stuff, written by me

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Way back in Berlin this February I updated everyone on the progress of Replace, a very cool psychological thriller / body horror film that Colin and I are working on. It’s a Canadian-German co-pro and we’re thrilled to be working with David Miller (Siddharth, Blackbird, Amal, countless other great Canadian films) and the writer-director and producer team who we affectionately refer to as “our Germans”, Norbert Keil and Felix von Poser.

the giant Replace poster at the 108 Media booth

the giant Replace poster at the 108 Media booth

In Berlin we announced that the film was happening. In Cannes, we announce that we’ve almost locked our cast – Rebecca Forsythe (she’s this guy‘s daughter but she got the role on her own merits), German model-actress Lisa Tomaschewsky, and two Canucks – Ksenia Solo & Michael Ironside (did you know he was Canadian? He is).

Guess who I’m most excited about?

All of them, of course. C’mon, I don’t play favourites! Anyway, here’s the Playback article about it. Wheee!

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 3.25.41 PM

Wednesday, May 14

First day. Got up, felt slightly hung over, ate a bowl of granola with strawberries and bananas on it, felt like a champ for buying those things the day before (or having roommates who did) and headed out into the market. Outfit was professional but comfy. Hair was windswept. Sunglasses were definitely on.

First day of the market, so it’s a good idea to take a stroll around, check out the Palais, visit some booths, orient yourself. Pick up the daily market editions of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen Daily and feel the pulse of the market. I did a little bit of that, and registered for the Canadian Pavilion (they gave me some guff about not being one of the “officially recognized Canadian companies” but at least they didn’t try to charge me €150 to join, like the Americans do).

Saw two films on the first day. Well, one and a half, because they were slightly overlapping so I had to leave the first early to make it to the second. I’m kind of sorry I did, because the first was a real winner – a Dutch kids’ film called A Christmoose Story about – what else?! – Santa’s talking moose! You see, the reindeer pull the sleigh on Christmas, but the moose does the test runs. Or did, until he crashed into a little boy’s shed, flinging poor Santa across town into a garbage dump. Believe me, I could talk about this movie for an hour, but you should probably just watch the trailer. Or here’s an English dubbed version, if you go for that sort of thing. The second film was Debug, the sci-fi directorial debut of David Hewlett, one of my fave Canadian actors. Daily Can-con is important.

Dinner was an absolutely lovely homemade affair with some friends who cleverly rented a villa just outside of town so that they could bring their families. Two couples and three very cute little girls make for a fun household. There was a gorgeous full moon and even an unexpected blackout (dinner by candlelight, excitement). Who could really ask for anything more?

When one of the people you’re dining with is Tim League, you kind of assume that hijinx might ensue, so instead of getting dropped off at home after dinner, we all made a late-ish stop at Petit Majestic (surprise!) and went home at 2am swearing, swearing not to repeat that performance again the next day. The hijinx weren’t over the top or anything. It’s just that when your days start early and end late, the last thing you want is to make your mornings even harder by adding a hangover to the mix. Oh, and apparently I got “whiny” about “snacks” on the way home. So says Colin.

The view from the Petit Majestic, looking south

the view from the Petit Majestic, looking south (that red awning is the cursed place itself)

Pro tip: if you are staying at a place that has a fridge, make sure it is stocked with snacks. Future drunk you will thank you! So will “in a hurry in the morning” you and “home to change clothes and dump my stuff at 3pm” you. Meals are sporadic in this town. And dinners don’t really happen before 8pm.

Thursday May 15

I’ve taken to logging into the online ticketing system constantly, so by Wednesday I’d already managed to snag myself a ticket to the Mike Leigh joint, Mr. Turner, which was playing on Thursday at 3:30pm. Unfortunately I didn’t take note of the fact that this was actually in conflict with another film I desperately wanted to see on the big screen, so I ended up having to return the ticket.

Important tip: if you order a ticket for an official screening in Cannes, you can cancel your reservation online before you go to pick the ticket up at the box office. But if you go and get a physical ticket, and then decide not to use it, you absolutely have to return it before a certain hour (or find someone else to go in your stead) or you will be penalized in the points system and it’ll screw up your chances of getting tickets to other things in the days to come. They scan those tickets on the way in, so they know if yours has been used.

