Zyan Panagopoulos

Zyan Panagopoulos

Film crew cuts it fine to the edit

Okanagan-made short by Edge Digital Media makes it to the finals in the 24 Hour Film Race.

With The Amazing Race Canada making its televised premiere Monday on the shores of Okanagan Lake, locals can also tune into another amazing race.

And this one involves an all-Okanagan cast and crew.

Kelowna’s Edge Digital Media has just been short-listed as a contender for best film in the 24 Hour Film Race, based out of New York City.

Their film, a four-minute short entitled Last Man Mopping, was entered in the international competition, which saw approximately 200 filmmakers from around the world challenged to create a short film in, you guessed it, 24 hours.

“The event organizers give you a theme, a prop and an action and you have to write, shoot and edit a film in 24 hours,” said Vernon’s Angela Case, Last Man Mopping producer, who also stars in the film.

After hearing about the race, Case, a former Kokanee beer “Glacier Girl,” who is now an on-camera host on the digital Thompson-Okanagan tourist site, RTOWN Communications, set out to recruit a number of professionals she knows though the local film industry to enter.

“Everyone was busy with work and their own businesses and a week before the race, Angela asked if I wanted to do this,” said Michael Benedek, the Vernon-based franchise owner of RTOWN.

The former forestry firefighter and avid outdoorsman would be responsible for the final edit on the film.

Case also recruited Kelowna filmmaker Ryan Tebbutt, owner/operator of Edge Digital Media, to direct, and Kelowna’s Chelsea McEvoy, an independent filmmaker, as assistant director and gaffer.

Between them, they started racing to get everything in order a week before countdown.

With an 11-person team in place, including camera operator/director of photography Kelsey Thompson of Vernon, the group also secured a location when Summerland’s Glenfir Academy, a school built in 1995 that is now closed, became available.

The real work began at 7 p.m. May 17 when all teams were given their assignments. The project now had to be written, filmed, edited by 6:59 p.m. the next day.

“We were sent an e-mail with the information including the theme,” said Case. “We were literally sitting around the computer in anticipation.”

The story had to revolve around time travel, using an egg as a prop and the crumpling of a piece of paper as an action.

“The whole team came up with the idea for the script. It came quickly; writing it took about three hours,” said Case.

By 10 p.m., the crew began filming in Summerland. Using a state-of-the art Sony FS700 HD camera, everything created had to be original.

“Nothing could be copied. We signed off on all the art and nothing could be filmed or produced beforehand,” said Case.

Last Man Mopping is best described as a sci-fi head trip involving a janitor (Kelowna’s Zyan Panagopoulos, who Vernon audiences may remember for his Okanagan Zone Drama Festival winning turn in the 2011 play Rabbit Hole at Powerhouse Theatre), who upon performing his mopping duties in a school hallway, suddenly enters a strange sort of portal that goes through time and space.

In this strange new land, he encounters two beautiful alien life forms, who have a special  task for him.

Playing the girls from the future are Case and West Kelowna’s Andreea Bianchi, whose wild hair, makeup and futuristic, fun wardrobe were all donated by Okanagan businesspeople such as Alyssa Myers of AMP Hairstyling, Kristeen Lyseng, SJB makeup artist Sheleah Joy Bradley, and Vernon’s 104 Grey Clothing and Accessories.

The comedic elements, especially in how the filmmakers used the egg prop, are best left to those who look up the film.

Let’s just say, it doesn’t look that yummy by the end.

After filming into the wee hours of the morning (thanks to Glenfir’s Mary Taylor for allowing the crew to work until 4 a.m.), the raw footage was uploaded from the camera into a hard drive and sent to Benedek to edit. Meanwhile, Armstrong’s Daniel Casson set out to create the film score and sound effects.

“It got here at 7 a.m. and I edited throughout the day while Ryan and Angela managed to get some sleep,” said Benedek, who whittled the footage down to just three minutes and 30 seconds, plus 30 seconds of credits, to make the four-minute maximum length.

However, reality started blurring with fiction when Benedek encountered a problem exporting the finished film to New York.

“I was thinking, all this work for nothing, we just have to get it out,” said Case.

Luckily, the file finally exported at 6:56 p.m. with three minutes to spare, and the group received confirmation the next day that their film did actually arrive.

Then it was a waiting game to hear who the 24 film finalists were.

“It was supposed to be June 18 and we were told they were having a hard time picking, so we had to wait longer as they narrowed it down from 100 to 24,” said Case.

Coincidently, or not, that announcement came on June 24.

“I happened to be looking on the website and I scrolled through the list. I didn’t see our name at first, so I went through it again and that’s when I saw Last Man Mopping,” said Benedek.

The filmmakers have now been invited to New York City Aug. 17 for the awards gala and screening of the top films. The 24 Hour Film Race judging panel will be awarding various categories, including best overall film, acting, makeup, editing, story, etc.

“Some of our crew is very excited to be going,” said Case, adding prizes include cash and film equipment.

The Last Man Mopping team is also hoping for local support with an online vote for audience favourite on the 24 Hour Film Race website, www.filmracing.com/24/films2013.htm. Deadline for votes is July 26. All the top 24 films are also available for viewing on the site.