STU alum rides the Silver Wave

A still from Alex Vietinghoff’s film Depth (Submitted)
A still from Alex Vietinghoff’s film Depth (Submitted)

Alex Vietinghoff, filmmaker and STU alumni, makes his films on an uber-low budget. For his new psychological thriller Depth, his crew was his two sisters and his cousin.

“I try to offer to buy them coffee or pizza.”

This year Vietinghoff has entered Depth into the 13th annual Silver Wave Film Festival. The festival runs Nov. 7-10 and hosts Fredericton and New Brunswick films, along with entries from across Canada. Of the 90 flicks on screen, 56 are by New Brunswick filmmakers.

In this age of YouTube, where one can upload a video on the same day you film it and monitor your likes and views, what is the importance of local film festivals? For Vietinghoff, there’s nothing like a big screen and a live audience.

“It’s a platform for getting your work shown, which is very rewarding. This is the first that I’ve entered something into Silver Wave even though I’ve always wanted to.”

Organizer Tony Merzetti says when it first started, the festival brought in outside celebrities to take part and showed more feature films from Canada and around the world.

“What we discovered was we didn’t have to have all this glitz and glamour from outside to attract an audience. People, it turned out, were most interested in the films made by local filmmakers.”

He said events on the industry series, where filmmakers join panel discussions on the creation of their films, can be great learning experiences.

“That’s a great event for audiences and filmmakers to take in to learn some of the behind the scene things behind film.”

While Merzetti, executive director of the New Brunswick Film Co-op, loves the local short dramas and comedies, he’s also excited about a film on the fabled New Brunswick car, the Bricklin, the 13 music videos from provincial filmmakers, which will be screened at the Wilser’s Room Friday at 8 p.m., and All the Wrong Reasons, a feature by Fredericton-native Mia Milani that stars the late Corey Monteith of Glee. It opens the festival Thursday at Tilly Hall on the UNB campus.

Vietinghoff likes to gauge his work against other local filmmakers. He sees the festival as a place that nurtures and networks young filmmakers.

“Maybe if a whole bunch of people that are really good at specific things can get together in the province, then they can form one big film or piece of work that will be amazing and really up the quality and the standards for the province and the East Coast for the kind of stuff that we can create.”

His 12-minute short is part of Midnight Madness, one of the festivals events starting at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 8, which hosts “Madness, Murder, Deja Vous & Killers.”

Depth tells the story of a writer who goes to a secluded farm looking for inspiration. He gets a fresh idea, but also descends into madness.

“My goal was to tell a story with no dialogue, using only visuals and sound,” said Vietinghoff, adding “I think one of the strengths about it is that what happens in the film, the interpretation, is up to the individual audience member.”

Vietinghoff says, when he showed his short to family members who helped out, each came to their own conclusion. “Which is exactly what I was going for. It’s a film that will hopefully spark discussion.”

He doesn’t expect to be able to afford trailers and chefs for his actors anytime soon, but he believes Depth, and the desire to make a film worthy of Silver Wave, is a real step forward.

“I think technically it’s much better than my previous work and I really hope that cinematography-wise that’s it’s a lot better too because I’ve put a lot of focus on that.”

Audiences will have to decide for themselves whether Vietinghoff has come up with a brilliant fresh new idea, but despite all the headaches of making a film on a minuscule budget, so far he reports no descent into madness. Of course, we haven’t heard the interpretations of his family members.

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