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Category Archives: Life Diaries

By Wednesday May 24th we were almost totally done with work – although work wasn’t 100% done with us yet, so we did our very best to make every meeting as fun and relaxing as possible.

First up, while baby took an epic nap I met on the now-dead-quiet lawn of the Grand with a filmmaker I hit it off with at one of the genre-film mixers at the Plage des Palmes. She had a cool project idea and we talked about whether I might be able to help (and we talked about The Neverending Story for a while, always a good sign). One of those “who knows if anything will come of it but I might really enjoy working with this person” type meetings. We’re going to stay in touch and we’ll see what happens.

From there, I raced back home to bundle the babe into his stroller so that we could hit the beach. One of the people we met with earlier in the week (one of our best meetings, in fact) offered to take us out on a beach day, and we jumped at the chance to relax in style.

Private beach baby.

Cannes is a coastal town, so it’s all beaches and marinas. Some of the beaches are public, but the ones immediately to the east of the “international pavilions” and Palais zone are private. Some are restaurants, some are run by nearby hotels for their guests, and some are just private beaches that you can pay to access – a recliner in the sand and a big umbrella might set you back  €20-30 (probably more during peak summer season) and you can order drinks and snacks right to your lounge chair. Our new friend and potential future colleague sprang for a couple of chairs and kept ordering wine for the duration of our stay on the lovely private beach where she was camped out for the day.

Tip #1: when you’re in the south of France, take a moment to appreciate that. 

It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of work and work-related-socializing when you’re at a market. But you’re also on the French riviera, so take a half-day and dip a toe into the sea! I’m always astonished by the number of people I meet who have been coming to Cannes for years and have never even waded into the water.

Little bean-o dipped his toes in the water and crawled around in the sand for his very first time. He made little sand-mounds with dad and even tried to put a fistful into his mouth  (as one does). He ate french fries and had the best day. And we drank cold, refreshing white wine (sometimes even I need a break from rosé), ate shrimp and avocado salads and went for a swim. All in all, a perfect afternoon that we only cut short because Bobo was way overdue for his second nap.

Fistfuls of sand!

Tip #2: you think you can make a baby conform to your schedule because you’re a cool, bohemian world traveller, but you are wrong.

Give up and give in to the rigid nap schedule. It’s the only way to survive.  We strolled past the Grand to a little Italian wine bar tucked into a corner behind the hotel where Colin met with a good friend and fellow programmer / producer / bon vivant, while I went back home to put  buddy down to sleep. Colin got some great life and career advice as well as a dizzying breakdown of ‘passive income streams’ – a phrase I’d never once thought about before that day.

Our evening schedule was packed with at-home activities. First, a great meeting over rosé (duh) with a friend who has also recently made a big move in his career – leaving a big job as a major distributor and settling into a great development gig at a different company.

Tip #3: kick your impostor syndrome to the curb. 

We talked about the trepidation we all feel jumping into a new career path full of work that we’ve “never done before”. When you’re new to something, it’s natural to feel a bit shy and modest about calling yourself a pro before you’ve really mastered it. But that’s the thing: people in the film business are not shy or modest, as a rule. People who have never produced a thing call themselves producers all the time, and everyone just believes them. Years of experience count for a lot, even if you’re technically doing a different piece of the work than you used to.

Earlier in the week, I hesitated to call myself a writer (even though I’ve contributed writing to several books, journals, online publications, and websites for years) – but the 20-something actress I was talking to had absolutely no trouble describing herself as one, because she’s “working on two scripts”. I’m working on two scripts too, but they’re not done and I haven’t had one produced so I didn’t want to overstate my experience.  Turns out, I don’t need more experience, just the confidence to state my goals  out loud.

The pal who came over for drinks + deep talks is also a new dad, so he had some garden play time with S to give him a bit of a baby fix. We encouraged him to bring his family next year. It’s so worth it.

