SLAM DOC


I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a professional wrestler.

Immediately after graduating high school, I sold my car, moved to Moncton, New Brunswick and began my training in the squared circle (under Peter Smith AKA Brody Steele). Unfortunately for my hopes & dreams, my small and fragile body (bad knees, bad back) was not built for a life between the ropes.

Fast-forward to the beginning of 2018, it was announced that IMPACT Wrestling, the world’s 2nd largest wrestling company (behind WWE) was moving operations to Toronto, Ontario and I immediately reached out to the company to see if there were any opportunities available for a professional filmmaker / life-long wrestling nerd like myself.

Lo & behold, 13 years after my failed attempt to enter the wild world of professional wrestling, I got hired by IMPACT frickin’ Wrestling to direct & edit a day-of documentary that covers the behind-the-scenes setup for Slammiversary, one of their biggest annual events.

The doc, DAY OF SLAMMIVERSARY, was an absolute dream-come-true to capture and create. It was my first time directing a documentary, but honestly, I really couldn’t be happier with the experience or the end result. Shout out to my cinematographer Shady Hanna (shadyhanna.com) and producer Dave Hodgson [] for being the wind beneath my wings. Please enjoy:

I’m happy to say that there are a few more things coming down the pipeline with IMPACT, but they’ll have to remain under wraps until they’re signed, sealed and delivered.

Anything is possible, y’all.

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RETURN TO PARIS


A few weeks back, I borrowed a friend’s camera to familiarize myself a bit more with camera-operation — I ended up following my beautiful mini-dachshund Wren [AKA Wrenegade AKA @Wren.TheWeenie] around for the day.

I didn’t really have any ideas for what I could do with the footage until I heard this vintage French culture / music mixtape by Starfunkel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjDBuYykGyM

Anyways, the end product, RETURN TO PARIS, is a tribute to my beautiful furry friend, and I hope very much that you enjoy it:

🌭

THE FILMS OF TAIKA WAITITI

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Hello friends,

I wanted to take a moment out of my regularly scheduled self-promotion on this here web zone to share my infatuation with the films of this fine dishevelled gentleman, Taika Waititi (pronounced joyously: Ti-kuh Why-tee-tee).

The ability to balance comedy with emotional stakes is a constant in many of my favourite films — ie. films from filmmakers like Edgar Wright, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Noah Baumbach (when paired w/ Greta Gerwig), Billy Wilder, John Hughes, Charlie Chaplin, so I’m here to say that if you enjoy those folks you need to catch up with Taika Waititi at your earliest convenience.

The first film I saw from Waititi was the best damn film-going experience I’ve ever had…

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Halifax’s Outlier Film Festival, a festival dedicated to showcasing genre films, was screening WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014). I knew nothing about the film other than it was a vampire mockumentary from New Zealand, so I was surprised to see the Bus Stop Theatre packed to capacity (which was 60 people, for the small indy black box theatre).

The lights went dark and before long, all 60 of us were all cackling and knee-slapping in unison. 90 minutes later, the lights came back up and I was absolutely floored. I hadn’t been a part of a collective experience like that ever before, where every moment landed as intended, the highs & the lows, the emotional reality of something so silly as vampires living in a flat.

The second film was 2010’s BOY

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Again, I went in blind, avoiding reviews or trailers, and again, I was floored. The ability to balance comedy with drama has always been the way straight to my film-loving heart and BOY‘s coming of age story set in the beautiful New Zealand landscape showcased some incredibly impressive tonal gymnastics, and it was at this point that I was convinced that Taika Waititi was a filmmaker to pay attention to.

The third film, which sealed my love for Waititi, was 2016’s HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

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Unlike the previous two films, I couldn’t help myself from diving in and getting an early look at this film. The trailers looked incredible and the early buzz from critics was overwhelmingly positive. I was going into this one with the often-deadly “high hopes”. I’m happy to report that the film delivered as Waititi managed to draw me in with laughs, heart, and some solid action scenes (all while providing some subtle social commentary on institutional colonialism).

Comedy is super subjective, of course, but I think the key for comedy is sincerity, and that is something that I think is sorely missing in much of comedy today. Waititi’s characters have hopes & dreams that they strive for, and that is where I fall in love with his films.

