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This article was published 1/8/2017 (930 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A swing dance film about community and inclusion was selected as the winner of the sixth annual RBC Emerging Filmmakers Pitch Competition at the 2017 Gimli Film Festival.
Half of the winning duo is Brandon’s own Miles Crossman, who along with Nicola Baldwin of Winnipeg, won $10,000 in production funds to make their vision come to life.
Their short film, called "If It Ain’t Got," will chronicle the experience of a 21-year-old Nigerian man’s discovery of swing dancing and its inclusive power of bringing people of all backgrounds together through dance, as described by On Screen Manitoba.
Crossman said he and Baldwin had an "intense few weeks" preparing for their three-minute pitch, which incorporated their own swing dance routine. The brief presentation began with Crossman on stage by himself, in front of a panel of industry professionals and a live audience of nearly 300 at the Gimli Theatre.
He was facing the limelight alone, in an effort to "evoke the kind of alienation that our lead character felt at the onset of this film."
After about 10 seconds — which Crossman described as an eternity on stage — he motioned to the audience for someone to join him. That’s when Baldwin stood up from the crowd, and cued the music.
"We did a little scene, and then jumped into the pitch itself describing the story," he said.
The film, based in Winnipeg, is about a young, immigrant man who feels alienated in his community. Walking down the street, he stumbles upon a street placard advertising a swing dance class. He is paired up with a 59-year-old former professional dancer, and after a rocky start, an unlikely connection is formed "that transcends, age race and nationality."
Crossman and Baldwin competed against four other pitches for the prize, after it was narrowed down from 22 entries.
"Each year, we’re excited to hear the thoughtful, creative and interesting pitches at the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition," said Aaron Martyniw, RBC vice-president of commercial financial services, in a press release. "RBC shares the passion and celebrates the ambition of storytellers and emerging filmmakers everywhere. We’re thrilled to congratulate Nicola Baldwin an Miles Crossman and look forward to helping them bring their vision to life."
Along with the $10,000 prize through the RBC Emerging Artists Project, Crossman and Baldwin will receive a mentorship with industry professionals from the National Screen Institute, a one-year membership to On Screen Manitoba, a $2,500 gift certificate courtesy of William F. White and a premiere screening of their film at next year’s Gimli Film Festival.
"For me, it was a really humbling experience to be a part of this. I got to witness many talented filmmakers get on stage and pitch very impressive projects," Baldwin said. "I’m triple-honoured to receive this grant along with Miles Crossman and I couldn’t be more excited to be a visual representative of the community that continues to grow in Manitoba."
The pair will now finalize the script, work on the film’s visual elements and will assemble a team. The funds will allow them to hire a cinematographer and lighting technicians.
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