FUEL TV Experiment crowns winner
Just call Corey Adams one lucky lab rat in a very unique experiment. As the winner of the FUEL TV Experiment, a two-phase project run by the cable action sports network, Adams, a struggling filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada, received $1 million toward the production of his next film. His movie, "Harvey Spannos", a skateboarding comedy, was selected from nine other films entries. The award was presented at the closing party for X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival held last week. The FUEL TV Experiment began last year when the station held a call for story pitches and demo reels from sports action filmmakers. Of those received, nine ideas were selected and given up to a $100,000 budget to make the film a reality. This year, the films were presented at X-Dance, and the best was selected for the grand prize, which also included a brand new Scion XC. "We were thrilled. We were overwhelmed when we finally got the nine films," said CJ Olivares, senior vice-president and assistant general manager for FUEL TV. The winner of the experiment was picked on the basis of six criteria: originality, overall entertainment, production, post production, music and narrative. "This decision was very difficult for us," Olivares said. "Each film showed so much heart and craft and thought and they were each so different." But in the end they selected "Harvey Spannos". "Ultimately, this film, in a group of exhilarating and unique films, it stood out and the talent and creativity and the group he put together made it that different from the others," Olivares said. "It’s such a rich work. It’s a real film complex characters, scenes and visually spectacular." The film "Harvey Spannos" focuses on a young boy who dreams of buying a top-quality skate board with a "cool" graphic on it. During the process, the boy learned that his late father was also a skateboarding enthusiast. He also discovers pro skateboarder Blair Stanley. Eventually the boy receives a skateboard that he hates. Adams, 30, says that much of the storyline came from his own experience growing up in British Columbia. He remembers dreaming of buying a skateboard from a BMX magazine and then receiving a cheap imitation for his birthday. He also brings his 20 years as a skateboarder to the film. But putting together a "skateboard" film was a long time coming for Adams. "I’ve been afraid to touch that topic," Adams said. "They are usually bad because they are made by people that don’t know anything about the sport. They miss the real story." But make no mistake, Harvey Spannos is much more about a boy and his life discoveries than trying out new moves in the skate park "It’s not a skateboarding video," Adams. "It’s about the whole process of getting a skateboard." Besides trying to tell a powerful story of boyhood desires that everyone can relate to, Adams manages to deliver a film with many layers and dimensions for under $100,000. The film was shot on location in both Vancouver and Scotland. Adams said that it took some creativity, but his crew is used to being "low-budget." "Me and the people I work with are used to making films off of money we find in the couch, so $100,000 was a lot to us." In fact, Adams doesn’t foresee a whole lot changing as he prepares to make his next film with the $1 million budget. "We’ll still make the films in the same way," Adams said. "Now we’ll have money for ideas and no starving." Adams said that ideas for the topic of the new film have been discussed and will be presented to FUEL TV executives as well before going forward with production, but the concept will be a surprise. Maybe not even skateboarding. "Maybe I’ll go somewhere else," Adams said. For now though, Adams and his friends are still in shock over the win. "People were talking about it," Adams said. " We still didn’t think we’d get picked." Adams said that the last few days there had been a lot of laughing and disbelief among the crew and he is still waiting for the reality of finally "making it" to set in. "You put in all this work and finally, it all pays off," Adams said. FUEL TV had minimal interaction with the filmmaker for the first phase of the experiment, instead allowing the nine filmmakers to take their own creative license. In the second phase with Adams, Olivares says that the station will offer guidance and mentorship, but still allow him to make the film in his own fashion. So far, Adams’ unique style has worked to deliver an entertaining product. "We come up with a story, build it up building layers into it," Adams said. Adams also likes the use of "real people" average people acting normal as side characters in his film to give it a surreal quality. Olivares isn’t sure how the experiment will continue from here, but plans to continue the station’s involvement with X-Dance. He said that the response at the festival for the first nine films was very positive. He also feels that it is very important to be more than just a sponsor, but a major player in furthering the genre. "I want to do what I can to showcase the work they did and I’m proud that FUEL TV gave them the opportunity to show their vision." Olivares said. "They languish in anonymity. There’s a benevolent element about what were doing." As for Adams and his impending film, Olivares has bigger dreams. He expects with the larger budget, that the film will have the potential to be selected as a Sundance film, bringing the experiment to a whole different level. "For us, that would be the ultimate evolution of the experiment." Olivares said. Harvey Spannos and the other FUEL TV Experiment films, as well as other X-Dance selections will be shown on FUEL-TV in March. They are also planning a tour of 10-12 major cities and film school locations to present the FUEL TV Experiment films.
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