Flutterbies

April 28, 2011

Well, in fact, butterflies. But when Christopher was small we always called them flutterbies. What can I say – the name stuck!

The flutterbies are due to the Opening of a community theatre production tonite called “Stepping Out”. Although not a cast member (thank God!), I’m working for the first time in my life as Stage Manager. So yup – sitting in the booth with the Tech guys calling the light cues, starting the show, and so forth.  Bit nerve wracking. Just a bit! Mostly because it is a dance show in part, so there are some really cool but quickly timed light cues. However, during rehearsals I discovered that i really kinda like calling the cues…feels neat having that responsibility. I know the show pretty well since I attended most of the rehearsals (yeah, like four a week for the past while) and the cast is really terrific, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. But yes – flutterbies. So nervous! Good to be nervous once in a while, taking us out of our comfort zones and challenging us. At the same time…

The thing is, there’s quite a gap between theatre and film. You’d think it’s kind of the same thing, since both involve actors, directors, cues…lights, sound and other technical requirements. But there’s just something about the pressure of presenting a show live on stage in front of an audience.  With film there is a different kind of pressure – like you worry about the footage you’ve shot (at great expense, may I add) until you get to see it, and then that stress only lessens a bit until the thing is cut together. Only then can you heave a sigh of relief.  In theatre, there are those moments when you really hope and pray all the components come together – sound cues, light cues, performances by the actors…when they do, it’s magic – so let’s all pray for some magic tonite and for the next three shows! Exciting!

In other news, well – where do I start – sorry I have been absent from my blog for a bit. Last month was filled to the hilt with deadlines – grant deadlines for some short films, film deadlines for the Island Media Arts Festival (burning a DVD as I write!), client meetings for the bread and butter portion of what I find myself doing these days, a few odd shoots for friends here and there. Busy times. So the little practice comedy I made, The New Neighbours, was finished Wednesday – that’s what’s burning now – and I find myself in a little bit of a quandary over it.

You see, I made it as a practice film with a thousand dollar grant from the Island Media Arts Co-op. A thousand dollars doesn’t go far in film endeavours – by the time the cast and crew got paid and fed, that was it, no money left. Not that I expected any, though by golly it would be nice to be able to afford some new clothes and a better vehicle. Oh, and pay some of that thousand dollar oil bill we got yesterday when the company miscalculated the auto fill-up. After a day of freezing and feeling yucky cause the thought of a cold shower chilled me as much as the shower would have, we finally got our fill-up and had to have the pipes bled. Lotsa fun and a challenge to edit when your fingers are so cold you can barely move them.

Today is a new day (why am I still freezing? Oh yeah – to SAVE on oil. What’s the point?)  But, I digress – back to the quandary with the short film. This is the deal – I’ve been chatting with a talented writer and producer from Halifax about working on a particular Feature Film project. When the project landed on my lap, I thought ‘oh hey, maybe this is a project that I can actually get behind and Direct’ – I really want to Direct my first Feature. But logic set in and I realized that the major Canadian funding agency, Telefilm, will not likely allow me to Direct. After all, logically so, they have to protect their investment in the project. Why would they allow a small time short film-maker the reins to Direct a Feature?  Generally that doesn’t happen unless you have a significant track record OR have raised eyebrows with a particular award winning film. So the quandary? I laugh at The New Neighbours and I think it has some merit, but let’s face it – the usual budget for a decent short is about $ 40 0o0.  This is what I tell my clients too on the bread and butter side – this little thing called Production Value – it goes UP when the budget goes up. So while TNN is funny in its own thousand dollar way, it is not going to be an award winning film nor is it going to raise Telefilm’s eyebrows. And rightly so. So do I put it out there in the public eye and let people enjoy it for what it is? Or do I keep it to myself as the practice tool that it was meant to be? Any artist will attest to the fact that it’s dangerous to put forward work that will not move us forward. However – it’s my first comedy, so out to the public it’s going. But only here on PEI. In front of a small audience. That’s the quandary. And where does it leave me in my career? Thinking I need to make a $ 40 000 short with a SPECTACULAR STORY and the LUXURY of not having to worry about money so I can focus on delivering an amazing film that WILL RAISE TELEFILM’s eyebrows. And might lead me to more Directing jobs, which is what I want.

