The blood, guts and glory of creativity.

December 22, 2015

Independent Producing with Amanda Verhagen


#BITCHPLEASE  I met Amanda Verhagen on the balcony of the palais des festival during the Producer's Workshop at Cannes. She was everything I love: ambitious, dark humoured, and Canadian. She rocked the Cannes Film Festival like she owned it and her credentials, impressive. 

In any networking situation, your heart is scanning the room and reading the vibes, much more than you're conscious of. When you walk away from a conversation with business card in hand, you'll only remember how that person made you feel and you can't make people feel good without being good. This is the quality of a good producer, leaving someone with the impression that you're the real deal, willing to help, willing to battle in the trenches side by side. That can't be manufactured. That's what Amanda Verhagen made me feel. 

Amanda's advice on being an independent producer is killer. She is a refreshingly clear voice in an industry full of change and uncertainty. This is an absolute MUST READ for anyone serious about working in film and television and I'm so grateful to be hosting her here! ENJOY xoxo.

Independent Producing 

Guest post by Amanda Verhagen

Amanda Verhagen walking the red carpet in South Korea for THE DEVOUT première. 

I write this on the eve of my 26th birthday while looking back on the incredible year I've had. This past year alone, I was lucky enough to work alongside the infectiously positive Daniel Hogg while producing the feature film 'The Devout'. I've had the privilege of traveling the world while backpacking Europe and Japan. I've been to galas, red carpets and awards shows. I've attended major film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival in France, Busan Film Festival in South Korea and of course the Vancouver Film Festival in my hometown. This, all while working for the increasingly popular Warner Brother's television series The Flash as a day job. There are more than enough things in my life to be grateful for.

My journey has not been an easy one. Becoming a producer is particularly challenging when you’re young and a woman. The only real benefit is that people seem to underestimate me, and that gives my accomplishments more weight.

I had been working in the film industry for a few years, after graduating with a degree in Theatre Production from the University of Victoria and worked my way up the ranks quite quickly from film production assistant to production coordinator. During season 1, I was in the office kitchen when I received a call from my now producing partner, Daniel Hogg, "You still want to run a studio by 30?" he said. This phone call changed my life. Through producing my first feature film with him, I have learned more in the last year than my entire education combined. And what was once a career became a complete and overwhelming passion.

I believe that passion is infectious. People crave it, they want to be inspired by it and hold it for their own. Because of this, I've had many people come out of the woodwork to ask my advice. They usually offer to buy me a coffee and come with a list of the same few questions. I love this practice. I think it's so important to help each other. There are many people in my life I've called from time to time to ask questions. There is no formal education that can prepare you for producing like this.

"The only real benefit is that people seem to underestimate me, and that gives my accomplishments more weight."

The standard questions people ask are: How do I break into the industry, what does a union do, what should my resume look like and who's the most famous person you've met? I give them the usual speech, become a production assistant, observe the different jobs, and decide what you want to do, be nice to everyone and eventually you'll be in your department of choice. It's a little different for producing, as there is no set path. That job requires you to find a script, source the financing and make your movie.

The advice I have to budding producers is to research the hell out of your craft. Read everything you can, and learn everything you can. Whether it's about accounting, marketing, funding sources, producers labs, festivals, the trades, it's all-important. Producing is a self-motivated job, and it's up to you to drive your career forward. The amount of work you put in is what comes out it. But as with everything, success comes at a price.

I've spent many nights in my apartment working away, while my incredibly understanding friends go out. My 20s haven't exactly been the most typical of the lot. While my friends from back home are getting married, finding new 'friends' on Tinder or finishing school, I'm in my apartment pouring over reports on audience trends from Eastern Europe, negotiating with foreign distributors and going through media training with my publicist. All in the hopes that some day, all of my hard work will pay off and I'll become the next Kathleen Kennedy, Joss Whedon or even better, something I create myself.

During these coffee classes I like to remind filmmakers about the lifestyle they are about to embark on. It's important to know you'll be working long days, nights and weekends. The divorce rate is incredibly high and the failure rate even higher. After I start diving into the depths of all this, people can become discouraged and ask me why I still do this and what keeps me going.

They say for every yes, there are at least 100 no's, which wrong, It's more like 1000. The one thing that has always gotten me through all the disappointment and heartache that goes along with this industry is one phrase that I repeat to myself ad nauseam: "It may not be ideal, but it's always for the best".

Whether it’s a contract that fell through, an actor I couldn't get or a festival rejection, I always tell myself that phrase and know that something better will come along. And guess what. It always does. If I continue through my life always being disappointment by the roadblocks in my way, I'll never have the drive to continue. And trust me, those yes moments are what make it all worthwhile.

I often think back to that day in The Flash kitchen when Daniel called, and changed everything. Everyday is the day that could change your life, you just have to be able to recognize it, put in the work and have faith that everything is for the best.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS for Film:

  • Women in Film Producer's Workbook 4 by Women in Film and Television Vancouver
  • Film and Video Budgets 6 by Maureen A Ryan
  • Film Production Management 101 by Deborah Patz

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS for Life:


  • You've Never Weird on The Internet - Felicia Day
  • The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
  • Yes Please - Amy Poehler

  

 AMANDA JUST DROPPED THE MIC

Amanda Verhagen is known for her organization talents and coordinating prowess. After graduating from The University of Victoria's Phoenix Theatre Production & Management Bachelors program, she moved to Vancouver to jump feet first into her life long passion of film production. At a young age, Amanda began excelling in her field and has had the privilege to work as a Production Coordinator for television series such as CBC's Artic Air and Warner Brother's The Flash and feature films such as Hector & The Search for Happiness and Poker Night. 
With a bright smile and full force determination Amanda is thrilled to make the move into the producing world with her recent feature The Devout and upcoming features soon to be announced.
Check out The Devout:
thedevoutmovie.com or facebook.com/thedevoutmovie

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December 3, 2015

Put on Your Big Boy Pants


#BITCHPLEASE   Tessa Stamp and I go waaaay back to VIC Kids in the film & theatre scene. At the time, what I admired most was her killer dance skills; she could do the splits and kick herself in the head. As adults, she's been my pusher, my supplier of costumes, make-up, teeth and props, and also a pusher in terms of propelling me along my creative path through her bold and fearless example. We have each experienced many incarnations in this life and have fortified our resilient spirits. It's a pleasure to reconnect on the path with so many stories to share. I admire this woman fiercely. It's hard not to. Tessa has tremendous wisdom to share, so please spread the post and give her some love!

