Swerve: Reflections

Swerve: Reflections

Less than 48 hours ago, I was driving to our final “Swerve, Season 2” location from Toronto. The day would end up being the most mentally challenging one I’d have on this set.

No, this isn’t a Tron sequel.

Hours later, I walked to my car and drove it the whopping two blocks to my house (not gonna lie, wrapping so close to home was ah-mazing) and climbed into my own bed. But sleep wasn’t as immediate as you might expect after an intense 12 days of driving and sleeplessness.

Instead I found myself reflecting on what had just transpired in those two weeks. The incredible people on both sides of camera that pulled together to make something both special and off-beat.

I feel honoured to have worked with everyone that was involved, and though the work continues in post-production, I just might miss those crazy cats.

One of the things that stayed with me is the nearly-endless enthusiasm of the cast. We had some looooong days and they still brought it hard every take. This isn’t always the norm and I was very thankful when I saw their full effort, day-after-day. I can’t wait for you to meet their characters.

The mean streets of Woodstock, Ontario.

The process of bringing a story into the world is complicated and emotionally draining. I always hit a point along the way where I consider the merits of pumping gas or delivering pizza for a living. But looking back on what we accomplished on a shoe-string budget and in a tiny space of time, I realize I’d gladly (after some rest) go into battle with these people again, without hesitation.

And now, I step into the editing room, which I call “The Editron” and start assembling the imaginations-that-came-to-life into episodes of a show I hope you’ll feel and enjoy.

See you on the other side.

J

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2016 was Motivational

2016 was Motivational

Like you, I felt the loss of various icons of my youth (which is ongoing). David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and a pile more. It matters because they impacted our lives and though the reverberations of their being will still be there, their demise reminds us that ours is just a bit further down the string.

Pieces of all of us.

There’s something else about 2016: I sold a movie, released two well-received web-series and got the green light to shoot a music video for a band that is one of the MANY remaining icons from my life.

My grandmother went from death’s door with incurable cancer to a nearly unheard of state of recovery from a treatment that was only meant to ease her suffering. I guarantee the word miracle crossed the lips of a few people in white coats who prefer to avoid the term. Like any of us, she won’t live forever, but I’m SO thankful for the added time with her here.

I’ve worked with incredible, generous people, traveled all over the place, grown closer to understanding myself, and re-focused my energy expenditures on those things that matter most: my wife and kids tower above everything else, as they should.

Simcoe Lights with my favourite humans.

Mostly, 2016 was a startlingly clear glimpse of what can happen in a year. I’m using the lessons learned, some discovered through research and intention, some through agony, and some completely by surprise, as rocket fuel.

There will be more stories written, told and put to music. There will be more travel. Life will be lived with curiousity and confidence, when available.

No mistakes, just happy accidents.

We lost a lot a lot in 2016, but we won’t let it drag us down. Those who left, left a mark and many of them would be appalled if we threw away the opportunity to do the same.

Happy New Year. See ya’ on the other side.

J

Well, THAT Sucked… (not the festival)

Well, THAT Sucked… (not the festival)

This past weekend was the World Premiere of Inspiration at The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. And boy, if it wasn’t one of the most heart-breaking experiences ever.

Just prior to the screening, we tested the DCP (the digital format of the film the theatre uses) and the projector was out of focus. The projectionist, an employee of the cinema, couldn’t figure it out. Luckily an attendee who neither works for the festival or Cineplex was able to fix it.

The crowd gathers.
After a 15 minute delay, we were able to open the doors of the packed lobby and let everyone in. My nerves were frazzled, but at least I felt confident everything looked great.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I live with an anxiety disorder. Amazingly, it was in check as I sat down beside my wife in the gallery.

Kelly, the host of the event got things started and did a quick Q&A with Peter Campbell, whose short film “Taking Possession” would open the afternoon. Warm-up the crowd, so to speak.

Then Peter’s film came up. Looked and sounded great and the audience was suitably set in motion for the feature presentation.

Grinning Charlie was there.
Inspiration begins with a record crackle and our production logos. So far, so good. Hand squeeze from my amazing wife and we were off to the races.

Within the first minute of the film, the dialog begins. Only it didn’t, really. It was difficult to hear. Muddy and quiet. I immediately got up and exited to see what was going on.

Turns out the centre speaker, where the dialogue lives in a 5.1 mix, was either blown or somehow not functioning.

Neither the fest nor Cineplex had any solutions (let me be clear, this is squarely on Cineplex) and despite numerous attempts to fix it and even an intermission, nothing could be done.

