Monday, February 19, 2007

End Bash

Free Drinks.
and tasty Reef food. A wee bit spicy, but nothing that the free drinks couldn't take care of. We made it through another year.

10 days
56 films
22 free beers
3 gallons of theatre soda
a tonne of new friends

and only one case of front-row neck-ache.

And now it's back to real life.
'til next year.


Graphic too.
Why must I always see a heavy movie before a party?
Off the to End Bash.

My Victoria Video Competition

Swung by Whitebird for the My Victoria Awards, where the festivals Loungerino was hosted, tucked underneath Lyle's Place beside the Odeon on Yates. Nice place, licensed, and the food looked and smelled great, but I was on the liquids, too nervous to eat.
Lots of Awards, the details are on the festival home page.


Lots of texture from the different kinds of films used to patch this together. It must've been a nightmare for whoever had to get all the releases signed. Colourful Characters and a bunch of music I didn't recognize. It's the freaks that make the festival, the costumes and parlour tricks. Long live the Freaks!

Clocking in at nearly 2-and-a-half hours, I felt like I'd endured the festival by the end of the film. Sensory overload.

I need to shave. I've made it this far into the festival, and feel like it's playoff season. Only 2 days left, and I'm keeping the scruff for the team.

Puffy Chair

Oops, I was late for Puffy Chair.
Missed the first five minutes.
It was fun, handmade, tiny crew. good dialogue (though a tad cliche at times,) charming, interesting characters, realistic. Based on the fact that it was a relationship movie, and that ground has been trampled, it's worth the watch, it still had its fresh moments. Loved the handheld camerawork, in and out of focus and intimate.


A packed theatre for the World premiere of Cami Kidder's first feature, Store. Pamphlets were even handed out for a support group for hoarders. An interesting commentary on "Stuff" which brings George Carlin's rant to mind. I have yet to need a storage locker, but I must confess, I'm a hoarder (sort of.) Are you a hoarder if you actually use all the stuff?
10 televisions (3 don't work), 12 projectors (5 don't work, they're for parts, okay?) 271 reels of film, all 8mm home movies of people I don't know. Hi, my name is Scott, and I'm a hoarder. Step 1, done.
My dream job: A treasure hunter, cleaning out abandoned storage lockers.
What made Store great, were the little gems of wisdom from the packrats, like "It's all stuff that I care about, I'm just not sure what it is." Priceless.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pirate Radio USA

The film started out as a documentary on pirate radio, and evolved into a commentary on corporate control and infringement on our rights and freedoms. Our journey was hosted by DJ's Him and Her, the Producers of the Film, Jeff Pearson and Mary Jones. It was an interesting ride through Independent Media, and civil disobedience.

They got up for a Q+A after the screening, and fielded questions from the activist audience. I had a question, but couldn't bring myself to ask it. The more I thought about it after leaving the theatre, I had to ask.

I understand that the airwaves should be public property, and support your fight to reclaim them, but what about the rights of the artists/musicians whose work you are broadcasting?

So, I hunted down the filmmakers today to ask them about it, and talked to Mary Jones. She said that most musicians had no problems with it, because of the scale of the audience. It was the record labels and publishers that were a little more difficult to deal with. And now that Low-Power FM radio has been legalized and licensed in the States, the smaller broadcasters have jumped through all the hoops to give them license to broadcast. She said that It wasn't really an issue because of the tiny scale of pirate radio broadcasters.
Fair enough.
My thought is that you get some serious underground cred having your work played on pirate radio. arrrrrr.

I left the theatre in the mood for some civil disobedience, but was too tired to act on it. Memories of making mix tape radio shows with 2 shoddy tape players when I was 8 years old, but that's another story.

Changed by the Strange

Changed by the Strange was the early shorts screening on Wednesday evening.
Some great works, including "The Saddest Boy in the World" by Jamie Travis, and "The Tragic Story of Nling. " Animated. Very cool. Each frame was scanned into a computer, printed, and then filmed. Like nothing I've ever seen before. Awesome. And there was an alcoholic talking donkey. (Does it get any better?)