SINCERITY > FLIPPANCY 👌

Up next, Waititi is directing THOR: RAGNAROK, which combines my fav Avengers, Thor & Hulk, and also apparently features a John Cena cameo, so I’m glad to hear that Marvel has been receiving my letters.

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That’s all for now. Check out some Waititi flicks and let me know what you think, yo. ❤

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012

With today’s Oscar nominations, I thought it would be proper for me to ride the coat-tails of the Oscar’s excitement and yell at you about my favourite films from the past twelve months.

NUMBER TEN!
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10.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (Part 1): As many of you now know, I was less than thrilled with Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, don’t look for it anywhere on this list. His magic-Batman-dust had apparently lost its effect on me.

Cue THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PART 1, DC Comics’ animated feature of Frank Miller’s incredible graphic novel.

After my disappointment in Nolan’s TDKR, this was the cinematic equivalent to a hail Mary with Batman as the QB (too early for sports analogies in the top 10?). Oh, and Peter Weller, also known as ROBO COP, voices Batman. Yeah. I know.

Part 2 is due out January 29th. Catch up, Batnerds!

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9. 
SLEEPWALK WITH ME: If a ringing endorsement from Joss Whedon himself wasn’t enough to get this film in front of everyone’s eyes, I hope this list can at least get a few of the stragglers.

Best film about or inspired by stand-up comedy I have ever seen.

*Available now on Canadian Netflix.

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Tie – 8.
THE MASTER & THE COMEDY: This year, the number eight slot is reserved for the two films that left me completely disoriented in their wake. I literally had difficulty forming a full sentence after THE MASTER (the sentence I was trying to form was “Hello, could I have a small double-double?”).

Both films put forth a buffet’s worth to chew on, their leading performances to begin with: Jaoquin Phoenix and (surprisingly) Tim Heidecker throw down two of my favourite performances of the year.

Both films also feel, like their main characters, incomplete, leaving you in a weird place once the credits roll. So that said, I obviously recommend THE MASTER and THE COMEDY for any and all first dates.

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7. Beasts of the Southern Wild: I wanted to start this off saying “Remember Quvenzhané Wallis’ name” but since it’s such a hard one to pronounce, I’ll forgive you if you don’t.

I often wince or get uneasy whenever a child performs. Usually because they suck. But once in a while, a child comes along and does what I try to do as a profession with such ease and conviction that it leaves me dumbfounded (that’s after a brief fury spell, of course).

Quvenzhané Wallis, you are officially on notice. I am trying to conjure up some sort of spell to steal your talents before you’re even aware of them. Oh, and congratulations on your film, it’s really magical ‘n’ stuff, I guess…

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6. GOON: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my favourite hockey movie of all-time, GOON. Written by Canadian royalty, Jay Baruchel (yes, that actor fella’) and directed by Michael Dowse (FUBAR, IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG).

I had an active dislike for Seann William Scott‘s body of work going into GOON, and I am happy to say that I was in awe of the balancing act that he managed to pull off in GOON, which really elevated the film to a whole other (ice) level.

…You knew there were going to be puns on this list, right?

If there’s only one Canadian flick that I can guilt you into watching this year, I’d love for it to be this one.

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5. MOONRISE KINGDOM: In 2007, after watching THE DARJEELING LIMITED, I was a little bit worried that the haters may have been right: that Wes Anderson was nothing but weightless, ineffectual quirk.

After 2009’s THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX and this year’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, I am fully prepared to tell the haters to stuff a fluffy, pastel-coloured sock in their traps.

I’m sorry for almost turning my back on you, Wes. Never again.

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4. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS: Regardless of what I thought of a certain lacklustre cameo in this film, I thought the rest of CABIN was a damn near masterpiece combination of laughs and scares, with an insanely clever script that forces you to change the way you watch horror films. They went and hijacked an entire genre. Boom.

*Bonus points for casting Richard Jenkins.

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3. CLOUD ATLAS: That’s right, number 3. Not only did I like the film with the terrible (and possibly racist) race-bending make-up, I loved it.

It takes a certain level of audacity to put Hugh Grant in yellow face, a certain level of audacity that I absolutely admire. Luckily for my movie-viewing-self, I also happen to admire a whole lot more about CLOUD ATLAS, foremost, I admire the fact that I found myself rooting for an emotion, rather than characters.