The agonizing decision about whether to let it finish or not needed to be made. I didn’t want anyone to experience the movie like this, but some very important people in my life had driven a good distance and waited a long time for this moment. So we explained and let it play. The Q&A was scrapped (my decision).

Plot points aplenty were missed. Nuance was erased. Performances ruined. The final moments were muddy and nonsensical. The audience applauded politely and Cineplex gave out free passes to their establishment as viewers exited.

I mostly stayed away from the crowd, but a few cast and fellow filmmakers found me and offered their condolences. A moment so long in the making was a dud because of a third party situation we could never have anticipated.

The film ad rolls prior to another film.
I scrapped my plans to see the closing film and support some great people because I was so upset and didn’t want to have to keep nodding and smiling.

Cineplex is making it up to us, by hosting another screening in January. Our rad promotional geniuses will get that info out when the time comes.

But I don’t imagine the crack in my heart and extensive cynicism will go away. Still, the World Premiere: Redux will be an epic moment in time with exclusive features, a Q&A and a great set up for a killer year to come in 2017.

So This is How it Feels…

So This is How it Feels…

The last month has been crazy. Unexpected hardship. Miraculous turnaround of said hardship. Launch of a VERY well-received web-series. The premiere of a film that represents an epic battle. And a crazy-awesome thing I can’t share quite yet.

I’m going to focus on the premiere and what it took to reach this point. 

Grinning Charlie on Set

Some years back, the most talented people I knew followed me into a harsh northern winter to help me tell a story. They came from Western Canada, California, New York and, of course, Toronto.

The sense of family and intensity has never been replicated, at least for me, on a set since. It was truly a special experience. It was only my second film, but by surrounding myself with people who had accomplished loads more than me, I was able to learn and get better at directing and seeing the big picture.

-38 was a warm day.

After an assembly cut was finished, it felt good, but unfinished. Like the whole story wasn’t quite there. So about a year after wrapping principal photography, we shot a few days of pick-ups. Who could have thought that all this time later, we’d be headed in to test the film one last time at a location where we’d filmed extra footage for our movie. That happens this week.

After re-assembling the film, post production began. And failed. And began again. And failed again.

Frustrated, I went off to work on other projects. Then Inspiration started breathing again.

That busted ankle was real and not part of the plan.

Amazing people I met got interested in this film that had sorta-kinda been shelved. One in particular, after seeing a tough-cut, felt compelled to get it finished. And so we did. And it went through a proper post process. And it’s freaking great.

I mean, I don’t ever need to see it again, but it’s a good flick. Every question it raises is answered if you watch it carefully. Emily gives a killer performance, wall-to-wall. Every character has depth and a place in the world of the film.

We were then invited to premiere at a festival. And that happens next weekend. And I get to see some of those incredible people again. Folks who gave a lot of themselves all that time ago. And we get to share this art we all made.

And here we are.

So this is what it feels like to set your art free. Terror. Excitement. Relief. Angst. Sort of like a microcosm of life itself.

If you can, we’d love to share this time with you. You can get tickets here and handshakes and hugs there.

Drowning in Inspiration

Drowning in Inspiration

There is so much amazing stuff going on right now. 

My new webseries “Swerve” debuts in less than a week. My film “Inspiration” is premiering at a great Toronto film festival at the end of November.

There is a tsunami of great projects on the horizon.

That’s the thing: it all feels like water. Unstoppable. Rising. Murderous.

I love story-telling. I don’t even know what I would do instead (though stocking shelves has a certain appeal to it). My mind is sparked by even the smallest encounter with an interesting person or situation.

And so I try to strike this balance between letting the internal creative pressure off and staying afloat on the sea of work that runoff creates.

I’m happy. Honest. Just a little stressed out, I guess. Would be sweet to have no new ideas for a little bit though…maybe.

He Runs Against the Wind

He Runs Against the Wind

He runs against the wind. At times, others join him. Mostly, they don’t.

It’s not the easy way. It may not be the correct way. But there’s something gleaming on the edge of his eyesight. He needs to go to it. There is no question.

So he runs, trying not to veer. Ignoring the voices that call him elsewhere. Trying, at least.

Some join in, but most cannot see the thing he sees and soon fall away to run another course. That’s ok with him, once the sting of their departure subsides.

His mind aches more than his muscles. Still he reaches deep for every last step, knowing this is what he must do. Who he must be.

Where he must go.