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STORMING THE GATES IN 2020…
In 2020, we are doubling down on our Northern genre filmmakers in the hopes of creating an unstoppable army of high-level projects that can be unleashed into the national and international genre market. We want to see Northern filmmakers getting their films accepted to as many genre film festivals as possible in Canada and beyond in 2020. We also want those projects to get accepted into shorts-to-features and industry pitch sessions so that a few years from now, several Dead North shorts are going into feature film production. And if you think that’s a bit lofty a goal, mull this over:
- As of November 2019, over 170 films have been made through Dead North.
- Of those films, over 40 have travelled to film festivals around the world such as Fantasia, imagineNATIVE, BFI, NY Horror Festival, After Dark Film Festival, Clermont Ferrand, Blood in the Snow, and festivals in Estonia, Germany, France, Spain, Serbia and many more countries.
- One Dead North film made by Kirsten Carthew in 2014 “Fish out of Water” has now been developed into a feature film, “Polaris”, which will be shooting in the Yukon in 2020.
- Three Dead North films were invited to Frontières in July 2019, one of the most prestigious film markets in the world put on by Fantasia Film Festival. Two of these films were pitched in their Shorts to Features program which Dead North is proud to announce a partnership with.
To solidify this goal, Dead North is very excited to announce that 2020 will be the inaugural year for the HyperBorea Talent Lab. Hyperborea will be a 2-day bootcamp for anyone who has made a Dead North film and wants to whip it (and themselves) into shape for festivals, pitches and development into a feature film. From start to finish, our goal is to help our filmmakers walk away with the best film package possible to launch them into the genre stratosphere…and it will be free for Dead North alumni. More info to come on that soon, in the meantime, square up and get your game face on cuz we’re going in hot.
Pablo and Jay (aka: JayLo)
Dead North Film Festival
P.S. We are going back to allowing films to be 10 minutes long for Dead North alumni!
2020 DEAD NORTH GUIDELINES
*VERY IMPORTANT Please carefully read everything below.
It is only 15 minutes of your time to read this entire document which gives you a complete understanding of how Dead North works. It is your responsibility to read this and learn all of the guidelines outlined here.
MAIN ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES
- Films must be AT LEAST 75% made-in-the-Circumpolar-North region of the world. This means specifically 75% of the members of your production (writers, producers, directors, cast, crew, editors, etc) must be people who reside full-time in the Circumpolar North (check the map at the link below if you’re not sure, and contact organizers to be extra sure).
- The film itself must be 100% shot on-location in the Circumpolar North, (above the 60th parallel) ie. the area traditionally covered by the terms “Arctic” and “Subarctic,” in the northern lands of the world’s eight northernmost countries (the Arctic Eight): Canada, Finland, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States (Alaska). Dead North reserves the right to refuse any film that tries to circumvent this rule. Circumpolar Map – www.canada.ca/content/dam/polar-polaire/documents/pdf/arctic_map.pdf
- Films must be originally written and produced for the 2020 Dead North Film Festival. Previously made films might be allowed to screen, at the discretion of Dead North, but will not be entered into the Zombear Competition.
- You do NOT have to be a professional filmmaker by any means. Believe us, first-time filmmakers win a ton of Zombears and have made some of the best and most original Dead North films to date!
- No sponsored content. Films that promote a business/product, in any way, may not be eligible.
- Dead North is a horror-based festival that screens films with R-Rated content. There is no age limit for Dead North, however our goal is to create a space for filmmakers to explore bold, challenging and visionary work. If you are easily offended, this might not be the festival for you. There is a youth category and youth are most welcome but this is not a youth-oriented festival. Entrants under 18 must provide written consent signed by their legal guardian to participate.
- Dead North has officially adopted the Onscreen Pathways and Protocols as outlined by imagineNATIVE and the Indigenous Screen Office. We care deeply about Indigenous stories being told by Indigenous creators in full control of their own narrative. We are committed to leveraging the force of Dead North to help protect and preserve this space of pure creativity for our Indigenous creators and community members. As such, if you are not Indigenous but are wanting to make a film that deals primarily with Indigenous content, myth or legend, we respectfully ask that you read this document first to assess if it’s really you who should be telling that story. Dead North reserves the right to refuse films that might be deemed culturally insensitive or counter to the intent and vision as outlined in this document: www.imaginenative.com/publications
Registration opens November 20, 2019. REGISTRATION CLOSES and SCRIPT DEADLINE is December 20, 2019. Yes, that’s much earlier this year and here’s why. After 8 years of running this festival, we have assessed that nearly 80% of all films made are shot in the last 3 weeks prior to the deadline. This has meant in the past that almost all the filmmakers are only using ⅓ of the time they’ve been given. So we are backing everything up this year in order to give the festival more time to prepare once final films are delivered. The sooner you register, the sooner you can write and the more time you have to make your film! Everyone gets the same amount of time, so if you drag your heels and wait until December 19 to register, you will still have to deliver your script by December 20, 2019, and your film on February 3, 2020 just like everybody else!
