The Underdogs of Comedy

After happening into The Underdog and The Empress for their comedy nights, we were amazed at the indie comedy talent in this city. So, along with laughing uproariously at the many great comedians we saw, we got to plotting about somehow capturing even a glimpse of this great scene.

We decided a web series would the quickest way to get some of these funny people in front of an audience who hasn’t yet been out to one of the bars and venues hosting both regular and pop-up shows. Today we’re releasing six episodes featuring live sets from some of the comedians. More on what we learned making the series after the jump.  Continue reading

Leap First

Just dropping in for a short post after listening to “Leap First“, a short audiobook (really, a presentation) from innovation and ideas expert Seth Godin. It’s got my creative juices flowing again and I thought it was worth sharing.

There is some fantastic stuff in the two-hours about creating art, doing work, and putting aside the “tired”. Art and work, for Godin, can be anything that creates something or gets you out of the rut of just doing what you think you should be doing. The big thing is getting over the fear we all feel.

When you’re sitting right on the edge of something daring, and scary, and creative, and powerful, and perhaps wonderful and you blink and take a step back; that’s the moment. The moment between you and remarkable. Most people blink. Most people get stuck. All the hard work, and preparation, and daring and luck is nothing compared with the ability to not blink. And the only person who can decide that is you.

The audiobook is well worth your time if you’ve got an Audible account and you’re looking for a little kick to start/finish something you want to be working on.

Leap First cover

Tell Those Local Stories

We couldn’t agree more with the sentiment in this Metro Calgary article about telling Alberta stories (h/t to YegFilmer Geeta for the link).

While Alberta is chock full of good stories, great characters, and important debates, so is Edmonton. And your city. And your hometown. And every other place in Canada. (And Brazil, if our web stats are to be believed that we actually have real people from Brazil reading this.)

This is just a short post to say “Yeah, tell your own stories!” Things placed in Anytown, USA may help sell a TV show or movie in the short-term but it’s not likely going to be one that remains part of the pop culture conversation for years to come. A good example of this is Corner Gas. There is absolutely no ambiguity that it takes place in a small town in Saskatchewan.

A couple of other favourites, and openly Canadian shows, we like and can name off the top of our heads include This Is Wonderland (Toronto), Da Vinci’s Inquest (Vancouver), The King of Kensington (Toronto), Continuum (Vancouver, future-Vancouver), and Less Than Kind (Winnipeg – bonus for the “Confusion Corner” road sign in the opening credits).

What are some of your favourite Canadian TV shows, movies, and books that actually take place in Canada?

Quit while you’re ahead

Some of you guys may have gotten an email from me, earlier this week, explaining that I have chosen to abandon the #yegfilm app I was building:

Campaign Overview   MailChimp

Click to read

It’s just one of a slate of projects I’m putting on ice, in anticipation of a day when I am better suited technically/financially/emotionally to complete them.

It’s obviously not particularly fun to admit you promised something you couldn’t deliver, but it’s also okay to opt-out of a project when you realize it doesn’t fit your time/skills/resources/schedule. Believe me when I say that your creative resources are finite, but replenishable – you need to protect them, you need to rebuild them, and most of all, you need to enjoy them – and getting pinned under something you can’t or don’t want to finish is the quickest way to drain them.

Here’s a few unsolicited words of advice from someone with a long and storied history of quitting. Continue reading

Writing 3D Characters

It’s tough to breathe life into a character, isn’t it? I often sit down with what I think is going to be basically THE BEST IDEA OF ALL THE IDEAS OF EVER – but it very quickly becomes a super flat, boring predictable mess, which discourages me from pursuing it any further, and which results in my always having like four things half-written at the same time that I’m too destroyed to finish.

Recently, though, I have been revising my approach to characters, or ‘characs’. For a long time, I was under the impression that good character writing was all about volume. “I have 12 pages of externally based facts about this charac,” I would say. “This charac likes ham. She wanted to be a marine biologist, but quit because it was too hard. She works at Dollarama. She went as a spider for halloween.” Fun fact: knowing things like someone’s favorite Jay-Z song does not help you much when you are trying to create compelling plot points.

Here are three things I’ve found that help me make characs that I’m happier with, and that I find it much easier to plot arcs for.

Let’s start with two characters, who, at first, will be 2D.  Continue reading

All It Takes Is One Minute

It’s a little on the short notice side, but the deadline for two film festivals is Tuesday. Lucky for you, filmmaker, you only need to make a silent one minute movie to submit to both the Gotta Minute Film Festival here in Edmonton and the Toronto Urban Film Festival.

GMFF imageBoth are festivals that run the one minute films on transit station screens. The LRT stations in Edmonton recently got outfitted with these, while Toronto’s subway stations already had them. Toronto fest films will also be seen on Pattison screens in shopping malls across Canada. They’ll go great with your new shoes from Aldo.

It’s a cool idea to showcase film and video productions in this way, because standing around waiting for a train makes us all a captive audience. And that the movies are silent means you don’t need to worry about missing dialogue when a train comes roaring into the station.

I managed to knock something together for TUFF last year (but didn’t get in) and was excited to see the idea had come to Edmonton, in partnership with FAVA. And it doubles my chances of getting into a film festival!

So, if you’ve got some energy to produce a movie, these are two festivals you can probably get something done for in just a few days. Both close submissions on Tuesday, July 15. Make a movie this weekend!

And, if you do make a one-minute movie, you can always cut a version with sound to submit to one of the many other one minute film festivals.

It’s Not Talent. It’s Hard Work.

In the spirit of being for something, not against something (even though complaining about stuff we don’t have is super-fun), here are some good tips for people trying to make movies, TV, short films, or just about whatever, that focus on making the best of what you’ve got to work with.

No talent required. Just hard work.

The Road To Reinvention coverRaindance’s Elliot Grove recently chatted with the Canadian branch of the organization, which is a good reason to check out some indie film tips from the ex-pat Torontonian.

And following on that idea that you can do more with less, or less than less if that’s what you’re working with, we’re going to be checking out Josh Linkner’s book “The Road To Reinvention” for more motivation to get out there and disrupt some industries with little more than some elbow grease and know-how.