Flashback to summer 2013: On set North Country Cinema’s The Valley Below


TheValleyBelowonsetPhotobyClaireMiglionicoHOMEGROWN TALENT DREAMS BIG

August 20th, 2013, 10:00 a.m.: East Coulee, Alta. 

The drive from Calgary to Drumheller is a good hour and a half. Add about 20 minutes to get to East Coulee – the hamlet-sized agglomeration of 140 people, now technically part of the Drumheller municipality. It must be at least 25 degrees outside, the sun is blazing hot and the epic badlands surround the seemingly deserted streets of East Coulee. It is completely silent outside; only the sounds of grasshoppers of some sort resonate in the wind. What a perfect place for a film set.

TheValleyBelowtherentedhousebyClaireMiglionicoMake a right from Highway 10, then a left right away, continue on for about 100 m and you’ll find yourself in front of a corner lot where a red and green house stands, the home base for Kyle Thomas’ crew for his new feature-length film, The Valley Below, for the next few days. The crew is returning to the Badlands come November to shoot winter scenes. The film is aimed for a multi-platform release date in 2014.

“As you can tell, this is kind of a light day. No one’s really stressed. Who’s ever really stressed though?” says Alexander (Sandy) Carson, The Valley Below’s Ottawa born-and-raised producer.

The crew is getting ready for a late morning shoot and it’s true: no one really seems stressed. There’s cooking going on in the background, some laughing, more talking, general happiness all around.

Carson is super friendly right away and open for discussion. He seems to be Thomas’ right-hand man, his go-to guy, the one who has the answer to anything related to film. Thomas is sitting close by with his laptop open, planning the day ahead and perhaps answering a couple emails.

TheValleyBelowbowlingalleyshootphotobyClaireMiglionicoCarson shares: “We were having one of those heart-to-heart conversations last night, sitting around, having a couple drinks and saying, ‘Well, we just wouldn’t want to do it if it wasn’t fun.’”

“It” being filmmaking, an art that seems to have taken over Thomas’ and Carson’s souls, no questions asked.

Both are alums of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Montreal’s Concordia University, with Carson holding a BFA in film production and an MA in film studies.

Upon completion of their BFAs, Carson and Thomas launched North Country Cinema, a director-driven media arts collective based in Calgary and supported by numerous film councils, including The National Film Board of Canada and The Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Its mandate is to create strong visual storytelling set in the Canadian cultural and artistic landscapes, something we will surely be treated to with The Valley Below.

“We’re interested in building the brand (North Country Cinema) mainly as a Western Canadian thing. Obviously, Kyle’s family’s from here and we have a lot of friends out here. We wanted to do bring more experimental and personal narratives to this relatively underrepresented part of the country,” shares Carson.

Kris Demeanor

The Valley Below stars Kris Demeanor as Warren and Mandy Stobo (Bad Portraits) as Ada, both returning actors from Thomas’ short film, Not Far from the Abattoir, which inspired The Valley Below, its full-length counterpart.

“[Not Far from the Abattoir] is about personal demons, redemption. It’s about a guy who’s at a bad spot in his life work-wise; his personal life: he’s single, he’s alone, he’s drinking too much. Then, he has a encounter: he meets this girl, Ada. Although nothing really intimate or sexy happens, they have a nice night getting to know each other. And this relationship gives him some new hope to find a way forward,” says Carson.

The Valley Below picks up after what looked like a hopeful open ending roughly three to four years later, says Carson. We find out that these two characters have had a relationship, had a baby, but split up again once they reverted to old habits.

“I mean, as much as Warren is a bit of bum, he is likeable. You want him to succeed and you can tell that Mandy and Kris’ characters still really love each other. So, the film poses a question: can this relationship work, can these people rise above their adversities?” says Carson.

11:30 a.m., The Car Wash: Drumheller, Alta.

TheValleyBelow_onset_photobyClaireMiglionicoThe crew finally drives into town. We’re dropping by an auto shop to pick up a rental truck for a car wash scene starring Demeanor. The crew is setting up in an empty parking lot across the retro-inspired car wash. Demeanor is given directions through a walkie-talkie while he soaks up his pick-up truck across the street.

