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"There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false.
A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false."
- Harold Pinter
Blog 08-Nov, 2014Creating Art

There is nothing quite like feeling the excitement, nervousness, the sheer giddiness of sitting in an audience, in a large theatre full of strangers who have all gathered to see the film, or stage production that you created. Now I use the word "created" loosely in this sense, as I have held a number of different positions on set, and after working on each of them, with each unique experience and tribulations, when it all comes down to it, sitting there and listening to the reactions of those around you to what they are seeing, hearing them gasp, laugh, cry, jump... The sense of pride and accomplishment is second to none. The journey to that point is long- at times years in the making, with a lot of sweat, late nights and teamwork from a number of people... All for that moment when someone who knows nothing about the journey the film went through - sits down with a bag of popcorn to watch it. It is that sense of creation... Bringing a single idea, thought or image, making it into story on paper, reworking it, draft after draft... To then collecting the resources, the people, the talent and the time to make it into what you see on that screen. I recently helped on a short film called "Necromance", it's about 8 minutes long, took a weekend to shoot... And it has since been accepted into three film festivals and shown to audiences in different parts of the world. This creation that we made from scratch is now affecting people around the world. As you probably read in an earlier blog, a film I directed "Therapy" went to France - and was accepted extremely positively. I know that movies conjure images of fame and fortune and red carpets... And don't get me wrong, at the higher levels there is a lot of that, a lot of political and financial moves that take place... But at the heart of making a film... Is that sense of creation. Making something tangible... From nothing. With that comes a sense of accomplishment and pride as we look up and enjoy what we have created. That is one of the many positive aspects for the arts... It's the bringing together of incredible minds to brainstorm, troubleshoot and create something that wasn't there before. A way to release ideas; and at the same time inspire ideas from others. It is a way to push the boundaries and discover parts of yourself and the world around you that you didn't know were there before. This is film at it's heart. It's not easy to say the least. It is extremely taxing mentally, physically and mentally; with long days, eclectic work conditions and even more eclectic coworkers... But at the end, it's worth it. It's worth it after it is all said and done, to see what you created - and to experience how it affects others. That is art.

03-Apr, 2014Rejuvenation of Creation

Filmmaking is a very broad term that can encompass a variety of different duties. It is almost a "jack of all". I haven't had my hand in filmmaking since I began my travels. I did help a friend on a short film a few weeks back (which was amazing!!), but other than that, I have been exploring other areas of my life, pursuing other passions. Getting back on set was probably one of THE best things I could have done. It surfaced many of the feelings and reasons I starting filmmaking to begin with. Traveling and expanding my other passions, it wasn't that I "fell out of love" with storytelling, it is just that I knew that I needed to step back, reanalyze my desire and refocus. To be honest, I didn't know how I would feel getting back on set. I was nervous, pretty rusty and very anxious. That lasted a day. Much like riding a bike, it all came back to me - With a vengeance. The energy and passion of the other filmmakers, the project, the community of a group of people all with the same passion coming together for a single goal and to support one persons vision. My heart was stolen once again. Love and passion have a way of doing that. No matter the distance, no matter the time, as soon as you step back into it, it is like you never left. Being a storyteller is like being on an emotional roller coaster. There are days that it drives me CRAZY!! I want to scream, growl, cry... Anything to release the buildup of emotion the desire to create builds. And others where I feel completely at peace, fulfilled with the process. Almost like an abusive relationship, or being bipolar... But the struggle is within. The need - And it is a NEED to create takes over. It is almost like there is nothing else in the world. Being away from it for so long, there were other desires that took the place of the one to create, but they were only temporary. It was always there. I recently had the opportunity to edit a short video for a contest "#60days in paradise"
#60days Create Your Own Tobago Video Submission
Create Your Own Tobago Bio
And it all came flooding back... Even more than before because it was a combination of both my passion for creating, and traveling. Something inside of me was released. A flood of emotions and desires exploded... And I was alive. Things I had been holding onto didn't seem important anymore. I have found my calling. This may all sound like insane ramblings, but have you ever been in a moment - In THE moment where everything else fades away. Nothing else is important but right there. That moment hit me last night. I am a storyteller. I am a filmmaker. I am a traveler. I am ready to become everything I am meant to be. It is only when you let go of your fears, your past, your doubts that you are able to reach your potential. The time is now.

01-Mar, 2014Therapy In France

If you talk to any filmmaker... Or really any person who has attempted to submit a film to a festival, you will hear the same... Most films only have a "year shelf life"... Meaning you need to promote the film to your best ability for the first year after it's made, because most likely after that year, the chances of finding a festival that will take the film goes down dramatically. This isn't exactly wrong either. If you read a lot of rules for many of the big festivals, one of the requirements is that the film has been made within the past twelve months. That is why after a year, as a filmmaker you start looking for different avenues to market your creation; be it through the internet, DVD’s, iTunes… And this is why “Therapy” has been such an anomaly. We filmed “Therapy” in 2010, and from the moment it was ready we did everything we could to get it out to the world. A project of passion, one that was dear to our hearts and one that we felt could reach out to people around the world. Rejection letter after rejection letter was received, and as much as we tried to keep our spirits up, we started wondering if it would be accepted. The “Vancouver Women In Film Festival” acceptance letter came in, and we were ecstatic! The 3 days at the festival, surrounded by fellow filmmakers sharing the same passions and learning from others in the industry, we left rejuvenated-the passion burning in our souls once again. A couple of years later the film is submitted to the National Screen Institute… And from there Gimbli, and then in February 2014 the Festival Regards sur le cinéma du monde in France showed it at their festival. After months… YEARS of submitting it, paying for the submission dues… Suddenly almost 4 years later, festivals are coming to us and WANTING to show it. Everything we ever thought about festivals began blurring… There are no definite lines, NEVER give up on your passions. Not only was it viewed at the festival… It won Audience Choice!! Our amazing Producer/Writer Meeshelle Neal was in attendance to accept the award. Although there was the language barrier of French/English, the welcome the film received was warm as it surpassed the cultural boundaries and touched those thousands of miles away from where it originated. The feeling of pride, of joy that our short 15 minute film could affect others across the world became reality. It is one thing to hear about it, to know your film is being viewed elsewhere… But when feelings are expressed directly to the filmmakers, questions answers, feelings and realizations shared… It becomes what film is meant to be…. A bridge between an idea, and a feeling. The idea from the filmmaker, eliciting an emotion from the audience member. That is the greatest gift any filmmaker can receive – is that acknowledgement that what they created touched someone. You may argue that and say it is winning awards (Oscars, etc.)… But I can say from firsthand experience that being able to sit in a theatre, watching what you have created up on the big screen, listening to the reactions of other audience members… When they laugh, when they gasp… You begin to see parts of the film you never saw before. You see it with new eyes. Then after the film when others approach you with experiences on how the film affected them, what they felt… There is nothing better. That is why I became a filmmaker. That is what drives me to tell my stories. To reach out to people and know that I have touched their lives. I love being a filmmaker.

29-Dec, 2013Live In The Moment

“Live in the moment”. “Enjoy the now”. “Savour this feeling”. These are all phrases thrown around daily… But the question is… How?
Anxiety, thoughts of the past and the future cloud your ability to enjoy the present. These emotions may alter your idea of the present by imposing feelings and ideas into a situation that don’t warrant them. (eg: insecurities of past relationships stopping you from fully enjoying a new promising one… Or a fear of any kind in a new situation stopping you from experiencing something new, no matter how safe the activity may be) Worry, about the future, and fear about what has happened in the past, are the quintessential emotions that stop a person from enjoying the moment. We need to stop focusing/dwelling on the past events, or worrying about the future, as you do, the present moment slips away with nothing to show for it. With this, we begin looking at the future as this "thing we will enjoy… In the future", as the present slips away, and the future drifts farther and farther into... The future.
Not only do worries of the future, and regrets from the past affect the moment, but also the worries of what others are thinking, how you will be judged do as well. Once you have the ability to live in the moment, and get out of your head, the criticisms and ideas of others no longer bother you, because you are in the now – you are enjoying the present moment, and not worrying about what others are thinking… And in that, you begin to make decisions and see the world through your own eyes. You are no longer held down by the thoughts of others, of always having to appease those around you… Because you aren’t worrying about what they think. The moment, the here and now… Is yours – And no one else’s. That is the power of living in the moment, or as it has been universally phrased “The Power of Now”. Experiencing life in the moment allows you to step out of reacting impulsively and emotionally (out of anger, or spite-emotionally charged in the moment) and instead gives you the opportunity to react in the moment, to the moment, as opposed to rash decisions based on emotions that may be sparked by memories of prior experiences, or fears of the future. I am not saying that you will not have feelings of anger, joy or spite – because these delicious emotions are what make us uniquely human – and enjoying all of them in the now is what makes life so incredibly colourful, painful, exciting and glorious… But it is when you bring emotions outside of the moment - Outside of the now – into the present, that you have allowed yourself to slip back into yourself.
Accept the way things are. It is when you try to change the current situation, or refuse to accept it, that you bring more pain and struggle to yourself, and refuse to live in the now. When we allow our minds to instill feelings, assumptions and biased feelings into a situation - we aren't accepting the moment for what it is. An example: You walk into a room with two other people, as you enter they get up and leave, many times your first instinct would be to jump to the idea "they are leaving because of me" - you are instilling your own insecurities into the moment, with no reason. To live in the moment, is to just walk into the room, they leave... And that's it. You continue enjoying the moment without the distraction of worrying about what others are thinking. Learning to accept both yourself, and the current situation can also allow you to react more intuitively to the current circumstance. When we look back at events in our lives and say “I should have done “blank”… I should have said “blank”… You begin to wonder why you didn’t think of it in the moment… It is because you weren’t in the moment. You were too much in your head, as opposed to being fully immersed in the present moment to rationally think about what would be best in that particular situation.
I know that for myself, it is so easy to say “I have to be more “in the moment”… But then the question arises of “how?”. How do I escape from the worries, anxieties and fears in my mind… The constant loop of thoughts, questions, commentary that never ends from the moment I wake in the morning, to the moment I lay back down on the same pillow. The answers to this question is what I have been striving for… And as simple as it may sound, the very first, and easiest step is… To breath. Now I know it all sounds cliché, and you are forever hearing from different sources to breathe… But I can attest from experience, that it works. There is a reason why so many different techniques for fitness (yoga), exercise, Buddhism, anger management, martial arts, etc. all give focus to the art of breathing. Now I’m not saying that you need to go out and spend money on breathing techniques, what I am suggesting is to slowing start becoming more aware of your breathing. You will inevitably begin altering the way you breath as you start focusing on it… But that is not the purpose. The purpose is to focus on something that is in the here and now, and force your thoughts away from what you’re going to make for dinner, or worrying how you’re going to make the next months car payment… It calms all of those anxieties and quiets – a lot of the time – the negative thoughts in your mind that you don’t even know are there. A lot of time 3-4 deep breathes – in through your nose, out through your mouth, are enough to focus yourself - It gives you the time to calm your mind, refocus, and begin anew in a more positive, constructive manner. After awhile you won’t need to consciously take those moments, as you will begin naturally living in the moment… Living in the now. The main reason why I suggest focus on your breathing, is because it is something tangible that is always with you. You will always be breathing (if you’re not… You’re in trouble…), and it is the easiest thing to bring your mind to. It is also extremely fascinating how quickly and effectively you will find that it will calm you.
This is just is the first step of many to begin working on a more positive, focused, in the moment way of experiencing life, that I have found effective. Every journey is different and personalized, but knowing that something as simple as breathing – it’s something we all do – can help bring focus and purpose,; it really puts into perspective just how much control we have over who we are, and can become who we strive to be.
Dance as if no one was watching
Sing as if no one were listening
Love as if you’ve never been hurt
Live every day as if it were your last
Savour. Indulge. Love. Live.

23-Nov, 2013Moving Forward

Life is an incredible, fascinating, confusing journey on this spinning globe we call earth. There is no greater gift than the opportunity to wake up each morning and take on a brand new day. It can be glorious, painful, exciting, frustrating and enlightening... All at the same time. It is through the moments of your greatest pain and confusion, that one can experience the greatest enlightenment. The times of confusion where your entire being is screaming "Why me?!?!" or "This isn't what was supposed to happen!", are the moments you will look back on and see that those were the moments that were the beginning of something glorious and amazing. In those moments of change, of intense pain and confusion, instead of pushing the feelings away and suppressing them - embrace the feelings. Allow them to control your being. Laugh, cry, hate, release, scream out... Grasp these emotions, as they are what make us human. We aren't robots, we can't be strong and composed at all times. Strength and character are built from these moments of weakness, and how we work through these times and come out on top.
We are what we've done, who we've met, and how we've dealt with everything life has thrown at us. As we grow and learn from each turn, we become more of the person we strive to be... As long as we learn from each event. Life will not always go the way we want. And at the moment that things may go "wrong", or turn our lives upside down, we will question "WHY?!?!", as our life shatters and we are left to pick up the pieces and put our lives back together. At the moment, we can't see or understand the reason beyond the pain and confusion.. We are blinded in the moment. It isn't until later, once everything has cleared, that we are able to look back and see that everything was for the best. And if that moment/event hadn't happened... We wouldn't have gained all of the knowledge, insight and life. It isn't until our life shatters, that we have the opportunity to analyze the pieces, and put everything back together tighter, and stronger than ever. The moments of pain, the moments we hate, are the moments that allow us to become all that we can be.
Life will happen, and we won't always understand it, but if we learn, we will grow. I challenge you to grow. To live. To step outside your comfort zone and allow yourself to feel. If there is anything life can teach us. It is to learn. Learn from each experience. This will allow you to grow, and ensure you don't make the same mistake again. I have finally learned this lesson. I have made the same mistake over and over - and the cycle ends now. I have learned. It is time to take the lessons learned, take the person I have become, and push myself to become more. The time is now. I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I do know what and who I am now, and it is time to embrace that and take this time of change and make the most of it. The time for new beginnings is now. Time to shed the past, leave it behind me and embrace the present and make the future everything it can be... And more.
The time is now.