Does that make sense?

Overall, CLOUD ATLAS felt fresh, sloppy, precise and careless all at the same time. I implore you to put away your cynic-hat and scoff-handbag for three hours and let CLOUD ATLAS work it’s magic on you.

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2. HOLY MOTORS: This here is the cinematic equivalent of being chewed up and spit out. The “Who When Where What Why” questions that are generally asked when watching a film are pointless here and maybe even downright selfish, robbing yourself of one of the wildest rides a film has had to offer in a damn long time.

Months later, I still catch myself coming up with different theories about what exactly was going on with this film, but in the end I don’t care. I just want to bask in it’s absurdity and let what comes come.

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1. THE AVENGERS: No, not really.

Did I getcha’?

Sorry, I had to make a joke before I threw some obscure Belgian film your way as my number one… Do you see how insecure I am in my pomposity?

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1. THE KID WITH A BIKE: It kind of bothers me to put this as my number one because it was technically released in 2011 in it’s native Belgium and France (2012 in North America), but it is absolutely the best film I watched in the past twelve months, head and shoulders above the rest.

I’ve been hearing rumblings about the Dardenne brothers from Belgium for years now, but had never tracked their films down. I have learned my lesson, and am promptly catching up on their films.

THE KID WITH A BIKE features yet another child performance that is deeply, deeply moving, matched by an incredible and deceptively broad story.

Last year, it thrilled me when people told me they caught up with MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE based solely on my recommendation. I hope I can do the same and persuade a few of you into catching up with this wonderful film. Do it.

Thanks, 2012! You were pretty great.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: THE IMPOSTER, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LOOPER, THE GREY, KLOWN, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, SKYFALL, LIFE OF PI (in 3D, specifically) & KILLER JOE.

I DID NOT SEE: LINCOLN, AMOUR, ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HOBBIT, OSLO AUGUST 31ST, PARANORMAN, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN & WAR WITCH.

Had any differing opinions? Yell them at me in the comments section, I dares ya’!

FILM VS. DIGITAL


You may or may not know, but there is a war being waged at this very moment. The two sides, battling over the future of filmmaking, arguing which is better: film or digital.

There’s been a whole heap of articles written for each argument, but recently, Karim Hussain, the director of photography for HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN and the upcoming film, ANTIVIRAL (playing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), had this to say…

Here’s the LA weekly article on the death of film and Christopher Nolan’s plea to preserve 35mm (http://www.laweekly.com/2012-04-12/film-tv/35-mm-film-digital-Hollywood/). I’d happily agree with him, if it wasn’t for the fact that labs and cinemas have been letting their 35mm / 16mm processing, dailies transferring and printing go to shit, laying off staff and ultimately screwing the filmmakers with countless headaches and worries due to sub-standard quality.

When you have an inexperienced kid transfer your rushes and you get a different looking film on set every day, or the lab snaps your negative in their developer, ruining tons of work, digital starts to look good. When your 35mm print is projected in a shitty green print on bad stock the film wasn’t even graded for, it’s out of focus, covered in dirt and scratches, shaking all over the screen, with the bulb turned down so hard to save money that the screen is just a murky smear, the sound is analog 4.0 and super-low because the cinema chain got in a fight with Dolby, good digital projection starts to smell pretty nice. If cinemas maintained their film projectors and technical presentations, then people would see how beautiful 35mm looks and sounds.

These days, they’re more likely to see a blurry mess and barely hear it if it’s an indie without DTS tracks. And in North America, DCP projection is following suit, darkening their bulbs to save on the even more expensive costs of digital bulb replacement. They are literally driving people from the cinemas by giving us horrible presentations. VOD is looking pretty sweet when you pay 13 bucks for a ticket, then can barely see what’s going on and people around you flood the cinema with light from their texting!

The best remaining lab technicians in the world (there are not so many left) will bend over backwards to ensure Christopher Nolan’s multi-multi-multi million dollar photochemical answer prints will look good and be well projected when he’s in the room. But he is the 1% of filmmakers.

The reality is, after the romance of film that I happily subscribe to, independent movies shot on film don’t get the same treatment as the big boys, and after all the headaches, the Arri Alexa starts to look pretty damn sweet. Plus it’s an amazing camera that frees you up in so many brilliant ways that were never before possible…

Filmmakers have been driven to digital for more reasons than just economy and after using the Alexa on a couple films, I’ll happily drink the Kool-Aid. I’m a much happier person because of it!

