Beat Dunn

    Posted on: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Filmmaker Stephen Dunn probably needs no introduction. He is the maker of Swallowed – you know, the film that was created through the TIFF Talent Lab and awarded second place in the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition.

Swallowed closed the Women’s Film Festival last year. This year, because we missed him and his way with film, we got Stephen to be our official St. John’s International Women’s Film Video Blogger. Er, vlogger.

Here’s his first vlog, wherein he wears no shirt and gets his butt kicked a little by Beat Down star Marthe Bernard.

What I wish I wasn’t missing: Krissy Holmes’ Must-Do list at this year’s fest

    Posted on: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

You’re probably itching  to be spoon fed the festival’s ‘must see’ list, just as I was last week, right after I got the call.

My name is Krissy Holmes and I am a producer/writer/director/television personality/editor/ A.D. and enthusiasm coordinator living in St. John’s, which means that I have to be ready to do almost anything at almost any time.

Last week’s call was from a member of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival to ask if I would to be a guest blogger for the festival. The timing couldn’t be more perfect; the upcoming week looked pretty malleable and at that point, the only question was going to be footwear because I wanted to do it all. So there I was with my thick daytimer of research, an extra pack of smokes and a shiny new notebook when I got another call.

The work call.

As most people who work freelance in the film and television world know, you have to go where the story takes you, you have to work when the work comes, and you have to be ready on short notice. You must also be willing to travel and you can’t be squeamish about handling raw meat and other people’s corporate allegiances.

Well, this story is now taking me to Elliston with a documentary crew. I would blog from there except that you can’t really blog from Elliston because there is no internet access. You can only ‘log’ in Elliston, and yes I just verbed that, because at the tip of the Bonavista peninsula there are only root cellars and remains of the party that Shanneyganock threw there a few weeks ago.

But since I had already made a detailed list of the festival’s highlights, I thought I would share my own would-be MUST SEE list for the 2011 St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.

I am generally most interested in forums and workshops because the festival has a reputation for attracting top level expertise that you would normally have to fly to L.A. to meet. My advice: get a festival pass, a professional-looking bag packed with caffeine, a new pen and notebook, business cards, the most recent copy of your favorite pet scripts/reels or portfolio (samples of whatever you do), your favorite colour lipstick and then, roll the dice.

1. Tuesday, Oct. 18th, 8pm at the Arts and Culture Centre: Telefilm Canada Opening Night Gala

And the Telefilm darling of the year is… Beat Down writer/director Deanne Foley. Deanne, I hope you are not one for blushing but here goes: you’re my favorite NL filmmaker and also one of my local television content heros.

I attended a test screening of Beat Down about a month ago at NIFCO, and I have to admit that it was a chore to be critical. The script is solid; full of funny and natural dialogue, well- timed comedy and lots of interesting characters. For the local film fan, Beat Down does not censor local brands, accents or weather, nor is it show-boaty about any of it. For the international film buffs, the credits are full of Canada’s coolest up and coming actors, like Marthe Bernard of The Republic of Doyle (who may render Ellen Paige completely irrelevant), Rob Wells of The Trailor Park Boys (and soon to be from Paul Pope’s “Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour”) Tony Nappo (I love you Tony Nappo), and Mark O’Brien from The Republic of Doyle. This feature is the real-deal action LOL comedy that I predict will influence a new style flurry from NL filmmakers.

And just like on the Duckworth Street light poles, Legend City Wrestling is everywhere, perhaps because Producer Paul Pope and Deanne Foley toured and learned the ropes with the province’s newest wrestling/entertainment outfit while in prep mode for the film. Bernard, Nappo and O’Brien trained with professional wrestlers in Toronto, some of whom make appearances in the film, while preparing for their roles.

2. Oct. 19th 10-12 @ Masonic Temple: Pitching Workshop with Mickey Rogers

I am a bit of a junkie for pitching workshops because everyone seems to offer at least ONE magical and unique golden nugget of advice on the producer’s golden art. Pitch experts know how it’s done because that’s what they do. If there is anyone who can take your idea from zero to hero it is Mickey Rogers. Whether you’re into drama, reality, shorts, or if you just have a few guitars and a dream, Mickey has something to say about it and has likely pitched something similar. Her blog is inspiring, full of valuable information and good old fashioned logic, all nested on a thick crust of credibility.

