Sunday, July 5, 2009

“And the Vision Award goes to……………”

June 25th, 2009

Artist: Amadou
Album: Welcome to Mali

Africa Unite! African music sucks the tears right out of my musically sensitive emotion filled head…what did Bob Marley do to me? Every time I hear Reggae I get shivers, now I’m branching out to the new wave of African vibes…CHECK THIS ALBUM OUT!!! Amadou is an incredible band that is on the edge of the new wave. The first song on the album reminds me of an East Indian meets African version of Metric with lots of Korg synch loops, mixed with a bit of Sigur Ros droney electric guitar waves. The next song “Ce N’est Pas Bon” is far more African with great vocals and K-Os style electric guitar. Sets the tone perfectly for this blog.

I am flying home now, I am somewhere close to Iceland. All I can say is WHAT A WEEK. Can I keep this short I’m not sure, let’s see where the spirit leads. I need to take a quick red wine break…mmm, wine out of a plastic bottle, classy and tasty!

When I arrived in England on Monday, my friend Gary Davis and I checked into the hotel. Gary is the father of one of my great friends Anthony from growing up. Gary is the vice chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Canada. He was the one who encouraged me to submit my film into the Vision Awards. The Vision Awards accepted over 200 films this year and mine made it to the top 3! Very prestigious award as it turns out! It is actually the most diverse global film award on Earth representing 53 countries, that’s way more than the Oscars or any other film award that I am aware of.

I spent the first few days exploring the city with Gary and his brother Allen, a very cool cat who works on the creative edge of Price Waterhouse Coopers. He designed a thing for the film industry tax credit system called the Big Table for Film and Television. I am excited to check it out actually! I hooked up a few meetings, one with ITV Channel 4 for Kardinal Sinners, and a great lunch meeting with Cineflix for possible distribution of Kardinal Sinners. I am holding this show close to the heart as we HAVE to find the right fit to champion this show for us. It is CRUCIAL that we take this show to the next level. I also met with Trevor Showler from Big Red Sky Pictures and his partner Oliver (who is currently a head of department on Ridley Scott’s current film “Robin Hood”. Trevor and I have met multiple times all by coincidence, starting on the elevator for the Supernatural Investigators Chaos Magick shoot in a hotel in Chicago. Elevator doors open, and there is a hallway of new doors to try to walk through,, this is what I love about life, choose your own adventure! As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we have Andrew working for Trevor and Oli right now on their garbage home show. Andrew is in Montana somewhere right now learning more than he ever learned before and probably getting his ass kicked as he is a one man crew. YOU CAN DO IT ANDREW!!! Thrown in the fire bro! We had drinks in the hipster East End and ended the night with Spanish Tapas in a market that I forget the name of, but it had the sound of “Spittle Market”, I know that’s not it, but check it out, its off Commercial street, can’t miss it!

So last night I show up to the Commonwealth Club for the awards dinner, it was riddled with fancy people! This was truly an honor of honors just being there. I had a chance to sit with some great people at my table, including the deputy high chancellor. Lord David Putnam who used to run Columbia Pictures, and who won an Oscar for “Chariots of Fire”, amongst many other films like “The Killing Fields” was our keynote and when he called me up for first place I was caught off guard! I WON! Amazing! The runner up was a fantastic animation called “Mooo Moo”. It was very tough competition! It was a great night, I was glowing. I was on CBC radio before the awards, and again this morning to tell of the great news of the win!

Here is the press release!

NEWS: Canadian wins 2008 Commonwealth Vision Awards

A Canadian film about Inuit boy’s views on climate change and cultural transformation wins prestigious Commonwealth film prize.

Greg Hemmings, a young Canadian film-maker, won First Prize in this year’s Commonwealth Vision Awards at a ceremony held at the Commonwealth Club in London . The Awards, open to filmmakers under 35 across the 53 member states of the Commonwealth, is now in its eighth year. This year’s prize was presented by Lord David Puttnam, the Academy Award winning filmmaker.

Hemmings’ entry ‘Papikatuk’, looks at the effects of climate change and cultural transformation in a small community in the Canadian Arctic region of Nunavik. It is narrated by a young Inuit boy named Papikatuk.

