Tag Archives: movies

Director/writer TRICIA LEE is ready for her own close-up at this year’s Toronto Int’l Film Festival

Back in October of 2013, I was thrilled to work with Canadian writer/director TRICIA LEE, promoting her horror feature film Silent Retreat which made its World Premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival that year. The film did very well with both audiences and critics and since then, Lee has been on an upward career trajectory.

The accomplished and versatile filmmaker earned her US Green Card as an “artist of extraordinary ability” with Canadian and British citizenship, and has directed 11 shorts and 3 award-winning features since starting out in 2004. And she directed newly-minted superhero star Simu Liu in her 2017 short film Meeting Mommy.

Tricia has been recognized as one of Hollywood’s Top New Writers on the 2020 Black List, CAPE List, Young & Hungry List, Athena List, and the BitchList.  Her script pitch for Good Chance was an Academy Nicholl Fellowship semi-finalist, Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope Screenplay Competition grand prize winner, Cinequest Best Feature Screenplay winner, WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Features winner, Sundance Lab second-rounder and selected for the prestigious Producers Guild of America Power of Diversity Master Workshop. Attached are Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, Janet Yang (Joy Luck Club) as producers and Kheng Tan Hua (Crazy Rich Asians, Kung Fu Series) as lead actress – BRAVO, TRICIA!
Currently, Tricia’s script for her next feature titled IDOL is part of this year’s “Breaking Through the Lens” program at the Toronto International Film Festival that just opened on September 9th so I was excited to chat with Tricia about that and her other achievements since we worked together in 2013.TIFF
Tricia, you’ve worked consistently and successfully for more than a decade, creating some of the most innovative and exciting genre films why is becoming a finalist in this years Breaking Through the Lens TIFF so important to you personally and for your career?   Looking back on my career, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come, but also how far I still want to go.  In order to continue a long-lasting career, I have to keep innovating and creating new projects and telling new stories.  Breaking Through the Lens choosing my new project, IDOL, to be showcased during TIFF is this project’s first walk outside!  The opportunity to share the pitch with financiers and distributors is a great way to share this script with people who can potentially help make the film.  I want to take my career to the next level and I hope that we can bring this film to the screen and touch, move and inspire people.

For a number of years, you were one of only a few female directors working in the horror genre what attracted you to horror stories and did you have a different perspective that your male counterparts?  What I love about genre, is that we can speak about deeper issues through metaphor.  With entertainment, I always want to hide the pill in peanut butter, as they say.  Is that how you get dogs to eat medicine? I thought peanut butter was bad for dogs, or maybe that’s chocolate… anyways…
I don’t know that my perspective was more female than my male counterparts.  My perspective is simply… my perspective.  It comes from the intersection of who I am, how I grew up, where I’m from, how my parents treated me, the significant others I’ve chosen, etc.  And also what I wanted to talk about at that time in my life.   My second feature Silent Retreat, which pre-dated the #MeToo movement, was about women being silenced.  I wanted to make a film about women standing up and using their voices.  And I collaborated with a male, Corey Brown, to make that film.  That film was a combination our creative perspectives.

