Category Archives: art

Run to Mystical Landscapes at AGO and leave the toddlers at home!

Fantastic! This is one word which sums up the Mystical Landscape show at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. Running from October 22, 2016 – January 29, 2017, the show features art between 1880-1930 of artists who were disillusioned with traditional religious institutions and searched for meaning through mystical experiences.

The 37 artists from 14 countries includes: Lawren Harris, Emily Carr, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe and James McNeill Whistler. It was interesting to see pieces from Edvard Munch and Georgia O’Keeffe that were not a screaming figure or flowers, which they are best known for! A complete list of artists in the show is available here on activity worksheets for school children (which also explains the themes of the show quite well) and listed below.

I was impressed with the fact that audio resources for the show were available for free as a guide during the show (those plastic things you carry around) or you can download the audio onto your iphone or listen online!

During the show, the showstopping piece everyone looked at was Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles from 1888. I’m sure phosphorescent (glow in the dark) paint was not used, yet somehow this piece has stars which glow and touches the soul with curiosity. Wikipedia has a write up with details about Van Gogh writing to his brother about this painting.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles, 1888

My favorite pieces in the show were landscapes  by Swedish artist Eugene Jansson. The one below is Dawn over Riddarfjärden, 1899. This is a large painting and when you look at it you feel like you are part of the landscape, engulfed in the light which is spilling out from the sky.

Eugène Jansson mystical landscapes ago

I’ve been to the show twice, once with my mother-in-law and once with my toddler. It was much more enjoyable with an adult because you had time to walk around slowly and take in the beauty of the paintings. I thought that my toddler might like the beautiful colors of the art, but he only wanted to climb up and down the leather couches within the exhibit. I guess those were his favorite pieces in the show!

Towards the exit there were a few pieces with crystals and planets in space which I thought were great as well. Lots to see and take in at this show, I highly recommend that you stop by if you are visiting Toronto!

Artists List in Mystical Landscapes Show

(Source: AGO Teacher Resources)

France
Émile Bernard (1868-1941)
Richard Burgsthal (1884-1944)
Maurice Chabas (1862-1947)
Henri-Edmond Cross (1865-1910)
Maurice Denis (1870-1943)
Charles-Marie Dulac (1866-98)
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910)
Georges Lacombe (1868-1916)
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Paul Serusier (1864-1927)
Henri Le Sidaner (1862-1939)

Austria
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Belgium
Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921)
William Degouve de Nuncques (1867-1935)
Netherlands
Vincent van Gogh (1853-90)
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Jan Verkade (1868-1946)

Denmark
Mogens Ballin (1871-1941)
Ejnar Nielsen (1872-1956)
Jens Ferdinand Willumsen (1863-1958)

Norway
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

Sweden
Gustaf Fjaestad (1868-1948)
Eugène Jansson (1862-1915)
Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)
August Strindberg (1849-1912)

Russia
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Switzerland
Augusto Giacometti (1877-1947)
Giovanni Giacometti (1868-1933)
Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)
Felix Vallotton (1865-1925)
United States of America
Arthur G. Dove (1880-1946)
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
James McNeil Whistler (1834-1903)

Canada
Emily Carr (1871-1945)
Lawren Harris (1885-1970)
Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974)
Jock MacDonald (1897-1960)
Tom Thomson (1877-1917)
Frederick Horseman Varley (1881-1969)

Great Britain
James Dickson Innes (1887-1914)
Paul Nash (1889-1946)
George Frederick Watts (1817-1904)

Ireland
Grace Henry (1868-1953)

Czech Republic
Wenzel Hablik (1881-1934)

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Undead Sorceress Front Cover Reveal!

I was complaining recently that I had hired a cover artist who fired me as he thought my mock front cover was good enough. Also he had 20 covers in queue and didn’t really want to think too hard about detail work. So I took it upon myself to improve what I already had as I thought it was missing a “”je ne sais quoi!”

After spending many hours researching and staring at hundreds of other book covers in store and online , I learned a lot about styles of different books. As I wanted a “unisex” book, straight lines were better. Books purposely aimed at female audiences had lots of swirly motifs and books directed to men had darker colors. Fantasy books in general are the most elaborate, with lots of illustrations compared to other books which just have fancy text and stock graphics.

Subsequently, after lots of fiddling around with my graphics program for a few days, here is the new cover. TA DA!

cover reveal

 

You might think – this cover looks the same as the mock cover!

Well, the changes include a different font (looked at thousands of fonts before choosing this one), a straight line divider, shuriken symbol, smaller wallpaper and shadowing of the text.