The day ended with some takeout pizzas from Papa Ninos and chats with good friends: Peter K, Colin’s successor on the Midnight Madness throne; Chad E, U8P’s acquisitions and project tracking whiz; the world’s best nanny, Tim; Graham Skipper (two-time Midnight Madness alum as an actor in The Mind’s Eye and Almost Human, and recent first-time director) and  Paul from FrightFest. A perfect bunch to share drinks and pizza and our final ‘big night’ in Cannes with.

We still had one more day, but we spent it packing, strolling, beach-ing and buying little gifts to take home to our families.  We topped it off with one of the best pasta dinners I’ve had in years at a place  we always look at and say “bet they have really great pasta”. Turns out, they do.

GIMME MORE PASTA, DAD!

Cannes 2017 was a huge success, professionally and personally. It provided a much-needed mental break from our workaday world in Toronto, it was massively productive and it was fun as hell. Watching Sweetpea take his first dip in the Mediterranean and eat his first taste of Papa Nino’s melted my heart a dozen times over.

The MVP award of the fest surely goes to Tim, who was the best helper we could have hoped for and remains truly one of our favourite humans. Next up, we’re going to have to figure out how to get baby to Atlanta to visit him!

Hey Cannes … I’ll be back.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Sometimes  the best and worst times are the same times. Is that what Dickens meant? I’ve never read A Tale of Two Cities.

Kidding, guys. Not about the book. It’s true that I haven’t read it, but I do know what he meant and it’s exactly what I’m talkin’ about. No tips on surviving the market today, just some real talk about surviving early parenthood, especially if you’re a working person. Or  just a person who likes feeling like a real living human and not a poorly rendered facsimile.

I had a ticket to the 8:30am Monday May 22nd screening of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Killing of a Sacred Deer (my most hotly anticipated title of the fest) and I was feeling pretty confident about my ability to manage it, after Sunday’s  success with the Baumbach.

But then Sasha woke up around 3:30am and decided not to go back to sleep until about half an hour before my alarm clock was going to ring.

I did not make it to the film.

The little jerk is up all night and then he’s somehow even cuter than the day before!

Tip #1: do what you have to do to survive, because “this too shall pass”. 

I don’t know how long-term, cumulative sleep deprivation affects you but it makes me feel like a corpse that’s been tasered a few times in a lame attempt to reanimate it.

Not getting enough sleep  makes me feel a crushing combo  of misery, doom and rage. I used to wake up cheerful every morning (I am a naturally peppy person in the mornings, in spite of not being a ‘morning person’). After over a year of never getting more than four uninterrupted  hours of sleep, I wake up grumpy every morning, with the same thought in my head: please, for the love of all that is good in the universe, let me get one goddamn full night of sleep before I die. 

Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m also still alive, so I guess it’s ok.

Anyway.  C’est la vie, and I know it won’t last forever. I mean, he’s gonna move out to go to college, right?!

In spite of our rocky start, and in spite of the fact that Sasha seemed to have caught a one way ticket to Crankytown, it ended up being one of our best days in Cannes, because the few meetings that we did make it to were so promising.

We had a few rapid-fire meetings while Sasha napped in Tim’s care – first with a company that might want us to work for them, then a new sales company run by old friends of Colin’s, where we watched a terrific promo with potential interest for  one of our clients, then lunch with our new friend Pablo, the founder of the extremely cool Morbido festival in Mexico.

Tip #2: don’t get defeated by rough days – sometimes just getting out into the sunshine can make a big difference, and actually accomplishing a task or two can feel like moving mountains. 

Then I raced back home to put The Beebs down for a second nap before jetting off to meet Colin at our last big meeting of the day, with a producer and a sales company about an intriguing project that they want our help with. I was sleepy and worried that Sasha would take a while to settle down for his nap and considered skipping this one but I’m so glad I didn’t. The ideas thrown around in the room were exciting, and I felt genuinely invigorated by it.

Plus, they served us dessert!

Zombie woman is grateful for cake.

Tip #3: FOMO is a boogeyman, don’t give it power. Skip social events with impunity and never look back! 