Alex Ferrari's BROKEN left a little to be desired. It looked great, and was well edited...but...
Perhaps I'm a film snob, but there was no story, at least not anything new. Bad guy with scars, who talks too much to shoot the hero before someone comes to rescue her in a hail of bullets. It played like a bad shoot-em-up video game translated into a film. The make-up and special effects were great, and I'm sure Ferrari could make a killer action feature-length film. I guess what I'm trying to say is: genre calling card film. Great if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not.

Another Q+A with a local filmmaker, Cathleen Thom, whose "How to make Art: A Documentary" started of the night with some good ol' homegrown hand-processed and manipulated stop-motion negatives. Now that's something I can get into, the human touch and more heart than gunfire.

Shorts At Plan B

Slacking on the blog. Apologies, work is getting in the way of my festing.

As planned, I made it to the shorts screenings over the last two nights, all 4 of them at Plan B. As always, I was thoroughly impressed with the selection.
For most of the screenings, there were some of the filmmakers in attendance that got up for Q+A sessions afterward. It's one of the reasons I love the shorts screenings, you get to put a face to the work and meet the feature film directors of the Future.

On the list of talanted filmmakers I had the pleasure of meet an interogating:

Jamie Travis, his Patterns Trilogy screened during "Play with my Head." Just when I thought it couldn't get any more bizarre. Love his stuff. Very talented BC filmmaker who is moving to Toronto, and mentioned plans for a feature. Exciting news.

Marjorie Celona, who directed "Nicht Angegeben," a beautiful, dark tale. meticulously executed, haunting. Plus she's a sweetheart in real life.

Sam Scott, the Animator and Director of The Merry Sea-Gentleman. Love the textures of his animation style, and I'm happy to spread the rumour that there are more films in the works.

Erika Piero - producer of "The Universal Hanging Together of all Things" I had seen this film before through a secret link on the internet (I feel so in-the-loop) because a friend of mine went to school with the filmmakers. Very Professional looking student production. Fun film, I'll bet you can hunt it down online. Do it.

Annye Cantongue - repetetive overlapping words, a visual poem. Originally it was in French, but required subtitling for the festival circuit, so she made an english version. It was beyond language. Trippy.

Russell Reillander - Director of The Beverage Enthusiasts," a fun romp, chaplin-esque, silent. A local character with a wacky sense of humour. I'm disappointed to see more of our local talent escaping to Toronto.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Shorts Fest

This is my favorite part of the festival. for the next 3 nights, Plan B on Broad Street will be screening 6 different shorts programs. There were 2 shorts screenings last night that I couldn't make it to. damn. Some of the best local work, including Marjorie Celona's Nicht Angegeben and Russell Reilander's The Beverage Enthusiasts (tonight and tomorrow respectively) and some other works I expect to be amazing (the VIFVF Shorts programming team haven't disappionted me in years). Plus I can see what the competition is doing, and the short format is perfect for my short
gotta run.

McLaren Retrospective

Exactly what I expected. I should've planned a little better and dipped into the stash before the screening. By the end of the show, I felt like I had. I had seen most of them before (who hasn't?) on television screens, so seeing them on the big screen was a treat. The amount of patience that McLaren had boggles my mind. Trippy stuff. Loved the Opening Speech.
Technical Difficulties: The aspect ratio was a little off so the top and bottom of the frame were cut off. A little distracting, but, from what I understand, theatres aren't equipped to project films in 4:3 ratio anymore, since everything is now shot widescreen. (I'm sure there's a number ratio, but I can't begin to pretend I know what it is...2.33 perhaps? 1:1.66? 42?

NFB Party

On the top floor of the Executive House Hotel, after Citizen Sam was an National Film Board get-together. Proscuitto wrapped cantalope. I was curious, but not daring enough. After a tasty beverage, I got my yap on, met most of the Producers at the NFB, and threw my name around the water cooler, "that Scott Amos sure is something, It's all I keep hearing about, Scott Amos, Scott Amos." Hopefully they didn't notice I was talking to myself, my name sunk in, and will ring a pleasant, if not peculiar, bell when I come pleading for assistance. A little underhanded, perhaps, but I was having fun. I ducked out to see the McLaren screening before I embarrassed myself too much, phew.