Put on Your Big Boy Pants

Guest Post by Tessa Stamp



I have always been a bit gender queer.  Not that I feel like I am a rebel or a pioneer, but I have never really played by gender rules.  I have a mother who for all intents and purposes looks like a proper 50s housewife… perfect hair, spotless house, she hosts properly decorated parties, and is always dressed and accessorized magnificently.  But for 4’11” she has the proportional strength of an ant, drives a huge truck, is the most aggressively competitive person I know, and has working man hands like I do.  Despite all the importance she places on appearances, she never told me that I couldn’t do things because I was a girl.  She supported me as a dancer and as an athlete, she smiled when I wore a skirt with a camo jacket and military boots to my first day of grade 10, and she appreciates that she can ask her daughter to cut her plywood for her art projects.  My father is a guys guy.  He’s a firefighter, an athlete, and a high rigger for IATSE.  He is not concerned with appearances, in fact I am sure that he holds the record for largest dorky hat collection, but of course they are all highly functional.  He never really gave me an option of being a girl or a boy, he never cared what I looked like he just demanded that I be a functional human being.  I was not allowed to have girly excuses for not being able to do something and therefore I never questioned that I could.  

It is my Dad’s fault that I became a permit member of IATSE (the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) in 1997, and it is probably his fault that I never questioned whether or not I should be doing that job.  Which is a real stretch if you consider that in 1997 I was 15 years old and probably weighed 102lbs 
soaking wet, yet there I was pushing road cases, loading trucks and moving a lot of heavy things around with a bunch of men.  I am glad that I started out as an oblivious teenager who was given no option but to work this job in the summers, otherwise maybe I would have never considered this as a career path.  Especially 20 years ago.  

As a theatre technician I have always been out numbered by men.  I learned quickly how to deflect sexual harassment, how to assert my skills without question and how to look the part.  It’s probably the reason I have always driven a truck… I have had the support of many wonderful men in the industry who have either stood up for me, silently defended me, or better still… never questioned that I should be doing what I was doing.  I have also come up through the ranks with some of the most talented and amazing women I have ever met, but it is still very much a male dominated industry.  I think the part that I found the hardest is that were no clearly defined role models for the kind of things that I was doing… unless you count Alex from Flashdance.  But even then, the only way a woman could be a welder and a dancer was to also be an exotic dancer… which is more than a little misogynistic and confusing.  Not taking anything away from Flashdance, it remains one of my favourites, but come on… Alex is still the only other dancing welder I know of.  

With no one who defines themselves with the same rules (or lack thereof) as you do it’s pretty easy to get confused and lost.   I have never questioned my sexuality… I like boys, but there were a few years when I thought very seriously about the feeling that maybe I was supposed to be one.  I mean, how could I not think that maybe I was supposed to be a boy when so many of the things that I loved to do were “for boys”.  I don’t feel gender queer because I feel like I’m in the wrong body, I have felt gender queer my whole life based strictly on the fact that I don’t follow what is acceptable for a woman to do, like, and want.  I firmly believe that it is the pursuit of a creative existence and the community of people who work in theatre that have allowed me to exist outside these norms and expectations.  I mean have you taken a look at the people who work behind the scenes?  We are a motley crew.  A whole jumble of people who live outside what is expected of them, people who come together to tell stories.  Stories that give the world hope, show people a different perspective and challenge the expected.  Could there be a more important job?! 

Over the last 8 years I have done a lot of my design work for The Maggie Tree, a theatre company with a mandate to support the development and visibility of women in creative leadership roles in the arts.  While writing this blog I texted my friend Kristi, one the two fabulous women who co-artistic direct the company, and I asked her if she could help me answer the question of how many female Artistic Directors there are in the city.  And I’ll admit the list was a lot longer than I expected it to be.  And I told her that.  Then she replied with “but notice how we are all on the outskirts”.  Women are taking leadership roles, creating companies and running festivals.  It is still not normal to see women running large, funded theatre companies, but if things keep going the way they are, if our numbers keep growing outside the palace walls… it will be.  

This is my 33rd year on the planet.  Some people call this your, “Jesus Year”, your year of manifestation. The Urban Dictionary defines this as the year “where you are reborn in some sense.  Perhaps a mid-life crisis, perhaps an ego death, perhaps the year where you abandon old ways and start new.”  For historians it is the year when Jesus started a spiritual, political and intellectual revolution steeped in struggle and controversy that ended with his eventual death and resurrection.  For me… it’s the year when I am finally comfortable with the complexities of who I am.  It has been a battle between what I feel obligated to do and what I am driven to do.  Deciding to react how I think others would want me to versus what my impulse and instinct is directing me to.  It has been the year of my highest anxiety, my deepest honesty and between those, I have found the utmost clarity of self.  

If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be this:  “If you feel like you are doing something that no one else is, if it’s a little scary and takes courage to show up, and if everything in your heart is telling you to do it anyway… then you’re an artist.  And your expression is important.” 