- $100 per film (Adults: 18 or over)
- $25 per film (Youth: 17 or under)
- The fee goes to the screening costs and promotion of your film and includes a 1-year membership to the Dead North Film Festival society. You end up getting a couple of free tickets to your screening (not to mention free workshops) which effectively means you get your money back and then some.
- This fee is non-refundable.
- How to Pay? Follow the instructions at the end of this document.
November 20, 2019: Registration opens
December 20, 2019: Registration closes and Script deadline
February 3, 2020: Film deadline
February 27-March 1, 2020: Dead North Film Festival
*Pro-Tip: Put these dates in your calendar right now and work backwards from the February 3rd delivery date to figure out how much time you will need to complete your film before the deadline.
OVERALL TIME COMMITMENT*
- From the date of registration on November 20, 2019, to the date of delivering your film before 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time on February 3rd, 2020 you technically have 2 months total to write, shoot and edit a 5-10 minute film. Depending entirely on how you organize yourselves, this could be a few hours over the course of a few weekends between now and then, or a crazy-stressful full-time week of work right before the deadline if you leave it all to the last minute. In other words, there is a huge amount of time in which to make a short film, but how it is organized is entirely your choice. There will be NO EXTENSIONS given, NO EXEMPTIONS made, to give one team more time than any others. Zero. NONE. Don’t even ask. 1 Minute Late = Disqualification (This means your film will still play but will not be eligible for Zombears).
*Pro-Tip: To restate the obvious, be organized and prepare ahead with lots of time to submit early!
Plan to complete your edit at least a full week before the deadline and work backwards from that.
BUT I NEED CAST/CREW/GEAR/IDEAS… HELP!
- Don’t fret, most people who make a Dead North film need all these things too. We have created an awesome Facebook page for all things Dead North related. Over 2100 people belong to the page, the vast majority are folks who live in the North, so join the group and post away to find creative collaborators to help you with all of your cast/crew/gear/advice needs! check out https://www.facebook.com/deadnorthfilmfestival/ for some inspiration
LENGTH OF FILM:
- 5 minutes: The only option for first-time Dead North filmmakers. First- time means that you have not written, directed and/or edited a Dead North film before. For example, you might have acted in a Dead North film…but unless you’ve written, directed and edited a film before, then you still have to deliver a 5 minute or less film. Edit your final films to be tight, and make sure they come in at the 5-minute mark or under, credits included. No exceptions.
- 10 minutes. For Dead North alumni only. Alumni in this regard means that you’ve written, directed and/or edited at least 1 Dead North film in the past (no other roles count, sorry). So again, this does not mean your film has to be 10 minutes, it means it can be a maximum of 10 minutes total. Edit your final films to be tight, and make sure they come in at the 10-minute mark or under, credits included. No exceptions.
- HORROR / FANTASY / SCI-FI / THRILLER or a combination of those. The Circumpolar North is a strange, mysterious and mystical place full of legends and strange tales, so use all of that to your advantage. Films without these genres as their overriding narrative may not be accepted.
- Teams will be given the writing guidelines (and mandatory Northern Elements) within 1-2 days of registering and paying their Registration Fee.
- We suggest you take no more than two weeks to write a script. Once your script is written, you are required to send it to Dead North to be “approved”. These approvals are not about censorship or creative control. Rather, they are meant to help you with some feedback from seasoned and experienced Dead North veterans, and it encourages teams to respect the writing process. The script reviews also allow judges to vote on the best screenplay and ensure the two mandatory Northern elements have been included.
- Your script must include the 2 mandatory Northern Elements. Any script missing the Northern Elements is ineligible for Zombears.
- As soon as teams have the green-light on their scripts, they can move into production. The sooner you get us your scripts, the more time you have to shoot and edit. It is up to you how you spend that time. Again, the overall goal here is to create original, well-written and well-produced content (you have 2 months!) more than it is about competing under crazy, reduced timelines. That said, be efficient, organized and do good work.
*Pro-Tip: Pre-Production is the key to success! Think about everything upfront, plan for everything in advance. Expect harsh weather and limited daylight, anticipate gear not working in the winter climate, create contingencies for cast and crew getting cold. Be over-prepared and you’ll thank yourself.
- Don’t just plan for enough time to slap it together on a timeline. Think about sound design, foley, colouring, music scoring, effects and build the time needed in your production schedule to allow for good work to be done in all areas. Adobe Premiere Pro CC is a great editing system and a subscription only cost $25/month (you could buy it for just one month if you wanted to):
- On-Set Audio: Get close to your actors if you are using an on-camera microphone. Double check all your takes with headphones to ensure you captured clear, undistorted audio before moving on to the next shot.
