Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Movie Time

Waiting in a bus shelter at 2:30am after walking thirty minutes through rain.

There are times, that happen pretty rarely, when I write a blog entry and punch myself in the arm at what a great job I've done in writing the thing. Entertaining, witty, maybe even intelligent. Can't really say that for this one. I've just gotten home from work. It's about 3:30am. I'm a bit tired and really should go to sleep. My call time is at 2pm tomorrow. We're shooting a set which is being put on fire. I'm tempted to watch the first season of Alias while I make something to eat.

The main reason for writing this entry is to put people's minds at ease. Recently I've been getting email wondering if I'm still alive or if there has been foul play involved (as opposed to dying in one's sleep). Yes I'm still putting around. My timetable is a bit messed up though.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Silence is golden or at least some spare change

A slate I made at home to bring into work to mark tapes.

After the work on Regenesis on Monday, James got me some work on a show called "Silence". Actually it's a movie. My job... video assist. What does a video assist guy do. In simple terms he (or she) wires up monitors and maybe a VCR to a film camera. While the camera shoots the video assist person records the shot. It's then made available if anyone wants to see it. Anyone being the Director, Producer, Continuity, Camera and cast. If it doesn't hold up production I'll show the kraft services people should they be interested.

Not that I've worked many movies but I found the crew were all pretty nice people. Producers and the director know you by name. People tend to work better as a whole when there's a comfortableness. Is that even a word? The hours have been long and pretty crazy. I think I'll turn my ringer off so I don't get people calling me before ten. It's 5:40am now. I have to get some sleep.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Regenesis Playback with Alan Van Sprang and... me.

Today was my last day for a while working on Regenesis. I've managed to get a job through James working on a horror film for the next two weeks called "Silence" doing video assist. Wednesday is going to be crazy as we'll have five cameras on set that I and (hopefully) someone else will have to record. We shall see.

The above picture is a playback animation with Alan Van Sprang. We (james and I) were testing to see if the animation will work with the live image in front. That's me live. woo hoo. So yes it worked.

Alan used to play Howlyn during the fifth season of Earth Final Conflict. I used to talk to him all the time. At least until the wrap party when he came up to me and started a conversation. I asked who he was. I didn't recognize him without the alien makeup.

He'll Ass-tound you

Director/Producer Darryl Gold surrounded by his cast.

Sunday. 9am. Why is it always early in the morning on a weekend these things happen? Went over to Darryl's place to shoot his short comedy. It's a film for mock docs on the comedy channel about a photographer that took pictures using pin hole photography out of his ass.

For most people this may seem a little odd, bizzare even. However for those that know Darryl... well... it's pretty much the norm. About nine of us comprised of his cast and crew. Me being the on set photographer, hand model and sometimes boom operator. I wonder if I'll get a credit?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The 3tards

Andrew (guitar) and John (lead singer in a chicken suit) of the 3tards play in front of crazy fans

7pm. A punk show playing at the Kathedral on Queen street (aka the big bop) showcased a band called the 3Tards. Let's rewind for a moment. Last week, while walking down queen street I bumped into John and Andrew posting flyers for the show on telephone poles. They recognized me from the night shooting the Threat which was quite a while ago. Either they had a really good memory or the fact that I had my D70 glued to my hand gave me away. In any case I got invited to shoot them.

Fast forward to today. After getting in with my free pass, photographers really don't get any money but they do get invited to a lot of things, I sussed out the place. Dark, stage in corner, bar in other corner. They wouldn't play until 11pm so I decided to go up to Bloor to see if anyone showed up at the Regenesis party. Regenesis is a show that I've been working on for the past few weeks The cast and crew were throwing a small get together to get to know each other outside of work.

After smoozing a bit I left the party at 9:45 and proceeded back down to queen street. The place was jammed with people comprising of mainly kids from high school, sprinkled with some adult like people. Most of them dressed in some sort of punk wear. Once the 3Tards got on stage the fans went wild. Jumping into the mosh pit, climbing on stage, and a lot of shoving. It's a standard thing to do. They band even let the odd fan sing the lyrics into the mic every now and then.

The band only sung for about an hour. It seemed to go by pretty quickly. Although John in the chicken probably thought it was eternal with the chicken suit on. Judging by the fan reaction alone, the band was a huge success.

