Sunday, January 25, 2009

"LOST in Hawaii on THE BEACH with OBAMA"

January 25, 2009

Hawaii, Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax


It was very early in the morning, so early that I was writing in the past tense…another red eye flight Eastward, second one in 2 days. Jessica and I are sitting on the tarmac in Toronto after a 20 minute excursion to the Maple Leaf for espresso and granola. Only a few hours ago we where on Robson street in Vancouver having dinner with our old friends Miller and Erika (aka the models), as well as super old friend Sarah Hedar, one of the best editors West of the East. Sarah goes way back with Jessica and me to early high school days, but even more interesting, Sarah and I used to live in a $500 class C Ford El Dorado motor home for a year in a half whilst attending film school in the Niagara region. We first lived in the leaky excuse for shelter (that just happened to have a 454 under the hood), on a vineyard in the lush Jordan Valley. We where about 45 minutes away from school, so we had to hitch practically every morning, I had just sold my little green 62 VW Fastback to purchase the motorhome, and there was no way we where going to drive the ole beast the distance every day…she wasn’t even insured, let alone registered in my name or road worthy! This motorhome was named Ethel, and Sarah and I lived a life of trash for sometime on that vineyard. Hipple Farms let us plug into one of their harvester houses reserved for Mexican workers typically, but now utilized as a place to park, plug in, and eat grapes and peaches. The saga of the motorhome ended abruptly one year when someone pretty much stole our home and used to as collateral for unpaid drug debts (see earlier blog posts…for the REST of the story!)

Why were we in Vancouver? Finally I had the chance to film the very last bits for what we are calling the “educational component” of the Airplane Journals. After the ICF conference in Montreal, we took some of the feedback and decided to make another cut of the documentary and edit it in a very point formed, educational manner. Earlier in the day Alison Hendren met with me and we went up to an amazing condo that overlooked the city and the Rocky Mountains great setting! We filmed for a few hours and I am pleased to announce that we are completely finished filming the documentary, over 2 years later! It’s been a helluva trip that’s for sure.

It was convenient for me to stop in Vancouver as Jessica and I where flying back from our 1 year anniversary to Hawaii, Kauai to be exact. Honestly, after one of the most intense, grey-matter-oozing weeks of my life in Banff, the week in Hawaii was welcomed with open arms for me to shut down completely and enjoy Eden. Jessica needed this trip even more than I, the medical system is completely backwards in its philosophies on work ethic and employee care. 30 hour shift work days, 21 day - no weekend runs…not to mention the pressure on pregnant residents to work all night call shifts beyond 28 weeks…it is surprising to me that they put their training doctors through this hell…trust me, if there is one thing that I know about work as an employer and an employee is that a tired worker is not an efficient or happy one.

Jess and I met in the Vancouver airport after my day of snowboarding at Lake Louise. We flew into Honolulu to spend our first night in the big city. We stayed at cheap hotel a block down from Waikiki Beach, just a few buildings down from the Grand Hyatt, the hotel that I have such vivid memories of when I was in grade three. My folks to us to Hawaii back then because my father won the trip through his wood stove business, he was one of the manufacturer’s top sellers. I have crystal clear memories of that trip, in fact I actually wrote my first journal on that trip at such a young age, I would love to find that journal! The next morning we flew to our favorite island in the world, Kauai. This will be my fourth time to this island, and Jessica’s third. I can’t believe it was two years ago that I asked Jessica to marry me on the cliffs of the Waimea Canyon….and here we are now, so much has gone down in that period of time!

This was the first time that we didn’t stay on the Hanalei / Princeville side of the island, we found ourselves this time renting a small, self contained cabin in Poi-pu, a minute’s walk from the Grand Hyatt Kauai. The Grand Hyatt is the closest place to walking in the Garden of Eden that I have ever experienced in a non natural environment, what luxury! Jess and I of course pretended we where guests and used the hot tubs, hammocks and beach!

