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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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More film festival fun in Toronto with Nollywood stars

On Wed. Sept. 14, Nollywood filmmaker OMONI OBOLI had her first public screening for her film OKAFOR’S LAW at the Scotiabank Cinemas in downtown Toronto where she was joined onstage by co-star UFUOMA McDERMOTT for an audience Q&A afterwards. 20160914_224701Looking lovely in one of the gorgeous gowns supplied by Gail McInnes of Stylist Box, Omoni fielded numerous questions about her career and meeting the challenges of being a female director in a predominantly man’s world. 20160914_224645 20160914_224703 20160914_224649Ufuoma (above) sported a short sparkly cocktail dress that twinkled brightly on the stage.

Omoni then greeted fans outside the theatre, posing for selfies for nearly an hour!20160914_23063120160914_230858 20160914_23071920160914_231409And so did Ufuoma!20160914_230817Omoni was joined by TIFF/City to City Programming Associate Olena Decock, who also moderated the Q&A session, for a few photos, too.20160914_231857The fabulous Uche Jombo (below) then joined us …20160914_232443….and then once the moviegoers had left the theatre, we decided to have some fun and play!20160914_232726

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

20160914_232512The cinema’s cocktail lounge was closed and deserted so our little group took advantage of the cool lighting and views across the city of Toronto.20160914_233722 20160914_233600 20160914_233750 20160914_233900 20160914_234318 20160914_234735My one quick photo opp with Omoni….it’s been fun working with her and her cast during TIFF. This woman is a real pro and I was honoured to be a part of her film fest experience.
20160914_234813We found a lot of cool spots to take pics so every few feet it was a case of “strike a pose”!20160914_235441 20160914_235036 20160914_235323I love this pic of Ufuoma (below)….very moody, very “film noir”.20160914_235501We had waaaay too much fun but fortunately we were all able to sleep in a little in the morning after.  It’s been a blast working with these incredible women from Nigeria’s flourishing film community and I look forward to continuing the relationship once they head home. 20160914_235603 20160914_235606

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ANOTHER GREAT “NOLLYWOOD” FILM FOR THIS YEAR’S TIFF-GOERS TO SEE

For this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 8-18), the focus for their City-to-City program is Lagos, Nigeria – home to “Nollywood” filmmaking. One of the films being featured is 76 helmed by the multi award-winning director Izu Ojukwo, and starring Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Memry Savanhu and Daniel Kanayo Daniel.IMG_3500 IMG_351076 is a love story that centers around the challenges women married to men in the armed forces go through when their husbands are captured in war. The 76 story is told using the backdrop of the Nigerian 1976 Dimka’s coup. The movie isn’t about a botched coup attempt but is clearly about the women who are courageous enough to bear a soldier’s last name. It is visually pure, emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating and humorously therapeutic.

Six years after the Nigerian civil war, Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) a young officer from the middle belt gets entangled in a romantic relationship with Suzy (Rita Dominic) a young lady from the southeastern part of Nigeria. Their budding romance was almost ruptured by the overwhelming strains of tribalism. Now heavily pregnant, her world comes crumbling when news of her husband’s involvement in a botched coup attempt hits the headlines.IMG_3506 IMG_3505 IMG_3514You can check out the official preview trailer here:

Visit the official TIFF website for tickets, screening times and additional information on the City-to-City “Nollywood” programme

www.tiff.net/tiff/

 

 

 

 

 

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TORONTO’S SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS TO PRESENT ACTOR/PLAYWRIGHT WALLACE SHAWN’S PROVOCATIVE “AUNT DAN & LEMON” THIS SEPTEMBER