You’ve spent a great deal of time undertaking shadowing mentorshipsfrom Jeff Woolnough on SyFys The Expanse, Erik Canuel, producing director on CBSRansom, Peter DeLuise on Freeforms Shadowhunters and most recently, the highly-regarded powerhouse – Nancy Meyers on the Walmart BoxOscars® commercial. How has this benefited you as a story-teller as well as working with actors?  This career is all about learning.  I think life is about learning.  I am so grateful for having been given the opportunities to watch these talented, experienced directors work.  Everyone has a different style and approach, and in my own directing, I get to take tidbits from each shadowing experience to create my own process. IMG_7986.1I’m a person who makes a lot of lists, so I literally write down my process and anytime I learn something new from one of my mentors, I add it to my list.  Being a director, I don’t get to practice my craft every day, so these lists help me remember what I’ve learned for when I do have the chance to get on set and work the directing muscle.  Also, I practice working with actors to implement what I’ve learned.  I work actors on their auditions, break down the beats, give them direction and help shape a performance.IMG_7121You have also worked on more family-friendly projects like Meeting Mommy starring Simu Liu (Marvels latest superhero Shang-Chi) and have been developing diverse and inclusive projects what are your immediate goals and/or future projects?  Layered, vulnerable dramas that are heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time, with a sprinkle of comedy is where my natural intuition lies.  I only started writing about 4 years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles.  I asked myself, would I rather go through the pain of reading scripts or the pain of writing scripts.  And I just found that people weren’t writing the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell.  So I took on the pain of writing! And I’m glad, because it has been a way for me to explore my own voice I have been developing more stories that star Asian characters and have taken a deep look within myself to put my truth onto the page.  I want to make films that give a voice to under-represented communities, not because it’s the fad right now, but because it breaks my heart that someone can hate or commit violence against someone else just because they are different.  I will never run for president, so this is my way of reaching people, to touch, unite and inspire them and create powerful change in our culture.  I want to tell stories that resonate deeply with audiences and unforgettably pierce their hearts.
Immediate goals are to secure financing for my scripts IDOL, a music biopic about William Hung (from American Idol – see below) and GOOD CHANCE (starring Kheng Tan Hua from Crazy Rich Asians) which was on the 2020 Black List.william hungYou and your husband Mark own a number of condos that you operate as AirBnBs, plus youve previously worked as a piano teacher and an experiential marketer.is there anything else you want to try, apart from making movies?  No. Film is my life.  I will not retire from this career.  All the other things I’ve done in my life were side gigs, which allowed me the freedom and time to make my films.  I took part-time flexible jobs so that I never had to ask for vacation or permission to make my films.  When I was on set, I would just tell them that I couldn’t work that month.  I have a crazy resume, but it has always been towards one goal: being a filmmaker.

Any advice youd like to offer to aspiring filmmakers, especial women, and on the various career paths they can take to achieve success, life balance and happiness?  Honestly, I’m not great at life balance.  I definitely focus on career too much and am working on finding balance myself.  I find that the scripts and movies that I’ve made that resonate with people the most are the ones where I dig into myself and tell my truth.  I encourage all of you to take the time to sit with yourself.  Think about why is it you want to make this film, what do you want to say with it, how do you want the audience to feel when they walk out?  And make sure that every scene wraps around that nugget.  When you put something of yourself on the page, it shines through.  Those are the films that pierce people’s hearts and will help you take the next step in your career.  It can be slow and long, or it can be a quick rise to the top.  But never give up if telling stories through this medium is really what you want to do.DSC_0014Thanks for sharing your insights and advice, Tricia, and I can’t wait to see how your script faired at TIFF this year. Looking forward to seeing Idol when it hits cinema screens and the festival circuit. You can all follow Tricia on all her social media platforms linked on her website: www.tricialeedirector.com

 

AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE ROMANCE MOVIE COMING TO CDN & US THEATRES AND STREAMING SERVICES, BRINGING DOWN UNDER LOVE UP NORTH!

I frequently complain about the lack of Aussie films being available online or even making into our cinemas in North America – not sure who negotiates all the distribution deals (esp. with tv content) but we Aussies abroad will soon be able to enjoy a new romantic adventure movie when FOREVER FIRST LOVE hits screens in September.

Set against the beauty of a baroque Filipino town, Forever First Love is a modern romantic drama. “The story follows international photographer Paul who finds his first love, Anna, in a one-in-a–million chance meeting in a crowded Filipino market. The travelers spend the day exploring the beauty of the 16th century town and whilst passions reignite, their principles on relationships, religion, and morality clash. Paul’s long held nostalgia for his dream girl is tested,” says Brisbane based writer and director, LUKE MAYZE (pictured below, directing the leading lady).  “The film is an exploration of the dynamics of gender roles in modern relationships and balances this generation’s reluctance to commit with the desperate need for connection.”Luke with Carlotta (2)This is the first feature film for Mayze, a multi-award winner who has found international success with numerous short film projects (Silver Stiletto, Prep Rules, Weight Of Sunken Treasure and It’s A Treat). The film is also the debut feature film for emerging Brisbane producers, Carmel Savage and Janelle Rayner. They secured funding for the film from private investors, shooting in the Philippines and Queensland and producing the film locally.  The film premiered in Latin America at the end of 2020 and has fast become an underground favourite.  Cinematographer, Shing Fung Cheung, won an Australian Cinematography Award for the production.

“Despite the difficulties of distribution due to COVID, we’re thrilled that the film has attracted a global audience with people seeking a style of escapism different from ordinary cinema,” Luke added. “Since the film’s release in Latin America, we’ve received an outpouring of  messages from across the globe in support of Forever First Love.