Make art dammit, do something different.  It’s the only way any of us get any better.


Tessa is a Maniac... on the floor

Tessa Stamp is an Edmonton born theatre professional and entrepreneur.  A dancer first, Tessa has made her career in technical theatre.  After graduating from Victoria School she completed the Theatre Production program at Grant MacEwan University.  Tessa spent 5 years working for Carnival Cruise Lines, she toured in 2007 with Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo as an assistant stage manager, and spent a season in the lighting department at The Citadel theatre, before opening Theatre Garage in 2009.  Doing mostly set, lighting and costume design for The Maggie Tree for the past few years, she has been able to enjoy making award winning theatre with such good friends.  She is thrilled to be able to design Confessions of a Sew Worker as part of the first ever Chinook Festival. Follow her on Twitter @Tessa_stamp
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November 26, 2015

You Gotta Have Faith






#BitchPlease  I met Angela Palmer on the set of my feature film Truckstop Bloodsuckers. She was cast as one of my uber-hipsters that suffers an untimely demise (spoilers) and had the spunk and effortless cool that would have executed the pithy dialogue, had it not been needlessly cut from the shooting script. As every writer knows, you love every single character and every line is fucking important. Silver lining, we got to chat at the première and she made a confession... she wanted to write. I spouted off the advice I was never given: "You're a writer as soon as you say you are. Make the decision and then do it." She did that and more.

Approximately a year later, Angela had written her own web-series called Dookie Squad, pulling from her own experience of working in a hospital. She directed, produced and cast herself as the lead, taking my second advice of "don't ask for permission to be an actor."  She recently moved to Vancouver to take on a principal role in a top secret project and has quickly taken her place as a woman making strides in this industry. I love it when inspiration flows both ways, because I needed to read her piece this week. So please share her story and give her some love in the comments below!


YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH

Guest Post by ANGELA PALMER


When I came down with a nasty cold, Netflix was on fleek and that meant binge-watching the hell out of Once Upon a Time, a fairy tale about fairy tales. There are many themes in this series: true love, family and the importance of remembering who you are. The one that stuck out most for me was FAITH, have hope that no matter what happens, as long as you believe in yourself, good will always win over evil. Whoa, just caught myself saying that out loud a la Prince Charming.

After posting some fantastic things on Facebook - I had booked two roles for a couple of awesome CW shows, one of which being my first principal part (no biggie) - I received a ton of messages that sounded the same: hopeless.

MOST, FB friends forgot to ask how I was or say congratulations or... hi. They got straight to it, telling me how much they were unhappy with themselves, their acting careers, agents, how they felt talentless or even too ugly to book roles, and compared their current unhappiness to my recent success. I'm doing fine thanks, btw.

Anyways, the vibes were heavy and sad and I had to remind myself that I am grateful and humble for everything I have now. Because I too, blamed everyone else including myself for a slow to no-going career; it was the industries fault, my agent (I had the best agent in the city too), I was the wrong type or why isn't my vision board working!!! Long story short, one fine April day and 3 years into my acting journey, I realized I was half-assing my career. And if you ever loved 
Mad Men like I did you know that "if you don't like the conversation, change it."

That's what I did. I got a new agent. I worked my butt off, saved enough money and moved to the land of opportunity: Vancouver, duh! I continued to work hard so that I can stay in training and 
develop my craft. A dozen-ish auditions later, as my acting coach puts it, I "blew up the room." I had finally booked some great creds. Thy foot is in the door.
So here is the corny part (:o), it's not enough to really, really want to be a working actor. No. You really, really, really just have to believe in yourself. How else would I have been able to have the courage to leave Edmonton, a city I had lived in my entire life to chase a dream or even write a shitty webseries Dookie Squad (hehe... I won an award for outstanding writi
ng in a comedy series) and share it with the world!?!





I just knew it would work out. I had faith. I'm still novice but, I'm SO much more closer to where I want to be. I know this is the beginning of something big. All because I have, what? Say it... 
FAITH. I'm not saying you have to move, get a new agent and write a screenplay. That was what I did. It worked for ME. So do YOU! Whatever that means. And in that process, celebrate every bit of headway you make, be grateful for YOUR version of success. My last peace of hallmarky, OUAT advice straight outta Neverland: "You can fly, just believe."  That's it, I need these sinuses to clear up! OK... bye.



Angela Palmer is Inspiring!

Angela is mostly known for her award winning web series Dookie Squad, which she wrote, acted and produced and won an award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series at the LA Web Fest. Currently, she is between sets and training constantly, strengthening her craft and living passionately.

Follow her on Twitter @1AngelaPalmer
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November 19, 2015

The Inverse Function



#BITCHPLEASE  I met Corinne Simpson on set of the Sexy Voter campaign, where she demonstrated the delight of individual eyelashes. After quickly discovering we're both writers, both into horror and feminism, we decided we better go for coffee. Our new friendship has lightened my spirit with so much needed laughter and shared wisdom that I'm reminded of a universal force that brings people together at just the right time. Plus, a woman who can use Star Trek: The Next Generation to perfectly illustrate my current spiritual obstacles... you wanna keep her around and thank her daily. 

She is a superb storyteller (I will never think of breakfast quite the same) and a brilliant mind. When she offered to write piece on Hollywood and the invisibility of women of a certain age - particularly in relationship to men - well I knew this was something to share and discuss. So please enjoy and give her some love!

The Inverse Function

Guest Post by Corinne Simpson.


