Making It Personal

I feel like my blogging has changed since I began making my personal website more of an all-purpose corporate/personal website. I catch myself NOT saying some things about my life. I’m thinking more about who is reading this, and a lot less about how to express myself. As a result, I’ve become less interested in blogging on a regular basis.

Maybe I say ‘fuckit’ and just write what I want anyway. You want to work with me, you might as well see who I am, warts and all.

Maybe I just stop thinking about my audience altogether? I noticed a subtle shift in my thinking when I moved my blog from Apple’s iWeb server to WordPress. Suddenly my stuff was much more searchable and accessible to the world. I prefer my personal blog live in obscurity in most cases, but on the other hand, it’s nice to be read by people I don’t even know. What is the internet, if not a vast sea of anonymous people creeping on each other from a safe distance?

I guess I could shift my corporate stuff to a revamped Dacian site. The two sides of me used to be kept safely apart in publicly viewable spaces. Philosophically though, I think I’ve been moving towards something more unified. I am a writer and a filmmaker and a Jarrett.

Branding wise, this may cause confusion for people. It certainly isn’t quite ordered neatly in my mind either, but it feels like something I’m into. Gives my work a face and a heart to go with the resume and demo reel.

Once upon a time, Dacian had over 20 employees, depending on what we were doing production wise. We were pursuing corporate projects and TV projects, and sometimes, I wasn’t even the frontline contact on those projects. It made sense to keep things separate.

And what do I do now with my dusty old Dacian site? There must be some purpose it can serve. Perhaps that’s what’s going on with my headspace this morning. It feels like it’s time to address it, reshape it, rethink it, and/or otherwise deal with it. Perhaps in the coming weeks, the solution will simply come to me.

In the meantime I’m going to recommit to expressing myself in my personal blog, in a much more deeper, personal level.

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Solo on Sunday

Feeling a strong hankering to check in with myself this morning.

I’m sitting in the shade, out front of my place. Gerrard Street East bustles. The odd neighbour walks by. I can hear John, Fiona, and Kathy in their living room, attempting to train their dog Milo how to not be a dick.

I’m trying to decide what to make of the day. At 6pm I’m teaching a photography workshop in the Distillery District – which gives me 8 hours to come up with something else to do in the meantime.

Jazzy spent the day yesterday prepping photos for a project I need to complete within the next few days. I could get on that.

I could, but I don’t really feel like it. Something about today, a sunny warm Sunday, that suggests I save the editing for Monday.

So what to do?

Writing perhaps? Reading? Wandering aimlessly?

Jazz didn’t leave the house yesterday. Instead she sunk roots deeper into our new home. Organized her room. Frittered on the internet. Completed the aforementioned photo prep I had her working on. I think all this excitement, moving around, and activity had her feeling a strong need to spend the day by herself.

I invited her to take in a football game with me in a neighbourhood pub, but she was looking forward to being alone for a spell. John joined me instead.

The Riders won by the way.

This morning, Jazz woke up early, got herself ready, and took the subway to a church she researched on the internet – her first Toronto solo outing as a resident. I guess that’s a metaphor for something too.

I’m going to clean up the place, go for a shower, and find a wander up and down Kingston Road. A number of really cool shops can be found along there. Perhaps one of ’em will offer me a place to sit and read for a few hours.

Day 2 With A Song

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Day 2 of life with Jazzy continued along a serendipitous vibe. It has been remarkable in that it has been so typical of my life here in TO. We didn’t set out to do anything special, we just showed up to make the most of it.

Day 1 concluded with an invitation from John, Fiona, and Kathy to their games night downstairs in their apartment. Jazzy fit right in with the group. She didn’t feel like a kid playing with grown-ups. She just felt like Jazzy being Jazzy. We played cards, and wrapped things up with a game of Catan.

We woke up yesterday morning to a pot of coffee and no food in the fridge. She showered and I surfed the web. When she got out, I gave her money and sent her to the grocery store (one block away). Told her simply to bring back whatever she figures we need.

Later, I got Jazzy started on some photoshop work that needed doing for a client video. Printed out a timesheet for her to keep track of her hours, trained her for half an hour, then left her alone. I figure this is a great way for her to make some money, while at the same time, keeping it all in the family.

Aubree texted me an hour later. She had an audition for the lead role in The Evil Dead lined up, and need a place to stay. When she arrived, she needed a keyboard (of the musical variety) to rehearse with, so we knocked on John’s door and he lent us his. Within minutes, Aubree was serenading us with musical numbers.

I still needed to get some work done, so I packed up my computer and found an Irish pub three blocks from home. Jazz stayed behind to hang out with Aubree.

When I returned three hours later, we invited John, Fiona, and Kathy up. We wound up reading Room 31 together, then watched an episode of the original Battlestar Galactica, cheese and all.

