Roger Maunder is not sooky about the SJIWFF. No, really.

    Posted on: Monday, January 23rd, 2012

You’re almost out of time to submit your films to the 2012 Nickel Independent Film Festival – the deadline is Sunday, February 19th. We caught up with festival founder, filmmaker and novelist Roger Maunder to ask him what inspired the Nickel.

So, hey, you founded the Nickel Film Festival, huh?
Mm hm.

Rumour has it that you started it in response to perhaps a bit of er… well, in response to the, uh, St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. Being a man and all.
[Laughs] It was more that I was a filmmaker here in St. Johns and the only way I could show my work was by having it screen in a bar or at the LSPU Hall. With the Women’s Film festival, it’s for films that women have produced, directed or wrote. Myself, a man that was writing and producing and directing my own work, and a lot of my other filmmaker friends didn’t fall under that. So I felt that there was a void there, and I created the Nickel

So, it’s not because of the Women’s Film Fest… well, I suppose it is, in a way. [Laughs again]

What are you working on these days?
I stepped away from the Nickel a couple of years ago; I wanted to make films again and I found that, especially for the first couple of years, the Nickel took up all of my time and took me away from the reason that I created it.

Right now, I have two features that are in development, Mundy Pond and Sweet Cove, and I’m developping a television series with my partner, Colleen Power, called Downtown Freaks.

Drippy cup, meet sippy cup.

    Posted on: Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Odds are, your first drinking receptacle was attached to some form of nipple, which you suckled on for many a dozy, bliss-filled month. Eventually, you were upgraded to the sippy cup – a marvel of engineering, and a sheer joy to use. The drinking experience, 2.0. Beverage consumption, perfected.

Why on earth we ever saw fit to move past the sippy cup and on to glasses and mugs is beyond me. I mean that. I just don’t get it.

My grasp of the concept breaks down even further when I consider how inconvenient the common coffee-to-go cup is. The lid has about a 50/50 chance of creating any sort of seal with the cup, often resulting in scalding coffee tears pouring down over your fingers. Try as you might to adjust that lid, your efforts only ever make the situation worse.

Then you’ve got the drinking slit, which can turn your hot beverage into a hot geyser springing forth from the cup holder of your car upon even the most subtle application of the brakes.

What’s a coffee-loving citizen to do?

Travel mugs help overcome these obstacles to good clean coffee enjoyment, but they present their own set of problems, such as complicated drinking mechanisms, cumbersome cleaning requirements, incompatibility with espresso machines requiring the dirtying of another cup (thus negating their supposed environment friendliness), and ugliness to name a few.

Thanks be to Australia that something has finally been done to rectify this whole messy situation and make coffee drinking on the go the delight it ought to be, and then some.

Behold (next to its less evolved ancestor, the to-go cup), the Keep Cup.

Or as I like to call it, the sippy cup 2.0.

I’ve been using the Keep Cup for just over a week now, and I’m convinced there’s no going back. I liken it to the time I switched from Windows PC to my first Mac – oh, so you mean I can just use my computer to do things? How novel!

Unlike other to-go cups, with the Keep Cup, there’s no asking your coffee if you can enjoy it, working around an unwieldy receptacle in the process. You simply carry, drink and enjoy.

That enjoyment carries over to the barista crafting your beverage, too. The cup was designed to fit into the espresso making process, so the person serving you your coffee will always be happy to see you coming with your Keep Cup in hand.

The cup is made of plastic (32 uses later and you break even with the environment – every use thereafter makes you a hero for the day), making it lightweight and virtually indestructible. The only moving part is the doohickey at the top which slides over to seal the drinking slit for times when you might foresee a momentum-endused spill.

It’s by no means a thermos — in my experience the Keep Cup offers just about the same level of thermal beverage protection as your standard to-go cup. If there’s any difference, it appears to me to be nominal.

But the real joy of this thing is in the drinking. The packaging touts the Keep Cup’s “pleasing surface and shape to drink from,” but that’s just marketing department safe-talk for it’s like a sippy cup for grownups!