“I think it’s worth mentioning that a lot of people who are in this film as actors come from different backgrounds,” says Carson.

In Montreal, roommates of varying backgrounds, from actors to musicians, always surrounded Carson and Thomas. As musicians and photography buffs, the melding of different artistic disciplines into one big film project just seemed to be the perfect way to “explore the limits of film itself,” says Carson.

“Kris is a writer and musician, Mandy is a painter. We have lots of actors that are coming from the theatre. It is a multi-disciplinary project in terms of the influences that are coming into the work,” he says.

Thomas, who saw Demeanor perform live in the past, approached him for the role of Warren.

“I thought that somebody who had a musical career, had been on tour, had slept in the back of a van could bring that sensibility and way of life into the character. That was my first instinct,” says Thomas on picking Demeanor for the role.

Stobo, on the other hand, came in as an audition. Coincidentally, Stobo’s character is also a painter.

“She came in and the performance was just so good. It just seemed that this role was her in many ways but I didn’t know her [beforehand]. It was strange, she said she sunk right into it and I guess it happened a bit by chance,” shares Thomas.

3:00 p.m., Back to East Coulee 

TheValleyBelowPhotobyClaireMiglionicoSara Corry, the production manager, has cooked a massive meal for everyone. There’s salad, macaroni and cheese and chili. The boys are hungry.

There are a total of 13 crew members with a key team that includes Cameron Macgowan as producer, Sara Corry as co-producer/production manager, Mike McLaughlin as cinematographer, Bobby Vanonen as production designer and, of course, Kyle Thomas as writer/director/producer/editor and Alexander Carson as producer.

“I think having a smaller crew is good because [everyone’s] more engaged. I mean, there’s a bunch of us doing multiple tasks, everyone’s always busy, you feel more connected to [the project] and, you know, we’re living in a house here together and eating meals together,” says Thomas.

“It was different from any other film we ever worked on because it was so dedicated to the characters and getting to the heart of the scene without relying heavily on production which can eat up a lot of time and money,” he says.

According to Carson, Telefilm Canada provided a $120,000 grant for the film to be made, following some conditions.

“It’s important to our funders that we pursue innovative digital distribution avenues,” shares Carson.

Carson says they’d still want to go down the traditional festival release route with a digital release around the same time.

Either way, The Valley Below and the filmmakers of North Country Cinema are to watch for. They’ve grown exponentially over the last two years and have been getting a lot of recognition, including this fall’s TIFF and CIFF film festivals.

Visit northcountrycinema.com for more info. The Valley Below is set to be released in 2014.

Joe Perry and Mikaela Cochrane as Henry and Kate

Archive: Calgary indie songstress Samantha Savage Smith releases sophomore album

photo courtesy of cbc.ca

January 12, 2015

CALGARY — It’s hard not to love local heroine Samantha Savage Smith. Her persona is down-to-earth, she sings sweetly and strums gently, releasing feel-good, gentle indie rock songs that more often than not leave you with chills.

When she’s not jamming in her basement or recording an album with local producer Lorrie Matheson, she’s jamming in Nordic nations with Icelandic songsmiths or touring with her band. Despite all this, she remains easy to talk to; she emits a completely genuine love for music, one that is deeply rooted. Indeed, Smith began singing at age nine and playing guitar at 11. She says once she figured out how to play a few chords together, she started writing “bad crappy songs” and playing them for her mother and brother. Although Smith went on to play in bands in high school, her self-doubt became crippling until Matheson stepped in: he heard some of Smith’s demos and worked with her to develop and record her debut. She was just leaving her early 20’s when her debut Tough Cookie was released, first on Western Famine, then by Toronto’s Arts & Crafts for wider distribution.

With much more musical experience under her belt, Smith is now releasing Fine Lines, her sophomore album on Winnipeg indie label Pipe & Hat. The album delivers a more refined, evolved “grown-up” sound that stays true to Smith’s indie folk-rock identity. It’s still very authentic, yet charming and better defined.

