Monday, July 9, 2012

Get on the Good Foot

Here is my favourite opening line from an email I received in the last year:

"dear julien,

fuck you.
and your ridiculous high horse."


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Hole in the Gate (excerpt)

To say that he had doubts would be an understatement. He even wondered if the last four months of work had been all to regain the time and place he had lost in an earlier life.

Fear had driven him to find forever. Despair kept him in pursuit. Disillusionment was his compass, and disdain his fuel.

Now that he was finally, truly, and unequivocally on his own, memories of his final moments with his loved ones flashed back through his mind.

They had had tears in their eyes.

But what he thought he had seen as love, pain, and anguish in their faces, he realized now was only pity and despair for the poor fool willing to die in pursuit of his hopes and dreams. They weren't crying because they would miss him. They were crying because they felt sorry for him, sorry for anyone who would so willingly dive headlong into oblivion...'fore up until he left, the fool still believed it was true.

Now he only wanted to believe, because that was all there was left.

Having cast off everything he had ever known, he was filled with bitterness and resentment. Bitterness from having lost his faith, and resentment for having had any to begin with.

He had conquered his fear of being alone, but in doing so, solitude had become his best friend.

As a boy he had gazed up at the night sky, and now he was nothing more than a speck within the backdrop of his childhood. In a place so vast, so empty, and yet so ultimately fitting for him.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Earlier tonight, the 'Rug Burns: Vigilante Cop' trailer screened in front of a public audience for only the second time. It was part of a little screening here in Ottawa called 'Fake Trailers Reel Festival', and it was an absolute blast to be a part of.

I was a little nervous initially about going at all. I've had a rough couple weeks, and I just got back from the west fact, I flew in to Newark, caught a connecting flight to Toronto, then bussed the rest of the way to Ottawa, so needless to say, I was pretty tanked. In addition, nobody else I knew would be attending along with me, what with the Canada Day weekend and being a loner and all...not to mention most people involved in the project live in Toronto...

Nevertheless, it ended up being one of my happiest and proudest moments to date, as ridiculous as that might sound.

I love the Mayfair Theatre, it's one of my favaourite cinemas I've ever attended (both due to the decor, and the programming) so to have something I worked on really hard make it up on that screen was a real honour.

I only managed to stay for the first half of the festival (the first hour or so compromises of Fake Trailers, then the second hour is entirely real trailers, that are really ridiculous).

The 'Rug Burns' trailer ended up being the first local trailer shown, so I was a little anxious about that. The last time it was shown in a public forum was at Club Saw as part of 'Cable: A Night of Surfing through the Channels', and the experience was a little disheartening. The event was great, but it was the first trailer shown, and due to it's graphic nature, profanity, and stupidity, it didn't end up being a crowd favourite. It would only be fair to point out that the mean age in the audience was hovering around 65, so it maybe wasn't the target demographic to begin with.

In any case, for whatever reason, 'Rug Burns' was selected as the kickoff trailer again (following a little preview vignette and a re-hashed Shining trailer)...

My heart started pounding away in my chest. I had been kinda hoping it would be sandwiched in the program somewhere later on...but to the programmer's credit (all credit due to Josh Stafford) the audience was ready and willing to laugh. I think in total there was probably around 100 people there? But I'm really bad with numbers, so it was likely less? Maybe more? I have no clue.

The initial part of the trailer garnered a kind of chuckle from the audience...I guess at the name 'Rug Burns', but I was holding my breath to see if any of the later parts would get a rise out of people...

As soon as Pat uttered the words "It's winter time in here..." the crowd went nuts.

It was one of the most satisfying feelings to actually reach a large audience, and finally see that our sense of humour was connecting with people beyond our small circle of friends. Everything that we wanted to get laughs, got laughs...everything that we wanted to shock people with, shocked people, and people actually applauded when the whole thing was done.

It might just be my narcissism talking, but I think it ended up being one of the most well-received trailers of the night. I think that's pretty special, considering we didn't have our own group of cheerleaders whooping it up as it happened.

By the midway point of the trailer, I knew the audience was sold on it, and I was actually able to sit back and enjoy it myself. I hadn't seen it since the last screening, and actually found myself laughing at parts too...Pat threw in some great improv lines that always get to me.

I sat through the rest of the fake trailers, and found that the quality was even higher than last year's (to my recollection). I left at intermission so I didn't get to stick around and thank Josh, so I suppose I'll have to do so the next time I see him.