The second prize Pooja Pottenkulam of India/UK and Ambjorn Elder of UK/Sweden received the Highly Commended prize, for their joint entry in the competition, ‘The Boy Who Spoke Moomoo’, an animated and allegorical story, illustrating how according to reports by UNESCO, that by 2100 half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth may disappear, many without ever being recorded or documented, resulting in a wealth of knowledge about human nature, history, culture and the natural environment, also vanishing. Four other short-listed entries came from Uganda , India , South Africa and the United Kingdom .

Lord David Puttnam, presenter of this year’s Award, said:

“This innovative award encourages talent across the Commonwealth, with themes that provoke and stimulate creative films and to date, have helped convey the Commonwealth message in an exciting and imaginative way.”

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah , Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said:

“Greg Hemmings’ film is a poignant and beautiful account of how rapidly the world is changing, climatically and culturally, for communities around the world.

Greg saw off some stiff competition. This year’s entries showcase the best of filmmaking around the Commonwealth but also highlight the inspiring ways that young people across the Commonwealth are addressing the many challenges that face them.

Not many film competitions can boast finalists from Canada , India , South Africa , Uganda and UK – a testament to the diversity of the modern Commonwealth.”

Notes to Editors

The prestigious Commonwealth Vision Awards, launched in 2001, are jointly organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society ( and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association ( Filmmakers across the 53 Commonwealth countries are invited to send proposals for a short film (3-4 minutes) on this year’s theme (‘Global challenges and the new generation’). A judging panel, chaired by Keshini Navaratnam (former BBC World presenter) and including broadcasting experts and representatives of Commonwealth organisations, commissions a short-list of films and a final top prize is awarded each year.

The Awards are supported by Warburg Pincus, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Council, the Commonwealth Foundation, and the BBC World Service.

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) is the oldest and largest civil society organization devoted to the Commonwealth. Founded in 1868, the RCS conducts a range of events and activities aimed at promoting international understanding. It is an independent registered charity that has its headquarters at the Commonwealth Club in London , some 5000 UK members and a presence in some 40 Commonwealth countries through a network of branches and Commonwealth societies.

Lord David Puttnam is one of the world’s leading film producers, whose credits include Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, Chariots of Fire (which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), Memphis Belle, The Killing Fields and The Mission (which won the Palme d'Or). He was Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Pictures from 1986 to 1988. He was awarded a CBE in 1983, was knighted in 1995 and was created a life peer in 1997, as Baron Puttnam, of Queensgate.

The winning entry can be viewed at

Photographs from the ceremony are available from Alice Kawoya (contact below).

The format for next year’s awards will change as they are to be included in the new Young Commonwealth Competitions being launched in 2010. More information and entry forms will be available from November 2009.


Alice Kawoya, Project Manager
Phone: +44(0) 20 7766 9206
The Royal Commonwealth Society
25 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AP
Reg. Charity No: 226748


June 25th, 2009

Artist: Tosca
Album: Hassle

I need to start this blog post by giving props to Air Canada (pardon the airplane pun). If you have been following my blog you would remember that I lost my Aeroplan Elite status. This means that poor ole Greg couldn’t get into the executive lounge, couldn’t get the free drinks, couldn’t arrogantly walk past everyone in line and have priority boarding, you know, all the stuff I used to be spoiled with. Well I did an experiment, and I think it worked…if you work for Air Canada and are reading this, and then I would like to buy you a beer!

I had a chat with social media guru David Alston of Radian 6 a couple months ago in Halifax; he was explaining to me exactly what it was that Radian 6 actually did. I know they are always on Twitter, and are true digital media renegades, but I was still not totally sure what their products were. David explained that they have a very edgy product that tracks info on the web similar to Google Alerts, but far more robust of course. For those who don’t know what Google Alerts are, check them out…if you are interested in seeing if anyone is writing about you anywhere on the internet, then you can enter your name in Google Alerts and you will get a notification every time your name is mentioned. Or if you were a company like Air Canada, and you wanted to know if there were bloggers bitching about loosing their Elite status, then something like Google Alerts would be very beneficial for you. Google Alerts is a very elementary product however in comparison to Radian 6’s product. I am not about to explain their product to you because I have no clue of what else to say, but if David Alston or any one of our friends at Radian 6 get a notification about my mentioning of you, please feel free to explain in the comments field in this blog! Let’s see this in action!!!

