Monday, April 27, 2009

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #11" - Wrestling With Reality in Ottawa

Telegraph Journal Entry #11


April 18 – Wrestling With Reality in Ottawa

Growing up I spent a lot of time building tree houses, swinging off birch trees, and exploring the great unknown wilds of Milledgeville. The last thing I ever wanted to do on a Saturday afternoon was to be inside on a sunny day, watching WWF wrestling on television. In my mind there was too much life to explore to find time to watch TV, and there certainly was no time to watch wrestling. So what do you know, I am all grown up, and now I am producing my second television program about the real lives of professional wrestlers. We just finished our television series called “Kardinal Sinners” (www.wrestlingwithreality.com) which is a show about the life struggles, passions, hurts and wins of being a professional wrestler on the road - truly an eye opening exploration into this misunderstood subculture. This photo was taken as I was interviewing pro wrestler Rick Doyle (a.k.a Trash Canyon) after he wrestled what he thought was the worst match of his life in a small town in the outskirts of Ottawa. This particular night was literally the end of an epic 5 year odyssey that he and his best friend Peter Smith (a.ka. Brodie Steele) had together trying to get their lives documented on television. A few hours after this photo was taken, the two friends had a very REAL fight outside the ring that led them to vow to never speak to each other again. The passion and drama that was captured in this television series is eye-opening and heart wrenching. You can watch episode one this Monday night at 9:30 AST on Rush HD (www.rushhd.ca). Who would have thought that I would go from building go carts and attending Boy Scout Jamborees as a kid, to hitting the road with testosterone filled, drama queen wrestlers…I love it.



"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #10" - Indonesian Haircut

Telegraph Journal Entry #10

April 11, 2009 – Indonesian Hair Cut

I was visiting a producer in Singapore to discuss a possible upcoming co-production that we both were keen on developing together. After a couple days of meetings, I left the bulk of my gear in Singapore, packed my video camera, and hopped on a small ferry that went from Singapore to a variety of small Indonesian islands. I had no idea where I was going, but decided to get off on an island called Bintam, an island where I am sure I was the only person who spoke English. Apparently this island is void of tourism because of alleged “safety” issues. I was sure that I had no danger to fear, what with all the machine guns, and watchful eyes of the Indonesian military at every street corner. A very kind woman saw me walking the streets, I was obviously out of place. She convinced me to hop in the car with her, she recognized me from the ferry. In very broken English, she told me it was unsafe for me to be walking in this area alone. So I got in her car, looked in the rear view mirror and realized how out of place I actually did look! Tall white guy with a beard, curly hair and backpack. As it turns out my new friend was a hair stylist from Singapore. She took me to her cousin’s dirt floored shanty that was converted into a beauty salon. I sat in the makeshift salon chair, laid back, and let the two women take the straight razor to me for a beard trim and a hair cut.

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #9" Venezuelan Horse

Telegraph Journal Entry #09

April 4, 2009 – Venezuelan Rocking Horse

We struggled with the customs officials at the port of the Venezuelan island, Isla Margarita. The armed soldiers went through the bags and boxes of toys, and food supplies, that we had gathered over the previous week to donate to a small orphanage. The orphanage sat in the valley of a lush mountain side village on the West side of the island. After paying some bribe money to the soldiers and after they selfishly had their choice pick of the “spoils”, we hopped on the bus with a smaller load and made it to the orphanage. I filmed the afternoon for a small documentary I was making about the experience. The children loved the toys, loved the attention, and loved the camera! The plastic toys that we brought to the orphans however were way less interesting to me than the ones they had already, like the rocking horse made from the skin of a real horse. I took this odd picture of the horse right before we said goodbye to our new young friends.




Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Organic Cooperative

The following is a few paragraphs of "written jam sessions" I had as I am preparing to write a contribution for an upcoming book about the history of the New Brunswick Filmmaker's Cooperative, an organization that I am a huge supporter and member of. Hope you enjoy!