I guess this will sound kind of lame, but it was, in a weird way, one of the happiest moments of my life. I'll be honest when I say that the trailer isn't exactly as I envisioned it. If I had to shoot it all over again, there's a bunch of things I would do differently, but ultimately, I'm happy with it. For 3 and half minutes, it made people laugh, and that's not the kind of feedback I'm really used to getting for anything that I work on.

I've done a radio show off and on for the better part of 5 years, and due to the one way nature of the medium, it's always left something lacking. I always loved getting emails (they were few and far between) and phone calls (same deal), but ultimately I always had to go home convincing myself that I'd done a decent job.

Even earlier on, I tried my hand at stand-up comedy, and I don't know if it's a maturity thing or what, but it never meant anything to me when I was doing it at the age of 19. (Maybe now that I'm older I might appreciate it more?)

When I did well, I was dismissive, questioning how hard could it really be to make a bunch of drunk people laugh (considering they were already showing up to laugh in the first place...).

When I sucked, I blamed the audience (as all good stand-ups do).

The funny thing is, I actually have specific recollections of going on stage with material I'd never done before, and having complete strangers come up to me afterwards and tell me I was funny. Most of the time I wouldn't even break my stride (to be fair, I had to catch the last bus home...)

Showing documentaries has been even less fulfilling. First of all, I haven't always been thrilled with the projects I've picked to work on, and secondly, I'm not all that good at it to begin with. I remember a bunch of people saying they really enjoyed the Remi Royale piece, but all I could ever think about was how I would have done things differently.

I don't know if it's because I'm a perfectionist or just because I have low self-esteem. It's probably the latter.

Before leaving for Ottawa, I wrote a whole bunch about self-esteem in a journal and how it kind of factored into my last relationship (or maybe all my relationships), and I'm also starting to see how it factors into the stuff I work on too.

I actually wondered out loud if I would ever be able to feel pride and be happy with anything I'd done. I guess this festival came along at the right time.

For once, it felt good to be me. No one came up to me afterwards and said 'good job', nobody handed me an award or anything like that, no one even knew I put it together...I slid in and out undetected...but the fact remains that one year ago I set out with a goal of making a fake trailer (something I'd never done before), and through a lot of perseverance, and with a lot of help, I was able to realize that goal. So I'm really happy.

I may never work on films at all (or films that I would want to work on), and I may never get paid to do anything remotely creative, but for what it's worth, I'm happy with the contribution I made last night. People laughed as a result of stuff I worked on. They were made a little bit happier, and as a result, I felt good about myself.

I once showed the trailer to my dad and one of his friends, and they actually reacted really positively to it. But I've never been able to trust him with any of that stuff. To be perfectly honest, I had to hide the entire production of the trailer from my dad since it involved violence (he was adamantly against video games, toy guns, and thereby anything fun when I was growing up...he was really pissed when I bought myself a water gun at the age of 12 or 13...) so it's hard to feel strongly one way or another about his opinions. To date I've done well over 100 radio shows, and he's never even heard 1 minute of it (probably for the best...I think he would be ashamed that I was his son...but if you'd like to check out past episodes for yourself, click here!)

I guess I've come to the realization that the things I want to do will likely never make my dad happy, or much less proud. Which in a way is okay...I guess it gives me a little chip on my shoulder, and to his credit, even though he might not be a fan, he's been incredibly supportive these last few years. I don't really get into too many long discussions with the old man anymore, but he always tries to re-emphasize the idea that I should be doing stuff that I feel passionate about...after all, I'm only young(ish) once. So I really appreciate that. I think to a certain level he knows I'm sort of an idiot, and so rather than get his feathers all ruffled about it, he calmly ignores whatever nonsense I might be up to.

With that being said, I really wish everyone who worked on it could have been at the screening. People loved it. I even wish my mom was her own stubborn way, she was really supportive of me spending a week shooting the project, so I have to thank her...

I was going to launch into a bunch of other low self-esteem has sort of dictated different parts of my life...usually in a detrimental way...but I just noticed it's almost maybe I'll get into it some other time...

Anyway, for those who haven't seen it yet, the trailer is posted below...hopefully it makes ya smile, chuckle or laugh...I had a blast doing it, and I really hope, and can't wait, to do it again...