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Creating Media of All Kinds

Saturday, October 06, 2007

To be continued... Elsewhere

The time has come to migrate my thoughts elsewhere. As any of my loyal readers might have noticed, my posts here have come less and less frequently.

I started this blog in early 2005, to track my progress as a poet and filmmaker. It's carried me through directing and editing my first film and three more, and periodic poetic moments.

It's also witnessed my first film festivals; my first big screenwriting grant courtesy of the Manitoba Arts Council; having fun working on other people's films; my first Canada Day as a Canadian; and my acceptance and attendance at the Canadian Film Centre.

This marks my 101st post, and I appreciate all the comments of support that people have made of the last 2 1/2 years.

I invite you to join me at my new blog: Strong Female Lead. I'll be exploring the presence and use of female characters on television and in film, and occasionally looking at the role of women in The Industry. As appropriate, I will discuss my own projects, but I will also be using email and facebook for those kind of updates. I will report any news regarding Rave Review here.

And if you want to know how else I'm spending my time, check out 101 in 1001 - a project tracking 101 goals in 1001 days (only 958 days left now!).

Saturday, September 08, 2007


The Toronto International Film Festival is underway!

TIFF kicked off officially on Thursday, but I went to my first party on Tuesday night. Six more to go and tickets in hand for 3 screenings, but hope to pick up a couple more. Heading to my first film tomorrow morning - it's called The Visitor, by Thomas McCarthy, the director of the brilliant Station Agent.

So it's an action-packed week. Gotta pace the schmoozing, and stick with the soda water to make it through... What's nice is a few filmmaker and tv friends from other parts of the country are here, so I'll get to hang out with them.

Last year, I just got here in time to catch a film on the last day of the festival. Hard to believe it's been only a year since I got to Toronto. After the festival, I'll be meeting this year's crop of CFC TVers - hard to believe we're replaceable!

And then the season premieres start flying fast and furious. I'm trying to catch up on a few of last year's shows still, and digging into the summer cable shows (Mad Men, Burn Notice).

Meanwhile, prepping for Bump's tour to Scandinavia, then Italy, then South America! Learning an incredible amount on the non-fiction side, but getting back to work on a couple of drama projects too.

And I've brought in an editor to help finish Rave Review. I remember being surprised when I heard about people who took a year or longer to finish a short film, but now I guess I see how it happens! I'm sorry that NSI is cancelling its FilmExchange - that was one place I was hoping to show it....

Monday, August 20, 2007


The multi-talented Sabine Hikel (writer, editor, cultural theorist) has a new creative project and sucked me in!
University Affairs magazine (the Canadian Chronicle of Higher Education) is publishing Sabine's podcast series on people who left academia, and it kicks off with my story of dropping out of linguistics grad school after only a year. If you've never heard that story, hop on over there and you can hear the whole tale....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Summer Reading and Riding

Been doing a lot of reading this summer, to balance out all the tv and film watching (I have sooo many shows to catch up on...). Found this brilliant site where you can keep track of what you read (and watch and listen to).

Keeping a list of books I've read reminds me of summer reading programs at the Denver Public Library, where we'd get a little certificate for every set of 8 books. One that sticks in my mind is you'd get a picture of 1/4 of a record and try to collect 4 parts. I'm working on my second record... Current recommendations: MJ Davidson's "Undead Betsy" series and Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" series.

It's also been awesome there to go through lists like the Rolling Stone top 500 songs, or the Top 500 Country songs of all time. To sit down and really listen to these classics has been mind-expanding.

And I've been using the RS500 to rock my training sessions for my upcoming mini-triathlon on Toronto Island. Did my first back-to-back bikeride and run this weekend, and found out what "hitting the wall" means when my legs rebelled. Good to know for the actual race...

The new job is going quite well. Learning a lot and having fun!

And yes, I am still editing Rave Review! Watch this space for a self-congratulatory post when that's done! But it won't be until after my vacation, wherein I'll get to train in four states!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Let's All Love Toronto/Canada

Went to see Let's All Hate Toronto last week. Special NFB presentation with the filmmakers. They mentioned that immigrant to the city are often surprised: "What's to hate?"

I have to admit, I'm in that category. So for my post-Canada Day celebration, here a few things I love about Toronto:
- bike lanes!
- one minute you're in big buildings, the next you're in residentia or some big park!
- a zillion restaurants - not an Olive Garden in sight!
- clean, reliable subways (when they say every 3-5 minutes, they mean it!)
- interesting, supportive people
- major ethnic diversity (though LAHT myth-busts the "most diverse city in the world" claim)
- Ginormous Pride parade
- veggie dogs at the street vendors! I finally get to load up my dog!

On "Canada Day Monday" I went to see Sicko. Perfect way to celebrate being Canadian and universally health-cared. I work on contract, so if I had to pay 10 - 15% of that out in private health insurance, I wouldn't be too happy. There's just so much freedom in never having to factor in insurance when deciding where to work, or how many hours. I have so many American friends and relatives who feel constrained by having to keep the job that gives them insurance. Or my niece has to take a certain number of classes next term to keep her mom's insurance.

