Thursday, 6 August 2020

Here's hoping that Netflix calls

Like every other screenwriter or other creative in Canada, I've pitched something to Netflix for their open call: a half hour comedy, Unqualified Success, about a barista appointed to becoming a Justice of the Peace (inspired by my time working in the Provincial Court system) and this one, Split Second, an animated comedy about a 'bad' kid who while undergoing a scientific procedure to remove all his 'badness' ends up getting an evil double instead. Odds of a call are approximately 2/1,000,000 but a guy can dream.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Check out my true crime episode "Go Forth and Murder", part of the Investigation Discovery series "If I Should Die"

IF I SHOULD DIE | Season 1 Episode 6 | Go Forth and Murder ...

This true crime series is all about crimes being solved using the victim's own words from "beyond the grave" i.e. diaries, blogs and letters.

Here's the trailer.

The show is now available on iTunes as well.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Sherlock@Home Web-series Trailer Now Live


Stay at Home Dad Detective Solves Neighborhood Mysteries
SHERLOCK@HOME: GOOD COP/DAD COP

While we're still waiting on a release date for our fun series about a stay-at-home dad detective, the broadcaster has made available this trailer. Have a look, laugh and look forward to more:

https://vimeo.com/389766535

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

La Junta - Our sketch comedy TV/web- series about a hapless parent council is now airing



Based on our original show, 'Parental Advisory', this sketch comedy series is a Spanish language version airing only in Colombia but some sketches will be available worldwide on Facebook and Instagram. Produced by LuloFilms and Canal Capital. 

Monday, 28 October 2019

CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN

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As your children grow into young adults there are numerous adjustments you must make as a parent. Difficult choices. Harsh self-realizations. Profound failures. 

One oft-overlooked developmental stage is when your kids start swiping your clothes to wear. 

Below, I outline the 5 stages you will go through:


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DENIAL

Hmm. Where are  those new shorts I bought? They were here in my drawer. Still with the tags on. No. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t dare take something I haven't even worn yet. (*dissolve into bitter laughter at self-deception)

I manfully stride into his room where he is lounging on bed wearing the shorts. I stare at him balefully. He looks up, innocent, wounded, misunderstood:

What? I didn’t have any shorts I could wear.

I look at the heaps of dirty and clean laundry mounded on his floor, crawling out of his stuffed, half-closed drawers.


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ANGER

Remove them. Now. Carefully.

I go on a bit of a rant about not going into my stuff and taking it without asking first. This is ultimately more of an exercise in talking to myself as he rolls his eyes exaggeratedly, slowly gets up, carefully starts to remove the shorts. He stops, gestures for me to give him privacy. I leave and when I return I find the shorts in my room. On the floor.


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This reminds me of my usual piece of advice to expectant fathers. They climb remote mountains to find me on my precipice, “Tell me oh wise (or, at least, wizened) one. What can I expect when I become a new father?” I tell them: Two Things. 1) Nothing you own is yours anymore. 2) Everything you own will be broken. I recommend they put their favourite things into storage for twenty years.


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BARGAINING

This is not the first or last time this casual theft has happened. I regularly go prospecting in my son’s room to find items of mine. I know the insistence on not ‘borrowing’ my stuff will fall on deaf ears so I move to the next stage: bargaining.

I bring home a new shirt. My son’s eyes slide over from his device to gaze at it.

Nice shirt.
Thanks.
A really nice shirt.
Thanks. Wait. No. No! I get to wear it three times before you even can think of wearing it.
OK. Sure.


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DEPRESSION

The next stage is perhaps the most difficult. When you see your teen in your clothes and you realize, heart-broken, that they look way better than you in them. Sigh. What? You thought I was going to say something touching about how they’re so big now etc.? No. Just extreme bitterness that even the best, coolest, most up to date clothes can’t make you look 18. Or 25. Or even… never-mind.


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ACCEPTANCE

Ultimately, you move to the next stage. Acceptance. No matter how much they trash you for your jokes, being out of touch, lameness etc., if they are borrowing your clothes they are trying ‘you’ on and modelling themselves on you, which is pretty great. 

So next time you find your Tribe Called Quest vinyl or old football jacket or au courant shirt in their room, realize that on some level this is the ultimate compliment. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

But if you really like it – lock it up.

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Friday, 1 March 2019

Cartoon Male Characterization



Image result for ralph breaks the internet

Interesting Hollywood Reporter article on how current animated films are taking on traditional "toxic-masculinity" roles in such films as Into The Spiderverse, Ralph Breaks the Internet and the Lego Movie 2. I quibble with some of what the writer talks about and in fact, I'd argue that she misses the point about what these traditional stories are attempting to explore. In many ways these movies are just  old wine in new bottles and are doing so in a pretty obvious 'of the moment' virtue-signalling way but it's a good starting point for discussions about what makes a 'good man'.

Of course, these (and most) films (animated or not, for kids or not) still feature a male as the chief protagonist having to learn/accomplish something. That to me is more of a bigger issue - not having a diversity of characters at the centre of stories. If that doesn't change, the stories themselves can't change much.

I plan to write more about this some day but at the moment I have to sign off - my cupcakes need to come out of the oven.

Friday, 30 November 2018

THE DOBLER EFFECT


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“Lloyd Dobler? All right.”