More information here.

3. Oct. 19th 2:30-5pm: The Art of Adaptation with Dr. Linda Seger

Dr. Linda Seger is the Depac Chopra of the Scriptwriting world. She writes the text-book guidelines on how it’s done: from practical theory, character development to alternate formats to hints on time-line mix mastering, Seger practically invented the cue-card and cork board method of scene organization, and to this day, is quoted regularly by my former Screenwriting Prof at Algonquin. After studying “Making a Good Script Great” as part of the Screenwriting course curriculum, I ordered “The Art of Adaptation” which I never did finish because the book was stolen from my house during one wild Halloween party, and it was right next to Irvine Welsh’s “Porno”…just saying.

More information here.

4. Oct. 20th 10-3pm: Making a Good Script Great with Dr. Linda Seger

Wow. To relive the whole book in person at the Masonic Temple with Seger herself just sounds like Disney World on Zoloft to me. Ron Howard polished off Apollo 13 after studying this book closely, but no matter if you’re a veteran screenwriter or a closet story-boarder with a video game dream, Seger brings all story lines back to the central question: how is each action enhancing the story, the main character’s objective, and why is there still small talk? Oh how I wasted the pre-Seger years. I’ll bet she has really neat handwriting.

Check it out here.

Tomatoes, tomahtahs, and beat downs

    Posted on: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Just to recap, it’s opening night at the 22nd St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival tonight. And that entails an enchanting evening of schmoozing, canoodling and looking fabulous at our Opening Night Gala at the Arts and Culture Centre.

Naturally, the foremost question on every gala-goer’s mind is how to actually pronounce “gala:” is it “gah-luh” or “gay-luh?”

Dr. Shane O’Dea, distinguished gentleman of note and Professor of English Literature at Memorial University, had this to say:

“The OED gives both pronunciations. In trying to think of what I use (no good determinant of correctness), I might talk of going to a “gah/lah” and of it being a “gay/luh” occasion, making the first a noun, the second and adjective. OED gives me no authority for such prescriptiveness.”

Well, there you go.

Whether you attend this evening’s “gah-luh” or “gay-luh,” you’re in for a treat. Tonight is the world premiere of Deanne Foley’s Beat Down.

Here’s what Women’s Film Festival founder Noreen Golfman has to say about Beat Down:

Our festival is proud to open with another thoroughly homegrown feature production, a debut achievement for Deanne Foley. Foley has always produced wry and slyly amusing stories about girls growing up, and BEAT DOWN capably extends her favourite theme into a full-blown narrative. Marthe Bernard (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE) plays the unsinkably feisty Fran, a young woman with vague dreams and a restless heart. Dad, known as Whitey, is a former wrestling champ who forbids Fran from entering the ring at any time. As played by the familiar Robb Wells (TRAILER PARK BOYS), Whitey is profane and overbearing and, as one would expect, hilariously emotional. BEAT DOWN boasts a fine tag team of actors, with Andy Jones, Mark O’Brien, Tony Nappo, and Janet Kidder rounding out the A-Show.

The Opening Night Gala begins at 8:00pm, at the Arts and Culture Centre. A Reception follows the Beat Down screening, featuring music by the Burning Hell. Tickets are $20 or $12 for students and seniors, and they’re available at the Arts and Culture Centre Box Office, 729-3900.

WTF happened to Signal?

    Posted on: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

As you are no doubt aware, this blog was conceived, developed and maintained by a gentleman named Darcy Fitzpatrick.

<------ Yeah, that guy. And as you no doubt surmised, Darcy Fitzpatrick put a whole lot of his time into this blog in order to keep it as fresh and frequent as it was. But then the blogging stopped. I caught up with Darcy to ask him what the heck happened to the Signal blog. Darcy, what the heck happened to Signal?
What happened was twofold: I started a new job working full time for a television production company, which was okay – I was still finding time to post to Signal, but things definitely weren’t as frequent.

Then I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to write and direct a short film through NIFCO’s Picture Start program which gives you an incredible budget and incredible tools to get a short film made. So that took up whatever time I had left, and whatever energy and passion I had left, outside of work

As I much as I love Signal, and love blogging and writing and St. John’s – and those are all things that fed into my creating Signal and keeping it going for as long as I did – filmmaking is where I want to be. I want to be a filmmaker and I now call myself a filmmaker.

