Monday, October 27, 2008

"MIPCOM, Castles, Monty Carlo's Flying Circus"

October 18, 2008

Cannes – Nice – Frankfurt – Ottawa – Halifax – Bed

I have been drifting in and out of deep deep sea fishing REM sleep patterns on this flight. I am exhausted. Matt, Tidby and I had a week…truly, the week of weeks. After I realized that my upgrade certificate wasn’t going to get me into business class pods, I realized the best way to fight the absolute discomfort of the small quarters that economy class provide would be to sleep, I had a Gravol, I am listening to Sigur Ros, and the late 2 in the morning Monte Carlo night in Monaco and 4 am awakening for the Cannes to Nice to Frankfurt segments have led me to the point where I am right now…very sleepy. I was told this weekend that Iceland is going bankrupt, also the same for the Bank of Scotland, which apparently is the financial backer for the great CTV amalgamation…no wonder they aren’t commissioning anything these days. The US market has fallen to depression status over the last few weeks, and the ripple effect is very apparent in the broadcast industry as I was made aware of at MIPCOM this week. Corporations aren’t buying advertising, people aren’t spending money on products that need advertising, Christmas ad space has not been sold yet on the Canadian and American networks…our widgets that sell product (I like to call them my artistic endeavors…but no, we as producers are just a fun vehicle for advertisers to ride in and exploit with) are at great risk. MIP had 33% less attendees this year, it was weird being at the worlds largest market and it looking like this, last April for MIPTV the place was packed! Are we producers dropping like flies? Dropping it like its hot?

The gloom does not end there. We, as New Brunswick producers, have been awaiting a solution to our provincial tax credit system update. For quite some time NB had the best tax credit in the country at 40% of labor, that’s huge, but now that NS has 65% and they are oober aggressive, the NB market is quickly disintegrating. We have a NB Film summit coming up in a few weeks called “The state of our industry”…I hope it isn’t going to be a eulogy.

Most of the active NB producers are considering making the move over toNova Scotia to stay competitive. With Singapore, China and India rocking the animation world at pennies for the dollar, animation companies like FatKat will only survive if they can compete by returning 65% of labor back into the budget. Gene, the owner of FatKat, and I spent a few good hours late Thursday night with French beer in hand, knee deep in the lapping waves of the Mediterranean discussing the problems, possible solutions, and consequences of moving out of the province. It will be really sad if we all have to do this to stay afloat. Gene, like myself, and like Dreamstreet, and Tidby Pictures are faithful NB producers and have all been helped tremendously by the province, the municipalities and our agency, Film NB. We are just trying to get up after being punched pretty hard that’s all. It is funny; I told Gene that I am an entrepreneur through and through, a serial entrepreneur. I have all intentions to keep fighting for this even if it means I am fighting for a job that hardly pays me, but allows me to stay in control, Being an entrepreneur can be seen as a curse, you pay your employees way more than yourself, you look out for their well being of first, your house is on the line, real glamorous huh?

This week has been a wonderful market mind you, don’t get me wrong. We started our week with a meeting Sunday morning, but then the rest of the day we swam in the Med, drank beer on the beach and body surfed…this was truly the first and last day of summer that I have experienced this year…it was wonderful, it felt right, even though it is almost November! Cannes is beautiful, the palm trees, the Panini’s, the everything! It was rad to hang with Tidby, Matt and Gene in this environment. Usually I am at MIP on my own, but having a posse to check out cool restaurants with, and check out parties with is where it’s at….two turn tables and a microphone.

Matt and I rocked a ton of meetings, we brought 30 projects, but the real wins were the advancements of Wrestling Reality, Kardinal Sinners, Airplane Journals, and Etiquette Guy. We supposedly got o camera for Kardinal Sinners in 3 weeks; we are not financed yet…typical. Let’s see how we make out!