In the meantime, all you filmmakers and artists out there – keep on creating. Learn from every project and take baby steps if you have to in order to get where you want. I can still be involved in this Feature by the team in Halifax. But it would be as Producer. Which will still be an amazing journey. It’s a sweet film and there’s likely lots I can learn from who does end up Directing it. And the craft service is always good on film sets. So hey, why not help someone else’s dream come true? I think there’s an email in my inbox I have to respond to…

In the other meantime, there’s a Play waiting for me to call light cues for. Community theatre, an absolute freebie for months of rehearsals (cause I was also kinda helping people learn their lines and filling in for missing cast and stuff) and a freebie for the next four nights, but guess what – it’s absolutely as much of a challenge and as much fun as film. I’m having a blast.

‘cept for the flutterbies.

– Susan

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Indiegogo.com

February 24, 2011

Hi folks

I would love it if you would have a look at my Indiegogo.com campaign to get A Time To Drum finished.

http://www.indiegogo.com/A-Time-To-Drum

I need to raise $ 5000 by the end of March…please share with your friends and anyone who might be interested!

 

Thank-you,  from bluemountain entertainment!

 

 

 


The Way Life Twists and Turns

February 24, 2011

Hi!

Well, there is a lot to report but I have a great deal of editing to do today so will just give you a brief rundown on life in the bluemountain camp.

A week ago I was sad but grateful to have had the opportunity to visit my talented musician coffee baron son, Christopher, at his home in Grande Prairie, Alberta. I spent the week drinking lattes and working on my second novel, Seasmoke, which is taking shape nicely, I may add. Then flew home and sadly wondered when I would see the heartbeat of my life again. Well – life has its twists and turns and, sadly for Christopher, but happily for me, he is returning to the fold for what he thinks will be six months, at which point the imminent move to Vancouver will take place. Little does he know that his mother is scheming to A) Find him a nice girl here (he is sad because his last relationship just ended rather abruptly, hence the trip home to heal in beautiful PEI) B) get him entrenched in editing and creating music videos for bluemountain entertainment C) Introduce him to many players in the PEI Music Industry so he can start gigging and drumming and create a career here. So here’s a toast to life’s twists and turns and hoping and praying one’s son will find a reason to stay and play in PEI.

In other news, last Sunday bluemountain shot a heart wrenching little film for Justice Options for Women called Start the Conversation. It’s about helping a friend in an abusive situation, giving her some support and courage to do what needs to be done. It was tough subject matter, and a real testament to how film can be used to help people. It was gratifying to be part of this important project, and I look forward today to starting the edit (the footage is importing into Avid as I write).

Also, coming soon in Halifax is the Women Making Waves Conference, which I am attending. Looking forward to networking and learning more about this art form that I love so much!

What are bluemountain’s immediate plans? Finishing the A Time To Drum web series / film in time to distribute at the Summerside Highland Games, finsihing the edit on the short comedy we shot in January called The New Neighbours (which is why I work all day every Saturday, with samosas from the downstairs farmers’ market and chocolate peanut butter miniature Reese’s on hand), editing the JOW film, and whatever else comes our way!

I am happy to report that things are picking up for bluemountain and accolades for our professional set roll in…and there is more training coming up for animated titles and the like…so all is well in the Holman Building as the sunshine pours in today, hopefully melting some of that snow we’ve madly accumulated over this crazy snowy winter.

Cheers everyone, keep your spirits up and believe in your art 🙂

Susan


Say hello to John Fisher for me

January 6, 2011

Well hello!

Another bee-yoo-ti-ful day here in the old historic Holman building in Summerside…rainbows galore, ahem…sun shining in the window…and auditions organized and ready to go.

Yup, you heard / read me right. Saturday and Tuesday are filling up with auditions for the latest bluemountain entertainment project – did I mention this in an earlier blog? At any rate, the film is called The New Neighbours, and it’s a comedy for a change (since I’ve been told I am developing a reputation for the ‘heavy stuff’…time to enter a whole new world and try something upbeat, fun and new). The film is going to be under ten minutes in length and is really just an exercise to keep our skills sharp. Since there is a very limited budget for the film I’ll be doubling jobs (did I say doubling? I meant, um, whatever doing six or seven jobs is called – lemme see, DP (as in Director of Photography, which includes lighting, choosing the shots, and in this case also involves camera operating), Writer, Director, Producer, Editor…small shoot. Really just designed to have some fun and get out there and shoot something. A mini-crew. Small cast. FUN! The shoot is scheduled for January 22nd in Summerside, at a secret location near you!

