Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! Monster from "Hyper-Reality"

On Sunday I posted another piece about my uncompleted 35mm short film epic, Hyper-Reality. It's Halloween today and I thought I would post an on-set photograph of the film's monster.

Actor Mike Garr rehearses a fight scene with the monster -- actually a guy in a costume that I designed and built (with some valued assistance from Erminia Diamantopoulos).

When the fight choreographer first saw the costume, she said: "I find that really disturbing."

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Curious Cat

What could it be? A butterfly? A bug? A fly? It might be a pigeon.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Behind the Scenes Pics from "Hyper-Reality"

Several times since February of last year I have posted about my unfinished 35mm short film epic, Hyper-Reality (90% done epic, that is). I wrote about trying to possibly crowd-fund its completion.

More info, soon. But for now....

Camera assistant Carolyn poses with the Mitchell.

I look to direct.

The technical crew sets up the business side of the "Irwin Allen Panel".

Setting up a shot in the "Alien Lair".

An Alien relaxes on the "Corman's Bar" set.

Actor Mike Garr and I enjoy a laugh over some issue.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Behind the Mitchell on "Hyper-Reality"

"Graveyard Shift" Set Build Pics from October 1985

Set builder Dave Fiacconi takes a break for the camera.

I check to see if Dave is level headed.

I hang on for dear life while the crew works to prep the set in the studio.

Chris Leger paints after building some pyro charges into a tombstone.

Set builder Rae Crombie paints some details into the mausoleum set.

The set build crew works their magic. (The shoot starts in hours.)

Friday, October 27, 2017

How Could I Not List Benny?

Back on September 20th I listed some of my favourite film scores. It was a pop-up list, and because of that, I missed some titles.

What I realized recently is the fact I made a serious omission: Scores from the late great movie composer Bernard Herrmann.

Quick. In order of release:

1. The Day the Earth Stood Still
2. Vertigo
3. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
4. Psycho
5. Taxi Driver

Try to imagine those films without their respective scores.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An RCAF Canadair Sabre at the CWH Museum

A beautiful aircraft at the impressive Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.

This Can't Be Healthy...

... But how about "tasty"?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Toronto Maple Leafs:

Tragedy plus Time.

Earlier this evening I sat on a TTC subway car. Standing nearby were Leafs fans. How could I tell? They were pleasant blokes but they wore Leafs jerseys.

They were on their way to the game at the Air Canada Centre. A sacrifice; a marching of Toronto Maple Leafs fans into the Mouth of Pollock. The players marched a long time ago.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Funny vs Not

Last night I started my reintroduction to the old SCTV Network 90 shows. NBC picked up the Canadian produced half-hour comedy series SCTV and scheduled it in a ninety-minute time slot for the 1981 - 1982 season. Due to the extended length (actually 65 minutes of program), in addition to the new material the producers edited in bits and pieces from the show's previous three seasons to fill out the running time. (Those who worked on the series say today that it was the only way the show could have been produced.)

Seeing it now I realize how funny the program is. At times it bogs down, certainly with some of the weekly feature film parodies, but the success rate is impressive.

A few weeks ago I pulled out a "Best of Saturday Night Live" DVD -- a burn I made from a discounted VHS tape I had found -- and my opinion of that comedy series has not changed: Not very funny. You'd think a best-of compilation would score more often, but like the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team, it's not very funny at all.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Toronto Police Action at Bloor and Spadina

March 7th: "Toronto's Finest", and a few photogs, at the intersection of Spadina Road (and Avenue) and Bloor Street.

Friday, October 20, 2017

"Sheppard West" TTC Subway Station Satellite

... Formerly "Downsview" Station.

Thugs of Canada Geese

Take a trip to the northern areas of Toronto and observe Canada Geese. "Canada Bastards" might be a better name; I've been hissed at a few times. These guys didn't seem to mind as I hovered about with my camera for a couple of minutes back in the Spring.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Picture Me in "Graveyard Shift" Workshop

Subject: A very grubbily-dressed me poses with set in construction.
Date: October 1985
Place: Set construction workshop, just south of King Street, Toronto
Photo: Dave Fiacconi

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

They're Dropping Like Frames (Flies)

Through changes in imaging technologies, including the shift to "I can do that on my computer now", film and television post production houses have been closing their doors these past few years.

This week I found out that a "post house" I worked for here in Toronto closed its doors two years ago. A similar company I worked for previous to that as a tech, and later as a sales rep, has also gone post production.

Things are settling down. The power is now in the hands of the "amateur".

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Writers' Note

Writer William S. Burrows (1914 - 1997) said this:

"You can only write what you know, even if you don't know that you know it."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Peter Biskind's Next Book?