In the evening we decided to skip the big karaoke party that all our genre film friends would undoubtedly be at until the wee hours (an annual tradition that takes place in a divey bar near the train station that really feels more like home than like the south of France). The torch (of the  big job of pulling together  the annual karaoke extravaganza) has been passed on to a new intrepid organizer, our pal and former temporary Torontonian Kier-La Janisse (she’s rad, look her up here & seek out / buy her books). I wanted to go, say hi to pals, high five Kier-La for taking on the job of putting on the much beloved party, but … I was tired AF and in no mood. So I didn’t go and I felt great about it.

Instead, we had two lovely Toronto-based producers over (we used to share offices with their company).  We had snacks, rosé and brainstormed fun ideas for projects we might embark upon in the future. A perfectly relaxed end to the day.

Garden hangs with cool Cannes bébé.

Dark, sleep-deprived thoughts count: 100,000
“I love my baby so much I might explode” thoughts count: 100,000
Good meetings count: 6

 


Saturday May 20th was another “get up early with baby and then go down for a nap with him as soon as possible” start to the day. While I napped, Colin went to the Frontières proof of concept panel, and I joined him afterwards for a lunch also hosted by the Frontières market folks. They’ve been very good to us over the years, from the very first time we went there with The Void in 2013, through two other projects over the years – both with filmmaker/super-nanny Tim Reis!

Back at the Plage des Palmes for Frontières!

At the Frontières lunch we got to see some old pals and colleagues, got to hang with a few folks who we normally only see at Fantasia, and got to  recommend our fave pizza place (Papa Nino’s, obvs) to Void producer Casey Walker who’s in Cannes for his first time and presenting at the aforementioned proof of concept panel.

Best of all we got to sit down and catch up with Louis Tisné, who produced one of the fan-faves that Colin had in Midnight Madness back in 2014: the Belgian horror film Cub. Louis is a knowledgeable and insightful guy – and also a dad – so we got to chat about movies and about kids’ school plays in equal measure.

After lunch we raced off to say hi to another Midnight Madness alum and pal of Colin’s, French director Xavier Gens (his film Frontier(s) was at TIFF in ’07), who is completing a new film at the moment, Cold Skin. We got to see the promo, and I’ll say this much: if it delivers on its own promises, it’s gonna be one of my faves of the year.

Xavier Gens was the third in a run of awesome European directors – my version of ‘celebrity spotting’, maybe. I’ll tell you the other two as well, not to name drop (is it still name dropping if they’re not household names?) but to encourage you to see their films, which are so, so good:  A.J. Annila, whose super-creepy and beautiful Sauna is easy to seek out because it’s on Shudder; and Koen Mortier, whose mind-fuck Ex Drummer is 100% worth whatever efforts you need to put into seeing it.

Later in the afternoon we decided to be adventurous with bébé so we strapped him to Colin’s chest and brought him to the terrace of the Grand for a meeting. He made friends with people all over the terrace and was delightfully well behaved throughout.

Sasha pitches his big ideas at the Grand.

Afterwards, we strolled around in the direction of a meeting that was cancelled at the last minute and then got some Papa Nino’s pizza to go and settled into a nice dinner at home. Turns out that the guy who runs Papa Nino’s is named Alex. That technically makes him Sasha’s namesake, since Sasha is short for Alexander! He was delighted.

Sasha and his namesake, Alex of Papa Nino’s!

And, oh yeah, I picked up two tickets that I acquired through the far-less-complicated-than-it-used-to-be ticketing system. This system  doesn’t require paragraphs of explanation. You just log in, make your requests, and then get an email later telling you if you got ’em. Easy!

two hotly anticipated (by me!) titles

Movie count: 0
Rosé count: ∞
Pizza count: 3


Hey y’all, it’s been a while. Last time I posted on this blog, it was February of 2016 and I was one hundred years pregnant and getting ready to take a year’s maternity leave. Our lil potato was born in April, and I spent the better part of the past year struggling to actually  be on maternity leave, even though I still had work to do that couldn’t be passed on to anyone else – finalizing the post-production on Birdland (which is now completed, and we’re looking forward to a release later this year!), and programming The Royal (which I am also done with!), and  National Canadian Film Day 150   (which was a raging success, and I’m very glad I got to be part of it).

