Ross Moore on Pitchin’ It

    Posted on: Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Every year, we here at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival bring in industry pros from the city, the province and the country to hear your ideas and maybe — just maybe — hand you a development deal.

This year we’ve got Mongrel Media, Telefilm Canada, Bell Media, Super Channel, NLFDC, CBC, Best Boy Studios, Pope Productions and you can also pitch interactive projects to companies such as Other Ocean Interactive, iThentic, Clockwork Fox Studios and the NFB/Interactive. In order to make the most of your session, and of the pitchees’ time, we’ve tried to streamline things a bit and make sure that everyone goes in prepared. We’re asking interested people to submit a one-pager for their project so we can share it with your requested pro and be sure you’re meeting with the people who can best serve you.

Our Face 2 Face Pitch session is one of my favourite events. Standing there in that room, with all of those ideas flying around, all of those beautiful brains churning away, all of that nervous energy buzzing and sparking, is an incredible experience. Everyone’s on, everyone’s talking, and everyone wants to know what you’ve got up your sleeve.

And though it seems white-knuckle horrifying, it’s actually not that bad. I’ve done it and I survived. But for a second opinion, here’s Ross Moore, who’ll be blogging about the Festival over at Jealous Opinion.

Ross Moore pass

So, you’ve pitched at the Women’s Film Festival?
Yeah, I think it was two years ago.


Who did you pitch to?
I pitched to Pope Productions and Best Boy and it might have been somebody from Superchannel.


Was it terrifying?
It was a little nerve-wracking, yeah. But really, it’s only as intense as you make it to be. Because really, they’re just people, they’re just there doing their job and, for the most part, everyone is very friendly. They’re there to have a conversation, so as long as you keep that in mind and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, you’ll be just fine. They’re not really putting any pressure on you. They’re there to hear your ideas.


So you didn’t start crying or anything?
Haha, no, I wasn’t crying during the pitch, anyway.


Did you get good feedback, though?
I did. I mean, you can’t expect someone to just say “Yes!” immediately, and then you’ll walk out of there with a multi-million dollar deal. You have to walk in expecting just feedback and, at best, you might get a soft “maybe” or a business card or something like that. If you go in with those types of expectations, and just really listen to the feedback, you can learn a lot. Hoping to land something, I think, is not really the point. You’re putting too much pressure on the moment, and on yourself, when really it’s just more of a learning experience. It’s like an audition. As an actor, I try to audition for as many things as I can, for the practice. The more you practice, the better you are.


I’ve heard that about pitching, that it’s a skill and you need to continually cultivate that skill.
It is, and the more you practice, the more natural you’ll be. And I think that a key part of the pitch, that you need to be natural. It’s not about memorizing your pitch, it’s about knowing your idea through and through.


The film industry to me seems to be so much about knowing people and connecting with people and being able to put the right people together. Does pitching help with that aspect of it?
I would say so, yeah. When I was pitching to Best Boy, I talked to a producer there, and I pitched him a couple of ideas and he was really receptive and gave great feedback. But then I ended up doing a bit of work with Best Boy and we already knew each other, so that was handy. Then conversations would come up and he’d ask me what I was working on, and I’d bring up things that we were talking about that day and that conversation would continue, which was neat. Then, when Closet Monster was shooting, I got an email from him asking to help out with auditions. So it is all about those connections. It’s about making it a conversation because you are trying to ignite what could be a friendship or a professional friendship, at least. If someone doesn’t necessarily like your idea, you still want to exit on a high note.


And you still want them to like you


It’s worth the fear?
Definitely, definitely. It’s sparked a fire beneath me now, I think I might try to pitch a few ideas this year.

To set yourself up with a pitch session with one of our pros, please visit to read the guideines, more about who you can pitch to, and to fill our your applicaiton. Deadline to submit is Friday, October 10th at 12pm. Any questions? Give Jenn a call at 754-3141.

ross mooreRoss Moore is an actor, writer and filmmaker based out of St. John’s, NL. Visit his blog Jealous Opinion for Festival updates, or find him on vimeo.


We Shoot, We Score!

    Posted on: Saturday, March 8th, 2014

This afternoon, you can see and hear how four of St. John’s best musicians would score one of Canada’s best documentaries.

Oh, and Rae Spoon will be there, too.

My Prairie Home, directed by Chelsea McMullan, follows singer-songwriter Rae Spoon as they travel back to the Canadian prairies where they grew up. The musical-documentary tells the story of Rae’s struggles coming of age in a strictly kept house flanked by grain silos and churches.

The film premiered at Sundance this year. It screens tonight at the Hall, as part of our Scene & Heard festivities, and will be followed by a Q&A with Rae Spoon hosted by Ailsa Craig.

We gave three short clips of My Prairie Home to Mark Bragg, Joanna Barker, Alison Corbett and Matthew J Thomson (seriously, have you heard his album?). They wrote music for each of the three scenes.

This afternoon, we’ll play the scored scenes and they’ll discuss the process with Rae Spoon. If you’re a filmmaker, a musician, or just a lover of film and music, you’re going to want to head to the Hall for 1pm to check it out. You can buy tickets here.

