Director • Editor • Cinematographer


Best Director Under 25, Ottawa Independent Video Award

2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards Best Director Under 25 Award

2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards Best Director Under 25 Award

In a night filled with great socializing, networking, some awesome short listed filmmakers and talented folks, I was extremely happy to attend the inaugural Ottawa Independent Video Awards.

I attended not only because I was nominated in two categories (Best Music Video and Best Director Under 25) for my music video “We All Go the Same“, but also to support Ottawa’s indie filmmaking group, which I haven’t networked with in the past. I’m thrilled Ottawa is having more events like this to support indie filmmakers.

To my complete surprise I was awarded “Best Director Under 25”! Other than the fact I almost pulled a Jennifer Lawrence and wiped out on the way to get my award, I was extremely happy to accept the very “sharp” award (see photo above).

I do want to give a huge thank you to my cast and crew who worked their butts off to make this film possible. In particular Julia Frangione, my assistant makeup artist (a.k.a. partner in crime) who worked tirelessly with me to get the overall looks right at 5am call times. I share this award with you Julia.

The night was a wonderful hit, and I look forward to seeing more of what Ottawa’s indie filmmakers have to offer.

Morgana receiving her award at the OIVA gala

Morgana receiving her award at the OIVA gala

We All Go The Same at KCFF

I’ve been completely focused on editing my thriller Kurayami no Wa for the past two weeks, but I wanted to give you some festival news!

After a year of being in the festival circuit, GIFTS has received four more festival acceptances since the beginning of the year! It warms me to see that GIFTS still lives out in the festival world. The only one I can publicly announce right now is the screening at the Providence Children’s Film Festival.

In addition, my music video, We All Go The Same,  has been accepted at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF) and will be screening on Saturday February 28th! I am excited to be attending along with several members of the cast and their families.

A huge thank you to Lucia Alloggia who allowed me to have both of her daughters, Laura and Victoria, in We All Go the Same. Below is a still of Victoria alongside the matching portrait painted by Lucia. I will be updating the We All Go The Same page soon with more photos.

A still from We All Go the Same

A still from We All Go the Same

Ottawa Family Living Magazine Article

Back in September, I needed volunteers to help move two car-loads of equipment out to the forest shooting location for “We All Go the Same”. Three people on Twitter volunteered to help: Pete Patterson (@OttawaPete), Karen Fox (@SoupFox), and Pam Dillon (@PamnDillon). It was a very long shoot day, that wouldn’t have been possible without their help moving equipment very early that morning.

A bonus on the shoot day was that pro-photographer Charlene Burnside (and awesome friend of ours) was on set for part of the day taking production photos!

Fast forward a few weeks, and Pam asked if she could write an article for the upcoming issue of Ottawa Family Living Magazine, about my film work. I hadn’t met Pam before the shoot day, but it was a really fun process doing the interview with her! I can’t thank Pam enough for taking an interest in my film work.

The result is a wonderful five page article, with Charlene’s amazing production photos.

The magazine is available throughout the city, but for those of you who can’t get a copy, the article is also available online.

Click photo to view the Ottawa Family Living Magazine article.

Click photo to view the Ottawa Family Living Magazine article.

Fav Film Friday #16: Foam Drive Renegades

A short film by Adam DeViller (@AdamDeViller)

A gang of petty criminals enlists the last-minute help of an irrational acquaintance to pull off a robbery.

I really loved this short film, it was the perfect combination of dark comedy, great editing, fine details, and fantastic acting featuring some friendly faces (Glen Matthews and Josh MacDonald). Well done to everyone who worked on this epic short film.

P.S. Also see the related Fav Film Friday #9: Game, starring Glen Matthews and written/directed by Josh MacDonald.

Six Weeks Since My Last Post

Fairy looking down at Little Red.

Fairy looking down at Little Red.

