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This article was published 23/5/2015 (823 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When it comes to using cinema to raise environmental consciousness, there are two ways to go.
You could make a serious documentary on the subject, and raise its visibility by partnering with one of the most esteemed ecological activists in the country.
Or you could make a kick-ass action-horror movie that plants its eco-message smack into the movie's title.
Two different Winnipeg filmmakers are employing both tactics in a pair of planned movies that attack the subject from both angles.
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"Attack" is the operative word in Frackin' Zombies, a project that is edging closer to reality for Winnipeg production company Zell-Koj Studio in the million-dollar competition run by CineCoup.
Described as a "film accelerator," CineCoup is an upstart entity that applies tech-startup principles and American Idol-style competition to film funding. (Last year's genre offering WolfCop was a CineCoup product.)
CineCoup asks participants to create a trailer and marketing materials for their prospective projects. They started out with 100 competitors who submitted ideas for projects. As of last week, that number was whittled to 15, with Frackin' Zombies alive as a serious contender.
"We're going for the Top 5 position, which will be posted Monday," says Shelley Anthis, a Winnipeg filmmaker and casting director looking to make her feature directorial debut with Frackin' Zombies. Partnered with fellow filmmakers David Zellis, Roger Boyer and Craig Guiboche, Anthis has her eyes on a big funding prize.
"The Top 5 will go to the Banff World Media festival on June 4, where we'll pitch on a live stage and one of the teams will walk off with a million dollars in financing," she says.
Anthis likes her team's chances. Zombies are hot and the subject of fracking is a hot-button issue. Combining the two at the suggestion of Boyer, she says, resulted in a unique spin on the popular genre: "An apocalypse of fire-breathing zombies."
"I did a Google search on that and nothing came up so I said, 'I think we have something here,'" Anthis recalls, adding the project will pit female bikers (led by local actress-artist Arlea Ashcroft) against the pyro-zombies, putting a feminine spin on the genre, la Mad Max: Fury Road.
As for the environmental aspect, Anthis says she consulted with American anti-fracking "fractivist" Shane Davis to ground the project in some semblance of reality.
"I was running ideas by him and he was going, 'I love it.'"
Manitobans who want to send some support to the film are encouraged to check out the film's trailer on the CineCoup website (www.cinecoup.com/frackin-zombies/trailer) and branch out the film's social media links on Facebook and Twitter.
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If fracking lends itself to an undead fantasy, the subject of climate change is dead serious for documentary filmmaker Ian Mauro.
Mauro, 36, is at work editing a 30-minute iteration of what will eventually be a feature-length documentary on the impact of climate change in British Columbia, following similar docs examining impacts on Canada's North (Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, co-directed with Zacharias Kunuk) and Climate Change in Atlantic Canada, which Mauro presented in partnership with respected biologist and activist David Suzuki.
"I'm confident I'm the only person who has made a 'climate-change trilogy' anywhere in the world," Mauro says while on a break from editing his third film.
Mauro says the objective of these films is to hit his audience where they live.
"Climate change is having a dramatic impact on local communities across the country," he says. "People we interview -- farmers, hunters, fishers and other local knowledge-holders -- are seeing the impacts of climate change, and filmmaking is a very powerful tool to document this."
Mauro, an associate professor of geography at the University of Winnipeg, says the half-hour film will be taken to B.C., where its audience will have the opportunity to expand on it by telling stories of how climate change has affected them. He hopes to put together a feature-length version by the fall.
Eventually, a fourth film examining the Canadian Prairies may literally bring the subject home for Mauro.
"Each place has its own story. Each place has its own impacts," he says. "Here in the Prairies, we are going to see some very specific impacts to our livelihoods and our economies to our environments.
"When we're looking at extreme drought and extreme flooding, this is going to change the very nature of our home," Mauro says. "Extreme is the new normal. I think there's a real important story there."