The “Volume One…” text was moved from the bottom of the mock cover because I looked at many paperbacks at the bookstore and realized that not all books have their edges cut evenly. So if I have anything at the bottom that’s significant, it might look odd if the book cutting machine isn’t having a good day!

For me, the font was super important as it evokes emotions and helps convey an aura of fantasy. Generally the new cover to me seems more dramatic and elegant.

compare l

The spine & back cover is another story as I am still working on that. People keep going on about having an important front cover and they forget the rest of the book! Will post the rest as it comes together!

 

Tokyo Part 3 – Sights

You realize you are a foreign stranger in a strange land when you notice that all the signs are in Japanese and there is no English. Or in my case, no French as well. It’s a uni-lingual city because the majority of the people are Japanese!

Out of all the places we went to, I thought that the neatest area to visit was the Senso-ji Temple area because there were so traditional artsy things and yummy street food!  There was a lot of shopping on the 33 floors of Skytree, the tallest tower in Tokyo.  The three floors of desserts alone left my Viking husband breathless and he usually hates retail!

The following sets of pics include: 1) General stuff – Tokyo Tower, musical posters & casino 2) Senso-ji Temple, highrise sights & Disney Xmas trees, 3) Skytree shopping mall & aquarium and 4) The Meiji Shrine and Edo Tokyo museum.

General stuff

Xmas was everywhere in December although most people don’t celebrate it – it’s just a shopping holiday to them! We were living near Tokyo Tower, so it was a nice sight to see daily.  Originally I thought the casino was an anime store because there were so many cute drawings outside – but it turns out it consists of arcade games, some anime related (Evangelion game).  There were also tons of musical posters in subways stations – such as Wicked and Love Never Dies (sequel to Phantom of the Opera).

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Senso-ji Temple, highrise sights & Disney Xmas trees

One of the coolest places was Shibuya station. My friends insisted that we go to see the street scramble.  It was a bit scary to be crossing the road with over a hundred people at once!

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Skytree shopping mall & aquarium

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Meiji Shrine and Edo Tokyo Museum

It was raining the day we went to see the Meiji Shrine but it was still a nice place to visit, although a bit cold and damp.  The Edo Tokyo Musuem was highly recommended by a friend and it was pretty incredible.  There was a lot of large displays of buildings from different eras you could walk into.

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Fun medals for Hobbit fans

A few days ago I saw the second Hobbit movie and made it through the whole thing without peeing. As a small person with a tiny bladder, this was a huge deal for me! My husband with his iron bladder said in amusement in the end that I deserved a medal.

So what the heck, I’m still jet lagged anyways and don’t feel like unpacking; why not make medals to share with everyone who survived the movies without peeing?!

Medals can be downloaded for fun here: https://jfgarrard.com/medals/

Feel free to share this ridiculous joy and take pride in the fact that you are a champion!

Q & A with Simon Horrocks, Third Contact Director

Happy New Year everyone!

The year 2014 is the year of the horse which means that many people will be working hard and creating new projects this year.  No exception to this is Simon Horrocks, who is not only a director; he is also a cameraman, composer, cinematographer, editor and screenwriter.  He may also be a makeup artist and gourmet chef, but I didn’t see that in the imbd credits of his new film.

We met on twitter on December 31, 2013, as he was busy spreading word his Indiegogo campaign to bring his film, “Third Contact” to CanadaThird Contact received its World Premiere at the Internationale Hofer Filmtage on 25 October, 2012 in Hof and was a successful Kickstarter campaign with 435 backers for a London BFI IMAX event.

3C screenshot 1

Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time to do this quick Q & A with me.  I watched the trailer for your Indiegogo campaign and was quite intrigued as I used to work in a mental hospital and love dark films.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to create this movie after years as a professional composer?  You did some work on short films; did they serve as a catalyst for you to start working on your own film project?

I was a professional composer, writing music for TV shows such as Oprah and NBC sport, BBC daytime shows, plus the occasional Playstation game. My main passion was filmmaking. I’d wanted to be a director since before I knew what it meant. So I’d also been writing a lot, selling and optioning a few screenplays, but none of them made it into production.

I’d also been involved in a few shorts. When I fell on hard times as a composer, I had to get a ‘day job’ for the first time in 20 years, working in a cinema. But this gave me the opportunity to decide I was ready to write and direct my first feature film.

Often bad things that happen to us can be used as an opportunity to change ourselves. I took that opportunity.

In regards to your Third Contact, can you tell us a bit about the plot and themes?  