“I would say the songs are more complex now. I have personally put a lot more thought and effort into them,” says Smith, admitting the writing process took much longer than that for her previous album.

Fine Lines offers more than love and heartbreak, she says.

“It’s about life challenges, my own personal challenges with myself. It’s grown because I’m older.”

Smith and her band mates recently wrapped up a two-week Canadian tour promoting Fine Lines. It stretched out east as far as Winnipeg, passing through Saskatchewan, going all the way west to Victoria.

“We tour in a mini-van. It [gets] tight,” she says with a laugh. “It’s long drives; you’re driving for eight or nine hours every day at least, sometimes 12.”

Touring, though, is something Smith enjoys.

“The first week is kind of the hardest because you’re not in it quite yet,” she says of the “weirdly” long days that come with touring the vast Canadian landscape. By the time they get to play their set, she says, they wrap up and are on the road again.

Right before touring begun, Smith found herself in Iceland once more for the annual Iceland Airwaves music festival. She was invited back for a second round of a collaborative talent exchange called EMBASSYLIGHTS. The collective includes Calgary musicians Mark Andrew Hamilton from Woodpigeon, Smith, Clinton St. John and Laura Leif, alongside two of Reykjavík’s most intriguing songsmiths Benni Hemm Hemm and Prins Póló. The idea stemmed from Woodpigeon’s Hamilton, who wanted to focus on collaborative song writing.

“We met up with [Hemm Hemm and Póló] in Reykjavík, sat in their room for three or four days and wrote an album. We played a show our first night in Reykjavík and on the Sunday, we recorded all of it [within] the day,” she recalls.

Iceland is all too dreamy, a Mecca for the musically curious and hungry. It was Smith’s second time in the territory. She describes the music scene there as similar to the one we have in Calgary, only much bigger.

“[At Iceland Airwaves]there’s [around] 250 bands and only a small percentage of international bands [who] can only go and play once. They never do repeat acts and showcase mostly all Icelandic bands,” she says.

Back home, Savage Smith took part in the PEAK Performance Project Alberta, a radio competition that saw Edmonton’s The Wet Secrets take home the winning prize of $100,953 after months of boot camps. Although the experience came with some downsides, including a few scathing assessments of her musical approach, it was a learning experience she valued as it forced her to “question quite a bit of things you haven’t been really been forced to think about.”

“The actual competition itself is really hard work. You do the showcases, there’s this crazy final report you have to [hand in]. You have to meet deadline and figure out how to prioritize. It definitely takes it out of you,” she describes.

The experience was ultimately positive as it got Smith deeply considering her focus.

“I’m stoked,” she says. “It [got me] to want to move forward and do my own thing.”

With Fine Lines, Smith went back into Arch Audio, Matheson’s cozy Inglewood recording studio. Two main elements shifted; meaning Fine Lines is a different beast than Tough Cookie.
Firstly, lyrically, Fine Lines moves away from the personal intensity of its predecessor, although Smith swears her songs still come from a very personal place.

“[Although it] may be a disconnected experience from myself, I’m still writing about myself,” she says.

Her song “Kids in the Basement,” for example, is about making music.

“It’s the highs and low of doing that, the grassroots of trying to be a musician, what you give up for it,” she says. “It’s pretty obtuse in what it can mean because it directly doesn’t really need to be about anything. I don’t know if they intentionally do, but I want songs to rather give a sense of feeling than have a direct message,” she describes.

Secondly, although Matheson had quite a bit of studio input on the songs for Tough Cookie, pre-production differed this time around. It was co-produced by Smith and band member Chris Dadge, with whom she demoed the songs at home. The end product features contributions from an array of Calgary indie musicians, including members of Snailhouse, Woodpigeon, Lab Coast, Friendo, Ghostkeeper and Chad VanGaalen’s band.

She says the overall experience was relaxed and “a lot like recording with your pals.”

Being Calgary born-and-raised (as well as clearly having a strong support group from local musicians), means Smith loves cities like Montreal and Toronto but calls Calgary home.

