The 2011 Yorkton Film Festival

At the end of May some of Canada’s brightest filmmakers converged in Saskatchewan for the 64th annual Yorkton Film Festival. I had only heard about the festival about a year ago, and was very surprised that it is the oldest film festival in North America. Recently I had worked on a project with Katrina Ham of Lifetime Productions, who also sits on the festival’s board of directors. She had an idea to promote the festival via a Twitter roadtrip which I blogged about here. She brought me onboard to document the roadtrip from Saskatoon to Yorkton, as well as the the festival itself.

The festival kicked off Thursday evening and wrapped up Sunday afternoon. Between the panels of industry experts, screenings, and social events, the schedule was jam packed giving me ample opportunity to capture the feel of the festival. I didn’t get a chance to view as many films as I’d hoped, but luckily the ones I did see ended up winning many of the major awards. The panels were extremely informative and entertaining at the same time. I particularly enjoyed the tell it like it is attitude of director/screenwriter Dave Shultz. I think he really captured the room’s attention.

Even though the programs for the day wrapped up late in the afternoon, it did not mean that the fun stopped there. Each night there was some sort of social event scheduled that allowed festival delegates to just hang out to mingle and network. I think the highlight for me (and probaby many others) was LobsterFest. This event was held out at the Yorkton Lions Club which shares land with the Yorkton Gun Club. So after filling up on fresh lobster I had a chance to try my hand at skeet shooting. I hit four out of ten targets. I thought that was a pretty good score considering it was the first time I’d ever really shot a gun.







































A ’68 Skylark and a Twitter Roadtrip

When one thinks of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, a film festival probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. What most people don’t know is that this city actually hosts the oldest film festival in North America. The Yorkton Film Festival celebrates short films and screenwriting from around the world. This year I had the pleasure of attending the festival. I could have jumped in my vehicle and drove to Yorkton on my own, but that would have boring. Why not instead jump into an classic 1968 Skylark with one of Canada’s premiere screenwriters/directors, an emerging producer, and an expert in transmedia?

Thursday morning Dave Shultz and I met Katrina Ham and Emme Rogers at the Chop Chop Salon near downtown Saskatoon. The two ladies were getting themselves all decked out for our roadtrip to Yorkton where they would be receiving the Key to the City from the Mayor upon our arrival. Earlier in the morning Katrina was a guest on the CBC’s The Morning Edition with Sheila Coles to talk about the festival, and our roadtrip. The idea was to live tweet the trip in hopes of promoting and bringing awareness to the festival.

While Dave and I waited for the women to finish up, we tried to devise a strategy for making a ton of luggage fit into the rather small trunk of his Skylark. It seems that three of us had overestimated how much space we had to work with. My assumption was that old cars had big trunks. I was very wrong. After running through a number of scenarios it seemed that the only way to make it work was to lose the spare tire….and to leave Katrina’s golf clubs behind (seriously, golf clubs).

With the car all packed we were on the highway in no time. Since we had the top down Katrina and Emme wrapped their heads in scarves to salvage their new hairdos. Good thing they did because things got pretty windy and I’m sure they didn’t want the awesome work of Chop Chop Salon to go to waste. It was the end of May in Saskatchewan so we hadn’t yet got into the hot temperatures which would have made the back seat a little more bearable. Everything was fine when the sun wasn’t hidden behind a cloud, but it could get pretty chilly when it disappeared for a few stretches.

It wasn’t long before stomachs started to growl, so we stopped in Lanigan for a delicious lunch buffet at Wong’s Restaurant. I’m not sure what it is, but small town Saskatchewan always seems to have the best Chinese food. We also did a bit of window shopping at an interesting pizza/clothing store before getting back onto the highway. With our bellies full of delicious Chinese food a few of us started to get a bit parched. We were nearly at Foam Lake so we decided to stop by the local watering hole. After a couple of beer and some very passionate conversation about the film industry and social media, we thanked the friendly staff and continued on the last leg of our trip.

We rolled into Yorkton just a few minutes before the key ceremony so we high-tailed it to the downtown park where it was going to take place. We were greeted by the Mayor and the Executive Director of the film festival who told us to make ourselves at home and to enjoy all of the festivities. This was just the beginning of my experience, but I can say that the first thing that will come to mind from now on when I think of Yorkton is the Yorkton Film Festival.