SUNDRE — After announcing last month that a roughly year-long effort to launch the pilot episode of Pipe Nation had yet to strike a deal with any network or streaming service, the creative mind behind the original series was “blown away” to learn that his show had received a number of independent film festival awards.
Edmonton-based independent filmmaker Raoul Bhatt recently learned that his show won two awards at the 2022 Vancouver Independent Film Festival in the categories of Best Trailer and Best Short Cinematography before being informed. days later that Pipe Nation also won the award for Best TV Series Pilot at the 2022 Indie. Cinema Awards in Helsinki, Finland.
“It legitimizes who we are as a team,” Bhatt said.
“After a year of reviews and the way buyers treat us, it was disheartening. But to get those comments and awards, it’s a cool feeling,” he told the Albertan during a video interview.
“So I think I’m going to hit all those buyers again.”
And with film festival season just getting started, the potential for even more accolades remains bright. After all, Bhatt submitted the pilot to about two dozen events which, as of early April, remained under consideration, including the Sunset International Film Festival, the Seattle Film Festival, the Canadian Cinematography Awards, the Calgary International Film Festival, the Toronto Arthouse Film Festival, the Portland Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.
Bhatt informed the Albertan on April 9, Pipe Nation also received special mentions by being named a semi-finalist at the Toronto Independent Festival of Cift in the feature film category.
The scene of the story is set in a fictional town called Hardwell, which is portrayed by Sundre, and tells the story of the community’s real-life struggle to adapt to a transitioning economy with the beautiful backdrop of the mountains. Rockies.
Winning the awards didn’t change his mind to pursue expanding the completed 52-minute pilot episode into a standalone feature film.
“I think we can leverage that for the fundraising campaign,” he said.
Looking further down the proverbial road, Bhatt even considered possibly submitting the feature to the internationally acclaimed Cannes Film Festival in France.
When asked what first crossed his mind upon hearing the news that Pipe Nation had won awards, he replied, “I feel blown away.”
But considering the amount of work and effort the cast and crew put into the series, which involved multiple edits and re-edits often guided by industry insiders who provided input, Bhatt said. that he was not surprised.
“It’s unheard of for a production based in Edmonton or even Alberta to crush it to this level,” he said. “I’m not surprised – we never gave up, we kept massaging, kept working.”
Although he had not yet opened any bottles of champagne at the time he spoke with the AlbertanBhatt said the team were celebrating with excitement.
“The team is revitalized. It’s such an amazing feeling,” he said. “Going through a year of comments and criticism can crush your spirit. But that only invigorates things.
Bhatt said he wanted to get the crew together to watch the pilot “because a lot of our cast and crew haven’t even seen it,” he said.
From there, he hopes to glean some ideas about what scenes could be added to complete the show as a 90-minute feature that would give major international productions a run for their money at festivals like Cannes.
“I think I have to meet my team and decide, do we want to go ahead and compete in the big leagues? Or do we stop and then release what we have,” he said. It’s a decision I feel we’re going to make.”
Most likely, Bhatt said the motivation to keep going after doing so thus far will persuade the cast and crew to get behind the fulcrum of a feature film.
“It could be a cult classic,” he said.
When asked what he thought winning the awards – with potentially many more to come – could mean for Pipe Nation’s future prospects, he said: “I think it will reopen conversations with networks, buyers and distributors. And that’s the key.
But although standing, his team is largely alone.
“We don’t have a distributor or major studio backing,” he said.
“We crush it at these independent festivals. We can compete at Tribeca, Cannes or the Toronto film festivals – if we have the support,” he said.
“We need community support to be competitive at the highest level.”