And now that my maternity leave should be over, I’m … actually finally free to spend time with my kiddo without stressing out about work. Ironic, or something.

Anyway,  as you might have noticed if you know me or read this blog, Colin and I are not sit-around-and-do-nothing people, so instead of kicking back, we’re packing for Cannes, where we’ll be going (avec bébé) in less than a week.

Does this guy look Cannes ready or what?

Remember my Cannes diaries from days of yore? If you don’t, just go to the Cannes diaries tag and read ’em. Well, this year you’re going to get a very different version of the same: the hot-hot Cannes tips that 99% of the Cannes attendees I know do not need: how to pitch projects, attend meetings, walk the red carpet and drink your weight in rosé all while taking great care of a rambunctious one year old and having a wee family vacation on the side.

But y’know what? I’m very ok with focusing my attentions on the not-so-small niche of moms who work in film!

And now back to prepping for the market that brings us such cinematic gems as …

 


While on our ‘babymoon’ in Quebec City I’ve been really amused by how often a visibly pregnant woman (me) gets offered alcohol in restaurants. When Colin ordered a half-litre (for himself) at dinner the other night, they automatically brought and poured two glasses. Two nights ago, we got complimentary cranberry-infused vodka shots with the meal (again, I got one without being asked). So, I’ve been eating for two, and Colin’s been drinking for two, all trip!

always willing to help, this guy

always willing to help, this guy

This vacay  is all  about reflecting on the past and looking forward to a whole new life and getting ready for baby and all that, so I’ve been thinking a lot about  how difficult I expected not drinking to be, and how easy it has actually been. I mean, I had a sip of the wine, but that was all I needed and not having more was super easy. And it has been super easy for the past six months – which is definitely the longest I’ve gone without drinking since I came of age.

I thought not drinking would be hard because I love drinking. I didn’t do it every day, but I certainly drank several times a week and really enjoyed it. So now the real question is: will my drinking habits be permanently changed by this, or will I go back to them after I’m done carrying or nursing a babe?

Here’s a list of ten things I have found much harder and/or more frustrating than not drinking:

  1. Not being able to tie my shoes or really do anything that involves bending all the way over without extreme discomfort. I take my flexibility for granted!
  2. Not being able to sleep through the night without getting up to pee (several times).
  3. Not being able to sleep, period. Especially not unless I’m being propped up by a million pillows.
  4. Not being able to enjoy extreme heat (in hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms & the like).
  5. Having to keep to a rigid and frequent eating schedule (this one has been especially difficult).
  6. Not being able to climb two flights of stairs without getting winded.
  7. Not being able to stop myself from crying at the dumbest things (like TV commercials).
  8. Being constantly way too hot.
  9. Being ridiculously clumsy.
  10. Back pain. And hip pain.
IMG_3447

big’n’clumsy, but feeling great!

Not drinking is a breeze compared to all that other nonsense. But all the complaining aside, I’m actually having a wonderful time. Being pregnant is fun and weird and I love it!


In 2015, I joined Goodreads and set myself a very ambitious goal of reading 50 books over the course of the year.  I managed approximately 30, and I feel very good about that. It’s definitely a higher number of books than I had read the year before, or for a few years previous. For 2016, I’m setting a goal of 30, but given the fact that I’m due to have a baby in three months, I’ll consider myself lucky if I make it to 15. We’ll see how it goes.

Here’s a list of ten, in alphabetical order, all of which I really enjoyed. I don’t know how many of these books deserve to be on a lifetime-tops list, or whether all ten really knocked me on my ass, but each stayed with me for one reason or another and I enjoyed them all enough to recommend them.