If you know the writer's book list you may have an idea what the subject of his next book might be.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures were interesting reads, but there's no way I could stomach a book about Harvey Weinstein now.

Ontario Public College Faculty Now on Strike

As of this school morning more than 12,000 faculty members of Ontario's Community Colleges are on strike.

I remember September of 1984: The same thing happened. I had been a student for a few weeks when suddenly, but not without warning, I had the day off. That strike went on for four weeks.

The concern at the time was that our school year would have to be extended in order to make up for lost time. The May finish would drop us students late into the summer job pool. Things worked out for me, but it was a bit of a stressful time.

When you're paying money for school you don't want any complications.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

You Know What?

What does it matter?

It matters not.

That's what!

The Space Probe Golden Film Record

You may pick just one feature film to be included in the Golden Record on the next interstellar space probe. It must represent what mankind is capable of doing in the motion picture form; which is why Forrest Gump cannot, or should not, hitch a ride on a vehicle that may go on its forever journey -- eventually to be found by another race of beings. (Now that I think about it, Forrest Gump himself might be a prime candidate for the trip to somewhere, some millennium, never to be seen again; at least not by humans.)

Back to the probe: My own pick might just be:

Metropolis, Fritz Lang's 1927 epic. The imagery is so forever, the film as a whole, so quoted and referred to, that, to me, there is no better representative feature-length motion picture.

A few years ago I got into a discussion with a friend about the matter and he said his pick would be 2001: A Space Odyssey, another "forever" piece of film art.

As much as I like Annie Hall, Bicycle Thieves, and Patton, I don't feel they best represent the 'bandwidth' possible in the art form.

What? Plan 9 from Outer Space? I had forgotten about that one....

Saturday, October 14, 2017

An All-Purpose Saying?

My late father had a list of handy sayings. Some of them were pretty funny.

Perhaps my favourite of the bunch is this:

"Of course not. Why would it?"

That may be where I got my cynicism from. Or I already had it and sayings like that one just played right into my cynical side.

We'll Meet Again?

It was a year ago, this week
that we last met...

under that ship's
crane as it unloaded
a shipment of cheap
products from the "orient"

however, as you remember, but
perhaps you don't
that crane did drop its





And with that bad luck,
my sweet
it's not possible for
you and I to ever meet

under that crane, or
anything else again.


Simon St. Laurent

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Situation of Satiation

I am not a nutritionist. But I am aware of my own gastronomic and gastric requirements. Vegan dishes are regarded by some as lacking in essential ingredients: meat. Three years ago I met a young vegan lady through a mutual friend. Little did I know when I was introduced to Jennifer that she would almost change my dinner plate.

It was bound to happen. After she slipped me some publications on the wonderful world of veganism I decided to give the culinary component a shot -- with her guidance, of course.  Jennifer cooked up a storm, and during the event, she gave me notes on what it was she was doing with what food items and ingredients, and what each and every one contributed to the nutritional indexes.

What a fabulous meal that was; quite possibly the greatest I've ever experienced. This was the best part: When I awoke the next morning I was not compelled to run for an emergency food source. My metabolism is such that even if I chow down on something based around meat the night before, by the next morning I am more than a little peckish. Jennifer's vegan plate somehow convinced my brain that I was not starving, even hours later.

After I recounted the story to another vegan friend he told me why I had felt so satiated: "She probably packed it with nutrients."

For some reason I've not been able to go off meat completely, even if it continues to be a small portion of my dinner plate. The issue of animal abuse is something that bothers me. What will it take to convince me to go over? No doubt I'm not alone in facing that dilemma.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Muskoka Drive-In

Last Friday I posted a piece on the 1975 Canadian exploitation treat, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. The focus of my blog posting is friend Chris and his father venturing off to see it together at the Astral Theatre in CFB Borden (Ontario, Canada).

Chris emailed me to say he loved the story; however, he corrected me on the venue. He and his dad saw it at the Muskoka Drive-In in Gravenhurst. Chris also informed me that its screen is alive and well!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Poem: Scanning Between the Lines

The Lines are out of Raster
The Raster is out of Lines

Is gone the picture tube
information in pictures
might reassemble

someplace eclectic
a placement of ideas
and thoughts electric

to home base time correction
no Minow needs
correcting for no reason

but what we
see on
the flat screen


Simon St. Laurent

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fight Forward! (Not Backward)

"Fight forward!"

A talented and hard-working friend falls into the pit of self-doubt. He worked for years in film and television, and after getting turfed from the business he so loved, it came time to try his hand at self-employment.

The hardest-working man I know.

A multi-talented friend: short films in a top film festival; a feature-length film as producer and shooter; a writer; a designer and artist. He's not of the "I work in the film and television business" kind -- there are certainly enough of those -- but he's a guy who intimidates some, certainly the "I work in the film and television business" kind.

