Gone in 60 Seconds

Uniquely Montreal Short Film Fest M60 Makes Everyone a Filmmaker

The Montreal 60 Second Film Fest at Cinéma Excentris Sept. 13-15 Photo courtesy Mallory Bridgeman

Many big promises have been made under the moon in a night sky, but when a group of friends were sitting on Mount Royal waiting for an eclipse in 2008, the idea of a new film festival actually stuck.

The seven organizers of M60— The Montreal 60 Second Film Festival —aren’t all filmmakers and neither are the people who submit films. There are no prizes, no jurors, no typical film-fest trappings, just three days that give people the excuse to make and show a movie.

Every year, M60 comes up with a theme and leaves the filmmakers to interpret it. This year it’s “Faux Pas.”

“People interpret the theme in fairly different ways,” said Michael Pedruski, a regular M60 contributor.

“It’s a challenge to make a film in one minute because you have to get people into the story and then get to a punchline at the end very quickly.

“I think in general the quality of the films is incredible and just gets better every year. I remember last year I felt quite nervous [showing a film] because the quality was intimidating.”

Pedruski is a biology student at McGill and a versatile hobbyist animator. His M60 films have ranged from from stop-motion to cel-based work, and his contribution for the “Faux Pas” edition of M60 is a hand-drawn movie called “Maurice’s Mistake.”

The filmmakers had one month following the July 19 registration party to come up with a movie built around the theme. The format convinces non-filmmakers to give it a try and creates a challenge for seasoned professionals to craft a narrative in under a minute.

“What we’ve found is that we get very different interpretations on the themes that we’ve had from the English and French side,” said Douglas Hollingworth, one of M60’s founders and organizers.

“The highlight and very worst experience is watching your own piece,” -Filmmaker Michael Pedruski

“So this time around we thought, ‘Faux Pas’ works for both. We’d like to see what everyone comes up with, and it’s a fun theme. We’re really trying to emphasize the fact that we’re fully bilingual.”

The festival has bounced around Montreal, setting up in different venues every year. Its inaugural edition was at La Sala Rossa in 2008, when the theme was “In a Montreal Minute,” but it has since screened films at Cinéma du Parc, the Rialto, and this year, at Cinéma Excentris.

Without any outside funding, the group of organizers self-financed M60.
“Fortunately the first year was very successful,” Hollingworth said. “And every year it’s been self-sustaining.  All the ticket and DVD sales we have the previous year goes to fund the next year. It’s not huge, but enough to keep it going.” 

Hollingworth said the people who make films are professionals, amateurs and people who just want to try to make a movie for the first time. He added that M60 can give people a kind of “15 minutes of fame,” even if that’s condensed into 60 seconds.

“The highlight and very worst experience is watching your own piece,” Pedruski said. “I always get incredibly nervous when I watch my own films.”

Each film is screened three times during the festival, and films are selected to be a part of M60 on a first-come, first-served basis. Over 80 films are going to be included in the two-hour screenings.

The Montreal 60 Second Film Fest at Cinéma Excentris (3536 St. Laurent Blvd.) / Sept. 13 to Sept. 15 at 9:00 p.m. / Tickets $8.00 at the door or online / For more info visit m60.ca