The house that Ian built

Ian Britton standing behind a 4 ton bin containing lathe and plaster.

8:30am I dragged by tired body over to Ian's place for 9am. Although I didn't really know it at the time I told him I'd helpout with the demolition of two rooms. Translation: carrying a lot of plaster and broken pieces of wood from the second floor to downstairs into the big metal dumpster. I wasn't too bad as I didn't really have to stay in any one room too long to breathe in all the dust flying around.

We had face masks which near the end of the day didn't really help much. They got moist from breathing out and the water clogged whatever material you could breathe through. In hindsight I should have gotten two of them and switched between them half way into the day.

There were five of us altogether. We made pretty good time finishing around 5pm.

Photoshoot for who?

Ian Mah - Director, Producer... photo stand in?

Today I woke up at around 15:15. Realizing it was friday I remembered that I promised to do a photoshoot of the makeup artist that I didn't shoot saturday. We'll call her Margo. Margo did not get her head shot taken on the account that she couldn't make it. She said she was sick. The excuse seemed a bit lame as she called me only 2 hours before the actual shoot (see previous post) but "Shit happens" so they say. Ian required some photos so I told her I'd be happy to shoot her at Ian's place as long as it was alright with Ian. Also at this point I decided that as long as I'm shooting anyway I could kill two birds with one stone.

After running a few errands I packed up and lugged the studio gear over to Ian's place. Did I say it was raining? Well it was. Water and lots of it. I stepped outside to walk to the transit and within the first 15 seconds I was drenched to the bone. My trip to the TTC station was cut short as I saw a taxi heading toward me through the rain. Upon stopping in the middle of the street with other cars honking and an unhappy cyclist riding by I threw the soggy photo gear into the trunk. Well the bags were drenched but luckily I put all the gear in the bags in ziplock bags (there's a commercial here somewhere).

By the time I arrived at Ian's, the taxi driver missed the street and instead of me paying him to turn around I paid him and got out, I was drenched dripping a small river behind me through the front lobby. Ian had a towel and a "" tshirt handy. After getting into the dry change of clothes I unpacked and began to set up the gear.

Six o'clock, seven o'clock, eight o'clock. While waiting for the makeup artist to show I used Ian as a lighting subject and take his photos. Strike two. Margo never did show. I even talked to her at 4pm to make sure she knew how to get there. On the up side we got a bunch of photos done for Ian and I got a dinner out of it... so yea for me.

The drive home was odd. Yes I took a cab. We passed by a fire hydrant that had been torn out of the street. I'm not sure why. If it was from getting hit by a car, the car was gone. Water was just spewing out of the hole in the street. Although, unlike in the movies, the water was only going as high as one's waist. I thought about taking the camera out to shoot it but decided against it as it disappeared from view.

Shortly after I saw a police car blocking traffic to the don valley. Then, we noticed a bunch of people on the bridge over the Don Valley looking down. I'm guessing at some kind of accident. The driver asked if I wanted to know what was going on. Not on my dime. Geez. Sure let's just stop in the middle of the street, block the traffic that IS moving, and run out of the car while the meter is running.

I suppose I was in a bad mood. My tolerance for idiots was wearing a little thin. We continued along Gerrard and saw the street at Carlaw had been blocked off by several police cars. I told the driver to stop gawking and make our way down to Dundas. Eventually I did make it home. Tired with a headache I dropped into bed.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Terminal One

Terminal One departures area

I ended up volunteering to help out with a shoot last night. It started at 6pm and ended at around 7am. My hours are messed up again. I am going to go to sleep now. But just before I say hello to my pillow I just wanted to say what an incredible piece of architecture Terminal One is. It's huge and spacious. I kept thinking I wasn't in Toronto. It seemed very european for some reason. If the terminal doesn't work for the airlines they should make it into a huge food market or roller rink.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...

Ice cream art show opening night

In a weird turn of events my playback job got cancelled at the last minute via a phone call and a few minutes later I got another phone call to go to an art show opening with an ice cream theme at an organic ice cream store in Kensington Market. The art show consisted of a number of illustrations by various artists some of whom Emmanuel Lopez knew and some that he didn't. I knew none of them but later on bumped into Derek Rogers, a guy that I keep bumping into at dessert shops just before he heads off to another province for work. Odd that.