07-Oct, 2013Balkans

Even though my journey through Europe has been going on for almost a year, for myself, it truly began in the Balkans. First day: Sept. 20, 2013 in Dubrovnik. People always seem to comment, or tease people who travel for extended periods, saying "You'll come back a new person..." Or "You'll learn so much about yourself..."; and if you had said that to me 3 weeks ago... I would have laughed at you and said "How cliche!", and gone on about how we are the same before an after, we may have new experiences BUT... Blah blah blah.. That was before my trip truly began. My time in the Balkans may have been short, but the impact on my life, and how I view the world and myself has been huge. There is a part of me that wishes I had had more time there... But deep down I know that every moment had its purpose, and it was perfect as it was.
I see now how true the words "Everything happens for a reason" really are. I of course had heard the saying... Had agreed with it... It makes sense... But until now the words never truly resonated with me. I guess it was the analytical part of me that just couldn't grasp it... Had to experience to believe. The Balkans - the experiences therein, the people I met, having touched their lives on their journey, as well as them touching mine, and inspiring me with their stories. The countries themselves with their sorted pasts, and how after not even 20 years after death and destruction in that area, they are a people of conviction and strength as they move forward rebuilding their lives and shaping their futures. And as well, myself opening my mind and allowing the world in. Each new day, new city, new traveller brought with it something more to open my eyes and my heart to what the world truly has to offer... And more than that, what I have to offer the world. For the first time in years... Or maybe in my life - I shed my own ideas and thoughts of what should be, and allowed myself to enjoy what was. I quit saying no... And I let go. I have never felt so free... And as I allowed myself to experience, more of life happened. Even in Belgrade, it was pouring rain... And instead of allowing that to stop my idea of what I "should" do in Belgrade, I went with the flow and ended up connecting with some amazing people, and seeing a Belgrade I wouldn't have known otherwise.
Travellers are a determined breed of people with an incredibly simple and honest view of life with one goal... To experience and explore. To live life and see as much of it that you can, because all we have is the here and now - and we have to make the most of it. The words "I can't", or "I don't have the time/money/resources" don't exist. Where there is the will - there is a way. If you truly want something, you will move land and sea to make it happen. So it's not a matter of "I can't", but instead "I won't". I haven't met one traveller who has said "I can't go there..." No, it's always "I am DEFINITELY going there". The desire to experience overcomes all negative thoughts, and they make it happen.
Travelling is such an eye opening and fulfilling experience, once you allow yourself to be open to everything it has to offer. Kind of like thee journey called life. Take everyday and make it yours.

20-Sep, 2013Mt. Etna

The tallest volcano in Europe, located in southern Sicily, by Catania. Having read up on it online, seeing photos, etc. I knew instantly that I needed to see the world from the top. Looking at different tours and possibilities, nothing quite felt right, as the idea of being herded around like sheep in a tour didn't appeal to me, and there was something deep down that felt like I needed to do this on my own. I see now that my spirit longed for the opportunity to conquer... Something... Anything.
The past nine month have been a huge struggle as I have battled the excitement and joy of moving to a new country with the one I love, finding a place to live and a job... With being given the news of someone very close to me back home being very sick, and the possibility of never seeing them again. Everyday became an emotional battle between following my dreams... Or going back home. The excitement of the experience being undercut by feelings of guilt. I began struggling with anxiety and depression as I tried to cope with all of the conflicting emotions. The feelings of helplessness were overwhelming as I knew that there was nothing I could do back home... So I forged forward, but the feelings followed and continued to grow. Each day I would wake and immediately check my phone, and sigh with relief when there was no news. I would go about my day to day activities trying to focus on the now.. going to work in London, making and meeting friends, building a life there, sightseeing... and just taking it all in... Pushing aside the guilt. I knew this wasn't the way I wanted my European journey to be, but I tried to convince myself that I was where I should be... And even today I believe that I was... It doesn't make the guilt any less.
When the call came in Croatia saying that my loved one didn't have much time and I should come home.. My heart sank and my world fell apart. The hope that I had been holding onto was crushed, and I fell... I fell hard. I am not good at expressing my emotions, In fact I am a lot better at suppressing them (aren't we all!), and covering them with sarcasm and laughter... But they were too much and they overtook me; I fell into a downward spiral of depression. Taking the next flight home I rushed to the hospital, vowing to be strong, while inside I was falling apart. The next week all of the nine months of emotions took over and my world collapsed. I had hit rock bottom. At the same time, the health of my loved one began to get better. I sat next to her day and night, feeding her, talking to her... And each day I saw her grow stronger and saw the light in her eyes return. She was back. The joy and relief pulsed through me... But couldn't break through the guilt that I should have been there, I shouldn't have let this happen. The next few weeks were dark as I tried desperately to ease my heart... Cut through the depression. Wanting to get my life back on track, I returned to Europe, more determined to finish what I had started, and put a happy ending on the journey I had embarked on... But I fell harder as my relationship of over four years came crashing down... When I needed them the most, they walked away.. And having travelled back to Europe... I was alone, and hurting. It wasn't the death of a loved one, but the ending of a relationship I now had to overcome.
Nine months of uncertainty and guilt... I needed to take back my life. Mt.Etna was that for me. Knowing that I can succeed... That beneath all of this pain and struggle, I am still here, and far from ready to give up the fight.
I say all of this to set the stage. that for me, Mt.Etna wasnt just another day out.. it was a symbol of everything I had been going through.. The symbol of depression and anxiety and hurt... And I had to overcome... I had to reach the summit.
The earth below me like loose gravel, a black shale as it crunched beneath my feet. Around me barren, no vegetation in sight, and I felt like I was on a black Mars. The blue sky above, the white clouds around me, and the black of the volcano at my feet. The sun beat down as the journey began light and full of excitement, but as the hike continued, the sleepless nights, improper eating and emotional exhaustion set in and my body ached to turn back... To give in. The temptation was great, I began to feel lightheaded and unsteady.. But I forged ahead, needing to do this, not allowing everything that was out of my control, control what was and destroy my will to succeed.. And I did it. I silenced the thoughts of negativity and pushed my body forward. my heart beating in my ears, I cursed aloud at my weaknesses, willing them away. Reaching the summit, I gazed into the crater, the wind blowing so strong against my exhausted body that I thought for a moment it would take me away.. But I did it. Raising my hands in the air, I let out an exasperated yelp of joy, and then another... And then a full yell of conviction. The feeling of freedom engulfed me as I realized I am strong. I am determined. and no matter what life throws at me, I will overcome. This is my life and I will make it on my own. I am not helpless, I do have control, and will take this life for all it's got. There will be ups and downs as I forge forward, and even though I have reached the summit, there are still wounds that need to heal, and lessons to learn, but at least I know if I can do this, there is nothing I can't do.

07-Sep, 2013Excuses

Excuses. We all make them, and they are what I have come to believe are what separate the successful, from the ordinary. They are what stop people from living their dreams and doing more than what they ever thought possible. I don't want to sound "preachy", or like I'm on a high horse, because I am the first to admit that I am notorious for making excuses. Example: 5 years ago my 5 year plan was to complete a feature film. And... Well... Here I am, with no feature film under my belt. Over the past 5 years my excuses were plentiful "I need to make a couple more shorts to gain more experience", "this script isn't ready", "where am I going to find the funding?"... And the list goes on. Now they are all very viable excuses... But to be 100% honest with myself, if I really wanted to make a feature film, I would have. I really wanted to travel Europe, and look what happened? There have been MANY obstacles that I had to face to get here... Yet because I truly wanted it, I made it happen. I've seen this not only in myself, but in others as well. They have said that they want to do something, yet they "can't" for x reasons. Now let me tell you a story that I heard recently that inspired my thoughts on excuses. I was speaking with another traveller, and he was saying that he travelled from Seattle to Malta... By "hitchhiking" on boats. He essentially thumbed it across the Atlantic... And he's gonna keep going across the Mediterranean. I tell you this as the ultimate statement of "Where there's a will, there's a way". He could have told himself "I can't afford it", or "it's impossible to get to Europe unless I fly"... But he did it. If he can do that, then I have absolutely NO excuse. People who say "I can't lose weight because I don't have time to go to the gym"... I challenge you to write out a weekly schedule of all your activities, all the way down to your favourite TV show, and I can almost guarantee that you will find time.. All you have to do is want it, and schedule it in. Make it a priority. Life is priorities.
Now I know and understand that there are some instances where forces outside your control may limit you from reaching your goals... An example might be someone with poor eyesight wanting to become a fighter pilot. They are unable to do this. But, that doesn't stop them from going up in a jet. Maybe even taking the controls. It's not everything they had dreamed of, but at least it's something. At least they can say "I did that", instead of "I can't" or "I almost"... Those must be the worst words " I almost"... I can say I almost built a time machine when I was younger... I tried. So how is that any different from "almost trying" to reach your dreams? It's not... Except I gave it an honest 8 year old effort.
Wipe away the excuses that are holding you back. Instead of saying "I can't, because...", think outside the box and make it happen. Depending on what it is, you may fail, but then you wipe yourself off and keep going, because if you have the passion, the drive and the will... Nothing can hold you back.

30-Aug, 2013Turkey

It's funny, when you think of ancient ruins, roman colosseums, and people like Julius Caesar and Hadrian, you think of Italy... Of Rome. Turkey doesn't tend to cross your mind... At least it didn't for me. Then to come here and step back in time to a place in the world that is so full of Turkish, Greek, Ottoman, Lycian culture... No other place has compared to the depth of Turkey. I don't know what I expected when I came here... In my mind I pictured a place very eastern feeling... Much like Morocco (which is funny considering Morocco is geographically more west than Turkey)... But Turkey is an incredible mix of East and West. I have never met such warm, welcoming people. Our first day in Turkey we venture off to do some sightseeing and decide to take public transportation to the "Düden" waterfalls. Taking public transportation is an excellent way to immerse yourself into the everyday of the city you're in, I love it!! And we ended up getting off too early... 3 Kms too early. Speaking with a gentleman/cafe owner on the corner (and by speaking I mean communicating as best we can through sign language as neither of us spoke the other language!! Lol), he flagged over another fellow from across the street who then jumped in a car and drove us the rest of the way to the waterfalls! When I offered him payment as a thank you he refused to take it and drove off, waving goodbye as he left. There is a relaxed type of feel to everyplace we have visited, and it has really been the people that have made this part of our journey incredible. Before this, Croatia took my breath away with its stunning coastline and crystal clear waters. The coastlines in Turkey are stunning, but they don't compare to that of Croatia... But if I were to choose where to come back, it would be Turkey, and that is because of the people... Well, and the culture and history... I've become a bit of a history lover on this trip.
All of that being said, if you are looking for a place of wonder, history, incredible geological formations that will leave you speechless, Turkey is the place.... And I haven't been to Istanbul yet!!!

23-Jul, 2013Homeless & Unemployed

Homeless and Unemployed. On an average day that thought would be frightening to most people. Not having an address, a roof over your head, or a job to pay the bills. The uncertainty and unknown of the future. Pictures of shopping carts and dark alleys rush into your mind. Yet here I am. Both Homeless... And Unemployed - and have been for months now. To be honest, when I started on the crazy European adventure, it was the thought of being a nomad that frightened me the most. It is easy to become complacent in a life of security. Knowing when the next paycheque is coming, being able to go home at the end of the day knowing that everything within those four walls is yours. To take all of that away, strip life down to the bare essentials, strap it to your back and leave... It is quite daunting. Priorities start taking different shapes. Instead of being stressed out about calling back that client the next morning, or watering the grass... You start working on where you are going to sleep the next night, and how you are going to get there, whether it be by bus, train, boat or plane. Oil changes on your car becomes trips to the train station to buy your ticket for the next morning. Priorities change and life takes on a different meaning. It no longer becomes about making money, retirement plans and promotions - it becomes about experiences, 1000 year old monuments and life. discovering who you are, how you tick, and what truly matters to you. Traveling has a way of putting everything in order and allowing you to truly see what is actually important in life. It is tough, grueling, stressful, rewarding, beautiful and worth every moment of each trip. All of the ups and downs, mistakes and breathtaking moments all come together to create a life that is truly unique to you. Only you have gazed upon the Eiffel tower at that exact moment, in that exact spot, with your own eyes. It is no one elses but your own. It is easy to go onto a computer and look at photos of the Sahara desert, but to actually feel the heat off the sand, climb a sand dune to watch the moon rise over the horizon, hear the night come alive in the wind as different sounds and scents blow across your face... Only then have you seen the Sahara desert. Traveling conjures up so many mixed feelings and actually makes you feel alive. For a short moment in your life, you are free. You are free of everything that held you back before and you are able to fully enjoy what this life has to offer. It teaches you how to live without boundaries. It allows you to dream without restraints. Traveling shows you that anything is possible, all you have to do is jump.