- Post-Production Audio: Make sure that all audio can be properly heard without headphones on. Take your headphones off, stand back from your computer and listen to the volume at ¾ full volume… can you clearly hear every piece of dialogue? Is the music too loud? Is a sound effect or music overpowering a line of dialogue?
*Pro-Tip: Your overall volume when you export your film should be set to -6db and delivered in stereo… remember, this is going to screen at a movie theatre, so sound really matters!
- www.artlist.io www.freesound.org are both great places to get cheap music and free sound effects. There are many others that license stock music like www.marmosetmusic.com or https://jinglepunks.com but your Best option might be to collaborate with a Northern musician to help score an original soundtrack!
SOCIAL MEDIA/MARKETING COMPONENTS
We are not trying to add work to your plate with these next components. We are trying to set you up to succeed and be able to submit your film to any film festival in the world as soon as Dead North 2020 is over. Every festival will ask you for a trailer and a poster (at the very least) along with your film. Once the insanity of Dead North 2020 is over, you’ll wake up on March 2 and realize you suddenly have everything you need to submit your film to festivals all around the world! There is a Zombear trophy for this overall component this year so it’s very worth your time! There are 3 social media components:
- We want to build buzz for your films and also, it doesn’t hurt to have a trailer cut for other festival submissions after Dead North, so you’ll thank us for making this a requirement. Trailers must be 30 seconds to 1 minute in length. Don’t just pick a short scene from your film and call that a trailer, look at other trailers on youtube, and try to emulate the style of your favourites.
- They are the first thing that people see which will attract them to come watch your film so posters really matter. Posters are just as important as trailers. Be creative, be bold. It’s your job to get butts in the seats to see YOUR film!
- A huge part of getting your film seen at festivals, sold to broadcasters or distributors, and ultimately how you can make some money on them, is all in how you market your film. You’ll already have a poster and a trailer, so create a Facebook page, a website, an Instagram account (or some new thing we haven’t even thought of) in order to market your film. Maybe you don’t plan on trying to get it out there to the world, but what about in your hometown? You should promote it so all your friends and family are pumped to come out to Dead North to support you and see the amazing work you’ve done.
FINAL FILM DEADLINE*:
- All final film and marketing components submissions are due: 11:59pm Mountain Time. MONDAY February 3rd, 2020.
- All submissions must be uploaded online. The file exporting formats and precise uploading details will be provided to you during the first week of January.
- The Internet is slow in the North (we all know that, and we all face the same challenges) so you are highly encouraged to start uploading a day or two (or even a week) before the deadline.
- Late submissions and uploads will still screen as “notable submissions”, but will not be eligible for Best Film and possibly other Zombear awards.
*Pro-Tip: Every year people miss this deadline and blame it on the internet. Seven years ago, that was a “fair enough” excuse. We didn’t warn people back then and connection speeds really were quite terrible. Well, not anymore. You’ve now been warned over 2 months in advance. Generally speaking, it’s not that bad to upload what should be about a 200MB file, even from the most remote communities. If you live in a place where internet is wicked slow, plan ahead and reach out to the organizers about maybe trying to ship a USB stick to us or just start uploading a week early and at least two days before the deadline. No excuses.
- All films will be judged based on the exact same criteria by a selection of industry professionals and Northern filmmakers.
- Films are being judged in all categories for bold, original and visionary filmmaking that showcases the Northern experience in a unique way.
SCREENING and EVENTS:
Dead North will be a full four-day festival, at the Yellowknife Capitol Theatre. Get there!
Screening location: Yellowknife Capitol Theatre
Screening Dates: February 27-March 1, 2020
FILM CONTENT and RELEASES
- Censorship: It’s not our thing at all, but some things get the boot for obvious legal reasons. No pornography, libel, copyright infringement, or hate speech. There are lots of great ways to terrorize, wow and challenge an audience’s sensibilities while remaining a decent human being.
- Cultural Content: Dead North wants to encourage all our filmmakers to adopt the Onscreen Protocols and Pathways as outlined by imagineNATIVE. Specifically, this means that if you are making a film about Indigenous culture or people’s and you are not Indigenous, please seriously consider the need to be involving Indigenous creators and collaborators in meaningful positions at every step of that production. Here is a link to the protocols if you want to learn more and how to make sure you are respecting other cultures on camera: www.imaginenative.com/publications
- Community Responsibility: The North is small and Dead North’s mandate is to build our Northern media community through positive, communal creativity, and so in a spirit of respectful collaboration with our fellow Northerners, any film that causes social intimidation of any kind, intended harm or causes personal disrespect to a Northern community member may be disqualified and barred from Dead North, at the discretion of Dead North board members.
