North

Northern filmmakers compete to create music video for Juno-nominated artist

There’s no shortage of stories about how COVID-19 restrictions have forced artists to find new ways to be creative. For Juno-nominated folk singer Craig Cardiff, those restrictions led to creating a bigger platform for northern filmmakers.

The most popular piece will be Craig Cardiff’s official music video for the song

For Juno-nominated folk singer Craig Cardiff, COVID-19 restrictions led to the creation of a bigger platform for northern filmmakers. (Benjamin McGregor)

There's no shortage of stories about how COVID-19 restrictions have forced artists to find new ways to be creative.

For Juno award-nominated folk singer Craig Cardiff, those restrictions led to creating a bigger platform for northern filmmakers.

Cardiff had written a new song called "Yellowknife," all about the subarctic city, as an homage to the place where he has stopped by many times on tour.

"I just remember the first time visiting Yellowknife and it was in full sun... I'd never experienced that before," he said. "The euphoria of the light… the day never stops."

The artist had planned to come back to Yellowknife to shoot a music video for the song. Then the pandemic happened.

Cardiff knew it would be too complex to find a way to shoot on site.

At the same time, "it would feel ridiculous to shoot a video about Yellowknife not in Yellowknife."

That's when northerners stepped in to save the day.

Western Arctic Moving Pictures and NWT Film Commission collaborated with Cardiff and True North Records on a 48-hour contest for local filmmakers from July 24 to 26, dubbed the "Great Yellowknife Music Video Challenge."

Martin Rehak stands in his makeshift garage-turned-studio with star chicken Rosie Pizza, who is ready to make some movie magic. (Byron Fitzky)

Cardiff says he enjoys seeing what filmmakers do when they take his work and translate it into their own mediums, so he's not too fazed by the idea of relinquishing creative control.

That means that the filmmakers had free rein to make their best videos.

Martin Rehak was one of them.

In his brightly coloured, fantastical video, a chicken meets a doll and the two go on a date around town, visiting Yellowknife's Old Town, getting on a canoe, and laying under the sun on a trampoline.

"Any opportunity I can have in Yellowknife to participate in some film-related or media-related project, I'm there," said Rehak.

When Ontario folk singer Craig Cardiff wrote a song about Yellowknife he knew that the music video would have to be set in the city it's named after. But then COVID-19 happened. So he turned to Northerners for help. The NWT Film Commission, TrueNorth Records, Cardiff and Western Arctic Moving Pictures came together to create a 48 hour music video competition. Katie Toth speaks with Cardiff and filmmaker Martin Rehak about what that looked like. 17:43

The race follows the format of a time-honoured tradition in this town — every year filmmakers get paired up with a bunch of different local bands and they all have two days to make music videos — and that competition is coming up this fall.

For now, though, Yellowknifers have the chance to vote on their favourite videos once a day until Aug. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Rehak and the other filmmakers will be competing for cash prizes.

The most popular piece will be Cardiff's official music video for the song.

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