Every morning we watched the sunrise, and every evening the sun set…what away to re connect with creation and value the light of day. Watching the cycle of the sun really humbles you and puts you into a place of better understanding, what the hell do I have my blackberry on? I just twittered as the sun rose a post saying, “The sun is rising over the Kauai skyline, it is a new day, in two minutes Obama will sign his inauguration papers, it is truly a new day and age in the world’s political scene, hope has been reborn”
Ok, so I am now using Twitter, It took me forever to get onto Facebook, but now I am completely seeing the communications advantages of using things like Blogger, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter, YouTube etc. Like the new day of sunrises and Obama, we are living in a new day, a new age of digital media, and digital mania. I guess I should jump in? As am independent filmmaker I am learning it is crucial to market yourself on a grass roots level, this is the tool, if you have content, they will come. Web Guru Gavin McGarry inspired me last week at Banff to let down the pride and join the ride, so here we are, I’m a full fledge Tweeter now. My Twitter name is greghemmings, same for my LinkedIN and Skype.
Vacation for my mind is difficult, the Blackberry has made it possible to bring work with you anywhere in the world, which is great because without it I wouldn’t be able to run a business and travel as much as I do, but sadly, with it I find it impossible for me to truly relax and enjoy the peace of mind that non-communication affords you maybe only once a year on vacation. The next morning sunrise I found myself on the phone on a conference call to LA and the UK to discuss an upcoming TV series idea we have in development involving the legendary Cannonball Run in Europe, more to come on that series at a later time. It does sound pathetic that I used…
oh….looks like I am hard typer, ha, the lady in front of me on the plane just turned around and asked me to be more gentle, I guess the speed of my typing has vibrated from my keys through the computer base, through the flip down table, through the plastic lining of her seat, through the cushion of her seat, and into her delicate over sensitized body…eeek. …anyhow, you get the point about the Blackberry, its annoying and extremely efficient, reminded me of when I first negotiated the Fight Network Deal for Wrestling Reality on the gondola of Kicking Horse in Golden BC, we are living in the future (as Andrew Tidby always says

Speaking of Wrestling Reality, Jess and I went to watch Mickey Rourke’s latest feature “The Wrestler”, WOW. What a great movie, so inspiring, very sad, very REAL. The timing of the movie is brilliant for our shows Wrestling Reality and Kardinal Sinners…I am heading to Washington next week to Real Screen to try to pimp these shows out a bit, the wrestling buzz is out as we speak, hot cakes.

Another sunrise took Jessica and I to a very remote beach down a maze of dirt roads through sugar cane fields, the beach was amazing, some squatters living in tents cooking their breakfast, a few hikers, a few early birds. The tents reminded us of last time when we came and tenting the island, such a beautiful think to tent besides crashing waves, a truly holy experience. We met a couple on the beach who like us where enjoying a week away from reality, we walked the beach together and found some Hawaiian Monk Seals, in fact, we saw these seals basking on most of the beaches we visited! They are endangered, so it was a real honor to see them. Our new friends, Tate and Mike where from Oregon and we became quick friends, in fact we decided to meet up two days later to hike the Napali Coast together (well at least part of it).
No vacation of mine is complete unless I have a business meeting or two, again pathetic I know but it’s the life of a salesman right? We went to visit the Princeville Resort, our favorite hotel on earth. They shut down a few months ago to renovate the whole luxurious estate one tile at a time. The place was a skeleton, completely stripped to the bare bones, we had to wear hard hats. Jess and I where the 2nd “civilians” to be given a tour of the work in progress, again quite an honor. I want Hemmings House to help the Princeville for their video needs, anything to get back to Kauai! It was a real positive meeting, we will see where that leads us. Every step we make in our life leads to doors, the more doors that are opened, the more opportunities for adventure are presented. This opportunity was rooted a few years ago at the beginning of this blog whilst filming Planet Luxury, the episode about the world’s most expensive acoustic guitar, the Martin D-100! A cat named Jon who lives on the island owns a wicked collection of Martins, including pre war editions. His friend, now my friend, Ken Emerson (Google search this slack-keyed guitarist, he is an amazing player) played Jon’s D-100 for us on the luxurious beach of the Princeville Resort overlooking Hanalei Bay, looked and sounded wonderful! In fact I emailed Ken a few days ago to see if he was to be around, and as it turns out he is now living in California collaborating with some of the Cowboy Junkies! Looks like I’ not the only Canadian interested in the Hawaii connections!