There is a curious thing that happens in Hollywood as women age: they become invisible.  Or rather, they simply don’t age.  It’s a phenomenon I like to affectionately call The Inverse Function because I am very mathematically inclined.  No, that’s a joke, I’m not at all but I do full-heartedly support women in STEM and believe more women should be in STEM fields because our world is our battleground and our playground simultaneously.  Women should define and explore it as much as men.  I digress.  Defined, inverse means “(of a proportion) containing terms of which an increase in one results in a decrease in another.  A term is said to be in inverse proportion to another term if it increases (or decreases) as the other decreases (or increases)”. So, like my bank account and makeup collection: that is an inverse relationship.  As my makeup collection increases, my bank account decreases.  But in Hollywood The Inverse Function I refer to is age-related.  Specifically: as actors age (or increase in years), their lead actresses get younger (or their ages decrease).



Let’s examine the evidence.  Don’t take anything based solely on rumour.  As Grissom always said on CSI, the evidence never lies. In 1992 Denzel Washington was 37 in Malcolm X opposite Angela Bassett at 34.  In 2006 Denzel Washington was 51 in Déjà Vu opposite Paula Patton at 30. Did you see what happened there? The Inverse Function. Hollywood math. 2014‘s Magic in the Moonlight had 54 year old Colin Firth romancing 26 year old Emma Stone.  1999’s Entrapment memorably paired 69 year old Sean Connery with 30 year old Catherine Zeta Jones.  In 2013 29 year old Olivia Wilde played the love interest to 50 year old Steve Carell in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and 61 year old Liam Neeson in Third Person.

Hollywood ensures that leading men – the male superstar names we’ve grown up loving – stay on top. Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Sylvester Stallone, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, George Clooney, all these guys are still marquee names headlining dramas, actioners, and romances alike.  But their onscreen love interests give way cyclically to younger actresses: from Meryl Streep to Olivia Wilde, from Penelope Cruz to Dakota Johnson.  And if you think I’m decrying youth in any way you are missing my point entirely.  This is not a treatise against young women, this is an outcry against the erasure of women as they age.  Men are allowed to grey and wrinkle and stoop and frown onscreen as long as they want to.  They are sexy silver foxes prowling through the same types of films they’ve always headlined.  But their female peers are increasingly pressed into the background as grandmothers, mothers, and assistants while actresses who could realistically be the actors’ daughters or granddaughters romance them onscreen.  Actresses aren’t permitted to age sexily, alluringly, powerfully, and in all the glorious nuance and confidence that real life provides.

The Inverse Function means women don’t as readily see a reflection of themselves in entertainment as they age out of their always-glorified twenties.  (Never mind that POC and diverse body types almost never witness accurate and wide-ranging portrayals of themselves on any screen which is a strongly-worded conversation we must continue to have with each other and studio moguls.)  There is an onscreen age at which women are arbitrarily ‘retired’ to nurturing sideline roles and it is women few and far between that get to buck the paradigm with any success.  This tendency to cast ever-younger actresses in roles with careers that require experience or extensive education, for example, means that we are robbed of acknowledgement of the years of struggle and learning that real women in the same fields must endure to succeed.


"We are robbed of acknowledgement of the years of struggle and learning that real women in the same fields must endure to succeed."

Indeed, there is no onscreen celebration of hard-earned laugh lines or deserved grey hairs, of the sex appeal that comes with being comfortable in one’s own skin, of the curvature of flesh that has borne children or rebounded from illness, of the knowing light behind eyes that have seen and chosen not to succumb to grief… of all the things that comprise a long life, a life well lived, years earned, sexiness understood, love matured, age embraced. Then too if women dare to flip the paradigm and romance younger men either onscreen or in real life, they are cruelly mocked, labeled ‘cougars’ (or worse), decried as tacky, slut-shamed.  Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Cher, and so many other women playing a man’s game by their own rules and branded heartlessly for it one way or another.

Is there a solution? Of course. We’re already living it, you know: aging. We all age. We’re all aging incrementally every day. But instead of reading that as a death knell or a savage taunt, why don’t we read it as a great unexplored possibility? As a species we learn so much more as we age. We grow so much more adept in our abilities, we comprehend much subtler ideals, we are more prone to make peace with our bodies after years of battling – not always but often.

And if the aging of our bodies was not perpetually sold as a debilitative disease that must be fought with every cent and ounce of energy we possess, we may start to find a greater measure of peace in the living our bodies do and what’s inside instead of the image cast in photos and mirrors.  I want to see women my age kicking ass onscreen. I just turned forty. I feel like a kid. I feel both comfortable and powerful which is a heady combination and only something I have recently discovered in myself. I want to see that onscreen. I want to see women who enter a third career and fight tooth and nail to succeed at it. I want to see women embracing sexuality they’ve formerly denied whether it was suppressing bisexuality or lesbianism or emerging from a bad marriage or loss with a celebrated hunger for sexual expression. I want to see women who are mothers who go back to work and juggle both selves admirably while not going slightly mad: at their story being fulfillment on all levels, not having to either choose or be Wonder Woman.

I want to see female spies, mature female superheroes, women CEOs, women industry leaders, women mechanics and farmers, all aging in believable beautiful bodies, all brimming with passion and ideas and ability and understanding and laughter and anger and sexual yearning and all the things that make us collectively human.  I want to see a gorgeous fifty year old woman romancing George Clooney. I’m so thrilled that Monica Bellucci has finally seduced James Bond and I want to see more and more of that. I want to see my inner self onscreen as reflected through women who are not twenty.  I love you, beautiful young women, but not every story is yours. And when you’re forty you’ll feel that keenly.  You’ll want to tell your own stories your way. And I’ll want to watch them.

So here’s to all the gloriously aging women I want to see more of on my screen in every possible way but especially as strong ferocious leads and all manner of romantic partners in their own right.  Women don’t disappear with age. We get better. That’s what I want to see.