“I had a lot of hometown love and support from people which made a huge difference for me,” she says of her decision to stay in the city. She describes the music scene here as having a great community vibe.

“There was a point where you had heard of all the bands in Calgary but now you have to keep up to it, “ she says. “It’s good because that just means the scene is getting bigger.” That being said, she decries the increasingly high rents, which make it difficult for any artist to live in the city.

“ I used to live in Vancouver and the rent was crazy, but now in retrospect, the rent is the same!” she says.

Smith says there’s a certain appeal in moving to bigger cities, but ultimately, Calgary is where her heart (and couch) are to stay, even if it’s for logistical purposes.

“[Calgary] is my home base,” she says. “When it comes down to it, if your band is prepared to tour a lot, it really does not matter where you live. The idea is you’re on the road and are constantly present in all those cities anyway.”

She finishes, “And then you can go back to wherever you want to chill out on the couch.”

The release party for Fine Lines is January 23 at the Palomino Smokehouse and Bar.

Story published here

The Mercato couple


During the first few months of my ex and I dating, we strolled  Fourth Street and enjoyed the sun and the fresh air many times a week. He lived on Second Street which was the perfect location for anybody who loves being in the downtown core. His balcony was just perfect: on the fifth floor, we dominated everything and everybody. We sat there many times, drinking beers and sharing our dreams, watching the sunset and watching the sun rise. At Easter, we were even treated to a ghost-like parade of Jesus followers. It was eery yet mesmerizing.

One lunch time, we decided to go walk to Mercato, a hot-spot Italian restaurant on Fourth. We sat at the communal table with the high chairs, the one where you get to interact with the couple next or across you with whom you share your excitement for the delicious food that’s about to come and with whom you make foodie small talk . Then there’s those special times where you end up sharing that bottle of rose and that yummy bocconcini salad.

Something similar happened to us that day.

Next to us was a couple in their late forties early fifties who had that vibrant energy that drew me to them instantly. You could tell they were really savouring every moment together. My ex started telling them about the food industry (he was a cook) and shared with them his passion for fine cuisine. The interaction will stay in my mind forever. It was one of those pleasant and simple spontaneous interaction that make life worth living. That’s what it should be all about, really: eating, sharing and enjoying life together, even if it’s with complete strangers you will never see again. The lady made a comment about how lovely of a neighbourhood Mission was (I agree, I love the area), the husband (presumeably) poured us some wine and passed the plate of appetizers they had ordered to us. We did the same with our appetizers, shared them happily with the couple. The main courses arrived and they told us in the nicest, most genuine way possible to enjoy our food, almost like we were about to embark on a sacred ritual. And sacred it was. The food melted in my mouth.

What stayed with me is the genuine happiness  the couple had within . They definitely did not seem short of money, the kind of people who could afford a fancy dine-out more than once a week. But somehow, they weren’t cold and conceited, unpleasant and bitter, lifeless and lost. They were friendly, happy and open. They had that spark to them that felt like they worked hard for their money. To me, it felt like they had it all, they knew what life was all about.

It inspired me.

I kept on thinking, wow, I’d like to get there one day, be that person: be happy with self, feeling accomplished, open, friendly and enjoying life to its fullest all while passing that bottle of wine to my cheery surroundings.

Photo credit: Shen Zonghai 

Yoga Inspirations



Yesterday in yoga class I discovered something new about myself. I used to go into practice knowing my limitations – or so I thought. I have been practicing yoga on and off since I was 19. Boys and school would oftentimes get in the way and instead of going to yoga to clear my head, I’d end up staying home too stressed out to barely move or think.

Those days are luckily over. When I feel shitty, I yoga it out. When I feel good, I yoga it out. When I’m sleepy, I yoga it out. You get the picture. I yoga it out no matter what and I always feel fantastic after (and quite sore for the time being!! But that shall pass!).