Toronto-based SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS is thrilled to bring actor/playwright Wallace Shawn’s dark, provocative and polarizing play AUNT DAN & LEMON to local audiences for the first time in nearly 3 decades when they raise the curtain at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace on September 14th for a 2 week run.Aunt D & l posterAunt Dan & Lemon takes us into the world of a young recluse named Lemon (alias Leonora) who spends her nights reading chronicles of Nazi atrocities. Lemon tells the audience about the overwhelming influence in her life of her parents’ friend “Aunt Dan,” an eccentric, passionate professor whose stories and seductive opinions enthrall Lemon from the time she is a young girl. The relationship that develops between Lemon and Aunt Dan and the conversations that went on in a small house on the bottom of an English garden form the focus of this play about political orientation and the allure of certain ideas-even if they lead to murder. A forceful play exposing the banality of society’s evil, Aunt Dan & Lemon explores the ease with which good and bad become reconciled in the human mind.

Director DAN SPURGEON recently told me… Although the play premiered over thirty years ago and has seen prominent revivals both in New York and the West End, its messages may be more relevant now than ever before. The Trump candidacy and the Brexit vote have revealed a disturbing trend towards racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism, and Shawn’s script brilliantly examines how such abhorrent mindsets can come from even the most benign sources and banal experiences. Considering it hasn’t been seen in Toronto since Tarragon Theatre’s Dora-nominated 1987 production, the time is absolutely right for revisiting this intelligent, uncanny and frightening work.

The world premiere of Aunt Dan & Lemon was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, producer) at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England on August 27, 1985. Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride – pictured below) played Lemon’s father plus various ensemble roles in this original production. Wallace ShawnThis production opened off-Broadway at The Public Theater on October 21, 1985 with Academy Award winning actress Linda Hunt (Year of Living Dangerously – below) portraying Aunt Lemon. linda huntNearly 20 years later, the play received a New York revival off-Broadway in 2004 at the Acorn Theatre with TV’s Kristen Johnston (Third Rock From the Sun & Sex in the City) playing Aunt Dan and Lili Taylor (The Conjuring, Blood Ties) playing Lemon (pictured below L & R respectively)Kristen & LiliDirector Spurgeon went on to explain…. One of the most interesting things about this play is the playwright’s forcing the audience out of their comfort zone, by refusing to acknowledge the standard storytelling tropes we’re used to – there is no hero or villain, no separation of “the good guys” from “the bad guys.” The main conflict occurs between the playwright and a complacent audience, with the revelation of uncomfortable truths and questions about the modern world.

So mark your calendars for when Aunt Dan & Lemon confronts and challenges Toronto audiences once again.  All performances at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace theatre. Ticket information and times will be posted closer to opening. Follow Shadowtime Prods. on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/shadowtimeprodns

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MEET ANDREW CHAPMAN, star of “DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN” opening Feb 11th in Toronto

In less than a month, one of the funniest Broadway plays ever to grace the stage will open at Toronto’s Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkley St) starring a very funny young comedian who will entertain, inspire and provoke audiences with this “battle of the sexes/he said-she said” tour de force. DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN star ANDREW CHAPMAN sat down with me and shared a few insights on his approach to the role and offered some background to his own burgeoning career in stand-up comedy, TV and film acting. Be sure to check out www.thecaveman.ca for dates & tickets to the show…you shouldn’t miss it or this terrific young talent.

Andrew, what first attracted you to the play?
I’d heard about Caveman through the theatre and comedy community for a number of years and knew that people related to it a lot. Also, it has a strong stand-up comedy aspect to it which is something I do as well, so it seemed like a good fit.12115946_533852020095819_1423922453001874820_nWhat do you hope the audiences get from the show?
A damned good laugh! And a glimpse of themselves and their own relationships, and I’ve seen a lot of elbowing and rib-poking “yeah, that’s you..” with couples during my past performances.12144710_533852033429151_98043124632265989_nYou’re quite a young man – how do you build your character when the subject is all about relationships, the battle of the sexes, men are from Mars/women are from Venus kinda thing when your own life experience is relatively short to date?
Mighty nice of you to say….I draw from people I know who’ve been married for years or been in long term relationships. Luckily the material is something that relates to those kinds of relationships. I’ve been in a few long term relationships and lived with a girlfriend (scandalous!) so I have some familiarity with it, for instance, I’ve been asked “You’re not going to wear THAT shirt, are you?” LOL

