Friday, September 28, 2012

Somerset News: September 2012


The Huntsville Film North International Film Festival came to a close on September 22, and I was honoured to be in attendance on the closing day to present our short film "Missing".  For those of you who have been fortunate enough to attend the festival in the past, or even this year, it really is a well-organized and artist friendly event.

We were there for the first annual event in 2010, and were fortunate to take home the antler (the trophy bestowed upon winners) for our short film "The Lake" at that time.  This year, "Missing" did not afford us a repeat victory, but I was thrilled to see the award go to Lewis Hodgson for his film "Morning Zombies" - a film that featured cinematography by Patrick Gilbert, and a starring turn by none other than Kevin Hoffman as the lead zombie (both of whom contributed to "Missing" as well).  Congratulations again to all involved!

The Film North festival is one of my favorite to attend.  The organizers are extremely accommodating and hospitable, and it truly does provide an excellent opportunity to meet and engage with other film makers, both the professional and established, and the similarly situated up and comers.

The post-screening Q&A session featuring (from left to right):
Myself, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Sheila McCarthy,
17-year-old Director Ben Brook, and Ken Cunningham.

Following our screening, was a Q&A session with the attending film makers, 17-year-old Ben Brook, with "Ostrichsized", and animator Ken Cunningham, with "Zen and the Art of Distraction" (Jim Calarco's "One Wish" also screened, but unfortunately he had to miss the Q&A).  Also in attendance was Lifetime Achievement Award Winner (and incredibly accomplished Canadian performer) Sheila McCarthy, whose outstanding breakthrough performance in "I've Heard The Mermaids Singing" screened during our showcase.  It's always nice to feel like part of the film community (even though I referred to myself as a "hobbyist" during the testimonial video I shot).

I am a film maker, and while I might have a hard time admitting it every now and then, it is something that I am most definitely proud of: when our first film won a cinematography award against an Imax movie; when we won our first International award; and every time our work is accepted and acknowledged by people of discriminating taste - every one of those moments justifies my hobby and makes it worth the crazy amounts of effort that we put in to each production.

So with all the excitement, positive feedback, and networking of the Film North festival, what could possibly be next?

Planning in progress for the weekend shoot.

Up next on the agenda, is a new shoot this weekend on a project called "How To Save A Life".  I wanted to shoot this about a year ago, but I am glad that plans fell through (and then again in the Spring, and the Summer) because we are back to the right time of year for this particular piece.

It's going to be an ambitious shoot, and a quick one with any luck, but I have been thinking about it all week and it is shaping into a solid piece - if the weather holds out.

I'll have an update ready sometime next week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Story-A-Day #428: Pathways


It's not like it used to be.  These pathways used to be wider, and much easier to navigate.  Now they are overgrown, crowded with limbs, and leaves, and other obstructions that have grown up over time.

When I was younger, these pathways were my paradise.  They meandered through the forest behind my parents home and directed me to new adventures, new secrets waiting to be discovered.  I would wander these pathways and expect the unknown on an almost daily basis.

Sometimes I would discover a pond, and plumb its depths for hidden treasures: maybe a painted turtle, or a slime encrusted plastic boat left behind by some other wayward wanderer.  Other times I would stumble across an old fort or cabin and pretend that it was mine; a secret hideout where I would defend myself with a wooden sword from an onslaught of deadly foes.

I had many great times exploring those forgotten trails, seeking out new adventures both on, and off the path.  But that was a long time ago, decades.

Today, I stare up the steep incline and know that most of what I once marvelled at would be gone, reclaimed by the nature from whence it first sprouted.  I know that those ponds would be long since dried up; the forts and cabins, long since collapsed upon themselves.

I start up the trail regardless, knowing that those shining moments from my past would have long since faded, but that there might be new discoveries to be found.  Surely the new generations of kids could not be so glued to their televisions and gaming systems that they had not built their own hidden refuges?  Surely nature had not continued to grow and develop in weird and marvelous ways?

The strangest thing about life is that it is full of pathways.  Some of them become worn and familiar as we wander their ways throughout life.  Others become regrets, the path left unexplored that could have resulted in so much more, or less, than what we know about life today.