One thing that made a difference to my reading pace was the fact that Colin and I got a subscription to Audible this year, which means that technically I didn’t “read” all of the books below – I listened to some. I thought that my listening attention span wouldn’t hold for a full-length novel (I do ok when it comes to podcasts, but the idea of listening to something that’s 10 or even 20 hours long … I was skeptical). I discovered a few things about my listening ability. I’m perfectly capable of listening to a 20-hour story and not letting my attention wander, as long as it’s a particular kind of book. Relatively straightforward, plot-driven fiction works. Headier lit or complex non-fiction doesn’t.

One of my favourite books of the year was the very dense José Saramago novel, The Double (which I read because the film  Enemy   is based on it). Great movie, by the way, and phenomenal book. I highly recommend both. I know that if I’d tried to listen to The Double,  I would have given up. The language is too dense and lush and my mind would wander in ways that it never does when I’m looking at the words on a page. I gave up on Colson Whitehead’s Zone One on audio for the same reason, but might pick it up on paper at some point.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed listening to  The Cuckoo’s Calling  and  The Silkworm  by Robert Galbraith, books one and two in a straightforward-but-fun detective series that didn’t end up making it to my top ten. It turns out the books were actually written by  J.K. “Harry Potter” Rowling under a pseudonym – an interesting piece of trivia that’s only relevant because I was shocked (after a number of enjoyable but disappointingly sexist hardboiled detective tales) to read one with interesting female characters that weren’t victimized in cliché ways  (though it was still about a tough guy gumshoe). Turns out it was written by a woman. There are no coincidences in this world.

My top ten are listed below, in alphabetical order. I didn’t realize until I compiled the list that I ended up with a fairly even split between male and female authors (though men outnumber women on my total 2015 list), but I’m glad about that. The ones I listened to are marked with an  (A).

bringing up bebeBringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
I’ve been reading (or at least skimming) a lot of baby books. Many are helpful, many are just as unhelpful. Most thankfully show their biases early so that I can give up on them if they don’t seem to fit into my personal child rearing philosophies. This one was fun because a lot of the advice sounded sensible and useful (though some definitely did not!) but also because it was one mother’s personal memoir of the confounding early years of parenting. She was a sympathetic character to follow, and unlike a lot of books that focus on alarming what-ifs or the technical ins & outs of birthing and handling babies, this one was a bit more fun to read and left me feeling less stressed, rather than more.

broken monstersBroken Monsters by Lauren Beukes  (A)
Colin put this book on his Audible wish list because it sounded intriguing and we both really enjoyed it. Lauren Beukes very skillfully blends good mystery plots with a hint of fantasy. The book follows a number of intersecting stories that circle tightly around the grisly and bizarre murder of a boy, ultimately converging on a pretty satisfying climax. After I finished it I sought out one of her earlier books, The Shining Girls,  about a serial killer who seems to defy the laws of time. Both books really feel like crime stories, and the fantasy elements blend seamlessly in to her prose without ever feeling tacked on or outlandish. I’m not a fantasy fan (in the Lord of the Rings sense) but I am a huge fan of good magic realism, and that’s what this feels like. It’s really well done.

DoubleThe Double by José Saramago
Beautifully written, confounding, funny and fantastical story about a mild mannered history teacher who discovers that, living in the very same city as him is his absolutely-identical double. Naturally, he becomes obsessed with confronting the double, a decision that is destined to lead to a lot of strange results. Hard to discuss this book in terms of “plot” because so much of it happens inside the heads of the two men. I sought out this book because I’m a big fan of the film that was adapted from it (Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy) and because I truly couldn’t imagine what the novel-version of that story could possibly look like. Very, very different from the film, as it turns out, and it gave me a few interesting perspectives on the choices made in the film, which play with the “explanation” in a way that’s quite different from the book.

GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
In addition to signing up for Audible this year, I also bought an e-reader. The Goldfinch was recommended by Kobo and I bought it on a whim before I’d even heard of it or realized that it was a critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning bestseller. I found the lengthy memoir-esque story of Theodore Decker (who as a boy does one impulsive thing that changes the course of his entire life) incredibly engrossing. Beautifully written, with lots of true-feeling  observations from childhood, and a character of a troubled Slavic best friend that I really thought nailed a lot of “Slavic characteristics” without resorting to stereotype. The Goldfinch is definitely not the sort of book I ever pick up for myself, but I enjoyed it a great deal.

groupThe Group by Mary McCarthy
Another victory for the Kobo Marketing Machine™, The Group was recommended to me after I finished The Goldfinch, in that “if you liked that, you might like this” way that algorithms work. I have no idea what Kobo thinks the books have in common (they were both written by women? They are both about … people?) but I’m glad I took a chance on it. The book is about the post-graduation lives of eight female Vassar College grads (class of 1933).  I had somehow (inexplicably) never heard of Mary McCarthy before, so at first I didn’t realize the book wasn’t contemporary, but was actually written by a woman who herself graduated from Vassar in 1933. I was really impressed with the way she captured the struggles of being a woman in the ’30s  (in a way that feels incredibly relevant in the present day). Now that I know she lived through it, I’m marginally less surprised that she was able to capture it so well, but far more impressed with how much her observations about the inner struggles of these women (with marriage, career, children, everyday sexism, and so on) still ring true today.

horrorstorHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Full disclosure: Grady is a friend of mine, but I promise that is not why his book made it onto my list. Grady’s one of the funniest people I know. He’s charming and fun and tells a great story and I always knew he was a talented writer (his Kaiju Shakedown column archive is totally worth your time), so of course I was hoping I’d like the book. I did. It’s really funny, and scary, and has some amazingly  gross parts, and the ending is satisfying (it’s about an employee in an IKEA-knockoff shop who must contend with some unexpectedly supernatural problems on the job). Do I even need to say anything more than the phrase “haunted IKEA” to pique your interest? No. I’m thrilled that the book has been a big success and that I can honestly recommend it to people looking for a fun horror read. I’m looking forward to Grady’s next book, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is coming out very soon!

Lock InLock In by John Scalzi (A)
I don’t read much sci-fi, but I listened to this book after Colin selected it on our Audible account, and I loved it. It’s a murder mystery that takes place in a very plausible near-future in which a large percentage of the population has been struck down by “Haden’s Syndrome”, a virus that causes total physical paralysis but leaves its victims completely ok mentally, “locking people in” to their own minds. In this near future, scientists have figured out how to allow “Hadens” (as they’re colloquially called) to re-join the physical world by letting them control robot bodies in which their minds can dwell while their physical selves lay in beds at home or in hospitals. The story is actually about an FBI agent (who happens to be a Haden) trying to solve a murder that may have involved another Haden. The mystery is good, but what’s truly fantastic about the book is how fully fleshed out this world actually is.  It’s incredibly well thought out and detailed. Lock In  was accompanied by a bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, which compiles the “testimony” of scientists, politicians, historians, survivors and sufferers into a complete account of how the disease spread, how treatments were researched and discovered, and how the world changed as a result. It feels disturbingly, eerily plausible. 

Night FilmNight Film by Marisha Pessl (A)
I don’t recall who recommended this book but I’m grateful to them, because it was definitely one of my top faves this year. Another “mystery story”, this time about the seeming suicide of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a mysterious and enigmatic underground horror filmmaker, Stanislas Cordova (formerly prolific, now a total recluse).  Bootlegs of Cordova’s works are traded and watched on a cinematic black market for people who seek out the most extreme and disturbing of experiences. Never appearing but totally omnipresent, the spectre of Cordova hangs over the book like an ominous cloud – a  great counterpoint to the not-always-all-that-brilliant-or-competent Scott McGrath, the disgraced writer (disgraced after an article on Cordova nearly destroyed his career) and would-be detective who takes it upon himself to “solve” the case of Ashley’s death. I was so totally won over by Marisha Pessl’s complex story structure and engaging prose that I immediately sought out her previous novel,  Special Topics In Calamity Physics, a winner on title alone. It’s high on my 2016 reading list. 

