It only took a year, but we've made a new movie. Thanks to footage from Ian Lister, a totally new cut, and sound design (in progress) by The Forge Audio, I have edited a new film for submission to film festivals. Sadly, we lost the bear scene, but it was all in the service of focusing on Zoe's quest for that gas. Naturally.
Thank you to everyone who helped with this little film/music video. A special shout out to Nicola and Kyle at CJSW, for putting on the festival and guiding me through the process of working with Super 8mm; to The Basement Demons and their amazing family, who all came out for the performance, and to Shawn Larsen & Ian Lister for their artistry and friendship.
The festival itself was very cool. Watching film - Super 8mm & 16mm projections - has a dreamy quality. Time slowed down, and not just because the editing style was slower, although it was.
The Basement Demons performed on Friday night... Ceteri, 10-years-old and picture on the far right in the pic above, played her electric guitar on the ground, with a Ken doll. While all the other ten-year-olds in the world are fumbling with pics or playing with dolls, she's literally playing with her doll. Indica and Imajyn rocked out hard on the vocals and strings, and young Seth blew us all away on the drums - that young man can play.
All in all, we made something weird that we love and it was great that other people recognized it. Thank you again, and until next year's festival...
A new film I directed - a collaboration with visual artist Shawn Larsen and our new favorite band, The Basement Demons - will premiere at the 24th annual $100 film festival, as part of the film/music explosion project.
Thanks to the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers for making this possible, and see you there!
There's a line in the film, where Zoe laments the fact she could be sent to Algeria if she can't make an impressive discovery in Alberta. For Zoe, it's a matter of not wanting to be far from her daughter for an extended period of time.
Our real life geo/science advisor, Kelly, didn't have the same issue when she was working in Algeria, although she has two little boys of her own now. In fact, she seems to be quite delighted by the work over there in these pics - see below- even if not everyone seemed to be so happy she was there - see above.
Thank you to Everyone who came out for the screening or who sent their best wishes - you were there with us and the journey couldn't have been made without you. Filmmaking's hard, yo, but like housework it's better when we do it together.
Now that Blow Out's met the CUFF festival deadlines, working on other stories. Like this one I found in my family tree:
My great-uncle, Jim Brady, was an activist for indigenous (aka human) rights and against war and facism in the mid-20th Century.
"...Jim Brady's personal preferences led him to live close to the Indian side of his ancestry. Shaped by industrial society, he nonetheless shunned its urban environment and its middle-class trappings. It was Brady's conviction that the life of one man has little significance in the scheme of things, and the manner of his death, unobserved and unmarked by any ceremony, seemed to confirm that conviction."
He was a shy intellectual, reluctant leader, and sometimes poet. When he disappeared on a surveying trip in the 1960s, some people thought the government - or powers that be - killed him. Although my dad thought that if he was murdered, it was by someone's jealous husband. No one will ever know.
It's an interesting thing, to be Metis. By definition it means "mixed", which means more than one, which means you don't fit into any one place, but also that limiting definitions are by definition tragicomedies to us. In Jr. High, there was a "rumor" that I hid my "nativeness" with pale makeup; at the time I was most insulted that people thought I wore that much makeup. Looking back, I'm sad to acknowledge that those kids assumed someone with indigenous ancestry would want to hide it.
The Reel North Film Festival, a screening of Indigenous work from Canada.
In short, no pun intended, my mind was blown. The screening room was packed, which is always my favorite way to watch a film. The pure talent of the story tellers lifted stones off my heart - they were stories I could feel. Each one had a distinct voice and a purpose for being.
Here's the write-up from the festival's page - if you get a chance, keep your eye out for each of these filmmakers - they won't disappoint.
Indigenous Arts brings you Canada’s Reel North exploring the stories and landscapes from Canada’s far north. Come and experience 60 minutes of short films by award-winning Indigenous filmmakers Zacharias Kunuk (Inuk), Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Inuk), Louise Flaherty (Inuk), Stacey Aglok MacDonald (Inuk), Michelle Latimer (Métis), and Paul Raphaël and Félix Lajeunesse.
Curated by imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, and co-produced with The Banff Centre as part of Hi-Rez Storytelling.
a special thank you to imagineNATIVE for their curatorial skills, the Banff Centre and in particular Kathy Morrison, who's efforts and company quickly made me feel at home.
As Anna Paquin says before deflowering the protagonist in Almost Famous... it's all happening.
We're nearing picture lock. Which means it's almost time to work with the sound designer and colorist to polish Blow Out. It's been a long journey to get here, but it's exciting to be so close.
Thank you again to everyone who's helped make this film - can't wait to share it with you and hope to see you at Lincoln Center this May for the premiere. Check back in the next few weeks; we'll know the exact day and time then.
Columbia alum, a lone Prof. (see Trey Ellis, back left), and real-life students at the summit last weekend.