In other news, A Time To Drum is coming along although this week the new episode is delayed, mostly because I am a bit swamped getting the new film sorted out. But if you are missing it, go back and watch it again! There is now a preview up as well as Chapters one to five. See link below! I am hoping to get another chapter up next week – this one will feature the Triumph Street Pipe Band in a Games in Victoria, BC, as well as the College of Piping kids in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Opposite coasts but, as has been discovered, the highland games are like the Catholic Church – wherever you go, there is comfort in knowing what to expect.

So the power was out for a number of hours here at the Holman building earlier today. That was a rather strange occurrence. Still do not really know what happened, but was glad that my hard drive wasn’t on at that time. Last time the power went out I had to spend a number of hours relinking footage to my external hard drive. Aparrently I need something called a UPS? Still another facet of learning…but it sounds like a good idea to me. I guess it acts as a power source back-up and gives you time to properly eject your hard drive so the likelihood of losing linkages to files is lessened. It’s neat here when the power goes out – even in the daytime my incubated little office darkens and the MAC’s keyboard lites up – mystical and magical. Last time it happened I worked away on my second novel (Mac battery) but today went downstairs to see friends at Worklink and swap stories about gun toting American southerners. Yup. You heard it here first, folks. (Americans with guns in holsters? Who knew? And this is not 1811?)  Yet another reason to stay on my beloved red Isle. Even without Thunder Cove, a favorite beach that was pretty much destroyed in the last wind storm.

So talked to Christopher last night, and it would seem my pursuit of dreams is rubbing off on him. Poor kid. He plans to move back to Vancouver with his current band (which I think is still nameless, I keep forgetting to ask him).  Speaking of guns. How many people were shot there a month or so ago? Only difference in Canada is that the guns aren’t visible. But they’re likely still holstered. When we lived in Coquitlam, there were three or four shootings within a few km of us. I may have already written about this so won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that I saw lots of bullet holes in windshields and accompanying yellow police tape. Do I want my son to go back to Vancouver? Well, that’s where the music scene is at in Canada, and he is closely associated with his old band, now called Young Pacific but in his day called Don’t Mention the War. And it seems they need a drummer this summer and plus have management that could come in handy for Christopher’s new band. He has also been invited by drumming teacher to the stars  John Fisher (featured in one of the earlier chapters of A Time To Drum) to drop in for a visit. John seems to think Christopher has the mystical magic that can’t be taught…so who knows? Still, in my heart of hearts, I wish he would become an Ophthalmologist. Not a rock star. But I am not a great example of living any kind of sedentary, normal life. So dream catch away, there, young Christopher. Just do it with some planning. Give it a year. Then become an Ophthalmologist!

And say hello to John Fisher for me.

No regrets.

Susan 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rainbows in my office

December 17, 2010

Yes, folks, there are rainbows in my office. They are little tiny multi-coloured, cheery little things. On the floor. It’s nice, when the sun hits the window at just the right angle and the rainbows softly land, like faerie people with their soft toes and feathery designs. Or at least, that is how I perceive them to be. The rainbows. The homes of the faerie people.

It makes it a nice place to work – an historic building off Summerside Harbour, where we sail in summer. So that even in winter when the gaily decorated prisms make landfall, they illuminate the space with memories of warmer sunshiny days on the sailboat, and they illuminate my soul.

Somedays it is harder to illuminate one’s soul. So the multi-coloured rainbows help. These days, I dunno, maybe it’s the green hue to the outdoors this close to Christmas (one week brings us to Christmas Eve) that makes me feel rather glum, or maybe it’s all this work and wondering where it is going, if anywhere.

I believe I have come a long ways in the two years since I arrived on the Island of my dreams after graduating from Vancouver Film School. First the eye surgery, then starting the business, then financing a camera (my baby – a Sony EX3, Full HD), getting the editing set up, learning the gear, going, going, going to try to come up withe some product to make ends meet. The shoulder surgery, which set me back months. It is not easy, the life of an entrepreneur, especially – and you can pardon me for saying this, but I believe it’s true – in this day and age as a woman. There. I’ve said it – as a woman. In my former life, as a museum curator, I fit the niche. But now, at 40-something, a recent film school graduate, a camera operator – I run into it all the time. The latest is a friend’s film – I love this guy and I love his script, and I support him one hundred per cent. But the only woman on his crew (besides the Producer) is the gal in the art department. It wouldn’t be as glaringly 1930’s to me if I hadn’t run into it in other areas – the local competition for the bread and butter jobs here, the promotional videos and commercials – fit the profile of multi-media professionals. I do not.

