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Arc’teryx Filmmaker Grant Feature | Meet Producer Dave Mai And The Inspiration Behind His Film Ephemera

As a film festival, we not only love to bring jaw dropping and diverse adventure films to the VIMFF big screen, but we also want to support emerging filmmakers and the entire creative process behind the films. With that goal in mind, we teamed up with our dedicated sponsor Arc’teryx to launch the first ever Arc’teryx Adventure Filmmaker Grant just this past year in February 2017. The grant was awarded to Dave Mai, an emerging and passionate filmmaker who shares his experience and a sneak peak into the film Ephemera below, which will premiere at our 21st Annual Festival this February.

If you asked me a year ago if I would ever make an ice climbing film, I’d probably say no. If you asked me two years ago if I would ever ice climb, I’d probably say no. If you asked me 3 years ago if I would ever pursue becoming a full-time adventure filmmaker, I’d say no. But here I am, talking about my ice climbing film, obsessing over ice climbing, and committing myself as an adventure film maker.

My film I pitched to Arc’teryx and VIMFF is called Ephemera.

plural noun: ephemera; noun: ephemerum
things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.

I think its the perfect concept to encapsulate ice climbing, especially in the Okanagan. If you’re not familiar with the southern interior of British Columbia, its known for sunshine, beaches, orchards, and vineyards not ice climbing. The weather windows are virtually nonexistent and there is very little ice discovered. Needless to say, cutting my teeth as an ice climber in the Okanagan has been trying. It takes a certain kind of patience, willingness, and a sense of adventure to be able to find climbable ice. Luckily, we had a cold winter last year and there was some fantastic climbing to be had!

Creating this film has been an important learning experience. I faced physical challenges, like hiking sixty-five pounds of camera and rigging equipment in waist deep snow for hours, and technical issues like frozen equipment. The most important lessons I learned were internal. Something has shifted in me since coming out on the other side of this production.

As a self-taught filmmaker, I had these gremlins that would talk to me, saying things like, “you don’t have the skill to pull this off”, and “you’re going to fail”. I started to create this illusion of failure. Then I recognized the gremlins, they were the same ones that spoke to me when I climb. I started to draw parallels between the filmmaking process and climbing. Ephemera was my summit, and I had to ascend to meet my objective. I recognized that all these challenges were just little cruxes in the big picture. An ice pillar doesn’t just form over night, it builds on itself over time and becomes monolith.

The core of the film is about the ephemerality of adventure. Although adventure is momentary, we find ways to gain lasting value after the experience slips away. I used the concept of this film as a mantra for my trials and tribulations of the filmmaking process.

Art has this ability to create intimacy between the creator and observer and It feels vulnerable to put my work out there like this- at a film festival in front of a theatre audience. But from my experiences, the best things come to you when you open up like that.

I’m so grateful that Arc’teryx and VIMFF had taken a chance on my project. Their support gave me the confidence and funding to take it to the next level.

– Dave Mai

Are you an emerging filmmaker with an idea for an outdoor or adventure film but need funding to bring it to fruition? Pitch it to VIMFF and Arc’teryx by filling out the submission form here. Don’t miss your chance at a possible $ 5000 towards your adventure film!


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