The great thing about pathways is that they are yours to be either taken, or ignored.  Sometimes you choose the right pathways, and sometimes you take the long way to get to where you need to go.

These may have been the pathways of my youth, but sometimes it is good to return to the well of nostalgia to see if there might not be more to learn, more to be told, more to be discovered.  Sometimes it is just nice to know that childhood is what it was, and remains what it always will be: a past lived to its fullest.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Story-A-Day #427: Rainbow's End


Sometimes you just have to go for it.  That's what her parents had always told her.  They wanted her to be an achiever, a go-getter; someone who would not take no for an answer.  For the most part, it had worked as well.  She was not afraid to take risks, and would always push hard to achieve her goals.

That constant strive for excellence had brought her to a few unique realizations about her decision-making process.  Sometimes, you had to look at the bigger picture.  Sometimes, you had to look beyond the normal to try to figure out how to achieve your goals and dreams.

It was a warm Wednesday afternoon in September, and she was out in her backyard watering the garden.  As she wafted the gentle mist from the hose back and forth across the flowers, plants, and wooden slat fence, she noticed a rainbow slowly ebbing in and out of sight.  It was like a dream: there, then gone, then back again, with each passing sweep of the hose.

It dawned on her then, that a rainbow is a rainbow, so maybe she should start digging.

Sometimes you just have to go for it.

She noted the spot where the proverbial end of the rainbow would be and ran off to grab a shovel.  When she returned, she placed the tip into the moist grass, and used the flat base of her sandal to help wiggle the shovel into the soft earth.  She levered the first scoop up and dumped it nearby, then quickly angled in for another.

She had dumped out a few loads before something unexpected happened.  She hit something solid.  She got down on her hands and knees and slowly unearthed the treasure.  Once it was clear of the earth, she found a smile spreading across her face, a warm and glowing smile that was not unlike the morning sun peeking up over the horizon.

It was no pot of gold.  But it was actually better; a small tin coffee tin, the brand still distinguishable under the grime of dirt and time.

She brought the container into the house and sat down at the dining room table where she popped the lid.  The container contained a small treasure trove of notes and nick knacks from a past resident of the house.  Diary entries and small porcelain figures filled the tin, and they were in remarkably good condition.  It was no pot of gold, but it was a fascinating representation of days, and people, long since past...

Sometimes you just have to go for it.

Sometimes you have to seek out the rainbow's end.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Story-A-Day #426: Where the Silver Ferns Grow


I'd always believed it was a myth, a place that existed in the darkest, most fanciful corners of legend.  I figured it was no different than El Dorado, Atlantis, or Shangri-La...  As it turns out, I was wrong.

I grew up hearing the legends of the great lost treasure that was hidden in the depths of the wilds where the silver ferns grow.  Hell, it was right here in my backyard according to those legends of my childhood, so how could I not have heard of it?

When I was younger, I grew to figure that it was probably something like Oak Island, a huge lost treasure that remained forever lost in time, and disclaimed by the doubters and scientists.

It was cool to think that there could be some weird treasure out there, some weird treasure located in a long-lost Mayan temple in the depths of Northern Ontario.  It seemed unlikely that a Mayan temple could exist in Northern Ontario, impossible really, so it was not entirely impossible to write the whole thing off as a big fabrication; like our very own Klondike, only without the actual gold to sustain the rush.

Northern Ontario has a wealth of resources, but the conundrum with this particular one, was that the stories and murmurings always promised wealth that was somewhat ... obscure.  Some tales talked of gold, others of silver and gems.  There were other whisperings as well, secret sighs that spoke of something bigger; and at times, something darker.

When I finally found the place that the silver ferns grow, I realized that all of the stories contained at the very least, a grain of truth.  Unfortunately for you, the only truth I can communicate was that the ferns do in fact grow with a silver hue.

It was almost an accident that I found the place at all, but it was no accident that I forget where it was...

If you had seen the things I saw, you would want no recollection either.  That kind of beauty and terror can only co-exist in the strongest of minds.  Mine is not that type of mind; it is one of curiosity, and dreams, and hope.  It is one that requires mystery in life in order to maintain function.