We All Go the Same

It’s been over a month since my last post, because I’ve been busy rehearsing and shooting a (unofficial) music video for the Radical Face song “We All Go the Same“.

Creating the music video should have been a fairly easy shoot, as the song is only three and a half minutes long. But, the story behind the music video depicts characters from fairy-tales, and that required some detailed makeup and prosthetics work, creating costumes, as well as a ton of effort building a set of fairy-wings with a TEN FOOT WINGSPAN!

Once the music video is completely finished, I will write up a longer blog post about the shoot and the prosthetics, but for now I just wanted to share some of the production photos from the makeup/prosthetics tests, on-location rehearsal, and finally some stills from the actual shoot. You can check out the photos on the “Production Photos” page.

Article on

I had the pleasure of meeting the publisher of School Video News and, John Churchman, at CineYouth Chicago back in May. John asked if I would write a brief article about the process of making GIFTS, and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity.

And today, the article is published. Please check out the article on


Prodigy Camp Experience

A month ago, I went to Seattle for a week of indie filmmaking at “Prodigy Camp“. I received a scholarship to attend Prodigy Camp back in April at NFFTY, and was incredibly excited to go!

The first few days went by, and I loved every aspect of the camp. Attending lessons, meeting new people, really everything. I played different roles while I was there: grip, sound, and acting (the acting was a new and pleasant experience).

I acted in Elijah Seneker’s film, “Facebook Friends“. It was a last minute request, but after gladly accepting and reading the script, I was more than happy that he asked me. By far the most fun I’ve had on a shoot. I wrote a brief blog post on it and included the finished film, here.

I really learned a lot from being on set, and around the DP’s (Directors of Photography). All the staff and interns were so nice, answering any questions I might have, and helping out with anything I might need. Stefanie Malone came by one night to talk about NFFTY, and we had an opportunity to chat before her presentation, which I really enjoyed.

On to my shoot…

Before coming to camp, I prepared a script entitled “Ellie”, which is about a teen boy trying to escape from his long-time captor.

A still from the "Ellie" shoot - Nathan and Kevin

A still from the “Ellie” shoot – Nathan and Kevin

I had the wonderful opportunity to work with some great actors, including Nathan Gamble (which I was very excited about), and I had a great producer Adam McArthur, so I was really excited to start the shoot. However, as the shoot went on, I became more and more stressed. Feeling stressed on shoots can be normal, but I still found myself feeling uneasy. That feeling came because of a couple of reasons:

1. We had only a three-hour shoot window, and we started 20 minutes late because the shooting location needed some last-minute prep before we could start. I’ve had people suggest to me in the past to do things like 48-hour film festivals, but I’ve kindly turned them down because of the fact that it’s really difficult for me to work under such time constraints. I meticulously plan my shoots, but capturing an entire short film within a handful of hours isn’t for me.

2. That being said, although I was really proud of the screenplay I came up with (and my mentors loved the screenplay too), it was way too difficult to shoot this screenplay in three hours. Maybe if we had more rehearsal, and I had more time to communicate with the crew prior to our three-hour shoot, it might have been possible. But frankly, the screenplay I came up with was not meant to be made in that short amount of time.

3. This was my first time working with a Director of Photography (DP). Traditionally, a DP is in charge of the camera work, and a Director…directs, without handling the camera. Although I did take the camera in my own hands at some points, I still found it really difficult having to direct actors, crew, and a DP all at once. Especially when I had only just met them.

4. I also, sadly, found it difficult to connect with my DP on an emotional level, which is crucial when working on set with anyone. You need to be able to work with people that you can easily connect with and have the same vision, so the shoot can be done in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible. If you can’t connect, it makes the shoot a lot more difficult to get through. This had nothing to do with my DP’s technical or artistic abilities, but having to work with someone who you’ve never met before, only to find out that you approach things differently when you arrive on set, becomes a problem. Trying to sort this out on set, in a three-hour shoot, can be disastrous.