On Friday we said good bye to the Palais and headed WAY up into the high Alps of Southern France. There is crazy snow at the tops of these peaks, snow that lasts all summer…what a climate; this is where I need to live. The small towns in the middle of nowhere that literally hang off steep mountain side cliffs and have no other civilization for miles took my breath away. The road went straight up for a good 2 hours, peaked at 1.8kms, all zig zag, not even room for 2 cars, every time another car came up the other way we had to negotiate space very tactfully to avoid rolling over to our demise down a 5000 foot vertical drop. Who built these roads anyway? We found this ridiculous castle perched at the top of this super high mountain, we where above the cloud line at one point! The castle ruins where I amazing shape, most likelyNorman style castle. Tidby later did some research on the castle;

“First, in Google Earth go to Lat 43°47'45.18"N and Long 7°17'42.48"E

Notice how you can see the remains of the village all the way back to the field? It was called Chateauneuf. First record, 11th century. The current village at Villaveille was Roman. It was abandonded for the new village of "Châteauneuf" (Castellum novum) perched at the top of the hill to the south. "Châteauneuf" was in turn abandonded in the 18th century, and the previous old town (Villaveille) became the current village (the one we drove by and stopped for lunch only to find that the place was closed). The village was part of the fief of the lords of Châteauneuf.”

The great courtyard, the remains of watch towers, tons of underground tunnels, man it was an explorers dream! Gene hit a bunch of money for next time that he came with his little boy to find, I left a bunch of business cards in the nooks and crannies of the stone and mortar! Ha ha. Last time I did that was in the ruins of this amazing old English style cathedral with no roof in Bermuda, I had a tradition of buying Elephant & Castle beers at the local shop and having a road pop on the way to the beach at the ole ruin I would put all of my bottle caps in a little hole in the stone wall. Years later I would take Tidby, Miller and Nat on a cruise to there and I proudly showed them my collection, they didn’t find it that interesting! Ha ha. It’s all about leaving a legacy right?

Later we made it to the country of Monaco, money drips here, palaces, mega mega yachts, more beautiful people, and ridiculous casinos. We had dinner, went to the casino, I dropped 5 Euro, lost in my first spin, Matt invested 23 Euro, and won 300 back….how do people do that? Monte Carlo was fun, we all dressed up in suit and ties, admired the Lamborghinies, the Mazerattis, the Porsches, the Bentleys, the Rolls. Casinos and gambling culture doesn’t do it for me, Tidby either. Back in film school at Niagara we would go to the casino often actually, but we wouldn’t gamble, we would drink free juice and listen to jazz bands play. Yes.

Driving back down the massive mountains zig zagging, swerving, sweating, breaking, exhilarating, we found an English radio station. They played Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry…Be Happy”. Man I forgot how great a tune that was; it spoke to me after a grueling week of meetings trying to figure out our place in the future of a volatile industry Thank you Bobby. And thanks Bob Marley for writing; “3 little birds, upon my door step, singing sweet songs, melodies pure and true, this is a message for you, don’t worry, about a thing, cuz every little thing, is going to be alright,”…”don’t worry be happy now”…Xavier Rudd; “I want to be free, free to be, free to see”…”Jah Live!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Back to MIPCOM at Cannes"

October 10, 2008

Halifax – Toronto – Frankfurt – Nice – Cannes


Today…woke up, had a shower, brushed my teeth, flossed, put on some clothes, nice ones…called Jenn Adcock to see if she would drive me to the airport, she did, she is such a wonderful director! Got my itinerary…Hali to T-dot, T-dot to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Nice, Nice to Cannes. Ok, I know I know…that’s a lot of layovers! Why is MIPCOM so far away in such a small Mediterranean, Southern France town filled with flowing red wine, incredible food, cobblestones, warm weather, and turquoise water, luxury yachts, and beautiful people? It’s beyond me.

This is the year I plan on coming out of MIPCOM with some substance. Matt is travelling with me with 60 1 gig USB keys with all of our trailers and programs, we have lovingly stamped, recycled paper folders that Jon put together to give our promo materials that extra “Jessica Rhaye” Groove (we at the office like to call it the J-Rha G-Rooooooove). Why J-Rha? Well its her “J-Lo” name, my J-Lo name is G-He, Matt Webber’s is M-Web…um, Lauchlan’s is L-Lock, try it out for your self, take your first letter of your first name and put a dash after it, then add a few letters of your last name and there you go! Your very own “J-Lo” name!