The film is about a psychotherapist who has lost faith in the world, but when disaster strikes, he uses it as an opportunity to rejuvenate himself and embarks on an obsessive investigation into the mysterious deaths of two patients.

Although the film is part scifi, exploring philosophical implications of ideas in quantum physics, its also a love story and a story about madness, depression, obsession, regret, loss. So I believe we can all connect with these themes.

The interesting things is, although it might be considered an ‘arthouse’ film, I’ve found people who don’t normally watch those kind of films get something from Third Contact that they weren’t expecting.

How was this story inspired?  Did it take long to write?

It was inspired from what one critic described as a ‘goldmine of ideas’. I had already worked on a script back in 2006-7 using the idea of quantum suicide. So I approached the subject again, but in a different way. I wrote the first draft in about a month or so, then had my filmmaker friend, Verity (who I met working at the cinema), read the script and give me notes.

I wanted Verity to help because she is a very unique and talented filmmaker, who I knew would be sympathetic to the work. I knew she wouldn’t impose any screenwriting rules, she would just assess it as a story. So after about 3 drafts and 6-7 month, I was ready to make the film.

When did you first learn about the idea of quantum suicide and why is this so intriguing?

I read an article about it around 2005, while I was looking into various quantum mechanics ideas. It had such a striking name, I had to find out more. The idea of subjective-immortality was very interesting, and I thought about this idea for a long time. It certainly changed the way I saw the universe and life in general.

I think a lot of current ‘scifi’ stories are basically future tech stories, which are old stories dressed up in fancy new clothes. Star wars and the current Star Trek films, for example, are basic action films with laser guns and spaceships.

I like my stories, and particularly scifi, to be thought-provoking. And subjective-immortality is certainly that. I could probably make films for the rest of my life on that one subject and never fully explore it.

How many people or countries have seen this film and are you happy with their reaction? 

While we were running the kickstarter, we realised we were now selling the film to the entire planet, as this was the way crowdfundng via the internet works. So we realised we couldn’t just focus on a UK premiere as the main attraction, it had to be a global premiere.

We decided to broadcast the film live over the internet, simultaneously with the film showing in the BFI IMAX, and hold the Q&A taking questions from the audience in the theatre and the online audience via a twitter feed we projected up onto the big screen.

The premiere was seen in 22 different countries by almost 1000 people, including the 300 or so in the theatre.

The reaction was amazing. Better than we ever dreamed of. So many people not only expressed their love for the film but returned days later to say the film had stayed with them.

Filmmaking is very expensive, how did you fund this movie and did you ever think about making it commercial via film festivals or selling the script?  Is script querying similar to novel querying, taking many years to find an agent?

Filmmaking doesn’t have to be expensive. The budget for Third Contact was £4000, which included the cost of buying the camera and the mic. Anyone can pick up a camera and make a feature film. But it will require a huge amount of effort, dedication and people putting their time in for the love of the project.

Someone came up to me after the IMAX premiere and told me I should make the film more commercial, if I wanted a career. I said – we just hired the biggest, most prestigious cinema in the UK and made a profit, outselling all the other shows on the night combined (we are talking films made for $100m +) – the film is commercial. He had to agree.

You have to remember, nobody knows anything. How many publishers turned down Harry Potter? Presumably, because they thought it wasn’t commercial. The idea that Harry Potter isn’t commercial is an absurdity to us now, but for how long did Rowling have to listen to that?

I don’t know anything about getting a novel published, but I did have a screenwriting agent in LA for about a year. From that experience, I realised I didn’t want to be anybody’s writer. I wanted to develop my own vision, and that could only happen outside the industry. The industry are too scared to take risks on anything. If they’re too scared to take a risk on Harry Potter, you know they are really incredibly conservative.

Either that, or its an elitist club, where everyone is doing each other favours. Which means that if you don’t have the right friends, or are not very good at making the right friends, you have no career.

Film festivals work exactly the same way; the major ones do, anyway. Its all about who you know and if you send your film in blindly with the submission fee, you are essentially paying for your own rejection letter. How many of the films which are programmed do you think paid the submission fee?

So, if you don’t have the right friends, be prepared to fight to get noticed. Give it everything, if you really believe in what you are doing. Ignore the naysayers.

What are the steps from script to actually finishing a film?  Did it take a long time?

It took roughly 3 years from writing the first word to finishing the final edit. The steps are long, partly because I was teaching myself how to do things as I went. I’d never shot a film before, so I had to learn how to use a camera. I’d never edited a film before, so I had to learn. Which means re-doing things again and again, to get it right.

