you have a screening at the Bytowne or Mayfair Theatre, people have to pay for parking. This is right on the transit line."

This article originally stated incorrectly that Paul microfinanced the film through Indiegogo.

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