The film stars Australian actor STEVEN ROOKE (The Chronicles of Narnia, Australia Day, Wanted) alongside Italian actress CARLOTTA MORELLI (Tracy Ullman Show, Lip Service, Fratelli di Sangue), who auditioned for the role in London and rehearsed in a series of skype video calls before flying across the world to meet the production team. The stars only met in person a few days before filming commenced, with critical praise for their on-screen chemistry.IMG_5547When I first learnt about this new film, I reached out to Luke for more insights into his film and he kindly shared the following:

The story of Forever First Love is written from Paul’s point of view. Paul is an international photographer, who has followed his passion to the Philippines to capture that perfect image. In the chaos and heat of a crowded market, his first love, Anna appears in his lens. Paul convinces Anna to go on an adventure with him and together they explore exotic locations, share confessions and experience a night of passion that neither could have anticipated. But in the harsh reality of the morning after, Paul comes to realize that living his life through a lens will never be enough. Street Love (1)I am indebted to the talented and professional teams of people in the Philippines and Australia who made this adventure unforgettable and am proud to share Forever First Love as my debut feature film as both Writer and Director. I’ve taken inspiration from filmmakers such as Peter Weir, Alexander Payne and Steven Spielberg throughout my career and wanted to create a story that delves into our fundamental desire for human connection and attachment to the past. Forever First Love explores themes around love, identity, culture and the complexity of relationships when stereotypes and assumptions collide. I hope the film starts a dialogue around the perception of traditional love and the changing gender roles in modern relationships.IMG_5714 (1) IMG_5591 (1)

MY BRIEF REVIEW:   Written and directed by Luke Mayze, Forever First Love is the tender story of a rediscovered first love set against the chaos of an urban centre in the Philippines. Australian photographer Paul suddenly sees Anna, his teenage sweetheart, walk into his lens as he snaps the vibrant street scenes. He pursues her through the market where they finally meet and realize the passion is still there…at least for the duration of her stay in the city.

Mayze has written nuanced tender dialogue between the two characters, yet has imbued the leading lady, played by Carlotta Morelli, with a sense of maturity and empowerment, perfectly in control of her emotions. In a reversal of standard male/female roles, Paul, played to perfection by Steven Rooke, is overwhelmed by his feelings for Anna – still worshiping her or, at least the idea of her, as his beloved one and only. Both actors light up the screen; their verbal exchanges are both fiery and impassioned, challenging each other to view their present romantic predicament realistically while examining their past youthful entanglements; viewers may find themselves subconsciously taking sides, especially as the story reaches its conclusion.

With glorious cinematography by award-winning Shing-Fung Cheung and a masterful soundtrack that underscores each scene’s emotions by Peter Spierig, this is a film for those who appreciate human interaction without use of guns, blown-up buildings, car chases…it’s a very human story that requires no props or fancy CGI – it’s all heart and soul. Luke Mayze has spent many years creating award-winning shorts and as his debut feature film, Forever First Love promises future success for this multi-talented Australian filmmaker. His insightful and very intimate script hints that maybe he himself has experienced and survived such a love? Just wondering…..

CONGRATULATIONS to Luke, Carmel and Janelle, and the entire cast and crew.  I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety. Forever First Love hits US and Canadian screens the second week of September thanks to Galloping Entertainment & distributors Vertical Entertainment. You may also view the film via your favourite streaming platforms: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google, FandangoNOW, Microsoft,  Redbox On Demand, Vudu, DirecTV, Comcast X1 and AT&T U-Verse. And tell the producers what you think of their film on social media: www.facebook.com/foreverfirstlovemovie

LEGENDARY HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR NORMAN JEWISON GETS BIO TREATMENT FROM AUTHOR IRA WELLS

Last week, I was honoured to attend an online gathering of film critics, writers, film directors and industry insiders to hear author IRA WELLS discuss his new book NORMAN JEWISON: A DIRECTOR’S LIFE published by Sutherland House Books (Founded in 2017 by Canadian author and publishing executive Kenneth Whyte). As a long-time fan of the Canadian director’s films, this was a dream Zoom meeting! Ever since my first viewing of The Thomas Crown Affair starring the king of cool, Steve McQueen, and the gorgeous sophisticated Faye Dunaway, I was hooked on Jewison’s style and on-screen “rhythm” – that chess scene from Thomas Crown stands as one of the most erotic scenes ever committed to film…and they kept their clothes on!! From 1965 thru ’68 he served us some of the era’s (and film history’s) most iconic films: In the Heat of the Night presents southern racism in all its brutal ugliness and features that slap heard around the world, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming is a hilarious look at how the cold war affects small town America, and McQueen’s earlier cinematic outing with Jewison, The Cincinnati Kid takes us into the shady but exciting world of high stakes poker. Fiddler on the Roof, The Hurricane, Moonstruck, F.I.S.T., Rollerball, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Soldier’s Story…going all the way back to the beloved Canadian tv series, The Wayne & Shuster Show, Jewison has delivered provocative, compassionate, engaging and hilarious content for his audiences to devour. This new book is now on my Christmas list for Santa…and the fat man better show up early with this present!th (6)About the man, the book and the author:

