Monday, September 21, 2009

Need a cartoon on the go?

I'm sitting here, wondering how to go about animating something if you're not particularly a great illustrator but can actively visualize how you'd want an animation to look. Turns out, there are some pretty fun programs out there that allow you to create your own short animations.

Of course, I tried one out at Dfilm. It's the classic guy/girl conflict--universal and oh so, timeless. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ooooh la la

If you can't afford to travel to Paris, Quebec City is a pretty fair trade. If you do get the chance to go to Paris, though--GO TO PARIS.

Anyway, I spent the August long weekend in Quebec City, walking about five hours a day, eating lots of cheese, drinking more wine, taking insane amounts of pictures (because it's just THAT beautiful), and even going on a ghost tour to check out some of the execution, murder, and haunting sites. Pretty cool stuff. Here are some of my fave pics from my trip.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Being a frugalista

That "ista" suffix is really cute. It transforms just about any word into an adorable noun and a group that you want to be part of.

One of the latest "istas" around is a frugalista, a thrifty yet trendy shopper. Probably the kind of shopper that devours articles entitled "For babes on a budget" or "How to snag killer finds for less."

I'm guilty of it. Whenever I strut into a store, rummage through racks, discover a totally rad top, skirt, dress, or pair of jeans that's significantly lower than I thought it would be, I internally celebrate and skip into the dressing room. Then, if at least one item fits like it was seriously made for my body alone, my lips stretch into a crazy happy grin.

One of the best things about being a frugalista is knowing how to be resourceful. This includes buying items that double as something else. For example, over the weekend I attended the first ever Frugal Fashion Week event in downtown Toronto. Held at The Drake Hotel, several vendors displayed gorgeous pieces of costume jewelry, clothing, shoes, handbags, and cosmetics. I snagged a chunky silver chain that can be worn as a necklace or belt. Then I saw dresses that can be worn in six different ways. Talk about being purposeful! Those frugalistas are brainalistas too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

All MIFFed a good way

Well, last night was the finale of the Mississauga Independent Film Fest, featuring four hours of shorts, a workshop on working with the RED camera, the closing night feature (Left Side of Night), and of course, the Award Ceremony held at West 50.

Here are the official MIFF 2009 winners:


“Deadspiel” by Jay Molloy

“Skylight” by David Baas


Simple Plan’s “Save You” by RT!


“Gangster Exchange” by Dean Bajramovic

For more in-depth coverage and statements by Matthew and Jeff Campagna, MIFF founders, visit the latest posting on my Entertainment News page.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Opening night film shows real talent

Last night boasted an incredible feature film. Directed by Randall Cole, Real Time is a true Canadian indie flick. Shot entirely in Hamilton, Ontario during winter, it relied on rich dialogue, as most of the action took place in a car.

Randy Quaid and Jay Baruchel delivered outstanding performances, had great on-screen chemistry, and both showed intense vulnerability.

Click here for the Real Time trailer!

Tonight: screening of Hooked on Speedman, followed by an after-party.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MIFF-ing at the AGM

Oh yeah, it's the second Mississauga Independent Film Festival, a festival that celebrates homegrown films and a true indie spirit. Founders and filmmakers (and brothers!) Matthew and Jeff Campagna had lots of inspirational things to say last night at the VIP Industry Gala held at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Writers, directors, producers, actors, and press gathered in an intimate room, mingled, laughed, and supported each others' films.

In such a competitive industry, there was a refreshing feeling of community amongst all the filmmakers...people weren't really interested in being in the spotlight. They genuinely had a deep interest and passion for creating film and sharing their films with others. Damn, that's indie.

Tonight: the opening film is Real Time, followed by an after-party.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trannysaurus Rex

Ever wondered what an interpretive dance to Jurassic Park would be like? Okay, maybe not. But tonight at the Bloor Cinema, I witnessed a clever shadowcasting of Jurassic Park--that's right. The actors performed the movie on stage, while the actual movie was playing in the background.

A truly resourceful performance, where DNA was shown by an actor wearing a white jacket with the letters "DNA" emblazoned across the back. Dinosaurs galore! Two of them wore furry dinosaur masks and claws. They were pretty sexy. No, I mean it. They were burlesque-dancing dinosaurs.

Creative, of course--but also practical. Let's say someone forgets their cue; they could nonchalantly glimpse at the screen and remember what their blocking should look like. It's almost like having a virtual director in real time!

Tonight was the opening screening of Jurassic Park, Shadowcasting at the Bloor Cinema. It'll play again on Tuesday, July 7 and Saturday, July 11. Other shadowcasting performances include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, REPO! The Genetic Opera, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

If you're looking for a super original night out, check out one of these shows!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

because we blank out too

Every writer has experienced this: you have an idea, characters swimming around in your head, plots thickening in your blood, and conflicts flowing through your veins. You become completely inspired by every moment you've ever experienced, every person you've ever met, every story you've ever written or read.