RELAX. That’s what we did, on the beach all day, playing in the waves, drinking local beers, strumming the 6 string, playing in the waves, Hanalei (see Puff the Magic Dragon). I hooked up with Mitch Alapa and the Hawaiian Surf Adventures crew again for another surf lesson, I managed to get into the groove this time, the trick? Bigger waves are easier!!! Surfing is a part of my life that I haven’t lived yet, stay tuned!
We met up with our new friends on our last full day to see the sunrise over the Napali Coast, is you don’t know what the Napali Coast is, go check it out, look at the pictures online, they are stunning! A few days earlier Jess and I drove to the top of the Waimea Canyon to see the Napali Coast from the other side, today we will see it from within! We hiked a couple miles up the mountain, down the valley to the first beach with crashing 6 foot waves that could be heard throughout the jungle. We watched the season premier of LOST the night before, Jess and I felt we where living the experience! Because Jess is prego and I am, well, a real slow hiker, we said goodbye to our new friends and let them hike on ahead of us. Good thing for us to slow down because the trail was muddy, rocky, and STEEP! When we got to the bottom of the valley to the first beach, we realized that we had to get across a river, there was no bridge, just strategic jumping rocks, pregnant wife and all, we made it across, it took a while to make it safely mind you. On the other side a tanned and shirtless guy named Grey clapped at our success traversing the river, he told us that he calls this “Hippy TV”, watching tourist try to perform such strategies! We hung out with Grey for a while, he was just finishing his breakfast, he was on his way beck from the mysterious hippy commune at the end of the 11 mile hike. Grey has been living off the grid in the commune for 4 years now, living off the land, hunting wild pig, goats, fish. Him and his “brothers and sisters” live a life VERY similar to that depicted on the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DeCaprio, in fact the scene where they jump off the waterfall and one of the local residence clapped at their successful entry into the secret paradise was brought to mind when our new friend encouraged our river traverse! Grey invited us back to the commune next time we visited, I hope to be back to Kauai within the year, so I will be travelling with backpack and tent again for sure to make the Jungle hike to the “REAL” beach…I just hope that I don’t start seeing in Nintendo-vision!
On our way back to reality, (i.e. the main land North America) we had a chance to stop over in Honolulu again for a few hours. As it turns out my real good friend Todd Monroe is crewing on a sailing cargo ship, picking up from where Captain Paul left off! The owner of the boat is an old friend from the days when I was sailing on he Avontuur in Suriname, Brad Ives. Brad is one of the most interesting cats I have ever met. Jess and I went to have dinner with them and the crew on the docks of Honolulu in the port. I hadn’t seen Brad in 8 or 9 years! I really want to a documentary on him and the crew of the Kwai (that’s the ship’s name). The last time I saw Toddy, him, Chris Gorman and I did a cruise for 10 bucks a day on Celebrity cruises to Bermuda, all with long hair, beards, powder blue tuxedos, and a never ending supply of a strange lemonade and dark spiced rum mixer in tall Nalgene bottles that made us the super champions of shuffleboard, kicking the butts of even the most agile white haired shuffler on such a cruise. My days of getting stellar deals like that are long gone, but one for the memories for sure.
Jessica and I had a wicked time with Todd, Brad and the rest of the crew, had a great meal on the water, then said goodbye and hopped on the ole airplane for a red eye trip eastward towards Vancouver…goodbye Hawaii, hope to see you again very soon.
(This post is dedicated to the memory of my sister in law Sue’s father Ron who past away yesterday as he and his wife Gail were visiting their son - and my old film school roommate –Jeff and family in Japan. Ron had a stroke and passed on in the presence of his whole family. Rest in peace Ron.)

