Monthly Archives: August 2018

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NEW TORONTO-BASED WEB SERIES OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES WITH PARTY DURING TIFF

With the ever-increasing popularity of web-based TV series and entertainment content (watch out cable tv providers, you’re days are numbered!), I’ve been following several young producers/directors/writers who have answered the siren call to create online films and serials. One such multi-tasker is CALEB OLIVIERI (pictured below in red in full directorial action) whose first series, UNAPOLOGY, offers tales from this city (Toronto), focusing on a number of families, singles, couples and how they navigate thru life and, in one case, the impact of early onset Alzheimer’s. UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_30Under the umbrella of his Wait, What? production company, Caleb has produced quality programming for multi-generational viewers showcased via the YouTube platform, and the first 6 episodes will officially be launched on Monday Sept. 10th with a cast and crew celebratory soiree during the height of Toronto Int’l Film Fest activities. Hopefully, members of the world’s entertainment media will drop by for a quick schmooze and meet Caleb and his enthusiastic production team. You can learn more via the series Fcbk page: www.facebook.com/unapologyseries

I recently spoke with Caleb to learn how Unapology came into being…

Caleb, what was the inspiration for the theme/storylines for UNAPOLOGY?  The storyline(s) grew organically out of my own experiences … alternative living arrangement and employment situation. A close relative with early Alzheimer’s inspired me to write about the reality of living with the disease. From the lack of affordable housing to despicable and exploitative behaviours of some of my employers I didn’t have to dig deep to find the grist.

Being a young filmmaker, how difficult was it to raise funding, secure equipment and locations as well as attract good actors?  Finding good actors in Toronto is easy enough and I was lucky enough to have some good connections with friends and colleagues with equipment and basically “free” use of locations. Fundraising on the other hand has always been a grind.UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_53 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_42With every film school grad pitching projects to major TV networks in Canada and the US, you created the series specifically for web-based content. Why/how did you decide on this route to take to make your presence known in the crowded TV production arena?  Originally it was written and produced as a pilot for a 22 min. series but I broke it down into 6 mini episodes for online use. With a web series I’m much less confined by edicts from networks which are often limiting when it comes to content and structure. A web based series lets the viewer make up their own mind as to what they want to watch and when … a quick episode on the subway ride home … a visit to the loo?IMG_8292 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_28 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_41As writer & director (as well as producer), how difficult was it to change “hats” throughout the shoot? Did Caleb the producer ever have to give notes (or argue with) Caleb the director?  Most of the time the writer and producer are at odds with one another because Caleb the producer can’t give Caleb the writer what he wants due to budget constraints. Caleb the director usually plays the middle man who tries to satisfy the needs of both the writer and producer without sacrificing the story or vision of the project.UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_24 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_55Did you study writing or production at university or film school, and if so how did you find that experience?  I’ve worked in the industry for most of my life, mostly as an actor. I would have loved the opportunity to study writing for film and tv post secondary but the reality for most actors in Canada is you do a lot of pavement pounding, auditioning and co-ops and if you have to pay the rent, that leaves little time for school.

You have a special invitation-only party coming up during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival to officially launch the UNAPOLOGY online series – this must be exciting for you and your team. How important is it to attract international media & industry attention for your web-series and will you be promoting to online audiences outside of Canada?  We are stoked to be able to promote our series during the upcoming TIFF season but more so to be simply promoting it finally. Any attention at this point is good attention for my crew and my cast, and while local attention would be great, finding an international audience is absolutely the way to go in 2018 onward.

Any advice to give other writers or producers wanting to create for online entertainment platforms?  Be persistent, hold on to your vision and find your Fairy Web-Mother or Father…LOLUnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_01

Check out Unapology’s YouTube promo videos here:

I strongly recommend watching this new series and thank you in advance for supporting emerging Canadian filmmakers and webTV producers. Congratulations to Caleb and his talented cast and crew.

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URBAN GALLERY OPENS THEIR DELICIOUS “ART OF FOOD” GROUP SHOW

Be prepared to leave hungry when you visit URBAN GALLERY‘s yummy “ART OF FOOD” group show that runs throughout August. The paintings are simply delicious with works featuring both sweet and savory images and some that are even thought-provoking such as Judy Sherman‘s collection of farmyard beasties striking back against their potential farm-to-plate future (below)20180811_134718

20180811_142825Anushka Deshpande‘s art is called “quilling” which is sculpting and rolling paper to create stunning representations of her subjects, like these (I love the tropical cocktail).20180811_135307 20180811_140336 20180811_140257Anushka is pictured above (centre) with (L to R) her husband, a friend, Calvin Hambrook (gallery director) and Allen Shugar (gallery curator).

Lisa Hemeon is best known for her evocative seascapes and you can imagine all the fishies swimming just under the surface, waiting for lines to be cast with big juicy baits. Look closely and imagine dinner just below Lisa’s waves…20180811_134803