When I wrote that initial Air Canada blog, I made sure that I used tags that would help me make sure that someone from Air Canada would find the blog; I used words like “Air Canada”, “Maple Leaf Lounge”, “Aeroplan”, “Elite Status” etc. I was hoping someone from the marketing team at Air Canada would read it, feel pity for my case and re-upgrade me back to my sacred Elite status…hey don’t roll your eyes at me, this is serious stuff…when you travel, and have the privileges and the ability to go into a comfy room with comfy leather chairs, free scotch, internet, food and a shower, you can’t imagine travelling any other way! Can’t you see? Its like my brother Mark who was always an incredible snowboarder, when he rode out West in the powder fields of the Rockies, he had a very hard time snowboarding again on our dinky east coast hills. I can relate with him! Ok, I’m just being a spoiled brat, but I love travelling in comfort.

So what happened? Well I show up at the airport Sunday night, got to the ticket counter, and as it turns out I have my ELITE STATUS BACK!!! I don’t know how it happened but it did! The magical Aeroplan Fairy must have paid me a visit whilst I was asleep. I am impressed! I proudly walked into the Maple Leaf lounge, tipped my hat at the staff at the front desk and poured myself a glass of Port, brewed an espresso, and ate a pickle…breathe it in baby! I might not have this forever! I also got an upgrade to the blue lit “Tron”-styled comfy pod beds in first class, there is nothing like stretching out 6 feet and having a full nights sleep on a red eye. Out like a light after the stewardess welcomed me with a glass of Champagne.

I have a theory that some social networking savvy cat from Air Canada read my blog, and gave me my Elite status back….to that I sad “RAD!!!”. Thank you! Hey, if you are the Air Canada guy or gal who hooked me up, let me know in the comments area, I want to prove that tag words work. If Air Canada never did read my blog, then I think Radian 6 should give them a call and get them to read my blog and sell them their product…I can see the POWER!!! The power of communication on the web never ceases to amaze me. TARGET THAT MARKET!

"A week teeter tottering between provinces"

June 21, 2009

Artist: Ziggy Marley
Album: Family Time

I am now going to start titling my blog entries with my journal writing “sound track”. Music in the air as I fly is the great seed that grows my madly scattered experiences into semi focused ramblings. Ziggy Marley just released an INCREDIBLE children’s album called Family Time. It is a fantastic album. You don’t need to be a kid to love this album; I can’t stop listening to it. There is a song called “Cry Cry Cry” which has lyrics that tells that sometimes Ziggy needs to go on long trips far away from his child…I can relate now. Travelling is part of my DNA, but wow I didn’t realize the emotion involved in having a baby and not being close to her. Baby Kaiya is the blessing of blessings truly a gift from the MOST HIGH!!! This blog post is in honor of her.

I am flying across “the pond” to London England now to go to the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Vision Awards for my film Papikatuk. Papikatuk is a film that came from the footage that Federica and I shot for our film called Melting Lands. It is now in the top 3 of a couple hundred film submissions, pretty amazing honor just to get this far. Oh, here is the press release that was in the Telegraph Journal:


New Brunswick Filmmaker is finalist for Commonwealth Vision Award
Saint John, New Brunswick June 17, 2009

Saint John filmmaker Greg Hemmings, of Hemmings House Pictures, is one of three finalists for the prestigious 2009 Commonwealth Vision Award. Competition for the award was open to filmmakers up to age 35 from 53 Commonwealth countries. Hemmings was encouraged to enter the competition by then-Chairman of the New Brunswick Branch of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Gary Davis. “I have seen the quality of Greg’s work and I knew he would have a very good chance in this competition”, Davis said. Hemmings’ film made the first cut to 15 in 2008, and then was selected as one of the final three in May of this year.

The Commonwealth Vision Award is supported by investment banker Warburg Pincus, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Foundation, the British Council, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the BBC World Service. The winning film will be broadcast nationally in the United Kingdom on BBC Channel 4.