23-Jun, 2013A few tips

Having been traveling for a bit now, I've picked up a few pointers or tips for future travels, and maybe others who are planning on strapping a backpack to their back and hitting the road to see what adventures lay beyond. I was thinking it might be nice to share a few of them... Only a few otherwise this could go on forever... And I gotta go do some more exploring!
I feel that the biggest, and probably the most important thing a person can do when planning, is choosing the best hostel. They are NOT all the same, and they definitely are not just a bed to sleep on. The hostel you choose will largely reflect the experience you have in a particular city, so ensure that you know what you want to get out a place before choosing. For example there are youth hostels, cheap hostels, backpackers, party hostels, hostels more focused on sightseeing/adventure type activities, hostels that cater to families... And the list goes on. Choosing the right hostel for the destination is key. For example, we ended up staying at a pretty laid back cheap hostel in Barcelona, and it ruined our experience of Barcelona because we were there to party and have fun, and we weren't in the right environment. Meanwhile we stayed at a party hostel in Valencia, and even though the city was small, we had an absolute blast because it catered to having fun and meeting people. Now I am not saying that you should always stay at "party hostels"... Unless that is what you are going for, because a lot of them do just cater to the nightlife, and if you are wanting to explore the city more, you may not get a lot of help.
On the note of hostels, there are a number of hostel sites to go on. Hostelworld, Hostelbookers are the biggest ones. They offer info and reviews and have good and bad points to each. The great thing is that they do post unbiased reviews from fellow travelers which is a great view into the "real" world of the hostel, and not just the write up they provide. I do offer warning though to be careful with the reviews as we have come across some hostels that seem to have good ratings/reviews... Only because there are "Planted" reviews from hostel!! If something seems fishy, goe with your gut :)
Travel days. These are not always the funnest... And in a lot of cases are a right pain in the butt!! The planning of the journey, looking at planes, trains and buses... It can eat up a fair bit of your time. There are A LOT of options, from Rail Passes (for a price allow you to travel within a certain number places, on a specified amount of days), bus passes (same deal... except with coaches), and of course the cheap flights all around Europe using the budget airlines (Ryanair, Wizz Air, Easyjet... the list goes on). There is also just buying tickets from point to point without the passes. We have done both passes and tickets, and depending on your trip/wants out of the trip, both have great benefits. I would suggest if you are strapped for time, want to do the "big cities" (Paris, Rome, Berlin, Athens, etc) in one go, then the Rail or Bus PASSES are a great idea. If you have a little more time, want to stop in the smaller places, then buying the individual tickets will probably work out better, as your trip won't be as long, and won't cost as much per journey.
Stay flexible, yet still stay organized. Making sure you have all of your travel plans ready at least a day ahead of the travel day is really advisable! We were stuck with our pants down and very limited options out of a city... (see our Kiev trip below..) And it could have been avoidable if we had been ready the day before. At the same time, there are times when you want to stay in a city a day or two longer, and if your plans are booked weeks in advance, it doesn't give you that option. Find that balance of spontaneity and organization that works for you, and you will have an amazing time!
Touring the cities themselves... Take advantage of the free walking tours!! Most of the cities in Europe have them, they are usually really good... And you tip what you feel the tour was worth!! Meaning you don't get stuck paying a lot for a tour you didn't like... Which can happen if you prebook a tour with a company.
Budgeting. The myth that traveling Europe is expensive... Can be both myth or reality, depending on how you travel. Each city has LOADS of free things to do and see. Grocery stores are a great option instead of restaurants (and you don't have to worry about tipping!!) and most hostels have cooking facilities of some sort. Traveling on a budget is doable for sure... AND if you are under 26 there are TONS of travel discounts (so do it while you're young), and if you have a student card... BRING IT!! 90% of attractions offer student discounts. As well, don't get stuck in the tourist areas for food/drink, those areas feed off the wallets of travelers. Get off the beaten path a bit, and you can save yourself a fair amount!

These are just a few tips... A lot of traveling is common sense and trial and error. It is a load of fun and definitely something everyone should do at least once. I can't begin to express how much I have learned... Not only about the world, but about myself.

19-Jun, 2013Auschwitz

Auschwitz. Just the name can induce feelings of fear and images of destruction, pain and suffering into the minds of people. I had learned about the holocaust and Hitler in school, but to see first hand what he did to people, and it wasn't only him, but Heinrich Himmler and others as well who all contributed to the pain they inflicted on innocent people. Having visited the Dachau concentration camp just outside Berlin, done some tours in Germany, France and Poland, researched some information on WWII while we were in Germany in December, I thought that I was prepared for what I was to witness at Auschwitz & Auschwitz Birkenau, but nothing at all could have prepared me for the horror. Hundreds of pounds, yes POUNDS of hair. The prisoners were forced to have their heads shaved when they entered the camp, their hair sold, or woven into textiles like rugs. a rug made of the hair of suffering prisoners of a concentration camp. The horror of the nazis went beyond the scope of what I ever could have imagined. Millions of pairs of shoes from the victims of the camp stacked high in cabinets along the corridors, stories of pregnant women being shot point blank because they were pregnant. A concrete wall stands solitary along the back of a courtyard, a memorial with flowers stands in front, where men women and children all stood... Sometimes families, all stood in front of a firing squad; the youngest to be executed being only two months old. The bodies being burned in the crematorium, where inside was both the crematorium and the gas chamber, where the walls are still covered in the scratch marks of the men, women and children who suffocated within those walls, only to be burned in the next room, and their ashes used to make cement. Medical "Professionals" used the prisoners as guinea pigs to test their sick and twisted experiments on. This is only the first camp, Auschwitz I... The small camp.
It was found that it wasn't big enough to perform all of the horrors the nazis had in mind. Over 1.5 million people were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The number can't be verified, and may very well be much larger than that, but records were destroyed, and near the end of the war, records weren't kept. Walking through the gates of Birkenau, the barracks and buildings seem to stretch out forever. Being 20x larger than Auschwitz I, the railroad tracks pull right into the camp... And all the way next to the crematoriums at the end, which the nazis tried to destroy before they fled the camp at the end of the war in an attempt to hide what they were doing. The wreckage of the crematoriums stand untouched since 1945, where they once stood, a grim reminder of the atrocities committed in that very spot. Being able to cremate thousands of bodies a day, they still weren't able to keep up with the demand.
I have spoken with people who feel that places like Chernobyl and Auschwitz shouldn't exist as they are capitalizing on human suffering and horrific events. I personally do not agree with this. To have places like these are to have constant reminders of our past mistakes, and in that, have the ability to educate future generations in the hope that we may not make the same mistakes again. There is a big difference between learning facts in a text book, and seeing the effects of history first hand. I can't begin to describe the effects of that visit had on me, as I now comprehend more fully the extent of the horrors.
In Kiev WWII museum, there hangs a pair of gloves above a bar of soap, made from the nazi's. It seems innocent enough, until one realizes that the gloves are made of human skin, and the soap of human fat. That is what the war did. That is what hatred, greed, and power can lead to.
I hope that we may never see a war, or a hatred as malicious as the one that spawned WWII.

17-Jun, 2013An interesting Little Story...

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go right? No matter how hard you try, it seems that the universe is against you? In the regular day to day, you can just go home, close the door, lock the windows and wait for tomorrow to come and start everything fresh again. When you are traveling though, it's not quite that easy... It can be a lot harder to conquer the tribulations that keep getting thrown at you, and there is nowhere to hide.
To change things up a bit, this blog is the story of the WORST travel day I have ever experienced.
The story begins a couple of days before our travel day... When I was cursed by a Ukranian Babushka. Yup... That's how it alllll started.
Thursday June 13, 2013 (Maybe the date should have been a hint as well). We have reserved seats on a 14 hour bus from Kiev to Krakow for 17:00. Around noon we go to pay for/print off the tickets... And discover that we aren't able to. So off to the bus station we go to do it all in person. We get there just as the office is going on a 30 minute lunch break. So we wait, and then talk to the girl... Well, not so much as talk as hand gestures and showing of printed emails, for her to then say she has no idea who this company is. We ask if they have a bus to Krakow, she says the next morning at 08:00. Nope, we gotta leave today.
So we head over to the train station as we know there are trains as I had looked them up online, and of course with the old school system in the Ukraine, you can't buy international tickets online... Unless you go through an agent and have them be double the price.
We find the "tourist information" desk... As we tried to communicate with the attendant, it was clear she was annoyed that we couldn't speak Ukranian or Russian, and that she wasn't willing to help. We follow the signs with pictures of tickets into a large room full of lines with the word "KASA" written above them. Some lines say "Military", but the rest appear standard. We try our luck with one of the lines. 35 minutes later, we reach the front. We show the train schedule I had a screen print of on my phone, she says "Krakow" (or at least what we thought was Krakow), we say yes, Krakow Poland, and we pay for the tickets and head back to our hostel to grab our things. We speak to our hostel receptionist... The ticket we bought was for a town in northern Ukraine... Not Krakow Poland. Great.
So we grab our things to head back to the train station to get the correct ticket, it being close to 4:00 by this time, and the train leaving at 17:27 (or on another website 18:20 for the same train)... The Ukranian system is backwards!! We decided to take a taxi to speed up the process... As we go to cross the street to get the taxi, I hear a cry and turn around. Whitney had fallen on loose cobblestones on the sidewalk and rolled her ankle. When you're carrying 30kgs extra on your back, any fall is a bad one. I rush back to her to make sure she's okay. We hobble over to the taxi and head back to the train station. We choose another line... And of course as luck would have it, either line on each side of it went twice as fast as the one we chose. 17:35 hits before we finally reach the agent, 50 minutes after arriving at the station... Only to find that the international tickets are in a completely different room. We had it wrong the whole time!! We go to the other room... And it's dead. There is NO ONE there. We could have been through the line and on the train... Instead... Still stuck in Kiev. We speak with the agent, she says there are no trains that night, or on the 14th either. Really?!? Could it get any worse? We turn and see a bus ticket office and try our luck. The agent is unresponsive and doesn't help. We are approached by a guy offering a bus to Lviv, and from there we can get either a train or bus to Krakow. I had read that Lviv is a transport hub, so figured this may be an option. Skeptical about this guy, we ask the bus agent and she nods and in broken English says "he's fine". We follow him to a smaller bus terminal, where we proceed to buy tickets for a 21:00 bus to Lviv out of a broken down trailer (I know, real legitimate!!) We wait by the 20 seater short bus, and at 20:00 they have sold all of the tickets for the bus, and we are off!!
We reach Lviv around 03:00 and are left standing in front of the train & bus station. None of the ticket booths are open, so we go into the train station as there are "interesting" things happening in front of the bus station.
Finding a spot on the floor, we join the roughly 150 other people who are sleeping in the train station. At 06:00am I speak with a taxi driver who tells me there are no buses to Krakow from that station, there is another bus station that services that route, and the next bus isn't until 19:30... Really?!?!?! So we wait until 07:00 to speak with the train agent... And are advised that the next train isn't until 23:59... This day just keeps getting better! We decide to take a bus to the other bus station to see what's going on there. We speak with agents there who confirm the 19:30 departure.... Oh yeah, there was also one at 06:00 that morning... SERIOUSLY?!?!
Having read online about people who take buses to the Ukraine/Polish border, walk across, and then get transport on the other side, I go out on a limb and ask if there is a bus to the border. We are finally in luck! The next bus leaves at 10:20!!! We buy the tickets, not knowing how we're going to get to Krakow from this border town, but are just happy to be moving. 11:10 rolls around... No bus. We speak with an agent, who yells at another guy, who runs around the corner of the station, and within minutes the biggest, oldest boat of a bus rolls around the corner. Our chariot has arrived.
We both pass out on the bus after having only slept maybe 3 hours on and off all night. Reaching the border, we go through Ukranian customs... Go forward 100 meters, and then go through Polish... To finally make it on Polish soil at 14:00!!! Only 26 hours after we initially went to purchase our tickets in Kiev. We reach the small Polish border town named Przemysl!! The bus doesn't leave until 18:30... So we go to the train station... Pleeeeaaaassse!!! And in luck!!! 15:30 train!! The Babushka curse must only work in the Ukraine :). We buy the tickets and wait. At 15:30 we head to the platform, Whitney hobbling, but such a trooper despite her ankle. Reaching the platform, there is no one there. I look at my watch, and a thought dawns on me... Has there been a time change? looking around, we see a clock further down the platform "14:20". Yup. The Universe is throwing us one last curveball just to make sure we know who's in charge. We wait the final hour and get on the train. Having the compartment all to ourselves, we sleep on the train until a few other passengers board a few hours later. I have never been so happy to see a city. 21:00 we pull into Krakow. 25 hours after our bus left Kiev, 3 buses and a train later... We reach Krakow. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been in, with the oldest town center in Europe because it is the only one that wasn't bombed during WWII!!
In spite of the adversities, the uncertainties, and the complete chaos that was those 25 hours, it proved that in the face of adversity, we can overcome. We didn't give up, we found solutions to problems, even when they seemed hopeless.... And we will NEVER NOT have a transport ticket in our hand the day we leave a city!! Lol