- Actor Releases: All actors in your films must give written legal consent to appear on camera. If minors are appearing, they must have the written consent of a legal guardian and your production must strictly follow industry safety standards and practices for child actors.
- Permits: All location, actor, property, and copyrighted-content releases are the full responsibility of the filmmaker/production team. Dead North, its organizers, board members, sponsors and affiliates are not responsible in any way for any issues that arise from a director/crew’s failure to get legal releases of any kind.
- Generally, this is frowned upon unless deemed absolutely necessary for the story. The judges will be looking for creativity and originality above all, so the use of stock footage has serious potential to hurt your chances of winning awards. It is not forbidden, but it is not really encouraged either, and all stock footage/copyright releases are the full responsibility of the filmmaker/crew.
- Gear is the responsibility of each crew to obtain. Organizations like Western Arctic Moving Pictures in Yellowknife (wamp.ca), the NFVIA in the Yukon (nfvia.com) and Ajjiit in Nunavut (http://www.ajjiit.ca/i18n/english/contact.html) are excellent resources for everything you might need. Also, keep in mind that most smartphones will shoot HD video now (some even shoot 4K) and the free iMovie (mac) and Movie Maker (pc) apps come standard on most computers and are capable little editing programs. Expensive gear or the latest gear doesn’t make a good film. A good story idea, hard work and perseverance do.
- All films are recognized by Dead North/Artless Collective as fully owned by those creators submitting them.
- While Dead North/Artless Collective does not own any of the content, we reserve the right to use clips/trailers/photos/posters/portions of each film to generally promote the festival and Dead North in general.
- All submitted films will be enabled to be screened during Dead North Roadshows and other film festivals after the festival in February 2020. Dead North does not make money off of these events (community screenings are typically free for attendees and cost us money to organize). These events only help to promote you and your films and will not hurt your chances at other festivals.
- Your film will be viewable on the Dead North Vimeo site after the 2020 festival and all Dead North films that are over a year old as of the release of these guidelines, will be made live to view. If you have concerns about this, please contact us and we can explain why this benefits you more as a filmmaker than keeping a film that is a year old, locked away from the world.
- IMPORTANT: Over the years we have heard from a lot of people who helped out on a person’s film and yet they’ve never seen or received a copy of the final film. This is very bad form on a director’s part. If you get people to donate their time/resources/skills/props/locations to your film production, they are at least owed a proper viewing of the final product, and we would even argue that the film does not actually belong to the director/producer alone, but to the entire team who made it together. Please be respectful of everyone who helped you create your vision. It wouldn’t exist without them, they deserve full credit and props just as much as you do as a director/producer.
MAKE A FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION PLAN FOR 2020!
- We want to really encourage EVERYONE to have a plan to submit their films to festivals around the world as soon as Dead North is over. There are tons of free festivals to submit to and many more that only cost $10-$20 each. Dead North/Artless Collective are happy to give you advice on how to go about this, but in the meantime, sign up to one or all of these festival access portals: Film-Freeway (https://filmfreeway.com), Withoutabox (https://www.withoutabox.com), ShortFilmDepot (https://www.shortfilmdepot.com/), look for festivals that start after February 2020 and make a list of 20 favourites. You literally could be walking the red carpet in France or Tokyo or London six months from now…it has happened to many Dead North filmmakers over the past 8 years… many of them first-time filmmakers!
DEAD NORTH FESTIVAL VOTING:
Zombears are a pure work of art and getting to walk away with one (or a few!) is a real high. The Zombears will be decided by the Dead North board with special guests stepping in should there be a tie in any area. We added a new Zombear this year, BEST SCARE!
1. Best Film
2. Best Screenplay
3. Best Editing
4. Best Director
5. Best Cinematography
6. Best Actress
7. Best Actor
8. Best Sound
9. Best Death
10. Best Practical Effects
11. Best Original Music
12. Best Visual Effects
13. Best Marketing (Poster/Trailer/Social Media)
14. Best use of Visual Element (mandatory Northern element)
15. Best use of Audio Element (mandatory Northern element)
16. Best Villain
17. Best Youth Film
18. The Audience Award
19. Best use of Indigenous Language
20. Best Scare
PHEW, YOU MADE IT, THANKS FOR READING ALL OF THAT!
If you are looking for inspiration or are undecided about all of this glorious madness, check out the submissions from past years of the festival: https://vimeo.com/deadnorthfilmfestival/collections
Thank you for supporting Dead North! If you agree to everything stated above, register below. We wish you the best of luck. You might just be signing yourself up for a life-changing adventure!
Dead North Film Festival Registration Form
Note: It is your responsibility to read through and to understand the 2020 guidelines, we provided all the information on this page above and even in a lovely PDF, so there is no excuse for you not to be familiar with the rules and regulations.