I am writing now in the brand new international Lounge at Pearson, it’s beautiful! Nice change. I watched an incredible Canadian film called Amal. I also started the flight reading the first few pages of one of my favorite books “The Alchemist”. It has reminded me of my core values. The film did as well. I will have to touch back on this later, but it is so true that if you are blessed with a dream, or a passion, then it is your holy duty to live your life and your dream to the fullest. Life is light, light is to be loved, love is to be center. God is love and light, and is within.

I have been reading some of my own blogs, and to be honest, they are kind of annoying to read, for this I apologize. But I do hope to start developing more of a story writing style to my blogs instead of the “documentary filmmaker in me” play by play. Is it interesting to know what I listen to, or watch, or think? Not really. But that’s ok as well. The Alchemist is a book everyone on earth should read, that along with Le Petit Prince, On the Road, Another Roadside Attraction, Hells Angels and Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests…not that what I read matters much, but wow. “WOW” is an amazing word as it is an onomatopoeia.

Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound it represents.
also imitative harmony

A quick search in Google helps us represent an example:
splash, wow, gush, kerplunk

Such devices bring out the full flavor of words. Comparison and association are sometimes strengthened by syllables which imitate or reproduce the sounds they describe. When this occurs, it is called onomatopoeia (a Greek word meaning name-making "), for the sounds literally make the meaning in such words as "buzz," "crash," "whirr," "clang" "hiss," "purr," "squeak," "mumble," "hush," "boom." Poe lets us hear the different kinds of sounds made by different types of bells in his famous poem "The Bells." His choice of the right word gives us the right sound when he speaks of "tinkling" sleigh bells; "clanging" fire bells; mellow "chiming" wedding bells; "tolling," "moaning," and "groaning" funeral bells.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"O-town Part 2"

October 1, 2008

Halifax - Ottawa…again - Halifax

I am flying home from Ottawa, yes Ottawa…wasn’t I here just 14 days ago? Anyhow Jess had a few days of meetings here so I packed my laptop and worked from the hotel for the last couple days. We had a sweet dinner with the newlyweds Mike and Mandy, and the “oldly” weds, Mike and Tammy. My oldest friends. Man talking about the tree house in the last post, I realize that I still have the best friends that I did when I was 8 years old, deadly. Anyway I want to reach back into those days at some point and write about the tree house era, the sneaking out at nights, the setting of ice burgs on fire in Alma, the “Save the Beavers” campaign! There is gold in my / our youth, truly gold.

Listening to Endless Boundries episode 550. This will be my quickest post ever. Ottawa is a great town, we stayed at the Westin, great hot tub there man, and the pool is phat…heated and all. The Westin is close to the Market area and right on the canal. Our 20th floor pimped suite was eye level with the Peace Tower….perfect! Tomorrow morning I do another day on Home Sweet Reno. Just found out that Phish is doing 3 day run in Vriginia! This makes me kind of excited, even though Trey did promise they would never get back together again, I knew that would be impossible. I hope to see this show, its been since 2001 maybe? I can’t remember the last Phish show I was at…one of the Maine shows, so maybe it was 2002’s Lemonwheel ( I think Lemonwheel was 02?!?)

"T-dot Pre MIP Shiznitt"

September 25th, 2008

Halifax –Toronto-Halifax

I am flying home after a very bizarre and interest-filled trip to the T-Dot. A few days ago, or should I say Monday, I made the 4 hour drive to Saint John and immediately MacCormack and I started re editing the music video, it looked good but needed major TLC. Andrew as we speak is in Halifax at Power Post doing the color correction on the video, so right now I & I will be driving straight to the edit suite to give it I & I’s final thumbs up! You see, tomorrow night we are premiering the video in front of a couple thousand fans at Harbor Station, a big release! And Chris Cummings will be cranking out a few of his rock solid country tunes in a set that I’m sure will not be quickly forgotten…Welcome Back! Oh my, the captain just came over the ole speaker system and said we are starting our decent…15km hour winds in Halifax, balmy 19 degrees, not bad for Hali in the fall…I will try to write this quickly so I don’t have to let it wait, sometimes when you don’t write in the moment you miss out on gems and holograms.