Corinne Simpson is the Bomb

Corinne is a writer, makeup artist, wanderer, literary vampire (made-up title, means nothing), and seeker of adventure.  She hosts stories told by others on her blog, vampirenomad.com, where she also occasionally writes some things herself.  She has a play she needs to edit and get onstage as well as a novel so researched it should actually start writing itself at this point.  She turns faces into art, fantasies and horrors via her makeup company VampireNomad Palette (www.vampirenomad.com/palette).  She believes in the holy trinity of the written word, imagination, and true connection. With those three things you can accomplish anything, really. And for everything else there’s Mastercard.

@VampireNomad on Twitter
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November 12, 2015

A True TIFF Love Story



guest post by nicole murphy


The following is a real-life "networking” experience that took place at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2015:

Man: “Too bad you’re not an actress. You’d be great for this female lead I am writing about teachers…”
Me: “Nope. I am a producer/director of community television in Alberta.”
Man: “Oh… So what’s it like for a female living in Alberta? Do you live on your own?”
Me: “My roommate and I share a two bedroom place.”
Man: “So you and her can bring people home and it’s fine, huh?”
Me: “Um.. He and I have a lot of space… yes.”
Man: “Oh you just broke my heart. You live with a guy?”
Me: “A friend… yes… And I actually have a meeting so I have to go...” 
I grew up not really thinking much about what it meant to be female. How that would affect my career, my love life, and my interactions on a day-to-day basis. Maybe this is because all I wanted as a child and into my early 20’s was to find a “true love”; to get married and have babies… Yeah. So that was a thing. This was the first and strikingly obvious sign that my life was strongly influenced by all the Disney movies I’d grown up watching. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to find a partner and to build a life and family together. I have great admiration for people who are able to parent and parent well. But the problem wasn’t relationships or my ideas of them. It was this insatiable need to find my “true love” so that I could, simply, define my self-worth.

Now… As an aspiring filmmaker… Navigating the world of media, events, festivals, and networking conversations like the one above, I am learning my self-worth is not based on having a loving partner or a big family. It’s based on how attractive I am. Right? So that’s better. Jokes aside, my inaugural year at TIFF was an amazing experience. Being put in situations that bring us out of our comfort zone has a way of encouraging growth and showing us what is truly important. And it’s not how attractive I am.

The following is an account of a love story that unfolded during my time at TIFF. No, Ryan Gosling didn’t take my virginity. Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t save me from jumping off a large ship, and then paint me as one of his French girls. Brad Pitt and I didn’t wreck a house having sex, either. In fact, it is not about a man at all, and it is not sexual. This is a love story of friendship.

Upon first arrival, the city’s and the festival’s crazy, hectic vibe is apparent. King Street is closed for pedestrian traffic. People wander the streets in search of celebrities. Thousands of media delegates flood into designated areas for check-in. The range of festival fashion stretches from all business to hipster chic, to Derelicte (a Zoolander reference). The massive booklets given out, schedules, and booths of distribution companies from all around the world… All of this to make sure us first-timers realize how much we truly don't know.

Overwhelmed when faced with the raw truth of my ignorance, I scanned the room in search of a friendly eye. Andrea was her name, from Toronto, and she had been to TIFF before. My knight in shining armour was a sassy redhead and I was okay with that.  She gave me tons of advice on how to take in the festival and showed me where to go.

Networking is very important. It’s the key to this festival and all others. Being a smiling face that is approachable and not acting afraid to approach others is important. However I was told once, with great authority, from a successful filmmaker no less, that good networking is like a romance. At first, I didn’t quite understand this but TIFF did due diligence to clarify this for me.

Andrea and I became fast friends. She is honest, funny and undeniably herself. A fierce female with a passion for storytelling, I just loved to be around her. I felt I could truly be myself, and that our creative chemistry was special.


TOP NETWORKING MOMENTS

  • Standing in line for movies, as the volunteer line guy yelled at people to stay by the wall. It made us laugh.
  • Talking to a guy that wanted to “fund Canadian films,” as he joked about making porn. I slowly backed away, as he was seriously entering my personal space… Andrea was there to be an extra set of eyes on the situation, and we later joked about how gross this whole exchange was.
  • Watching Beasts of No Nation — a Netflix original movie about a child soldier in Africa. Andrea and didn’t speak for awhile after that, but it was nice to have her there.
  • Cornflake & Banana Chocolate Ice Cream, at Greg’s Ice Cream. 
  • Blue Jays Game (not TIFF related but SO fun)! We’re in Toronto, after all.
  • Seeing a live Skype interview with Bill Hader and the creators of Documentary Now! A new mockumentary series that redoes documentaries… Look it up; it’s pure hilarity. See the free vinyl record below from the “classic” rock band Blue Jean Committee.
  • Meeting Mr. P … that is all I will say about that.
  • Live music at Studio 835. Just amazingly talented people at work.
  • When I had to regurgitate a piece of seafood that I was choking on in the middle of a restaurant… HAHAH. Oh my, that was funny. No picture evidence of this. Probably for the better. Trust me.

When dating, you choose the person you like and invest time in them. Often, if you are seeing a bunch of people, it is because you haven't found that chemistry. I was just lucky to find my one true TIFF love on day one. We spent almost two beautiful weeks together and have now decided to go for a long distance friendship.

We hear it a million times in our lives - ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE - but when you grow up thinking a “love story” is when Prince Eric lets you live in his castle after you leave your entire family, even though on most of your dates you didn’t talk at all! … it gets kind of confusing. I mean, let’s get serious here. Taking into account Ariel’s talents and passions, it seems a real “happy ending” would be the grand opening of her first antique shop, or the release party of her first album, WITH Eric there supporting her.

My TIFF love story was not what I expected, but it surpassed my expectations. I learned that one great connection is better than a bunch of shallow ones. And if you get to experience a life full of these sorts of connections, for me, that is success.



