Spencer Estabrooks was one of 10 participants to win a $10,000 grant from Storyhive, to create his new film Sharkasaurus.
“It is hard to make films without money…arts funding is few and far between,” said Estabrooks, of how Storyhive is helpful to local filmmakers.
The second season of Storyhive, a funding program from Telus, launched on Oct. 14 and public voting on the project pitches begins Nov. 10.
Storyhive was impressed by the talent and number of local filmmakers who participated in their first official competition this past spring.
“We were actually pleasantly surprised by the interest and the suaveness of the people who participated in the competition,” said Prem Gill, director of original programming at Telus.
Discovering Storyhive and coming up with the idea of Sharkasaurus all happened at the same time for Estabrooks and his producing partner Greg Jeffs.
“I may have had the idea but I do not know if I would have acted on it,” said Estabrooks, about the importance of timing for his project.
Local filmmakers create short pitch videos for Storyhive, which are then voted on by the public over a period of three weeks.
“The key in your pitch video is telling people why you want to make this film.
“Other then your family and friends, why are people interested in this?” said Gill of how to successfully sell a story.
Estabrooks did many things in order to have a successful campaign with Storyhive.
“They were using their social channels throughout the production leading up to even delivering the project to Telus,” said Gill.
Estabrooks found unique ways to get the word of his film out in Calgary, including putting up wanted posters for Sharkasaurus.
“We did a lot of really fun stuff …we took out personal ads in Fast Forward magazine that said creationist seeks paleontologist for threesome with Sharkasaurus,” said Estabrooks.
Future Storyhive hopefuls can look to the Sharkasaurus campaign as an example of what to to.
“They are a great model for how campaigning can really help,” said Gill.
“They really seemed to get how you can leverage something like Storyhive and make it your own. We were super impressed by them,” said Gill.
Although getting people in Calgary to know about Sharkasaurus proved effective, Estabrooks most effective tool during the campaign was his family and friends.
“Going around and emailing your friends and asking them to check out the pitch and vote helped a lot,” said Estabrooks.
Storyhive implements a strict 10-week deadline for all short films to be done.
“I think deadlines are good because they make you get your stuff done,” said Estabrooks.
Storyhive’s next season will consist of 15, $10,000 grants for short films in Calgary and Edmonton, as well as grants for a pilot episode of a web series.
“We have decided to change up the formats,” said Gill.
One winner selected by public voting as well as a jury will receive $50,000 and mentorship to complete more episodes of their pilot show.
“Even if someone does not win, who knows what interest could be sparked somewhere else,” said Gill.
Estabrooks’ next project is a film called Sugar Skull Man, which will be a western ghost story.
“I think there is this general idea that westerns are dead and also 3D is dead, I am going to make both of them,” said Estabrooks.