Going Back to Cali
It was so good to get back to Los Angeles for a part vacation, part filmmaking education opportunity.
I love LA for its great mix of warm weather, plenty of things to do, and lots of opportunities to submerse oneself in the filmmaking community.
From spending two days on the Paramount Studios backlot for Cine Gear Expo 2014, to spending the afternoon at Mole Richardson Studios listening to Directors of Photography speak about working in the film business as Cinematographers. Inspiration is everywhere in LA, and seeing one of my all-time favourite actors Sidney Poitier sitting in the hotel lobby was definitely a highlight.
Sometimes getting away is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button, and this trip was definitely that opportunity for me.
Oregon: Falling in Love Another Time
In one to two days you could easily drive the length of the Oregon Coast, but you could probably spend an entire week doing the same thing, there’s so much to see and do.
As much as I grimaced pulling myself away from the California sunshine, I was grateful to be back in the arms of Oregon. Sand dunes, seals, some of the coolest designed bridges (and longest) you’ve ever seen, never mind the coastline that changes from rocky to sandy with a curve in the road.
It’s almost more exciting spending a night in a waterfront room when you don’t know what view you’ll wake up to the next morning. Lincoln City has some of the best, uninterrupted coastline, with white sand on either side as far as the eye can see (and a Casino for all those who love to gamble at night). This trip, I spent a night in Gold Beach, where my view was grassy, sandy and wind blown: excellent.
Seven hours later I was in one of my favourite places, Cannon Beach, the place they filmed The Goonies (along with Astoria). I checked into a view room, on the second floor, promising unobstructed views from the king size bed. The sky at night was incredible: a sea of stars mimicking the sea below. The view in the morning: mind-blowing.
There are so many great places in Oregon, including the cool town of Astoria. Every time I go back, I fall in love again. It’s so nice to have a neighbour to skip town for.
Down the Coast: California to Oregon
It took every ounce of my body to leave the green grass I was laying in Calistoga, get back in the car, and drive home. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve driven down the West Coast, it’s always a unique experience.
This time, on the edge of California, I dipped down a winding road and came upon a heard of elk. For a minute I thought it was a game reserve or something, but sure enough it was close to 60 wild elk grazing in a field. Talk about surreal. Naturally, I stopped to chat.
It’s hard to drive and not drive off the road when looking at the ever-changing landscape. I timed the drive perfectly, catching not only wildlife but the most incredible sunset. No photo could do it justice, so I didn’t bother trying to capture the big burnt sun sinking into the sea. Oregon is an incredible place and should be experienced with the eyes, like everything else in life worth capturing.
Wine Country: Sonoma and Geyserville
Day three of my Napa Valley vacation was a good mix of mini road trips and soaking up the sunshine. First stop was a castle winery, located on the top of a hill in Calistoga, a castle it is!! Meandering down through the Napa Valley to Sonoma, I was blessed with rolling hills, grape vines in their first bud and gorgeous countryside.
Sonoma is about an hour away from Calistoga, super quaint with more hustle and bustle. After a bite of lunch at one of my favourite places, Girl and the Fig, I toured the square and was back on my way to sit poolside under the 26 degree sunshine.
For dinner I drove North through Santa Rosa and Healdsburg to Coppola Winery. Director Francis Ford Coppola’s estate is set far back off a country road and features incredible wine and a fantastic restaurant, with outdoor seating set up against the back-drop of rolling vineyards. The winery is unique in that it features an excellent collection of movie making memorabilia, including the car from the film Tucker, Coppola’s Academy Awards and the desk from The Godfather.
Napa Valley is a little scoop of heaven and exactly what the doctor ordered. So. Hard. To. Leave.
A trip to St. Helena, California today resulted in some winemaking education, while I partook in some incredibly smooth wine tasting. From learning the process for creating bubbly at Frank’s Family Vineyard, to visiting the first vineyard to be owned by a woman, I now know that clarity of a wine impacts how long it can be aged. In the photo above, the Pinot on the far right should be “drank by 6pm tonight,” the Pinot Reserve in the middle can be consumed within 2-3 years, and the Cab on the far left can age for 5-10 years. There’s so much passion for winemaking and food in the Napa Valley, it’s refreshing being around people who are so passionate about their professions.
In need of some serious rest and relaxation, I skipped town for a sleepy little town I knew could deliver. Wine, sunshine and Spanish influences set the scene, time slows to a standstill in the upper Napa Valley.
In Conversation with Actor/Director Don McKellar & Bob Martin
I sat in on a great conversation yesterday with Don McKellar and writer Bob Martin for the Victoria Film Festival, speaking about their new 6 part TV series for Movie Central, staring Vancouver Island’s own Kim Cattrall (former Sex and the City alumni).
Kim is lead in the series Sensitive Skin, adapted from a UK TV series, and shot in Toronto, the show centres around a woman going through a midlife crisis.
Don McKellar who directs and also plays Cattrall’s husband in the show, gave the audience a sneak peek of the series, that is still in post production (hence the timecode on the clips). Sensitive Skin looks fantastic: witty, raw and just a little bit disturbed. I can’t wait to see it when it hits Movie Central later this year.
Empire of Dirt - Canadian Opening Gala
A fantastic opening gala at the Victoria Film Festival tonight, with the Canadian film Empire of Dirt. Actress Cara Gee (who is incredible in the film) along with writer Shannon Masters were on hand for Q&A.
Here’s hoping Empire of Dirt opens nation-wide. It’s a super well-done Canadian feature, featuring some REAL talent, and was shot in just 15 days. Impressive!
A Conversation with Director Atom Egoyan
The 2014 Victoria Film Festival has begun. It was pretty surreal spending the morning listening to Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan in a talk with Joanne Roberts (CBC) about his work—including his latest film Devil’s Knot—which screened today.
Atom’s work had a major influence on me when I was just getting into filmmaking in the 90s. Canadian feature films were few and far between back then, and the boldness of pieces like Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter left a major imprint. Cool guy, inspiring discussion.
"You’ve got to take control of your own art, no one is going to do it for you." words to live by from Canadian Writer/Director/Producer Carl Bessai at today’s directing intensive workshop.