Development shoot for the documentary
MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN
Development shoot for the documentary
MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN
Congratulations to Zaheed Mawani on the Canadian Screen Award nomination for THREE WALLS: A Documentary about the Office Cubicle in the short documentary category. This remains one of my favourite films to have ever been a part of.
You can read more about the project, process and related press here. The awards air Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8pm on CBC.
I am incredibly happy for my friends Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan, Jared Raab, Matthew Miller and Josh Boles of Echo Pictures Pictures for premiering their feature film THE DIRTIES later this month at the Slamdance Film Festival. I got the chance to do some additional camerawork alongside Jared back in 2010 on this project and it was a really inspiring and thrilling way to shoot: vérité on HD camcorders, and in the mindset of high school media arts students behind the lens capturing the horrors of bullying and the ups and downs of teenage infatuation.
See the Echo Pictures Pictures website here for more details on this tremendous film, additional press and screening times in Park City, Utah. Check out the link at the top of this post for IndieWire’s review and the official trailer.
I am very proud to be part of an incredibly smart, heartfelt and inspiring independent feature film going to camera later this month. Director Kate Johnston and I have been working hard at scouting some remarkable locations in Toronto’s Cabbagetown, Ward’s Island and other pockets throughout the city for what will be a beautiful film about romantic love, friendship and family. It stars Kate Trotter, Christine Horne and the film’s own brilliant producer and co-writer Shauna MacDonald.
The film is about Alice, a recent widow, who comes to the big city to spend some quality time with her daughter Suzanne, a high-strung corporate lawyer with a short fuse. Instead of dwelling on her disintegrating relationship with Suzanne, Alice forges an unlikely romantic relationship with Suzanne’s friend Tru, a commitment-phobic lesbian who brings a spark back into Alice’s life.
I’m very excited to capture this project on the RED Scarlet and work with some of my favourite people in bringing the cinematography to life for this project. Many thanks must already go out to PS Production Services for coming on board to help us bring this story to the screen.
2012 was one of those years that leaves me feeling full of appreciation for life and work and the people I do it all with. What’s beautiful about a life in cinematography is that it can really take you anywhere, and I am very grateful to everyone who trusted me to bring their visions to screens both big and small. From the glorious heat of Jamaica in January to the subzero degree temperatures of the Canadian Rockies in the fall, it was an inspiring year of work, fun and celebration (because it also happened to have been the year I got hitched!). Thank you to those of you who made 2012 so memorable.
Happy New Year!
It is a privilege in this type of work to come across individuals who are not only compelling enough to document on camera but who can also change our lives on a personal level. People often ask me to recount stories from the road and I am usually compelled to tell a story from my experiences on Deadman, but the trouble is that the stories of Deadman – the place – are much more than simple anecdotes. Deadman is where I met Gerald and Norma, and it is where my creative process and perspective on life finally intersected in a way that still resonates in everything I do.
I met Gerald and Norma while I was shooting this documentary, Chelsea McMullan’s first with the NFB, outside of Kamloops, B.C in the spring and summer of 2008. I was 23, eager to immerse myself in a different environment and ready to leave the city in pursuit of a place that was expansive and inspiring. Gerald, his wife Norma and their children Jay, Noreen and Onions spent a lot of their time with our crew of three while showing us the ropes in the parched and rugged landscape of Savona. They took care of us, ate with us, sang with us, camped with us, helped and supported us tremendously while also acting as subjects in the film. It became clear that the relationship between filmmakers and subjects need not and cannot be rigid or impenetrable, but rather that everyone involved had a chance to form a real friendship. When we finally left at the end of August that year, Gerald and Norma gifted each of us an eagle feather, a high honour, and as they smudged us one last time I took in the smell of the sage and felt extraordinary gratitude for having met them.
Gerald passed away this week, and I am reminded again of the comfort and peace of his family’s home on the Skeetchestn land in British Columbia. I am reminded of how lucky I was to have known Gerald and to have learned from him creatively but also spiritually. He taught me that life is a delicate balance of mental, spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing, and that the four need to work in unison, “like the wheels of a car.” I am reminded that there exists a place in the world where if you sit at the top of a certain hill in the middle of a valley in Vidette, where the rocks of an ancient Medicine Wheel still peek through the grass, you can indeed hear what sounds like a chorus of hundreds singing in perfect harmony for just a moment at sunset – the centre of the universe, Gerald told us. I am reminded of the honour it is to do this work and to have the opportunity to meet people who have the ability to enrich our lives so profoundly – that is, if we choose to immerse ourselves beyond our cameras and really listen to the lives we are photographing.
In 2009 I had the privilege of shooting SATURNIA, a feature length documentary, for directors/producers Lilia Topouzova and Ferdinando Dell’Omo. The film chronicles the lives of Italian immigrants across Canada – from Vancouver and Edmonton to Toronto, Montreal and Halifax – whose lives share a common thread: they all arrived between 1950 and 1965 via the SS Saturnia.
Lilia and Ferdinando’s elegant and poetic filmmaking sensibilities translated into a visual language of carefully composed static frames and slow, contemplative camera movement. In a film that’s a thematic blend of nostalgia, heartache, celebration and resilience, this was the perfect interpretation for five stories that range in narrative and emotional tone. I am eager to celebrate the film’s premiere as part of opening night at the Moving Image Film Festival in Toronto this Friday, November 2nd at the Royal Cinema. Screening times are below.