Nicole Murphy Is Awesome

Those who love her would say she is driven, intelligent, and funny, others would say she is a bossy know-it-all that laughs at her own jokes. Either way she get’s shit done. A proud NAIT Television graduate, Nicole Murphy is currently working on a TELUS TV/ web series entitled People We Love, which highlights individuals that are helping in their community, have an inspirational story or are overall unique in some way. Her future goals include being a nicer human and creatively telling stories that increase empathy, show love, encourage courage, promote kindness, display truth, and/or make people laugh their f****ing faces off. 
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November 10, 2015

Bitch Please Series


I have to tell you, I am seriously lucky. 2015 has been an inspired year of living outside of the box, travelling to new destinations and meeting some absolutely incredible people. It has been a year of expansion! But this is not just happening to me - I am surrounded by fearless women who are taking their own leaps of faith and stepping into their own spotlight.

Some of these strides are really big; moving to a new city or attending a film festival alone, while others are daily triumphs perfectly exemplified in a text while getting a bikini wax... "Brene Brown would be so proud of how vulnerable I am right now. Lean in." Riiiiipppp!

So for the next few weeks, I'm opening up my blog to their stories, their rants, raves, and their insights. The #BitchPleaseSeries is a call for more women to come forward - particularly in the film industry - to speak up and be accounted for. So I hope you'll join me in welcoming my guest bloggers and I encourage you to share their posts and send them some love. The first will be released this THURSDAY so stay tuned!!!
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October 30, 2015

The Weaver


I have a spider living behind the side mirror of my car, passenger side. She's one of those insects with a meaty-thorax. Not that I'm fat-shaming, it just makes her slightly less intimidating than the spindly leg types.

I tried to kill her once. She rolled back between the edges of the mirror and I hit the electronic rotator, wishing her the best in the next life and apologizing for being such an asshole human. She survived and earned my respect. This is a perfect example of how I've opened space in my life for things that make me uncomfortable. Can I allow this? Can I be OK? Plus I figured it was kind of cool to be a Scream Queen rolling with her own creepy crawly.

For many reasons, I have pursued stability and security. I believed in this ideal picture where everything would be known and still and then I would be happy. I would achieve perfection. Life has a very different idea for me.

This has been a year with no safety nets, no assurances. I am occupying the grey areas, living up in the air, trying to breathe through passing moments. It is everything that terrifies me and I have never felt more alive. 

I've been trying to articulate how I could possibly be so happy with all of this insecurity and flux, and then I discovered the perfect passage...
"It must be obvious, from the start, that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is commentaries and fluidity.
But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life.
Yet it is this very sense of separation which makes me feel insecure."
- Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity 
We've all heard the cliché bumper-sticker slogans of "change is the only constant," but I had never before considered the experience of uncertainty as the marker of participation, as the very quality of life. This is some Brene Brown lean-in shit.

And I have to admit, my pursuit for something tangible has really been a desire to side-step the experience of life and I have suffered as a result, so has my creative work, my relationships, my daily experience...  it's all connected. Which brings me back to my spider lady friend. Each morning I awake to her masterful creations, only to watch the wind tear it apart by the time we get to work. Each night, she tries again. She expands the web, changes her tactics, she even started building in the direction of the wind. Fucking brilliant little beast. Has she caught anything significant? Hard to tell. Everything is so impermanent, but she continues to create.

She doesn't question whether it's all worth it, if her webs have meaning. She's not likely to survive or mate, but she has opened this human's eyes to the magnificence and beauty of a creative force that lives in even the tiniest of creatures.

There are teachers all around us, if we only take a moment to realize it.
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October 9, 2015

I'm a Sexy Voter



The Federal Election is quickly approaching and some scary shit is going down that can only be interpreted as a manipulative tool to prevent young people from voting. For that reason, I've joined the #ImaSexyVoter Campaign, talking about SEX and TURN ONs to shamelessly grab your attention so you'll VOTE on October 19, 2015. Watch the video...


I had a wake-up call this year. While I was focusing on my career and travelling to new places, perpetuating the "Canadians are really fucking nice" identity on the international stage, I was shocked to get the news that the United Nations is concerned about Canada - failing to act on the epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women, failing in our ability to respond to the refugee crisis and Bill C-51, our anti-terror law. I didn't realize how the rest of the world has begun to see us. It's time for a dramatic change.


I don't care if you're sipping on my Orange Crush. I'm invigorated by political debate and a difference of opinion, but I think we can all agree that scandal, manipulation, and the recent racism and violation of human rights from the Conservative Party is not part of our bigger picture. Stephen Harper won by a very slim margin last election with 9.3 million Canadians – 38.6% of voters - not casting a ballot at all. Let's not let this happen again.

The I'm a Sexy Voter campaign will be released over the next few days. It's light-hearted fun with a dash of way too much information that is slightly embarrassing, but oh well! These videos are meant to be shared on-line to counteract the cuts the Conservatives made to Elections Canada. Please join in on the campaign, use the #Imasexyvoter hashtag and vote on October 19. Because being a citizen of the world is really sexy.




Extra Reading:

Canada's PM wants to make it harder for people to vote against him | Caroline Konrad, The Guardian

The Closing of the Canadian Mind | Stephen Marche, New York Times

The UN Human Rights Committee Slams Canada's record on Women | CBC News


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October 6, 2015

Batty Bats


It's my birthday. I'll ask for Bats if I want to. Today is Day 6 of the #ScreamQueenHalloween challenge on instagram. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to draw me some birthday bats. Cuz they're the cutest.

Next week is going to be a challenge! Dinner Macabre (I suggest you go here to get ideas of what to do with your Canadian thanksgiving meal), a Blood Bath, Contacting the Dead... jump into the challenge at any time! Click here for details and don't forget to use the #ScreamQueenHalloween hashtag!