And so, you plop yourself in your office chair, turn on your computer, open a new document, and take that first, delicious sip of coffee. You stare at the blinking screen and you type a letter. Any letter. It doesn't matter what letter. Why? Because you have no clue what the next letter will be. So, how are you going to write an entire story? What happened to all those characters? Where did the plot go? And the underlying plots? Those symbols you carefully chose to illustrate an immensely deep message?

"Maybe I should take a break," you say to yourself.

So you take another sip of coffee. And then you get up to stretch. You return to your desk and drink some more coffee. And more. And more. And more. It's done. The coffee is done, your screen saver is in full mode and your ideas are somewhere.

How do you combat this block? Is it simply because you're not supposed to write right now? Maybe, but probably not. These are some exercises I do to rejuvenate my thinking:

Fill in the blanks:

What I mean to say is ______
X character's conflict is _____ and their insecurity is _____which inhibits their goal of _____

I then list some really good verbs, verbs that carry the bulk of the sentence's meaning.

Solidify, multiply, unfold, recede, slink, permeate, generate, correlate, etc.

I then organize the characters I want to write about and under each name, I answer the following questions:
Where did this person come from?
What's the one memory that has a profound impact on them today?
What's their biggest insecurity?
What are their strengths?

That almost always gets me going, oils my brain, and fosters smooth movement. Characters, plots, symbols, and conflicts re-emerge, stronger and with more meaning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

what would the world be like without writers?

When someone walks out of a movie theatre, they will most likely applaud the actor's performance, an innovative digital technique, or a beautiful set. These are, undoubtedly, wonderful aspects of a film that empower its message and purpose. Rarely, however, do you hear someone comment on the actual screenplay. When was the last time you said to your friend, "wow, that is a solid screenplay. So well-written. The words were loaded with so much meaning, I'll have to watch it again."

The actual writing of the film is one of the most under-rated aspects of cinematic art. What do people get most excited about when they watch the Oscars? Three things: best actor in a leading role, best actress in a leading role, and best picture.

There are definitely those that study the script when they watch films. Those are probably the same people that get goosebumps when the best screenplay winner is announced. Those people are probably writers, or people that have a deep interest in the literary field.

Let's stop and think for a moment here. What would the world be like without writers? No advertisements, no television, no films, no news, no books, no magazines, no instruction manuals, no menus...

Words are everywhere. On your cereal boxes, your aspirin bottles, your morning paper, your greeting cards. Someone had to get those words on there. The world needs writers for several reasons--to educate, inspire, and entertain.

So, this is my little tribute to all writers. Whether you're an advertising copywriter, a reporter, a magazine editor, a screenwriter, an SEO copywriter, or a novelist, you have an opportunity to communicate important ideas and messages to your audiences. The world needs you and your words. Happy writing!

Friday, February 6, 2009

funny words

Last night I went to The Great Canadian Laugh-Off where a good friend of mine was competing for a chance to win semi-finalist status, and then compete for the grand prize of $25,000. There were six comics in total and each had eight minutes to deliver a performance good enough to get them into semi-finals.

Each comic succeeded in eliciting laughter from the audience. All were different, projected different voices, and revealed different styles for one result: make 'em laugh. I sat near the back, sipping a gin and tonic, thinking about how solid comic writing can change someone's emotion, transform a shitty day into a great one, and temporarily allow someone to forget about their troubles. Laughing is powerful, but not as influential as its cause: those words that a comic pens and delivers on stage.

Where do hilarious stand-up comics get their inspiration from? Where do they find those ideas that are turned into situations and characters so funny, that people are able to forget their "bad day" and enjoy the present?

I did some research and found that most comedians find their inspiration in people. Many of them carry a notepad and pen or BlackBerry that they use to record funny or awkward situations and conversations fueled by family, friends, or strangers. A lot of behaviour observation occurs in the comic's life, as they are sensitive to details, interaction, and socialization, deepening their understanding of the human core. This makes me think that those with a natural talent of making others laugh are actually quite the introverts, watching all of us intently.

Here are some quotes from a few of my favourite comics that are (funnily enough) about people and human relations:

"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes."
- Jim Carrey

"Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist."
- George Carlin

"Sometimes you can't see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others."
- Ellen DeGeneres

"There's very little advice in men's magazines, because men don't think there's a lot they don't know. Women do. Women want to learn. Men think, "I know what I'm doing, just show me somebody naked."
- Jerry Seinfeld