While I was in Toronto, I filmed two videos that I’m very excited about! Right now, I’m in Video Editing Land, sorting through all my travel footage. So I’m not ready to show you that, but I’m excited to post something I filmed as summer was entering its final stretch, and loved doing. Here, I team up with Byanka, a delightful, informative Mary Kay expert. We give you a breakdown on how to use their innovative products…from skin treatments, to mascara, and lip care. My travels have stopped me from pulling it together and putting it up until now, but believe me, Byanka is worth the wait.
Today is Part II of my Toronto Film Premiere Roundup. In my last post, I covered a flick that I love so much I feel like I’ve morphed into a walking ad for it. That is Carrie Pilby, which screened at TIFF. Today, I’m going independent with a feature that I saw at Toronto Indie the day before. This film is Ctrl Alt Delete, a technological thriller about a team of hacktivists who break into an office building server room and unwittingly uncover an artificial super-intelligence.
I especially felt fortunate to meet debut director James B. Cox, and attend his Q&A.
What first impressed me was his courage in making this film. He left a lucrative job in the entertainment industry and followed his dream to create this highly technical feature. That lured me into the theater, never-guessing that I would love his film.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not generally a fan of thrillers. This makes my recommendation of Ctrl Alt Delete all the more powerful. To get people like me to watch such a film and have them finish feeling in awe of the special effects and their impact on the story means that this filmmaker did an incredible job.
Being a self-taught video editor who has dabbled in 2-D animation, I can fully appreciate what an undertaking Ctrl Alt Delete was. The effects are major motion-picture worthy, and yet this was produced independently. There were times in the movie theater when I literally forgot to blink because I was so mesmerized.
I cannot improve on this statement by James about his philosophy on the power of technology, so I’m quoting it, word-for-word:
“Technology has an inherent seductive quality about it. Most people I know will reach for their smartphone in the morning when they wake up even before they talk to their loved ones. But we’ve created one of the most powerful systems of communication, the Internet, for much more than just pictures of food and videos of cats. Because people all over the world can connect with each other instantly, new communities are forming around niche interests and common beliefs all the time among people who have never met in person. So is technology’s inherent seductive quality good or bad?
This question was very much on my mind during the development of Ctrl Alt Delete. There are plenty of reasons to be afraid: artificial intelligence could destroy our financial systems and infrastructure, nanotechnology could self-replicate all of our natural resources into “grey goo,” corporate or governmental big data could eradicate the idea of privacy completely. But like The Force, technology has a Light Side, in addition to the Dark. The Internet made this film possible through crowdfunding, connecting us with crew from all over the nation, as well as answering those pesky technical questions, like “What are the optimal environmental vectors of an enterprise level data center?”
Ultimately what I discovered through making Ctrl Alt Delete is if we are ever going to fight the Dark Side of technology, we will need the Light Side and more importantly we will need each other.”
As promised, I’m letting you all in on a few of the films that I saw while attending the Toronto film festivals. I meant to write this roundup last week on my flight to NYC, but I was so excited about planning my adventures there that I didn’t get a chance to do it until now—on the plane coming home.
My rundown begins with a feature that I became so mesmerized with I can’t get it out of my head. This must-watch is Carrie Pilby.
To set the stage ̶ not for the movie, but for the scenario in which I saw the screening ̶ it happened on the one day that it rained. And I don’t mean a little sprinkle. I’m talking a total deluge.
At a festival as prominent as the Toronto International, people arrive at least an hour before each screening and line up outside. They don’t just do this to get a good seat for the show. They do it to see the pre-show…the celebrities starring in those features exiting their limos, waving to the crowds, and posing on the red carpet. The stars are always decked out in tuxes and designer gowns, after spending three hours with their hair-and-makeup artists.
This is always a special event. So it’s not usual for me to get all done up for a film screening, dress and all, with an extra coat of mascara, and curled hair…like I did for this picture…
But even if you had seen this photo beforehand, you would not have recognized me if you had attended the Carrie Pilby screening. I paid attention to the weather report and took an umbrella, but the wind turned it inside-out. So not long after I arrived, I looked more like a cat who fell into a fountain.
