Letter To An Unborn Child

Letter To An Unborn Child is a short film collage made of footage I have collected over the years on various projects and travels. It is a letter to an unborn child reminding her of the magic and power she has within herself. 

I'm pleased to announce that Letter To An Unborn Child won an award at Bestias Danzantes Festival de Cine de Danza in Santiago, Chile and will be traveling to ScreenDance Festival, Sweden and Bucharest International Dance Film Festival, Romania in 2017.

CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Adam Crosby, Greg Biskup, Nadia Tan
DANCERS: Nyda Kwasowsky, Amanda Acorn, Krystel Cisnero
MUSIC: Jonas Bonnetta
THANKS: Peter Dreimanis, Quote Unquote Collective

WINNER // Best one-minute film 2016 // Bestias Danzantes Festival, Santiago Chile

What is #Perfection?

I had been wanting to work with the very talented award-winning director Chelsea McMullan (My Prairie Home, Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John) for a long time, so I was very excited when she called me up to edit her latest project. This three-minute film features member of the junior US National Team, gymnast Jordan Chiles, as she performs the Amânar vault, which is considered one of the most difficult moves in gymnastics. Shot on the Phantom Flex4K at 1000fps, the film deconstructs the move by focusing on Jordan's individual gestures - the twist of her body as she performs a round-off, her legs as she prepares to jump, and her hands as they spring off the vault - and flashes back to similar moments from her childhood, illustrating the lifetime of muscle memory that is informing each move. 

The film was featured this week on Nowness and is part of a branded campaign by Audi. 

DIRECTOR: Chelsea McMullan
EDITOR: Nadia Tan
SOUND DESIGN: Jane Tattersall
COMPOSER: Alex Unger

July Talk // Push + Pull

When July Talk first approached me to make a music video for Push + Pull, I had a long phone conversation with Pete about the meaning of the song. He told me it was about Western excess, about our never-ending appetite, about the types of people who consume and consume and don't know when to stop, about our irrational but constant need for more food, more mind-altering substances, more sex, more "likes", more money, more things. 

I thought it would be interesting to try to capture these themes in the video through raw documentary-style footage showing various groups of people partaking in excess in different ways across North America over the course of one night, which would be intercut with performance footage. 

For the doc-style shoots, I worked with my long-time collaborator, cinematographer Maya Bankovic. The overarching concept was that everything we shot should somehow relate back to the idea of excess or consumption or that desire for more extreme experiences - that type of careening-through-life that makes you feel alive.

For the performance footage, I worked with long-time friend but first-time collaborator, cinematographer Adam Crosby. We loved the idea of choreography, so we found an opulent mansion as the backdrop for the dance sequences. Leah choreographed the dancing - we worked together to establish movements that we called "human dancing" - not too dancy, but more gestural. And we also brought in some of the spastic movement that I'd explored in a previous video with Dan Griffin - shot at 120fps, it has a strange, dreamy quality to it.

Wanting to keep the band performance as clean as possible, we decided to go with a black void studio shoot and a simple one-light setup. I wanted each shot to have subtle movement to it (a push or a pull, if you will), so we shot the entire performance section on steadicam, operated by the indomitable Ali Khurshid. Cinematographer Mike McLaughlin also joined us for the day and shot some 16mm footage on a bolex.

PRODUCER: Pete Dreimanis (Vulture Culture)
DANCERS: Amanda Acorn, Krystel Cisnero, Ishan Davé, Peter D'Souza, Malcolm Messado-Fletcher, Norah Sadava, Zahra Vassell, Ross Wirtanen
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Adam Crosby, Maya Bankovic, Mike McLaughlin
STEADICAM: Ali Khurshid
STYLED BY: Jenna Rose Storey
MAKE UP BY: Jess Panetta, Emily O'Quinn
COLOURIST: Conor Fisher (Alter Ego)

Raising the Words

I've been working with director/photographer Chloë Ellingson on a short documentary called Raising the Words. It is a lyrical piece about a group of people in the Iroquois community who are working to revitalize the Mohawk (or Kanien'keha) language, which is on the verge of becoming extinct. The documentary follows six characters who speak about their personal connection to the language, about what it means to have one's ancestral language taken away and how language influences our identity.