Citizen Sam

Generally, I'm not big on the docs, I prefer an imaginary world. I went into the theatre cold, knowing nothing about this film. I was pleasantly surprised. Citizen Sam had its funny moments, its tough moments and its awkward moments and was worth the watch. The intimate moments from his diary cam keep it interesting and accessible, and I'm detached enough from the real world and political events in Vancouver that I had no idea how the election unfolded. A nice slice of feel-good-ery.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The VIP Lounge

I always forget my business cards. dang.
Especially when I get the opportunity to meet the most important people in the Canadian film industry.

I schmoozed my way around around, and met a few people, including the incredibly charming Tracey Friesen, who produced the film "Citizen Sam" which is screening this afternoon. I'll be there.

I also met a delightful Brother-Sister duo, Devon and Kirsten Bolton, from Calgary who produced "Shipwrecked" which is screening next weekend as part of the Treasures and Thrills family shorts program.

And, I actually got to see David Foster, not meet him, mind you. With the slew of people with cameras snapping shots of him, a figured the last thing he needed was to be accosted by the goofy Blogger and his slide whistle.


I had the pleasure of introducing the film and its director, Andrew Currie, to a packed theatre. I had met him in the summer, just briefly, after scooting my way through a crowd of people around him. If he didn't remember meeting me, he faked it well, good man.

I had seen a rough cut of Fido in the summer, and loved it the first time around. This time it was even better. It had been cleaned up a little, 12 minutes were removed since the last time I saw it. I didn't miss them. Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to see this film. There is another screening on Monday night, I suggest you go.

Andrew got up for a little Q+A session after the film. My favorite question was a rhetorical from a young man in the audience. "Why did that film kick so much ass?" to which a modest Currie replied through a smile "I don't know."

Fido was in development for nearly a decade, had a great cast, was beautifully shot, and had the audience roaring. A Canadian Gem.

Run, Robot Run!

The write-up in the schedule didn't do it justice, I must say, It didn't sell me on the film. But I'm pleased to have made it to the screening.

A minimal but effective sci-fi set made on a shoestring budget. A few locations, a small, but talented cast. Snappy Dialogue. Funny, light-hearted, campy. A little tip from writer/director Daniel O'Connor about making a low budget feature - "Don't do a Sci-Fi." Oh, sweet hindsight, but he managed to pull it off with the help of a great Art Director.

I realize that no one will take me seriously if all I say are nice things about everything. So I won't. Run, Robot Run! lulled a little near the end, an could've been honed down a little to keep it moving. That being said, it was a superb effort for a independently funded first feature with a tiny budget.

Film Forum - Getting That First Feature Made

As a maker of short films, I'm not quite far enough along in the game to be looking to make a feature, but it was still interesting to hear what the speakers had to say. I think there may be a language barrier. When they' re talking about low budget, and they say 5 or 6, I think to myself,
5 or 6 hundred, that's my big budget work. (but I make shorts)
5 or 6 thousand, now that's a juicy budget. no more peanut butter sandwiches and mac and cheese for me.
But really, what they mean is 5 or 6 hundred thousand dollars. And in the film world, that is low budget. Yowzah. I've got a ways to go.
What I learned: Script is key, not just a script, a great script. And enough Producer and Director credits behind shorter work to prove that you can make it happen.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Away From Her - Gala

I got there early, really early, just to ensure I didn't get the neck-bender seats in the front row. I have to be careful, too many films to see in the next ten days to throw my neck out on Gala night.

Gordon Pinsent got up before the screening to welcome a packed house, and spoke briefly about what a great experience making the film was. Away from Her has deserves every bit of praise it has received for good reason. Phenomenal Cinema to kick off the Festival.

It was thick with Canadian references (we love those) and golden moments of humour to balance out the moments of heartbreak. Heavy. The weight followed me to the Gala party at the Empress, but luckily, a tray of beer floated past me as soon as I made it in the door, A tasty Nut Brown Ale jumped into my hand and whispered to me, "this is a party, Scott, lighten up." Ahhh. Barley Wisdom.