Is the film done? Are you going to take up the Signal reins again?
The film is called Meters, and it’s actually finished now, it screened at the Atlantic Film Festival, and it’s screening at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival on Thursday, October 20th, at 9:30 pm at the LSPU Hall.

As far as taking up Signal again, I’ve got to leave myself open for my next project. If you’re going to call yourself the St. John’s blog, you’ve got to be posting stuff more than once a week or once a month.

So tell me about your movie. Wait – short film. I mean short film.
I call it a movie all the time, it’s definitely the most cinematic thing I’ve ever done. It’s a movie, it’s definitely a movie.

Basically, it’s about an old man who is reaching the end of his life, and his wife has just passed away, and he’s alone in the world and he doesn’t have much of a purpose any more. So he starts feeding other people’s parking meters to give himself a sense of purpose. There’s a metaphor in there with the meters, where he’s trying to affect time and time running out, and then you have a parking attendant who doesn’t like him doing this and it kind of escalates.

That’s all I want to give away. It’s bittersweet.

Anyways, the old man is played by this gentleman, Mike Hayes. We had an extensive search for the old man. One of the things about him is that he doesn’t have a single line of dialogue, so he has to convey so much with, for example, his eyes. If you don’t have someone who is experienced, that can turn into pantomime very quick. Mike hasn’t spent a day infront of the camera, he’s actually a comedian. He does stand-up comedy in old age homes, so you’d think that he’d be the last person you’d want to do this, because you have to be so subtle. But in the end, seeing him in the frame, he was exactly who I had in mind.

How did you audition for a part with no lines?
It wasn’t an easy process at all. Hats off to Maggie Keiley, who helped us with our casting. It was really hard to do, and I know I wouldn’t have gotten there if it weren’t for Maggie.

I was trying to pull out all the old tricks from when I did theatre, and Maggie just kind of asked them questions – did they have any children, any grandchildren, that kind of thing – and took them back through their lives and asked them to remember certain occasions in their life, like the birth of their first child or their first grandchild, and we would just roll on that – we used that as the basis of how they could convey this stuff.

How many people did you audition?
It was hard even finding old men who look like they’re in their seventies and had experience in acting, and who were interested in acting. We audtitioned maybe ten and we narrowed it down to three, but in the end it was always Mike. He just jumped out at me, it was uncanny.

Sounds pretty great, Darcy. Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m just so excited for a local audience, and for my friends and family and everyone who worked on it, to see it. Even heading into the Atlantic Film Festival, I still wasn’t sure – it’s so hard to know after you’ve worked on this one thing for a year, and then when I saw it up there on the screen and I felt everyone going along with it and I saw it with the music, then I was really proud of it.

It’s such an insular process that you forget that it’s supposed to be out there for an audience, for more than just yourself. And then when it does get out there, in front of an audience, it’s like wow, this is where a film supposed to be. This is it, this is where it belongs.

Directed by Darcy Fitzpatrick and produced by Paula Gale, Meters is screening at the 22nd St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival on Thursday, October 20th, at 9:30pm at the LSPU Hall. Also screening that night: Rescue Wife, Ida, Mickey Bader, Us, The Wind Is Blowing On My Street, Evolucity, Faster!, and The Not So Subtle Subtext. For more information on each of these films, click here, and for the complete Women’s Film Festival schedule, click here.

Lights, camera, and a surge of Signal action

    Posted on: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Guess what today is?




It’s Opening Night at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.


In order to properly celebrate this year’s festival – and it’s worth celebrating – we’ve hijacked the Signal Blog!* Ha!

From now until Closing Night, on October 22nd, we’re going to have a lot of neat stuff up here: video blogs from Stephen Dunn, maker of the film Swallowed; blogs from Aimee Wall andKrissy Holmes, producer of Joel Thomas Hyne’s short film, Clipper Gold, which is screening at the festival this year; and gorgeous pictures from photographer Malin Enstrom, of Happy Fish Photography. We’ll have interviews with writers, actors, and directors (I get to talk about wrestling with Marthe Bernard) and all kinds of other stuff.

So stay tuned. And check out our trailer.

*Okay, technically we didn’t quite hijack the blog. We got permission to do this. I promise.