"North American Media Executive Leadership Program"

January 14, 2009

BANFF - Vancouver - Hawaii

The North American Media Executive Leadership Program is what I am decompressing from as I write, now still flying over the clouds of the pacific ocean as the West-bound sun leads us westerly to the paradise we now as Kauai. I am chasing the sun! As a side note I just licensed 3 of my older documentaries to an online channel called . I’m ready to experiment with the new digital age. TV seems to be dying, but the more I think about it, TV will never die, it will just have competition. Time to climb the format and platform mountain and be prepared to try new avenues of distribution. Relevance? Well the documentaries I sold the license to where Rubarbicon (Grand Theft Bus), Psalm 67 (Missionary trip to Belize), and my Chinese adventure, “Chasing the Sun”. My thoughts of Westward sun chasing started when I flew from Saint John to Hong Kong for that documentary, when was that? 2004?

We are going to Hawaii today as it will be Jess and my 1st anniversary. I started decompressing yesterday with a great session of riding at Lake Louise. I am ready to re-decompress for the next week in health, in relaxation, in surfing, and eating I-Tal for I & I, Peanut, and Peanut Shell.

This will be my 4th visit to Kauai, I want to end there, whatever that means, I think part of my spirit lives on that Holy Island carved and injected by the Soul of the World. So why the need for decompression? I can’t sum it up in one blog, I may have to seep it out through the week, if the spirit leads I hope to read and write as I process my new vision and mission statements. The leadership program has bent my way of thinking, and the outlook on leadership that has guided me…and my company. I am certainly inspired, confused, tired, used…it is 2009, the time has come to F-O-C-U-S. I am scattered, and thrive on the unknown. It is healthy and dangerous at the same time. The fact that I am going to be a father in May, and that I have a crew of such loyal and talented staff at Hemmings House Pictures tells me that I need to wrap my experiences and adventurous wanderings and cave crawlings up into a package and learn wisdom and focus on leadership and growth.

What was NAMELP? It was another great stretching experience, similar to the NSI’s (National Screen Institute) Global Marketing Program…so much networking, so much learning, so much stretching. NAMELP took me to the Buffalo Mountain Lodge on Tunnel Mountain in Banff for a week. Myself and 10 other emerging and established leaders in the North American television scene gathered to improve skills on leadership, share experiences and enjoy the snow covered Rocky Mountain panoramic views and outdoor hot tubs. Without getting into too much detail, within 5 days we all came together as incredibly close friends from complete strangers. We were all put into positions that have helped us grow tremendously over a small period of time. Although quite pricey, I really recommend this leadership program to any serious media exec, or emerging producer. Lay in down friends.

What did I walk away with besides a larger network of great peeps in the industry, and an amazing input of great information? I walked away with the concept of getting out of the clouds and rising above to look down and have a keen eagle’s eye, sharp, focused, and limitless.

After 5 days of 14 hours a day sessions, we all partied together at St. James Gate and the famous Rose and Crown in downtown Banff. The next morning I awoke and it was all over. Intensity…reality, what now? Implementation? Must process first, my brain has melting, it is time to sop and harden the melted bits, pour it back into a mold and reshape it to a focused and passionate shape of leadership and innovation.

So I started my new groove of getting back to the bass and focusing by meeting with my dear friend Nikki and her friend Erin to hit Lake Louise for a great day of riding. It was warmish, but at the base it was foggy and wet. It took 2 minutes on the chairlift and yet again I arose through the cloud ceiling and popped my head out through the fluffy blanket to be welcomed by HUGE mountain tops and the welcoming and warm sunshine that is the giver of all life on our flat planet. It was super nice for Jan 15th, well above freezing, and the snow conditions where perfect. Yes I have stopped drinking alcohol during the length of Jessica’s pregnancy, but I have made a few exceptions…Southern France, Christmas, and only a few very special occasions….um, yeah, at the mid point up a huge and awe inspiring mountain in a t-shirt after a full morning of tackling black diamonds, time for a beer! One of the tastiest ever, not the Brahma beer is the best crafted beer, but it was the settings. God is good to us for beautiful mountains, beer and leadership programs, amongst an infinite list of other wonderful and amazing things.