Interesting, eh?

Me personally, I love digital (of course I do, I wouldn’t have just had you read that if I didn’t). I worked at a movie theatre for three years, where I saw countless films given a terrible presentation simply because the minimum-wage employed projectionist really didn’t give enough of a shit to adjust the film properly.

There’s plenty of other reasons for why I welcome the digital age with wide open arms, a lot of which Karim mentioned above, but what do you think? Any diehard film lovers out there, not willing to let go?

THE CORRIDOR IN THE CORRIDOR


Foreword: the following entry is meant to be read as a companion piece to THE CORRIDOR and contains a few mild-spoilers. 

During the process of taking THE CORRIDOR around to film festivals and showing it to audiences, I learned very early on that my favourite part of the Q&A session was always when the conversation would inevitably turn to “So, what exactly is ‘the corridor’?”

We, the cast, along with our director Evan Kelly, and our writer Josh MacDonald were fortunate enough to have five days of rehearsals before we started shooting THE CORRIDOR. A lot of questions were answered, and a lot of the relationships were established. One afternoon though, Evan asked us all what we thought the corridor was. He and Josh allowed us to sputter on for a few minutes each, without applauding or disproving any theories. Evan said “Interesting”, and that was the last discussion we had.

We were never given the answer (which I’m thankful for), but instead were left to find our own fear of, and beauty within “the corridor”.

What I’d like to do today, is offer up my own interpretation of the corridor, not as any sort of definitive answer, but instead to start up a conversation among those of you who’ve seen the film, and offer up your own meaning…

One substantial ingredient to my theory comes from a seemingly silly internet video called “We Are All Connected” by Symphony of Science. Symphony of Science takes videos of famous quantum physicists (ie. Carl Sagan and Neil Tyson Degrasse) talking about many of the universe’s wonders, and they auto-tune their voices and add music to them. See below:

Pretty darn awesome, eh?

Aside from being fairly catchy, there are also some really staggering facts and theories lobbed around in there. The line that stuck with me the most, however, was Carl Sagan’s simple explanation for everything: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself“.

In the film, David Patrick Flemming‘s character Chris says of the corridor “It’s a probe. It’s seeking.”

For me, once I combined these two pieces of information, I started to view the corridor as an evaluation process. This was the universe’s way of “checking in”, by sending this probe and seeing who it really was, as a sentient being.

The corridor connects those who connect with it (ie. Ev, played by Jim Gilbert, sitting on the snowmobile, hearing conversations in the airplane), it also intensifies their desires and their thoughts, illuminating their primal instincts, showing their true selves so that they can be judged by the universe.

Once it saw the truth (or at least the truth amongst these five men): the pain they caused each other, the jealousy, the unhappiness, it didn’t like what it was seeing and decided to do away with them, in an act of disgust.

The probe moved forward, and would continue to move forward, towards the city, until it could find something in itself that it found to be admirable. It was Tyler’s (played by Stephen Chambers) sacrifice at the end of the film that the corridor AKA the universe found to be noble, and as a result, it stopped seeking.

Are you still with me? I feel like I may have scared a few of you off.

Now as I said, this is in no way a definitive answer, and as we learned a few days ago with Matt Groening revealing that the Springfield from THE SIMPSONS is in Oregon, definitive answers are no fun.

Now that I’ve shown you mine, please show me your theories of what exactly the corridor from THE CORRIDOR is

THE CORRIDOR is available now on Video On Demand in Canada via Bell VOD, iTunes, Sony, Xbox, Cogeco, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw VOD, Telus, VCC, Videotron, Google, RODO and in America on IFC On Demand, iTunes and others.

NEW SHOTS w/ RILEY SMITH


During my most recent stay in Halifax, I met up with professional photographer Riley Smith (RileyPhoto.tv) to take some new headshots. Naturally, we ended up screwing around for a few hours, and came up with some of these…


That may or may not have been Tobias Funke in there. I refuse to confirm or deny.

I had myself a great time working with Riley for the day, and can fully recommend that you do the same if you’re in need of photographs of your facial area. Check out Riley’s website @ http://www.RileyPhoto.tv.