I would say it's my fave Michael Moore film to date. My favourite part in the film was when people in Canada and Britain actually laughed at Moore when he asked how much their stay in the hospital cost. Highly recommend to folks on both sides of the border!


Saturday, June 23, 2007

New Job!

After lots of knocking on doors and going for coffee, I've landed my first production job. I'm associate producing a travel show called Bump! for OUTtv. Obviously the focus is gay & lesbian travellers! (a festive beginning as it's Pride week here in Toronto and our office is right in the heart of things!)

I've put in my first week and already learned that my personality and skills are well suited to production work. Collecting and organizing all kinds of information, putting it into useful formats, getting in touch with people and bringing them on board, problem-solving, finding alternatives...

And getting to be creative! As the person who researches the cities, I get to shape the skeleton of the show, then flesh it out as I learn more and talk to people, and work with my producer. There is writing involved as well, but it has to be ego-less, as the hosts may completely ignore my script! After we've shot some more episodes, I'll have the opportunity to see how the original concepts fare in the field and then back in the editing suite.

I'm excited to learn all I can about producing, and my producer has promised to give me all the opportunities she can to learn and try my hand at as many aspects of the producing side of things as possible. So it should be an interesting, fun, and challenging season.

I only wish I got to travel with the team!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Banff! (Some specifics)

Fave sessions:
  • Carol Mendelsohn (CSI) - Powerful creative woman!
  • Ben Silverman (NBC, Ugly Betty) - Powerful inspiring, energetic man!
  • Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) - the CFC gang lingered and got an impromptu master class!
  • International Trends - niche TV, vertical integration, aggregators, global programming
  • Brave New World - we gotta drop the "new" from "new media", Joost
  • User Generated Content - SO key - and good to finally understand LonelyGirl15 (200 eps in 1 year = impressive!)
  • Big Drama, Small Screen - I wish all the Canadian net execs had been forced to attend to hear why hour-long drama is rocking in the USA so they could get pumped about putting on more Canadian one-hours.
My main thought out of these last two was that with the rise of UGC, drama is the key to the future of broadcasters - because users can create passable low-budget "reality" tv or even LG15, but I can't make Galactica or Ugly Betty in my basement.

That said, clearly I need to go to Next when it comes to Toronto in November.

Fave quotes:
  • "If you're not here at Banff, the conversation goes on without you." (Peter Mowan)
  • "Broadcast television is the common language, but the web is the conversation"
  • "Message (content) has to supersede platform."
  • "We're all in the hit-making business." (Susanne Daniels)
  • "Creativity is the most valuable asset."
  • "No-one is more aware than the show-runner when an episode is less-than stellar." (Rob Thomas)
  • "Where are the Canadians producing online content?"
  • "You can't get away with not writing if you want to be a tv writer." (Thomas)
  • "We ask ourselves if we're over the line and we keep going." (Carol Mendelsohn)
  • "Writers running television is what makes it the best entertainment." (Mendelsohn)
  • "Passion moves mountains." (Ben Silverman)
  • "Grab a camera and go do it! The distribution channels are wide open." (Greg Goodfried)
  • "There are an infinite number of channels now, and you can have one." (Goodfried)
  • "We're making TV! How fun is that?" (Silverman)

Things I'm still thinking about:
  • How the web and TV can feed (into) each other - "connecting over content"
  • Consumer -> Producer
  • Extended, Enhanced Experience of content over multiple devices/settings
  • Democracy of Media - how to organize the chaos
  • Pay TV - not constrained by advertisers or broadcast standards
  • Non-linear entertainment
  • Fragmentation vs Expanding Market
  • Personal Storytelling <-> Community Storytelling
  • Subliminal advertising = the future? (30 sec -> 5 sec -> 2 frames)
  • "Disintermediation"

Banff! (The Overview)

Where to start? Banff was amazing - even exceeding expectations!

My pre-set meetings went fine, and I now have major incentive to finish up the pilot of my post-CFC project. But the most memorable encounters I had were the random ones - running into someone while waiting in line, or sitting next to someone at one of the fab-o workshops, or - as advertised - hanging out at the St. James Gate.

Having the opportunity to meet and and repeatedly run into the CTV fellows was a major bonus. Great to feel a part of the Next Generation of writer/ creator/ producers. Easy to imagine us coming back to Banff year after year with new projects, and who knows, even collaborating. Really important to me to hear how other people are tackling these early years of independent producing, and to hear that Toronto is not the only spot for producing, by a long shot! So hats off to CTV for the fellowship program!

Got to hang out with a few of my must-read bloggers, Denis McGrath and Alex Epstein, and to bond with CFC grads from previous years. Since I wasn't staying with my fellow CFC writers from this year, actually didn't see a ton of them, which, given that this was an event to network with new people, is probably a good thing. The only event we all attended (besides free food opportunities!) was Rob Thomas, and we also got an impromptu hour-long masterclass from Virginia Thompson (exec producer of Corner Gas), urging us to Maximize dollars to screen. As Adam said "That's the magic of Banff."

For more specifics about sessions, etc, read on.

Stayed an extra day to get some actual mountain time with a for-now local friend. Mmm Mountains.

(more photos here)