John Roney in the editing booth at Reynolds secondary school

Victoria Film Festival fosters quality filmic debuts

Student filmmakers take the big screen with small budget but high quality films

Dimensions from John Roney on Vimeo.

Getting lost in a comic book has paid off for John Roney, a Grade 12 student at Reynolds secondary school,

The 17-year-old won the senior category of FilmCAN, an online video competition for middle and high school students from the Island. Kids create a short film and upload it to the Victoria Film Festival’s video-sharing vimeo webpage. Two earn the chance to have their films screened alongside features during the festival, which runs Feb. 3 to 12.

“I was pretty excited,” said Roney, a self-taught animator who spent two months crafting his winning submission.“It was pretty big for me to get to say that I’ve won that when I’m applying to universities.”

At just shy of four minutes, Roney’s film Dimensions tells the story of a young comic artist who gets pulled into his work. The hobby animator caught the judges’ attention with his use of a high definition camcorder, Adobe Premier, After Effects and Photoshop for some sleek effects – and $2 in props.

Festival programmer Donovan Aikman calls the competition a stepping stone for young filmmakers, many of whom have gone on to pursue film at the post-secondary level. Part of the appeal of FilmCAN, which also connects students with professional mentors, springs from the community it creates, Aikman said. All submissions remain open to the public posted to the FilmCAN group at, where entrants have the chance to view the work of their peers.

“In today’s media-saturated world, it can feel like you don’t connect with anyone else and that movies come from somewhere else,” Aikman said, explaining why it’s important to pay attention to local films. “They come from the filmmakers here and we’re really happy to support that and encourage that and find ways to get students talking and looking at each others’ work.”

Despite the accessibility of video-making and broadcasting – webcams and YouTube – Aikman, a 15-year devotee of the festival, says audiences still appreciate a quality film.

“There’s always that need for good content,” he said. “Content that people have put the time and effort and energy into.”

The filmmaking experience becomes real for budding filmmakers at the festival, he added.

“The Internet is a very ethereal place. You post something and a lot of numbers go up, but you never meet (the viewers). Here you see it on the screen and realize that these real, warm-bodied people have left their homes and come downtown to see something you’ve made.”

Roney’s prize for winning at the Grade 9-12 level includes an iMac with video editing software. Ethan Stoppi, a Grade 8 student at Maria Montessori Academy, won a video camera and screening for taking the junior category with his film Super Hero Academy.

“My goal is Hollywood, I’d say, but I’d like to go into directing for an actual job,” said Roney, who will be adding the credit to his film school applications.

On the screen

Dimensions from John Roney on Vimeo.

” target=”_blank”>Dimensions (screens with To Be Heard)


7:00 p.m., Fri., Feb. 10, Cineplex Odeon Victoria Cinemas, 780 Yates St.

Super Hero Academy (screens with Mrs. Carey’s Concert)

6:45 p.m., Sun. Feb. 12, Empire Theatres Capitol 6, 805 Yates St.

Tickets to both events are available at or 250-389-0444.



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