Things to Contemplate Before and After a Nap

Alright! Peddle to the meddle.

Pun. Get it?

It’s Monday morning and I have a string of projects that I’m keen to push in a forward direction. In no particular order, I have Another One Comes, Room 31, and three small corporate projects. Being in Saskatchewan and still living on EST seems to be a good thing. I was up at 6am and working by 7. Unheard of back in TO!

Of course, it’s now 10:30am in Regina and I’m ready for a nap.

I’m in the process of conducting research into web series and branded content. I’ve read two white papers published by the CMPA, and I’m half way through another report published by the IPF. I have meetings upcoming with Jim Aho from Brown Communications and Nova Alberts from Creative Saskatchewan.

Larry Bambrick got back to me with thoughts on my Sci Fi pilot script, Room 31. He feels it’s strong and thinks I should submit it to the CFC for their Prime Time Television program. Deadline is May 16. He also said he’d be happy to review my application before sending it in. I have a strong spec for Boardwalk Empire to complement my pilot. I intend to focus on more nuance aspects of the application process this year. Hopefully the third time’s the charm.

On a personal note, it’s day two of my return to carnivorism. I smile every time I put cooked up bits of dead animal in my mouth. I love this time of year. Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest things in life.

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An Easter Full of Unpleasant Thoughts

My brain feels magnificent!

Err… I mean… Happy Easter! Jazz and I have be fasting for 40 days – no meat or dairy, and while the going has been relatively problem free, I’ve been feeling my brain gradually disconnect from any demands I’ve been placing on it over the passed little while. My inability to focus on even the most menial tasks has been noticeable. I figure it had something to do with diet.

Jazz and I arrived in Regina on Friday night. 2,572 kms in 24 hours. We rode US Hwy 2 most of the way and it wound up being one of the best drives ever. No construction. No traffic. No weather. Beautiful scenery. Jazz sat in the passenger seat and at one point, commented on how much she likes long road trips. We converse a little, listen to FM radio, take a feel for the culture of the place we’re driving through, and watch the miles tick by. She travels like a pro. On the way back we should take pictures.

We took in Easter service at church last night with Grama. We sat upstairs in the balcony while Grama sat with the congregation. It’s the one time of year where I actually plan on going to church. Jazz attends regularly in Toronto, and she asked if I’d go with her one time when we get back. I shrugged and told her ‘sure’. I’m proud of her for walking her own spiritual path, while maintaining a healthy perspective on religion’s place in society.

I thought about Dad quite a bit as I watched the service. I thought about all the times and places and locations throughout that building where Dad and I sat together, or spoke, or times I surprised him with an unexpected visit. That church was a big deal to him at various times of his life. At the end of his days, he no longer felt that connection.

I sat up there in the balcony watching the same Easter service I’ve been seeing my whole life, and wrestled with my own feelings about that building, the people in it, and about how I’m going to deal with a trip up to Strasbourg to see Dad’s home this week. As much as I wanted to be there in those thoughts, I’m harbouring some unpleasant feelings about all of it. The end of Dad’s life brought about some ugly bits of business and I just want it all to go away.

Grama, Papa, Mom, Dave, Jazzy and I sat down for supper at 1:30am. Mom cooked cabbage rolls and I washed ’em down with two glasses of chocolate milk. It’s been sooooooooo long since I tasted something soooooooo good.

By 2:30am (or 4:30 Toronto time) I was completely spent. A belly full of mom’s home cooking, combined with a strong call to my bed, made for one of the most pleasurable sleeps in recent memory.

Today has cabbage rolls and Canasta in my future. I don’t feel like thinking about anything more beyond that.

Cabin in the Woods

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Not only was Cabin in the Woods a brilliant take on the horror genre by Joss Whedon, but it was also how I spent Monday night.

Jon and Fiona invited me up to their family’s cabin for the night, so I took ’em up on it. I’m still getting used to how diverse Southern Ontario is compared to Saskatchewan. Their cabin is two hours north of Toronto, set on the shore of Muskoka Lake, and well into the fringe of the Canadian Shield. It’s a completely different world from Toronto. Drive two hours in any direction from Regina, and you’re still not anywhere that looks any different from where you just left. The other thing striking about our trip north, was how much snow was there. It looked like December, but felt like April (temperature wise). Kind of the best of both months.

There were five of us altogether. I invited Tonia, and Jon & Fiona brought their friend Donald. We couldn’t explore very much because the snow was knee deep and completely wet, so we cooped ourselves up, got drunk, and played board games all night. By 1am, the temperature had dropped significantly, and I wound up wearing four layers as I crawled into my sleeping bag. Musta been -7 celsius. I slept well, but my toes didn’t.