Since I’m a Seattleite, getting caught in a downpour didn’t bother me in the least. But by the time we were allowed to enter the theater, I was surrounded with a lot of cold, wet, grumbling people. I realize that you might be thinking this story has nothing to do with the movie, but hang in there. At this point, I overheard several of my fellow theater-goers say that they wished they hadn’t come. Then, when it was over, I heard those and more say they were so glad they had. That proves how phenomenal this movie is.
The film centers on a nineteen-year-old academic prodigy. She has graduated from Harvard. There’s not a word in the dictionary that she doesn’t know or an equation she can’t solve. But if she had taken a class in people skills, she would have flunked. She lives in a personal bubble that keeps her from connecting with anyone. When she finally breaks down the barrier and lets others in, she not only learns about them, but about herself.
Although I personally cannot relate to the idea of someone being such a mega-genius that she can handle an Ivy League school at 14, I found myself relating to Carrie. Under the veneer of a confident, witty, ultra-smart girl, she has the same struggles that many of us face…agonizing over what to do next, wanting to be accepted, and feeling alone.
If you get a chance to see this film, I highly recommend doing it. My next blog post will cover a feature that I saw at the Independent Film Festival by a debut director who I was privileged to meet!
Last weekend, my short film, In Memory Of, premiered at the Carlton Cinema in Downtown Toronto. It completely sold out! The manager set up all the metal chairs he had in the back, and that wasn’t enough. So many more people clamored for tickets that he let some of them watch while standing, squeezed into corners, and even sitting on the steps in the aisles. The rest were turned away. What an unforgettable experience!!
I deeply appreciate everyone who worked on this event, and everyone who came. They were all so friendly and complimentary. Because of the environment they created, this wasn’t just a wonderful experience for me, it was terrific for all of them.
The same was true of the entire city during the festivals. I enjoyed each person I met during my stay in Toronto. The most impressive person to me, though, was Steve Veale, the director of the Toronto Independent Film Festival. He always manages to remain charismatic and calm, even when craziness is going down…and you know that in a party atmosphere with sold-out crowds, there is bound to be some craziness. When you see the video interview I did with him, you’ll completely understand. I’ll post it after I get home and can spend some quality time with my Final Cut Pro.
Due to screenings of my film, I’m currently not allowed to put it on the Internet. I’ll do that when I can. In the meantime, here are some more screenshots.
Later this week, I will write reviews on some of the feature films I saw premiering in Toronto. That way, you’ll be on the cusp of the film scene for the general release.
The countdown has come to an end!!! Tonight my short film, In Memory Of, is premiering in Downtown Toronto at 7:45 pm. If you’re in town, I’d love to see you there. You can get tickets at Imagine Cinemas.
If you’ve never been to Toronto at festival time, come with me on a private tour of the city’s transformation. Hollywood temporarily pulls up stakes and unrolls its glamor tent in Canada…complete with red carpets, film premieres, celebrity sightings, and soirées. So many people pile into the streets yelling and calling out stars’ names that the entire experience feels like one big bash.
I love it all…the excitement, seeing new works, meeting new people, and picking out my favourite outfits for each event. This look is by Eliza J. She’s known for being more affordable than other popular fancy-dress designers while still providing looks that make heads turn.
Here’s a celeb-sighting tip: These pictures were taken while I was at The Ritz-Carlton, where a number of the stars have temporarily taken up residence. If you cannot afford to stay in a place like this, you can still hob knob with the film crowd by grabbing dinner or drinks there.
I’ve learned that celebrities are creatures of habit and like to share, so there are only four-to-five hotels in town where they stay. I’ve also learned that if you get a chance to brush shoulders with them, the best approach is to act real but low key, and refrain from hitting the photo button on your phone. Then most will treat you as though you belong there.
Since I’m not a celebrity, those rules don’t apply to your treatment of me. If you happen to see me here, please say “Hi.” I would love to meet you. Once after I attended an event, someone posted an Instagram comment saying that he saw me there. I wish he had approached. It would have been so much fun to get to know the person behind the photo and comment!