I’ve recently started going back to this yoga studio in Mission I’d go to three years ago when I used to live in the area. It felt weird going back there. It brought back some memories. In fact, the last time I was in that studio, I threw up after a too intense practice I forced upon my then frail body. It wasn’t pretty… Fortunately, the puking happened in the privacy of my apartment. Following that incident, I got distracted…. I ended up in Vietnam in May and later in France to see family in the summer. Then everything became a blur. For some reason, I had given up on yoga and my abilities to keep a religious practice going. I would attend a few classes at my gym and at my school but I did not have the same motivation and positive frame of mind. Being back at the studio is a big step for me. My first class was an Ashtanga class I attended with a friend of mine. It was super fast-paced and intense on the body. Clearly, both my friend and myself weren’t ready for such a class. I left the class a little depleated but decided I wouldn’t give up so quickly this time around and that I wouldn’t get memories of the past get in my way.  It’s only been a week and a half and I have been back at the studio several times already. I enjoy the serenity of the waiting area, the sound of the water against the wall, the tea selection with its kettle waiting in the left corner for us to sip on. I have a lot of respect for the discipline and the hardwork put into each practice by each and everyone at the studio including its dedicated teachers. I accept the challenge of the overcrowdedness of the studio I am not used to. At first, it was hard to find my centre and “space” within the packed studio (yes, you literally have someone’s ass in your face when you go for downward dog) but I’ve slowly learned to accept it as a challenge to not be bothered by it and to feel centered, whole and perhaps even connected to others no matter how close others are to my “space”.

Moreover, there’s  nothing like walking into a quiet studio before a class. That quietness is so strong and powerful. Each and everyone of us, unfolding our mats unto the warm floor, are preparing ourselves for practice with the power of silence and that inward turning of our gaze. It is much better than walking into a studio where  three yoga moms are gossiping out the latest dish – in my opinion at least!

Yesterday blew my mind. We were going for a backward bending of the neck during the first phase of a sun salutation when your arms are high up above your head and your eyes are looking at your hands. In my head I thought, “there’s no way I will be able to crane my neck all the way back”. My first try was painful. I was too afraid to let my head fall backwards. “If the neck is too tense, shrug your shoulders,” said the teacher to the class. On my second try, I gave shrugging my shoulders a try and to my surprise, it did release some tension in my neck, allowing my head to go further back than usual. On my third try, I shrugged my shoulders once again but this time around I took a leap of faith and let go of my resisting and stubborn head. I just let go, and there I was, with my head further than ever. And it didn’t even hurt because I was able to simply let go of my fears, my judgements and the limitations I was putting on my own body. It’s incredible what letting go and simply believing in yourself can do. That day was a revelation for me. I am super grateful for what that practice taught me about myself and what I feel I can now accomplish in life. Ever since, nothing seems too big or too small and that’s a huge step forward for me.

$100 Film Festival Recap

The festival weekend was great, filled with sweet films. Saturday night was particularly amazing! Lots of creative brains out there! In case you missed out, read this piece! It’ll give you a taste for next year!  -C.M. 

100 Dollar Film Festival-posterFEEL THE IMAGE RUN THROUGH YOUR HANDS

When I think of film festivals in Calgary, the $100 Film Festival always comes to mind first. It is presented by the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) and brings experimental filmmaking forth in a three-day viewing exclusively of Super 8 and 16 mm films.

This year, the festival runs March 7, 8 and 9 at the now independently-run Globe Cinema. Paul Stickney, the Globe’s newly appointed manager, says he is thrilled to see the Globe serve as venue to the festival.

“It’s certainly exciting,” he writes in an email, “I really like the idea of a film festival committed to presenting smaller format celluloid. I can say that I plan to bring as many festivals as I can to the Globe over the next few years.”

James Morison was the original CSIF member and festival founder who saw the festival as a realistic opportunity to make and showcase his own films. He calculated that three rolls of Super 8, worth roughly $90, were sufficient for the kind of films he wanted to make. Rounding up to allow for some wiggle room, the $100 Film Festival was created.

“The whole thing was to make a movie under 100 dollars and, back then, people were using film anyway, so using Super 8 or 16 mm wasn’t a novelty. Over the years, we dropped the financial restrictions. Now, that everything is digital, it’s sort of become a niche festival in that way. It’s not about the budget anymore, it’s about the medium [used],” says Nicola Waugh, CSIF’s current programming director, communications director and festival director.