Aisha Chiguichon brought wine…or at least a lovely painting of wine…to go with the colourful forks skewering treats for gallery visitors! Aisha is a self-taught visual artist and it’s obvious she delights in her inspirations for this show.20180811_134505URBAN SOURCE CATERING partnered with the gallery to present some real “art” of food – just look at this delicious spread for gallery visitors to enjoy and admire, prepared by executive chef Lyndon Wiebe.20180811_135017 20180811_135035 20180811_13504920180811_135029One of Urban Catering’s previous employees, Valerie J. McMurray, is also an artist of some note. Here is her triptych titled “Spanish Lemons” – you can almost smell the fragrance emanating from her juicy, ripe fruit.20180811_134559Janna Kroupko has previously exhibited at Urban Gallery, both in group and solo shows. Here, her delightful “Cherries” sits elegantly above the buffet table. She’s also an accomplished textile artist and weaver.20180811_134631 CHERRIES 12_ x 12_ oil on canvas by Janna KroupkoUrban Catering’s chef, Lyndon Wiebe, loves photography as well as food and has previously exhibited his photos from tours around the world (Lyndon is one of the chefs featured in the tv series “Chefs Run Wild”). Here he shares a couple of his storefront photos…20180811_134642Popular Toronto artist Kirk Sutherland brought three distinctly different artworks to the show, all featuring his signature colourful imaginative energy.  With titles such as Theatre of Saccharine and Confectionery Planetarium, Kirk’s work fits perfectly into this group show.20180811_134651 20180811_152632Even NEWZ4U editor KJ Mullins was entranced by Kirk’s work! (below)20180811_134709Gallery visitors enjoyed the art, the food and the chance to meet and chat with so many artists…20180811_135621 20180811_145430 20180811_140038ART OF FOOD runs until August 31st at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto (1 block E of Parliament). For directions and gallery hours visit:  www.urbangallery.ca

BOOK COVER

PSYCHOTHERAPIST, HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST & NOW AUTHOR, KRISTINA VIRRO HELPS PARENTS & TEACHERS TACKLE TEEN STRESS

With rates of anxiety hitting catastrophic numbers among today’s youth, the question begs to be asked: “why are teens so darn anxious in the first place and what can we do to help?”  Relying on her firsthand experience giving hundreds of hours of therapy to teens, parents and families, author KRISTINA VIRRO takes a deeper look into this unsettling phenomenon to locate some of its root causes and possible solutions in her first book, THE ANXIOUS TEEN.

I recently spoke with Kristina and asked about her background and then about the inspiration for this book which offers valuable advice for parents, teachers and grand-parents and the teens in their lives.

As a psychotherapist and holistic nutritionist, I look at how the different parts of your life shape who you are, from your innermost beliefs about yourself to your eating and exercise habits.  I prioritize being transparent, non-judgmental, and supportive, while also challenging some of the seemingly automatic beliefs and thoughts you may have that prevent you from meeting your goals. I also pride myself on being open-minded and anti-oppressive in my work.   Models of therapy I am trained in and have been inspired by include: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Trauma-Informed Care. – Kristina Virro.KRISTINA

What inspired this book focusing on teen stresses and anxieties and how parents/teachers can support or resolve these issues?  A main component of my master’s program involved being a full-time therapist intern who worked with individuals, couples and families in the community. It became clear very quickly that practically every single teenager and university student was struggling with anxiety. On top of that, the university I was studying at witnessed a shocking number of suicides among its undergraduate students that year. I couldn’t help but wonder why these teenagers’ concerns seemingly hadn’t been addressed before coming to university, and I was curious about how I could help parents, teachers and mentors take a more preventative approach to their teenagers’ mental health.th (4)

How was your own life – did you experience any major anxieties and if so, how did you deal with them?  I had taken a very organized, methodical approach to academia when I was younger: everything was planned out perfectly and by the age of 22 I’d completed my first master’s degree in journalism. After a few years in field though, I realized it wasn’t the best fit and I had to do a bit of soul searching. That’s when I experienced a crippling amount of anxiety. I’d gone from being someone who was “ahead of the game” with their entire life planned out to someone who didn’t know their purpose while their friends were working their way up in the real world. It was really, really hard. I dealt with it by seeing an amazing therapist who helped me get to know myself better and develop my resilience. IMG_2587 (1)

You have a background in various therapies, can you tell us how this expertise aided the creation of this book?  I gained so much insight about anxiety through providing family therapy to different people. Meeting with teenagers alone is one thing; you can discuss different strategies, coping mechanisms and other tools, but when you meet with the whole family, you can see pretty quickly how different dynamics might be contributing to the anxiety. What’s useful, though, is that from there you can see how everyone can be part of the solution as well.

What are a few of the signs that parents, teachers or mentors need to heed as potential ticking time-bombs when dealing with a “moody teen”?  Firstly, it’s important to be able to differentiate between when a teen is being moody versus showing symptoms of a legitimate mental health disorder. Everyone gets moody sometimes, but mental health disorders tend to change a person in more drastic ways such as affecting their eating habits, discouraging them from partaking in activities they once enjoyed, or isolating themselves. You can also learn a lot by just listening to how teenagers talk about themselves or life in general. Do they frequently put themselves down? Are they constantly worrying about the future? Are they unable to highlight any of their strengths? These could all be signs that an anxiety disorder is at play.th (2)

What do you hope readers gain by the time they turn the last page of your book?  I hope readers will realize that decreasing rates of anxiety in teens isn’t just a “teenage issue.” I’ve seen so many parents bring their kids to therapy in the hopes that I’ll “fix them,” when in reality, there are so many cultural, familial and generational factors that influence why teens are so anxious today. But parents, schools, friends and more can all contribute to helping teens feel more supported, too. I hope readers will be reminded that we all need to work together on this.

Any advice or assurances you can give readers that their “kids are alright”?  When a kid is struggling, it’s easy to become so consumed by the problem that we forget about their strengths. But the truth is teens are very resilient, malleable, resourceful individuals, which makes working with them very rewarding. They teach me so much and possess so many qualities that allow change to happen, and we need to remember to harness these.

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So whether you’re a worried parent or frustrated teacher, this book provides practical tips and useful tools designed to reduce symptoms of anxiety in teens and increase caregivers’ abilities to cope, too.

The eBook is available now via Amazon & iBooks for $9.99 or $20 for hard copy [ISBN #978-1-9994279] (see weblink below for book  purchase) and Kristina will be presenting several book signings and workshops across the GTA in the fall so watch for announcements here on this blog or via her website or social media.

www.fresh-insight.ca/shop-1

www.facebook.com/TheAnxiousTeen  

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