We re-wrote the music score 3 or 4 times to get it right. This is very time-consuming.

Do you have any advice for budding film makers?  Would you recommend they try crowd funding?

You don’t need money to make a film. You do need money to promote a film and get it seen. Having said that, crowdfunding is there, and if you show you are committed, people will back you. Filmmaking is about your audience.

If you don’t have an audience, there’s no point making a film. Crowdfunding is a way to engage your audience and involve them in what you are doing. Its a fantastic opportunity to develop your filmmaking voice with your fans, who will be cheering on your risk-taking rather than throwing a wet towel over it, like the industry will.

Will your next film project be a dark story or something lighter? 

I don’t set out to make something dark. I write stories I’m inspired by and passionate about. I personally don’t enjoy ‘happy ending’ films, or films which try to force a positive message on you, because I think it’s a lie. Nothing ends neatly and ‘happily ever after’. Life is messy, complex, bittersweet.

The ‘heroes journey’ template which Hollywood, and supposedly ‘commercial’ cinema, follows slavishly is incredibly patronising to it’s audience. Its saying you are too stupid to deal with any complex reflection of reality, so its going to be simplified for you.

I personally believe its possible to reflect reality and entertain people without patronising them. Why do Shakespeare’s plays still hold up 400 years later? Why do Dickens’ stories still draw big audiences? Because they are gripping stories which reflect the complexity of life.

Back to Third Contact, can you give us a final pitch on how awesome it would be for the audience if they contribute to your campaign?  What are the goodies they receive?

We find ourselves in a position with Third Contact where audiences love the film, but the industry are refusing to take a risk with it. So we have developed a new way of showing this film in cinemas.

We are using our own ‘cinema on demand’ method, using the IndieGoGo.com platform. If you would like to see this film in one of the cinemas listed, you need to make it happen. If we don’t get enough seat reservations, by the events deadline, the show will not go ahead.

For the shows in Canada, you can pledge for a seat for $10. There are other options as well, such as a signed poster of a CD of the original score, or the official Third Contact t-shirt. You can add these for a little extra contribution, which will help us reach the target, so we can then go ahead and hire the cinemas.

If we don’t reach the target, IndieGoGo will refund you. But we hope it won’t come to that. By reserving your seat, you are helping independent cinema to develop its own voice, away from the risk-free industry.

If this works for us, other indie filmmakers will be able to follow us, so you will be reinvigorating cinema and encouraging filmmakers to come up with fresh ideas, by getting involved and supporting us.

Have a great New Year and may 2014 be the best year yet for Third Contact!  Please have a look at his link to his Indigogo campaigns happening all over the place for this film and hopefully it will be showing in a local theatre new you.  The links below are for his campaigns if you want to see something thought provoking!

January 30 – Cube Cinema, Bristol

February 12 – The Cinema Museum, London

February 18 – Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford

February 22 – Central Kino in Berlin

February 24 – Rio Theatre, Vancouver, Canada

February 26 – Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa, Canada

February 28 – Carlton Cinema, Toronto, Canada

March 6 – Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle

March 7 – Late Show at The Sheffield Showroom

March 12 – The Forum, Norwich

Third Contact Poster (small)

I am a "generic Asian"

Happy New Year!

Throughout December 2013 I had been travelling throughout Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, S. Korea since there was a major family wedding in Korea.

To my surprise, people thought that I was whatever they were and would speak to me at length before realizing I didn’t understand. Then I would get the “this girl is a deaf mute” look. This has happened before in China (I speak Cantonese, not Mandarin), but I didn’t expect people to think that I was Japanese or Korean.

A computer in 2009 simulated average faces for Asians, can you tell which faces are Chinese, Korean and Japanese? (click for answer as well as South Asian faces)

My Viking husband labelled me the “generic Asian” as he was quite amused by all this. With his red hair and beard, people didn’t even try to speak to him. I learned how to say “I don’t understand/don’t know” in Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. However, people sometimes interpreted this as I didn’t know the answer to a question. My brother in law suggested that I learn how to say “I have a mental disability” which may work better.

I was so amused by my new nickname that I decided to rename my blog to “Musings of a Generic Asian” from “Musings of JF Garrard”.

Unfortunately, there was some negative stuff as well which was obvious from angry speech and body language – that I am a terrible Asian as I am hanging out with non-Asian people. Usually it would be an older Asian man that would come up to me directly and say a long speech with nasty glares.

I was being made to feel ashamed that I was a bad Japanese/Korean when I was Chinese. I’ve never traveled to China with my husband, so I’m not sure if we would experience the same thing there. Generally, I think this happened so often because the older generation wants to enforce their rules on the younger generation.