NORMAN JEWISON directed some of the most iconic and beloved films from the 60s through the 21st century, from In the Heat of the Night and The Thomas Crown Affair to Jesus Christ Superstar and Moonstruck. But despite being what his friend, award-winning screenwriter William Goldman called “a giant of the industry,” Jewison could also walk the streets of any city in the world and go unrecognized. Jewison was a man of contradictions: he cared more about telling great stories than gaining fame and fortune by showcasing movie stars, but generations of Hollywood’s marquee actors—Judy Garland, Sidney Poitier, Faye Dunaway, Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington—trusted him at crucial moments in their careers. Yet, for all his talent and the passionate support of his actors, Jewison suffered heartbreaking rejection from the executives who refused to believe in his dreams.t crown heat of the night th (7)Norman Jewison: A Director’s Life is a story of artistic survival and reinvention, and about the fate of original cinematic ideas in an industry increasingly captive to corporate greed. Drawing upon exhaustive archival research and dozens of interviews, biographer IRA WELLS (pictured below) provides a soulful portrait of an idealist who had to fight for every frame of his legacy. Here are Norman’s legendary collaborators— Hal Ashby, William Rose, Steve McQueen, and more—brought to vivid life in original letters, telegrams, and revealing, unpublished interviews. A clear-eyed reassessment of Hollywood’s final golden age, Norman Jewison: A Director’s Life is both the intimate portrait of an artist and a rallying cry for anyone who has had to fight for their creative vision.Ira headshot (1)Author IRA WELLS is an assistant professor in English and Academic Programs at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The New Republic, The Walrus, Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Review of Books, and American Quarterly.  Advance reviews and kudos are pouring in for Ira’s book….

“Renowned filmmaker Norman Jewison is a contradiction in terms: one of the great purveyors of classical Hollywood storytelling and an outsider at the same time. Finally, with Ira Wells’s rewarding biography, Jewison receives the attention he richly deserves. Wells’ vibrant, well-written chronicle is one of those indispensable film books that illuminates the times and life of one of film’s major practitioners.”Michael Barker, Co-President and Co-Founder, Sony Pictures Classics

“This is a terrific book and a fun read. Norman Jewison directed some of the most enjoyable films of our time. I thank Norman for his films and applaud Ira Wells for capturing both Norman’s legendary feistiness and his great generosity of spirit, both of which I experienced first-hand.”Joe Eszterhas, writer of Basic Instinct, Showgirls, and Hollywood Animal

“Ira Wells, wonderful storyteller and master stylist, takes us to the movies, then behind the scenes, then beyond, bringing new life to films and stars we thought we knew.  This is a book you will never want to put down.”David Yaffe, author of Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell th (2) th (3) th (5)NORMAN JEWISON: A DIRECTOR’S LIFE
ISBN [hardcover]: 978-1-989555-38-5
Price: $28.95 USD / $34.95 CAD
Page count: 490
Available NOW from Amazon and in-stores or direct from the publisher: https://sutherlandhousebooks.square.site/product/norman-jewison/61?cs=true&cst=customth (4)

 

BUSY WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR THOMAS MICHAEL JUST CAN’T SLOW DOWN DURING COVID

Back in the early 2000’s, I was privileged to promote the launch of a Toronto-based indie film production company (Five Faces Films). After several projects, the three partners split, going in their individual directions, both career-wise and geographically. Thomas Michael has gone on to successfully write, direct and produce feature films (Hank & Mike and Back Country – pictured below) shot here in Canada while living in Los Angeles where he resides with his wife and 2 children. Over the past several months, he’s been busy creating more feature film scripts and producing the chilling new feature GIRL that stars Bella Thorne, the incomparable Mickey Rourke and Chad Faust who also wrote and directed the film.  thumbnail (2)thumbnail (1) I recently e-chatted with my old friend and asked him what he has been doing to keep busy over the past 6 or 7 months and damn, this man ain’t no couch-potato!

