CIMA Celebration & Awards Gala 2017: A Reminder Of What Makes The Canadian Indie Music Scene So Inspiring

Many of the Canada's leaders in the independent music world gathered at the Glass Factory to celebrate the amazing work and legacies of their peers at the third annual Canadian Independent Music Association Awards Gala. Leading up to the event, we were brought on to work alongside producers Richard and Julia of Fentunes, as a Toronto video production studio, to create a series of films featuring each of the awardees and their innovative work. Those videos would be shown at the gala as the awardee took the stage. Here's how the night went...

Hosted by CBC Music's Grant Lawrence, with an appearance by CIMA President Stuart Johnston, this gala was a beautiful tribute to what makes Canada's creative community so special. Music industry pioneers including Donald K. Tarlton of DKD Productions, Steve Jordan, creator of the Polaris Music Prize, label manager juggernaut Sheri Jones (Jones & Co.), and Coalition Music founders Rob Lanni and Eric Lawrence were awarded for their accomplishments. Each laureate was given an award for their lasting influence in the field and the opportunity to invite an artist of their choosing to give a special performance. Thus, at the request of their friends and colleagues, Kayla Diamond, Charmie, Zaki Ibrahim, Jeremy Fisher and Kim Stockwood took the stage.

CBC Music's Grant Lawrence charmed the audience as host.

CBC Music's Grant Lawrence charmed the audience as host.

Kayla Diamond set the tone with her opening performance.

Kayla Diamond set the tone with her opening performance.

Throughout the evening, our videos shone a light on each awardee's lifetime achievements through a career-recapping interview, archival photographs and footage montages, and congratulation videos sent in by music industry insiders, artists and peers that were inspired by and benefited from their work.

Donald K. Tarlton received the Builder Award.

Donald K. Tarlton received the Builder Award.

Steve Jordan received the Usung Hero Award.

Steve Jordan received the Usung Hero Award.

Sheri Jones received the Brian Chater Leadership Award.

Sheri Jones received the Brian Chater Leadership Award.

Rob Lanni & Eric Lawrence received the Entrepreneur Award.

Rob Lanni & Eric Lawrence received the Entrepreneur Award.

The event also included a much-anticipated Marketing Award, which went to Arts & Crafts for their consciousness-raising work on Gord Downie's instant Canadian classic record Secret Path. Their important campaign included a deluxe package LP with a book by Jeff Lemire, a full length animated featured film (broadcast on the CBC), a concert at Roy Thompson Hall, and the creation of The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

Arts & Crafts' Jonathan Shedletzky & Kieran Roy received the 2017 Marketing Award.

Arts & Crafts' Jonathan Shedletzky & Kieran Roy received the 2017 Marketing Award.

From the setup to the closing words, the gala was a beautiful ode to Canada's thriving creative community. Being a part of this event was a wonderful reminder of what makes Canada so unique.

Our friends at Platform Productions did an great job on the AV Front.

Our friends at Platform Productions did an great job on the AV Front.

The final touches before the doors opened.

The final touches before the doors opened.

Jeffrey Remedios of Universal Music Canada chatting with Helen Britton of Six Shooter Records.

Jeffrey Remedios of Universal Music Canada chatting with Helen Britton of Six Shooter Records.

Guests checking in at the gala.

Guests checking in at the gala.

Jeremy Fisher giving a captivating performance.

Jeremy Fisher giving a captivating performance.

Charmie taking the stage to close out the evening.

Charmie taking the stage to close out the evening.


[VIDEO]: Toronto Life's Best New Restaurants of 2017 event is as good as it sounds

On March 21st, our friends at Toronto Life gathered their list of the Best New Toronto Restaurants of 2017 into one space and it was not only a feast for the eyes, but for the entire soul. We were honoured to collaborate with them in documenting the entire experience. Watch the film and see for yourself.

For one night, the Sony Centre in the heart of Toronto was filled with over 1,000 guests for a symphony of smells and sights. In celebration of the release of Toronto Life's 'Where to Eat Now' issue, they gathered together an amazing collection of culinary innovation. From dishes like butternut squash masala, to signature cocktails, honey-glad grilled octopus, decadent oysters and fire-seared sushi, everything paired perfectly with good conversation between food lovers and curators alike. 

Seventeen of Toronto's best new restaurants came ready with some of their most creative dishes. Chefs from establishments including Adamson Barbecue, Bar Begonia, Doma, Jackpot Chicken Rice, Leña, Miku, Piano Piano and Tich came out and presented their modern take on cuisine from around the world. The diversity of plates echoed the incredible convergence of cultures that make Toronto such an amazing place to live, eat and drink. Watch what took place below.

[VIDEO]: Watch Scenes From Our Night At The Yves Saint Laurent Beauty CLUB Pop-Up Party

YSL beauty

on the 25th year anniversary of yves saint laurent's Touche éclat line, thE BEAUTY BRAND brought TOGETHER some of THE greatest & BRIGHTEST from Toronto's fashion world to celebrate... and we were there to document it!

