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Behind The Scenes with Bea Macapagal,
Director of My RØDE Reel 2017's 'Judge's Film' Winner - Midnight Toker
2017 saw pro-audio company RØDE Microphones hold the annual My RØDE Reel short film competition for the fourth straight year, and with a massive 1,520 entries from 86 countries around the world competing for over $500,000 worth of prizes, it was officially the largest in the competiton's history, and further cemented My RØDE Reel's status as the largest short film competition in the world.
The Premier prize in the competition - The 'Judge's Film', is awarded to the single best film in the competition, based on technical filmmaking skills such as cinematography, sound design, visual effects, art direction and of course, story telling, as judged by a panel of internationally renowned filmmaking industry experts.
We spoke to Bea Macapagal, Director of 'Judge's Prize' Winning Film 'Midnight Toker' and member of Canadian Filmmaking collective Camp 905, about the experience of entering the My RØDE Reel short film competiton, and taking out the top prize.
Describe the feeling when you found out you’d won the Judges’ Prize for My RØDE Reel?
I was in so much shock. Throughout the entire My RØDE Reel winners announcements, my team would talk on our group chat about how excited we were to have both films (“Midnight Toker" & “Wildflower”) be finalists for so many categories. After Female Filmmaker finalists were announced, I had come to terms with the idea that we had been finalists and was very thankful with that recognition. A few days past, and I saw that our @camp905 Instagram had been tagged in a RØDE photo, and I thought “Oh, that’s nice. They must have posted a photo congratulating us for having so many nominations!” And when I saw a still of Midnight Toker with the RØDE Laurel for Judges’ Prize, I was in shock. Before I messaged anyone, I went on my computer and looked on the RØDE website - still Midnight Toker! I refreshed the page over and over and it was the same! It wasn’t a fluke! I screamed and woke up Leo (the Midnight Toker) who was asleep on the couch (it was 10pm Canada Time) and told him to check my computer to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. He stared at his face on the computer screen and was just as shocked as me. I ran around the house screaming and yelling with joy, because honestly, so brutally honestly, I didn’t expect us to win Judges’ Prize at all. We FaceTimed with Nick Coffin (Cinematographer and Story Writer) and Ali Goldthorpe (Production Coordinator) and congratulated each other over and over again. It seemed so far away from anything I could ever wish for, so yes, I guess I’d describe the feeling as shock, excitement, disbelief, and more excitement. I’m still not sure if it’s real, but I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s official.
You’re also the first Female Filmmaker to win the top gong (which we didn’t know till we got the answers back!). Describe how that feels.
Wow! I had no idea! That feels amazing! I love seeing how many women participate in the My RØDE Reel competition, and I feel like it’s becoming more normal to have at least half women on film sets. I also really love that there is a Female Filmmaker category because I think it really encourages more women to participate. That being said, I work with a team of men and women and couldn’t have completed the film without each individual. That’s why I think I love working with Camp 905 so much, because it’s not about who is a man, or woman, or older, or younger - we’re all seen at the same level and all input is important from all departments. I love them all so much, it’s easy to make films with people I really care about that really care about me too.
How does My RØDE Reel factor into your career as a filmmaker?
This competition will open so many doors for myself and the entire Camp 905 team. Having access to so much amazing gear, and to get so much positive feedback for our film is the encouragement we need to keep us going. Being able to say that we won anything at the My RØDE Reel competition, especially Judges’ Prize, has already been getting us so much positive attention, I’m sure it will help us attain more grants and continue to create films for a very long time.
Where does the collective’s name, Camp 905, come from?
We're called Camp 905 because when we made our first few films and web series, we would film for 3 or 4 or 5 days in a row and all eat together, hang out together, wake up and go to sleep together, and live under one roof. Just like Camp! And 905 is our telephone area code here in Hamilton/Oakville where we all live and went to school together.
What’s the best thing about winning the competition?
It’s amazing being able to submit to a festival with indie filmmakers from all over the world and receive such positive recognition - and for free! In an industry full of so much rejection and disappointment, it’s completely uplifted my team and myself to continue to create and inspire. All the other filmmakers in the competition have been so kind and congratulated us over and over. It feels amazing to have some positive feedback for our little film.
What was the most challenging aspect of production on Midnight Toker?
The most challenging aspect was probably the overnight schedule and that we ended up having to film out of order. We originally planned on filming chronologically, but couldn’t because of some technical issues. So it was very difficult for the whole team to wrap our heads around what shots would cut together and how Leo should be feeling at each moment, because he honestly didn’t have much to play against. We arrived on location before sundown and filmed until the sun came up. But it honestly wasn’t so bad! I had my amazing team with me and everyone was smiling and full of energy. I think everyone was just happy to be making something together again. We ate tacos at 3am and had some coffee and kept on going. Staying up all night isn’t tough when you’re doing what you love, with people you love.
What’s your fave RØDE mic?
My favourite RØDE mic is probably the NTG3, because there are so many ways to protect it from wind and weather. We use the Blimp and Deadcat as well because we were outside for the entire shoot. The SmartLav+ was also amazing to get sounds inside the car as we were filming, like keys in the ignition, the lighter, Leo’s movement in the seat, etc.
What’s next for you and Camp 905?
We actually received some amazing news the very next day: Larica Perera (RØDE winner of Female Filmmaker 2016 & member of Camp 905) and myself received 2 grants for 2 short films we wrote earlier this year! So keep an eye out for “Norah & Poppy” and “Under the Supermoon”! We will also be submitting “Midnight Toker” and “Wildflower” to film festivals around the world, and hopefully be able to attend some too! The past few days feels like a dream, and I’m forever thankful to everyone involved in the My RØDE Reel competition for their kindness and support to all the filmmakers. I’ll never forget it!