The competition celebrates a different theme every year. This year it is “Global Changes for the Next Generation”. Hemmings’ film, “Papikatuk” was shot in the arctic. The narrator, Papikatuk, is an 8 year old Inuit boy who travels with his grandfather, Lukasi, and he learns the traditional ways of living off the land. Lukasi is worried that the world is changing so fast. He is afraid that he may be “teaching his grandson the wrong things to survive in this changing world”.

The Royal Commonwealth Society is an international educational charity. Working to inspire and engage young people, the RCS promotes understanding of the modern Commonwealth. As an educator, it encourages young people to develop their skills, to realize their ambitions and, to engage with key challenges facing the international community. It also provides a platform for leading voices across politics, media, the arts, academia and business. The RCS has 11 branches and a national office in Canada. Gary Davis is national vice-chairman.

Greg Hemmings has been producing documentaries for over 10 years in many parts of the world. “It is a real honor to have one of my films honored at such a prestigious event. I am very excited to represent New Brunswick in London this week”. The winner will be announced on Wednesday June 24th at the Commonwealth Club in London, England. Academy Award Winning producer Lord David Putnam (Chariots of Fire) will be keynote speaker at the event.

Contact: Greg Hemmings
Telephone: 902-240-6785

So let’s rewind a bit. A week ago we flew back home from Banff. Jessica and my little lady Kaiya did amazing on the plane.

Kaiya celebrated her 4th week of life in Banff, quite an accomplishment for such a young little angel. We got home Saturday. Sunday morning the three of us hopped into the car to head to our new church…the beach!

We still go to the Vineyard church, but lately we have been getting our coffees and cruising to some of Nova Scotia’s best sandy beaches for our own time of prayer, meditation and thanksgiving. We are so thankful that we are here and healthy and alive. Anyway, this Sunday we went to a beach called Crystal Crescent Beach. This beach is actually a collection of three sandy beaches. We saw a huge whale, listened to the waves, said a prayer of thanks, and Jessica fed Kaiya. On a side note breast feeding is a crazy experience, Jess is doing so amazing, but what a fully life changing experience. The responsibility of always being able to feed a baby at any random part of the day or night can be taxing. Jess has had to change her whole life to accommodate this and I am so grateful for this.

We decided to take a walk and explore the other 2 beaches. Beautiful little hike over a small boardwalk. We finally got to the third beach. I said to Jess, “babe, there is a naked guy over there!”, she didn’t believe me, she thought it was just a guy in his bathing suit, but it wasn’t…wait there was another, and another! We were on a nude beach! Ha-ha, it was hilarious! We had no idea this place even existed! The nudists were really nice engaging us in small talk. We sat down on the beach, and laughed at the experiences Kaiya has had since she was born in the last 4 weeks.

Kaiya has:

1. Experience birth “from the inside”
2. Kicked it back in the ole jaundice tanning bed for a few days
3. Hung out at the Economy Shoe Shop in Halifax
4. Had a late night back deck party hangin with a bunch of ma and pa’s friends
5. Went on major hikes
6. Flew to Banff
7. Went to a dance bar
8. Went to a nude beach
9. Travelled to Moncton for Awards event
10. Travelled to Saint John for a party in her honor

The last two points are the next part of my little blog post. The next day after our visit to the nude beach / church I had to drive to Saint John for the day, 4 hours each way. I went to pitch our services to a pretty significant client. We are hoping we can get the gig. I missed Kaiya so much I had to drive right back. The next day the three of us drive to Moncton because I was honored with the nomination for the New Brunswick Earnst and Young entrepreneur of the year award! We were VERY late, when we arrived to the Delta I walked through the doors and they just called my name to go up and accept my nomination certificate. Most of the HHP crew and my dad drove down from Saint John to be there in support as well! It is always touching to have such stellar support. Oh by the way we must welcome our latest members to the Hemmings House Pictures team!

1. My brother Mark Hemmings! (Yia Yia!)
2. Andrew “Beans” Embury (Hells yeah!)
3. Jenny McLean (Boo-ya!)
4. Greg Knudson (put your hands in tha air!)
5. Nicky Nuts Leblanc (wave em like you just don’t care!)