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October 1, 2015

Scream Queen Halloween 2.0



GOD I love OCTOBER! The caramel latte is back, my birthday is coming up and soon, everyone will be hanging BATS from their house and digging up graves in the front yard. The countdown to Halloween starts now, which means this is the first day of the #ScreamQueenHalloween Instagram Photo Challenge! I hope you will all play along and get your creative juices flowing!
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September 28, 2015

My Fave Things: Keep Left


True horror isn't about blood and gore, it's about fear. It requires an understanding of atmosphere, timing and evoking a sense of dread in your viewer while you slowly lead them where they don't want to go. When I first saw KEEP LEFT, my flesh was crawling with goosebumps. Local Writer/Producers Arthur Mah & Harvey Li from Alpacalypse impressed the hell out of me. They kept their premise simple and played on our universal fear of being alone in the dark. It's a perfectly executed short film, so I am not surprised they've just won "Best Horror" at the Edmonton Short Film Festival. Well deserved, Bravo!

Turn out the lights and WATCH: KEEP LEFT
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September 23, 2015

Updates: Edmonton Comic Expo

The line-up for the Edmonton Comic Expo is amazing this year. They had me at Spike... and I'm so excited to be joining a bunch of talented people for panel discussions on filmmaking! If you want to know how to break into the film scene and build a career, this is a great opportunity to meet locals who are doing just that! So come by and say hello! I'd love to see what you're wearing.

DIY FILMMAKING IN EDMONTON
Saturday Sept 26, Rm 109 @ 4:30pm
w/ Trent Wilkie, Matt Stanton, Angela Seehagen, Andrea Beca & Darryl Merpaw

HOW TO START YOUR CAREER IN THE ALBERTA INDUSTRY 
Sunday Sept 27, Room 107 @ 3:30pm
w/ Matt Watterworth and Todske

READ: Five Must-Sees at Edmonton Comic Expo | Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal
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September 15, 2015

My Fave Things: Straight To Video


The House of Heathens continue to put Edmonton on the map, now unleashing the stellar genre homage Straight to Video: A B-Movie Odyssey. 


You need to know these names: Tim Rutherford (director) Cody Kennedy (director) Darryl Merpaw (writer) Brandon Boucher (dop) Jesse Nash (lighting guru), Josh Lenner (actor) and Kevin Martin (actor). Raw-genius danger boys who have a mad love for the most awesome/terrible films known, unknown and yet to be created.

After successfully winning the last round of Telus Optik's STORYHIVE, the team took $50,000 and spun a Quantum Leap-esque web-series with brilliant moments of humour and perfectly executed Art Direction.




You'll notice some of our local heroes in the theatre and film scene as well as cameos of the lovely Tristan Risk (American Mary) and Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney and Matthew Ward Kennedy from Astron 6. I seriously couldn't stop laughing. And you know what happens when you can't stop laughing?

So yeah, this is def on my list of my fave things of all time. Start your video odyssey here:




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August 17, 2015

Shadow Boxing


Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows...  There are dark forces influencing everyone right now. A shift in consciousness is calling us to take a look our shadow. It's time to stop playing the victim, to acknowledge our part, our past, our dark characteristics of selfishness, judgement and cruelty that we project upon others. And aren't we feeling raw? This is a tough time to be awake! 
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August 5, 2015

Dropped the Mic on Montreal

With Carolyn Combs, Gloria Ui Young Kim & Carleen Kyle
This year has been full of surprises, coalescing into an intense crash course of professional development and networking opportunities. As part of winning the national genre competition From Our Dark Side, I got to attend my first Fantasia Film Festival and the Frontieres Film Market in Montreal. Those of you who follow me on Snapchat (@ScreamQueenB) would have met my roommate François (a spider who terrorized me in the shower) and caught a glimpse of my grand achievement of tasteful side-boob, wink.
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July 30, 2015

Summer Playlist: Vintage Sunburst


I made you a mixtape. A playlist that smells like wood, feels like a soggy bikini and burns a McG lens flare into your mind. Characteristic of summer, lust with a dash of heartache.

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July 20, 2015

Updates: Travelling to Fantasia Film Festival


I am so excited to be invited to the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal this week! I will be taking in the genre festival and the Frontières International Co-Production Market as part of the From Our Dark Side program with the Women in Film & Television Vancouver, BC Creative, Super Channel and Telefilm. I'll be reuniting with my fellow screenwriters from the program, networking with amazing people in the industry and hoping to catch some of the latest horror films to hit the scene. This will be my first time at Fantasia so follow me on Instagram and Snap Chat (ScreamQueenB) to join the adventure!
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July 16, 2015

Edmonton's Big Deal


In early June I attended the Banff World Media Festival. It was another round of master classes and industry networking, while saying hello to my fave woodland creatures (and Sask boys from Wolf Cop ARROOO). It was here that the CineCoup Film Accelerator announced the latest $1 Million Deal for a prospective film, but there was a twist! Two projects were selected and our hometown team behind High School Brawl was one of them! This is a BIG fucking deal!
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July 13, 2015

I Am Jack's Desperate Plea to Stop


Raw... so fucking raw. That's when you know you're getting to the heart of the story, but Jesus F does it have to hurt so much? Yeah. It does.

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July 9, 2015

All Tomorrow's Parties



Endings are always sad. The inevitable post-Cannes crash has been a long one and I'm not convinced it ever really lets up. As great as it is to be home, it's hard to leave behind an intensely inspiring experience of truly living the dream and connecting with like-minded people along the way. I feel like a bit of myself is missing.