After establishing your own Canadian production company and writing/directing/starring in a number of hilarious off-beat comedy films, you moved to LA approximately ten years ago and have been working as an actor on a number of popular tv series (Transporter, Nikita, The Listener). How was that transition to west coast working actor?  I actually don’t act very much anymore. My focus has shifted mainly to writing, producing and directing. As an actor, I loved appearing in my own films or in those of talented friends, but a lot of the work I was getting was in TV shows. And coming from a place where I was used to being the writer and producer and often the director as well, I found acting in TV to be mostly frustrating and unfulfilling. I just craved being a part of the storytelling process more. As for the west coast thing, I love living in LA, but I (thus far) make all my films in Canada. However, I have a film we’re planning on shooting in Colombia coming up.thumbnail (4)All the while you’ve been guesting on tv series, have you been writing and developing scripts? And if so, can you share any news about upcoming productions?  I never stop writing or developing. I have now written and/or produced 8 feature films, 2 of which I also directed. I also have a number of TV series in development. I can’t help myself. An idea for a film or tv show comes to me, I try and bat it away and tell it that I’m far too busy, but if it won’t leave me alone and keeps haunting me, then I need to exorcise it. And that means writing it. Once I write something, I then put on my producer hat and find a way to get it made.

With GIRL, you took on the mantle of Producer – was it difficult to secure funding for the indie thriller or were you able to secure support from past collaborators?   I’ve always produced. Right from the start when I was 15 and was doing a sketch comedy series for a cable access station in Ottawa. That led to two seasons on the Comedy Network of a show I created and also produced. For GIRL, the project came to me from some past collaborators. It was a terrific script and I loved director, Chad Faust’s vision for it, so I came on board and helped secure some financing and dived in to make it happen.ok1-VTEIChad Faust (pictured below), who appears in the film opposite Bella Thorne, also wrote AND directed the film…is he a friend or industry colleague?  He is now both. But when I first met him, his script was brought to me. I had worked once before with a first-time writer/director on Backcountry. I felt for GIRL, as I did for Backcountry, that I could help support an up-and-coming talent who I believed in.GIRL_Still04 (2)GIRL is a very dark story, a contrast to your hilarious Hank & Mike and Running Mates films. Is this a genre that you’d like to continue exploring?   To the frustration perhaps of the industry, I can’t seem to limit myself to one genre. Comedy is still very near to my heart and I have some comedies I’ve written that are moving forward. But I also love dramas and darker stories. I do believe that adage is true that if you can do comedy you can do drama, but not necessarily the other way around. I have a gritty western we’re making next year as well as a revenge thriller and a coming of age dramedy, and I just wrapped a romantic comedy. If it’s a good story and I feel it needs to be told, genre is the last thing I think about.GIRL_Still11 (2)How was the experience working with award-winning and Oscar-nom’d Mickey Rourke, an exciting but sometimes volatile actor? He has always been a favourite of mine and he’s chosen such diverse film roles – how did he approach his role in GIRL?  I have always loved Mickey’s work and was very excited to watch him work. He’s very mysterious and mercurial. Sometimes it feels like he’s not doing anything at all, and then you watch the dailies and you go “Oh my God! He’s mesmerizing!”. He has an ineffable quality that makes him incredibly captivating. GIRL_Still10 (2)Singer/actress Bella Thorne plays the bad-ass heroine in the film – do you see more women taking the lead in action/crime/horror films as indicative of the more positive audience attitude towards women as “heroes”?  Totally. Backcountry was a big success both critically (holding at 92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes!) and that film featured a strong female lead. The last film I directed, “Nowhere To Be Found” was about a mother desperately searching for her missing daughter. That film won my lead actress, Kate Drummond, a well-deserved CSA award for Best Lead Performance. I have two sisters, was raised by my mom. I’m married and have a daughter. Starting out in more male-oriented teenage comedy, I take my responsibility as a storyteller very seriously in terms of how women are portrayed on screen. I’ve also been a long and proponent of working with as many women behind the camera as I could. It’s just always seemed obvious to me.GIRL_Still01 (3)You’ve worked with Paolo Mancini (stars as “the mechanic” in GIRL) for many years – as a close friend as well as actor, does he bring a sense of security to you to the set?  Paolo is my long-time writing partner and best friend. We’ve been writing together since we were 13 years old. Writing is such a lonely occupation, so to be able to do it with your best friend is a joy and privilege. Paolo is also a stellar actor and I always know when he’s on set that he’ll not only deliver a great performance, but will also be a stable and solid presence in a sometimes frantic and hectic environment.