She says most films made now are most likely over the original budget although she thinks it can still be done.

Paul Clipson, this year’s festival’s visiting artist, confirms Waugh’s belief.

“Super 8 is still the most affordable motion picture film and it still maintains all of the qualities of film’s texture, saturation and aerial perspective,” he writes via email.

Clipson is the audio/visual technician and projectionist for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a well-accomplished filmmaker and installation artist. He will be running a festival workshop/artist talk on March 9 at the CommunityWise Centre for a $5 admission. He’s won awards for his films at the festival two years in a row and is very much honoured to be this year’s visiting artist. He works predominantly with Super 8 film and says the lack of instant replay is what makes shooting Super 8 a completely unique experience.

“The fact that you can’t rewind [to] watch what you’ve just shot on film [and] have to wait for as long [as] a week before you can see it forces you to completely trust your senses and beliefs,” he says.

Caitlind Brown, a long-time CSIF volunteer and self-professed film lover, had her short film, Magicontrol, showcased at the festival in 2010.

“The $100 Film Festival is undoubtedly the most daring experimental film festival Calgary has going. There’s something magical about celluloid and, because all of the content screened at the [festival] is actually on film, [it] showcases a process-based and incredibly authentic aesthetic,” she writes in a Facebook message.

Murray Smith, a Film Studies graduate from the University of Calgary and now a web developer by trade, was a juror for the festival in 2010 and 2011.

“Back when I was into film, I reasoned that the extra work it took to shoot on film made it a better learning experience. You get to know the bare bones of photography because chemicals are far less forgiving than pixels,” he shares in a message.

The process-based and authenticity of Super 8 and 16 films seems to be what draws filmmakers every year to the medium-based festival along with curious-minded audience members.

In this fast-paced and technology-driven world, I can’t help but feel that we’re trying to bring ourselves back to old practices, whether it’d be developing our own photos in a dark room to wanting to process our own Super 8 and 16 films. That sense of touch and interaction seems to be predominantly missing in our current lives.

Waugh could not agree more. She has been with CSIF since July and says everything feels quite new to her but is visibly excited about the festival. She holds an undergrad Honours degree from the University of Calgary in Communications, where she focused on visual culture. She went on to complete a Master’s at Ryerson in Communication and Cultural Studies, where she wrote her thesis on nostalgia and material things. Thus, when the idea of a resurgence in “nostalgic” practices came along, it was right up her alley:

“It’s the tactility of it that’s lost and lost in so many things these days. Sure you can hold an iPhone, but [it does not compare] to hold[ing] a polaroid photo or expos[ing] that film and cut each frame how you want it to be? It becomes so much more emotionally charged [to have] this physical experience with actual celluloid,” she says.

At the CSIF office where I met up with Waugh, I caught up with CSIF’s production director, Yvonne Abusow. She helps with the festival’s Super 8 and 16 projection and has been doing it for two years now, alongside two other projectionists, who, on their part, have been doing it since the humble beginnings of the festival. Last year, she mostly stayed in the booth and made sure everything ran smoothly.

She shares that light bulbs can sometime explode or a belt in the projector can give way and that it is really the only tricky part about projection.

“There can always be technical difficulties,” she admits truthfully.

Nostalgic theories and projection mishaps aside, Waugh and I talk about the festival’s commission film project.

Kyle Whitehead is one of the festival’s commissioned artists. He is currently the production coordinator at Emmedia, a member-based organization that provides equipment access and programming opportunities similar to the CSIF.

“The commission project is the first of its kind that we’ve ever done. We got a grant from Canada Council [for the Arts] to get seven filmmakers to make original films for the festival,” says Waugh.

Once these films are showcased at this year’s festival, the CSIF is then responsible for getting these commissioned films onto the international festival scene .

Whitehead’s 16 mm film, Semper Porro, Latin for “ever forward,” was shot during his residency at Film Farm, an “independent imaging retreat” in Mount Forest, Ontario. It is ran by Canadian filmmaker Philip Hoffman.