Friday, November 2nd 2012 at 11:30pm the Royal Cinema on 608 College Street West, Toronto.
Sunday, November 4th 2012 at 9:30pm the Annex Live on 296 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto.
Very proud to have shot this spot for the World Wildlife Fund with director/producers Will and Jamie at Aircastle Films – alongside the two of them it was a pleasure working with the creative talent over at John St. again to bring this project together.
Special thanks must go out to Mikhail Petrenko for providing us with some truly adorable close ups, and to Tony Smith and Max Putintsev for the fun we had lighting this dream location, an architect’s home in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood.
Armed with X-acto knives and scissors, this epic feat of a live-action-turned-animated video was carefully hand-constructed by us and our team of supremely talented and fastidious collage artists. Produced by Peter and Josh at Vulture Culture Films, the video was shot over two days at Pie in the Sky studios and on location in the west end of Toronto.
"On Paper" is now in heavy rotation on MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and MuchLoud.
For publishers/distributors Random House and Hazlitt, director Sarah Goodman came up with this brilliant video interpretation for the new book by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, DAYS OF DESTRUCTION, DAYS OF REVOLT. To create the piece we spent an inspiring afternoon working, shooting and chatting in Toronto’s historic Fox Theatre with students from the Etobicoke School of the Arts, and capturing their thoughts on what they had read.
Special thanks to Matt Steadman for helping me out with this shoot.
Here is a link to the final product:
I just stumbled upon a photographer named Patrick Cummins on Flickr who has been taking incredible photos of buildings, houses, storefronts, motels, potholes, garages and everything else in Toronto since the late 1970s… If you live in Toronto and care to sift through this stunning and meticulously compiled collection long enough you will find your home. Absolutely amazing.
I don’t recommend things as often as I should, but this one really needs a mention. Please check out maddieonthings.com, a beautiful photography blog by This Wild Idea (photographer Theron Humphrey). You won’t regret this.
After a brief but beautiful music video shoot in Jamaica I returned to Toronto and dove right into my third film with INFLO, working alongside Dusty to bring Broken Heart Syndrome (also known as BHS) to life. We shot the film over eight days in locations across Ontario, including Brantford, Creemore, Mississauga, and all over Toronto. I’m particularly excited to have featured in the film my own neighbourhood in the west end, as we did a ton of shooting in and around the Trinity Bellwoods part of town. Running up and down the streets with Steadicam operator Mike Heathcote on an unnaturally warm day in early February reminded me again of why I love shooting movies.
We captured BHS on the RED MX, for which I need to give thanks to Panavision Toronto. Alongside me was 1st AC Alex Leung (seen above), Gaffer Dan Whitton (also in the photo, standing by our 12-by griff in a classroom at Central Tech high school) and Key Grip Justin Yaroski – the dream team.
More on BHS as the edit unfolds…
Will and Jamie at Aircastle called me on the phone and said “Do you want to come and do a cat shoot with us? Cats on computers, cats roaming across desks, boardroom meetings with cats. Cats in costumes, cats fighting cats, cats cuddling with other cats.” Naturally, I said OF COURSE. So Mikhail Petrenko and I spent a wonderful day with Will and Jamie shooting this hilarious video for Toronto ad agency John St. We captured it all on 5D and 7D. Here’s a link to the finished product*:
Arkells talked to us about doing a music video for a new one off of their upcoming album, Michigan Left. Citing our use of text in past work and our documentary aesthetic leanings, the band entrusted us with their vision for KISS CAM… and here it is:
A huge thank you must go out to all of the fans who became a part of this project, and to all of the participants who enthusiastically looked into our cameras for Kiss Cam.
Congratulations to Evan and Dusty, as well as our wonderful producers Jamie Cussen and Harry Cherniak.
The Pedestrian Jar will screen on September 11 and 12 at TIFF Bell Lightbox and Jackman Hall at the AGO, and Pathways will screen on September 14 and 15, also at Lightbox.
Nadia and I created this behind the scenes documentary on the set of our buddy Jared Raab’s innovative new music video for Arkells’ WHISTLEBLOWER. Spinner launched the doc yesterday – click on the picture to see how Jared’s holographic masterpiece came together:
Special thanks to Vulture Culture’s Pete and Josh for bringing us on board!
Click still to watch a clip:
Made by Jeff Hanley. Starring Brandon Coffey. Way to go, friends!
Spring is one of my favourite times to be in Toronto for many reasons but mostly because HOT DOCS takes over a bunch of theater screens and everybody in town flips through the schedule and makes a list of things to see. I’m happy to say that this year THREE WALLS will be screening at the festival, marking its Canadian premiere. Zaheed Mawani’s doc about office cubicles (and the people who spend their days working in and making the most of them) will be screening on Saturday, April 30th (9pm) at TIFF Bell Lightbox and on Monday, May 2nd (1:45pm) at the ROM. It will play alongside Abner Benaim’s MAIDS & BOSSES in the “Workers of the World” program.
You can read more about how we shot THREE WALLS in this post, which I wrote in July 09 after we wrapped shooting.
Here’s a frame of one of our participants, Dionne, in New York City:
by Nadia and me.
Thanks to all of the beautiful people in this video.
“The Stand” by Mother Mother.