And this was just the tip of the brainy-iceberg that was the 2014 Sloan Summit in Los Angeles last weekend. From delicious dinners to panels on distribution, everything was top-notch, useful and inspiring. It was fascinating to see how everyone understood their scientific storymaking - no one had the same approach.
Thanks again to Sloan, Columbia, and all my buddies there - it was an honour to spend the time with you.
They say the final stretch requires the most effort, or at least feels that way. And while that's true, it's also true that it's rewarding to see all the good work everyone did in the footage. Finding such good performances and, from this distance, seeing how incredible it is that we pulled this off at all. Is there any other dark comedy set on an oil rig in the middle of nowhere?
The plan is to have a good rough cut ready in about two weeks, then work with our new editor, Matt Levy, who I was introduced to by the one and only Zach Wigon. His film The Heart Machine just had its NYC premiere - check it out!
It'll also soon be fundraising time. Anyone have any ideas? I was thinking of making a zine for sale - using real live xerox machines - and offering some other prizes for bid on the site. Like vintage gowns and denim. Because what is show business without some old costumes? Stay tuned!
One of our practicum students from SAIT, Justin Skrundz, brought his Hasselblad to set, and we're glad he did.
For more, check out the stills gallery on the site.
A couple years ago my mom, aka YPB (Young Pat Bryden), told me there was a new bakery in town. A place with peasant-perfection bread, the kind with a just-so crust and a centre so chewy it’d make R2D2 wish for a mouth.
Since then, I always make a point of getting to Sidewalk Citizen for a veggie sandwich – roasted eggplant, crisp spinach, red peppers under the sloppy kiss of a perfectly poached egg – but this trip I learned something else; one of the proprietors, Michal, is also a filmmaker. And before that, she was a geologist in the oil and gas industry. Ah… what…?
So, we hired her on the spot to make sandwiched for the reshoot. And by hire I mean she volunteered to feed cast and crew for two days, donating sandwiches and sweet scones. There’s something that felt just right for me personally about eating this artisanal scones at the foot of a grinding oil rig, about not spilling crumbs on the snow and semi-truck tracks.
She also connected me with Ian Lister, the DP who killed our monster day of the reshoot (no small feat when you’re shooting hand-held, in the cold, for a 16+ hour day); and she was generally a delight to shoot the sh*t with about Israli short story writers, writing Alice Munro, and the process of sharing your work as you’re making it. Largely self-taught, the idea of going through the workshop system to create’s refreshingly suspect to Michal, and I get the feeling her films might be all the better for it. She’s shooting a Zombie-Erotica short this summer, so be on the look out.
If you're wondering what's gone down in 'Blow Out' land (we're changing the title, but for now, we'll call it by it's original name… kind of like driving with a learner's permit), I've got news, all the news that's fit to print, about short films, electronically, right here….
Firstly, there were so many f'RIGin' talented people on this shoot that shooting in NYC seems like a distant, beautiful, aristocratic-but-kinda-pale cousin to filmmaking in Alberta. I'm talking about people like our gaffer Cheska, who could pull a florescent orange balaclava over her face and smile in -20 C; our 1st AC Kendra, who never stopped long enough to be anything but hot in her flannel shirt; our SAIT students Crys, Justice, Mickey, Justin and David, who held down entire departments (Oh, hi craft services) while maintaining their course load at school;
Keith Carlsen, our resident master photographer who rolled with becoming a line producer/PA/moral supporter when we needed him most; Sarah Smalik, who produced, art directed and made musicals about manatees while inspiring our humanity; co-producer Diana Golts for being an organizational and morale-boosting salve; DP Eddie Martinez for surviving the cold longer than anyone without breaks;
DIT and editor Bailey Donovan for simply being on it, regardless of what 'it' was; composer Andrea Wettstein for inspiring ideas and coming to set; makeup artist Ashley Godick for making everyone look either good or muddy (and for being willing to pick up other jobs, like wardrobe!, when we were at a loss); sound man Jesse Sanderson who worked through a freezing night shoot with nay a complaint; Thommy, Lane and Adam, who volunteered as if they were getting paid; co-producer Charlotte Glynn for lugging over all the equipment from NYC; Kelly MacDougall and her husband, Darren Harrold, who lent his truck and took care of their kids when we stole her away for nights at a time… the list goes on and on. Thank you everyone so very much - there is more to come on all of this but I wanted to get a little out there before it was too late. I won't even get started with our talented, hilarious and tough cast in this post - Medina Hahn, Steve Major, Pete Balkwill, Kevin Weir, Kenny Wood-Schatz, Evan Rein and Ryan Pinder - to name a few - will be the subject of their own post to come.
Secondly, I would like to thank Bonavista Energy Corp. and Savanna Energy Services Corp. for essentially making this film possible. We lost so many locations - our plan As, then our plan Bs - that a day before the shoot I was making a sorry Plan C that relied on close-ups to hide our lack-of-location. Then Bonavista stepped in with not only a 'yes' to our request to shoot on their lease (being drilled by Savanna), but also with much-needed enthusiasm. They trusted in our integrity and chose to help us as members of the community by granting access; as a result we got to tell our unrequited-love story on an oil rig in the way I'd hope we could.