“[Hoffman] has a huge barn set up as a full film production facility. He teaches most of the year at York University in Toronto and, every year, he invites roughly 10 to 12 filmmakers out to his farm,” he shares.

Whitehead started off with about 100 feet of film that he exposed with a Bolex – a 16 mm camera – and spent the rest of his time on the farm “contact printing” the film, a process similar to photo printing in a dark room.

“[Contact printing] is basically a process where you sandwich the original negative with a fresh piece of film and run it through a contact printer which re-exposes the fresh film through the negative. It’s basically like duplicating the original film [by re-printing] the same images in layers over top of each other,” he explains.

The result of this process was 400 feet of manipulated film that created abstract compositions.

Then, Whitehead split-toned the original black and white film with colour toners.

“What the toners do is replace the black and white emulsion with a coloured salt,” he says, more precisely, revealing he used a blue toner and a copper toner.

“‘Splitting-the-the-tone’ means you tone it through one toner – the blue first. You put [the film] in the developer for a few minutes and then put it in the second toner [which then] creates combined tones on the same frame,” he continues.

The sound for the film was surprisingly not added later on. It was what Whitehead describes as the “consequences” of the specific process he went through to acquire that particular sound.

“The sound is directly derivative of the images. It comes directly from the film itself,” he says of the raw and unedited process.

So, what does it sound like?

“It sounds quite rhythmic and almost musical. It has a pleasant tone. It’s a bit droning, but not in a harsh way.”

Whitehead says working with 16 mm, or Super 8 for that matter, is very much an artistically-oriented organic process. He says that going into the project, he had no idea what the film would look like.

“I find that sometimes when [I] let go of that control or that need to premeditate everything, I’m often pleasantly surprised by the results I end up with.”

The $100 Film Festival runs from March 7-9 at the Globe Cinema. Tickets for the festival can be bought at Bogies’ Casablanca Video and at the CSIF offices or at100dollarfilmfestival.org.

By Claire Miglionico
Poster: Kim Smith

Joshua Fraser: The Vernal Equinox Observation


I wrote a short blurb for Beatroute on this event but it did not make it in. I like the concept of this project so much that I want to share it with the rest of you. I hope to see others attending this event! I think it will be fantastic! Thanks to Joshua for getting back to me prompto by email back in February. Cheers!

On March 20, EMMEDIA is hosting The Vernal Equinox Observation by artist in residence Joshua Fraser. 

This neo-paganist interactive event invites guests to celebrate the forthcoming spring and will provide that sense of renewal and rebirth. 

Guests will be surrounded by an immersive space alongside “icons of spring” where musical meditations about the season will be held. These meditations will be guided by Beggars (Ian Maclean and Patrick Seager) and Citadel (Joshua Fraser). 

In an email, Fraser shares: “The event will incorporate elements of traditional European paganism – food to share, flowers, candlelight – and the additional practices that we have decided to honour the season by.” 

There will be a preliminary meditation which will segue into two musical tributes accompanied by video. 

“The intention of the preliminary meditation is to invite the audience

into the spirit of the celebration: to introduce the installed

environment and to guide a more personal, introspective meditation

through the surround-sound score,” he said.

Fraser is a multidisciplinary artist that strives to create situations which create empathetic responses in a sort of trance-like emotional state. 

He hopes people will leave the ceremony feeling energize after leaving demons of 2012 behind. 

“We will be celebrating and championing the lessons we’ve learned, and by doing so I hope that viewers will feel compelled to do the same.”

The event admission is by donation and starts at  7 pm and will run until late. 

– Claire Miglionico

Joshua Fraser is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Calgary. Fraser utilizes a broad array of methods towards his overarching goal: the facilitation of saturated emotional transference. This focus has emerged from an ever-increasing relationship with metaphysical and neo-pagan ideals and practices. Fraser’s work comes together as a determined pursuit striving to unite, reassure, and encourage viewers by championing the resilience of the human spirit. – emmedia.ca