A bump in the road, there will be many, but he will push forth.

"Fight forward!" Not backward. They put you down because you can do more than one thing, and well.

Monday, October 9, 2017

What Happened to "A Place to Stand"?

"Give us a place to stand
And a place to grow
And call this land On-tario . . ."

That was a fine song from my youth. It was not only eminently singable, but memorable, too.

And it's been retuned for a new generation; or something like that.

There is a new ad campaign extolling the virtues of Ontario, Canada, and being a citizen within. The move to update "A Place to Stand" is fine, to be expected, of course, and it is designed for Ontario's and Canada's 150th birthday celebrations, but to strip away what made the song work in the first place is all too typical. The original was a breathy chorus, a proud and exuberant call to this province. Now it's a tiny, but hip (man), little bitty that carries no memory. It's not even a noble attempt to reboot the song, but rather, a lesson in how not to arrange a song that originally enjoyed a marvellous tune. The tune is now gone. Composer Delores Claman is probably wondering where her song went.

This reminds me of something a friend of mine will dispense from time to time; and especially at a time like this:

"Why do they strip away the very things that made it work in the first place?"

Neil is right.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, at the Drive-In

In yesterday's posting I mentioned the 1975 film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. A Canadian production, the film played a lot at the Astral Theatre in CFB Borden (Ontario, Canada) when I lived there. Surprisingly enough, this history buff has to this day never seen the film.

My friend Chris has. He dragged his father off to see Ilsa when it ran at the Muskoka Drive-In. Chris told me the story a couple of years later, and when he did, I laughed. Knowing his father, a super nice man, by the way, I could picture the two of them sitting in their car, watching this piece of pure exploitation.

Chris explained:

"My dad kept wanting to leave and I said 'no, no, let's stay! I wanna see what happens!'"


Correction, October 14th: I made adjustments to reflect information given to me by "Chris". On Thursday, October 12th, I wrote a new piece using that appreciated intelligence. (The original title of this posting was "Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, at the Astral".)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Some Cool Movie Titles

Back on September 26th I posted a piece about my favourite movie title of all. That inspired me to pencil more titles into my notebook.

Here's a quick and unfiltered list:

American Graffiti
Silent Running
The Little Shop of Horrors
The Fast and the Furious
Not of This Earth
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Memorable Quote About War

On Monday I posted about a day of violence. In the BBC documentary I watched, a World War II Russian soldier spoke about the very present threat of death. He was part of a special force in Stalingrad that was responsible for clearing out buildings of German soldiers. It was very dangerous work:

"Every step in Stalingrad meant death. Death was in our pockets. Death was walking with us."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Open Letter Re: Bloor Street Bike Lanes

I live near Bloor Street, right in the Annex, and I think the lanes are a great idea. The number of bikes in those lanes is impressive. However, several business owners on Bloor are complaining that foot traffic has plummeted since the lanes were 'built' and they fear that continued operation of these routes will force them to shutter their stores.

Foot traffic is generated from people like me. Also, there are parking lots in that area, which, I should add, is where friends of mine from out of town park their cars when they visit for our Bloor hang.

The bigger concern is the ridiculous business rents down that strip. One of my favourite 'Asian' restaurants went under last year; the owner told me that her rent skyrocketed to $13,000 per month. She simply could not afford that number as the 'nut'. That is the real story here.

There are many factors in lack of store patronage. The stunning fact is lots of shops on that bit of Bloor were going under before the bike lanes were marked out. Two tea shops, for instance, sprouted and died within two or three years of opening. Funny thing, that, since I often find myself caught in major foot traffic.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Day of Violence

There was a terrible act of violence today in Las Vegas. A lone gunman opened fire on a large gathering of people who were taking in a music festival. A peaceful crowd in a time of peace.

This week I've been making my way through a documentary from 1999 titled BBC history of WW II - War of the Century, When Hitler Fought Stalin. The subject matter being what it is there is an overload of onscreen violence: lots of weapons firing; especially automatic weapons firing. Tonight I watched another episode. (This history buff thinks he's totally immune to the affects of seeing and hearing onscreen carnage in archival documentary footage.)

In video and audio clips from today we heard lots of automatic weapons firing. I didn't know there was a war going on.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Process Screen

This evening I saw a couple of television adverts for upcoming science fiction films.

One such picture is called Geostorm. If the TV spot is any indication there are some live-action elements in there somewhere, and maybe a story of some kind, too. The overpowering ingredient is Special Visual Effects. Of course a lot of it is done "in the computer" which only ends up making the movie look non-immersive.

I swear, I could almost smell the green screen material.