03-Jun, 2013Identity

The word identity evokes many different ideas to different people. People have identity crisis, they try to discover who they are, what they want to do, who they want to be, and most of this stems from their past, what they have done, experienced and seen. This shapes who you are today, and who you will be in the future. Identity is extremely important to people, to cultures... And also, as I have learned on this trip - Countries. A person saying that they are "trying to find themselves", doesn't seem that far fetched, and in fact is quite common. But to hear of a country doing the same thing, it seems a little odd... Especially countries like Spain, England, France, that have been around for centuries, and at one point have been huge dynasties. Places like Canada and America, are young and still trying to figure things out, but to look at Spain, who is also struggling to discover itself, is such an eyeopener. Riddled with wars, struggles for independence, different cultural and religious influences from Muslim to Christian to Catholic, all coming together in a huge mixing pot of people and ideas that are trying hard to find their true "Spanish" identity. There are times when I do look at Canada and think that it is easier as it is a new country and can just start anew without the history... Much like construction, at times it is easier to build a new house, than to try to renovate an older one. That being said, there is a lot to be said for "older homes" - the character, the life that it has, that you can't find in a new home. Experiencing different parts of Spain is like walking through different countries. Granada compared to Barcelona or even Madrid, is like night and day. The accents of the language are different, the people, the food, the streets, the feel... It is incredible to see that cities are able to keep their own personal identity within the same country. The Spanish people are a strong willed, opinionated people who have strong roots in the past, but at the same time long for change and a new world, and aren't afraid to speak out for what they believe. I admire this, and strive to take that away for myself as well. It is important to live the life you want, follow your heart and stand up for what you believe in. Being in Morocco, and meeting people, when you met someone who was Berber, they stated it proudly and with conviction. It was wonderful to see the pride in their eyes of their heritage. I loved it. They know who they are.

15-May, 2013War

The longer I am in Europe, the more I realize the devastation and impact that war has had on the world. Not only in terms of the number of lives lost, which in itself is extremely sobering and should be enough to stop anyone from beginning future wars, but also in what we as humans have lost in historic information and cultural identity. How many historic records, priceless pieces of art & literature and magnificent architecture/ancient ruins must be destroyed by the hand of greed and war? When will it end? I know for myself as someone who has only grown up learning of war from textbooks and films, I never fully realized the extent of the damage done by the hand of war. To walk through the streets here where stone walls are riddled with craters made from bombs and guns. To see first hand the memorials erected in memory of the brave men and women who lost their lives at the hand of a force that was threatening both the freedom of themselves an their families, but also generations to come. To feel the impact war has had... Even as I walk the streets today... It is a feeling that is hard to describe and put into words. Walking along the beaches of Normandy, looking across the beaches and out toward the water, the views breathtaking as I feel like I am in the tropics, the feeling on June 6, 1944 must have been extremely different. The very place where children now play and people walk along the promenade was once stained in blood. Why do we not learn from history? Over and over it continues to repeat itself, always leading countries into war against each other. For what? It always seems to be some sort of political, religious, greed or revenge motive, and it is not the perpetrators who suffer the most, but instead the millions of people who somehow get caught in the cross-fire.
I hope that I may never know first hand a war like those that litter Europe's past. May the world find more effective ways of resolving disputes and follow more in the footsteps of people like Ghandi and Daniel O'Connell.

18-Apr, 2013Traveling

The adventure has begun. Having bounced around Ireland and Iceland, it is easy to see why people get addicted to traveling and never stop. Some of the places I have been just in the past two weeks have been breathtaking and I am excited to see what the next few months have in store. Iceland is an absolute must see for everyone and anyone. There are no words that can describe the landscape and the scenery. I do highly recommend going to the north as well, and not just sticking to Reykjavik and the south. Myvatn Lake is out of this world. The view changes around every corner. One moment you feel like your in a painting the landscape is so beautiful. The next turn your on Mars with the red mud-like dirt, then you blink and you are in a winter wonderland with the world around you covered in white. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been. Almost a thousand photos later, I have my work cut out for me with having to go through them! The history and story behind each place we visit adds to the beauty of the country as I learn more about the people, culture and what has formed societies outside of what I know in Canada. I must admit I have a new found respect and admiration for the Irish people. They have been beat down so many times through the years, from revolutions, wars, famines.. And yet they still fight through the hardships and keep moving forward. The more I learn about different cultures the more I see that there are many stereotypes that are true. I know people like to make fun of stereotypes, but at the same time, it is the little quirks that make each place that much more exciting and fun to visit.
It is very interesting to see how much European history has been shaped by both the Romans and the Vikings. Everywhere we go the Vikings and the Romans have been there in the past and have left a very big mark on the people and the country. It's incredible to think how they traveled in their time with ships and on foot/horseback to the remote regions of Europe, Asia and Africa and left their mark. I love it.
If I were to choose the top places I have been so far... It would be hard to pin it down to a few, but at the moment it would be the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, Myvatn Lake and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Northern Iceland and the Gullfoss waterfall. The sheer power and beauty of mother nature.. Every time I think I have seen the most beautiful place on earth, the next place I go is even more spectacular. I don't know what the future has in store, but if it is anything like these two weeks, I am in for an amazing journey.

28-Mar, 2013Past, Present and Future

I am not the same person who boarded the plane from Vancouver to London on October 17, 2012. As cliche as that may sound, it is the truth. There hasn't been some profound revelation that has blown everything I ever believed in. Or some moment of light that has changed my life forever. It is the small day to day happenings - and how I react to them, and how they affect me that has changed. Stepping outside of the life I had created in Vancouver and beginning a new adventure in London has been one of the biggest eye opening experiences of my life. I did it before in 2007 when I moved from Calgary to Vancouver - but it wasn't the same. The way in which the world is viewed, the way in which life is lived out here is different, and being surrounded by it opens your eyes to everything you had, and everything you took for granted. I know that I have touched upon many of these thoughts in my previous blogs, but I don't think I myself fully comprehended the extent, or reality of what I was feeling/experiencing.
I had a conversation the other day about the difference between Americans and Europeans... And the topic of nationalism/pride came up. It was joked that the Americans put their flag on everything, how they wear it as bandanas, they tie it around their neck as capes.. They are extremely patriotic. A comment was made that the reason for this, is because they have not yet experienced defeat. Most of the major European powers have experienced great defeat in their history. Many at one point were huge European economic powers - The Romans had most of Europe and Europe at one point, Spain and the British as well. And with that power also came enormous defeat as each empire collapsed. The most recent of these would have to be the attempt of the Germans to expand their empire during World War II. The history isn't that old. It is from the collapse of these empires that a caution arose within the societies. People felt the weight of defeat. North America is looked at almost like babies in comparison to what Europe has had to endure over the centuries.
Not having grown up in Europe, when I first arrived in London I knew that it was different, it felt different, and I couldn't put my finger on it. As odd as it may sound, it is the history of this amazing continent. It is very heavy and something which the people here know and carry. Spending the day at Warwick Castle yesterday, it was fun... But at the same time the history there was so rich. The idea that where I was standing, the stairs that I was climbing to the walls that overlooked the town and countryside have stood there for centuries. That people have died both trying to defend and conquer that castle. The names and events all kind of blurred together to me... Someone who is a visitor to the history. But thinking that there are young 8 year old children in schools all over England learning this history, and learning from it.
I look at myself and the life I have led up to now, and although the word may seem harsh... But I see the ignorance in the way I thought and saw the world before. It is not a bad thing, in a lot of ways ignorance is bliss. But I want to open my eyes and mind to the world. This trip has been a huge history lesson so far, and learning from the past, I hope to change and shape my future.

23-Mar, 2013Question

It seems that as of late the topic of "questioning information" surrounds me. Questioning the media, art, "facts", images, stories... Everything. What is there in life that we can take at face value? This topic has risen with conversations with multiple customers where I work that all seem to hit on the subject, one where the gentleman actually said point blank "I raised my children to question everything", to a passionate conversation about the film "Argo" and how the facts/story/events were "hollywoodized" for the film, and yet because the words "based on true events" is displayed, people will take it as truth. Yet the "truth" is only that of the opinion of the storyteller/director - and what they want the "truth" of THEIR story to be. This is true with any conversation, piece of art, story in the media - the story told is only that of the person telling it. This is also why Canada has refused to allow Fox News into Canada because of the way they tell their stories - they are very biased in how they relay their facts and offer their own "opinions" which they pass as true information and claim that it is up to the viewer to make their own opinions and question. This is true to an extent where yes - people shouldn't take everything they hear at face value, but instead dig deeper and learn all sides of the story... But when it comes to the news, many people just trust that what they see/hear is truth - because the source in which we hear it from we trust to have gathered all of the facts and shown them without bias. Yet every story has bias. This is why the more I think about that conversation I had with the gentleman, and the statement he made about how he raised his children - the more I believe his words ring true.
I watched the film "Compliance" yesterday. It again is "based on true stories", of a prankster who calls different companies claiming to be a police officer, and how the people he calls "comply" to his ridiculous requests because they believe he is a figure of authority. The fear that people have to stand up to "authority", even when what is being asked is beyond what they deem as "Right". This can be taken back and seen many times throughout history - in countries ruled by dictatorship/fascist governments, Germany in the 1930's/1940's - that is of course on a much larger scale - but how people follow authority. We would think that as a society we would have learned from these events of the past, yet it happens over and over throughout history, and even today in many different ways. How governments use the media to work the masses up into a frenzy of fear in order to justify their actions - actions that if the people were to step back, research and question - are not justified at all. The hidden agenda behind the "stories" and "plots" would make the people more fearful of the people they trust, than the people they are told to target.
The film really resonated with me. There were moments during it that I felt quite uneasy and uncomfortable - both because of the events being portrayed; also because it made me question myself and what I would do in those circumstances. How far would I go? If there is one thing that this film does for the audience that sees it, I hope it is that - make them question themselves, and in doing so hopefully question more of the world around them.
I have always said that I want to create films that make people think, discuss and form opinions - and now as I begin to question more, I want to expand that to my art, and not only have people discuss what they have seen in my work, but question it.

14-Mar, 2013Just around the corner

The mid point of March has now arrived and the travels of April creep closer and closer. Plans for Iceland are in place and the looking into Ireland, Scotland and Wales has begun. The travels of a lifetime are upon me and I feel like a kid in a candy store with so many bright and yummy options to choose from, I don't know where to begin! The wanting to see everything, and at the same not overload each day too much proves to be a fine balancing act, but at the same time makes me laugh at the idea that these are my biggest worries. London has been a fantastic experience, I have had the opportunity to do a lot of soul searching, growing and reflective review of myself which I feel has brought me to a place where I will be able to enjoy the travels ahead more fully, and whatever may lie beyond this time in Europe. There has been a constant struggle of trying not to look too far ahead, as if there is anything these past 5 months have taught me - it's that no matter how much you may plan... Things have a way of happening in their own way. Take Germany in December for instance. That wasn't part of the initial plan AT ALL... And yet has been a huge highlight of the trip so far, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Iceland is the same - it was going to happen... Then not... Then yes... Now it is on and I have the opportunity to share it not only with the one I love, but also with one of my favourite cousins! Having the ability to share this experience with someone else has been incredible. There are of course pros and cons of both traveling in groups or solo... But having someone there to share the experiences with, who may see things that you don't - that you can discuss events and experiences with... That has to be one of the best parts of this trip so far. The feeding off of each others excitement and bringing different ideas to the trip has been so positive as our list of places to see grows daily. I want to see the architecture, history and landscapes... While bringing in the relaxing idea of checking out some of the "top 25 beaches in the world" wouldn't have crossed my mind on my own... Traveling with someone who is so excited to find these beaches and balance the sightseeing with a little rnr is confirmation that this is exactly how the world is supposed to be discovered... Together.

