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Canmore filmmaker raking in awards during pandemic

“It inspired people to get creative under difficult circumstances – it was an outlet to concentrate on something while being on lockdown.”

CANMORE – Despite the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canmore filmmaker Seth Williams has plenty to smile about.

Williams is the founder of the production company, Flip City Films, and recently received a nomination for best music video at the upcoming Calgary Music Awards (YYCMA), and won the award for best horror film at the Quarantine International Film Festival (QIFF).

“Well, it came as a surprise to me. I found out through a friend that I had been nominated for the award,” said Williams. “I contacted the band who I did the music video with, and they had submitted the video and wanted to surprise me – but I beat them to it,” said Williams with a laugh.

He said it is an honour to be nominated for the award especially since he usually works on a “tight budget” compared to other larger production companies that he is up against for the award.

“It’s nice to be in good company,” Williams said.

Filming for the music video took place last winter in an abandoned mansion in Calgary, which has been used in the production of the TV series Fargo. The video was filmed for a song titled Asylum, by Calgary-based progressive metal band Heyoka's Mirror.

Williams described the band’s album as a concept album, meaning each song is chronological and follows the story of a character named Loomis.

“This character has been sentenced to do some time in this asylum and some crazy things happen – gets visited by an angel and then gets taken away by the devil,” he said.

Because filming took place in the winter months, in an abandoned building, Williams recalls one of the biggest challenges was the struggle to heat the building and keep everyone on set warm. 

He said the most gratifying aspect of working on music videos is the collaboration with other artists.

“I love working with other people who share a passion for creativity. Being able to bounce ideas off of each other is very rewarding and has helped me grow as a filmmaker.”

While Williams enjoys filming music videos, he has not limited himself to one genre of filmmaking.

When the world seemingly shut down due to COVID-19, QIFF was born. An online international film festival, with roots in Calgary, dedicated to filmmaker's spare time during the pandemic.

Williams set out to create a short film for the festival, submitting a short horror film, Fresh Start, starring his partner Sonya Pollock and his dog Ripley. He took home the award in June.

The festival featured submissions from more than 50 countries, which challenged filmmakers to create a short film under quarantine conditions.

“The whole thing was a challenge. It was great to have a look around my house and see what I could use – come up with an idea and shoot the thing in one night with the resources I had,” Williams said. “Stripping everything back to bare bones was what I really found appealing about the project, and just shooting a film for fun.”

“It inspired people to get creative under difficult circumstances – it was an outlet to concentrate on something while being on lockdown.”

Fresh off of the award win and nomination, Williams shows no sign of slowing down. He recently completed shooting the next music video for Heyoka's Mirror, picking up where he left off with Asylum. The video is set to be released on Sept. 12.

In addition to the new music video, he is also continuing to work on his first feature-length film.

"It's dark thriller about a youth trauma councillor who becomes enraged at the systemic failures of the justice system when one of his brightest patients is abused and murdered," Williams said.


Evan Buhler

About the Author: Evan Buhler

Evan Buhler is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter who joined the Outlook in 2019. A native of Calgary, he previously worked in Salmon Arm, B.C.
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