My first pass at the organic ice cream counter ended up with me getting a flavor called "chocolate ginger chocolate chip". The second pass was "chai". Both ice cream flavors were odd in that they were spicy, giving a low burning sensation in your month. Odd, yet highly addictive. If you're in the area definately check this ice cream store out.

The store was packed with people trying to look at the art work on the tiny exposed wall. Some were ordering ice cream and the rest were lining up for free margarita slushies (which were pretty good I might add). While getting the slight buzz from downing the slushie I noticed that a lot of "art people" look similar. Why was that? The black clothes, the black framed square glasses, the tiny wire framed glasses, the bohemian look, the noticable frizzy hair caused by using biodegradable soap. I'm not sure. I'll have to do more research on this in the future.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

CBC lock out

Michelle, CBC employee, gets locked out of work.

I went downtown to visit Michelle at work. Her and a bunch of coworkers joined the rest of the Canadian Media Guild walking around the CBC building. You may notice that CBC programming has been affected by this since monday. Radio shows have been replaced by music and the news guys on TV isn't the same guy.

Personally, I really don't see what walking around the building will accomplish. It's not like they're stopping anyone from going in.

Glen's Dogs

Glen's four legged friends

Ever since I've lived in the neighborhood I've noticed this guy with two puffy dogs wandering around, taking the TTC, sitting next to the grocery store, sometimes pan handling for loose change. Today was no exception. The dogs were parked in front of the bank while the owner was across the street picking up a newspaper.

The owner's name is Glen who seems nice enough. After I gave him a toonie he showed me some pictures of the various pets that were and currently are under his care. Basically three dogs, a cat, and a fat bald pigeon (the picture of the bird was a bit blurry, it may not have been bald). The dogs were pretty tame, allowing themselves to be patted by passing kids and adults.

As a dog owner of years past I can't say I miss the smell of wet dog or the face licking one gets when one is sleeping and the dog wants something. A walk, some food, a walk and some food. Fleas, humping, smelling a person's crotch, barking at the mailman, eating food from the dinner table, dragging me through the snow while chasing after a squirrel, drinking from the toilet. I miss my dog.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Waking up at the crack of noon

"4pm. Wow it's bright outside."

It's monday and thanks to a late night last thursday, or was it friday, I'm still waking up really late. As I really don't have any full time work until wednesday it's not that bad. I managed to get out of bed by about 12:30, stepped on a screwdriver on the way to the washroom, then decided to start cleaning around the apartment. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Where does all this mess come from? Well from me obviously since I'm the only one living in this place. It looks like a small tornado hit the apartment leaving bank machine receipts and other little papers interspersed between camera gear and random tools.

On a happy note I found a pile of green towels a had bought a few months ago. The green tea ice cream green is actually the color of the towel not the mold that might have formed on them. When buying the towels on sale, Nilla told me "you need bright and cheery colors for the bathroom" hence the green tea ice cream color. Whereas totally white towels are reserved for hotels and towels with a silhouette of a girl surfing with an island pattern is just not appropriate. Who knew? For the record the girl surfing is pretty tiny taking up maybe 5% of the entire towel surface area. Did I say I picked up the towel somewhere on sale? Geez, the more I type, the more I see my foot going into my mouth. I'll just stop now.

After getting rid of some mold that's been growing on my fridge door I decided it was time to stop cleaning and get outside. A few days ago I rediscovered my fisheye lens (as you may have noticed from the last blog entry). Since the beach is relatively close by (a 20 to 30 minute walk away) I decided to head on down there to see what pictures could be taken.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

It sucks to help out

Darryl and Amanda go over Darryl's movie notes

I got a call yesterday morning from a makeup artist that needed a picture done of herself. A head shot. She didn't have a lot of money so I decided I'd try helping her out by volunteering to do the shoot for free. Living in a basement apartment has it's disadvantages. One being that the ceiling is pretty low. At least too low to set up any lighting for a photoshoot.

My gear, although a tad heavy, is still pretty portable. Since she lived in a basement apartment as well I decided we'd have to do the shoot somewhere else. Darryl offered his place. I told him that I'd buy him lunch as a form of payment. I confirmed the time with the artist and started getting ready to pack and charge the batteries overnight.

