CALGARY -- Two Calgary filmmakers who began the Quarantine International Film Festival (QIFF) in their tiny Beltline apartment were shocked to watch as it caught fire worldwide.

"We had 636 submissions from all over the world from 54 different countries, so that was pretty incredible," said Siobhan Cooney, one of the creators of the QIFF. "We never expected that, we thought we were gonna get like 20 films. It was pretty wild."

In mid-March, Cooney along with fellow filmmaker and actor Spencer Streichert called on people from around the globe to use their free time in isolation to get creative and make short films for the QIFF. The result has been extraordinary.

Within the first 24 hours of creating their Instagram account they received over 100 followers and their Facebook and YouTube pages were soon swamped.

Streichert and Cooney came up with the idea after losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were brainstorming ways to keep themselves busy and stay creative.

"We were talking about what we could do in our spare time and we floated the idea around about making a movie and then we thought it would be kind of cool facilitate a film fest," said Streichert.

The theme for the films was BEAR or BARE, open for interpretation by the filmmakers. Streichert says the couple were blown away by what they received.

Entries came from filmmakers of all skill levels; from first time producers to Emmy award-winning cinematographers.

"It’s inspired me because it’s proof that you don’t need a big budget in order to make something really good."

The short films were capped at a maximum duration of five minutes with content that would be rated PG-13, PG or General. The deadline for the first round of submissions was April 1st and the top films are available to be viewed on the QIFF YouTube Channel.

Streichert and Cooney are starting the second round of the QIFF on April 22nd.   Films entered will have to be based on a single prompt that filmmakers have to focus on.  Additionally, the film must be shot in one room or at one location.

For more details visit QIFF.