Regardless, it was a wonderful trip and I have been inspired to create art again after a visit to the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) and National Musuem of Modern and Contemporary Art in Deoksugung. It was amazing to see the fusion of Eastern and Western art techniques and the powerful messages behind each piece.

I don’t think I’ll see my husband much this year as I want to finish up a few books, travel to a few conventions, start a podcast and create some cultural identity art!

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll put together my pics and comments, so stay tuned!

Upgrading website!

adsense-128

Now that National Novel Writing Month and my Kickstarter are both done, I wanted to work a on new goal – to revamp my website!  I had looked around for a few weeks while procrastinating during my writing sessions and found a few awesome sites which offer free WordPress themes.  Well, there are actually hundreds of sites which offer free themes, but most of them look the same, quite frankly.  The premium stuff (fully set up site, video tutorials, tech support) is not free, it’s about $50 USD (depends on theme) which isn’t too bad.

WordPress has revolutionized the way websites are built as it’s really website building for dummies who don’t know code (aka – me!).  You install templates and you keep adding “widgets” to customize the site.  Widgets are all those things on the side of websites and at the bottom which display social media icons, posts, calenders, etc.

After a few months of building a basic WordPress website, I felt ready to set up a more complicated site. Of course, my Viking husband laments that I’m not coding much and things could be more beautiful, but I can live with using a standard theme.

These are the two sites I found which offered great free themes with nice designs and lots of widget options:

http://yithemes.com/
http://smthemes.com/

This website uses “Alium” from SM Themes.  My first choice was Memento from YI Themes, but the preview wasn’t working properly and the free one looked too limited. Second choice was Diablo (yes, like the game name), but the words on the demo site were too dark.

It was exciting to learn how to use sliders (the moving thing at the top of the site) as I always wondered how people did that!  The only thing I haven’t learned how to do is build a nice portfolio gallery with pop up words.  I found a few widgets for displaying pictures, but the problem with me is that I have too many words describing the artwork.  Oh well, I’ll figure out how to display things more nicely over time.

Let me know what you think of this new site!

Introducing Sammuel Bowden, the creator of Twisted Eden

Recently I posted some tips on Kickstarters on Google+ and was contacted by Sammuel Bowden, a talented writer and artist from Bronx, NY. He just recently started a project called Twisted Eden, which is an innovative take on the traditional graphic novel format. His kickstarter just started for this book.  The video is pretty slick and artwork super unique; I’ll let him explain his revolutionary ideas, which are quite exciting as I love reading graphic novels!

Twisted Eden Cover 1

Hi Sammuel, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Can you introduce yourself and let us know a little bit about your background? Your artwork is quite unique (similar to air brush styles), did you have any art training or is it a natural talent you possess?

Lol, not to sound cocky, but it’s a natural talent. I have been drawing since I was seven years old, but I always wanted to take art classes to perfect my style! Natural talent is one thing, but professional training is another for the fact that it is a lot more technical.

The title of your kickstarter is “It’s not just a Graphic Novel, It’s a new Beginning!” and you mention that the difference between your book and the traditionally published graphic novel is the fact that it is a “True Hybrid Book”. Can you explain a little bit about what this means? How did you come up with this?

I’m a very analytical person. Whenever I watch a good movie, show, or read a good book, I ask myself two questions:

What makes me like this show/book so much?

What elements do all the things that I like have in common?

Asking those questions over and over again, had given me an idea. That Idea was to blend in as many elements as possible to make the “ultimate” story. Originally, I wanted to make an anime series, but not having any knowledge or networks in animation…I knew it would be impossible at that stage. So, Instead of an animated series, I wrote the plot to a book series and kept my drawn characters.

I always loved shows with a narrator, so I thought that it would be a good fit to make my book a First Person Narrative. But, making my book a written novel took away some good scenes that I had imagined for an anime series. Certain things are just better told through a sequence of art panels, where you can actually see the action.

So, wanting to keep my highly detailed writing, I decided to make a way to merge comic and narrative together! Then, as I played around with words and formats, and displayed my Half-Novel/Half-Graphic novel story to my friends. I realized that I may have the next big thing.

People who prefer words read my book for it’s writing while appreciating the art, but comic lovers enjoyed my book in reverse to the novel lovers. Also, kids who hated reading books would read the long pages of my story just to find out why two characters were fighting in a comic strip. Not a single person has disliked my content.