Is GIRL currently playing the festival circuit during Covid lock-down? Where can audiences find the film once it goes to general release?  The film has done the rounds of Canadian and American festivals and comes out in theatres across the US on November 20th, and then on VOD and all digital platforms on November 24th in the US and Canada.bannerHow can fans follow your films and production activity? As you well noted, I haven’t updated my website in a little while. I need to get better at that. I guess Facebook is the best way to keep tabs on what I’m up to. I don’t post much, but when I have a project coming out, I make an effort to let people know. I focus on the making and not on the selling. I do need to get better at the selling part. Here are the official social media links for GIRL
https://www.facebook.com/GirlMovie2020/
https://www.instagram.com/girl_the_movie/
https://twitter.com/Girl_The_Movie
Official website: https://screenmediafilms.net/productions/details/3202/Girl

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AUSTRALIA’S FANFORCE TV TO PRESENT 2ND ANNUAL “VIRTUAL INDIGENOUS FILM FESTIVAL” NOV.11-15

Over the past 6 months of Covid quarantine and isolation here in Toronto, I’ve spent a lot of time online getting reacquainted with my homeland of Australia, its film and TV industry, its leading players and cultural ambassadors – yes, as you can already tell, I’m homesick and can’t wait to board a QANTAS jetliner and get my butt back Down Under. My quest for Aussie content took me to Amazon Prime, AcornTV and other streaming platforms, resulting in binge-watching shows like Water Rats, City Homicide, and the feature films and tv series of Mystery Road…the common thread being star Aaron Pedersen (pictured below) who has captured my heart and imagination. Behind-the-scenes-shot.-MYSTERY-ROAD-THE-SERIES.-Aaron-Pedersen.-Photo-John-Platt.36310144-e1526434876208The award-winning indigenous actor has led me to more in-depth research of the state-of-the-art for indigenous filmmakers, writers, directors and I was amazed at the depth of talent currently working in Australia. So why don’t we know about them up here in Canada and the U.S.? Lack of distribution deals? The assumption that other countries wouldn’t understand the specifics of cultural heritage and Aussie politics? I remember back in the 80s, Australia’s “new wave” of filmmaking ignited worldwide interest with such classics as My Brilliant Career, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli (pictured below), Man From Snowy River, the int’l commercial hit Crocodile Dundee and TV mini-series such as The Thorn Birds that made Bryan Brown a huge int’l star. But these were all told by and for the “new” Australians, the white population. gallipoliI remember watching Walkabout (1975) featuring a young aboriginal actor, David Gulpilil, but his character sadly ended up rather badly. Where were all the positive cinematic images of indigenous actors and their stories?  Were there any indigenous actors or filmmakers? We never saw them on TV or in the cinemas. I’ve been away from home a long time and as I plan my return as soon as Covid allows, I’m comforted in the knowledge that this previous lack of inclusion is being addressed now thanks to the brilliance of directors such as Ivan Sen, Rachel Perkins, Wayne Blair and Warrick Thornton, and actors like Pedersen, Deborah Mailman, Ernie Dingo, and the now-legendary Gulpilil who remains a great presence on screen. I’m excited to be introduced to even more talent this coming week thanks to the 2nd annual Virtual Indigenous Film Festival and I encourage all film fans to join in online to celebrate the creativity and educational opportunities presented. Here’s all the info you need…..fanforceFANFORCE TV, the new Australian community-based streaming platform presents the second Virtual Indigenous Film Festival from the 11th of November till the 15th of November as part of NAIDOC* Week 2020. The festival will present award-winning Australian Indigenous films followed by live Q&A discussions and audience participation via Live Chat. *National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week events are held across Australia to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. [#NAIDOC2020 #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe ]

