Sunday, 2 November 2014

Creepy, Classy and Creative

My Halloween started on Wednesday evening with a screening hosted by the Nickel Film Festival at the Rockhouse on George Street.  This is the annual Creepy Challenge where film crews get a mere 48 hours to make a short film of five minutes duration.  Twenty-five teams took up the challenge and 18 survived to enter the competition.  The evening was spent viewing those shorts and voting on things like best use of special effects and props, soundtrack, scariest movie, etc.  The rules stipulated that the film had to include a plastic bag and the line "it is not what it looks like".

That evening I joined some of my professional movie-making friends and they did the pro commentary around the table.  It was pointed out that most of the filmmakers who entered were first timers or amateurs.  Still, it was a splendid evening with a decent live band (The Tapes) who did enthusiastic covers of The Monster Mash, Season of the Witch, Thriller the Ghost Buster theme song and other Halloween-appropriate music.  We were too busy dancing while they counted the votes to argue over who should win what.  It was $5 well spent in my books.

While I was waiting for the doors of the Rockhouse to open I chatted with others in line and not a single one of them had ever been to the film festival proper.  Instead of being dismayed the little voice inside my head said, "good audience development".  Creepy Challenge reached new peeps, built profile beyond the calendar dates of the festival and raised funds. Smart.

The logo represents the mobile unit that is travelling and collecting stories.

On Thursday evening I attended The Tale of a Town at The Rocket Room above its namesake bakery.  This is a project that is roaming across Canada collecting oral histories of people's memories of their hometown and weaving them into dramatic performances.  For example, the one I participated in was about St. John's.  I say participated because it is interactive.  You are given an audio set with the sound track but you find yourself in different settings: outside store windows at Christmas time and then opening a Christmas present, in a cinema house during a Saturday matinee, etc.  You walk about, are given simple tasks that integrate you into the storyline that takes you back and forth in time. Mayor O'Keefe was one of my fellow audience members and he proudly pointed out that he was also one of the narrating voices that had contributed a memory.

The tone is personal and the production values quite high.  The mood is definitely nostalgic.  The running time is a lean 30 minutes.  The price was free –my favourite four letter word.

This photo is from the AGM awards and yes
that's the toast backdrop from the night before.

For the sake of brevity, I will skip to the weekend at the Champagne Toast event at Eastern Edge Gallery.  This was a classy but fun event to kick off 30 days of events to celebrate the gallery's 30th anniversary.  Many of us were gussied up in sequins worthy of a red carpet and there was at least one dashing sailor in costume.  Champagne is not unusual at such events, but toast?  That was inspired, what a clever pun!  The smell of toast filled the air and homemade jams completed the nibbles.  We posed for photos in front of a huge toast-shaped backdrop.  Performances by Steve Maloney and his guitar provided the entertainment.

Check out the 30 events that will unfold during the next 30 days:

Joe Fowler with his roses. What a classy and creative guy.
I rarely volunteer for boards and committees anymore, in part because I try and keep an arm's length relationship with galleries and arts organizations whose events I might write about.  But I decided to cross the line and join the board of Eastern Edge because I admire their community involvement and in particular the community building skills and values of director Mary MacDonald and chairman of the board Andrew Harvey.  They are both positive people as well, which is key for me.  So, on Sunday I found myself attending the AGM, which was mercifully short.  It wrapped up with staff member Joe Fowler giving out awards with really funny names and roses…and there was a delicious brunch as well.

I've warned them that I will walk out of a meeting at the two hour mark because I don't believe people think productively in a meeting longer than that.  Apparently, that is part of Andrew Harvey's religion as well, in which case we will get along just fine.

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