Tim Hortons // #WarmWishes

Earlier this week, Tim Hortons unveiled their holiday campaign with this heartwarming video documenting good deeds performed in the small town of Grimsby, Ontario. Over the course of one day, the production team collected 22 hours of footage. I worked with director Justin Brennon Smith of BizMedia and producer Brent Martin to cut this together.

GoodLife // The Struggle is Real

I just finished editing this video for GoodLife Fitness produced by Notch Video. Shot in the early a.m. and during the fleeting sunlight around dusk, this video is based on real tweets and highlights the eternal struggle to go to the gym at all hours of the day.

DIRECTOR: Paul Constantakis
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pawel Pogorzelski
EDITOR: Nadia Tan
PRODUCER: Brent Martin, Ian Buck, Yotam Dor 

Dan Griffin // The Hum

Dan Griffin asked me to direct a video for his song The Hum. It is about the mysterious Windsor hum that can be heard by many residents living in the city. No one knows exactly where it is coming from, but many believe that it is emanating from Zug Island, a heavily industrialized, heavily guarded island in Detroit.

The concept for the video was a vaguely post-apocalyptic environment in which people are searching for the hum which can be heard and sensed in rocks, trees, walls and other surfaces. To these people the hum is beautiful, a euphoric vibration. But it is so elusive, the search often ends up driving them crazy. 

Just like one of the real-life researchers of the Windsor hum said "a sound like this, one that doesn’t manifest itself on a regular, timed interval, it’s like chasing a ghost."


Bry Webb // Fletcher

I have always been fascinated with photographing strangers, especially the unremarkable people - the older generation tending to their gardens and sitting on their porches, the labourers who become a part of the landscape - the people who form the backbone of our world, yet often go unseen.

To me, Bry Webb sings about these people in his songs, there is a longing for a simpler time and a simpler world; he sings about people who work with their hands and who wake and sleep with the rising and setting of the sun.

A few years ago, I discovered some of the postwar housing communities in Ontario and became enamoured with the simple beauty of these boxy white clapboard bungalows. I thought this would be the perfect setting for the video for Fletcher. Cinematographer Greg Biskup and I traveled to some of the these communities and captured a series of portraits of strangers going about their everyday lives.


Canada Goose x Wings+Horns

Canada Goose recently collaborated with Vancouver-based menswear design company Wings+Horns on a limited edition jacket called the Decade Parka. They hired me to create a video illustrating the fusion of Canada Goose technology with Wings+Horns design, and this is what I came up with.

ART DIRECTOR: Adam Belanger
EDITOR: Steve Guise (Rouse and Fable)
COMPOSERS: Lodewijk Vos and Joseph Murray (Menalon)

Vice Director's Canvas // Sturla Gunnarsson

I was approached by Vice to do some editing for a series of short documentary portrait videos of directors who are screening films at TIFF this year. One of the subjects was Sturla Gunnarsson (Beowulf & Grendel) who has a feature documentary at TIFF called Monsoon. While paddling serenely in a canoe on Lake Ontario, Gunnarsson speaks about his filmmaking process, his awe of nature and fascination with vast landscapes.

Throwing Cotton

I recently finished editing a short film called Throwing Cotton directed by Tori Larsen, based on a short story by Sarah Selecky. It is about a group of couples who spend a weekend at a friend's farmhouse and find themselves tempted by the comfort of each other's partners.

It is endlessly fascinating to me working with new directors and getting to know their cinematic style. The raw footage for this film has a certain slow, moody rhythm and I quickly learned to embrace the natural pacing of the footage, allowing the story to unfold unhurried.

Bry Webb // Prove Me Wrong

I colour corrected this music video last week, directed by Colin Medley and shot by Maya Bankovic for Bry Webb's song "Prove Me Wrong". It's a lyrical, hypnotizing video set in the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, with lots of footage of donkeys moving around in slow motion. If you are not obsessed with donkeys yet, you will be after watching this video.

