Monday, March 21, 2016

Some Fine Fatherly Advice, For Some

This morning a friend of mine seemed to be a little annoyed after reading a newspaper story on a guy, with less than minimal film & television production experience, who got a decent job on a television series.

My late father, who was "career air force", knew the score for those of us who haboured any pretentions of wanting to work and excel in the film and television business. He dispensed a certain line of sage advice on more than one occasion, even after I had a small record of the Barrie Examiner, Barrie Banner, and CKVR Television doing stories on me and my pals making film. Here it is, made even more relevant now that the wonderful explosion in media technologies allows anyone to make video:

"You have to know how to sell yourself. Stand out from the pack. Otherwise you just get lost in the crowd."

Friday, March 18, 2016

An Admission 45 Years Later (Maple Leafs Forever)

On Saturday, February the 13th , I came clean by making a long awaited admission of misplaced support from 1970.

Today I will admit something about "misplaced support" from 1971.

In April of that year, deep in the National Hockey League playoffs, I, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, was hopeful for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team in eternal question was playing against the New York Rangers, a good, solid club, and one coached by the great Emile Francis.

The date was April 15th, it was game 6 of the quarter final round between these two members of the "original six". The Rangers led the best-of-seven series by three games to two.

Overtime: This match, tied at 1-1, was resolved with venomous brutality when a Rangers player (Jean Ratelle? Walt Tkaczuk?) scooted down the ice over the Leafs blue-line, through a hapless Leafs defenceman (Jim McKenny?), and snapped off a quick shot. Goaltender Jacques Plante shot out his right leg, he stretched out his toes, but failed to stop or deflect the smoking disc-shaped piece of vulcanized rubber from fulfilling its Nomad-like programming. The next event was more acoustic in nature; the sound of what happens after a speeding 6-ounce hockey puck motions past a Leafs goalie at such a critical time in the NHL season. "Clank!!!"

(Forever Futility.)

I did my job quite well: I was a pro. I (got a wee bit upset).

My dad laughed, no doubt amused by a hockey-loving kid who had yet to snap out of a silly phase. I can still picture him, to my right, getting a kick out of my "upset". Translation: "Kid, it's just a bleedin' game. It means absolutely nothing in and among the grand schemes of life." (My dad was right, of course; except when his beloved Habs lost.)

For decades I've asked myself the question: "Why?" Not the question of why a Leafs goalie would fail to stop or deflect an ice hockey puck, which even an answer of "42" could not explain away, but why I would waste allegiances on a total, complete, absolute, non-achiever. This memorable match had played out mere weeks after my 10th birthday, and after the Leafs team began to brush up on all the interesting local golf courses and beer halls, I would, in guided prescience and with great leaps of maturation, shoot my affections to the Montreal Canadiens. This would pay off -- sorry for the spoiler, young ones -- and my reaction this time around would be one of: Joy.

Toronto-based sports journalist Peter Gross reported on the wireless this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs are just one loss away from being "mathematically eliminated" from making the playoffs this year.

This cynic must admit: That loosey-goosey sports organization has been improving since 1971. By way of avoiding playoff games on a regular yearly basis they spare many a 10-year-old from having certain hopes and, more importantly, breakdowns. And from having anything of relevant interest to write about 45 years later.

(Replay: "Claaaaank"!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Walking the WaveDeck at Toronto Harbourfront

Picturing Cats Perfectly

Why would a cat sit still for a photo session when it can just move out of camera view?

I was ready.

My friend's adorably peevish pussycat was not going to get away that easily. The flurrious feline's attempt to slink down from his perch to a lower level ended up giving me a better and more interesting shot, I think; it's not as though pictures of cats hanging about, not doing much of anything, are of a unique breed.

You pettish little....

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Reject Photograph With Atmosphere

When taking photographs we want to present those that are technically fine -- in focus, good density -- but occasionally a picture separates itself from the folder by way of having something noteworthy (I think).

One night back about seven years ago I was walking home from work, here in Toronto, and looked up. As I waited for the lights to change at the downtown intersection I popped out my camera and captured what I thought was an interesting scene.

When I reviewed the files on my Canon camera days later I noticed the obvious imperfections in the shot. Normally I would crack off a bunch of snaps -- bracketing the exposure and shutter speed -- but I guess I could not wait to arrive at the TTC "King" subway station which was just a few minutes away.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Setting Up for Hyper-Reality

Here is a photograph of 1st camera assistant Gary Blakeley and I setting up a shot for Hyper-Reality. The push is on to complete this 35mm mini-epic short film. Anyone who knows me can tell this pic was taken quite some time ago.

Photo: Jill Cooper

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Katzen, Chats, Gatos, γάτες, Catti, Koty, коты, Cathod, Cats....

My posting from yesterday, "A Swinging Cat", spoke of cat-fights and cat-sitters, and cats. While I grew up with both a cat and a dog as family pets, I much prefer the feline due to that type's lower maintenance requirements in addition to its rudimentary affection characteristics. (Notice I did not mention veterinary costs.)

Many years ago I came up with two little and hardly original bits to sum up my admiration for Felis silvestris catus.

* I do not trust any man who doesn't like cats.

* There cannot be a more blissful existence than that of the pet cat of a loving owner.

You were saying?....

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Swinging Cat Moment

An old friend of mine occasionally needs someone to take care of his two fine felines for a few days. At first he utilized the fine services of his friend Dave, and this arrangement worked on a few occasions. One day, a couple of years ago, Dave found he was unable to deal with two cats that had decided suddenly to settle an old score. Apparently he was "pretty upset" by the paw-fight and wasn't so sure he wanted to undertake his special role anymore.

Next time: My friend called me. "Do you mind doing it, Si?"

"Of course not! You're calling the cat expert."

These cats have not fought on my watch; they've wanted to, but this human knows how to defuse a house-cat-sized political squabble. Admittedly I'm well armed: A cup of water (which I've never had to use), and a great finger-snap. "No!... No!...."

Now: This cat lover naturally would take a few pictures while lounging around on a back patio with two bored cats. I was organizing some picture files on my computer recently and I had not realized that I had captured a special moment: A Certain Feline did not appreciate my camera's flashing red-eye reduction light.

That's one squirrely cat:

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Faultline in a Flash

I couple of days ago I posted a piece on my involvement as a set designer on a web series called Tights and Fights: Ashes. Some time ago I was sent a photo taken on the set: It features Major Faultline not in control on the control bridge of the Starship Jefferson.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

A Web Series of Some Notes

A reader who commented on my posting from yesterday noticed this star's negligence in failing to provide a link to the web series, Tights and Fights: Ashes -- the very production that was the subject of my piece. Instead of destroying the evidence I thought I would show some class; here it is: The Tights and Fights: Ashes YouTube channel.

I worked only on a few of the "Major Faultline" segments. One of them is here:

And here is a five-years-hence shout-out to the fine producers of Tights and Fights. They were very professional and fun to work for; "They" being Christopher Guest, Scott Albert, and Courtney Wolfson.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Building a Starship Bridge Set in Pieces

Five years ago, this month, I started building a set -- the control bridge of the "Starship Jefferson" -- for a web series called Tights and Fights. I blogged about the show not long after I finished the job: here

The following sequence of photographs shows the rear control panel in development, and the completed bridge set in the studio.

First, a lighting test:

The panel is finished; awaiting the blinky-lights installation:

The set is in the studio, ready for filming; series art director Darren Pickering adds some bits:

Producer/writer Scott Albert makes an adjustment:

Major Faultline at his station:

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