Jess and I drove back to Hali that night, we brought Lauchlan with us, he was heading down to New York with one of our fav ladies / actress extraordinaire Suzanne Hawkins. After a week end in New York City, Lock will be joining Beans and David Alston from Radian 6 to film and deliver a Radian 6 presentation that we all hope is going to seriously kick ass. Check out Radian 6 online at they are leading the social media revolution, we are honored to be partnered with them to help produce for their video explorations and experiments in the new media playground.

While those cats are in Boston, Andrew MacCormack is in Montana filming for the Discovery Channel series that we are hoping to co-produce with my ole friend Trevor from the UK. If you go back in this blog to last summer when I was in Chicago and I met a guy named Trevor who worked for BBC, then I met him again in Washington at Realscreen, well this is the same guy. We sent Andrew down to New Mexico a few weeks ago to start filming this very cool show with them. The show is about a team of guys who build incredible homes out of garbage…wild! Andrew will be rockin it for a few weeks, when I go to London next week I hope to meet with Trevor again, hopefully over a pint in the East End!

I spent one day at the office on Thursday, I feel like I am neglecting our kickin’ office space at Power Post this summer, but I guess being busy is a good thing right? Thursday night we packed the car and headed back to the Delta in Moncton. The next morning I had an all day meeting with other New Brunswick producers and Film New Brunswick about the state of the industry. It was a production discussion. We don’t know where the future is, one thing we do know though is new media is now an integral component to the survival of content producers. After the sessions, Jess, Kaiya and I stopped off at Mark Savoie’s Postman studio, man Mark is doing great over there. Real fantastic spot, you should check out his new lighting!!! Great ambiance!

After a very quick visit we cranked the tunes, Kaiya pooped herself, we changed her, then drove south to Surf City Saint John for our 4:30 pm release party / screening of Airplane Journals! I can’t believe that we have almost seen the end of this project! We are so close! We had a great turn out at our new office, the new office is amazing! It’s huge and super cool. Great environment to work in, I look forward to when I move back to hang there, we have a kitchen, beer fridge, and balcony, everything you need in an office! It was very cool to see Airplane Journals again, we really have as a company gone a long way in a few years, in the film you see me start Hemmings House Pictures as one guy, to a much bigger and busier company. We now we have 7 full time employees plus a few other part timers and interns! Coach Dave from Vision Coaching has so much to do with the growth and success of our company, many props Dave and Vision!!! If you are in business and want to stretch, I highly encourage you to contact the coaches at Vision, great results! The adventure of growing and molding and stretching!

Diversion…there is an Indian family in the seats next to me as I write this blog post on the plane, they have a newborn, man I am changed! I need to get back home as fast as possible! I have 2 heart melting ladies awaiting me after this trip…

After a very successful night at Hemmings House world headquarters Jess, Kaiya and I headed back to nanny and grampy Hemmings’ place for a drink on the back deck (a place of good memories and peace!) and had an early night. The next day Jess and I looked at a new house and property up on Highland Road (I am in love with this house); it butts against my other piece of property which is the cliff face waterfront piece that runs up the Saint John River from Reversing Falls. I WILL turn that land into something one of these days!

We then my folks had a party for Kaiya at their place, lots of family friends, beers and cheers! Welcoming a new life can be overwhelming but it is so good to see the love of everyone and see the magic that babies have on adults! Kaiya has probably been in the hands of over a hundred people already, I don’t think that I am exaggerating! The next morning we made a father’s day breakfast that was HUGE and tasty then hit the road back to Halifax. We put in a lot of kms this week! Jess dropped me off 4 hours later at the Halifax airport where I met Gary Davis at the Maple Leaf Lounge to get ready for our red eye flight to England for a few days of meetings, explorations, and awards celebrations! ENERGY!!! I NEED SOME MORE!!!

This is a picture of me...yes I am going bald.