I felt like I accomplished my goal in blending in all elements of a good story. But, more importantly, I was able to combine two separate worlds of story telling together (Hence the name True Hybrid Book).

On your website you talk a little bit more about Twisted Eden and that you had actually thought about this story and its characters for a long time. How did you come up with this story?

Well…being born in the 90’s made me appreciate Anime in a big way. Seeing shows with intense action like Dragon Ball Z is one of the things that kept me drawing at a young age. But, as I got older and became more analytical, I knew that I needed something more than a basic story with big fights.

When I first made my story, I noticed that my characters didn’t have enough internal conflicts to make them relatable. So, I went back to the drawing board and started giving each character an internal conflict. That’s when I thought of the classic “memory loss” idea for my main character. A person trying to uncover their lost memory always added that “mystery” element to the book that most people love!

My main character’s loss of memory was a good way for me to give him more depth while giving the story an unpredictable plot. In total, I believe it took me around three years to put everything together. Lol, I think I just realized that I sacrificed hanging out with friends in High School and college for this book…sheesh!

Can you explain why you chose to name your book Twisted Eden? Without spoilers can you hint on how it fits into the story line?

Well, most of us know about the classic story of the Garden of Eden from the Bible. So, I wanted to make a fiction book that “twisted” the story of human’s origin. In the Garden of Eden, there were two trees that wasn’t to be touched. One granted man the power of Knowledge while the other Granted man the gift of life.

Twisted Eden is a Fictional of how things probably could have been if Adam ate from one Tree, while Eve ate from the other…

There are different realms in Twisted Eden with two sets of beings – humans and the Dominants, who govern humankind from within the shadows. What kind of creatures are these Dominants and why do they need to rule in secret? Do they have super powers?

You can picture Dominants as Angels. They are in the form of “Man”, have influence over Humanity, and have wings and cool powers. Some are good, some are evil, but the plot isn’t so simple. What is percieved as good and bad is through the eyes of the beholder… You’ll see these conflicts of Morales versus Circumstances a lot in Twisted Eden.

In your book excerpt you start off with a young Prince from another Realm. Is this Prince human or a Dominant? Will there be lots of twists and turns in this story? Lots of fighting?

The Prince is a Dominant, so he has those cool wings and powers. Yes, there will be lots of twists and turns in the story. I purposely wrote the plot to make a person think something is going to happen when it doesn’t. And yes…there will be lots and lots of fighting! Not as much in the first issue though, because I want to paint the picture before things start exploding!

Let’s talk a little bit about Fusion Book Publishing, is this your own company? Was it difficult setting this up?

Yes! I Found Fusion Book Publishing to help beginner Authors for free! I love helping people, but I favor self publishers since we have a good reputation of producing bad stuff…(thankfully that’s changing) It was really hard to get the ball rolling at first, but it’s finally getting some momentum! The main blog is at http://sammuelbowden.blogspot.com/. The home page shows what’s new while the Free Help page connects you to the Facebook community where you can contact me for help.

What do you hope to do in the future with Fusion Book Publishing as you grow bigger?

I want it to be a second chance for Authors! Everyone has the power to make a good book, but just need guidance on how. I want Fusion Book Publishing to grow to help as many people as possible to do what they love to do. I also want it to serve as a place where readers and fans can reach out directly to the industry to express what they want.

It’s been great learning all about your Twisted Eden project and I hope that it takes off as some of these ideas really captured my imagination! Tackling a new take on a traditional format of anything is a courageous task! Please have a look at his website and send in some support to his kickstarter!

High Tea at the Ritz

It was one of my BFF’s bday last weekend and she asked me and my Viking husband to go to High Tea at the Ritz Carleton in Toronto.  Admittedly my Viking balked at the price and asked why we couldn’t have steak instead.  Because it’s not YOUR DAY was the reply he got from me.  Anyhow, I dragged his royal crankiness to the hotel and we were pleasantly surprised by how much food we were served as well as nice tea.

As a middle class citizen I felt like really a really awkward country bumpkin in this fancy hotel.  I probably did a dozen things wrong, such as using my fingers since I felt like the utensils were going to knock the food off the delicate trays.  I was really nervous at one point and my crumbs flew all over the place.  Yes, I resembled a nervous squirrel the whole time as I observed the chic ladies in their expensive suits, fine haircuts and manicured nails seated at the other tables.

