Coca-Cola Refreshing Films selects Capilano University student duo as finalists in North American film competition

CapU students Matthew Carew and Mika Heiskanen out-do hundreds of entries to land a finalist spot in the film competition. Get ready to vote! 

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Tag(s): Fine & Applied Arts, News & Announcements

School of Motion Picture Arts students Matthew Carew and Mika Heiskanen in the Bosa Theatre at Capilano University introducing their film, The Cinematic Touch, to audiences across North America as finalists in the Coca-Cola Refreshing Films contest.

For the first time, the 2023 Coca Cola Refreshing Films competition is open to Canadian and American film students and Capilano University’s entry by students Matthew Carew and Mika Heiskanen is among the finalists vying for top place. The Coca-Cola Refreshing Films program provides students from partnered schools with the opportunity to create content for the big screen.
This year, CapU’s School of Motion Picture Arts was selected as one of 52 partner schools across North America to participate in the program. Carew from Coquitlam, B.C. and Heiskanen from Surrey, B.C. are among five finalist teams selected to participate in a competition of over 600 film submissions. Their entry is the first team to represent Canada in the 25-year long history of the contest.  

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to get a head start in our careers as filmmakers,” said Carew, a fourth year motion picture arts student. “A chance to work with a large brand, such as Coca-Cola, would usually take several years of experience to achieve. This program offers an opportunity for young filmmakers to prove themselves and may lead to other great opportunities down the line.”

View the film and show your support

Audiences can view all five 60-second finalist films and vote for their top pick. Watch the films via this link to cast your vote for CapU's entry

Coca-Cola Refreshing Films works with a panel of industry professionals, known as the Red Ribbon Panel, who view and provide feedback to all the film creators and select the Grand Prize Winner. The grand prizes have included professional filmmaking equipment and the opportunity to have the winning film screened in Coca-Cola partner theatres nationwide including Cinemark theaters, AMC theatres, Landmark Cinemas and Cineplex Cinemas. The winner will be announced in May 2023.

Matthew Carew and Mika Heiskanen discussing production on the set of their film for the Coca-Cola Refreshing Films contest

Script and storyline

During the application process, film students were given a prompt, theme and parameters within which to write a script, along with an accompanying budget breakdown based on figures provided by Coca-Cola Refreshing Films.
Their film, titled The Cinematic Touch follows three individuals, all students, in various points of their educational journey. Jesse is getting ready for school in the morning, tenacious student Sena is solving a problem with his work, and Taylor is celebrating the end of her education by attending her graduation ceremony. Each of the characters have worked hard to achieve their goals, and all are deserving of a break. 

“What better way than to have a break at the movies?” asks Heiskanen.

It’s the vantage point that sets this film apart from others: it’s shown through the perspective of hands.

“Our hands are some of the most active parts of our body when we're doing our day-to-day obligations. Whether that's writing papers, presenting, or opening the door as we rush to class, it's something we don't really think about that often,” said Heiskanen. “The Coca-Cola Refreshing Films program was looking for creative ideas that show a unique perspective, and this film does just that.”

The theme of competition for 2023 is “to show how the movies are the ultimate break.” 

As Heiskanen explains, a movie theatre provides a chance for our hands to have a break of their own: feeling the warmth of the popcorn bag, an ice-cold cup, the texture of the movie theatre seats as you settle in and gripping the armrests as you immerse yourself in the movie. There are many ways our hands are expressed in movie theatres, and these actions are a part of breaking free from the oftentimes repetitive nature of school and work.

Photo of the clapperboard for The Cinematic Touch film

Filming process and experience

The five finalist teams receive US$18,000 to produce their 60-second film spot, along with mentorship through the six-month real-world experience platform. Students receive a colour session with a skilled colourist, and the support of marketing professionals to finalize their films. Technical partners, such as RED and Company 3, provide the students with access to a professional camera and a colour session.

“The filming went great! Our team was fantastic and we all worked really well together. Overall, we are very happy with how everything went,” said Carew.

Heiskanen served as the film’s writer and director; Carew as the producer. Filming took place in February 2023 at the Capilano University campus and the Cineplex movie theatre in Langley, B.C. 

“This has been a great opportunity to collaborate with a brand to craft a high quality story,” said Heiskanen. “Prior to this, my experience was limited to a few small independent films and student productions, where we often have to cut corners due to time and financial constraint. This production provided us with the resources to deliver a film to its fullest potential.” 

Echoing this sentiment, Carew is also appreciative of the real-world film experience by the Coca-Cola Refreshing Films contest: “The whole experience has been full of learning opportunities for myself and the crew, and the privilege of representing Canada for the first time in this contest is not taken lightly by anyone on the team. As we head into the voting period over the coming weeks, I am excited to see where this film will go.

Matthew Carew and Mika Heiskanen on the set of their short film The Cinematic Touch

Submitted by: Communications