Dez Loreen is no stranger to DeadNorth.
The Inuvik filmmaker has had a showing in every year of the Yellowknife film festival, which ran Feb. 27 to March 1.
His five minute black comedy short, called “The Botch” is the only entry from Inuvik among 37 films, though Loreen notes that’s partially because other local filmmakers have moved.
“Jeff Jones used to live here and now he’s living in Sachs Harbour right now,” said Loreen. “So Jeff became the only person in Sachs Harbour to enter DeadNorth.”
Filmed in conjunction with his other project, Totally Arctic Wrestling, it is a story about a young wrestling stable and a hotshot new talent that thinks he’s better than he actually is. Within minutes, the newcomer is dead and the remaining three wrestlers are left to figure out what to do with the body.
Starring alongside Loreen in the film are fellow Totally Arctic Wrestlers Wade Blu Wilder, Jarred Allison, Jeremy Tyler and David Stewart. Marty Solotki also makes a cameo appearance.
Loreen said the idea to go with the black comedy genre stemmed out of his last film, which had comedic elements but most particularly won him the coveted “best death” award.
“DeadNorth is a horror film festival, but it’s also a genre-film festival and a lot of people don’t take horror as scary, they find it funny,” he said. “You’ll see a lot of funny deaths, maybe not intentionally funny but it comes off as really campy or corny. Last year we did a dark comedy that went over gangbusters. It was awesome.”
It was long in coming. Having been with the festival from its origins, Loreen noted he would get awards by the crate in the early years, but as the festival grew in size and the competition stepped up the awards tapered off. So for Loreen, winning an award at this stage in the game meant so much more.
“I wasn’t fully sold on the concept of my last film,” he said. “And it won me an award. I was there in the theatre, they packed the 300-seat cinema full, and I have never heard a reaction to my film. They laughed so hard they missed the last joke of the movie.”
He notes it also shows his development as a filmmaker. Part of the rules for entering in the DeadNorth festival is the film is supposed to be conceived, produced and shown within a two month time-frame, something Loreen says doesn’t happen as often as it should.
“Through the rules, DeadNorth has been a very clean festival. I’ve never had my idea pre-planned,” he said. “Some people say I’ve got an idea for DeadNorth, and they’re buying things, or they’re getting props or even rehearsing. Every year I come into it, I don’t what I’m making that year until I register. So I find myself to be a bit of a purist in that regard.
“My films are all concept to completion in two months.”
Those who missed the showing in Yellowknife can catch the film online via YouTube or through Loreen’s film company, Neverlow studios on Facebook.