FANFORCE TV is showcasing 5 virtual events including film screenings of In My Own Words, The Song Keepers, The Flood, Wik vs. Queensland and Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy.   The-Song-Keepers-Naidoc-Thumbnail In MY Own Words Westwind-Naidoc-Thumbnail Wik-Vs-Queensland-Naidoc-ThumbnailTickets for the individual virtual screening events are $6.99USD with an all access pass available for $19.99USD. For more information visit:  fanforcetv.com  
There is also an exciting lineup of guest speakers and expert panelists involved throughout the week including filmmakers’ Erica Glynn (In My Own Words), Naina Sen (The Song Keepers), Dean Gibson (Wik Vs Queensland), Victoria Wharfe Mcintyre (The Flood), Ben Strunin (Westwind) and Keri Tamwoy (Mayor of Aurukun). More guests to be announced!mma9255-stills-master_2 mma9288-stills-master_3FANFORCE TV uniquely enables audiences to ask questions and discuss topics in real time with the guest speakers and community leaders via live chat and live streaming features. “We are thrilled to have a special screening of The Flood as part of VIFF and NAIDOC Week” says Victoria Wharfe McIntyre, writer/director/producer of The Flood. “Our film was born from a unique collaboration and tells a highly emotive, provocative and revisionist story about our nation’s history, it is fitting to showcase the film in an equally unique way via Live-streaming with a public discussion. This Q&A will be cracker and we are looking forward to some passionate, hard hitting and insightful comments and questions from the audience.”The-Flood-Naidoc-Thumbnail THE FLOOD IMG_0349The Flood will follow its VIFF NAIDOC Premiere with Cinema screenings across Australia and New Zealand (and hopefully the rest of the world in early 2021). Dates to be announced shortly.

FANFORCE TV acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this page may contain images or names of people who have passed away.

I encourage you all to expand your understanding of Australia – its people, its cultures, its history….and its inspiring Indigenous filmmaking community. naidoc-logo-300

MEET KIT LANG: CO-WRITER/PRODUCER & STAR OF “BATTLE SCARS” FEATURE FILM COMING SOON TO A SCREENING PLATFORM NEAR YOU!

10+ years ago during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, I met a young up-and-coming actor, Christopher “Kit” Lang, in the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel where I always set up shop during the festival meeting actors, filmmakers, the money men and media reps from around the world. I remember Kit’s enthusiasm and excitement for being part of the annual schmooze-fest and over the years since then, I’ve watched his career progress through shorts, tv appearances and now as star of a major feature film, Battle Scars.Kit blueThe handsome actor transforms himself to play the war-weary Michael Delucca, a Vietnam vet who’s trying to cope with PTSD amidst a troubled and violent civilian life – checkout the trailer on the website: www.BattleScarsthemovie.com  I had the pleasure of chatting with Kit who shared his thoughts on the film, and taking on co-writing and co-producing roles as well as acting.

Congratulations on your inspired performance as Mike DeLucca in Battle Scars – from what past experiences or influences did you draw on to portray DeLucca’s intense internal struggles?   Thank you so much. In short, for me, research was an absolute must. What do I know about being a combat veteran? I was fortunate to have our director, Sam, a combat veteran himself,  to guide me through that. In particular spending time with Veterans and visiting the Fort Hamilton Veteran’s Hospital was instrumental.Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 2_45_03 PMDid you and your fellow actors have to endure “boot camp” or any other bonding experience in order to make the battle scenes seem authentic? Ha ha…yes we did actually…of sorts. We were driven to upstate New York, led into the woods with very minimal gear (it rained!) and for four days we had to “survive”, build a shelter, go on mock patrols, and various training “war-like” scenarios, do a fire watch every night (taking turns staying awake and alert while the others slept) and so on. It was absolutely a great bonding experience. And it’s amazing how close we all got in such a short period of time.14054901_1079885625399702_8534525803781222453_nYour performance as the PTSD-afflicted Mike may trigger memories for real-life Vets in the audience – any advice how to be on guard when watching the film if a viewer suffers his own PTSD flashbacks or issues? Actually, no I don’t. But you raise an important point and question. I think PTSD is such a misunderstood, invisible disease that it’s not easy to fit neatly into a box. It’s very different for everybody, and I feel truly honored to be a part of telling this story and helping raise awareness of this mental health issue. That being said, the feedback we’ve received from Vets is that this film, if anything, is very therapeutic for them, so stick with it… But if anything was to trigger a PTSD attack, what I can say is having witnessed this myself and it working well: just pause the film, walk away and get some air, then come back to it when you’re ready.107036104_579583282951131_1585574476818428294_nYou also pulled off some sensitive, intimate romantic scenes in the film – what do you enjoy most as an actor, the challenges of a brutal shoot ‘em up scene or the love scenes…and why?  Thank you, I appreciate that. I think any actor will tell you that romantic scenes are the most challenging and difficult. Most of the time you’re having to work with someone you’ve never met before, complete strangers! And then you have to create this believable intimacy. It’s really, really difficult. But it also comes with the territory, just part of the job. I’ve been fortunate to work with fantastic actors and that makes the work so much easier. But action is actually much, much easier to perform and more fun, too! Haa haa14045765_1077570962297835_6578143147299403050_nYou’re also co-writer and co-producer on Battle Scars – what was the most difficult or challenging job and why?  There’s so much to unpack here, but in a sentence, I’d say as a writer: The most difficult part was really nailing the voice and message of PTSD. It took a lot of research and work, as it should, to figure out the best way we could embed it into the story.