I drove the long trek back the next morning after our mad video fine cut session, then I worked as a camera operator on a home renovation show for HGTV called “Home Sweet Reno”, via Ocean. It was crazy, there is a family who is living in their house as it is being renovated, 8 people are living in the bare bones of a house, the drama and technical is great television! I might do some dailies on this show. It was a big work day, we shot with the new Sony EX3, great little camera, full HD. Sweet.

The next day I wrote my little butt off, I prepared 30 treatments for 30 TV series projects that we have in development.

Here is a list of full on shows I prepared…my wrists hurt…


Etiquette Guy


Psalms 67

Film Cruise

Melting lands

Worlds of Change

Wrestling Reality

Kardinal Sinners

Grave Concerns

Dead Poets

Airplane Journals

Timelapsing Earth

Eating Italy

Drawn in Blood

End Games

World of Wonder

Aztec Enigma

Checking Out


Worlds Apart

Kid Sing

Global Fusion


Happy Hour


Dog Slay

Extreme Snowmobile

World Cup

Chasing the Sun

I would write a quick synopsis on these shows but alas my time is limited on this flight, suffice it to say It was a huge job to get these ready for our MIP dry run in Toronto yesterday. We met with CTV, Discovery, Travel, CanWest. We also met with my distributor friends Jenna and Natalie from Buzz Taxi! Always great to see them, we had great lunch together, nice little tradition we have fostered over the last 2 years, whether it be in France or Toronto. Then we met another producer Milan Chotai who is producing a doco similar to Melting Lands with another cat I know named Liam Morgan (I worked for Liam’s dad Steven many times in the distant past on films, he is a great actor and a set carp…he also lives in St Andrews, and his daughter Alice is an old friend of mine as well, this is important information! J )

I am looking into possibly exec producing this doco for them…it was good to meet face to face. Then Matt and I cruised to Microtainment to see Garry Blye, who is one of my “mentors”, he has always been good to me, spending time going over my projects to see if we can work together on something in the future.

The variety of meetings was extremely eye opening, we now know what the broadcasters are looking for…we have a lot of work left to do on all 30 of our projects. I ended the night by checking out an hour of the Signs and Wonders conference at the TACF…like I always say, Toronto Airport fellowship is a revelation experience every time I go. This time there where probably 2000 people. I wanted to stay for the whole night because it was a very interesting conference, but after an hour of heavenly tunes of the Yiddish influence, I felt my cold getting worse.

What cold do I speak of? Well a couple nights ago I drove from Halifax to Hampton to go to my friends’ Colleen and Ben’s wedding. It took place at Ben’s folk’s homestead. It was really nice, and the barn party was a lot of fun. Ben is an electronic music producer and he spins the freshest of beats. It was fresh beats... what else can I say? The meal was great, pogos, vegetables, mushroom soup, lots of cake, man I ate a ton, I weigh a ton, I’m a fatty…it didn’t stop me and Tidby from cutting a rug, hanging with good people (my dearest Phemie was there as the maid of honor!!! So good to see her), and jumping on the trampoline till 3 in the morning as the bonfire settled to embers and the beats continued to blare through the cracks in the wooden barn. Thing is, Tidby and I set up his tent, and it is officially fall now, and I had nothing but a thin summer sleeping bag to sleep in…so due to the late night and the wetness of the fall midnight air, I got a nasty cold. Our Intern was at the wedding as well, his name is New-Steve. New-Steve is actually the second New-Steve of the company so I call him New Steve-2. New Steve-2 wrote most of the text for our website! Great job number 2. He is also charged with the challenge to go through this whole blog and fix any grammar or spelling errors, which this blog is rich with. I explained to him that when I write I like to exchange my present thoughts immediately onto type. It makes for a very scattered un-edited “Airplane Journals” but as long as my grammar and spelling are kosher then that is all a guy could really ask for isn’t it?