On May 10th, for one night only, Toronto's historic building, The Burroughes, was transformed into a pop-up beauty bar and it packed with some of Toronto's most influential people in the fashion world. We collaborated with the amazing event production power duo Candice & Alison, who curated the event, in capturing this night of fashion and fire.

On this special night, the warehouse was filled with an engaging music performance from Coeur de Pirate, DJ sets from Much Music's Liz Trinnear and Sophie Jones. Influential fashion bloggers including the likes of Mel HwangNicole Soo Kim, It's All Style To Me, Lang Models' Aluad Anei, heavy-hitting fashion designer Greta Constantine, and many more came out to pay homage to the long-standing fashion & beauty staple brand.

We hit the scene with our cameras and captured the night that will forever be remembered for its bright lights and glitter... lots of glitter! Watch the film below.

A special Coeur de Pirate performance. Always a treat.

A special Coeur de Pirate performance. Always a treat.

Fashion designer Greta Constantine leaving a literal lasting impression.

Fashion designer Greta Constantine leaving a literal lasting impression.

Doing some good with Camp Quality

A few days ago, my friend Carly, whom we knew from her time at Upper Canada College, reached out to me to help out with some video work for Camp Quality, a wonderful national charitable organization devoted to providing free camp experiences and year-round programming for children with cancer. I readily agreed to take this on as a pro-bono project.

What she needed to do was to create a little compilation video with some archival footage of the kids talking about their experience at the camps as well as some photographs, creating a coherent yearly Thank You video. The footage wasn't shot by us and some of it was lower resolution, but we decided to maintain a straightforward approach and up-rez it, our general approach being that once viewers recognize that something is 'archival' (as opposed to shot-for-commercial, for example), they are willing to forgive a certain lapse in quality, so long as the sound is clear and audible, which it was in this case.

Given our experience putting together such videos for educational institutions (most notably Upper Canada College and Branksome Hall), this was something we decided we'd be happy to help Camp Quality with. And so we gathered all the material from Carly and proceeded to cut together a small and simple 2-minute clip melding all the assets provided together. Our philosophy was to keep it clean and simple and go straight into the children's experiences, minimizing visual distraction, but illustrating their talking points by overlaying the stills atop and around their 'interviews'. 

After a few revisions with Carly, we came to a final version which, though not perfect (deadlines were tight), accomplishes everything it needed to: to recap some of the year's activities while emphasizing the mission of the camps and their impact on the children!

A little further info on Camp Quality, from their website:

ur six overnight camps in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario are provided to children affected by cancer ages 4-18. The camps are focused on kids building new skills like swimming and hiking, kayaking and storytelling, making friends and gaining memories to last a lifetime.

We also provide a leadership development camp called New Heights for teens and an adventure challenge called Breaking Borders that are designed to challenge each young person physically and mentally. We also have a Puppet Program that uses life-size puppets to teach elementary school children about childhood cancer.

Our camps are fueled by over 450 volunteers who give of their time and talents. These volunteers include our companion counselors who ensure campers have fun, our medical practitioners who ensure the safety of each child and the program and camp directors who lead our amazing programming.

We are supported by a group of generous corporations, foundations, individuals and service clubs who understand the need and how their gifts ensure our camps remain free, and that through their support each child will increase their self-esteem and their quality of life.

Camp Quality invites you to get to know our organization and the meaningful overnight camping and year-round experiences we are providing to children and families.

Mission: Camp Quality Canada is a volunteer, non-profit, charitable organization that strives to improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through camps and year-round family support programs.

Vision: We believe in improving the quality of life for children living with cancer, and for their families. We want them to find joy and hope through the healing power of laughter and optimism, shared experiences and ongoing support.

If this strikes a chord and you'd like to pitch in also, please reach out directly to the wonderful at Camp Quality through their website, here.

Our Daisy Chain for the Coca Cola Open Happiness Project

My good friend Andrew Cee (the director of Millions: The Series) asked me to come out a few weeks ago and help him shoot a spot for the Coca Cola Open Happiness Project series he’d been selected to be a part of. His idea was quite simple – though it later turned out to be pretty hard to execute, actually… – as he wanted to give people daisies with notes attached, and the expectation that they ‘pay it forward’ and re-gift the flower to someone else. It was a fun concept, and we mostly went hidden-camera (I was on a monopod and a 70-200mm lens all day, which NEVER happens), using a few accomplices (that we didn’t know) to deliver flowers to their friends and, often times, to complete strangers.

It feels like some magical moments happened: a big hunk voleyball player gave a flower to a mom and her child, foreign exchange students experienced Toronto hospitality firsthand, and we apparently created friendships that lasted throughout the day (and maybe beyond?). By the time the end of the afternoon came around, we’d really found our groove and a good method that would allow people to be enthused rather than spooked when we approached them (it turns out people seem to always assume we wanted to sell them the flowers!). But ultimately, everything worked out, and we witnessed a heartwarming series of random acts of kindness, and we found flowers all over the beach, and in the hands of people heading back home with the gift they’d received from a stranger, their day a little brighter.