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June 22, 2015

Le Cinéma de la Magie


In the middle of the most prestigious cluster fuck in the world (thank you to Aaron Hillis), the Cannes Film Festival offers magical moments of the human experience. As I sat down to watch an Iranian film Nahid  in Un Certain Regard, I noticed Isabella Rossellini was directly behind us. I had to stifle my giggles as I kept imagining Dennis Hopper breathing into an oxygen tank whining "Daddy likes to fuck." Icons walked among us and became regular people looking to share a dream in the dark. This is the magic of cinema. 
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June 5, 2015

Filmmaking 101: Rebels With Cause


In order to navigate through this dysfunctional illusion called the the film industry, you need a few things: life experience, boundaries and a strong sense of True North. After encountering the dark underbelly of the French Rivera, my palate was cleansed with amazing experiences and incredibly inspiring people who reminded me why I've chosen this path. 
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June 1, 2015

The Dark Underbelly of the French Riveria


Ok, I know you all want to know what Cannes is really  like. It's a perfect division of extremes. High fashion boutiques line the Croisette, the main road along the Mediterranean sea. You're surrounded by extremely beautiful people, stilettos and tuxedos in sharp European haircuts.
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May 29, 2015

A Call to Adventure: The Cannes Film Festival

Photo Credit Creative Mind Group 2015.
My experience at the Cannes Film Festival was an extended Lynchian dream. For fifteen days, everything familiar to me was suspended; relationships, language, landmarks and vegetables were entirely replaced with something new and there was no time to integrate, just dive in.
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May 28, 2015

Keep Rolling Alberta!

The Wet Secrets perform at the 2015 Alberta Film & Television Awards.
 Photo by Jennifer Dacanay
It's the event of the year for the film, television and digital media industry in Alberta and I missed it. While my tired head hit the pillow in France, some of my greatest friends and colleagues were dressed to impress at the longest running awards ceremony in Canada, the Rosies (aka The Alberta Film & Television Awards).
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May 25, 2015

My Fave Things: Adult Wednesday Addams


Nothing delights me more than an witty brunette who brings her own blood the bar, so of course I became an instant fan of the viral web-series Adult Wednesday Addams. While in France, I attempted to share one of my favourite things with my new pals, as the series is now my barometer (and a deal-breaker) for friendship, only to discover it's been shut down due to copyright infringement. It's a little bit of le bullshit.
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May 7, 2015

THAR SHE BLOGS


This little Blog has been honoured with a Yeggie Nomination for Best in Film & TV! The Edmonton New Media Awards (The Yeggies) is an annual showcase of outstanding social media content creators. I first started "Scream Queen of the B Scene" to make a solid commitment to writing and to get comfortable with being visible. I wanted to share my experience as a budding screenwriter and found a way to incorporate my love for politics and my natural enthusiasm for our arts community. There has been some heat, shade and controversy this year, that's for sure, which all the more has affirmed the importance of free speech and having the Ovaries to hit "publish."

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May 6, 2015

Orange Crush


The NDP made history in Alberta last night by overthrowing a four-decade reign of the Conservatives. The world is watching us right now, along with the rest of Canada. It's got me right in the feels. 

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April 29, 2015

Hard Core Filmmakers


At 15 years old, I skipped school to meet the director of Hard Core Logo. Bruce McDonald was in town for the Edmonton International Film Festival and I needed to shake the hand of the man who created a rock n'roll masterpiece, the quintessential Canadian road movie. It was the first time I met a Canadian filmmaker in the flesh. 

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April 24, 2015

The LOVE Boat


As I prepare for my own adventure across the pond, I've been sifting through old photographs of Momma Jane. Just look at those glorious golden gams! The early 80s marked a time of adventure for this poli-sci major from Saskatchewan. Travelling throughout Europe, pretending to be a rich heiress in her Eaton's cotton separates, MJ met a millionaire on the Love Boat and was invited to Monaco for the weekend.

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April 22, 2015

Tiny Bubbles

 
April has been an overwhelming month. Way too much going on, personal and professional. I'm also reconfiguring as a tremendous amount of change is happening. See it's not just the usual torrents headed at me. I'm living in a completely new world. Are you feeling it too?
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March 23, 2015

My Top 5 Storyhive Picks


STORYHIVE has unleashed the latest stream of original webisodes from Alberta producers. Each of these 15 projects are in the running for $50,000 to follow up their pilot with a full series, backed by Telus Optik TV. You can help decide who gets that funding by registering on the STORYHIVE site, watching the projects and giving your vote! You have until Thursday, March 26 to participate, so get on it!

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March 21, 2015

Zou Bisou Bisou


Mon dieu... it's been an incredible month of March! Beyond my greatest expectations! In just 9 days, my amazing supportive community of friends, family and the good people of Edmonton have helped me raise over $5K so I can attend the Creative Minds Program in France. This little Irish gal and her horror film will be at the largest film festival in the world! Pinch me. Is this real life?

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March 11, 2015

Who Run The World?

Meet the winners of the From Our Dark Side Contest:
Gloria Kim, Shereen Jerret, Carleen Kyle, Kate Lingley and me.
Photo by Livio Maynard. 
There is no better way to celebrate International Women's Day than receiving an award at Vancouver's International Women in Film Festival! It was a complete honour to be there and to meet the other winners of the From Our Dark Side contest who are selected for this exclusive mentorship with the Women in Film & Television Vancouver (WIFTV) and Super Channel.

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March 5, 2015

GJR Throwback: Making of Video


It all started with a crazy idea, to step forward as a director and producer and gather some killer creative people to make a pitch-trailer for Gillian's Just Right. At that moment, it was just a concept in development.We entered into the pilot launch of the CineCoup Film Accelerator, gathered support from our community and spent a weekend in a solar powered cabin in the woods, an hour outside of Edmonton.
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