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This morning featured more serenading from Aubree as she prepared for her audition today. Jazzy has really taken a liking to her. The two have been inseparable.

Jazz will be coming with me to the Argos’ game today. I’m going to be doing some kind of story on the team. I’m excited to have her there with me. Couldn’t think of a better way to cap Day 3.

Blue Moon

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Once in a Blue Moon, a little girl named Jazzy comes to live with her father in Toronto, to spend the next four years of her life, learning how to be a grown-up. She might be sorely disappointed with the maturity content of her new home.

They’re calling the full moon hanging over Toronto last night, a Blue Moon. It’s not actually blue technically speaking, but rather, it’s the third full moon in a season that’s expected to have four of ’em. Jazzy isn’t technically a little girl anymore either, but I still see her that way. At 14, she’s showing a wisdom beyond her years. There’s got to be some kind of a metaphor, voodoo, juju symbolism over this happenstance. I’m choosing to allow time to dictate the meaning of it all.

The car ride over from Saskatchewan was a gooder, as far as long road trips go. Aubree just finished a contract in Saskatchewan, and the timing for her return to Ontario was perfect. We spent the night in Ironwood, Michigan. Had a picnic in Mackinac City. After dropping Aubree off along the way, we arrived at our home in Toronto at 1am.

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Jazzy and I spent the morning unpacking. She began putting her room together, and started a list of things we need for the apartment. It ranged from air fresheners for the bathroom, to a mattress for her bedroom.

She met Kirk this morning and sat down with John & Fionna this afternoon, just before we took off for a walk through the ravine to Queen Street East. We’re now sitting in a restaurant. My nose is buried in my laptop, and Jazzy has hers in my phone (she forgot hers at home).

Home. I’m still getting used to the idea that she’s not just visiting. My beautiful little girl is living with me now.

John, Fionna & Kathy have organized a games night tonight. It’ll be just about the most perfect way I can think of to mark our first full day of Toronto residency together.

Notes, Logistics and Other Heartfelt Matters

I was disappointed to learn that there’s a two script cut-off at the LIFT Writers’ Circle. Not only was I looking forward to some quality notes, but now I would have to wait a month for those notes.

And then a light bulb.

One door closes and another one opens. Turns out I have all these friends on Facebook who are writers. There’s also a group on Facebook called InkCanada. I put out a call for help there too.

I have now sent my script out to a dozen or so writer creatures for notes. Alls I gots to do now is sit back and wait for ’em to come in. The trade-off however is that I am obligated to return the favour, a dozen or more times over.

Today is pegged to be a pretty big day. Mom’s birthday was yesterday, and Grama’s birthday is tomorrow. There’s a party afoot.

Also, there’s a Roughrider game in the works. I put the call out to the Romanian Syndicate and they came up with a ticket to the game for me. Just like the old days, there’ll be some tailgating at Benji’s, a two block walk to Mosaic Stadium, and three hours of carnival bedlam in the stands. In the meantime, a football game will be played. Brought my green jersey out from Toronto just for the occasion.

I haven’t written much about how I’ve been spending my time in Regina these past few days. I have managed to connect with dear friends, though not as many as I would have thought. Instead, I found myself spending more time just hanging out at Mom’s. Not much of a desire to spend hours in the window of Atlantis with my nose in my laptop. Haven’t even seen the inside of O’Hanlon’s this trip.

Spent part of the afternoon yesterday, assembling my possessions together in the garage. Did the same with Jazzy’s stuff. We’re shipping most of it to Toronto. What doesn’t fit, can stay behind until our next visit. Logistics. Last minute details.

We leave Monday morning. The time has gone way too quickly.

Jazzy and I will be starting a new life together in Toronto.

A Tale of Two Worlds

I finished it!

My pilot for Room 31. First draft anyway. Sent it off to the writers’ circle and I anxiously await notes. My goal is to have a second draft complete by the end of August.

The story itself is fairly mature. I’ve been working on it, and refining it in some form or another for over a year. I feel good about the work I put out. The scenes I mentioned in my previous post got a lot of attention, but I didn’t implement the changes I talked about. I realized that juxtaposing those scenes on top of each other would negatively affect the overall story.

Some things need their own time and their own space. To this end, I went into those scenes and did a lot of cutting. I also got the characters up on their feet, moving them through space, so the director wouldn’t be stuck with seven pages of dialogue centred around a table. This tactic essentially breaks one long scene up into three mini-scenes, with each mini-scene having an arc of its own.

I have questions about some of my characters. Some are intentionally written to be one-dimensional, with corny dialogue to match. What’s the difference between bad writing, and good writing dressed up to appear bad? Am I simply fooling myself into thinking I don’t have to drill deeper into these characters and scenes?