07-Mar, 2013Complacency

Complacency, security and fear. Three themes I have been struggling to figure out and come to terms with for years. They have been the topic of many of my stories and films as I attempt to find my path in this world. They are the main themes of "The Countdown", as Bill and Sam struggle against the norm, the security of their environment against what is morally right. It is easy to settle for something safe as it offers security and the peace of mind that the future is taken care of... That the world you have built will still be there in the future. Of course if you are to speak with any of the richest people in the world, they will tell you that their success came because they took big risks a the beginning to build what they created. They wouldn't have what they do today if they had stayed with the shift work job, or the office job. They looked outside the box, put everything they had on the line for their dream and they went for it. I know that the odds for success are most likely 1000 to 1 for those who make it compared to those who end up filing bankruptcy... That is where the fear comes in. It is that fact that stops millions of people from putting it all on the line.
I am a planner. I always have been. Whenever I plan something, I look for the best options, research the topic, and go for it. This with a side of extreme impulsiveness.. Where if I get an idea in my head, I move hell or high water to make it happen... Tends to sometimes get me in trouble... But at other times work out very well. The looking forward and trying to plan a life as a filmmaker... It is very daunting as there are a lot of unknowns. There is no guarantee that I won't end up chewed up and spit out... And this is the biggest roadblock that is stopping me. The fear of failure. Complacency is so much easier. Yet great motivations and thinkers of our time didn't settle with complacency. They strove for much more than mediocrity. Where does this leave me? This leaves me with a decision to make, and whichever one I choose, I will need to go at it with everything I've got - because if I don't, I refuse to look back 20 years from now and question if I made the right decision. Failure is not an option, because I know that if I do go for broke as a filmmaker, I will not give up... I will move hell or high water and make it happen - because that is who I am. I have pursued this dream so far, but have always kept a safety net handy in case I fell. I've always had a job and a back up plan... Out of fear. And that is what has been holding me back. How can I strive for greatness when I take away the fear of failure? It is that fear that pushes you beyond your limits and makes you hungry for more. That leap is the hardest step to take. There are countless films with these themes, songs, paintings.. Because the artists have taken that jump and know what it's like to fall out of control toward the ground with no safety net, and nothing but their own two hands to rely on to grab hold of something and not let go. A part of the reason for this trip was to cut the safety net out from beneath myself. Give myself the push that I needed. Now the fears and the doubts have begun to set in... As I do have a choice to make. I have found this in my writing as well. I come a cross a roadblock that is myself. I am afraid to push the bar in fear of what may come of it. I am the only one holding me back. There is no one else.
I don't have the answers right now... The idea of "the rest of my life" is daunting. I do know that what I want to do... Is make films. In order to do that, I need to push past the fears that are holding me back... And this is a start. To put out there my aspirations and fears - it makes it real, makes me somehow accountable. This isn't easy as I am not one to put these sorts of emotions out there like this... But I think that's where I need to change. If I can't put my true, raw emotions out there - because of fear of rejection or criticism... Then I can't be a filmmaker. That's not an option.

06-Mar, 2013Proud to be Canadian

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It's funny how these simple words hold so much truth, yet at the same time are so easily forgotten. For me, at the moment, it is being absent from home that is making my heart fonder. Hearing what people from other parts of the world think of Canada, Canadians, the cold, the freedom... It really does paint a clearer picture of how lucky I am... And how proud I am to be Canadian. You always hear how the rest of the world thinks that Canadians are so nice and polite... And we are. We are always there with a helping hand and a friendly smile. Coming to England I wasn't expecting much of a culture shock, I figured we were part of the commonwealth, both English speaking countries, it wouldn't be that different. I was obviously expecting some differences... But I am surprised by how different it truly is... And a big part of it is the people, attitudes and relationships. The people that I have met here have been wonderful, I don't want to convey the wrong idea, but in Canada there is more of an openness, a friendliness and a genuine heartfelt feeling of trust that I haven't found here. The ability to meet someone and connect freely without restraint. The worlds perspective of Canada of freedom and openness... Is true. Growing up in that environment I didn't fully ascertain the fullness of that viewpoint until I was able to look at Canada through the eyes of an outsider. Living elsewhere and being able to reflect and compare - I see now just how lucky I am, and why having a Canadian passport in my pocket is the one thing I can be most proud of. I have had many conversations from people who are from across Europe - people from France, Spain, Poland, Germany, Italy, etc.... And they have all asked the same question... Why have you come here? They are surprised that I would leave Canada to come live in Europe... Why I would ever want to leave Canada at all. At first the question caught me off guard, because I didn't fully understand the meaning behind the question... But I do now.
Discovering the world, visiting these places and discovering more about the world and myself... It makes me want to discover more about where I am from as well. I want to explore Canada, all of it's idiosyncrasies and learn about who I am, where I am from... And what it truly is to be Canadian from the west coast of Vancouver Island... All of the way to the East coast of PEI. My European adventures have just begun and I can't wait to see what the next 6 months have in store... This little Canadian from Calgary Alberta.

26-Feb, 2013Londonian

London is a city much like New York in the sense that many people come from all over the world to make a better life for themselves and reach their dreams and goals. It is a multicultural hub of diversity, creativity and opportunity. Working in a theatre, I am surrounded by like-minded creative people from many different focuses - acting, photography, theatre, film making - and there does seem to be a common struggle for everyone, and that is the balance between art and life. The cost of living here is extremely high with wages that do not meet the demand. The struggle is finding the time and ability to practice their art while having to work & live. This of course is a struggle for artists across the globe, but there seems to be a very defined cynicism of London from the artists I have met. A feeling of being drained by this city with no energy to fulfill their dreams even when they do have the time. Having not lived here long I personally don't have this issue but can see where these feelings can stem from. London does have a pulsing energy that never stops, from the bustle of the streets, the rumbling of the tube underneath, the energy of the nightlife in Soho, to smell of exhaust and the beauty of the building centuries old that surround you on every corner. It is an extremely easy place to get lost... And lose yourself in. It becomes easy to lose sight of the beauty of the surroundings as you go about the daily grind. This comes from centuries of struggle this city has endured, the countless battles it has weathered, and the fact that in itself, London is a Kingdom. Much like the many large cities in Europe.. Like Rome and Paris, London was once an empire of itself. It has been conquered, defeated, beaten, rebuilt, redefined, and risen again amongst rubble to overcome. With all of this history and life at every corner of it - it is easy to lose yourself in it. There is a sense of the inability to break through and into the lifeblood that is London. This is a fast paced, unforgiving city, and maybe in that sense there is the idea that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere - and that is probably true in true Darwinian fashion... Only the strong survive.
Being a visitor... A short term tenant of this great city, I know I will never fully understand what it is like to be a Londonian, but like many of the people here, it is a wonderful place to enjoy nonetheless.

15-Feb, 2013Move Forward, or Move On

A recent dinner with a friend brought up an interesting topic of conversation that resonated with me, and has been something that I can’t shake. A very simple five words with a message very simple and straightforward.
“Move forward, or move on”
The context it was delivered was regarding relationships, but the more I think about it, this can be carried into many faucets of thinking – work, creative outlets, exercise, day to day activities, ideas, thoughts… Everything. This may be one of the main reasons why people get caught in “ruts”, it is the inability to either move forward, or move on… And maybe not even the inability to, but it could come from the fear of venturing outside of what they have deemed as the norm. A good example would be a person who works at the same job, doing the same thing, for 30+ years. This would be wonderful if that person loved what they did, and every day, they woke up excited to go to work (okay, maybe not EVERYDAY, no one is THAT pumped about their job… Let’s say 80% of the time). But for those people who dislike what they do, what is keeping them there? Themselves. They also have the ability to either move forward in their job, maybe apply for a manager position, or suggest ideas to management that would increase their fulfillment in the position, or… Move on. It’s a scary idea. Especially if you have been doing something for so long, the idea of learning something new, trying something different… The “unknown” is a scary place… But it can also be exciting and lead to incredible experiences. It’s the chance you take. As cliché as it may sound, and for the millions of times we hear it… We do only live once, and there is no point in settling for anything less than happiness. It has taken me years to figure this out, in a number of different aspects of my life, and there are many more that I am still learning from.
This idea can also be applied to creative endeavors, films, art work, scripts. These become a part of ourselves as they evolve and become extensions of our thoughts and ideas. I know for myself, I have a few ideas and projects that are sitting in the back, either half complete, or really just an idea that I know I need to either develop, or try something new. It is so easy to get caught up in one idea for awhile, working it, reworking it, developing it, it can happen for months, or even years and the project doesn’t see the light, or in my case, production. There needs to come the moment when you say to yourself, do I move forward to the next step, or do I move on to the next project? It may not be that the idea is abandoned, but maybe set aside until the right time approaches. Much like a job, it is so easy to get “stuck” in a single project, at a certain point in the production, and it usually is either screenwriting, or preproduction. Because that idea has become so close to you, it can be hard to let it go, to let it become it’s own voice, as they often do. The dialogue is no longer words on a page, or in your mind, but are actually spoken by an actor…. And they sound nothing like they did when you wrote them down. But you have to let them go. It’s a part of moving forward.
Time keeps on slipping… Into the future… We gotta move forward with it!

24-Jan, 2013Les Miserables

You know it's Oscar season once again when Hollywood releases it's big guns out to the masses and movie-goers all flock to the theatres to see the big contenders. It is a business with dollar signs in it's eyes and the ways to making those dollars down to an art. All of that being said, Les Mis is definitely one of - if not the biggest contender in the Oscars. You add a tried, tested and true story that has withheld the test of time, been on Broadway and the London West End for countless years, still performing to sold out crowds - and to make that into a film... You of course will have an instant success. Much like Marvel and DC Comics with the Action Hero audience, you put up something like Les Mis on the silver screen, you will undoubtedly attract the theatre and art crowd - along with those people who have heard of Les Miserables and just "aren't into "Musicals" or "spending the money to go to a live performance" (which I completely disagree with, but know this to be true). This being said, bringing such an amazing story to the screen does allow it to be opened up to a much larger, mainstream audience, and that is one of the great aspects that I love about film.
All of this being said, I am not here to talk about the story - It's Les Mis... That's all that needs to be said - Instead of how it was adapted to film and the aspects of the film that worked... Or didn't.
To begin with, the production itself was beautiful. The cinematography (with the exception of a couple soft shots) was incredible and how Paris was captured was breathtaking. Truly one of the perks of having such a story based in such a beautiful city brought to the screen - is that you are able to bring the city into the action, unlike you would on stage. I also must give recognition to the Production Designers as well, as there was so much detail put into each location, with a very obvious theatrical flare that really brought the story to life.
The acting was superb, that of course would be expected in a production of this calibre, and I must give extra credit to Anne Hathaway for her ability to really reach into the darkest depth of her soul to reach those very intense emotions of despair and hunger, without going over the top. I was truly sucked into her world when she was at her lowest and felt sincere empathy for her and anger toward her agressors. This is another highlight to the film is that it does allow the audience deeper into the world of the characters as you are truly there with them and not separated by the stage itself.
I do question the English accent on the boy Gavroche... The film is based in Paris, And yet he has a low-status English accent... Made me laugh :)
As I know there have been many comments and articles on it, and I must add my own opinions as well... Is the excessive use of the Close Up shots throughout the film. They were mainly on the actors while they were singing (and it is a musical, soooo...), and there were times when it just became too much and actually took me out of the film. Staring for 5 minutes at a large face on a large screen with no cuts (single long shots) just threw me out. It was too close, too intimate for too long. The story itself is so intense that to subject the audience to a heightened intensity within that actually forced the audience out of it (too much of a good thing). The moments with Javert singing atop the walls, with Notre Dam looming behind him were gorgeous, and I longed for more of them. The filmmaker gave the audience room to breathe and take in what was actually happening.
This being said, the comedic relief given by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen was flawless. There couldn't have been better hollywood actors that could have brought those characters to life on the big screen. The dynamic between the two actors along with the energy was pure gold.
I could go on for ages about the film, but without turning this into a 50 page essay, I would like to touch on one more item. The moment in the film when the rebels have lost, the last two are in the room facing a firing squad, Enjolras grabs the red flag, turns to the soldiers as they fire. He falls backwards hanging out the window, the red flag still gripped in his hand, symbolizing the end... And yet all we see as the audience is an awkward shot from below, looking up at Enjolras as he hangs from the window? Meanwhile behind the camera there are dead rebels and soldiers lying on the ground, the streets running with blood and the hopes of the people destroyed. This is the climax... And yet we see nothing. TO have brought the camera back to see the entire scene, with the iconic building of the rebellion surrounded by the failed corpses would have been the moment to capture.
It would have been extremely difficult to destroy a film version of Les Mis... It's Les Mis, and Even though I do not agree with some of the choices director Tom Hooper made, I do believe that the story was told well on the screen, and whatever Oscars it is awarded (and I am sure it will win many), it is rightly deserved.