Megan Bonnell // Stars

Nevado Records approached us last month to make a music video for Megan Bonnell's song Stars. Maya came up with the concept of a "star-child" draped in a bejewelled and twinkling cape, roaming the streets of Toronto. We had Megan wander through Chinatown, dip into shops and search for her kindred spirit amidst the crowds. She finally finds her home on the shore of Lake Ontario, bewitched by the vast landscape of stars moving through the night sky.

CAPE DESIGN: Olga Barksy, Dustin Redshaw

Young Rival // Black is Good

I helped out my good friend and long-time collaborator Jared Raab in the edit room. First Jared and programmer/animator Tomasz Dysinski collected real-time depth data of Young Rival performing the song using an X-Box Kinect. We edited these black and white 2D sequences like a regular video, and then Tomasz converted each frame of depth information into a random dot stereogram image.

I see a dinosaur, a dolphin, a teapot and a schooner - what else can you see? (Be sure to watch in full 1080HD)

Canadian Tire // Ice Truck

Last winter, Canadian Tire released a car battery that will start in extremely cold temperatures. To illustrate this new technology they built a fully functional truck out of ice, froze the battery to -40°C and drove the truck through the streets of Hensall, Ontario.

Canova Media asked me to direct a short documentary capturing the truck-building process. We traveled to Ice Culture in Hensall to witness the conception, testing, and construction of the ice truck, and we captured the monumental 1.6 km drive as the ice truck set a world record.

This documentary video was part of a larger campaign by media agency Touché PHD, Taxi Canada, Fuse Marketing, North Strategic and Notch Video. The campaign has been shortlisted and won awards at numerous international advertising festivals including Cannes Lions, Marketing Magazine and Digi Awards.

EDITOR: Chris Murphy (Relish Editing)
MUSIC: Dan Griffin

Spring and Arnaud // Trailer

I had the pleasure of working with Site Media directors Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight on a trailer for their feature documentary Spring & Arnaud which is about to play at a series of festivals. It’s a gorgeous, poetic film about love and mortality with stunning shots of the sculpture and photography of Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs.

I’ve only edited a small handful of feature film trailers so it’s always an exciting challenge for me to narrow down a 1 hr+ film into a 2 minute piece while making sure to capture the essence of the story.

In The Kitchen // Spice Spoon

A few weeks ago, Shayma Saadat of Spice Spoon invited me and Brent Martin into her kitchen where we captured her making a saffron orange-scented bread pudding. We then went to the sound recording studio where she spoke nostalgically of her native country of Pakistan and recalled memories of standing by the stove as a child and watching her grandmother cook with oranges.

Dan Griffin // Bordertown

Dan Griffin called us up in June to make a video for Bordertown, a song that explores the purgatorial experience of living in Windsor – a place that defines itself based on its relationship to its border city – the fallen empire of Detroit. Dan sings about the loneliness of living in an unfamiliar place, about the strangeness of living in a rundown bordertown, linked by the Ambassador bridge and constantly in the shadow of its looming American counterpart, where evidence of its glory days of prohibition era rum-running, of the burgeoning Motor City are littered throughout.

So Maya and I traveled to Windsor and Detroit, along with our friend and tour-guide Dave Todon – a talented photographer who grew up in Windsor, and who knows all the best ditches and back alleys for skateboarding and other general shenanigans.

In this black and white doc-style music video, we shot local Windsorites skating, hitching themselves to backs of cars, shotgunning beers, vomiting, chasing birds, crossing the border, doing burnouts in garages and dancing in clubs at night. It was about finding beauty in the bleak landscape of a rundown city, about capturing youths finding ways to pass the time that only those in dead-end towns know how to do, about creating moments that feel like we are careening uncontrollably through life which – in a rundown bordertown – is the only way to truly feel alive.

Special thanks to Nick, Hill, Dinger, Robin, Joel and Lucas for showing us around town and letting us photograph them getting up to no good.


Trois Nuits et Une Mort

I just finished editing a short film with Quebec-based director Stéphane Dirschauer. It's a moody film ominously titled Trois Nuits et une Mort. This is the third project we've worked on together since his first film in 2008, and it is mostly in French - which is an interesting exercise for me as I am not a French-speaker.