I mingled my way through, rubbing elbows with the film community. Everyone was all glitzed up, there were dainty snackables everywhere, and an R&B Band to get everyone's groove on. Classy, classy stuff. I wonder how I managed to talk my way into this gig.

David Foster made an appearance, but I missed him. I had worked out the theme from St. Elmo's Fire on slide whistle. I wanted to play it for him. All that practice for nothing. Oh well.

While following around the free drinks floating around the room on trays. I slipped by the entrance to the media section, and was stopped by a friendly gentleman. "Hi," he said, ""are you here to meet someone?"
"Yeah, I'm here to meet up with that martini over there" I said, pointing to the server.
"This is the media section"
"I am media, I think."
He just looked at me.
"I'm the blogger," I explained, shrugging. "Does that count?" and by that time, someone was already making time with my martini. But hope wasn't lost, there were other trays, with other drinks, that I got to know instead.

A fantastic start to my cinephiliac week.

I can't say enough about Away From Her. If you get a chance to catch it at the Star in Sydney tonight at 7:00, do it. The advance tickets sold out, but there are about 50 tickets at the door, I hear. Get there early.

Pre-Festival Bash

I wriggled my way into Lucky Bar last night, through the cozily packed Pre-Festival Bash, past camera lights, and sparkly burlesque dancers. The projection screen flickered with homegrown “My Victoria” Videos, It wasn’t just pre-festive, it was festive. Looks like an exciting year.

Whether it was Festival Programmer Donovan’s magical editing, or the films in the line-up, the Trailer reel had me sold. A few highlights:

Away from Her, Sarah Polley’s Directorial debut is set to launch the fest as the
Gala Screening. Universally touted as the Best Film of the Toronto International Film Festival. You can check out a trailer here: HYPERLINK ""

Norman McLaren Retrospective. Wow. I’m stoked. Maybe It’s the animation geek in me, or just that fact that the man is a genius (noticed I used “is.” Although he passed away in 1987, I’m refusing to let that alter his genius status to past tense.)

Bill Plympton’s “Guide Dog.” He was a guest of the festival a couple years ago. Wacky sense-of-humour. Seriously, the man is beautifully warped.

Andrew Currie’s “Fido.” I was lucky enough to catch a rough-cut screening of this film in the summer. Though zombie flicks don’t really do it for me, this one did. Light-hearted and entertaining. Shaun of the Dead meets Leave it to Beaver. Ridiculous. Fun Times. They’ve even got a website for “Zomcon,” the fictional company in the film HYPERLINK ""

And, they announced the Festival’s Special Guest this year, drum roll please…. Composer David Foster. I’ll be honest, my first thought was “David Who?” Until they played the reel. One of the most ubiquitous composers of our time, he has had his hand in everything: St. Elmo’s Fire, Karate Kid 2, The Bodyguard, Footloose, Ghostbusters. Like it or not – there’s a good chance you know every word to at least one of his songs, probably more than one. He is the writer/producer behind a slew of #1 soundtrack hits. I hadn’t put a name to them before – David Foster.

21 days and counting.

Before then, I’ll have to swing by The Bay or the Sony Store to check out the “My Victoria” Videos that are playing on a loop for the next 4 weeks. More than 50 Victoria-made minute-long films, including one of mine. Rumour has it the Bay has couches -woohoo!!!- but no popcorn, so bring your own.

I’ve got my grubby paws on a Festival Schedule, so now it’s time to mark off my calendar. It’s a question of scheduling. How many of the 140 films can I pack into a week? And can I bring my own lazy-boy chair so I don’t get theatre-bum?

More to come….once I’ve chewed my way through the festival guide.

“Away from Her” is screening Friday, Feb 2nd , 6:45pm at the Cap6 and Saturday, Feb 3rd, 7:00pm at Star Cinema in Sidney.

“McLaren Retrospective” is screening Sunday, Feb 4th, 6:45pm at the Cap 6.

“Guide Dog” and “Fido” are screening together on Saturday Feb 3rd, 6:45pm and Monday Feb 5th, 9pm at the Cap 6.