Thanks to Andrew for always giving me a shout to shoot his stuff, for Lee Pham for managing the day, to my amazing assistant Crystal, and to everyone else that came out to be part of our little Random Acts of Kindness crew! It was a stunning few hours at the beach, full of kind, beautiful people… one of those days that makes you realize that Toronto is kind of awesome, in its own way, as you’ll experience it in the video!

Enjoy your summer, and spread the Happiness 

BRIKA

photo 4.JPG

When Jen and Kena approached us to shoot a Mother's Day video for their online shop, BRIKA, we knew right away it was going to be a perfect fit. One glance at their website and you can tell that BRIKA isn't your typical online shopping experience. They offer a curated selection of pieces from international makers, artisans, and designers that celebrates the craft of storytelling and the belief that everyone has a creative spark. 

 

As we entered their office, it was like walking into a physical manifestation of their beautifully-designed website. It ended up being the perfect location to shoot. We loved the furniture and decor so much that it ended up contributing to the whole aesthetic of the video! After a day of shifting, shuffling, mixing, and matching their entire office (sorry guys!), it was clear that Jen and Kena's contagious energy and ingenuity had shaped the shoot. 

We think the video playfully expresses what the BRIKA community has come to celebrate: the beauty of elevated craft and storytelling. Watch the video and tell us what you think!

Have a happy Mother's Day!

#JourneyToTheCrucible : Our First Fully Integrated Video and Web Campaign

A little while back, the folks over at the XPeerience Group came to us and wanting create a series of commercials for their upcoming ‘O Course Crucible’ event, which is an obstacle course race inspired by the Crucible, a 72-hour stength and endurance test every U.S. Marine needs to go through before ‘graduating’.

The idea of this campaign was to showcase five individuals (we ended up scaling down to four) preparing for the race. In talking with the client, we established that the most impactful way to go about this was to create a series of ‘stories’ focusing not only on the preparation of our subjects, but on their Journey, on what doing this race means to them and how it relates to their life story.

We decided that before going out and shooting the subjects we’d do in-person pre-interviews with them to get a really good sense of their stories. This was a key decision because it allowed us to actually connect on a personal basis to these people that, quite frankly, have amazing stories! We took notes during our pre-interview and so, in the end, the narration that you hear in the videos isn’t written by us for them, but is just a re-shuffling of things they’d candidly said in the pre-interview. Now, of course, they’re all non-professionals, and we wish we had more time in the recording so we could really achieve a tone that reflects that better, but we can’t always do things the way we want, and we had to stick to under an hour for each character’s narration, and record in their homes as opposed to a studio (actually, in a stinky locker room for Jesse)!

The way we say it, we’d make this into a cool micro-campaign, similar to the stuff Nike or Gatorade would make. We were also heavily influenced, aesthetically, by the SportChek ‘Mothers Day’ commercial – we loved its way of telling a story with voice-over and gritty, ‘real’ images.

Maybe we’re our own worse critics, but the in the end, the pieces we made aren’t perfect. There’s ‘mistakes’ and flaws, but where it does succeed, we think, is in conveying the stories of our characters. But enough of what we think. Check out the four videos below!

Gear

For this gig, instead of working with a RED, we decided to go out on a limb and test the newly released Magic Lantern hack for the Canon 5D Mark III. The reason for this was two-fold:

First, we wanted a camera with a small form factor that would allow the camera operator (Bowen for most shots, and Reggie for the glidecam work) to shoot ‘on the fly’ and handheld. We had the time and leisure to set up our shots, of course, but weren’t looking for a highly polished look, instead trying to achieve a sense of gritty reality – working out is a painful thing, something that takes effort and de-stabilizes you.

Second, we wanted to put the money on the glass as opposed to the camera. We splurged and got ourselves a set of Zeiss CP2 cine lenses, which were fabulous to work with, with their impeccably sharp rendering, colour, and a focus ring so much more accurate than the photo glass we usually use (though, to be honest, I think that was a tough transition without an AC pulling focus!).

For lights, we had Arris, Kino Flo Divas, Lowell Totas and DP lights, reflectors, scrims and gels of all sorts, with a bunch of heavy-duty c-stands, etc. Come to think of it, we actually had a relatively compact kit that basically all fit inside a Toyota Corolla (because we’re gangster like that)!

5D Mark III w/ Zeiss CP2 glass

5D Mark III w/ Zeiss CP2 glass

shooting Emme at Crossfit

shooting Emme at Crossfit

a little 'warrior bounce'!

a little 'warrior bounce'!

One thing that was important for us with the Journey campaign was to extend the project beyond the videos we created. So, we came up with a social media strategy that included complementary content such as inspirational image quotes, tweets and blog posts with recipes, workout plans, and more general motivational words from people that have decided to change their lives in a big way.

A month later, having wrapped production, we’ve definitely become attached to Emme, Stephen, Jesse and Catherine. Our hope is that our retelling of their journeys, which they have graciously accepted to share with us, can help people find the courage to make their own step forward. Too often, people go through challenges of their own, and that stuff can beat us down, or make us lose track of who we can be. But as Emme eloquently put it:

Remember that the world can’t tell you what to do, or what patten to follow. It’s all in your hands.