I understand there are interactive elements where you bring couples up on stage so how has your stand-up or TV hosting work helped you with this theatrical role?
It’s basically a 2 hour stand-up set, really. And yeah, in stand-up you don’t want hecklers or people talking, but in this show – I HIGHLY encourage it! It adds a new element to the show and makes each show “one of a kind”. So, hosting and doing stand-up comedy, you talk WITH the audience (in a way) and bring them into your world, and the same is with Caveman.IMG_6683Have you had any formal theatrical training and if so, where and under whose tutelage?
When you see the show, you’ll clearly realize that I have not had any formal acting training..haa haa. But working in comedy clubs and on busy TV or film sets can be the best training, esp. when you need to be able to improv a situation with “civilians” participating on stage.

What other projects have you been working on where we can see you?
I’ve been lucky enough to work on a variety of different projects recently. I just wrapped a film in Cancun that will be out in the Fall, called “The Duchess Of Cancun” (below shows Andrew working very hard on the beach in Cancun!) 10603475_1034453386622264_990104589620432725_nI’m currently appearing in the web-series “V Morgan Is Dead” for VerveGirlTV/Youtube (see sexy screen-cap below) and right before Caveman opens Feb 11th, I’ll have just wrapped the film “Spy House” as well as a 3 week stand-up tour of Ottawa/Kingston/Toronto clubs. FYI: during the run of “Defending the Caveman”, a show I hosted called “Made Up” will be airing on DisneyXD in the US.IMG_6567

DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN

Feb. 11 to 26th @ Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkley St, Toronto

Tickets & info at: www.thecaveman.caDRAG HIM 5.5 x 8.5 TEMPLATE CLEAN

 

 

 

 

 

David Gale, Ferne Downey, Theresa Tova

HITTING THE RED CARPET @ ACTRA TORONTO TIFF PARTY (Pt. II)

“More more more…how’d ya like it, how’d like it?” Only readers familiar with the disco era will probably get that….but it was still the case last night when Toronto’s fabulous film folks walked the red carpet at the ACTRA Toronto TIFF party held at the HangLoose Media studios…and they brought more more more glamour and fabulosity!
Was great to catch up with my old friend David Gale, pictured above with Ferne Downey and Theresa Tova who had some fun with Kate Wheeler of What She Said web radio who interviewed them on their way inside (below). CvPkRm0bemNp-rL8Pzd19SDtqSETkSp4x24ZHGiRBa4Meet the multi award-winning Helena-Alexis Seymour, 2 time Best Actress winner (F.A.B.I.O) and Best Actress nominee at the Black Canadian Awards (below).mYoDXNb1WB1baNjEj13lkE81ZznyhiKUcMFloWn9NkgAnd here’s the beautiful, elegant Clara Pasieka (below) who is also Chair of the Young Emerging Actors Assembly (YEAA).irNax-GfQfOhaX5uWLoisllILIN7RxoFCKiU2fE6Eg0Canadian acting royalty was in the house…yes, that’s Tantoo Cardinal, award-winning actor, activist and recipient of the Order of Canada! Ms. Cardinal was just honored with the 2015 ACTRA Award of Excellence20150915_200329I love it when actors get “into it” during photo calls – gives us all something to shoot and play with. And I soon discovered the shoes! My inner Carrie Bradshaw freaked out over some of the sexy footwear and even the guys brought it.20150915_194723 Rachel Tores 20150915_203440 20150915_204059 J8kaCs3VhIVjvEAD_39FxdjBkrp3Me9PEZFcElBvwLwEven the wristwear was pretty cool….I want that one!20150915_195732Recent imports from LA, here’s writer/director Dan Spurgeon (below, left), and his partner, producer Drew Blakeman (right) who were chatting up the actors about their award-winning play, The Baby, which is set to open here in Toronto next month.  http://thebabyliveonstage.com/  Dan and DrewHere’s internationally renowned flautist, composer and film scorer Ron Korb and his beautiful wife & photographer Jade.20150915_203635 12026688_10153507311771259_781100657_nOne of my favourite photo opps for the actors was this “selfie station” (below), What a great idea.selfie timeI love this photo (below) ….two of my fave party VIPs, ACTRA’s PR Officer Karen Woolridge (left) and Safiya Ricketts (right) who’s on the ACTRA Diversity, TAWC and YEAA committees.