However, being one who believes in faerie people living on little rainbows in my office, ahem, I think I may have discovered a niche for myself. I have started approaching women’s groups and non-profits about doing mini-docs for them – soft sells that will be bettered by a woman’s touch, by my touch as a filmmaker who loves faces, emotions, letting the camera roll to capture that extra little glint, the Karsch-like evocative image that is really the tiniest, most minute little glimpse into the authentic soul of a person. That’s what I am striving for as a filmmaker or, if you prefer, as a storyteller. This is the gist I believe I have, and the one that will make me successful. Patience. Time. The extra touch.

The thing is, we all have a choice in life – we can choose the good or the bad. Here’s an example – there are seasonal reasons why I am also bummed today. I am being grinchlike and have yet to purchase a Christmas tree or decorate. I am not feeling Christmasy. My son is in Alberta for the second year in a row, I have seen him for five short days this past year and, what bothers me the most is that I know it is the right place for him. He is twenty and independent, but is living in the same city as his Dad, who does Christmas up right every year, and who has the money to take him out to dinner, to buy him that 52 inch tv. They are going snowmobiling (yes, they have snow!) and campfiring and singing and partying, and I am a wee bit jealous, but of course happy for them as well.  I choose to be happy for him. I am choosing to believe that he is happy and so I should be happy. What I am trying to say is that I am trying. I wonder if that is enough.

The little rainbows on my office floor remind me to be grateful for what I have, and that, even if all this hard work and poverty relating to building a business completely backfires, there is one gift that I can leave my son that outweighs all the time apart. It’s slowly getting put up on Vimeo.com, it’s my time with my son this year, my only time, and it’s called A Time To Drum.

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

A Time to Drum. (excuse my addition to this lovely verse)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

So if you are looking for me over the holidays, you won’t find me under the tree. You will find me in the little office with the rainbows and the faerie people, editing a silly little web series that probably only really deeply means something to myself. And maybe to the faerie people.

And that, my friend, is what makes it all okay.

Cheers, and Happy Christmas

Susan


Chapter One

November 26, 2010

Hi y’all.

Thanks for checking out my blog. My brother once said to me, under his breath as if he was afraid to ask, ‘Isn’t your blog supposed to be a business blog?’  I recall pausing, holding my own breath, and wondering how I was supposed to answer that. But I guess for me, business and my personal life are somewhat intertwined. So I do apologize if you happen to get doses of both when you are actually just wondering how the business is going.

And on that note, well I am still just working on passion projects for the most part these days, although I am getting anxious to sink my teeth into some new video projects.  I enjoy the balance between camera work in the field and editing in the office. Today is cold and rainy and I am quite content here in my little office in the historic Holman building in Summerside. Had my bag of salt free chips (don’t tell Krista or Rachel from FitChic Bootcamp!) and a juicy red delicious apple awaits on the desk. The sun is sinking and it’s only 4:08 but it gives the place a cozy feel. I like it here.

So I had a crazy interesting week. Right now I am attempting to upload for the second time Chapter One of my little drumming film which has become a little drumming web series. I played it on youtube and alas, the sound was outta synch. Not quite sure why, as the file is fine, but anyways it is uploading once again and so you may or may not have a new chapter to watch today! However I have no plans this evening so it could be a long day in my cozy little office.

About Chapter One, well this one is more of a music video than anything else. And it’s too long, and I know that. But the thing is, it is what it is, and I had some fun with it, but I promise Chapter Two will be more succinct and to the point. I was feeling melancholy and missing my kid when I made Chapter One, and so I edited a section at the end that just features one of his original songs. I did it in a way that reveals the odd picture here and there of old College of Piping Band Members, and the thing is it may not mean much to those of you who don’t know the folks represented in the video. I also included some blacks – the point being that Christopher’s memory of his friends is starting to fade. It was an intentional choice. The whole little series is really just a Mom’s way of making a memory for her son and his old friends as she sits here miles and miles away from him and the life he is living in Alberta, making new memories that I am not party to. Or maybe I should just be really honest and say that I am only making this web series for me. Perhaps I am. But it doesn’t have quite the same impact when the sound is outta synch. So I am working on that, for you, for Christopher, and for me. 🙂

