“Josh” – my new documentary short film – is now online!

I visited my friend and neighbour, Josh Vander Vies, one beautiful sunny day. He welcomed me (and my production assistant, El Apostol) into his home to film what is a regular Saturday for him and his family (Dalia Mykolaitiene, and her son, Karolis). It was an ordinary day all right, except that there’s nothing ordinary about Josh.

Josh is an athlete, artist, law student and motivational speaker. He’s a young man with big dreams… but that’s not what makes him special. “Josh” is a short documentary film about one ordinary day in an extraordinary man’s life.

“Josh” is now online at RipplemakersTV.com

“Ripple” is a web TV series that premiered on July 30, 2010. It is produced by Layaco Media filmmaker Carol Gancia. Layaco Media is a video production company based in San Francisco, California that uses technology and social media to solve the challenges of reaching your target audience.

“Ripple” is about regular people like you and me whose lives have had a positive influence on their communities. By virtue of who they are… by standing by their beliefs… by following their dreams… they create a ripple effect around them.

Happy viewing…

“Josh” – a documentary short film

Josh Vander Vies

When a dear friend and colleague asked me to contribute an episode to her web series, “Ripple,” it didn’t take long for me to think of the perfect story to tell.

“Ripple” is a web-based TV program that features ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. It’s about individuals who, by virtue of who they are and what they believe in, have had a positive influence in their communities. Josh Vander Vies is one such person.

Josh is an athlete, artist, law student and motivational speaker. He’s a young man with big dreams… but that’s not what makes him special. Josh was born with a disability, that for some, might have been an excuse not to try and excel in life. Josh talks about being nurtured and supported as a kid, which encouraged him to set high goals for himself and achieve them… no matter what.

“Josh” is a documentary short film about one ordinary day in an extraordinary man’s life. It’s a reminder that while we all have challenges to face in our lives, we must “do what we have to do in order to live our lives to the fullest.”

“Josh” premieres on July 1st 2011 on www.ripplemakerstv.com.

Here’s a sneak preview.

Envisioning Home at George Pearson Centre

George Pearson's Main Hallway - animation by Su-An Ng

George Pearson Centre is not just a long-term care facility for people with disabilities, it’s home to over 120 individuals. These people require specialized assistance and 24-hour care as a result of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy or a variety of other health conditions.

I met some of these residents. In a video project entitled “Envisioning Home,” the residents talked openly and candidly about their lives before Pearson and at Pearson. And because many will be living here for years to come, if not for the rest of their lives, they’ve even dared to dream about what could make Pearson an ideal home.

“Envisioning Home” is a look into the lives of some extraordinary George Pearson residents. It is a story told in three parts. I invite you to come and pay a visit.

Click on the link below:

http://www.pearsonresidents.org/video

Lights, Camera… MOTION!

2011 kicked off to a great start for Curly Tail Pictures. We were commissioned to do a promotional video for a company called Motion Specialties BC.

Motion Specialties BC provides innovative solutions to people with limited mobility. They have everything from wheelchairs to van conversions, scooters to stair lifts, custom-made for people of all shapes, sizes, ages and physical/functional needs. Getting to know the company was a good thing in itself. Getting to know the people BEHIND the company was a gift.

Working closely with Motion Specialties’ senior officers, staff and clients made this production experience extremely enjoyable. It was the most organized and stress-free 10-hour day shoot I’ve ever been on.

Hats off, of course, to my lean, mean, all-Asian women production team. With Jennifer Lee behind the camera and Gaea Claver doing production stills and all-around PA work, I was able to focus on my job of story-telling.

As for post-production, it was Debra Sears – the lady with a golden voice – that pulled it all together with her beautiful narration that brought the video to life.

My sincere thanks to Kevin Perry (Operations Manager), John Armstrong (President), Rick Nori (Vice President and General Manager, Vancouver), Randy Baerg (Vice President and General Manager, Victoria/Nanaimo) and the entire Motion Specialties family for this wonderful opportunity to collaborate.

Click on this link to watch our 10-minute promotional video entitled, BACK IN MOTION.

www.motionbc.com

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“Crossover”

Crossover Series

I used to be a control-freak. I like being the driver and knowing where I’m going.

But the last 6 years of my life have been one big surprise after another. I moved from Manila to San Francisco to Vancouver without so much as a game plan. I found myself in unfamiliar places. I was a stranger and I was lost.

“Crossover” is a digital art photo essay that reflects my journey from the familiar to the unknown. While I rest in the comfort of “knowing,” I now appreciate the gift of “discovery.” I’ve learned that if I don’t step out of my comfort zone: (1) I will never know what I’m capable of, and (2) the mysteries of the universe will never unfold.

I now enjoy taking the passenger seat, watching the world go by while someone else drives.

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“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*