You can get your own sippy cup – I mean, Keep Cup – at Post Espresso Bar on Water Street. They come in a whole range of totally rad colours, and cost a totally reasonable $16.

Happy sipping!

Hawksley Workman playing at Post, like, any minute now.

    Posted on: Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Hawks eye view as the place quickly fills up.

60 feet for Two Square Feet

    Posted on: Friday, January 13th, 2012

How do you cram a 30-strong film crew, a whack of gear, and Jeanne Beker into a tiny house in downtown St. John’s?

Very carefully.

Kelly Davis and I were lucky enough to be the 31st and 32nd people on set for today’s Two Square Feet shoot. Two Square Feet is written and directed by Ruth Lawrence, and its script won her the 2012 RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award.

The set was chaos, but with Justin Simms at the helm as First Assistant Director, it was controlled chaos.

The scene as I walked in the front door: Ruth Lawrence and Jeanne Beker, post-take in the living room.

Kelly Bruton designed the set. As you can see, the colours are huge and vibrant, and the attention to detail is incredible. Check out all the cool little knick knacks and the fabrics. You instantly feel like you’re in somebody else’s world and that that somebody will shake yours up.

Justin Simms, First Assistant Director; Ruth Lawrence, Writer/Director; Brad Gover, Producer.

In the kitchen, plotting the next filming move.

The narrow staircase to the second floor, where the bathroom scene was about to be shot, was lined with people pressing their backs against the wall, passing cameras and cables overhead. This camera was at the opposite end of the skinny hallway from the bathroom, and there were five people carefully stacked around it, checking the lighting and the angle. “How’s that, then?” someone would yell, and everyone would duck, in sync, to get their heads out of the shot.

It was an intense, efficient-feeling atmosphere. We were ushered in with little ceremony and ushered out with even less. But from what we could tell, the final product is going to look incredible.

One question, though: where the heck are all the female crew members? Of the 30-odd people in there, maybe 6 were women.

Important upcoming dates

    Posted on: Monday, January 9th, 2012

Deadlines. They suck. But they’re great motivators. Here are a few to keep in mind if you’re looking to fund or submit your latest film.

Grants, Funding, Internships and Mentorships

Januray 23rd – deadline to apply to the Canadian Film Centre’s Cineplex Entertainment Program, a five and a half month program in which “producers, editors, writers and directors are joined by illustrious storytellers and industry professionals who inspire, question and challenge our filmmakers to elevate their craft.”

January 24th - deadline to apply for the NFB’s Hothouse Animation Program, a 12-week paid animation internship.

January 30th – deadline to apply to sit on the Atlantic Film Festival’s ViewFinders International Film Festival for Youth jury. For film buffs who are 12 to 16 years old.

February 1st – deadline to apply for Octavia Films new Short Film Grants for Ontario-based female filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 30.

February 9th – deadline to apply for funding through the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Fund.

February 27th – deadline to apply for the PUMA Creative Catalyst Award, an international documentary development fund.

February 29th – deadline to apply to Giving Voice: Filmmakers Working With Filmmakers apprenticeship program, presented by CBC’s Documentary channel and the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Film Submissions

January 13th – deadline to submit to the CFC’s REEL Challenge Contest: Celebrating the Movie and Television Industry at Work. If you’ve got a short that celebrates the people behind the scenes in Canadian film and television, why not send it in? The winner receives $10,000.

January 20th – deadline to submit your short to the 9th Annual DC Shorts Film Festival.

February 15th – deadline to submit to the Island Media Arts Festival, in Prince Edward Island.

February 28th – deadline to submit to the Sundance London Short Film Competition. If you’ve got a 3-5 minute short film with a “Story of our Time” theme, the good folks over at the Sundance London Film and Music Festival would love to see it.

Did I miss any? Let me know at Follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of all these dates, and all the other industry news we see fit to tweet. @SJIWomensFF