TransferralTransferral by Kate Blair
Full disclosure: Kate is another friend on the list. I’ve known for years that she was a talented writer with a lot of determination and a hell of an impressive work ethic, so I was incredibly happy and proud of her this year when she published her debut novel.  Transferral is a YA novel about an alternate-reality London in which the government has figured out how to transfer diseases from one person to another, and uses this as a way to punish criminals and keep the rest of the population healthy. When a prominent politician’s sixteen year old daughter gets tangled up in the case of a man who may have been the unfair victim of these policies, she decides to dig deeper and begins to question her father’s tough-on-crime policies as well as her own belief that the transferral program is good and just. Transferral was a fun, quick read that I will absolutely be buying for the young readers on my future Christmas and birthday lists.

troopThe Troop by Nick Cutter (A)
I’m a fan of Craig Davidson, the Canadian author whose novel  Rust and Bone  was adapted to the 2012 Cannes hit & award winning film by the same name  (I really disliked the film but that’s no fault of Mr Davidson’s). I’m currently reading  Cataract City  and really loving it too. I discovered this past year that Davidson has a horror alter-ego, Nick Cutter, and hoooooooly shit is he ever good at writing horror. I don’t read much horror but reading (or rather, listening to) The Troop was a very intense, visceral experience. I often only-semi-jokingly refer to it as an exercise in trying not to dry heave every five minutes. This  book is about a scout troop camping on an isolated island off Canada’s east coast, who encounter a sick stranger whose “infection” the boys must now contend with. The prose – the descriptions of what exactly the disease is, and what it does to the human body – is so incredibly disgusting (in the best possible way, as I’m sure you understand), I was genuinely taken aback, and had to take frequent breaks while listening. I like to put on an audio book while I’m cooking sometimes. Not this one!! Cutter/Davidson did a phenomenal job of capturing the characters of the young scouts, too. It can be hard to get kids right, but he nails it, which makes it all the more upsetting when they start getting infected by the mysterious bug. Highly recommended, but only if you’ve got a very strong stomach.


Last week was a special week  in Birdland. I got to stop worrying about paperwork, accounting, cost reports, marketing plans and fundraising for a few hours and enjoy the experience of watching the very first assembly of our actual movie.

The assembly is the very first thing the editor cobbles together, before there’s even a rough cut. It’s just  the scenes, stitched together, in the approximate order of the screenplay. Watching assemblies  is a great way to develop a deep appreciation of the editor’s craft.

the film! in paper form!

the film! in paper form!

An assembly isn’t a movie.  It’s like the lump of marble that will one day become a beautiful sculpture, but it’s definitely not the sculpture.  If you’ve done your job during production, your assembly will at least feel  somewhat like a movie,  in the sense that you’ll be able to see the narrative threads in it. Even with a narrative that’s as chronologically jumbled as ours, the asseumbly shouldn’t feel like a bunch of randomly connected moments. And in this case, it didn’t. It felt like a movie. Phew!

There’s a lot of work to be done, and possibly even some reshoots to organize later this summer for which we will have to raise additional money, but … it feels like a movie – and one that will be good when it’s finished.  I feel immense relief and joy at this fact.


the mix of emotions: relief+fundraising panic

I’ve been taking a break from Birdland for the past few weeks, but now my to do list is growing again.

I have to make sure we get some footage to our sales agent so that they can start approaching buyers about it. I have to deliver paperwork to our funders confirming that we’ve completed principal photography in order to trigger our next round of payments. I have to make sure we’ve got a hot sizzle reel ready to show at TIFF in a couple of months to even more potential buyers who will be in town for the festival. I have to make sure we’ve got a decent festival cut done in time to submit to the fests that come up early in 2016. I have to start pulling together a marketing strategy and raising funds for a possible  cross-platform project that will go along with our traditional marketing plan.

Oh yeah, and I have to get ready to go to Fantasia in less than three weeks to pitch a different project, which means I have to help the writer whip our script into shape, come up with a presentation, assemble the AV materials we’ll be showing, and write the copy for a handout that we will want to give to everyone we meet with.

There goes my dream of a relaxing summer!