So back to Toronto, I leave the TACF party and call 4 or 5 hotels in the area, they are all booked. Wow, I couldn’t believe it there are so many hotels around Pearson International. None the less my spirits weren’t broken yet. I had a rent a car with my I Pod and driving the 401 later at night when there is no traffic is lots of fun with good tunes. The next morning my meeting was to be at 9am down by the Don Valley 404 highway, so I decided to check out hotels enroute to that general area…EVERYONE IS BOOKED SOLID! I checked at least 10 hotels. I had cash in pocket, no problems spending the dough, especially that night as my cold was getting really bad, it was almost 11 pm and I needed to sleep. It didn’t happen. I gave up. I pulled into a parking lot beside the 401 and slept in the freakin rental car...mental car…lentil soup. I was discouraged but too tired and sick to do anything. So I woke up every hour, turned the car on for some heat, trying not to “exhaust” myself, and made it through the night. I got even more sick.

I had to pull a trick from my past so I would be presentable for my meeting at 9, so I snuck into the Raddison hotel pool, had a shower, a hot tub, and shaved. As to not mess with karma, I bought a very expensive breakfast from the Raddison restaurant, you know, kind of for payment for me using their facilities. This is something I used to do all the time in high school and university…with no regard to karma…I have always been so in love with hot tubs. Strange fascination…also it is strange how much I love motorhomes and scotch as well. But what are we without love? NOTHING!

Sleeping in places other than beds is something I have become quite good at in my life…from living in my tree house, to sleeping in snow forts with scouts, to hammocks in trees, on rocky beaches, under airport benches….pretty much anywhere, its no big deal. I remember once at a Freshwind conference at TACF, my brother, Tidby, Shannon and Jason set up our tent in a ditch beside the 401. It was a beautiful campsite. Ditches are extremely private places, who else sets up tents there? No one really, so it’s a pretty stylish choice if you are in the middle of an urban concrete jungle and want just a little piece of nature to set up camp…there’s always grass and wetness in ditches.

I headed down the Don Mills road to Hi Fidelity HD (RUSH HD) for my meeting. Had a very progressive meeting with Mr. John Panikkar who has agreed to license our next evolution of Wrestling Reality; The Kardinal Sinners. If all goes well we will be filming the Kardinal Sinners in November. So here we go! Another show to put under the belt. Very much looking forward to doing it this time around and hopefully perfecting it, my goal is to keep it tight. We have learned a lot from experience and from mistakes with our previous TV shows, now is the time to have a goal to be quick, efficient, and successful…and make a kick ass show to boot.

As it turns out an old film school friend of mine named Meaghan works at RUSH HD…man I have really lost touch with all of my friends from those days…I guess I should get a personal Facebook account sometime? Hmmmm. Not really in love with that idea. We will weigh out the pros and cons…when I say “we” I am actually talking about I & I. I thanked John for having faith in our project and bid him farewell. John just happens to be the older brother of my good friend from NSI, Raj Panikkar! It truly is a small world. Raj is the producer I wrote about a few times in the past who has the “Rent-a-Goalie” show on Showcase. I was hoping he would be at this upcoming MIP but alas I will be there with no NSI comrades. Matt, our newest member to the team in Halifax has been rocking the MIP scene hooking up fantastic meetings….I am committed to coming home with a sale. I need one, it will be my forth more messing around. The pre-meetings I just had in Toronto where a great start, long ways to go, marketing materials, more meetings, logistics….oh and I am on an alcohol free challenge right now, so that will be interesting in the center of wine country being dry as the Nevada desert. Anyway I am always up for a good challenge, I will write more about this very interesting challenge in a later blog post…timing has to be right! J

"O-town part 1"

September 15th, 2008

Saint John-Ottawa-Halifax

Where do I start? Well after a couple of days home from England, Matt, the newest guy to our team, and I left Halifax at 5 in the morning, we made it to Saint John NB in less than 3.5 hour, Matt, like myself, is good at driving fast. Fast as speed (That’s a quote from the “Kowboy” from Wrestling Reality, in case you where wondering!). Matt and I arrived to Saint John and started filming our latest pilot video for a new show we are pitching called “The Etiquette Guy”. The Etiquette Guy, also known as Jay Remer, is a fantastic fellow who is a professional etiquette specialist, he writes in the papers, he has a great column, his website gives a lot of great tips, and he is an old acquaintance (now friend) of mine from back in my days as an honorary resident of Saint Andrews NB. Back of course in the days when it was a welcoming town to freedom and good music at the Tidal Pool. That all ended when the town pressured the closure of the tavern and replace it with a Dollar Store, real classy Saint Andrews! Anyway, that is a blog post in itself, I would not forget to write about how when captain Paul Whalen had the Avontuur moored in the harbor, and the town council pressured him to get the beautiful ole ship out of their harbor because it was unsightly, well, it wasn’t unsightly, she was a grand old pirate trip…hey I was the one who painted the ole Steel Hull, Green White and Red! …