THE ORGANIC COOPERATIVE


The New Brunswick Film Coop represents a few things to me.
1.Nostalgia. The film coop was, besides film school, the first film organization I was ever involved with.

2.Community. The collective of filmmakers and artists that make the coop’s heart beat is a true example of how a group of passionate and adventurous artists can just “make cool things happen”

3.Organic. The very foundation of co-operatives, whether farm co-ops, craft co-ops, grocery coops, or Mountain equipment co-ops is an organic phenomenon. People working together, pooling resources, sharing ideas, growing together. The NB Filmmakers co-op shouldn’t be left out of the list of definitive co-op experiences. The ORGANIC SOCIALIST’S CREATIVE ENGINE

When I started creating with the film medium, I was literally working with Silver Halide film. I didn’t have the luxuries of an Avid suite, or even a magnetic tape based AB roll system, I had an Aaton super 16mm film camera, a Nagra tape recorder, and a rugged old Steinbeck editing system. There was NOTHING like feeding the film through the heads of the flatbed editor, switching on the viewer, and slicing and splicing with razor and tape. The Steinbecks always had cigarette ash trays and drink holders. I, like many editors before me I am sure, developed a very functional dependence of red wine whilst editing my shorts and documentaries on these fantastic army tanks of editing tables, purely because the architects decided to add them it into the design!

I am now an “avid” Avid editor. I have edited with everything from Grass Valley, to Premier, to Final Cut and beyond. At the end of the day I have fallen in love with Avid, but I give all credit to my days of editing on a Steinbeck for the style and efficiencies of my current editing adventures. I have always said to people - when trying to describe my editing style - that I am an “organic” editor. I am not quite sure why, but this is the descriptor word that comes to mind when I think about the films I have spliced together. I rarely use any SFX, no glitz or glam (save for a few split screen and slow mos!). Don’t get me wrong, the fact of the matter is that I love watching shows with effects, and that are well polished. I just feel that if my “soul” were guiding my edits - not a client, other producers, or a budget - then I would edit shows in a simple and organic way. This has so much to do with my early years on the flat bed.

My experiences working in the film world in the middle of an industrial transition from linear to non linear digital editing is very similar to my experience with the film co-op transitioning into a careered producer. I feel that my sense of self, integrity, community, team work, passion and energy in my professional life as a producer, is a direct product of being a long time member of the New Brunswick Filmmaker’s Co-op.
The word organic, according to my experience and definition, describes fundamentalism, honesty, simplicity, integrity, and efficiency. Organic editing for me is the process of connecting my soul to the picture and sound in what I feel creates a divine spiritual experience identified as the creative experience. Organic also describes the community or the process that makes collectives like the New Brunswick Film Co-op a fundamental and foundational key to our creative human condition.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #8" - France Castle

Telegraph Journal Entry #8

March 29, 2009 – French Alp Castle

(Photo Credit: Andrew Tidby)

After an intense, winding, life threatening drive into the high altitudes of the French Alps, we found an amazing castle perched at the top of the highest mountain in viewable site. The 11th century castle ruins, that were perched above the mountain side village of Ch√Ęteauneuf, were in amazing condition. Sitting in the window frame of what was obviously the room where they kept a princess captive, my imagination spun out of control. I thought to myself, “How can I become part of the legacy of this castle?” So instead of leaving a coin, or a marking of some sort, I strategically left 3 of my business cards stuck into little nooks and crannies of the castle walls. If you want to find the castle (43°47'45.18"N and Long 7°17'42.48"E) and bring the cards back to me, I will buy you a glass of the best Pinot Noir!



Monday, April 6, 2009

“Jump into darkness, breath in life”

April 5th, 2009
(Halifax – Saint John) CUBED

What??? Has it been since the ECMA’s since I have flown in an airplane, AND written in my blog? Yes this indeed is the case. My heart was so broken at my demotion in frequent flyer point class, that I decided to just not travel by plane any more. I might as well make a point right? So now I am subjected to driving from point A to point B in our Subaru Impreza (with a Thule ski rack on the roof that has no skis in it, but it looks cool right?)