19-Jan, 2013Go With Your Gut

Go with your gut
A very big and expensive learning lesson that you think I would have learned before my 30th birthday. In my defense, it’s not that I didn’t know it, but it is so easy to intellectualize yourself into the opposite… Call it the battle between your gut and your brain if you will… And I can guarantee that if you allow it to go far enough your brain will win 98% of the time, or at least it is the case for me.
When there comes the time when something needs to be done, there’s a fork in the road, or there’s an issue that needs sorting (and that time will come… Most likely daily)… Go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, or you feel uneasy there is obviously something there that is setting off an alarm. I have the habit of over thinking these feelings and making excuses to sort things out fully. The more I think about it, the more examples that come to me where my gut was saying something, but I did something different… And afterward I see that if I had gone with my original thought, things could have been better. I believe that this ideal can be translated to creative endeavors as well. For example with a few of the films I have worked on… Most notably “Maintenance Man”, the issues that arose were an accumulation of one thing after another that began stockpiling on top of each other, and even though my gut was telling me one thing, I pushed through instead of taking a moment to sit back and try to figure out what my instincts were trying to tell me. Everything did turn out brilliant in the end (mostly due to the incredibly hard work everyone put in to the film, it was amazing), the film is great, I learned a lot – a lot of those lessons I wouldn’t have learned if things hadn’t happened the way that they had – but it is a great example for myself to go with your gut.
I can’t exactly put my finger on exactly why or how your gut feeling knows, perhaps it is connected with the ideal that everything happens for a reason – and you always hear people use the phrase “I just knew…” or “there was something about it…” I believe that is your “gut” or your intuition trying to communicate.
Even though it may be late for “New Years” resolutions, this is my own goal – to listen to, trust and follow my instincts.

15-Jan, 2013Stories...

Even on the dreary grey days of January, London can inspire and excite. A walk around Regent’s Park on a brisk, cool afternoon has a way of lifting the spirits and clearing the mind. There may be no leaves on the trees, and the passerby’s may be wearing scarves and earmuffs, but there is something calming about everything. All of my thoughts and worries melted away for a moment and I could breathe. The story I am currently working on is growing, like a living thing it began as just random thoughts, images and emotions scattered onto a page, needing to be released from my mind as I tried to make sense of them. It has now turned into a journey as the protagonist has grown and taken a life of it’s own. I have never experienced writing in this way and it excites me as I feel that the character is taking me on a journey, and not the other way around. Every time I read it, something new emerges and I realize something new. Who is this person on this page? And where did they come from. I have no idea where I’m going, or how I’m getting there, but I know it’s going to be one helluva ride!
The same can be said of my travels… Plans have changed as new things have come to light. It has been a test, and a huge time of learning who I am and who I strive to be. The biggest thing now is to trust that all things happen for a reason, and even though that reason may not be clear now, looking back one day, I will understand. Until then, I hope to utilize this time to write!

09-Jan, 2013Up until now

With each place I visit, each experience that I partake adds more to who I am, who I have become. It is like each day changes who we are as we evolve into who we will be tomorrow. The exciting part about that – is that we don’t know who we will be tomorrow. We have the choices of today to determine that. I of course am not saying that there are drastic changes from one day to the next, that we can become completely different people in the blink of an eye, but that each day takes us one step closer to who we are to ultimately become; and who we are to become is based solely on the decisions and experiences we make today, that we make now. This idea is not a revelation by any means, as I am sure that everyone has come to the same conclusion at some point – a very inspiring teacher I once had recited the words “the more you do, the more you are”, and even though it has been probably fifteen years since those classes, and many of the lessons I have learned since then have been long forgotten; those words have stuck with me. Each new day brings with it new opportunities to become… More. More of who we want to become, and of course the opposite is also true and if we are not careful, can lead us down the wrong path as well. This idea can lead to a multitude of questions, and grander ideas, but when all comes down to it, there is only one question to ask, and that will lead to the answers of any questions that arises: Who do I want to be? By answering that question, or at least striving to find the answer to that question will lead you closer to becoming that person. I want to be a storyteller. A filmmaker, writer, theatre director… A teller of stories. Because of this, I love listening to other people speak, I love going to the movies and learning from other storytellers, and how they relay their own pieces of art. Most of all, I enjoy sitting back and “people watching”. Observing real life and how people interact, trying to decipher their train of thought that brought them to that exact moment. It is in that understanding that I can become a better storyteller.
It has been almost 3 months away from home. Each day has brought with it it’s own challenges and rewards. The people I have met and the places I have been so far have been incredible, and the memories made, ones that I will have for a lifetime. All of the books and research in the world couldn’t take the place of the time out here, and knowing that there is so much more to come, I want to make every moment of it count.

03-Jan, 2013Lessons Learned..

It has officially been a month in Germany. The journey began on December 3rd 2012 in Hamburg, and the flight leaves tomorrow (January 4 2013) out of Berlin. The time has flown by, yet at the same time I feel like I have been here forever. The idea of heading back to London seems foreign, that it has been months since I was last there. Although there were many doubts at the beginning whether doing Germany for an entire month was the smart thing to do... Looking back, I wouldn't want it any other way. The culture and history here is so rich and vibrant. The people with so much life, the countryside so lush - even through the snow it took my breath away. From Hamburg to Koln, Koln to Dresden, Dresden to Munich, to Aalen to Konstanz to Berlin... The diversity and character of each city felt like I was in a different part of the world for each. From the Industrial feel of Hamburg, to the beer loving Bavaria, to the breathtaking views of Konstanz and the alternative feel of Berlin, Germany has something for everyone.
The road has been a rollercoaster of emotions as well as sights. Each stop brought with it new experiences and specific "tastes" unique to itself. What you learn in books and in class only glass over the history of the world. To actually walk the streets of history, gaze upon the buildings and sites where that same history was made 50, 100, 1000 years previously, is a hard feeling to explain. The lectures from years back suddenly become clearer, your thirst for knowledge deepens as you become a part of the history, and it becomes a part of you. The fuzzy idea of how history happens suddenly becomes razor sharp as it suddenly becomes a reality. I do not feel that I am the same person who left London in December... Or the same person who left Canada almost 3 months ago. Much like each wave alters the beaches it crashes upon, so does each experience change who we are, building upon who we already are - teaching us about ourselves and the world in which we live. Germany has been an incredible wave.

01-Jan, 2013Berlin New Years 2013

It is official, the world did not end in 2012, life as we know it still races on into the future, and a new year has arrived!! Rang in 2013 surrounded by a million people from all the corners of the world. When I say "a million"... I literally mean over a million other people at the largest outdoor party in the world. The Brandenburg Gate lit up the sky as the Golden Quadriga of Victory sat atop the lights of the city and party setting it aglow. The perfect backdrop to an amazing way to ring in the New Year. Spirits were high and smiles were everywhere as the crowd made their way to the event. Fireworks going off all around... And the clock hadn't hit 9:00pm (21:00) yet! It was the first time I had seen police officers in what looked like full military garb.. I will admit it made me a bit nervous, but the night went on without any disturbances (that I could see at least). Along with the police, the amount of fireworks (and fireworks shrapnel left over on the streets afterwards lol) was astounding! It seemed that everyone was lighting some sort of firework and watching them go off along the street! It put Guy Fawkes Night in London to shame... And there were fireworks going off for 2 weeks afterwards in London!
The backdrop was breathtaking, the music was pumping, the weather was perfect, and the cheers of champagne to bring in 2013 were cold... What more could one ask for? A night to remember, A night I could never forget.
The party went on into the morning hours (it was still going strong when we left at 3:00am!), and the adventure of finding our way home began. It was our first real day in Berlin and we hadn't quite found our bearings of the city as of yet. As well having been somewhat on the ball before we began drinking, we looked up the transit system online earlier and found that our trains/trams back to the apartment would be running all night... Which wasn't the facts. Leaving Brandenburg Gate we head toward the S-Bahn, only to find the gates closed... And neither of us had left the house with a map. Surrounded by very drunk people who were throwing fireworks into the streets around us, the real adventure began! (Do we know how to ring in the new year or what?) Knowing that we had to go east, the trek away from the Gate and down Unter den Linden began. Not a free taxi in sight, our only hope was to find a tram line and hope that they were running. After walking along for 15 minutes, a few pics and the sounds of the fireworks slowly beginning to die down... We find a tram line! Hopping on, we switch at another station and are headed in the right direction. Figured not to shabby for our first day in Berlin, no map, no real sense of direction or where we were really staying!
I must say, the New Year came in with a bang (actually a lot of fireworks bangs!), some amazing sights, sounds and people... And ended with an adventure! I have a feeling that is going to be the recipe for all of 2013 :)
"Life is 90% attitude", so lets make the most of it!

28-Dec, 2012A German Christmas

If you would have asked me 6 months ago how I would be spending my Christmas this year, there would have been no way that I would have been able to guess how it actually happened!
Christmas Eve was full of the holidays with decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music, talking to family on the phone and last minute running around for a few missing items - pretty general Christmas Eve type activities. It wasn't until that evening that things started changing.
With the tree aglow, candles lit and everyone gathered around the dinner table, we began our meal - of Raclette! Having never had this before, it was a very entertaining and delicious experience. With everyone's personalized dishes cooking, and the meat sizzling, it was the perfect way to laugh and talk over glasses of wine - a dinner that didn't consist of one person spending all day in the kitchen, only to be consumed in 20 minutes, but instead one that took an hour to prepare (with a few sets of hands cutting up vegetables, and laying out the meats), with everyone spending a few hours around the table enjoying the food - and more importantly - the company. I must admit that this is a tradition I look forward to bringing back home.
Next began the opening of the gifts under the tree. December 24 is the date used to celebrate Christmas in Germany, as opposed to the 25th. Being a part of the traditions of another family, from another country was such an honour. To be graciously invited into their home and to share in their holidays, I am so thankful.
One may ask what happens on the 25th, if the 24th is when everything happens. Well, as there were Canadians in the midst, a delicious turkey was cooked, followed by chocolate fondue! But I am getting ahead of myself. There is Christmas Day...
Taking a ferry across Lake Konstanz to a small town called Meersburg, we toured the beautiful and ornate Royal Palace. With breathtaking views over the lake, it was an amazing way to spend the morning! Afterwards, being so tired and worn out from the night before and the morning (please note the sarcasm in that sentence..); we went to the spa. Sitting in an outdoor warm pool overlooking the Swiss Alps across the lake, with the rays of sunshine sparkling across the water, for a moment time seemed to stand still. If there ever was a moment of euphoria, it was then. There was not another place I could have wanted to have been. It was perfect.
Afterwards off came the clothes in full European fashion, and into the saunas we went! With pools and saunas of different temperatures, lounge chairs to relax, both an indoor and outdoor section, it was an oasis. Sitting in a small cabin-type outdoor sauna with a window that overlooked the lake, I watched as the water turned different colours as the sun set over the Alps. With that, I grabbed my towel and headed down to the lake. With the last lingering rays of light permeating from behind the mountains, I left my towel on a rack and walked down into the ice cold lake and jumped in. An extremely invigorating experience as the lake near the end of December is not exactly at a swimming temperature... It was perfect.
Walking along the promenade back to the ferry, the black of night with the sound of the water lapping up against the shore, I couldn't help but smile.
After the Christmas Day dinner, the commotion began as everyone started getting ready. For what you may ask? The Disco. All of the young people go to the disco on Christmas Day. What a crazy day!
Having been in Europe for just over 2 months, the time has flown by. There have been moments of homesickness and doubts, but the experiences and beauty I have seen in such a short amount of time has been priceless, and I can't wait to see what the new year has in store. With 2013 to be rung in in Berlin amongst over 1 million other people, it is bound to be a year to remember!

13-Dec, 2012Germany

Germany has been a huge learning experience from walking the streets and meeting the people, to standing in awe of the amazing architecture, to questioning things throughout the day and going back to the hostel to look up facts. The streets of Germany are paved history books, each step bringing you closer to the knowledge of the past. I must admit that Dresden has been one of the most fascinating cities we've been to (so far, we have yet to make it to Munich or Berlin yet!). This city was a European cultural hub for centuries. There were priceless works of art here, the architecture of the buildings was breath-taking... And then WWII hit. It wasn't so much that it hit Dresden either, but instead due to the cultural richness of the city, it was bypassed by the Allied forces, as it was not seen as a threat. That is until February 13, 1945 - months before the end of the war, it was known at that time that the end of the war was near as the Allied forces were making their way into Germany. The night of February 13, 1945, the Allied forces bombed the city of Dresden, destroying it and killing thousands of people. The exact number of innocent people killed is unknown as refugees and people from other cities had been migrating to Dresden as it was considered to be a safe place. There are many speculations as to why the city was bombed, but it is not known for sure. The repercussions of the bombing is felt, even to this day. There are neo-nazi groups that come from all around Germany to protest in Dresden every year on February 13, protesting against the Allied forces and comparing the bombing of Dresden to the Holocaust. This is met with resistance from anti-nazi groups, and huge altercations have ensued.
WWII is engrained in the heart of the German people. Even today, over 60 years after the effects still run deep. Being here has been worth more than any course in a classroom, and has taught me more than just facts and history. Being surrounded by the architecture and walking through the streets of history has allowed me a glimpse into life here, and I must admit, I have so much more respect for the people here and what they have had to endure... And there is still so much more to see!

