Archive for 2009

Top Ten Months of 2009

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In no particular order of importance:

10: January - The year ahead looks hopeful. Just waiting around for all the film festivals to start beating down Refrains door. Even developing a feature project with a couple producers.

9: February - Got invited to be a guest speaker at a local college, that was cool. Started MTLR.ca. Building new things, recognition for old ones, not bad at all.

8: March - Refrain not the festival darling I was hoping for. Feature project that I was developing crumbles. Gun in my mouth but no money left for bullets. Shot short film Straightforward instead of myself. Gotta keep the juices flowing.

7: April - Refrain accepted into World Film Fest. Finger off the trigger.

6: July - After a couple months buried in desk work, finally started launching all the amazing Refrain and Side Project music. Also began work on Lion & Gazelle and met producer.

5: August - Press, press, press. Promoting Refrain like a carnival hustler and finally our disastrous festival screenings. Disastrous for technical reasons despite which the audiences loved it. Vindication.

4: September - Rest and - oddly enough - job offers for unrelated work.

3: October - Producer wants to apply for development funding for Lion & Gazelle. I’ve been here before so, whatever… Prepping Refrain for DVD/VOD distribution. But most important, it’s mushroom season.

2: November - Holy crap we got into the Telefilm program. Also shot a music video.

1: December - Telefilm workshop nearly kills my poor delicate, introverted self but it’s great to be working on a new movie. Time to eat sugar and fat and catch up on sleep. Next year’s going to be doozy.

Happy holidays everyone. Let’s each make something cool in 2010.

Typo

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I heard a funny story once about a small community in Wales that needed to post a road sign. They wanted to post the sign in both English and Welsh. To this end they sent the English text to a translator via email. The text went: “No entry for heavy vehicles. Residential site only.”

The town council immediately received an email in response from the Welsh translator. They copied the translated text and had their road sign erected. Soon after they learned that what their sign read was:

“No entry for heavy vehicles. Residential site only,” in English.

Followed by:

“I am currently out of the office. Please send any text that needs translating,” in Welsh.

Now that’s funny.

The reason I was recently reminded of this story was that I’ve been working on a new Refrain trailer and I just found a typo in some text I was including in it. The text in question is a snippet from one of Refrain’s glowing reviews. The text had been copied from the DVD artwork which is a pain because now that’s got to be changed. And the DVD artwork was copied from the website, which also had to be corrected. And the website text was, you guessed it, copy and pasted directly from the website where the review originated…

This was all less funny to me than the Welsh sign.

I’ve read this text a gazillion times over the past few months and simply never noticed the typo. I would surely have spotted it however, if not for the handiest of handy computer features, the ol’ copy/paste. Mark my words: Memories of Y2K have faded quickly my friends but one day… One day copy/paste will doom us all.

So yeah. Refrain DVD in revamp mode. New trailer coming in the new year. Get your lips revving, we’re going to need some of that good old fashioned word of mouth in the next few months.

Short Cutting

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Not too long ago I was asked if I would edit an acquaintance’s short movie. Knowing the filmmaker to be a run and gun type of guy who’s shorts always followed a punchline driven format I thought it might be fun. After all, I’ve been editing for years but never someone else’s work. I’d never acted as just the editor, with no other input into the film than that. Not the kind of position I would normally think about putting myself in which is why I immediately said “yes.”

I’ll do anything once for free if I haven’t done it before just for the experience.

Going in I was asking myself the most obvious questions: What will the director, Radu, be like to work with? and Will I be getting the footage I need to make this work? But what I started to question as I got into the edit was what am I really contributing here? Or more specifically will this movie, when it’s finished, be something I can at all lay claim to and include in my portfolio of work? Will it bear my signature?

Final cut completed I came to the conclusion that no, of course it won’t, and that’s the point. Editing is only good if it doesn’t bear any signature, if it isn’t noticed at all.

That said, I did enjoy being the editor for hire on this project. There is something satisfying about contributing to something in an almost anonymous way… With the exception, that is, of prefacing it with a big self-indulgent editorial on one’s own blog…

I’ve embedded the video below. Good luck watching it without being tainted by all the foregoing!

Decompression a short by Radu Juster:

(There seems to be a sound hiccup near the end… Not my department. Ooh, deferred responsibility, a fringe benefit.)

A Case for Talent Agents

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I was recently invited to sit in on a casting session held by a colleague of mine. Always eager to get a glimpse at the talent pool without having to put on my own water wings I was happy to oblige.

The process went well and I think my friend got what he wanted; as I’ve said before, there’s a wealth of talent in this city.

On this particular occasion however the most memorable actor on the schedule - for me - was the guy who didn’t show up. See, while we sat there for fifteen minutes waiting for this guy I had occasion to reflect on the more important things that I could be doing with my time. I also did a little pondering about what would possess a person to simply not show up to an audition without so much as a call or an email or a text - it’s not like there aren’t ample modern tools at one’s disposal to facilitate the cancellation of an appointment. Especially an appointment with a potential employer. A potential employer in an industry of employers who share information with each other not only about the people who have been good to them but also about the people who have wasted their time.

Then the next actor arrived and we moved on.

It’s abundantly clear to me in times like this why talent agents and managers exist and why in fact they are a necessity. It’s sad really. I do think there is indeed a wealth of talent out there but I wonder just how much more talent there is that I’ll never find out about. Because you may be Meryl Streep but if you can’t even manage to get your pants on by yourself in the morning much less make it to an audition then the restaurant you’re waiting tables at better be fulfilling all your creative needs as well as have a great pension plan.

As a quick PS, I’ll add that if you’re a filmmaker holding an audition that wastes people’s time you should probably remember that actors love to share information too.

Lion & Gazelle

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

One of my personal motivational exercises is to make public announcements about upcoming projects slightly before I’m comfortable doing so. Being highly susceptible to the solvency of shame this normally lights the required fire under my beaker.

The last time I did this - in the form of a casting call - jumping the gun finally backfired on me as the project had to be postponed.

For this last reason I’ve been holding back a little bit on some recent news, but what the hell, right? See, I was recently able to pair myself with someone who’s passion for producing matches my own for creating (and I use those terms interchangeably). We’ve been working on a new project. And it would seem that this producer and I have managed to secure the first step toward financing our film. This first step comes courtesy Telefilm Canada. Bless socialism. I promise to do our tax dollars proud.

The project is called Lion & Gazelle.

That’s all you get for now

So there it is. Consider the fire lit.