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #19" Rockies Avelanche

Telegraph Journal entry #19

“Rocky Mountain Avalanche”

Photo Credit: Andrew Tidby

Spring time in the Rocky Mountains is a magical time. There is still plenty of snow, but the sun beats hot, and all you want to do is take your shirt off and lay on the snow to get a tan just for the sake of irony. Filmmaker Andrew Tidby and I were hiking as far up as we could with our camera gear to film time lapses of clouds, mountains and sun positions. Despite the warm sun, it was quite windy and cool when we got to the point in the climb where we could go no further. As I was filming this panoramic view of the valley below, we were both startled with a sound similar to that of a giant bomb exploding a few hundred feet away. We both looked around surprised to see a massive avalanche of snow racing down the mountain side. We were almost too close for comfort, but the awareness of nature’s power was awesome. We hiked back down the mountain to where we our camp was set up for a good night’s sleep before another big day of mountain adventure!

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #18" Barbadoes Cliff Jumping

“Barbados Cliff Jump”

Telegraph Journal entry #18

I have always had a love for heights. Growing up I would constantly be climbing trees, hiking mountains, exploring roof tops of abandoned General Hospitals! My love for heights comes from my desire to see new landscapes, have new perspectives, and of course, have adrenaline rushes! One of my favourite summertime hangout spots when I was in high school was a place we called the Hole at Silver Falls on the East side of the city, close to the Irving refinery. Silver Falls has an incredible cliff that at its highest point measures about 30 feet. My friends and I would spend days on end jumping off that cliff into a very shallow pool of water at the bottom of the falls. I am sure that now at 200 pounds, jumping that cliff would lead to many broken bones! As an adult I seem to have tamed my lust for adrenaline. I was working in Barbados and found this incredible cliff on the East side of the island. Jumping off the rock face into the warm Atlantic brought back that thrill that I have not had since the days at the Hole.

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #17" Banff Baby Iphone

Telegraph Journal entry #17

June 10, 2009
Banff, Alberta
“Banff Business with Baby”

Photo Credit: Jessica Hemmings

Less than 4 weeks ago we brought our new baby Kaiya into the world, and since day one, she has experienced more in live than I probably have in all of year one of mine! Last week I had to leave her for 6 days as I was in Venezuela shooting a documentary. I ended up missing Kaiya (and my wife Jessica of course!) more than I had expected I would. When I arrived home, I convinced Jessica to fly out the next morning with the baby, to join me on my trip to the Banff International Television Festival. This way I wouldn’t have to miss my new little family! We made the 6 hour flight with out a peep from the 25 day old “filmmaker to be”. The conference was an interesting one this year. The traditional global broadcasting industries are falling apart before our eyes, they seem to be moving backwards as the universal digital space is taking major leaps forward. Jessica thought it would be funny to act like paparazzi and take this picture of me outside the conference at the Banff Springs Hotel with I-phone on the ear, and baby carriage on the hand. When people tell me that having a new born brings your life and business to a halt, I now can tell them that they aren’t trying hard enough!

"Postcards from Greg Hemmings #16" Venezuelan El Sistema

Telegraph Journal Entry #16

June 5, 2009

Caracas, Venezuela

“El Caracas Sistema”

Photo Credit: Mark Hemmings

I brought my brother Mark and one of my crew Lauchlan Ough on my latest documentary expedition to Caracas Venezuela. Mark took this photo as Lauchlan and I were swarmed by excited young musicians as we rolled an interview on a brilliant 6 year old violinist. The documentary is about a revolutionary after school classical music program called “El Sistema”. This program has over 300,000 kids starting as young as two years of age. The children who are part of El Sistema are not only becoming world class musicians, but also world class citizens. This segment of the documentary follows Ken MacLeod from the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, David Adams from the Saint John String Quartet, and David Hawkins from communications firm Couleur NB, as they explore how the Venezuelan government and private sectors support such a robust music program that creates such positive social change. The goal is to bring the “system” to New Brunswick. El Sistema has transformed the lives of so many children who may have otherwise had no opportunities in life. Poverty does not only exist in far away developing countries, it is right in our backyard in New Brunswick. Music has the transformational power to inspire and empower the underprivileged youth population in our province. Classical music sounds much sweeter to me today as I write this postcard in the Air Canada Lounge in Toronto reflecting on this amazing week of musical discovery!

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