Behind-the-scenes with the CineCoup top five – part one

The CineCoup film accelerator has reached the final stage this week. The remaining top five filmmaking teams are heading to the Banff World Media Festival to  pitch their projects to a panel of industry experts on June 10, where the top project will also be announced later that day.

The top CineCoup project will receive up to $1 million in production financing and a guaranteed release in Cineplex theatres.

The top five projects, announced Tuesday, are Uprising, Alien Abduction, BAD, Grade Nine and Wolfcop.

Leading up to Banff, Playback checked in with the top five teams to learn more about the business strategies they have learned and used during the 15-week film accelerator program. Here, the Wolfcop and Uprising filmmakers share some intel.



The horror-fantasy film about an alcoholic cop/rage-fuelled werewolf is written and directed by Lowell Dean, with Hugh Patterson as producer and Bernie Hernando as producer and marketing strategist.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered during this process and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge has been the sheer logistics of it. The CineCoup accelerator is like a marathon, so pulling together the required team for each weekly mission video and shooting, cutting and uploading it was always tense. It required a lot of favours, support and elbow grease – especially when you are aiming for a high level of quality.

In completing your missions, what strategies were most successful for you?

The best strategy for our team was to take a fun approach to each challenge. We learned early on that people were responding best to playful mission videos, so we took a comedic approach, which worked well for our subject matter. It is quite easy to have fun when promoting something called Wolfcop.

From a business perspective as a filmmaker, what did you learn during this process that you didn’t expect to learn, and that will be valuable on future projects?

One of the biggest lessons from this experience is the importance of being media savvy. Prior to the CineCoup accelerator, we had only done a few local news interviews, so to shift gears and have to do radio, print, live television and international blog interviews was a whole new skill to develop.

Do you have any interesting audience stats?

We are quite surprised by the international appeal of our project. Within a week of the Wolfcop trailer being online, it was covered in blogs all around the world. It was cool to see excitement for Wolfcop in so many languages (Russian, French, Spanish, Bolivian, Hungarian and Japanese, for instance).


The sci-fi thriller, set in a post-nuclear landscape, tells the story of a group of settlers, unable to join with the newly emerging society, as they lead a movement to fight to save their land and the people in it. The film is written and directed by Akash Sherman, with Zachary Vydra as producer and production designer and Timothy Choy as composer and social media manager.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered during this process and how did you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge in CineCoup was the production of our Speechless mission in week 4, for a plethora of reasons. Zach was scheduled to be out of town for the second week, and as he is our main actor and a very essential part of this mission, we only had a week to shoot it rather than two as allowed by CineCoup. As we planned and shot outside in the cold in the first week, the Edmonton winter was a solid -30 degrees C, and our camera equipment had trouble functioning as we froze as well! But despite the deathly cold of the Prairies, the team managed to pull through with some amazing shots to achieve our biggest goal with this mission: to tell a good story without dialogue. And we think it’s safe to say that it paid off. That mission did wonders for us during the accelerator in terms of getting us noticed.

In completing your missions, what strategies were most successful for you?

The biggest thing for us was to implement feedback; what did the fans want to see? What were criticisms of our concept? We read their comments thoroughly to really pick apart our project and produce something for the next mission that answered their questions and made the best content possible for people to see – and it looks like it worked! We’re absolutely thrilled to have unexpectedly made it this far and we’ve loved the interactive feel that CineCoup has, it’s feedback and hearing from fans, that has ultimately helped us do a better job.

From a business perspective as a filmmaker, what did you learn during this process that you didn’t expect to learn, and that will be valuable on future projects?

A huge thing that our team became strongly aware of throughout CineCoup is how to pitch an idea, how to promote it, and the best ways to use feedback and be engaging through our content. These skills are seriously essential not only for film, but for almost any type of business as well. It’s been amazing to be able to have the opportunity opened up for us to learn these skills and implement them throughout the past 12 weeks.

Have any interesting audience stats?

Teens are very evident in the growing film market. reports results from a teen/young adult survey showing that 56% of teens go out to movies at a theatre at least once a month, and 11% of them pay for more than four movies a month. Our primary audience is in the young adult demographic, 18-25 years of age, our secondary audience being 14-30 years of age. We can definitely see that audience sector growing and being a good target audience for film, especially one like ours. From a survey of 4,885 teens, five trends emerged from themes that teens feel make inspiring movies: inspiration, follow your dreams, the golden rule, give back to others, and cherish your time. These themes are extremely relevant in Uprising and are the types of concepts that our demographic is reported saying they would recommend to friends due to their broad social networks.

Check back tomorrow for more from the CineCoup top five.