Today, on my way to the restaurant (bejing house) I missed a call on my inaudible cell phone. I found out later the makeup artist couldn't make it. She called two hours before the shoot to cancel. This irritated me. Even though I really didn't have much else to do this sunday I still spent the money getting over to Darryl's and back, going to the restaurant and carrying all the gear around. It's times like this when offering to help people really sucks.

A few hours later photo girl Amanda popped by to go over Darryl's storyboard. Darryl managed to get a mock doc approved by the comedy channel. They're actually paying him to produce a four minute short. More on this later.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Dawne Furey competing for Miss Reef Canada

Is a bikini contest a bikini contest if the girls only wear bikini bottoms? The organizers of WakeStock seem to think so. Wakestock was a event this weekend that showcased water sports, punk bands and the "bikini" clad women. It took place on the Toronto Islands and behind the Montanna's resturant on John and Richmond.

After paying a $20 cover you could stand in the parking lot to see a few bands play. Damn 13, Kill Radio (from L.A.) and a third band which I can't remember the name of simply because we left before they went on. The event had an alarming amount of security comprised of police and security guards. Travelling to the united states might have been a lot less troublesome.

After waiting in a line for a few minutes to get in I was searched for weapons and in the end got a pair of folding scissors taken away from me. Yes those little scissors you'd use to cut a piece of thread or maybe open an envelope. Then again I thought about it. Would I want a pair of scissors jabbed into me no matter how small? The thing that irked me was that they wouldn't take any responsiblity for getting them back to me. Sure the scissors were maybe $3.00 but if I'm going to have to leave something with someone you'd think I'd be able to get that thing back.

The parking lot had a stage, a bunch of beer stations, a few tents selling CDs, T-shirts, and other WakeStock merchandise, and a large amount of portable bathrooms. For a place that didn't allow people to leave and come back via a handstamp or some such thing they didn't have any bank machines.

After attending a few of these "contests" one might notice that they are populated by some of the same contestants. One wonders if these women are put on a large mailing list that tells them about upcoming events that they can compete in and more importantly where does one get this list. With the exception of Simon Mah (photographer to the stars) a lot of the usual photographers were not at this event. It seemed odd. I almost expect certain photographers to show up being such a small bikini contest photo community and all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Tripod Shakedown

Amanda and Levar visiting Toronto from Oshawa.

Thursday night. I decided to take the new tripod out on a test run. After the weekly game of soccer and eating out I walked on down to the lakeshore to shoot the skyline, some on coming traffic and eventually make my way up to the business district.

While shooting the York street tunnel I met Amanda and Levar. They had parked their car on queen street, had it towed, and were walking south towards the impound to pick it up. I found out they were from Oshawa and were in town to see a performance at the Rivoli.

It's nice meeting new people in the middle of the night. It goes against the stereotype of a large-ish city being filled with muggers and sex perverts lurking behind every corner. After telling them what I was doing and showing some stills I convinced them that they needed a picture of themselves to help remember the trip to Toronto (not necessarily the car impounding). After a few attempts at shooting them with a long exposure (lit from the side by using my flash manually) I finally ended up with the photo above. They were nice enough to stick around for multiple tries.

After shooting them I walked on up to city hall. I noticed that a lot of banks no longer have their lights on. This is great for conservation of energy but kind of stinks for shooting buildings at night. Even the Skydome's purple lights turned off in the middle of my shoot (it was around 11:53pm).

After the inital tripod trials I'm not too sure I'm totally happy with the new tripod head. It seems to stick a little when adjusting the tilt of each axis and the measurements are hard to read in the dark without a flashlight. Did I mention it was heavy (weighing 4.25 pounds or 2 kg - according to BH photovideo). Also they've moved the tilt control arms on angles that takes some getting used to. I'll try to loosen some of the screws to see if it makes a difference and get back to you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Time Flies

A bug found on the set of Regenesis shot with my Nikon 990

It's been almost two whole weeks since I made the last entry. About two weeks ago I managed to get some work on a TV series called Regenesis. It's been keeping me busy with the 12 hour work days and the two hour commute there and back. It's nice to be working again.

The show is about some people that work for a world health organization. They try to find solutions for diseases that are slowly taking over the world. That said, on set there are some pretty fancy microscopes (mostly on loan from Nikon). One of the set guys found a dead bug and I decided to give it a look (see above).