Today is Jazzy’s 15th birthday. Lisa brought over a vegan cake earlier (we’re both fasting for lent) and I surprised Jazz with it. We didn’t have candles, so I was forced to improvise.

I also got her a kitten – which hasn’t been born yet, but I got one. Jazz was thrilled, and I am officially her most favourite dad ever.

Afterwards, Jazz wanted to show her friend Anika, Cabin in the Woods, so we turned off the lights, sat on the couch and took it in.

Kind of a perfect way to end this article.

Room 31 Version 9

On April 4th I completed the 9th draft of Room 31. 

This draft is almost unrecognizable from previous versions, and a zillion times better. It started with me looking for ways to inject more conflict through action – which unexpectedly caused the characters to shift in demeanour – which caused the tone of the whole piece to shift much more towards a drama (with an absurd twist).

As I worked through previous drafts, I struggled to find the right tone. Philosophically heavy, dramatically serious, comedically poignant. I think I’m there.

With this draft freshly completed, I attended the Toronto Screenwriters Conference last weekend – where my mind quickly filled to overflowing. Seminars on writing for Sci Fi, Anatomy of a Pilot, Insanely Great Endings, and much more were offered. I sat in an audience with hundreds of other writers – most of whom are already writing what we see on television everyday.

I shook hands and received contact information for Cameron Porsandeh, Sam Egan, Emily Andras, Alan McCullough, and Denis McGrath. These are some of the most well known writers in Sci Fi and they all agreed to read Room 31.

On Thursday I had actors over for a table read. I’ve heard the script out loud in previous drafts, but this was the first time where I felt like it flowed. I think it’s ready to send out to the world.

Getting Noticed

Oh hey there!

It’s been a little while since I checked in with myself. Lots happening over the past few weeks and I find myself this morning, completely at a loss for what to make of my day. I’m staring out the window and while there’s a lot to get to, I can’t really bring myself to sort through it. I’ve been feeling this way for three days now.

Two weeks ago, I worked briskly to promote Another One ComesMarch 31 was the final day to gather eyeballs for the demo, before being evaluated by the Independent Production Fund. Unfortunately we didn’t make the shortlist. That didn’t stop me from musing on the idea further.

Never before in my career had I gone from nothing on the page, to a finished scripted narrative in less than 10 days – and I did that twice! It was like the sky opened up and I heard the call of filmmaking angel song. I can write, and shoot, and direct, and produce, and edit. All I need is for someone to hold the boom. And actors. And beer.

Best of all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The second demo was shared by perfect strangers across their own social networks. Adam Hawboldt from Verb News interviewed me for an article. CFL News tweeted the video, as did the Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Redblacks, and their related blogs.

Without funding, it will be difficult to pursue this idea as anything more than a novel exercise, so I began doing research into Branded Entertainment. There’s a lot more to say about the strategy than what I’m prepared to write here, but there are precedents to follow. I just need to do more research, and figure out a more comprehensive plan before I begin approaching people.

Separate from this project, I was hired by Crucial Pictures to produce, direct and edit a commercial that will play nationally on CityTV. We are thrilled with how it turned out, and both the client (Heritage Education Funds) and production company had nice things to say about me. Here’s hoping more opportunities will come from that.

Staying on the topic of paid work, I am also in the process of finishing up a short documentary for Tantrum Creative, and a series of short vignettes, also for Tantrum. In both cases, everything has gone reasonably smooth. Both the client and production company are thrilled with the work thus far.

It’s good to be appreciated for my skills. I’m still at a loss for what to make of my day, but something tells me I should start by culling the 381 messages I have in my inbox. From there, we’ll see what the day has in store for me.

Lucid Dream

I had a lucid dream last night about Dad.

We were having a conversation in the church basement at one of the tables. He was wearing his bathrobe and his junk was hanging out. We both knew the end was near, so we had the talk again, but this time we went deeper into the problems we were having with each other.

It felt real. It felt like we really were speaking to each other – that he had his own things to say, and I had mine. I wasn’t subconsciously putting words into his mouth.

As we spoke, the scenery changed. There was a bone pile we picked through – his future bones. We picked through them in as casual a manner as we used to do, hunting for golf balls when I was a kid. Stephen Harper was in there too.

I think dad was a Conservative.

There was a lot of water around. I wanted to bring up the canoe with him, but decided to save it for another time. He wanted to talk, so I let him. I followed him through time and space, over the course of that same conversation, and in the end, I felt like we found something we lost.

I was inside my dream, feeling myself tossing and turning in my bed. I looked at Dad and told him I would be waking up soon. We both felt this surreal little world slipping away.

We hugged and we kissed, and I told him he was welcome to drop in for a visit to this place anytime.

He liked the idea of that.