25-Nov, 2012Appreciaton

Well... I have officially said good-bye to one decade and have entered a new one. Turning 30 has been a mixture of many different emotions, but a sense of ownership and acceptance have taken the lead. People say that "30 is the new 20", but I don't know if that is quite true. At 20 a person is just trying to sort things out, just starting off in life, trying new things, making mistakes and blindly moving forward into the world of "adulthood"
Turning 30 is a much more relaxed transition. Although I am technically starting all over again having just moved half way around the world, I have more of a sense of confidence. With that extra 10 years of life, experience and mistakes behind me, I know where I'm going, and now it's more about figuring out the "how" am I getting there.
Combined with the milestone of turning 30, is the appreciation of what I had back home. The old saying "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone"... Janis Joplin, you couldn't be more right. Although London is very similar to Canada, it's the little differences that make all the.. Well, difference. And of course, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back one can see how their decisions brought them to where they are today, and the chain of events. It's beautiful to see, and is much like connecting the dots. Of course the lesson isn't to focus on the mistakes and beat yourself up, but instead trace the paths that lead you to where you are, where you want to be, and then learn from that to go where you want to. Each decision a person makes daily affects another, then another, until the day is done. Then that day affects the next, and so on. It is in those decisions that the magic happens. The best decision that one can make daily, is their emotion. To wake up and make the decision that it will be a good day - it's all about attitude. Life is 90% attitude. That knowledge - more than anything else, has strengthened in my time here. It has only been just over a month, but with a lot of time to reflect, and with being in a different place, out of the ordinary, I have reflected back on the past few years (and of course that is compounded with turning 30... It is a time of reflection!), and have come to some realizations about what worked for me, and what I need to change and improve. What a learning experience it has been, and I look forward to more to come.

16-Nov, 2012London

A city rich with life and stories, it becomes easy to get lost in the hustle of the people, the rushing of the vehicles going by, and to forget to step back and take it all in. There is a story within each person that passes. Behind each vehicle that goes by there is a history of the roads the tires have traveled, and who has sat in it. The time and years rush by like trains and it is the moments when you take the time to stop and take yourself out of the rush that take your breath away. I was speaking with someone who grew up in the UK, and I described my awe for the architecture and the city of London, and the response I received was "You'll get over it". It shocked me at first, then I started to think about it, and the meaning behind the words. This is a person who grew up amongst the 1000 year old buildings and the walked their whole life upon the cobblestone streets - there was nothing new or exciting for them about it anymore, it no longer holds the beauty in their eyes. Much like a child experiencing the world for the first time, everything is new and exciting, while to an adult, it's nothing special. I want to experience the world through the eyes of a child again. I want to take the same approach with my art as well. I look back to the very first film I made, or even farther to the first large stage production... And the emotion and raw energy I infused into the whole production. Years later the life disappeared and I began to doubt. Being out here has ignited the spark again - I am experiencing the world anew again, and so are my stories. Every story ever written or told comes from life, a person's experience, which then leads to imagination and when put to paper can be magical. Experience breathes life into all things, and when your life becomes ordinary or mundane, there is nothing new to ignite life into your stories. The key is keep the stories alive with life.
We only have one spin around the globe, and one change to make the most of it. Take life by the horns and make it yours.

31-Oct, 2012Two weeks in, the ups and downs :)

I can't believe we have been in London for almost two weeks... It feels like it's been ages, yet at the same time, has gone by in the blink of an eye. This city is so rich with history and life, it's so easy to get swept away in the moment. There is so much to see and do-it has definitely been a very full 2 weeks!
What I have fallen in love with most - is the architecture with the narrow winding cobblestone streets. It truly feels like you have stepped back in time. To think of the hundreds of years that have passed along those same streets, has a way of making life feel so short - and one feel more empowered to take it for all that it is worth.
The plan is to stay in London for the month of November, and then come December travel into Germany to take in the Christmas Markets and festivities up there. From what I have read, it is absolutely gorgeous in Germany in the winter (a bit cold as well), so we will be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes for the journey!
We have had a few difficulties in the banking department, but have been sorting those out as they come. The security with the banks in the UK is so strict that if one thing goes awry, it can throw things for a bit of a loop. In the case of us, we have received everything for our bank accounts... Except our pins. With which the only way we can get our pins is through the mail, and so much like a carrot dangling in front of a donkey, we have everything set up for ourselves, with no way of actually using it. There has been some frustration with the banks, in part due to the lack of information about how things work, but everything is coming together, with one last puzzle piece to go!
I have begun writing again. Albeit slowly, but writing nonetheless. Being in a place such as this, that is rich with history and of previous artists and great thinkers of our time - I can see why so many great people came from here - London is a muse. It is rich with life everywhere you go that you cannot help but be inspired.

20-Oct, 2012European Adventure

The European adventure has begun! And what better place to begin than in London. It has been a very steep learning curve the past 3 days, but at the same time a real effort to take things as they come and not become overwhelmed. Surprisingly we have both been jetlagged, and just starting to get into the proper schedule. I say surprisingly because last time I was here I didn't suffer jetlag at all - but I also wasn't able to sleep on this flight, which is probably the main culprit. Yesterday was amazing as we traveled the city, obtained our "oyster cards" for the tube, opened our bank accounts, stumbled across an amazing market called "Borough Market" with dead turkeys hanging from the ceiling, feathers and all, along side a headless deer. A butcher selling "kangaroo burgers", "Reindeer burgers" and "Ostrich burgers" caught our eye. What an eclectic city of accents, languages and people. It is so alive with energy and buzzing with life, it is so easy to get lost in the organized chaos. It may be said that New York is a melting pot... But then London would be it's European counter part. Such diversity found everywhere, I can see why there is such rich art that comes out of this incredible city.
We ended our day with a drink at a pub that was a boat... That was floating on the Thames. It couldn't have been a better way to end the day. This was of course after an evening at a comedy club. If there ever was a requirement to catch on quick to an accent - that would be the place! With the smooth, fast talking ways of the comedians, it was either catch up, or be left scratching your head. Needless to say, we both left with our sides hurting, and I did have tears at one point! Hilarious!
There are most definitely cultural differences that surprise me. The attitudes and priorities of people are a lot different. As North Americans strive for monetary success (please note that this is a generalization, and not true for all), the sense here is more of one of a richness of life - experiences and moments. It isn't all about fast food and the information superhighway - but instead of relaxing with a pint, talking to people and savouring the moment. I can see how this translates to the differences in the art that is produced in North America compared to Europe, as what is important, and the focus is shifted.
Today was spent at Camden Market, amongst the bustling of merchants and buyers. A much more noticeably touristy type place - but a definite pleasure. The types of stores and styles here as opposed to home are like black and white as there is more more of a need of individuality here that is not apparent so much in Canada, at least not to the same extent.
The architecture is gorgeous and full of history. After only three days we have fallen in love with the city and are hungry to discover more! Our plans are to go traveling on the continent in a couple of weeks - perhaps into the South of France/Spain/Portugal, where we hope to find some sun, sand and gorgeous blue water!
Nothing but smiles on this side of the globe :)

10-Oct, 2012Changes!

The past couple of months have been an absolute upheaval! With the packing of an apartment we have been living in for 2.5 years - to somehow getting it all into a 5x10 storage locker (thank you so much to Jeremy and Meghan for somehow squeezing it in there with space to spare!) - it is interesting how much just STUFF a person accumulates... In a very short amount of time. It also puts life into perspective of what is actually important when you have to make the decision of what to keep, and what to get rid of. The idea of living out of a backpack for 2 years seemed daunting at first, but has since become a reality... And freeing in it's own way. It makes "things" seem unimportant, and what is really important to the forefront. Life. Experiences. People. We only walk the earth once, and to surround ourselves with things, and get stuck in that world seems like a waste when you can get out and discover what the world and life has to offer. I haven't left Canada yet, but already this adventure has had a huge impact on me. To be honest, I feel already that when we do open that storage locker, and go through the boxes, there will be many things that will be purged again. May sound backwards-we are storing things unnecessarily, but at the same time, they had a purpose at the time, and we packed them for a reason. As we change and grow, the purposes will change and what we hold important will also change. To be honest, it also came down to the wire of just getting things in boxes because it was happening the next day :)
This is going to be a start of an amazing experience - whether it be for a year, 6 months, or two years, I plan on taking it for all it's worth. There will be a script completed by the end of it, which will be my next adventure, but the plan is to focus on one journey at a time. We fly out October 17th, 2012 with no return ticket. Let the adventure begin!!!

21-Aug, 2012Patience...

It is a virtue... It is something that many filmmakers require a great deal of. From the very spark of an idea, to the writing of it, to the raising of the funds, planning, crewing.. It can be months.. Years... Decades before it actually goes into production. Then there is the actually filming... And then it goes into post-production... Which can be a longer process than the others put together. There have been films that have sat on shelves for multiple decades unfinished that are just now seeing the light of day. from the picture editing, to the sound design, to the music, to the effects, color, mix... It is not an easy feat. And it all begins with an idea... A thought... A dream... A fleeting image... And your life is booked for the next 10 years, give or take 20 years. What is it that drives a single person to carry a project all of the way through that process? Do not get me wrong, a film is comprised of a multitude of people... But there is always that one person who sees it from day one, all of the way through to day 18,462. Perhaps this isn't true in the more commercial industry, but in the indie scene.. That one person has the drive, the passion the will... And the patience to see that vision all of the way through to the end. I am currently applying for a working/travel visa, and it has been through this experience that I have discovered that I... Am not patient. If I want something, I want it now. This does have it's advantages... I make things happen. There is no maybe. I have yet to be on a show where I have set a date to shoot... And it has not happened on that date, or at least within a week of that date. Through hell or high water, I'm getting it done... Maintenance Man is a testament to that. I was talking with a friend yesterday and we were discussing shows, and he was mentioning a show he was on that has been pushed multiple times, and it just keeps getting pushed... To the point where he is questioning whether he wants to still be on it. What does that say about the show? Yet at the same time the opposite can be said that if the filmmakers are not ready - is it worth pushing something through that may not deliver the end result you are looking for? There are always 2 sides of the coin. I could debate this for hours, but my main focus here isn't dedication - but patience. It is something that is definitely learned. It comes with practice - and in a way it goes hand in hand with the ability to let things go. These are two of my weaknesses, and perhaps may actually just be one. To have the ability to just let things go and allow the chips to fall as they may... And the patience to wait until they hit the ground. To come prepared knowing that I have done everything in my ability to make things work, and then just trust that they will. This is my next self project. Being a filmmaker isn't just something that I do - it shapes who I am, and coincidentally who I am shapes the films I make. It will be the project that I nurture and grow that will be the closest to the story that I want to tell... And that will require patience. Look at Avatar. It was 10 years in the making and I am sure that in that time Cameron could have made some sacrifices and made it sooner... But he chose to wait, and it was cinematically breathtaking. That is what I will strive toward. Not everything will come to me now, but as I keep working at it, the pieces will fall into place.
"The more you do, the more you are" - the words of a great teacher I had in grade school, and they have stuck with me since.

31-Jul, 2012Learning, Growing, Moving!

Now for the fun stuff... Submitting to festivals! After the screening of Maintenance Man, we took a little time, corrected some of the color issues we noticed on the big screen, added the credits and prepared Maintenance Man for the festival circuit. Sitting at just under 13 minutes fully complete, it is a little long, but it is ready for the plunge! There are a few festivals we are looking at, and the focus at this point is to submit to some of the smaller festivals, see if we can build some more hype for the film and feel out if it is ready for some of the bigger festivals. After Therapy, it has been an interesting ride through the festival circuit. Therapy was a film that when it was screened, and even now, when people watch it, it affects them - they can relate to the message and it resonates. Yet when we submitted to festivals - it just couldn't get in. One of the reasons 9that I discussed with a friend over coffee, and it seemed to really make sense) was the length of the film. To look at it from a festivals standpoint, what is better to show? 4-15 minute films, or 6-10 minute films (or more)? The more films you screen, the more people will come out, the better the attendance, the better the profits... And once again it comes down to profit. Film making is a career, an industry - all of the way from the film makers, to the festivals, to the distributers, to the programmers... And the bottom line is audience. The more audience the better. To look at time in a different light, look at Youtube. Some of the most successful people on youtube who are probably making six figures a year keep their videos under 3 minutes, and probably more around 3 minutes. Why? It's the demographic of who watches Youtube. The audience on Youtube want something quick while they are surfing, if they see a 15 minute video, they skip it for the 3 minute video. I never quite realized how important timing is. As a film maker you are so concentrated on the art, the piece, that timing is irrelevant. But it is definitely something to always keep in mind. Which brings me to "Living Space" aka Talking Furniture. The first half of the film has been shown, and it is coming along. Both Meesh and myself want to really watch the timing on the film for a few reasons - for festivals of course, but also because it is a comedy - with subtitles, and we need to be careful how much we ask the audience to read. It's such a slippery slope, because I find myself seeing the "characters" "talk" (subtitles), and I hear them as I read and want to add more... But they aren't in my head, they are words on a screen... It is so different to think that way. And to leave so much to the imagination of the reader. It's been a bit of a struggle, but such a great eyeopener. This has been a completely different experience, and although it has tried me in some areas, I really think it has helped me grow.
With Maintenance Man being sent out, and Living Space in post, the job of a film maker never ends!