…JAY!!! Back on track…Jay and his partner Greg (good strong name) owned a fantastic bed and breakfast called the Windsor House Inn back in those days. A legendary Inn for many reasons, one it being the place of work for my dear and beautiful friend Tracy Nichol who, if you have read previous posts, lives now in my other top notch listed “God’s country” kind of places; Forest City. Population 11…Tracy, Carstan, and my dear friend Ann make up a few of the crazies who nestle themselves in the solitude sitting on the St. Croix River a stones throw away from the great and fastly collapsing economy of the United States of America.

We are shooting a pilot for a TV show that is everything about Etiquette. It’s going to be cool, we are going to travel the world filming Etiquettes of all sorts from table to golf, from business to sailing, from film set to travelling…we will cover it all! We filmed at Opera Bistro, so Jay could show me how to set a table, we shot at a beautiful Inn on Germain Street, and of course at my favorite little wine bar…Happinez! Anyway the edit turned out pretty cool; we will be taking this to broadcasters in Toronto and to MIP in October to see if we can get an action.

Moving along to the next day we had an incredible last coaching session, man the company has grown, there where 7 of us plus Coach Dave. It has been a real trip shooting this experiment (The Airplane Journals) over the past 2 years. Using the coach approach with the help of Dave and Vision Coaching has been stellar, I’m not kidding, it has done wonders for my company, for my employees, and for me. Empowerment! We filmed the coaching session as we are ready to start editing this mammoth documentary of 2 years. Should be fun! Yikes…that afternoon we filmed me reading the narration for the film.

The next morning I drove to my old heavenly stomping grounds; Acamac, to grab something from my house, and to drop of a lawnmower to the new tenants. The thing I grabbed was an old school wheatgrass juicer press, Wheat grass is good for you, and for me as well. It is green and full of yumminess. I said goodbye with a tear in my eye to my old hot tub…man it feels like eons ago when we had crazy bonfire hot tub parteeeeeees! I look fondly at that era, but man I don’t look back, I am loving the trip I am on RIGHT NOW IN THE PRESENT…don’t look back.

Listening to EB episode 32 right now, Moonshine Still. Endless Boundaries is a great podcast, I would listen to it all the time if I had all the time to devote to listening to something like a podcast that plays songs about Orange Blossoms and dub reggae. I am on a plan…no, sorry, I am on a plane right now (big surprise) writing on the way back from Ottawa. My man Mike Leblanc, one of my oldest bros from Grade 6 got married at a stellar location on a ski hill in Callabogie North of Ottawa. The day after Jessica and I got married in Grand Cayman, Mike and Tidby hid an engagement ring in a conch at the bottom of the sea close to an anchor and other strange wild life like sting rays and moray eels. Mike then took Mandy out for a snorkel adventure and tried to get her to pick up the conch so she could find the ring, they couldn’t find it for like 30 minutes, we at the dockside in our hungover state from the reggae dance party the night before, sat on the edge pointing and laughing! They finally found it and Mandy said yes. We took a picture. It was a happy time…of the day. Happy times are times when things that make you happy happen at a particular point, when Mike and Mandy decided to get married the day after my wedding in the green Caribbean Sea, not 1 hour after a massive yoga session led by VP Marketing guru Jay Maclean…I said to myself “This is a happy time”. So here we are, in Ottawa not 10 months later and they sealed the deal. It was a fun wedding, in and out though. Jess and I met each other in O-town, hooked up with other long time bro and wife Mike and Tammy and we cruised to the wedding together, then the next day we sadly left and flew back to Halifax.

Crazy story, the Chris Cummings video is rough edited, and when I get back to Hali tonight, I will sleep for 5 hours, get up at 5am again and drive back to Saint John to do the fine edit with MacCormack to make it the best country music video that we have ever made It is the only one we have ever made so the odds are in our favor.

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