Here are the musicians on their film scoring experiences.

mark braggMARK BRAGG

You’re composing three scenes ranging from 0.48s to 2.5 minutes — which one is the most challenging?
Every scene has it’s own challenges. In this case for the first two
tracks I opted to go with “Songs” as opposed to just music, so the
challenge for these is in the lyrics, writing lyrics that capture the
mood of the scene but aren’t so narrative as to mess with the flow of
the story.

So, in order to keep the lyrics “out of the picture”, I’m focusing on locations (Calgary, Alberta, etc) and imagery supporting that, as opposed to the real subject of the film (Rae). It would be completely presumptuous to
write about anything else I think! My goal here is to complement and
not distract.

Here’s a little peice of Mark Bragg’s score.

joanna barkerJOANNA BARKER

What’s the biggest challenge so far?
Apart from working with limited video segments and time constraints which is all very new for me, I’d say the biggest challenge has been creating for something I felt very outside of. This documentary is a very personal story. I don’t know Rae Spoon. I haven’t even seen the full doc. I kind of felt like, ‘Who am I to participate in this story?’. I was really aware of being sensitive to the fact that this isn’t my story to tell. I just needed to write music. So getting into a head space where I could create appropriate work to accompany their work – it was challenging.


What gear/method/process are you going with?
Gear: Pro Tools, mics and preamps to track the songs.
Instruments used are acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass, organ, Rhodes, drums and glockenspiel.

My method is to first watch each scene to get a feel/mood for it. Next is to figure out the pace or bpm of the scene. I also pay attention to what may he the most “important” clips of the scene to figure out how the song should move and be accented throughout the shoots.


How’s it going with your film score composing?
The process has been stressful, fun, and inspired! A quick deadline gets my creative ideas flowing, including doing some musical numerology with the name Rae Spoon and working it into a composition.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Biggest challenge so far was matching my composition for the dance scene to their movements. I wanted to be pretty precise about how the music matches the movement but also wanted the composition to have its own inherently cohesive structure.

The most challenging scene so far has been the shortest scene. The compositions for the opening scene and the dance scene realized themselves very quickly, but I have yet to settle on something for the short scene. Film music should obviously accompany the visuals, but I am interested in having a composition that matches the tone of the images while having its own structure, as well. I think this is hard to achieve (but totally possible!) in 0.48s!

Because we love you

    Posted on: Friday, February 14th, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are a few presents for you: two sneak peaks of upcoming events and one killer dance party playlist. Shake it, mes amis.

1. Oh yes.

2. Oh yes, yes.

3. Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yesyesyesyesyes*.

*This is a KILLER one-person dance party mix from Bitch magazine featuring Tina Turner, Janelle Monae, the Talking Heads and Robyn.

Politics suit women, too

    Posted on: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014


Our first female premiere has just stepped down and St. John’s has its first all-male council since 1969. Why should we care about the lack of women in government and what should we do about it? I asked Sheilagh O’Leary, former St. John’s City Councillor at Large, what she thought and talked to her about an upcoming Equal Voice St. John’s forum on women in politics.

I just saw on Twitter that you’re organizing a forum for women in politics. Can you tell me about that?
It’s the local chapter of Equal Voice. Equal Voice is a national non-partisan organization that aims to encourage women to get involved in the political sphere. They’ve been on the go for quite some time and we’ve had a local chapter that’s oscillated back and forth for quite some time and it’s mostly been inactive, but there seems to be a new wave of interest in getting it going again. The beauty of Equal Voice is that it is non-partisan, so you get people from all different parties. And it’s all different levels of government: provincial, federal, municipal, it doesn’t matter.

I would never vote for somebody just because they were a woman or man, but you need to have more people encouraged to actually put themselves forward for that call.

Why should we even care if there aren’t many women in our governments?
Women do have a different perspective. When a woman steps up to the plate, [she] brings different life experiences. Not just about being a mother, but certainly women who are mothers and juggle childcare and balancing work and family life, it’s a big issue. So we know that those kinds of issues are going to be dealt with in a different way when you’ve got women in those roles. Maybe daycare’s not as huge a priority for the male sector as it is for the female sector, I’m not saying yes or no, but I’m saying there are many issues that affect women that don’t get represented if they’re not at the table.

(Interesting tidbit from Equal Voice’s Fundamental Facts: “The United Nations says that a critical mass of at least 30% women is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions begin to change the way they do business.” – Ed.)

For me, personally, we’ve had a lot of interesting comments lately because we had our first female premiere and a number of female premieres across the country which has given a bit of false security about the numbers of women that are actually in politics… Oh, can you hold one second?

[No kidding: she pauses to take a call from her son’s school, as he is home sick and she’s in charge of the child care.]

sausageroundtableBut the stats actually show that we’re still so far behind. Having a couple of women that have risen to premiere is phenomenal, but it’s not really representational of the full scheme. And as we can see on the local level in the city, we have no female presence on our city council. If you look at the provincial government (pictured left, as tweeted by then-priemere Kathy Dunderdale), it’s the same thing. The numbers [of women in government] are extremely low. Look right across the country, you’ll find the same thing.