One of the things I walked away with however, is realizing that the point of camp is to make friends (or “connections” if we’re being professional), learn from the lessons and discussions, experience the different roles in the shoots, and just have fun while doing it all. The final product of a short film is a bonus. It’s great to have it, and I would have loved to finished “Ellie”, but the experience is as important as the outcome. What I took away, was an amazing experience, and yes it stings to not have a film as a final product, but I’m happy with what I’ve learned and taken away from it all.

And I do really want to especially thank Rick Stevenson (founder of Prodigy Camp) for his understanding and handling of a difficult scenario. For the session on the last day of camp where everyone presented their finished films, Rick suggested that I present some of my footage and talk openly about what went well, and what didn’t. Laura and Ned Hosford, who both work as staff and act at Prodigy Camp, were also really supportive and fun to work with.

I plan on going again next year for “Production Camp”, which is a three-day version of Prodigy Camp for the alumni, and would love to be an intern for Prodigy camp as well (wink-wink nudge-nudge). For my film at Production Camp, I am going to prepare a story idea and have a simple concept around it. I did a Fav Film Friday on a Prodigy Camp film “Well” that is similar to what I’m talking about.

Prodigy Camp was amazing, and I thank all the staff and fellow campers that made the experience the way it was. I can’t wait for next year.

Fav Film Friday #15: Well

A short film by “Rosa Berndt”.

I worked as “grip” on the set of “Well” at Prodigy Camp. As the shoot went by, I became incredibly excited to see the finished product. And when the screening day came, I was astonished at what came out of the small three hour shoot.

Rosa’s film, to me, is the definition of a film that you do with a three hour time constraint. She had a one page script with a simple concept, and then finished off the film with some beautiful visuals, working with Director of Photography Andy Maier. The overall simplicity and beauty make a great short.

Aside from Rosa however, I do think that Dylan Bachmann sold the role perfectly. Props to you my friend. Rosa put so much heart into the piece, and it’s evident in the final product. Keep doing what you’re doing Rosa, and I wish you luck in your future projects.

Fav Film Friday #14: Prospect

A short film by Shep Films (@Shep_Films)

“Prospect is the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl on a toxic alien planet. She and her father hunt for precious materials, aiming to strike it rich.”

Soon, I’ll post a blog on my experience in July at “Prodigy Camp”, but for now I want to start things off with a bang with a Fav Film Friday on “Prospect”!

I had first seen the Kickstarter campaign for this, and when the final product came out, I was in awe. It’s great when you get to see the original idea spiral out into something so much more.

Looking past the evident overall beauty, and production value, I admired how the director had moments focused on the father and daughter’s relationship. This is something that I often find is lost in sci fi’s and thrillers; the relationship between characters gets buried behind all the action, and loses it’s meaning. Prospect doesn’t lose it. Even in high moments of intensity and action, the connection isn’t lost.

I love long steady shots, so this film really won me over, because it had a lot of them. It also shocked me how smooth they were, considering all the logs, sticks, and branches around the camera operator. I can’t imagine trying to operate a steady cam while running through that. It obviously paid off in the end.

Prospect didn’t end how I expected it too, but I still loved the film tremendously overall.

I was in a film?

A couple weeks ago, I attended “Prodigy Camp” in Seattle. It was amazing, and I’ll post a blog on my experience soon.

While I was there, I was asked by fellow camper Elijah Seneker if I could be in his film. This was different for me, because I don’t usually act in anything other than the occasional class play. But, I was thrilled with the idea and promptly said yes.