16-Jun, 2012Moving Forward

What an absolutely incredible journey these past few months have been. I look back at myself even from January until now, and see a huge change in how I view film and myself as a filmmaker. Each film is an incredible learning experience, and now that I have had some time to digest everything that has happened, I see where there is need for improvement, as well as where my strengths lie. I am currently reading the book 'Directing Actors', by Judith Weston... One that I believe should be a stable for any person with a desire to pursue directing, and have discovered many new techniques on how to work with not only actors, but crew, in order to best communicate ideas. That is the number one lesson for any person to learn, not only in directing, but any career and relationship - is communication. It is the one thing I believe that stands the achievers above the rest - is their ability to effectively relay what they are thinking to others, and bring their ideas to life. When I am not on set, I do have a day job - where I am constantly on the phone, or interacting with co-workers, and the ability to engage another person is such a fulfilling achievement. To see the eagerness in the other persons eyes - instead of that glazing as you see the other persons attention fade. This is my current goal; to develop my skills as a more effective communicator. To be able to engage an actor, see the ideas and creativity behind their eyes as you speak of the character, their motivations, the intent of the scene or action. It isn't an easy task, as everyone has different ideas on how the action should move, or where a scene is going - and it can be difficult sometimes to lock in on the same goal... But that is also the beauty of film making, that moment of discovery when you are in sync, where life is breathed into a scene and it comes alive. It is the job of the director to make that happen.
I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding both of our film making careers, goals, and where we feel we are right now. I will tell you now, independent film making is not for the faint of heart, it isn't everything you see with the "stars" on TV. It is long hours, gruelling, exhausting work, with a slim possibility of success. It came up in conversation of the audience of the films both of us have made, and how we can broaden the audience beyond our friends, family and tight film community. The whole idea of the films we are creating now is to build ourselves as filmmakers in order to create a base with which to then be able to have the resources to go to the next level and create bigger films. It is time now. I had this feeling at the beginning of the year, that it was time to start pursuing a feature film, and now after all that has been accomplished in 2012, I see that I wasn't ready then, I was caught behind a smoke screen thinking I was ready, but a now leaps and bounds from where I was, and am now ready to start pursuing that dream. It is time to move beyond the safe and venture into the unknown.

02-Jun, 2012"Maintenance Man" Won!

After a very tough preproduction, production and post production, "Maintenance Man" was screened at the first annual Cineworks Short Film Contest. My nerves were shot as I walked through the doors - not for people seeing the film, or their reaction, but to be honest, just in fear that something else would go wrong. I am normally an optimist, with a make it work attitude - just go forward and overcome, but with the track record of this show... I must admit, I was a little worried. Sitting down, watching the first film by Jayme Cowley - an absolute beautiful film with some really outstanding performances... And then our turn.
The film began, everything going well, the laughs came at the right moments and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. It looked great up on the big screen. There were a few things we saw that needed to be fixed, that we weren't able to spot on the computer screen, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. Then it ended, and that was it. The very first screening of Maintenance Man... And it went well. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face for the remainder of the screening. Then when the votes were cast, and the ballots counted, and we were chosen. The audience made their decision and it was us. We are now the proud owners of 55 minutes of 35mm film stock! What to do with that now...? Of course the initial response is to FILM, but as I am sure it is apparent, shooting on film stock, especially 35mm is not an easy... Or cheap task. There is the rental of the gear, processing, formats... A little more than our usual budgets. It does open up possibilities though. And of course to make a film on 35mm has some clout as filmmaker... It will be an incredible experience.
All of the films were amazing, and I know the amount of work that went into each of them. It was a really great experience, and met some incredible people whom I hope to work with again.
Thank you all to came out and supported. After we smooth out the film, we will be submitting to festivals and sending it out to the world.... LOOK OUT!!!

20-May, 2012What Doesn't Kill You..

Rollercoaster Ride. That is the best way to describe the past month. I look back and it feels like it has been a lot longer, but it has been just over a month since we finished filming "Maintenance Man", and all of the fun that has ensued from there. There are certain shows that you will remember forever... And this is definitely one of those shows. I have learned more from this one show in the matter of 6 weeks, than the 6 years of schooling that lead to it. Okay, I may be exaggerating slightly, but the learning curve is quite steep.
I guess a bit of an update is in order....
The Big Rock commercials didn't make the cut. They were an absolute RIOT to do though, and check them out on the youtube page! "Beer Chicken" is up there currently, 'Hangover" to follow shortly.
"Living Space" aka talking furniture has just recently been placed in the very capable editing hands of Ashley Lynch. Stefanie had to hand it off and suggested Ashley, and after a meeting of creative minds, it looks like she is going to be the perfect addition to the film with some really fantastic ideas!
"Maintenance Man" will be screening on May 31, 2012 at the Pacific Cinematheque Theatre. It is part of the Cineworks "Back Down the Highway" film competition with 3 other films. This film has been a test of both my strengths and my weaknesses, and I know that I have become stronger because of it. Both as a filmmaker, and as a person. It is in times of trials that a person discovers truths about themselves, and this has been true for this show. I don't want to go into extreme detail, if you are curious, please feel free to check out the "Maintenance Man" blog on the Cineworks website... But it was tough. There were more than a couple of moments when I came to the point of wanting to throw the towel in. Where I questioned myself as a filmmaker. Now for it to come to that point, you know that it was crazy... Because I don't give up. I just don't... Especially in film, because this is all I can ever remember wanting to do. The show must go on. If I were to have walked away, what would that have accomplished? I have no idea where I heard this, but it rings true 'Don't regret what you've done, but what you haven't". I have been back and forth on this topic a few times, saying that I should have stopped it, then saying that I did the right thing.. And at this very moment, I look at it... And it was a very hard learning experience. But an extremely valuable one. This show was a huge eyeopener, and it came at the right time. I know what I can and cannot do, and when I do tackle a feature, I am that much more prepared. The right decision was not giving up. A lot of bad decisions were made along the way... But this film was made, and if it's sole purpose is to be a teaching tool, something to look back on as what not to do in the future, then it was worth every moment.
Thank you so much to everyone that was involved. I look forward to seeing you all at the screening!

12-Apr, 2012The Many Sides...

The filming extravaganza of the past two months seems to be slowing and I am finally able to breathe! "Living Space"... aka talking furniture is in post and being edited by the amazing Stefanie Loffel, she is from the great down under and an absolute pleasure to work with. Looking forward to see what she brings to the show.
"Maintenance Man" is on it's way, filming begins next week, I can't believe where the time has gone! We have an incredible wealth of talent with both the crew and the cast and I am looking forward to working with both. Rehearsals are this weekend, and it's going to be great to work with the actors to bring the characters to life. The script has gone through quite a few changes, and the story has become stronger with each rewrite. Can't wait to see how it comes together.
The Big Rock commercials were great fun... Yes I said commercials. The tow of them were great, and my wonderful cousin Conrad was man enough to step up to the challenge of starring in both. The first entitled "beer chicken" was a fun little piece we filmed in Victoria, the other "Hangover" was done right here in Vancouver with the help of a lot of great people who came out and drank, laughed and was merry!!
With all of the filming and excitement, I must admit that I am looking forward to sitting back, getting into the editing room and bringing everything together. That and the opportunity to reflect, sit back and learn from the shows and how to go forward. The next focus will be to write, and learn how to use my camera more effectively! After a great photo walk along the seawall on the weekend, I am determined to use my camera to the best of it's ability. The 60D is an incredible camera, and it's time to show it!
Hope to see as many people as possible at the screening of Maintenance Man at the Pacific Cinematheque to come see some great local talent, and vote for your favourite :)

01-Mar, 2012Keep Going Strong!

After a slow January, February came in with a bang! It started off with ADing on a short titled "First Day", then rolled right into an entry for the "Big Rock Beer" commercial contest, to a Nickelback music video, and now gearing up for another show this weekend. What kind of a show you may ask? The best way to describe it would be "talking furniture". After this is completed, we have been selected for the Cineworks Short Film Contest called "Back Down The Highway", and will be going for picture April 16, and the screening will be May 29th.
There is something in the air, this is the year to make it happen, the time is now. My head is spinning and there is something inside me that says slow down, and maybe that will happen after the Film Contest, but right now, the focus has to be on film, and making the most with what we have. I must admit, watching the Academy Awards this year was inspiring. To see those people reach their goals, live their dreams, and reach one of the highest levels of recognition for their art... It was amazing. They grew up just like everyone else, they struggled with the same doubts, longings and setbacks, but they persevered. I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination that I will win an academy award, but to know it is attainable, that it is open to anyone who tries hard enough, that is inspiring enough.
To many people, there is a divide drawn between the "famous", and the rest. But why? What makes them so different? you hear stories of how some of them started out.. No different than anyone else. Do not set barriers, everything is in your grasp, all you need to do is go for it.
Now I don't know at this exact moment if I am speaking more to myself than anything, but they are good words to live by nonetheless.
Keep going strong!

11-Feb, 2012A busy start

To watch a film, theatre production, TV show, or even gaze at a painting, a person doesn't realize the number of hours, man power, and effort that went into it. All they see as a viewer is the end result - The 2 hours spent in a movie theatre, 1/2 hour in front of the TV. It is that brief encounter that drives the artist to make more, grow, change, and bring new and exciting elements to their next project. A person can say this is true of many industries... That we don't appreciate the amount of time put into making the clothes we wear, or the food we eat. But unlike these, and unlike the many industries that are being replaced by machines and the internet, art will always need one thing.. A human idea. One idea, one creative spark to drive a person forward to create something new for others to enjoy. Sure, it can be argued that machines can be used to make that process easier, but that actual motivational beginning comes from the mind. In this way, there will always be jobs in the entertainment industry, it's just a matter of creating the ideas and getting them out to people.
This has been a busy start to 2012, with 2 projects ready to shoot, the dates set, and everything coming together. The beginning of the road to the finished project begins here.
It all begins with an idea.

14-Jan, 2012Inventing 2012

With an entire new year ahead, the possibilities and opportunities are endless. I know that at this time of the year many people hit the gyms, begin their powder and water diets and look inward to help improve themselves, but what enhancing the creative? Surrounding yourself with wonderfully amazing people to enhance your mind and your creative spirit. Time needs to be set aside for this as well. Pumping the creative and the iron.
Scripts are currently underway, all of different lengths and subjects. I am beginning to find my voice in the deafening static of different ideas and opinions. It is the task of narrowing that down into words.. Into a script to then share and experience not only subjectively, but objectively.
It will be a year of my own inventing, for as individuals it is ourselves that create our own experience. If it is in your mind that producing a feature film is near unachievable.. Then it is. But if you decide to tackle it, piece by piece, and own it, then it is yours.
This is my New Years resolution. To find my voice, and create.

17-Dec, 2011Where has this year gone..

It is December already, and the malls are filled with shoppers, the airports are bustling and it is a time to reflect on 2011, and begin to look forward to 2012.
Film making is not an easy feat, it has it's ups and downs, triumphs and trials - and with any profession, you learn as you go. With each film and/or project, certain aspects become clearer, you learn more about yourself and the art. 2011 has been a year of learning and growing, which I plan to put into practice in 2012. Aspiring to be a director in the Vancouver film industry, especially in the independent world means you have to make your own work. You are constantly struggling to find financing, crew, talent, stories... It is a full time job in itself. Without also getting paid to do it, you have one expensive and time consuming hobby. At the end of the day, after the smoke has cleared, and you look up at the screen and watch the story you wanted to tell, all of that stress melts away.
Perhaps that what keeps us coming back for more. We "forget" what it took to get us to that point... Or maybe we choose to forget, because what we have to show for it is worth all of the stress in the world.

The goals for 2012 are big. The writing of a feature script has begun, as well concept talks and writing of a couple of other projects, one a short film, the other a web series. With everything learned in 2011 with Therapy, YouTube, Bathroom Etiquette and the changes in how audiences view films, it is time to take all of that and put it to practice. And 2012 is the year.

It's going to be a good one!

Cheers and happy holidays

24-Nov, 2011Welcome!

Welcome to my new website for both myself and Triquetra Productions. My name is Lisa Newell and I am an aspiring filmmaker living in Vancouver BC. This is an absolutely amazing city that is full of such talented and passionate artists.
Please feel free to check out the "Bathroom Etiquette" series and some of my other works on Youtube, or on the other page of this website. Learning with each project that I work on, one of the best rewards to being a filmmaker for myself, is knowing that there is a little piece of me in each of the films I have created.
I would also like to take an opportunity to thank my cousin Melissa Hepperle for designing the Triquetra insignia. It is a beautiful piece of art, that much like the films I create, I hope will be enjoyed by many.
To make art and hide it away in a dark room is a waste, not only to the creator, but to the world. Art is meant to be viewed and taken in. To make people think and form an opinion. That is my goal, that is why I want to be a filmmaker.
That is the beauty of the internet and youtube, it's ability to offer ideas to the largest audience imaginable.

Thank you for taking the time for checking out my website!

Cheers,

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