The conflict in some of my scenes, which feature these one-dimensional characters, is also quite superficial. The audience (reader) will have seen these types of scenes a zillion times over. I am setting out to defy expectations by de-empathizing the major (superficial) conflict and heightening the subtle nuances of the background characters, where my protagonist dwells. This tactic creates two worlds within the story, one for heroes (one-dimensional), and one for stock characters (three-dimensional).

Again, I wonder if I’m committing a grave error by intentionally sabotaging the world of the heroes.

In submitting my script to the writers’ circle, I kept those thoughts to myself. If I flag potential problems ahead of time, I may not get a true bearing on how well I’m balancing the situation. If others in the group pick up on ’em on their own, then it’s something I need to look at.

Though I feel good about the script, I’ve never felt so uncertain about how well I’ve executed a story structure. Only time will tell.

Writing Solo

Today has a simplicity about it. I’m camping solo out here in Cravenworld where Mom & Dave have two trailers. I’m using one of ’em to get away from the world to focus on a script I need to hand in by 3pm tomorrow. Nothing to do but write out here in nature.

The script is my pilot for Room 31, which I am adapting from my novel, which I previously adapted from a sitcom I wrote called Redshirts. While I still intend to finish the project in novel form, it’s always been my objective to have it realized on television. There’s enough of the story complete in novel form, to adapt into a one-hour pilot.

I’ve been working at reformatting the story into teleplay format for a few weeks now. The process is about 90% technical, and 10% creative thus far. Should be done within the next few hours. After that, I’m going into rewrites. Even in novel form, there have always been a few scenes that bugged me. I’m anxious to push ’em up against some ideas I have brewing.

Basically, I’m going to be combining a number of scenes together, then stacking ’em on top of each other. If all goes well, I will have heightened the action and stakes in my opening scenes, allowing for me to arrive at the inciting incident about 10 pages sooner – approximately right where it needs to be in screen time.

Finishing the first draft in time for LIFT’s Writers’ Circle next week will be essential for me to have it at a 2nd or 3rd draft stage by the end of August. This script, combined with my spec for Boardwalk Empire, and my pilot for Highwaymen, will give me three one-hour comedy dramas in my quiver. It might even be enough for me to go shopping for an agent.

First things first however. I gots me some writing to do.

 

A Return to Flintoft

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Watching my Grama’s coffin being lowered into the ground on Saturday was the first time I felt any kind of strong emotion about the occasion. She was 93 years old. After burying two husbands and three of her children, it was her time.

I stood next to the grave of my grandfather, whom I never met but felt some strange kind of closeness to. I watched my dad watch his mother being placed next to his father. We all were standing in an old cemetery in Flintoft, Saskatchewan – once a hub to Romanian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century – Flintoft I mean, not the cemetery.

I make the trip out to Flintoft every couple of years or so. There’s something about the place that moves me deeply. I feel a connection to all the history floating through the air. Each grave is a life story, of which I can only glimpse. After years of harsh prairie weather, some sites don’t even have names etched on the headstones anymore. I like the anonymity of that. Some kind of metaphor I can’t quite put my finger on.

In some way or another, I’m related to nearly everyone buried in that place. When my time comes, I want them to plant me there too.

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Catching Up

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I was waiting for a photograph to arrive before mentioning the party I hosted three Friday’s ago. Sharon threw a 50th birthday party for Jerry and I had the space she needed. There were 30 people in my apartment – and no one felt cramped. I invited Kathy, John & Fiona from downstairs. Didn’t feel a need to invite anyone else because Sharon and I have a lot of friends in common who would already be there.

The food station was in my bedroom, which doubled as the entrance to my balcony. We played poker on the floor in the loft, which felt a little bit like we were hanging out in a tree fort. People dispersed throughout the space. All had really great things to say. I was very proud of how well my place held up to the challenge of holding so many people comfortably.

Once Jazzy is living here, I plan to host a house warming party. Let’s call Sharon’s party a trial run.

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I started that article over a week ago, and haven’t picked my laptop up since. Too busy. All that work I’ve been doing, reaching out to potential clients is beginning to materialize in the form of paid gigs. Spent the last 26 hours photographing a product launch in Toronto by an Arizona company. It came as a referral through another potential client I met with earlier in July.

Today will see me cooped up in the edit suite editing a project for Images. It needs to be out the door tonight so I can hit the road tomorrow, Regina bound. I already decided that I’ll be taking Phillie (my Mac Pro) with me so I can keep working on other projects from Regina. The best thing about this recent string of gigs, is that they come from four different clients.

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Regina has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I was supposed to hit the road last Thursday, but then all these gigs exploded onto my lap within three days of each other. Turning down work, esspecially with new clients, is not a good way to operate.

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I wrote those previous two paragraphs a couple days after the previous paragraph. I’m going to just hit publish and start with a clean slate.