So the other part of this crazy week is that I took a little gig handed to me by my agent at Atlantic Talent – it was a role playing military exercise somewhere deeply hidden in the depths of PEI. I signed a confidentiality agreement so can’t too much except this – gulp. It was pretty out there, freezing cold, loud, scary as heck, and probably forever psychologically damaging. After all, I was a hostage. Gulp again. You can see videos of what this company who ran the exercise does if you google Strategic Ops San Diego. It was nuts, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Okay, maybe not the freezing part. Or the bad coffee that tasted like hot water with a little side of cardboard. But the company was terrific, the exercise terrifying and exhilarating, and hopefully the new friends long lasting. The guns in my face…not so cool. I have new respect for actors who have to play such parts day after day. I can’t imagine how they can separate themselves from what they are doing, the people they are playing. That explains Stephen McHattie, ahem. Nothing else to say about that.

Soooo, yeah the other cool thing that happened this week was that I got an email from Maggie, the Purser on the Tall Ship Picton Castle. She had been googling Picton Castle and I guess came across the recently uploaded video that I had made on board the ship. I did actually send her a copy through a local businessman who is friends with the Captain, but it would appear she never got it. Anyways, she did say that she loved it and asked permission to use it in the ship’s online presence. Of course I said yes and am thrilled that she wants to use it. I’ve only been doing this for a short time and so am pleased that my work is starting to get out there, and I am of course hoping that it eventually leads to other work.

One thing to note about putting your work out there – you can’t compare yourself to others. As an artist you will always critique your work, harshly, I expect. Us artists are never done – there is always something else to fix in what we do. And I know for me that I need to either learn such software aps as After Effects (to make cool titles) OR find the money to hire someone to use it for me. My titles suck, and I know that, but it’s not an insurmountable problem. It will get remedied one day. HOWEVER I will note that I always look up the work of others and compare myself, and it only serves to bring me down (although I am always a great admirer of  others’ work). So sometimes one is better served by just accepting that we all do the best we can, we keep learning, and life goes on.

Well, ciao for now – be good to yourself –

Susan 🙂


Oops…honeybees…aka honibe

November 5, 2010

Hi again –

Forgot to explain about the honeybees of the ‘Music and Honeybees’ title in the last post…well in fact, I thought of honeybees because I had a table in the recent Entrepreneurs’ Forum Client Showcase at the Culinary Institute in Charlottetown on Tuesday, and one of the exhibitors was Honibe, a company who just won an International Award for Best New Product (for a honey drop that you can plop into your tea, I think).  So honeybees were on my mind – the Forum was wonderful, although I stuck too close to my table to be able to partake of any of the Culinary delights in the room! Though I did manage two glasses of wine…ummm…I was a bit nervous, after all!

I mostly played my demo reel (also available on youtube under Susan Rodgers Demo Reel 2010) and got such a HUGE kick out of peoples’ reactions to it. One of the films I cam opped featured a sasquatch in 44 degree heat in Surrey, BC, and lordy what fun the business folks in Charlottetown had with that guy! I mean, how often at an upscale business event do you spy a glint in someone’s eye as they politely inquire “Is that a sasquatch?” They really enjoyed the film clips overall, and I think I raised some eyebrows by reminding these folks that indeed very good film can be made here in PEI BY ISLANDERS! Yes, I shot the sasquatch in BC but there are also many Islanders here now who are equally as capable of putting together large and successful beautiful film projects. Since one of my immediate goals is to create an investment plan and seek investors to help me purchase a little more gear and hire an editor and project manager, I believe it is important to get out to the business community with such demo reels and SHOW FOLKS what we can do. Then those with disposable income may be more inclined to come on board and help us out.

I don’t know what the HONIBE folks did in terms of raising capital for their award winning product, but I will say that I was indeed inspired to feature bluemountain entertainment in their presence at the same event. After all, they must have started somewhere, and I laud them for having the tenacity and the business smarts to succeed.

Go honeybees! Inspire us all, and lift us to new heights of possibility!

(and that was not the wine speaking, folks. I really mean it!)

Peace out

Susan