ZnWVaJZJoRoP6A3XXQJ3lj8-MD1jDBNqkULhudSPUhQStand-up comedians/actors Ali Hassan & Dave Merhege (below) shared a few laughs with us.Stand-up comedians & actors Ali Hassan & Dave MerhegeOne of the hardest working men in Toronto showbiz is Bobby DelRio, actor, writer, director, handsome dude about town…you name it, Bobby does it!WOqPUm8SrkiPlcdwok8l-0QB_hQ9mDFB7CLxUHUNgSI

Randi & Barrie Shelson put in an appearance

Randi & Barrie Shelson put in an appearance

The stunning blonde in the firetruck red gown (below right) is Christine Jenna Cilano, Founder/CEO of Bella Life Model Agency of Boston (she whispered to me that she may be opening a Toronto office) who arrived with a cool entourage that included local club entrepreneur David Laxton (at left), musician Rasta Phill, model Lauren Marx and CEO of Madflower Creative, Nico Bacigalupo.yQTyqN5v1kM-GGL44cb2q1rpEy-ZS3tSUHlapNUvgEsHere’s more ACTRA members enjoying themselves, nice and relaxed, having fun and working the red carpet photo opps.OJIRHqd0bVaU4jjGp5R-0ezvQS34_1o2D_17nOsvs4o Ngpwhd_vCvhTyEdxQbBTGmuMnRDQC7F0ISeRF0O-H4U M5okz7jIZUh3Lt_9iFExwjzakOj-hKBPXN3sIsWKjJ0 7-lo5gQJZbh6Im2tm5wv4vwSOR09vejcdy7Q1W-Y93Y,3Veld1wxzYIQ46J9C5ijwMPEcw7TQOyM5LOcX_gcj5w 12033596_10153507312041259_1206314458_n

GyiTdWk2FMq76FwVMVgCwTPbFTAIUGKakIfhWQDRWUI,mnhYLBnmoz14Bnyle_V4IDS0yirzy9t7_Obq9e_swzw

CQ2NZh6eEDC4v15zabLZ5D9fTgAVGwhaCh0JSvkjaqkTa-daaah! That’s all I can say about this lovely, funny volunteer who helped keep our energy up while working the red carpet for 3hrs.20150915_191010Below, Raj Girn, publisher of Anokhi Media, one of the night’s sponsors, sparkled and shimmered. I remember attending the launch party for her successful luxury magazine, Anokhi Vibe, several years ago and I’m so happy for her success in such a tough market.20150915_211317More fun, fabulous party people….dxiTeCXwn7q97BTGIbrg-c4L6VRZJJl_oTMoDHPWN14 bGQwPS_aQoqgTdzdn81ZsOipvox3dBGfnA6x-wBfFTU aOgoU_g8nJJzmNVZ8zYzAiVgpMCYIDvV-bNuKXwGWUQNow…a big thank-you to to all the event sponsors and partners for making the soiree so successful.ACTRA logo Diversity Logo copy TAWC Logo copy YEAA Logo2 copy

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d'alessio logo copy flow water sdtclogo copy st royal copyAnd congratulations to all the amazing volunteers who worked so hard to pull off such a fun, glamorous event. Bravo, and a big standing O to you all!dlhiCKZOOhmYqP3LlMxvXmGVJpRBli8PRaejNptgJJM