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Video: Coquitlam student part of Canada's first-ever finalist for major film program

Coquitlam's Matthew Carew hopes his team's "refreshing" take on visiting the movie theatre can open doors to more industry experiences.
Coquitlam student Matthew Carew (left) produced a Coca-Cola commercial alongside director and classmate Mika Heiskanen, and is a finalist for the company's 2023 Refreshing Films competition — the first ever from Canada.

An aspiring Coquitlam filmmaker has produced a commercial that's landed a Canadian first.

The 25th annual Coca-Cola Refreshing Films program gives students across North America the opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity by compiling a 60-second film about movie theatres.

Matthew Carew and his team from Capilano University submitted a script that ultimately earned them one of five finalist nods, and the first from Canada after organizers decided to expand north for the 2023 competition.

Carew and company earned US$18,000 to bring their film to life, called The Cinematic Touch, to which the fourth-year motion picture arts student produced alongside writer and director Mika Heiskanen.

You can view the short film and behind-the-scenes footage below.

"We're really honoured to be able to be the first team to represent Canada in the Coca-Cola Refreshing Films program," said Carew.

"A chance to work with a large brand, such as Coca-Cola, would usually take several years of experience to achieve," he added on Capilano's website.

"This program offers an opportunity for young filmmakers to prove themselves and may lead to other great opportunities down the line."

Capilano University of was one of 52 schools selected to participate in Coca-Cola's program.

This year's theme: the ultimate break.

Carew, Heiskanen and team were tasked to tell a story of how going to the movie theatre can provide solace from the busyness of day-to-day life.

And they drew inspiration from their own classmates in telling the perspective of hardworking students that could use an escape with popcorn, pop and the big screen.

Carew was put to work after finding out Capilano's entry was selected for filming, which took place in February this year at Capilano's North Vancouver campus and at the Cineplex Theatre in Langley.

"The filming went great! Our team was fantastic and we all worked really well together," the 21-year-old student said.

"Overall, we are very happy with how everything went."

The Cinematic Touch is up against four other finalists from California, Idaho, Georgia and New York for the top prize.

The winning film will be announced some time in May and, in addition to a school receiving professional equipment, will be screened in Coca-Cola's partner theatres, which includes Cineplex Cinemas across Canada.

Carew is likely holding his breath in hoping movie-goers in the Tri-Cities will soon beam with pride when watching his team's short-picture at Coquitlam's Cineplex Cinemas and VIP (170 Schoolhouse St.).

However, that'll only be possible if they can clear the final hurdle in the public vote.

Regardless of outcome, Carew is looking forward to where down the road this experience will take him and his classmates.

"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."

Finalists also received a six-month mentorship from the Coca-Cola Refreshing Films program, which included tutorials on colourization and marketing support.

For more information, you can visit the initiative's website, where you can also formally cast a ballot for Carew, Heiskanen and Capilano's entry.

The Cinematic Touch

Behind the scenes