Anyhow, if anyone else goes, this is what happens:

1) You start off by choosing which price point of high tea you want from the menu.  It ranged from $38-88 as the higher prices included alcohol.  We didn’t have any alcohol…

2) Next, the hostess will bring a box of teas, so you can select a tea of your choice – you are given bottles of loose tea leaves to sniff.  “How many people have sniffed this?” someone wondered at the table.  I chose a nice lavender Earl Grey with caffeine, a substance my Chinese doctor banned me from…oh well…

3) Tray 1 arrives with little sandwiches and quiches which surprised us.  We were expecting lots of sugar!  The open face egg salad sandwiches were really elegant and the mini smoked salmon croissant sandwiches were really good.

4) Tray 2 comes next with lots and lots of little cakes and cookies.  At this point I had been drinking tea with sugar and cream so I was already on a sugar high. “WOW!  MORE SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR!” I shrieked happily to my startled Viking who tried to calm me down.

5) Bday cake – we had brought this one along for my friend and the hotel kindly served it to us.  A Dufflet Chocolate Mousse cake was added to our sugar high!

Afterwards we didn’t even eat dinner as we were so stuffed!  It was interesting, but as a poor working person I would feel more comfortable at a pub than at the Ritz…some pics taken of the food that is now all gone below!

Hotel front entrance
Hotel front entrance
JFG and her Viking
JFG and her Viking
Tea Selection for sniffing
Tea Selection for sniffing
Savory sandwiches and scones!
Savory sandwiches and scones!
Sugar Sugar Sugar!  We were amused by the lemon things that looked like poop!
Sugar Sugar Sugar! We were amused by the lemon tarts that looked like poop!

 

 

 

 

Making Loch Ness: The Web Series, Q & A with Christina (Donna)

One day I received an email that I had a new Kickstarter backer for The Undead SorceressOdin’s Song Productions. What a cool name! After thanking them I checked their profile page and it turns out they have an awesome Kickstarter campaign going on for Loch Ness: The Web Series. So I gave them a kick back of support and asked them to tell me a bit more about this project.

This web series follows the journey of Donna, Joey, Kyle and Steve; four high school metal heads who dream of making it big with their folk metal band “Loch Ness”. But first, they need to figure out where to find a lead singer and survive overbearing parents, lack of funds as well as a bass player who manages to get it wrong more than right.

Based on a true story of a now defunct folk metal band from Omaha, Nebraska, the series is told through the lens of original Loch Ness band member, Christina. If you take a look at their Kickstarter video you will see that their production and lighting quality work are extremely professional. They have a great sense of humour as well!

We are going to have a conversation with Christina Marie Leonard who is the creator/writer, and plays Donna in this head banging series.

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Hi Christina, thank you for taking the time to do this Q & A with me as I know that you must be super busy with your Kickstarter campaign!

First, can you tell me a little bit about your role in this project? How did this project start?

CML: Thank you JF! Well, I am the writer of Loch Ness: The Web Series, and I will also be playing the character Donna who is the keyboardist of the band. I got the idea to write the series in March of 2013. I had gone back home to Nebraska to visit and while I was there I hung out with my friend Carl who was in the band with me and a lot of fun memories came flooding back. I had been going through a tough time in LA, so when I returned from my trip to Nebraska I really immersed myself in writing this series and it has become very close to heart.

Your goal for the Kickstarter is $10K which actually isn’t too crazy for video production projects. What do you hope to accomplish with the funds?

CML: Our goal of $10K is something we definitely believe is achievable, but there are a lot of expenses. We need the $10K for production insurance, locations, permits, food, gas, equipment, and costumes for the actors.

What is involved in the making of a web series? Is it as glamorous as people are led to believe? In general, a lot of video production looks great because only the perfect takes are shown and the many hours for a few seconds of work are not seen!

CML: Making a web series is definitely a huge thing to take on. The writing process in itself took several months of rewrites before I had something I was really happy with. Then getting a production team together and all the planning that goes into pre-production has taken a lot of time. It is all worth it, though- we have a project we all really believe in, and working with people I love being around makes those long hours seem not so long!

How were the cast members found? Is everyone from Nebraska? Do they really know how to play their instruments?

CML: We had some table reads early on during rewrites of the script, and brought in actors who were the right ages and types for the parts. Later on when we were casting, we asked those same people to read for us again, as well as having casting calls on LA Casting and CAZT.com.

We saw a lot of really great people and we ended up casting actors both from the casting calls we put out, and the pool of actors we knew from the table read. Of those actors, just myself and Chris Muckey, who is playing Joey, are from Nebraska, although ironically Chris and I did not know one another until we moved to California!

The characters are never seen close-up playing their instruments in the series- usually they are setting up or dismantling their equipment from a show- so we did not make it mandatory that the actors auditioning know the instruments their characters play. However, several of our cast members actually do know how to play guitar and/or drums which will likely open up fun opportunities for improv in the series.

In the story line, there is mention about finding a lead singer. What is involved in this and why is it so hard to keep a band together? What should people expect from this series? Is it a comedy and drama mix?

CML: The story line about finding a lead singer comes from the struggle that the real Nebraska band “Loch Ness” had with holding onto band members. It seemed like, at least when I was in high school, all the bands in the Nebraska music scene kept switching members.

With Loch Ness, it was usually just members not being interested enough, and being busy with other high school activities and dropping out. Once, though, our guitarist cancelled right before a show. It was our first show and I insisted we went on anyway, so Billy the drummer ended up playing guitar that night, and a drummer from the band “Talos” that was playing the show with us was just fantastic and learned the drum part for our set right before going on.

In the web series, most of the vocalists either quit or get kicked out because they get romantically involved with Donna… that may or may not be based on a true story as well. You can leave that up to the imagination! Overall, you should expect a lot of laughs- this series is definitely a comedy, in the vein of “Detroit Rock City”, “Empire Records” or one of my favorites, “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”.

What has happened to the real Loch Ness band? How long did they exist and what venues did they play in? Do you still keep in touch with them?

CML: The real Loch Ness band broke up a few years when we all graduated high school. We played for the latter half of high school, Junior and Senior year, and we played in several venues around Omaha, NE- The Rock, Club Roxbury, Jacket’s Bar, Sokol Underground, and some smaller venues as well. It was hard to juggle acting in plays and be in a band at the same time, so when I was doing a month-long run of “The Crucible”, at the Omaha Community Playhouse, we could only play on Monday nights. Fortunately, my band members were really supportive of that, and we found a place called Shea O’Rileys that had shows every Monday night that worked perfectly for us!

I’ve kept in touch with the guitarist Carl ever since the band broke up, but lost touch with Billy, Matt, and Jason- the drummer, vocalist, and bass player for awhile. Fortunately, creating this web series has brought us back together. In fact, I recently did some interviews with all of them about their experiences in the band and what they look forward to in the web series. Billy’s interview is already available as an update on our kickstarter page and more will be coming soon!

This is the first time I’ve heard of “folk metal band”. Can you explain what this is?

CML: You’re not alone in being unfamiliar with folk metal. I didn’t know much about it until Billy involved me in the band. Basically, folk metal is a branch of heavy metal that stems from Viking metal. Folk metal originated in Europe in the 1990s. The lyrics usually talk about mythology, and there is often accordion, bagpipe, or some other folk instrument incorporated (or keyboards with settings to replicate that, like we had) to add that folk element to the heavy guitars and vocals.

Will there be original songs involved with this production?

CML: There will definitely be original songs involved in Loch Ness: The Web Series! We have several songs from the Nebraska “Loch Ness” band that will be used, and we are open and excited to collaborate with any metal artists that want to have their music in the series as well!

What is the story behind Odin’s Song Productions?

CML: Odin’s Song Productions consists of myself, Mijoe Sahiouni, Max Holm, Rachel Gunnerson, and Melanie Recker. Mijoe and Max both studied at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film with me at UNL in Nebraska.

Mijoe stage managed some of the shows I was in, and I directed and wrote many shows in college as well. I have always respected her directing style and professionalism and was excited to work with her in LA.

Max, a film major at UNL, directed me in his Thesis Film “Lilith”, a thriller, which was one of my favorite roles to play and a great experience. I became great friends with them both, and I knew I just had to involve them in “Loch Ness: The Web Series”. They were the first ones to jump onboard and help create Odin’s Song Productions.

Rachel is a really great writer who I met through Mijoe, and during the rewriting process of the series, she helped me a lot in making Loch Ness as funny and solid as it can be. I am so glad to have her onboard as a producer for the full run of the series.

Melanie is another Nebraskan who I did not officially meet until moving to LA. (However, we ran into each other several times at auditions in Omaha over the years thinking “hey, that girl looks familiar!”). Melanie is a great actress who is awesome at bringing people together- she has created several social media groups for that purpose, and actually was the first person to introduce me to Chris, who plays Joey. Melanie is producing several other projects as well as Loch Ness: The Web Series, and will be moving on once pre-production is over, but we are lucky to have her, as she has been an initial part in getting this thing off the ground!

Well, I’ve learned a lot from you about making a web series and I wish you and Odin’s Song Productions the best of luck on your Kickstarter! Please check out their fantastic project here and send in some support!

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