Things I Do

There are things I do for work. Others I do for fun. And a few more… for the love of.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do any and all three. Because with the first, I develop discipline. With the second, I build personality. And with the third, I get to be me.

 

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“Beautiful Sin”

"Beautiful Sin"

I was born and raised Catholic. I grew up memorizing the 10 commandments, reciting rosaries and going to confession for fear of burning in hell.

The Catholic Church and I have a “love-hate relationship.” I struggle to stay awake at Sunday Masses, and yet, I was the organist for our parish for over 10 years. I question the relevance of religious rituals, and yet, as a kid, I looked forward to Simbang Gabi (Dawn Christmas Masses), Bisita Iglesia (Stations of the Cross) and Fiestas (religious festivals).

My biggest resentment of the church came when I heard a Catholic priest make homophobic remarks at the pulpit during one of his sermons. That’s when I slowly, but consciously, broke away from my Catholic “family.” For how could I be anywhere where I was not welcome?

My sexual orientation and lifestyle have always been at odds with my strict Catholic upbringing. It was a source of deep internal and personal conflict. It was only a few years ago when a Jesuit priest, and very good friend of mine, bridged the gap. He said, “The church may not be gay-friendly, but God is.”

Since then, I’ve made peace with myself and my God. Haven’t made it back to Church though, but that’s another story.

“Let’s Play Boccia!”

Canadian Paralympic Boccia Team

When I moved to Vancouver in the fall of 2008, I started my life, literally, on a blank slate. For a young person in his/her 20’s, this could be quite exciting… a whole new adventure waiting to happen. I was turning 38 that year and I was terrified.

It was my first time in Canada. And apart from my brother who had just migrated 3 months before me, I was a complete stranger to this city. I couldn’t get a job anywhere close to the film and video industry for I had no local experience or local references. That was fine by me. I thought I didn’t want to have anything to do with the video industry anyway, as it was part of a personal history I was trying to leave behind. The universe, obviously, had other plans.

My first job in Canada was working as a personal assistant to a person with a disability. I worked for a man who was born with cerebral palsy, confined to his wheelchair all his life, but is in fact, one of the most mobile individuals I have ever met.

Paul Gauthier introduced me to the world of disability. It is a world where people have quite a number of physical and/or mental challenges to overcome, and they do so with such grace, courage and strength. Paul also introduced me to the world of boccia… a paralympic sport I could neither spell nor pronounce before then. Paul is a paralympic boccia champion. And his dedication to the sport, along with everything else he does for the disability community, amazed me.

Paul Gauthier

I was compelled to produce this short documentary on the Canadian Paralympic Boccia team. It was my first video project after a self-imposed 3-year hiatus from video-making. I shot, wrote and edited the film partly because I didn’t know anyone in Vancouver to work with at the time, and partly because I didn’t have the budget to pay for anything or anyone. I finished the film in under $350 paying only for tape stock and royalty free music.

“Let’s Play Boccia!” premiered at the 2009 Vancouver Short Film Festival and won the Women in Film & TV Best Female Director Award. It has played in a few other festivals in the US and Canada after that, the most recent one being Picture This… International Disability Film Festival in Calgary, Aberta on Feb 16, 2011.

The best part about making this film though was working with Paul and the amazing athletes of the Canadian Paralympic Boccia Team. We all have our own challenges to overcome. But if we can face these challenges with a positive outlook and a brave heart, we are already miles ahead from competition.

The Making of “SIKAT”

Action!

This time last year, I was busy writing and re-writing my first short film narrative entitled, “SIKAT.” It was one of 6 films chosen to be produced at the 2010 Crazy 8s Filmmaking Competition, out of over a hundred entries. It was an experience like no other… one I couldn’t have imagined, not even in my wildest dreams.

It was December 13, 2009 (my 39th birthday) when I decided to register for Crazy 8s. I had never even heard of Crazy 8s before then. I signed up for the pitch workshop more than anything else. I thought, being new to Vancouver and starting my career all over again, I could use a few pointers around project pitching. I paid the $50 fee and thoroughly enjoyed the pitch workshop delivered by Melanie Friesen. Money well spent!

I decided to put my new pitching skills to use. I submitted a 5-minute video pitch which landed me a spot in the top 40 in-person pitches. The in-person pitch was nerve-wracking, to say the least. But because I knew well enough to practice, practice and practice, I delivered a sound pitch and made it through to the next round… the story editing phase.

Shooting our first scene... pan de sal in the oven.

The story editing was my favorite part of the selection process. Each filmmaker/writer was paired up with a professional story editor to refine his/her script. I remember thinking that if I didn’t make it any further than this round, I already won. I would have come out of this process with a solid screenplay, which I did by the way, thanks to my amazing story editor, Dylan Akio-Smith.

But my journey did not end there. A couple of weeks later, while I was in Disneyland (the happiest place on earth), I received an email from Crazy 8s. My script was selected! It was one of 6 films to be produced in 8 days with $800. Crazy 8s, with the help of local sponsors, will provide all the production and post-production support needed to make my film.

I was with my partner and two of my best friends when I got the news. They were up on their feet screaming and ecstatic for me, but completely baffled by my own reaction. I felt all the blood rush to my face. I was stunned speechless and couldn’t move… literally! It was as if a brick wall landed on my head and pinned me to the ground. I was terrified! I kept thinking, “What do I do now? I have to make a film. How in the world can I pull that off?!”

My friends reassured me that I can do this. They treated me to an ice cream sundae and my blood started circulating again. Ice cream IS the cure for everything.

With Kira Clavell (Sikat) and my "babies" on-set.

In the 6 weeks that followed, before the official start of our 8-day filmmaking sprint, I worked like a dog to get my crew together, find locations, create my storyboard, finalize the shot list and audition actors. Every time I felt insecure about my abilities as a filmmaker, I dove right back to work. “Sikat” was on my mind 24/7. And Crazy 8s, without a doubt, was the most effective weight loss program I had ever been on.

Needless to say, it was an incredible experience. I had over 50 people working on this project for absolutely nothing more than a chance to make a good film. “Sikat” came to life with the help of some of the most talented people in British Columbia – cast and crew – that I’m proud to have met and worked with.

A lot of “care” went into the making of this film… and I mean that in the nurturing, motherly sense. “Sikat” is about a mother’s love and sacrifice. And I believe it’s no coincidence that both my producers were expectant mothers while we were working on this film. Ita-Kane Wilson was 9 months pregnant and ready to pop when we screened “Sikat” at the gala. Olesia Shewchuk was in her first trimester. “Sikat” was their baby as much as it was mine and I was lucky to have them on board before they became full-fledged mothers.

Since its opening gala, “Sikat” has aired on CBC-British Columbia and screened at various festivals. Check out the following link for future screenings of “Sikat.”

http://www.curlytailpictures.com/news

Turns out… signing up for Crazy 8s was the best birthday gift I could have ever given myself.

Lunch time!

*Photography by Olesia Shewchuck*