In particular I would like to thank Ken Voytechek, Mark Hendricks, and Ian Cook for their involvement and their time despite all being very, very busy - I hope this film makes you guys as proud as we were to be working alongside you.
And, lastly, of course, thank you to my family. My Aunt Dianne for cooking an incredible dinner for us all one night; my grandfather Gerry Maier for all of his support; Alistair Bryden for flying people out and lending us his truck, and, finally, my beautiful mom for hosting and smiling her way through the foster care of the many, tired filmmakers who took over her house for a few weeks… she's just the best.
More to come in terms of gratitude, but until then… thank you everyone.
I'd been friends with Kelly for a long time without really understanding what she did as a geologist. She'd go away for weeks/months to some place in Saskatchewan I'd never heard of, and then I'd see her again at a night club in some foxy knee-high boots, shaking it on the dance floor.
Over some mix of So Fresh and So Clean, she'd give a play-by-play of the DJs choices... and then mention how a cougar followed her when she was out snow-shoeing on a weapons range. I still had no idea what she did... other than that it having a fax machine at home, which apparently would whirr away when she wasn't throwing fabulous parties.
Little did I know, geologists are like science's time travellers; while I was trying to make a plan for the year, Kelly was observing epochs.
As my Alfred P. Sloan Foundation science advisor, Kelly's spent hours consulting on the project, helping me to understand everything from the basic science of geology, to drilling techniques, to the inter-personal dynamics on the rig. Most people assume that being the only woman on an oil rig could be difficult, but Kelly found that the guys appreciated her presence. They told her that having a woman on-site made guys remember words like "please" and "thank you." They said that even when she wasn't in the room or close by, the general atmosphere improved.
When I presented the idea of the script, a lot of people made the jump that it was about a woman proving herself to these men on the rig. That thought had never occurred to me, 'cause if you knew Kelly and her methods, you'd be more worried that the guys could prove themselves to her. But that would be because she's a bada$$ colleague, not because she's a woman.
I'd like to see more movies where the gender relations are portrayed to be as complex as they are in our times, wouldn't you? Oh good!
Let's go make one.
The outskirts of SE Calgary are a wild place - there's a pipeline going in along the highway and block after block of industrial buildings. Will these become artist's lofts in a hundred years? Only time - or more likely, artificial intelligence - will tell. In the meantime, that part of the city is where sh*t gets done.
It's also where the people at BOXX keep their arsenal of trailers. These portable homes/offices/rooms provide shelter for everyone from rig workers on site to veterinarians whose clinics were washed away in the flood. If you've ever had too many house guests, you have wished for a BOXX in your backyard.
The company, which is local, is generously providing us with a trailer for the film; this will allow us to shoot our characters in an authentic setting. And not freeze. So, we thank you, BOXX, especially Tara and Mark, who've taken time out of their busy schedules to support the film.
Last year this time, we were in Pittsburgh, PA, doing pre-production - for Blow Out producer Charlotte Glynn's own film - The Immaculate Reception. We were living in a cold house with DP Greta Zozula and learning a ton... about the Steelers.
The experience was grueling but incredible... and one year to the day we began shooting, the film will be premiering at this year's Sundance film festival.
We'd like to thank everyone (again) who was a part of making the film and are wishing Charlotte and the team an amazing time at the festival.
If you were watching CBC in the mid-ninties, then you know, and probably miss, the fictional town of Lynx River. If the river looks different to you, that's because it is; it changed its route this June thanks to the flood (which was as deserving of a name as any hurricane).
But we digress. Back to North of 60. Did you know the show was actually filmed just outside of Calgary, near Bragg Creek?
While the show wrapped in 1996, the lot - with it's fake telephone lights, school and supply shops - continues to be used for Film and TV shoots in need of a beautiful and seemingly remote location.
To our buddies in NYC - we're breathing the mountain air for you!
…he was a log driver. And the boy could dance.
Oh, the oil rig. Was there ever a more vetted tower o'power?
They're smaller than skyscrapers, but power them.
They're (usually) in the middle of nowhere, but people live there, while they're working.
….And that's just the tip of the oil rig paradox, right? Which is why there's so much to debate when we talk about this industry; I haven't met anyone who feels neutral about it.
In researching the script, I've spoken to the heads of oil companies and activist protesting Keystone. I've also talked to environmentalists inside the industry... and seen media activists - who flew to Fort Mac - harassing rig workers to admit they're destroy the planet (sorry, VICE, I know you meant well). I also drive around in a car and like heat. It's cold out there.
So… yeah. It's complicated. Which is why the story's open to interpretation; it's not a polemic or a doc. It's about these characters in this place, what makes their lives there so difficult, and about asking the important questions, such as; why did I mention relationship problems to my co-worker? Where can I find a fresh salad? Why is my friend acting like an extra in Old School?
What do you think?