Anyway. Returned the ticket to for Mr. Turner and went to see the 1992 Quebecois film Leolo instead, which was recently restored and being showcased in Cannes Classics. What a gorgeous and shocking and heartbreaking and extremely funny movie. Loved it. Went with my friend Simon, from Fantasia, who told me in advance that it was one of his faves, so I was prepared to love it because he’s got great taste. But man! Can’t recommend highly enough.

Dinner was with a wonderful, dear friend and a couple of new folks that she introduced us to at a place at the top of the hill in the old town, where they had a live Mariachi band playing. You heard me right. Authentic French cuisine and Mariachi. They were very spirited.

The view from the Petit Majestic, looking north

The view from the Petit Majestic, looking north

On the way home we swung by the Petit Majestic (what is wrong with us?) and were once again somehow hoodwinked into staying well past 2am. It was worth it though, because we got to catch up with Chad and hear about his first couple of days. I get the feeling he’s having a good time.

I, for the record, am having a great time.

me - and incomparably sassy fellow Torontonian and PR maven, Daniela Syrovy - having a great time

me – and incomparably sassy fellow Torontonian and PR maven, Daniela Syrovy – having a great time

BIG NEWS, FRIENDS! A film I’m co-writing with James Sizemore and producing with Tim Reis (the dynamic duo behind The Demon’s Rook) has been selected as one of the official projects for the next edition of Fantasia’s Frontières co-production market.

Without further ado, let me say to the world, for the first time ever, that I am involved in this awesome thing, and it is called  Rite of the Witch Goddess.

This is the news I’ve been dying to share since … well, since Monday when I found out, while in the Frankfurt airport, that we were selected.

Here’s the Screen Daily article about it. All of the other projects seem very intriguing as well. Can’t wait!


(it takes place around a blood moon)

(it takes place around a blood moon)

The flights were long, and our stopover in Frankfurt was even longer (seriously, like eight hours) but I watched a great Bollywood film (basically Romeo and Juliet, but more dancing) and read a friend’s (wonderful) script, and slept for a wee bit and ate complimentary sausages in the Frankfurt airport lounge. Besides, I’m not jaded enough to grumble about a trip of any length that lands me in Cannes, the jewel of the international film festival circuit, and the market that I hear more people complain about than any other. Quit grumbling, weary film professionals! You’re in the south of France! Is that a glass of rosé I see in your hand? Knock it back and look up at the (for now, at least) sunny sky and thank your lucky stars that this is your life. It’s pretty swell to be here.

seriously, the dancing!

seriously, the dancing!

Arrived in Cannes around dinnertime on Monday and headed out into the (quiet, nearly deserted) streets in search of something that would make us fall asleep. Settled on pasta, started feeling dozy, but then ran into some pals from Fantasia who joined our table and perked us right back up.

The apartment this year is strangely and badly laid out and has lots of frustrating quirks (like the fact that the bathroom door handle comes off in your hand every time you try to open it, or the fact that there are four people staying here but there is only one bowl in the kitchen), but who’s complaining? Certainly not me (see paragraph one, above). I just won’t close the bathroom door, no big deal.

On Tuesday Colin spent many hours in a TIFF staff meeting while I napped (woke up at 6am, felt like one million Euros, and crashed by 2pm – thanks, jetlag!) and then met up with Ultra 8 Pictures’ latest recruit, our Washington D.C. based acquisitions consultant, Chad Eberle. You know how some people do like, “fantasy baseball”? Well, Chad does “fantasy film programming” and the kid’s a natural. The tracking list he’s developed just as a hobby could easily rival any professional programmer’s. We’re delighted to have him on board to help build the U8P empire.

Papa Nino's won't be this quiet again for at least 10 days

Papa Nino’s won’t be this quiet again for at least 10 days

Chad and I went to Papa Nino’s for pizza while Colin noshed with the TIFF team, and then we all met up at the Petit Majestic, where everyone ends their night (every night) and where I proceeded to try to keep pace, beer-wise, with our dear friends from FrightFest. Pro tip: don’t try that unless you’re a plucky Serbian gal with a strong constitution. Good thing I am one of those! Phew. And speaking of FrightFest, if you only read one Cannes blog this year, let it be their Postcards From Cannes (I don’t think they’ve started publishing yet, because the festival hasn’t started yet, but here’s a link to last year’s to give you the flavour of the thing. Those London boys are charming, and then some.

photo 5

outside the Petit Majestic, new recruit Chad, FrightFest’s Paul McEvoy, and that guy Colin who I travel with and who everyone’s always so happy to see

As I write this, it’s a sunny and warm Wednesday morning and the market is just a few hours old. I’m about to pack up my schedule, toss on my sunglasses, and head out into the world. My first movie of the day is going to be some sci-fi Can-con, so life is good.

