Moira Sauer took 48 hours to make her first film. It ended up taking her to the Tromso International Film Festival in Norway.
She made it as part of Cold Snap, a 48-hour filmmaking festival that happened in 2011 in Whitehorse.
Now, she’s ready to do it again at Yukon 48, a two-day filmmaking competition happening this weekend in Whitehorse and in Dawson City.
Her film, The Provider, was first in the yet-to-be-completed Northern Gothic Trilogy of silent, black-and-white movies.
This weekend, she and filmmaking partner Ian Stewart will expand into new genres.
“We decided that it was just yet another awesome opportunity to try something totally different for us,” said Sauer.
This weekend happens to be Sauer’s birthday weekend, when she has traditionally thrown a bonfire party.
“I stay away from providing beer, wine or food, because it all just freezes.
“But vodka’s great. I can just chuck a bunch of bottles into the snowbanks around the fire, and then have – I make ice glasses leading up to the party – and then everyone can just drink out of the glasses until they’re bored of it and then chuck it in the fire as well.”
This weekend’s bonfire will be featured in a documentary or mockumentary about Yukon winter parties and “the fact that I feel like I’m getting ancient,” said Sauer.
“I’m turning old,” she said when pressed for her age.
“It was something that I realized. ‘Wow, this is just part of our life up here, but maybe it could make for an entertaining 10 minutes for everybody who doesn’t get to a bonfire in the Yukon every winter.’”
How will it all come together? Sauer herself still has no idea.
“I don’t know what the footage is going to be, I don’t even know who is going to turn up or what they’re going to say.
“That’s all going to end up being cut together on a manic Sunday, as I try to paste together a film totally hung over.”
Sauer never wanted to make films. She’s a theatre actress, by training.
But when Neil Macdonald, executive director of the Northern Film and Video Industry Association, roped her into participating in Cold Snap two years ago, it opened her mind to a new world, said Sauer.
“He just took my arm and twisted it all the way around me and said, ‘Don’t be stupid. You just have to be able to tell a story, and you can totally tell a story. Go tell one.’
“Now I’ve realized, ‘Man, you know what? You can make a movie and then you can show it to whoever you want for as long as you want. You don’t need your five actors and the stage and the props and the set and the theatre house.’”
Macdonald is also helping to organize this year’s festival.
Yukon 48 is being put on jointly by the Northern Film and Video Industry Association, the Yukon Film Society, and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.
The competition will be held simultaneously in Whitehorse and Dawson.
KIAC has hosted a 48-hour filmmaking competition in Dawson for several years now, and this year’s event will take a similar format, said Macdonald.
Participants may plan out their films ahead of time, but all shooting and editing must occur during the 48-hour time frame.
Films can be of any genre, but can be no longer than 10 minutes and filmmakers should “keep it PG,” said Macdonald.
All the films will be screened a week later in Whitehorse and Dawson.
The teams will receive free tickets to the screening, plus a few extra for friends and family. The event will also be open to the public.
The winning film will be screened at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival in March.
New participants are invited to apply to the festival as late entries. The deadline for regular submissions has passed.
Teams can also opt-in to have their film screened on Whitehorse Cable 9.
The fee for the festival is $15 per team, and it’s not too late to register.
Interested participants in Whitehorse can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those in Dawson can email email@example.com.
All Whitehorse teams will gather at the Yukon Film Society office at 212 Lambert St. at 5 p.m. on Friday. Those who have not registered can do so at that time.
Teams will have staggered start times after that.
The purpose of the event is to create more interest in filmmaking in the Yukon.
Sauer hasn’t looked back since Macdonald convinced her to get into the business.
“Oh my God, I’m so glad he did,” said Sauer. “And the poor guy hasn’t heard the end of it, either. Every time I see him it’s like, ‘You made me get into this. Now you’re stuck with all my silly questions.’
“He’s a very patient, magnificent mentor, that Neil. We’re so lucky to have him in this town.”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at