It was interesting stepping back, and not directing for once. I had a blast on set with the crew, and I think Elijah did a great job on the film, so I’ll just leave you to it…

Festivals, Kurayami no Wa, and an Unnamed Music Video

Kurayami no Wa Audition Slate

Kurayami no Wa Audition Slate

Morgana is away (on her own) for the month of July, and this week she is attending Prodigy Camp outside of Seattle on a scholarship she won at NFFTY. So I (her dad) am tasked with keeping her website and social media engagement going until she returns. My first order of business? To round-up all the news from the past month…

Festival Updates

ASK Film Festival – This high-school film festival, in Kosovo, ran over a weekend in April. We knew that GIFTS was part of the official selection, but only recently did we learn that GIFTS won the festival’s “Best Editing” award!

Thurrock International Film Festival – GIFTS was recently selected to screen at the Thurrock International Film Festival in England, as part of their “Under 18″ category. And, even better, GIFTS has been nominated alongside two other short films for the “Best Under 18″ award!

Josiah Media Festival – GIFTS will also be showing at the Josiah Media Festival in San Antonio Texas this week. The festival runs from July 10th – 12th, screening two hours of films by young filmmakers each night.

SAW Video Grant

SAW Video is a local (Ottawa) not-for-profit organization that supports filmmakers with resources such as workshops and equipment rentals. Back in the March break, Morgana attended an Advanced Production Tools workshop to learn how to use a dolly and crane; tools she intends to incorporate into her upcoming short film “Kurayami no Wa”.

Just before departing to Seattle for NFFTY in late April, we discovered that SAW also offers funding and services to filmmakers through several grant programs. When we discovered this in late April, the next grant deadline was May 1st, only days after we would return jet-lagged from our stay in Seattle. We encouraged Morgana to submit a grant application for “Kurayami no Wa”. We figured that winning a grant was a long-shot, as the grants are not specifically earmarked for youth filmmakers.

If Morgana did receive a grant, the funds would help to offset the cost of renting the advanced production equipment necessary for Kurayami no Wa. Plus, SAW grants also include access to workshops and production mentors. Regardless of whether she was ultimately awarded a grant, Morgana agreed that the experience of writing a grant application would be valuable on its own. Morgana authored parts of the grant application on the plane trips to and from Seattle, and after a few late nights and assistance from mom and dad on the budget component of the application, it was delivered on the deadline day.

Fast forward to late June, and we were all completely shocked to learn that Morgana has received a SAW Video “JumpstART Mentorship Grant” which includes a wonderful combination of funding, access to services, and expertise. Every project Morgana undertakes is more ambitious than the previous project, and Kurayami no Wa will be incredibly challenging, with complex outdoor scenes to be shot in October and in the middle of winter. While I don’t doubt that Morgana would have managed without the grant, access to SAW resources during the production will help to de-risk the project and allow Morgana to push even further on some of her more challenging goals for the film.

Morgana is very thankful for the grant, and looks forward to working with SAW over the coming year.

Kurayami no Wa

Back in May, Morgana put out a casting call for the youngest role in Kurayami no Wa: a character she envisioned as a 9-10 year old girl. In addition to holding auditions for this role, she also auditioned a small number of Canterbury High School Drama students for the two primary roles.

Over several evenings, Morgana auditioned nearly a dozen people on camera in half-hour audition sessions. Each person was provided with a watermarked excerpt of the screenplay several days prior to the audition, and was asked to perform a monologue of their choice followed by a reading and performance of their part in Kurayami no Wa. Everyone was prepared, incredibly talented, and the process worked out really well. The lead roles, and many of the supporting roles, are now filled.

Unnamed Music Video

In addition to Kurayami no Wa, Morgana has been working on pre-production for a music video. Unlike performance-style music videos, this will be a narrative short film about three-minutes in length, interpreting the song lyrics within a dark fantasy setting. Morgana has kept quiet about this project, because she’s been working through the incredibly slow (and often frustrating) process of obtaining permission to use the music, and it remains unclear whether permission for use of the song will ultimately be granted.

Auditions for the cast of the music video happened at the same time as the Kurayami no Wa auditions, and the actors have been selected. Morgana is pushing forward with the production in hopes that permission for use of the song will be sorted out by the end of the year.

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