Local filmmaker wins pressure test at Calgary festival

Jose Galdamez and his local crew shot a winning short film at Fort Steele in a gruelling 48-hour challenge

Top: A young boy and his mother walk through Fort Steele Heritage Town as a shadowy figure lurks behind them in an opening scene from “Fuhlon Fists”. Bottom: A young man avenges his mother’s fate with the dark figure who changed the course of his life in the climax of “Fuhlon Fists”.

Top: A young boy and his mother walk through Fort Steele Heritage Town as a shadowy figure lurks behind them in an opening scene from “Fuhlon Fists”. Bottom: A young man avenges his mother’s fate with the dark figure who changed the course of his life in the climax of “Fuhlon Fists”.

A local filmmaker has taken top prize in a competition that’s part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival.

Jose Galdamez, along with a cast and crew made up of his East Kootenay friends, was given first place in the 48-Hour Movie Making Challenge at the film festival, held April 7-13 in Alberta.

The film, titled “Fuhlon Fists”, was given first place in the judged category, and second place in the fan favourite category.

“I wanted to include more comedy, but I think I was being too hard on myself, because when the movie played, it was amazing to see the reaction of the people and all this laughter,” said Galdamez.

The 48-Hour Movie Making Challenge took place from March 21 to 23. Only 24 filmmakers could register to take part.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, March 21, the film crews were given a genre (martial arts), a prop (boiled hot dogs) and a line (“Tell ’em Large Marge sent ya”) that were to be included in a 2-5 minute short film.

Then the teams had 48 hours – until Sunday, March 23 at 7 p.m. – to write, shoot and edit the film.

“We write and prepare Friday night, we shoot Saturday, and I start the editing process Saturday night and finish Sunday, and deliver it Sunday,” said Galdamez.

“Your adrenaline is just going because you need to finish it. Once you deliver it, you feel like you’re going to die.”

The plot he came up with is about a young boy who is with his mother when they are accosted by a dark, shady figure. Both are knocked down, but the boy is rescued by a martial arts master, who raises the boy and trains him to avenge his mother. When the child becomes a man, the master tells his pupil he is ready — adding, “Tell him Large Marge sent ya.”

Without ruining the ending, the boiled hot dog is used in the climactic scene at the film’s conclusion.

Filming took place in various local spots, including private property and Crown land in Fort Steele, and at Fort Steele Heritage Town.

“I really have to give a big thank you to Fort Steele because I showed up when they opened and explained what I was doing and that I would give them credit,” said Galdamez. “They were really helpful.”

He said that his friends really enjoyed the experience, even though the actors would also help lug camera gear.

An important goal was showcasing what the East Kootenay has to offer.

“They don’t have what we have here, which is the mountains. So I used some in my background shots to show what the Kootenays are about,” said Galdamez.

Creating the film in such a short timeframe was a challenge, but a positive one, he went on.

“It’s so intensive because all you can think about is the creative process. You have just a one-track mind.

“I have other projects that I have been working on for a long time and they are just sitting there. But when you have 48 hours, it forces you to start and finish the process within a certain timeline.”

And the abbreviated creative process gives him the kick he needs, he said, adding that he is now hoping to enter other film festivals.

“What I really like is that it gives me that extra drive to continue with the other projects that I have going. It’s just nice to get that inspiration and then go back to your other projects.”

That doesn’t mean Galdamez was 100 per cent satisfied with the result.

“I am seldom pleased with what I create. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, especially when you only have 48 hours.”

In fact, at the last minute, with just hours to go on Sunday, Galdamez decided to add narration to the film. He phoned a friend who has a deep, calming British accent and asked him to read the script, then and there. The film was submitted just in time.

“That’s what really saved our short film – the narration. It really tied everything together.”

After submitting the film on March 23, the judging panel had until April 13 to decide on the winners. In the end, 19 films were eligible.

Galdamez travelled to Calgary for the festival, and was glad he did.

“After I saw it in the movie theatre, I was a little bit pleased with what we produced. I was still not completely satisfied.”

For winning first in the judged category and second in the popular category, Galdamez received $2,500 worth of film-making rental equipment, and a camera slider worth about $350.

“But for me, it’s mostly the challenge. It was great to win it, but really for me, it was about creating something and getting people to like it.”

You can watch “Fuhlon Fists” at http://vimeo.com/89871261.

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