… sometimes, they get me down. And other times, I’m reminded of the fact that I’m working with a bunch of lovely and talented people who deserve success and happiness and I’m delighted to be involved. This week is full of the latter kind of feeling. There are a few exciting announcements coming later in the week about two (or maybe even three?) of my wee little film seedlings, but today lemme give you some updates about two films that are actually done (or close to it) – Another, and WHY Horror? 


First of all, that poster is damn gorgeous. Secondly, Jason Bognacki is a talented filmmaker and I’m thrilled that Colin and I came on board to help his film get out into the world. As you can read in this article on Bloody Disgusting, Epic Pictures Group has just snapped the film up for world sales, and it’s having its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival this weekend.We’ll be toasting with glasses of rosé from afar. And if you have any friends in Seattle, send ’em to the film!

Why Horror poster clean

WHY Horror? has been shot, dozens of interviews are in the can, and the team is frantically editing the film together. They too have recently been picked up for international sales by the French company WTFilms. They also represent another film that we over at U8P have our fingers in, Joseph O’Brien’s Devil’s Mile, which is finally done and will be having its world premiere later this year (nothing we can announce yet, but we have high hopes). Check out the Screen Daily and Deadline blurbs about WHY Horror?’s spot on the new WTFilms doc slate.

I decided to switch from coffee to green tea recently. I don’t think I drink too much coffee, but sometimes you just want to check in with yourself and be comforted or alarmed by how much your body is used to certain things.

I like green tea, but I think the caffeine in it is just inadequate for the kind of feel-like-I’m-on-speed flurries of work I have to get through in the next four days before I fly out on Sunday. Now that I’m talking about it, I’m feeling even more like “mmm, a nice Americano would hit the spot”. I might go get a coffee right now.

not drinking coffee makes me feel like this (this is a still from one of the films below, also)

not drinking coffee makes me feel like this still from When Animals Dream

Anyway. I’ve got to finalize and hand in a funding application to Telefilm before I go, and I’ve got to do some National Canadian Film Day wrap-up work (that went great, by the way, and I will tell you all about it in another blog post). And I need to buy a new pair of pants. Jeans, maybe? My old jeans just won’t do my ass justice on the Riviera.

Anyway, in addition to meetings and market screenings and what not, I do actually want to catch a few of the official screenings as well. In the actual Cannes festival I’d like to catch a couple of the Canadians (Egoyan, Cronenberg) and a couple of the Britishes (Loach, Leigh), but in all honesty I haven’t looked through the competition / out of competition / midnight / Un Certain Regard titles in detail yet. I have, however, checked out the sidebars. Here’s what I’m looking forward to.

In Directors’ Fortnight:

Alleluia, by Fabrice du Welz. Based on Calvaire and Vinyan, I am looking forward to what this Belgian does next.

Cold in Julyby Jim Mickle. Jim’s so good at what he does. Stake Land was amazing and We Are What We Are was gorgeous (plus, Bill Sage, am I right?), and how can I not be psyched about him doing Joe R. Lansdale?!

A Hard Day, by Kim Seoung-hun. I mean, it’s a Korean crime film. Automatic yes. 

National Gallery, by Frederick Wiseman. Do I have the stamina for a three hour Wiseman? Time will tell.

These Final Hours, by Zak Hilditch. I can’t tell whether this film looks amazing, but I do like “last days on earth” scenarios and am intrigued.

Tu dors Nicole, by Stéphane Lafleur. This guy edited one of my favourite quiet Quebecois dramas of TIFF 2013 (Le Démantèlement) so I’m willing to take a gamble on his summer vacation movie.

In Critics Week:

It Follows, by David Robert Mitchell. This film seems like one of those interesting line-straddlers between arthouse and genre. Besides, any description that includes “plagued by strange visions” is my thing.

When Animals Dream, by Jonas Alexander Arnby. I think this film might be about a woman turning into a fox. What part of that doesn’t sound eight hundred precent up my alley?

What else should be on my list, y’all?