The real reason for my lack of flying is that I am very close to seeing the creation of my child, wait a minute, I guess she was created 8 months ago, maybe I should say “the final brush stroke”, or “the great pop!” of my soon to be born daughter. WHAHOO! Yes, Jessica, the woman I love, and I are bringing a child into this world. I’m glad that George Bush the 2nd is no longer around, it is way better that Peanut Hemmings is being born into a world where the United States of America has a black president (finally!), and where Canada has legalized medical marijuana and legal gay marriages. What a strange concept…LEGAL gay marriages, was there ever a time that it was ILLEGAL to be gay? That’s kind of funny.

Sadly Peanut is being born into a time when the Canadian television industry is falling apart, and daddy can’t seem to find any more TV shows to shoot after his current “Kardinal Sinners” wrestling show…but in the end…who cares! We are ALIVE! We are AWAKE! We are in LOVE! In love with life, in love with human experience, in love with adventure. The economic black hole we are living in currently is like a waterslide that shoots you into an enclosed tunnel at high speeds in complete darkness, you have no idea where the next bend is, how fast you are going, or where you are going to pop out or see light again. But man is it ever fun to scream at the top of your lungs and hear your own echo and just trust that the gravity powered water flows shoot you out in one piece, and alive!

I tried to stop calling this blog the Airplane Journals a while back, but I found myself still writing these posts on planes or in airports, except for tonight. Tonight is my mom’s 62nd birthday, she is still very young in my mind, and has the potential to live many more fruitful and adventure filled years if she chooses. I have the best mom in the world, and dad for that matter. They put up with me jamming in the basement with loud drums, over powered bass guitars, and out of tune Ibanez electric guitars attempting Metallica “Ride the Lightning” covers for many years. They put up with a multitude of beat up VW vans in the driveway with oil that would spill out and eat the pavement in the hot sun, and decrease property values. They would put up with me bringing home mass amounts of garbage at spring cleaning; odds and ends, windows, doors, bike frames…all to add to our giant tree house in the back woods that kept me and the boyz busy day and night for years growing up…I have good parents. I want to make sure that they live. LIVE! LIFE! LOVE! LIVES! Spoons, forks and knives! Pick it up and run, jump off that cliff, hit the white water, climb to the peak…RUN!

Let’s rewind a bit. I need to write this quickly because I need to hit the hay, gotta get up early in the morning and drive back to Hali. Tomorrow is a big day. Bigger than today, but smaller than the next day for sure. I have traveled a lot on rubber the last month and a half. Jessica and I came up a few weeks ago for a wonderful baby shower that our friend Judith hooked up for us at her and her partner’s incredible home in Saint John. Man the South End has some stellar properties. We drove straight back. That week we rocked Kardinal Sinners, got 2 episodes out to the broadcaster, the show looks amazing. The Dolby 5.1 mix and the color correction are truly wonderful. No kidding, we have a hit here, and our man Andrew MacCormack deserves all the credit, he is truly making this project shine in the post production. I’m super excited to have it premier at the end of April on RUSH HD.

The next weekend we filmed an incredible concert in Moncton with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and Matt Andersen, WOW! That’s all I can say, WOW! What a cool experience. We have 2 jib cranes, a stedicam, and 4 other cameras. My man James Shaw multitracked the whole concert, we are going to make a stellar DVD out of this performance. Our team made me proud, we all worked together like clockwork. Really nice to see the groove being cut. Doors were opened filming this show. Doors that will hopefully take me to Venezuela in the near future. More on that soon. Lots of travel in the near future, but I have had to say no to the opportunities in preparations for the newest member of the Hemmings family.