Back home the boyz are taking care of the days…the finishing touches of the JSB DVD are done, we are finally able to release it in a few weeks! Super stoked. Keep an eye on our news section at for updates. We shot all of Kardinal Sinners for RUSH HD before Christmas, now the time has come to meet a great challenge start editing and deliver on time for a March 15th deadline…rockin. Lauchlan and Stevo are cranking out the corporate / commercial grooves, and also putting the finishing touches on the Airplane Journals documentary After Hawaii, I have to stop in Vancouver and get a few more interviews from Alison Hendren for a last little addition for our documentary, all in accordance to the feedback we received at the International Coach Federation’s summit in Montreal.

There is a law student “small-talking” very loudly to his neighbor behind me, Hey Rosetta’s album just finished, and my computer is almost out of batteries. I have a new book called “the Pilgrimage” also written by Paulo Coelho. They say in the reviews that this book actually rivals his other book the Alchemist which I read a few flights ago.


"One Love, one heart, lets get together and feel alright, here the children crying, saying, give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel alright, lets get together and feel alright.

"Sunday's River of Peanut Banff Clouds"

Jan 02, 2009

Christmas and Sunday River Maine

I can’t do it. I thought that I would have peace from my self-imposed pressure to write a blog post whenever I fly. Well here I am, on my 4th plane segment since I said that the “Airplane Journals” where finished. I think I started this writing adventure in May of 2006, why stop now? There has been a lot of exciting moments since I last wrote.

First of all Christmas was a blur, Jessica and I worked until Christmas Eve, drove to Saint John for Christmas day, then cruised to Sunday River for a couple days of riding...all I can say about that trip is that it was the warmest December snowboarding I have ever experienced, 15 degrees Celsius at the top of the mountain… climate change? The clouds where low lying, and the second the chair lift cracked the roof of the foggy cloud cover, a rush of summer heat styles surrounded us! Clouds! Clouds! CLOUDS! I love clouds. In fact, I am looking out the airplane window right now as we fly out of Vancouver, we just cracked the clouds and now it’s a sunny clear day with an ocean of white vapor flowing and lapping against the shorelines of the once mountains of Vancouver and Washington State, now turned small islands in the ocean of the care bears. There is something very significant about clouds this week, but back to the bass…

…It was an amazing two days of being outside and loving the air, the snow and hanging with the family. My beautiful and pregnant wife rocked it on the wanker two plankers. She has become a great skier! The hottest pregnant skier that side of Montreal I would argue. Speaking of pregnancy, we just found out that Peanut is a girl! I’m going to be a father to a little girl. WOW. Like everything I see to encounter, I am ready to jump out of the plane, fall through the cloudy cover, and see what’s underneath…see if the parachute opens…


Ok, this is weird; as I type I am listening to the Hey Rosetta! “Into Your Lungs” album, ( I am listening to the tune called, “We Made a Pact”, and the second I wrote “parachute opens”, the lyrics in the song go:

“The Parachute not opening, closer to oblivion…”

Why and how does that happen to me ALL THE TIME??? What is it called when that happens? Hmmm, I may have to look into this deeper at some point! I’m not sure if the messaging of my parachute in Hey Rosetta’s song gives me much encouragement, oh well, this album is one of my favorites this year so it’s all good right?

The cloud metaphor runs deeper and deeper, the only way you will see how is if you stick with me, jump out of the plane with me and head down a few more paragraphs, as long as I don’t find myself going down a tangent, I will go deeper.

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