Netflix director speaking at Living Skies Student Film Festival

By Costa Maragos Posted: March 2, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Organizers of the Living Skies Student Film Festival (l-r) Harvey Michael, Tanner David, Zach Almond and Weiyi Su.
Organizers of the Living Skies Student Film Festival (l-r) Harvey Michael, Tanner David, Zach Almond and Weiyi Su. Photo by Rae Graham – U of R Photography

Stephen Surjik, a director of some of the most popular shows on Netflix, is the featured speaker at the ShuBox Theatre March 2 to help kick off the 29th annual Living Skies Student Film Festival at the U of R.

The festival runs March 2 - 4 and culminates with the awards night.

Stephen Surjik
Stephen Surjik has produced popular shows on Netflix and on major television networks. He will share his experiences with the public March 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Shubox Theatre.

“As a student, I’m really excited to have someone of Stephen’s stature come and speak here,” says Zach Almond, a fourth year film student and one of the festival organizers.

Surjik has forged a busy career as a Director and Producer in Canada and the U.S. He directed Wayne's World 2 starring Mike Myers and episodes of Kids In The Hall, The X-Files and Person of Interest as well as popular Netflix series including Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

Surjik was born in Regina and studied at Concordia University. His graduation film, Second Story Man, garnered an invitation to the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes.

Surjik has received multiple Emmy Award and Gemini Award nominations. And now he will be on campus share his experiences and provide guidance and advice for film students or anyone else interested in film.

“It’s really fascinating to be able to hear about these experiences he’s had during his career and to learn from him how we can put what we are learning about into practice,” says Almond. “I’m also a huge fan of the Marvel Netflix shows so to be able to have someone come in and talk about working on one of them is really something.”

This year’s film festival also features a workshop, March 3 at 1:00 p.m., by local director of photography Layton Burton. Burton, who is based in Regina, has more than 30 years of experience in the film industry. His resume includes Little Mosque on the Prairie and Corner gas along with films including Chained and Surveillance.

However, most of the film festival is filled with film screenings produced by student filmmakers from around the world.

The Living Skies Film Festival is an international event. This year it is featuring films from 19 countries including Canada, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Argentina, Iran, Mexico, the United States and many more.

“We have awesome films to screen and not just for U of R students but for the public to see the varieties of films that come from different countries,” says Weiye Su, a third-year film student and one of the organizers of the film festival. "This is an opportunity for everyone to learn about different cultures and customs and history through film.”

It was a big task putting this event together. More than 1500 submissions came in from more than 70 countries. It was a tough task whittling down hundreds of films to a manageable number for the judges to view and grade.

Those judges are:

  • Alex Rogalski – Executive Director of PAVED Arts in Saskatoon and a programmer for festivals including TIFF and Hot Docs. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the U of R.
  • Jemma Gilboy - Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Animation Studies at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England. She earned a BFA in Film and Video Production and a BA (Hons) in Film Studies at the University of Regina.
  • Grace Salez  - a British Columbia based multi-disciplinary artist and founding member of MediaNet, a not for profit centre for independent video production.
  • Logan Vanghel – production coordinator at Saskatchewan FilmPool Co-operative. He graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015.

“It’s an amazing experience to be able to attend a film festival,” says Almond. “Most people who think of festivals they think of Toronto so it is really something to have one to go to here at the U of R featuring local filmmakers and people from around the world. As organizers of the festival it is a great experience.”

The film screenings and the workshop are free and open to the public.

Please visit here for the film festival events schedule.

The 2017 Living Skies Student Film Festival is sponsored by:

  • Access Communications
  • City TV in Saskatchewan
  • Java Post Productions
  • Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association
  • Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative
  • University of Regina
  • U of R Students’ Union
  • University of Regina’s Department of Film

For more information on the exciting opportunities offered by the Film Department please visit here.