My short film Papikatuk got to the final levels of the Vision Commonwealth Awards in England, that’s going to be great, it also was selected at a German youth film festival and they invited me to come, but it is right during the week that Jessica is due. Federica from Italy also wanted to hire me to come to England for a corporate shoot first of May, but no…Peanut is grounding me literally and figuratively. Ichy Ichy Eye Yi! Venezuela! My last time to that country I remember trying to get toys and supplies to an orphanage but the corrupt government officials stole most of the stuff before we got it to the kids. Karma must not be awake in South America these days. I’ll report on that soon.

The day after the NBYO / Matt Andersen filming I drove up to Freddy Beach, actually past Freddy Beach to Durham Bridge. I was up there to film an incredible story of cancer…of life, of destruction, of hope, of transformation. I will go into more detail of the this story in the near future, its far too intense for me to write about right now, I need time to collect my thoughts on it and present it properly. The basics are that my new friend Julie fell in love with an old friend of mine named Randy Cable who was diagnosed and died of cancer a few years back. Randy and I go way back working on various feature films and tripping on various road trips to see shows, like Bela Fleck in Portland, and Flying Boat in Fredericton! (Love ya Ross Neilson!!!). Julie fell in love with Randy pretty much on Randy’s death bed. Her story is inspiring, emotional, and engaging. I loved Randy as a brother…a creative great in my books. It was an honor to film and interview Julie’s story of her journey with Cancer, and her love story with Randy. Hearing how Randy finally died is so touching and emotional. WOW. Double You, OH, Double You!

Cancer transformed Julie’s life…she found enlightenment from the darkest depths of hell. Do we need to go jump that far into darkness to find the light? I hope not. But in Julie’s case she did, and the refiner’s fire branded her into a new creation. A new realm of spirit and of body. After I finished filming Julie with Lauchlan and our intern Nick, and after we pulled Lauchlan’s car out of the ditch after a miscalculated turn on his behalf, I drove back to Halifax. On the drive I counted 64 deer grazing on the side of the highway, very beautiful. I contemplated Randy and Julie and realized that I need to start living. I know that sounds clich√©, but its true, we are so FINITE! We need to seize the scene, we have to live. My mom and dad and brother and sister in law, and wife, and extended family and friends, and neighbors and enemies, ALL NEED TO WAKE UP and listen, watch and feel the frequency of life. Yes yes yes. Life’s frequency…the ohm. OHHHHHHHHM. The ohm drone, the beat of the heart drum, the white noise of rain and wind, breathe. Laugh. Cry. “My tremolo, sweet baby, my fire, my desire, fire”. Yes I am listening to Daniel Lanois again. What’s with this guy anyway?

I don’t practice what I am preaching. I don’t live. I coast. I need to wake up and jump off the cliff. I need to buy a wing suite and fly at 200 mph and see the world from the eye of a fast flying bird. Cancer and darkness can be curse, or blessedness. This video project will take me to many different patience, survivors, and warriors of cancer. I can’t wait to be lifted and inspired by these mystical people. Those who have chosen to embrace the dark adventure and jump into the dark cave and see where it ends up are operating on a different life frequency. Randy… I love you brother, you have inspired me in your sickness, in your death. We all miss you, your legacy has lived on and you will not be forgotten. Your adventure into darkness and Julie’s adventure into the same blackness will continue to change lives. Martyr you are. RISE AND SHINE.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #7" - Belize Film School

Telegraph Journal Entry #7


Introduction

March 21, 2009 – Belize

(Photo Credit: Amy Stewart)

My friend Amy took this picture of me while we were in Belize on an adventure with the Saint John Vineyard Christian Fellowship. The south end community church (also my church when I am home) went to Belize on a short term missionary trip to help serve the community by building sidewalks, visiting orphanages and distributing food to the needy. I filmed a documentary about the experience. In this picture, we were visiting a small school where I was encouraging the young students to creatively shine by sharing their stories and expressing themselves through my camera! You can check out the documentary at www.factualtv.com, then type in Psalm 67 in the search


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