My personal feeling is that we are in a regressive time right now and it is our responsibility to encourage young, vital women — and they are out there — to get involved in politics.

And that’s what Equal Voice is about, it’s about encouraging young and older women who have something to offer, and to be a supportive organization to let them know that there are learning tools out there, and that everyone has to start from scratch. Often times women are the ones in the communities who are behind the scenes working on boards and committees and they need extra encouragement to actually be the front runners.

Why do you think this is a regressive time?
That’s my personal feeling, I don’t say that as a representation of Equal Voice. Look at the federal scene, under a Harper government. We’re certainly not seeing much in terms of extra supports to women, we’re not seeing a lot of women represented in the federal government. Again, same thing at the provincial level it’s and certainly now on our doorstep in St. John’s. It seems like it’s gone backwards. And that concerns me greatly. I’d like to see more multi-cultural representation, as well.

What will happen at this forum?
It’s in the formative stages right now, but there seems to be a lot of new energy: I’ve had a lot of younger women come up to me and tell me that they’re doing political science, that they’re really involved and really interested, but that they don’t know where to start. I guess the first thing is demystifying the process, so that people aren’t fearful, and letting them know that everybody has to start from zero but that there are supports out there.

Ultimately, one of the things that happens with Equal Voice is mentorship. For me, personally, the former deputy mayor Shannie Duff was an important mentor for me and I was fortunate enough to have some encouragement from her to push myself forward. And I know that I’m not the only one that she encouraged. But to have strong female role models like that, I think, is crucial. So I think that will be the focus. And to have representatives from all political parties come in and talk about their experiences, and share their experience, I think there’s nothing greater than that: mentorship is it.

The Equal Voice St. John’s forum will take place on April 26th in the E.B. Foran Room at City Hall. Times and more details TBA. Main photo by Adrian Wyld / CP files, taken from this National Post article.

Get your film on

    Posted on: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014


St. John’s seems to be exploding with excellent film-related opportunities right now. Here’s Jenn Brown, the mastermind behind the kickass SJIWFF24 Industry Film Forum, and she’s back in the office plotting our Scene & Heard workshops. Stay tuned for big news about those. In the meantime, here’s a quick round-up of what’s on the go right now.


“So Right, So Smart” is an award-winning doc profiling eco-smart companies like Patagonia and Seventh Generation. The film looks at how environmentally sustainable business practices can yield social and financial rewards. David Suzuki makes an appearance. The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival is co-presenting this film on February 5th (tomorrow) at the Hall with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industries Association, and Cox & Palmer is sponsoring the event. All proceeds will be donated to the St. John’s Farmers’ Market. Show starts at 8pm and tickets are $10 for regular admission and $8 for students and seniors.

On Valentine’s Day, swoon with “Gabrielle,” a film about a young singer who has fallen in love with her choir director. Gabrielle has Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by intellectual disability, and director Louise Archambault masterfully uses a non-professional cast, many of them with Williams Syndrome, to explore Gabrielle’s relationship with her teacher, as well as her own sense of independence, self and sexuality. The film was Canada’s nod for the Best Foreign Feature Oscar, for which it was shortlisted. The screening starts at 8pm, and tickets are $12 for regular admission or $10 for students and seniors.

This Thursday, February 6th, MUN Cinema is showing Blue Is The Warmest Colour, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year. The Cannes Jury gave the award to the director and the two lead actresses, making them the second and third women to ever receive a Palme D’Or (Jane Campion was the first). We’re also looking forward to Wadjda (March 6th), the first film ever made by a Saudi woman. Go, MUN Cinema!


If you’re a member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, you can vote for the Canadian Screen Awards. To name a few favourites, The Grand Seduction is up for Best Film, and Sherry White is up for Best Writing for her work on Saving Hope. The Telegram lists all of the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians up for CSAs here.

The NLAC has also just announced that they’re extending their nomination deadline for the NLAC Arts Awards. You’ve got until Valentine’s Day to show your favourite NL artist some love.


Colette Johnson-Vosberg, veteran of Global TV, Telefilm Canada, the Canada Media Fund, ZoomerMedia Television, and Vision TV, is heading to NIFCO for a two-day workshop in Business Affairs on March 8th and 9th. She’ll be talking about pitching to broadcasters and distributors; creating budgets and finance plans; rights management; and the fine details of government funds and private funds from sources like Telefilm, Bell Fund, Rogers Fund Group and Shaw. This killer workshop will be co-presented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation and St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival for Scene & Heard, our annual celebration of International Women’s Day. For more information or to register, give Laura Churchill ( a shout.

Ladies Learning Code have set up a St. John’s chapter. They’re a women-led non-profit based out of Toronto that offers free or cheap workshops to women, men and children who want to learn stuff like HTML and C++. You can keep up with their workshop news by following them on Facebook.

Other cool stuff

It’s February and the RPM Challenge is on. Normally people record an album of music for the RPM, but you could record an audio doc, too. If it’s 35 minutes long, or if you record 10 short docs, it totally counts. If you’ve got a doc idea that you want to test out, make an RPM radio doc!

And, psst, here’s a little Scene & Heard hint: