Hey Rosetta! - #SingItFwd

We had a fantastic time shooting a #SingItFwd live music video with Hey Rosetta!

#SingItFwd is a movement founded in 2011 by David & Ambrosia Vertesi. Every year, #SingItFwd rounds up some of the best Canadian talents to perform at The Vogue in benefit of St. James Music Academy. The SJMA program support over 300 kids daily in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, and brings the community together through music. Everything is provided, from the space, the instruments, the lessons, to the food that they eat during rehearsals. That of course, is not an easy task for SJMA to pull off… This is where #SingItFwd comes in. To date, #SingItFwd has raised an astonishing $125,000, all of which has gone directly to SJMA.

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Having grown up loving music and the joys of performance, I understand SJMA’s mission, and have been committed to the cause and donating as much of my time and effort to #SingItFwd as I possibly can each year. I have personally been involved with #SingItFwd for 3 years now working very closely with my good friend Sam Soo (who tirelessly devotes countless hours to producing content for #SingItFwd) on a handful of projects.
Every fall, #SingItFwd organizes a series of live music videos, where they would get the kids together to perform live with bands. This year, I had the privilege of directing a live video with Hey Rosetta! and the SJMA at the stunning St. Jame’s Anglican Church. It was a super challenging shoot: full 7-piece band and over 30 kids! Definitely the biggest #SingItFwd shoot I have worked on, but seeing the all the kids happy makes it all worth it. Thankfully, we were able to pull this off with the support of additional lighting and grip from Cineworks, and the talented audio techs from Nimbus.
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This year’s #SingItFwd performance is going to be their last, but they are ending it with a big bang in a two-nighter show at The Vogue on January 14 & 15, 2016. The lineup is top secret, but I can assure you that it will be an amazing one. ;) Grab some tickets >here< and we will see you at The Vogue!


 Photo from the World Premiere of Shooting The Musical

Photo from the World Premiere of Shooting The Musical

Last year was my first year attending the whole Whistler Film Festival. It was an absolute blast but because it was the world premiere of my first narrative feature film “Shooting The Musical” (originally titled “After Film School), it didn’t leave me with much time to actually watch movies. This year I decided to come back as a cheerleader. I saw as many films as I physically could, both features & shorts. I didn’t see all the films I wanted to see but out of those I saw, I decided to make a list of the people who managed to blow me away. I decided not to add producers onto this list, but know in my heart if you are a producer on any of these projects you are a part of this list. Whistler only hands out a small number of awards and I feel more people deserve to be recognized so if you didn’t win anything, this is your shitty consolation prize.


1. Jeremy Lalonde - Writer/Director (How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town - Feature Film)

 It’s a scary thing going to a film by someone you like as a person. For me I’m a terrible liar so if a friend makes a shitty film it causes major social anxiety for me when I talk to them after the film… Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with that because Jeremy Lalonde’s new film just knocked it out of the park. I haven’t seen many sex comedies come out of Canada but for Jeremy this was his follow up film to “Sex After Kids” and it was even better. This film was funny, sexy and a huge crowd pleaser. If this film plays at a theatre near you, go see it! I’m sure it’s a fun film to watch on your own but it is a great film to see with an audience. Congrats Jeremy, you’ve raised the bar, no pressure on your next film.

  Still of Ennis Esmer in Red Oaks (2014)

Still of Ennis Esmer in Red Oaks (2014)

2. Ennis Esmer - Actor (How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town - feature film)

I know most of the people on this list are up and coming, but every time I ever see Ennis Esmer in anything I fall in love all over again. Plain and simple, he is always funny, sympathetic and filled with charisma. The first time I saw him was his role in Young People Fucking, and now it is great to see him go back to sex comedy. Also I'm sucking up because he is one of the Canadian actors I've always wanted to work with. 

3. Melanie M. Jones - Writer/Director (FSM - Feature Film)

 FSM is the film that took me off guard. I walked into what I felt was going to be a cliché low budget film about dating by a writer/director I have never heard of. I will be honest, I was there because I love the actor Chris Walters (who plays a small but crucial role in the film). BUT HOLY FUCKING SHIT did this film blow my expectations out of the water. The best word to describe this film is “cool”––I know it sounds like a terrible descriptive word but the film is a perfect storm of interestingly directed scenes, beautifully shot cinematography and badass editing with the coolest soundtrack in the world. I had to turn to the guy next to me and say “This movie is so fucking cool,” at least 20 times times throughout the film. Seriously if you get the chance to watch it, do so. Most notably, this film has the best female masturbation scene I have ever seen depicted on screen. Not because it was oversexualized but because it beautifully juxtaposed the images in the character's head with a very tasteful but sensually shot scene of the lead character masturbating. Perfectly directed scene.

 Paolo Kalalo Image via Facebook Creeping

Paolo Kalalo Image via Facebook Creeping

4. Paolo Kalalo - Editor (FSM - feature film)

As soon as FSM ended myself and the filmmakers I was with were all dying to find out who edited this film. It’s rare that an editor gets credit for a film, it generally only happens if they do something brilliant, something unique or they fuck up terribly. Paolo did everything but fuck up, the editing was one of the biggest stars of FSM and is surprising that this was Paolo’s first feature film. If he doesn’t win the Leo for best editing or at least get nominated I will publicly denounce the Leo awards and make my own awards ceremony. A job like that deserves recognition. I can’t begin to describe his editing style, it's just mesmerizing. But if you get the pleasure of seeing FSM you will agree.

 Shawn Seifert via Facebook Creeping

Shawn Seifert via Facebook Creeping

5. Shawn Seifert - Cinematographer (FSM- feature film)

I had seen a few things that Shawn Seifert has DP’d before: Suspension, The Magic Ferret, Riverdale and a bunch of others pieces. But from what I’ve seen I’d say this is his best work yet. FSM was a beautifully shot film that looks like it was made for at least a million bucks and a lot of that credit goes to Shawn. The party scenes were beautiful, the sex scenes were beautiful, even scenes where the star is sitting on the couch eating pizza are beautiful. FSM had the best cinematography out of all the features I saw at the festival, and Shaun Seifert deserves to be recognized.

 Vanessa Crouch via Chris Parker Photography

Vanessa Crouch via Chris Parker Photography

6. Vanessa Crouch - Lead Actor (FSM-Feature film)

Vanessa is the star of FSM. Plain and simple, it is impossible not to fall in love with the Australian born actor. She was the perfect sympathetic hero of the film and stole the show. So many of the scenes dealt with very tough subject matter for an actor to depict but she did it beautifully in a way that made you want to root for her. Most actors aren’t brave enough to do the scenes she did but the film gave such a wonderful insight into female sexuality because of these brave scenes. The Vancouver film establishment generally doesn’t give film awards or nominations to non-union actors, so something tells me Vanessa won't get the acknowledgement that she deserves. I’m tired of this union vs. nonunion “us vs. them” mentality. The Vancouver film industry needs to work on supporting and acknowledging all up and coming actors. So the good ones stop leaving… Bruce Novakowski is the perfect case study of this, future movie star (non-union) scooped up by Toronto. Don’t let Vanessa Crouch be the next to do the jump.


7. Sol Friedman -Director (Bacon & God’s wrath)

Sol directed one of the most memorable documentary shorts I’ve ever seen about a 90 year old woman whose curiosity with the Internet has converted her from a kosher jew to an atheist. The short ends with her trying bacon for the first time and I can’t stop telling people how great this film is. I can’t wait for this short film to be public so I can start sharing it with people.

 Alex Tindal via Twitter

Alex Tindal via Twitter

8. Alex Tindal - Actor (Stake-Short Film)

Alex was genuine and down to earth in Stake. Stake has a similar feel to “Before Midnight” as two old high school friends catch up while Alex’s character's daughter is at school. What made this short so effective was the acting that made the audience feel like a fly on the wall. Sure the story was simple, but the execution was beautiful and Alex really popped off the screen.

 Rhiana Rees via sonyajasinski.com

Rhiana Rees via sonyajasinski.com

9. Rhian Rees - Actor (Rehearsal-Feature Film)

A star is born… And she is a british beekeeper living in Los Angeles. The Rehearsal is a story about a British theatre director who is forced to have a Hollywood action star in a Chekhov play. Rhian plays the main supporting female actor in the film and she is a star, plain and simple. Originally she auditioned to play a two liner role but director Carl Bessai could see her potential in the room and cast her as one of the main leads.  She is someone I hope to see more of. You can be a part of her modest Instagram following if you follow @keepsbees. She also happens to be one of the most genuine human beings I’ve had to pleasure to briefly meet.

 Sage Brocklebank via www.sagebrocklebank.com

Sage Brocklebank via www.sagebrocklebank.com

10. Sage Brocklebank - (Suspension) - When you watch Suspension there is one scene that is burnt into everyone's memory permanently and that is Deputy Jacobs (played by Sage) attempting to remove bullets from a man he just killed to cover up the murder. The scene is way too long, way too gory, but completely hilarious because of Sage’s performance. He isn’t the biggest character in the film, but that scene is just the best part of the movie. And as it turns out, I’m not alone in my views. He is going to be cast as the same character in an upcoming feature called “Puppet Killer” that is shooting this month.

11. Steven McCarthy -Writer/Director/Star (O Negative-Short Film) - O Negative is one of the most interesting short films I’ve ever seen. It probably has 2 lines of dialogue and it is a mysterious film that reveals information in a way that always leaves the audience hungry to find out more. This is Steven’s first directed/written film and I can’t wait wait to see what he does next. I really don’t want to spoil anything in this film so go watch it if you get the opportunity. It won't disappoint.

 Still of Lauren Donnelly in Vehicular Romanticide

Still of Lauren Donnelly in Vehicular Romanticide

12. Lauren Donnelly (Vehicular Romanticide- Short Film) - I feel like an idiot for casting Lauren for such a small role in my last film. I wish I saw the full potential like director Andrew Rowe did. 95% of the movie is just Lauren talking to an unconscious body and she kills it. Everyone in the audience was blown away by the film, Lauren played a perfect psychopathic desperate girl who just wants love. If there was a god she should be cleaning up acting awards for this film, it’s one of the most complex characters I’ve seen in a short film and I really hope she is recognized for it. But alas, she is non-union and Vancouver rarely has the spine to promote non-union talent. Lauren is one of the best up and coming actors in Vancouver, she does a lot of film, a lot of theatre, and I really hope people see this film so she can break out.   

 Still from Vehicular Romanticide

Still from Vehicular Romanticide

13. Andrew Rowe- Director/Writer (Vehicular Romanticide) - This is the only film I’ve seen that Andrew has directed and it's freaking amazing. The film is 17 minutes long but it feels like 8. It was stylized as an 80s film and start to finish, it was mesmerizing. This film was the MPPIA short film pitch award winner last year and I feel sorry for the next recipients who have to to live up to this film. The bar has been set high.

 via IMDB.com

via IMDB.com

14. Steve Utaski - Writer/Director (Opt Out)

This film is a short and sweet 3-minute YouTube style comedy but it was awesome and needs a shout out. The film just follows a guy attempting to go through the process of unsubscribing to junk email. Somehow it left the audience roaring and I can’t wait to see what other films Steve has up his sleeve.

15. Lawrence Le Lam Writer/Director/Editor (The Blue Jet-Short Film)

This film rocks. Yes, it won the best student film at the festival but I still feel like it needs to be recognized more. The story is about a rebellious radio DJ who had the balls to play forbidden rock n’ roll in 1970’s Taiwan. It’s sort of like Pirate Radio but awesome for completely different reasons. This is the best film I’ve seen come out of Emily Carr and it has converted me to a big Lawrence Lam fan. In a culture where we tend to continuously draw attention to the lack of female representation in film it’s important to note that Asian representation in film is horribly underrepresented in North America. To know that some of my best friends didn’t have people on screen they could identify with saddens me, and I hope Lawrence will become one of the leaders in the next generation of Asian filmmakers. He is a perfectionist filmmaker that I am proud that I got to meet him before he makes it big.



Honorable mentions -

Jewel Staite - Actor (How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town)
Katharine Isabelle - Actor (How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town)
Ellen MacNevin - Actor (suspension)
Courtney Paige Theroux - Actor (Suspension)
Camille Sullivan - Actor (The Birdwatcher)
Gabrielle Rose - Actor (The Birdwatcher)
Matreya Fedor - Actor (The Birdwatcher)
Patrice Laliberte - Director (Overpass)
Thomas Baerten, Wim Geudens - (De Smet)
Christine Buijs - Director (The Divorce Photographer)
Alison Parker - Director (Dude, Where’s My Ferret?
Jenna Hambrook - Director (The Big O)
Peter MacRae - Actor (Jeremy Tanner is a Sicko)


We wrapped the production of our feature film Shooting The Musical last November. That night, the three of us got together before our world premiere at Whistler Film Festival, and decided to officially band up and present ourselves as "This is a Spoon."

A few months later, Charles has saved up just enough funds to turn This is a Spoon into an official startup media company with an office in New Westminster. The whole process was extremely spoontaneous. We talked about the idea of the startup, and at our very first meeting...

"Hey, how cool would it be if we got a studio space?"

Within 2 weeks of that conversation, a space was leased, and we moved into an auto body shop that we demolished with love, turning it into our modest studio and office. Within the first month of business, we launched our first project as a company - Run and Gun: Vancouver's 48 Hour Film Competition.

A lot has happened since then. Joel and Nach have been taking the creative leads of developing our new feature films. Charles has been making documentary films around the world.

A week ago, like always, Charles made another impulsive decision. He thought it would be cool to hire a helicopter on the day and go for a joy ride. Because how else are you supposed to celebrate the first year anniversary of a startup other than flying to the top of some tallest mountains in buttfuck nowhere and drink whiskey with the bros?

We have a couple projects to share with you all this year, and we have lots of upcoming projects for 2016:

New feature films
More documentaries around the world
TV show development

Follow us on Facebook and stay tuned!

First Shoot in our New Home

Our new studio space in New Westminster may not be finished but that didn't stop us from celebrating our first day as tenants by turning the place into a bloody mess.  Huge Thanks to our Cast and Crew: 

  The Cast &amp; Crew of "Run &amp; Gun: Horror Promo". From left to right&nbsp;Dylan&nbsp;McGale (Sound/Lighting), Nach Dudsdeemaytha (Producer/Lighting/Monster),&nbsp;  Akina&nbsp;McCrea (Special Effects Makeup),&nbsp;Dallas&nbsp;Harvey (  Special Effects Makeup), Lee Shorten (Actor), Joel Ashton McCarthy (Producer/Writer/Director), Gigi Saul Guerrero (Actor),&nbsp;Charles Chen (Producer/DOP)

The Cast & Crew of "Run & Gun: Horror Promo". From left to right Dylan McGale (Sound/Lighting), Nach Dudsdeemaytha (Producer/Lighting/Monster), Akina McCrea (Special Effects Makeup), Dallas Harvey (Special Effects Makeup), Lee Shorten (Actor), Joel Ashton McCarthy (Producer/Writer/Director), Gigi Saul Guerrero (Actor), Charles Chen (Producer/DOP)

NOT PICTURED: Robert Phaneuf the killer sound designer that made this short awesome. 

 Dallas Harvey applying blood to Lee Shorten for the Run &amp; Gun: Horror Promo

Dallas Harvey applying blood to Lee Shorten for the Run & Gun: Horror Promo

The video was shot on a RED Scarlett with Canon L series lenses during one of the hottest Canada Day's we've ever celebrated.  Due to urgency to promote the Run & Gun Film Festival post production for this film was completed in less than 24 hours. 

 Gigi Saul Guerrero got to act as "Herself" in the promo.

Gigi Saul Guerrero got to act as "Herself" in the promo.

"Gigi Saul Guerrero is to me what Rob Schneider is to Adam Sandler. She is  involved in 90% of my projects since we became close friends in film school.  She is such a funny actress, and a terrific filmmaker." - Joel Ashton McCarthy

We got a studio in Vancouver!

Well... Technically New Westminster, but that would make for a lame blog post title.  The fact is we decided that the next step in our evolution is to get a place of our own.

 Charles, Joel &amp; Nach signing the lease.

Charles, Joel & Nach signing the lease.

We moved in officially July 1st and now we are working as hard as we can to get this place up and running.  In the near future our space will be a production office, video/photo studio, ADR Suite, and rental business.  Our first public event is 'Run & Gun: Vancouver's 48 hour Film Competition' but we are working hard to have the studio going full time by the end of the month.


After Film School The Movie - Our Biggest Gamble

Some of us have quit our jobs and declined clients. Some of us haven't had proper sleep in a long time. For the past year, we gave in everything we've had financially, physically, and mentally for this passion project. We are extremely fortunate to have producers (Lana Otoya & Sophia Dagher) that were with us from the start, grateful for the 100+ Vancouver talents that believed in the script and the crew, and lucky to have a team to finish the film (shout out to Rob Phaneuf!). This is a Spoon has been part of the making of this movie in various roles. We have given everything we've got, and we are very excited to see how the world receives it at the Whister Film Festival world premiere. Here are some of our memories and thoughts behind the making of After Film School. Come join us this December 5th and 7th at Whistler Film Festival for our movie premiere, or you can watch it on nfb.ca starting Dec 5th for a limited time.

- Charles

Writer, Director & Editor,
After Film School

I had been working on this script for quite some time and I was tired of making excuses as to why I wasn't shooting feature films. Sure, we had no money, and our connections are limited, but we decided to drop everything to make the biggest film we were capable of making. The freedom of having no production companies or funders to please allowed us to really focus on making the film we wanted to make, which I feel gave the film a very personal feel.  

Our philosophy when making this film was to just get great filmmakers & friends together to work hard shooting. Most of the time people's job descriptions became very grey throughout the shoot. Our team was so multi talented that Charles, Nach and I each camera op'd a decent amount of the film, boom op'd a bunch and did what ever we needed to get the shots we had to get. It was a very freeing work environment where nobody felt like their toes were being stepped on. Shooting within a mockumentary genre also helped us with this process. All of us had so much experience shooting documentaries so we knew how to make the scenes feel very genuine and have it feel like the camera isn't predicting the action. Another factor that made this shoot so painless was the fact that everyone in the cast and crew were all close friends.

The film itself I couldn't be more proud of. It took us almost an entire year to finish it up but I am so happy with the final result. I really feel it is a film that people are going to be talking about, whether they like it or not. Our hopes now are to get a distribution deal that allows as many pair of eyes to see this film as possible.

Executive Producer & Director of Photography,
After Film School

Joel and I have worked on many projects together. Ever since our encounter on a student film set at Capilano University, we have been taking on projects together around the world. We trust each other and fill in each other's strengths and weaknesses. While we can't guarantee nor predict the outcome of any of our projects, one thing we do know is that we only want to create content that we are passionate about and believe in, despite the challenges we face.

Of course, not having a budget or a crew, I had everything going against me as a director of photography. On top of that, we only had about 10 shoot days to make 90-minute feature film. To make this work, Joel and I have decided to ditch the rules and guidelines we have learned about Hollywood filmmaking and do what has worked for us for all the documentaries and short films we have made with this two-man team: trust each other, no bullshit, and do whatever needed to be done to keep the wheels rolling. During production, besides cinematography, I have done audio, grip work, set dec, errands, and whatever you can think of that goes on during a production. Same goes to Joel, besides directing, he has also done many roles whenever they needed to be filled in. Because of the way we work, we were able to shoot 10-13 pages a day, which equals to 10-13 minutes of the movie. Working 12hrs+ production day is something both of us are strongly against, so our shoot days were all under 8-10hrs. Some days we were lucky enough to have one or two extra people to add to the crew (thank you, Nach). A lot of time, it's just us two running around sweating balls trying to make a movie.

This movie works within two main genres: documentary and musical. There were many changes to be made during the production from lighting to cameras. We used all the resources we own to make sure everything in the film is justified, from iPhone 5s, to Canon 5Diii, to RED Scarlet. It was hard for me to avoid the temptation to make sure every scene is properly lit and shoot on the best camera we have (Scarlet), but I had to do what makes sense in the story.

This was my first feature film. I learned a lot and I am very proud to be part of this ambitious project. I hope all of you enjoy and have a laugh when you see this in the theatre or online.

2nd Unit DP, After Film School

I can say without a doubt that working on After Film School has been a truly rewarding experience. I have worked on countless shorts and a few features, but After Film School was the first film where the cast and crew I was alongside were always putting in 110%. We had no budget, a lack of crew members, but this was the result of pure passion.

I have worked with Charles and Joel on various projects before taking this on, but this was our first feature film together. Charles and Joel make a good team; Joel directs with fluidity–he dreams big, knows exactly what he wants and does everything in his power to get there. Charles approaches the DP position with a stern, level-headed determination. It was great working with two creatives that complement each other so well.

I'm surprised we were able to pull off a feature film in the amount of time that we had without a real AD presence. Like Charles mentioned, we were pulling off 10 pages per day, and our days were pretty short. There were no egos on set. There was no "I'm not doing that because that's not my job." We each did whatever it took to get through the day. On a regular day of AFS, I would start off manning the 5D in a mockumentary scene, boom op the next shot, and hold a bounce up the shot after that. Then, Joel would tell me he needs some establishing shots, so I'd be off by myself for a half hour to build him a sequence ... only to come back and prep for a musical sequence on the RED. It was crazy, it was unconventional, sometimes shit hit the fan. But it was the most fun I've had on any production. 

The experience was almost surreal. We all dove in headfirst, committing ourselves to Joel and his script, not knowing where we would end up. And it could not have turned out any better. The AFS experience is something I'll miss, but something tells me this won't be my last film with the AFS family.