As a producer: I’d say the most challenging job for me as a producer was simply producing, period. Shout out to every indie filmmaker out there. It’s a VERY difficult job. And you’re having to constantly troubleshoot. I remember one shoot day for instance – we unfortunately fell behind in our schedule and we were about to lose a whole scene, but we realized we had a second camera, so we decided we could split the crew into two units and get what we needed. Coming up with solutions, that’s the job. And it’s VERY hard to do non-stop, but well worth it! I think. You have to be crazy enough and love movies enough to do this.facebook_1593761671169_6684720952432404925What’s next for actor Kit or writer Kit?I’m working on an English/Spanish horror-romance film shot and set in Mexico. We were set to resume filming but we’re still waiting for Covid to subside down there, hopefully soon!

Thanks, Kit, for sharing your experiences and thoughts on portraying this troubled character. Due to Covid-19 cinema closures, the film will not be enjoying it’s originally planned theatrical release, however, Battle Scars is available for DVD sales from Walmart & Amazon as of July 21st (you can pre-order now via the film’s Facebook page – see link bottom of web home page) and will be available for online viewing/streaming August 4th, 2020.  THANKS FOR SUPPORTING INDIE FILM!

https://battlescarsthemovie.com/

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUT THERE @ TIFF WITH THE FABULOUS MELISSA DIMARCO

And so the dance begins….20150911_133522

20150911_133526The fans are lining up outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (above) in hopes of spying visiting celebs during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival (TIFF) – the annual high holidays for the movie industry.

Got a great start to my TIFF’ing this year…I got to visit the media hospitality suites in the Hotel Intercontinental on Front St West and my first stop was the www.OutThereWithMelissa.com suite, hosted by the gorgeous, friendly MELISSA DIMARCO (yes, she’s even prettier in person).

Her team of hosts (below) welcomed me to the suite and I had fun with the photo wall….can’t wait to see how “fabulous” they made me look – only hope their Photoshop program was working overtime..LOL!20150911_134618

20150911_134627Downstairs, there was lots of schmoozing going on, as well as tons of nibblies and sponsor drinkies….20150911_134943

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20150911_13501920150911_135023…and more networking opps with industry folks like Dixon and Bruce (below)20150911_135412and I caught these two fellas below mid-chew (sorry)…. LOL20150911_135548Young ACTRA party organizer Sarena Parmar (below right) was working the room like a pro!20150911_135614…and here she is again with Rodger Edralin of Napintas Films (centre) and one of the numerous casting guys (left) in town over the next 10 days.20150911_135634Here are more of Melissa’s great team of room hosts and her official photographer (below right) who looks quite a bit like Chrissy Teigen, don’t you think?20150911_135652

20150911_135700Sadly I left the party a bit too early as I missed fellow countryman and Oscar-winner, Geoffrey Rush (below with Melissa )Geoffrey RushAussie star Rush is famous for The King’s Speech and numerous other films but I will always remember him for his award-winning portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in the movie SHINE which holds a special place in my heart. It’s based in my home town of Perth, Western Australia, and I remember seeing the real David play in the piano bar of the Parmelia Hotel which I frequented after work in the early 70’s (I was under-age to drink booze but kids and dogs were allowed in hotel bars in Oz – civilized or what, eh?). G’day, Geoffrey…if you need any Vegemite or Lamingtons, I got a stash here!

As I left the suites I ran into the adorable and super talented Katie Boland who was making her exit with her hands full of goodie bags. Such a pretty dress!20150911_142502So a really big thanks to Melissa and the Out There with Melissa DiMarco gang, and a special thank you to Caron Nightingale, Director of Sales for APM Canada (one of the suite’s sponsors), who kindly extended the invitation to me.  Check out what APM does here:  http://www.apmmusic.com/  

I’m looking fwd to visiting the ladies of Sirius XM’s What She Said next week so check back for more TIFF news.20150911_141038