Wrap up of the midwinter film festival

Being creative and having fun in our spare time

Recently at Davis we submitted a 5 minute film for the Winter International Film Festival of Antarctica (WIFFA). The challenge put out by WIFFA each year is open to every Antarctic station and is to film and edit a video within 48 hours, the videos can be up to 5 minutes long and must make use of 5 elements.

This year the 5 elements that had to be used were;

Sound: The sound of milk frothing
Object: A hammer
Quote: "Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end. If not always in the way we expect." Luna Lovegood in "Harry Potter" by J.K.Rowling.
Character: Where’s Wally
Action: Throw a bucket of water in the head

With the five elements being released at 6 pm Friday night, it was up to us to get cracking and start filming as the video had to be completed by 6 pm Sunday night. Whilst we had a vague idea of what we would do from a meeting earlier in the week we still had to flesh out the videos with the five elements and get all the shots.

Filming started that night for the scenes in the mess, with a hilarious number of retakes to get shots without people bursting into giggles. Trying to hold a straight face on camera is challenging for many on station.

Saturday morning turned into filming our remaining scenes, with costumes aplenty brought over from our dress-up area randomly located at the top of the Emergency Vehicle Shelter and everyone spent a fair while kitting up. Our Lord of the Rings scene was first cab off the rank as it required the most people so with costumes of varying quality, we were off outdoors. A snow drift on the beach provided a great backdrop and helped achieve some good looking shots. One surprising feature of this snow drift was that whilst where our team were walking was relatively soft snow, off to the side where the camera was setup had a thin layer of snow on top of hard ice. This caused the camera operator to have a brief slide down the hill and a near catastrophe of tripod and camera falling over. Thankfully minimal damage was sustained, and production could continue.

We rolled ahead and achieved the rest of our planned shots without too much trouble beyond the normal factor of requiring our band of enthusiastic amateurs to redo each shot 3 to 5 times. Filming wrapped up late Saturday night, leaving Sunday for all the editing of each clip into something resembling a finished product.

Sunday morning came around and it was on to editing the video. Selecting which clips to use, stitching them all together, balancing the audio, applying colour grading and various effects to make some of our costumes look a tad nicer than they really were. A massive amount of work that gave us a video rendered just minutes before the deadline rolled around. We watched our completed video together on Sunday night and at the very least we enjoyed it.

After a few days, to allow the stations with slower internet connections time to upload their videos, each clip was ready to download on WIFFA. The judges for the event are also the competitors. Each station gets to vote on which film is their favorite. Whilst voting for yourself is allowed, we decided it would be a bit of a low act in any event. The entire station gathered in the cinema with popcorn and station made choc-top ice-creams, and back-to-back we watched all 24 submissions to the film festival. Some of the films we enjoyed, some were a tad incomprehensible to us, but overall a fun experience was had by all.

With our votes submitted, we then had to wait until the end of the month when the deadline for each station to get their votes submitted rolled round..

Pleasingly, whilst we didn’t win the best film, we somehow won the best costume award. Fundamentally, the real prize is getting to do something completely different for a change, on a wintering Antarctic station where each day can sometimes feel exactly like the last day.

If you want to watch our film it is available on the WIFFA website.

Kirk Yatras
Senior Communications Technical Officer
Part time film director, camera operator, colourist and video editor