That line is from the great Gen X teen romantic comedy film, ‘Say Anything.’ In it, good guy optimist oddball aspiring kick-boxer Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) invites the beautiful and brainy valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye) to the high school graduation party – and, to the amazement and respect of all and sundry, she agrees. But more than that, people surprisingly respect Diane for saying yes. Lloyd and Diane go on to have a summer romance which her father (John Mahoney) sabotages as he fears this will threaten Diane’s academic future. Lloyd does not quit but wins her back with a grand romantic gesture.

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When Lloyd is about to give up he gets advice from his best friend, Corey Flood (played by Lilli Taylor):

“The world is full of guys. Don’t be a guy. Be a man.”

Great advice. Be a man. And be a man without apologizing for it. In a time which is rife with such phrases as “mansplaining” and “toxic masculinity” it is important to tell boys and young men that there is value in being a man, instead of a guy or in perhaps its more current form a ‘bro’.  
The question then is what is a man? For me it ties into the meaning of the Yiddish word mensch – a human being of character, rectitude and dignity. Lloyd, for all his goofy uncertainty about what he wants to become or “do” (to the irritation of adults and in particular Diane’s dad), knows more than most – and that’s why he is universally admired by his peers. He is himself. Unapologetically. He is not afraid to be goofy, kind, heartfelt and optimistic – even though the world will continually kick him in the head for it.

Image result for lloyd dobler all right

Is it just coincidence that Lloyd wants to be a kickboxer? He will put himself at risk, believing in himself and choosing a ‘profession’ where he is unlikely to succeed and, even if he does, he’ll get the living crap kicked out of him on a regular basis. Throughout the movie, he puts himself on the line for what he believes in knowing it is not the ‘smart’ realistic choice. He knows what is important, he cares for people, and knows what he doesn’t want to be – a consumer, a cog or, in a word which has greater ironic significance in today’s social media world: a ‘follower’.

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.”

He is not just romantic but a Romantic and, in fact, is a Romantic hero. This also ties into what being a man is: being yourself, boldly going after what you want, knowing the risks are great. It is great inspiration for young (and all) men to not be afraid of being emotional, vulnerable and brave. To put yourself out there, risking looking like a fool and probably failing

Diane Court: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?
Lloyd Dobler: No. You just described every great success story.

Why am I going on about ‘Say Anything’? First of all because you should see it if you haven’t already and if you have seen it, you should see it again – it still holds up. Also because you need to know that following the lessons in ‘Say Anything’ can be risky.

Recently my 16 year old son, who plays competitive hockey, demonstrated this. His team is in what we like to call “rebuild mode”, which means they don’t win games though they try hard, get better and come close. You might characterize it as a Romantic endeavour. In fact, though we’re halfway through the season, they only just won their first game. So, when they did, in a bold move, my son grabbed the erasable marker from the game white board, skated over and started to write something on the glass in front of some people sitting in the stands, people who clearly were supporters of the other team. Pandemonium ensued. What was he doing? Writing some taunt? Some vile slander or obscenity in a display of unsportsmanlike conduct? Thing is, he was trying to write it backwards and was struggling to get it right and no one really could tell. Parents in the stands were outraged. Players from the other team wanted to fight him. The referees were screaming at him. So he skated off the ice before he finished his message.

I was boiling mad and embarrassed and concerned what would happen to him. What was this stupid stunt he was pulling? He’s an Alternate Captain for godssake, how is this demonstrating leadership? How is this thinking ahead? Then I looked closely at what he had managed to write and had to laugh to myself. He had written (partially) “Add Me” and then his SnapChat handle. In the stands in the front row was sitting a very attractive young woman of approximately the same age as he. Let’s say my feelings at this point were mixed.

As what he had attempted to write became clear, attitudes in the stands diverged – some were clearly still deeply offended and outraged (some people really enjoy feeling deeply offended and outraged, I think he made their week), others thought it was a goofy and dumb stunt but harmless (I fell mostly in this category) but some were tickled pink. At least one dad was deeply impressed and his opinion of my son actually was raised. I think he took a picture of what he wrote.

One of my son’s good friends and a ‘player’ exiting the change room after the game told me, “Your son is a legend.” I grimaced and told him jokingly I blamed him as a bad influence. He then told me, “I would be proud to take the blame for that move.” I had to laugh again.

Also interesting were the reactions of some of the adult women. One told me, ‘Good for him. He knows what he wants and he goes for it. He’ll do well in life.” She’s pretty hardcore; I like her. Another mum I told about it later actually put her hand to her chest, looked a little misty and said, “How romantic!”

Anyway, he got suspended for three games in a questionable call by the referees claiming he’d made an obscene gesture (?). He felt terrible, apologized to his teammates and personally spoke to the organization’s General Manager to explain the situation, taking full responsibility but hoping cooler heads would prevail. While sympathetic, the GM told him there was likely no hope in reversing the decision - the GTHL ascribes to a 19th century Mitteleuropean bureaucratic model based on arbitrariness and lack of accountability. There was no appeal available.

So, is it my fault? I showed this movie to my sons. Was he led astray by bad advice? One of the interesting things about watching movies (especially old ones that impressed me when I was younger) is my increasing identification with the grouchy old adults. Some of what they tell these whippersnappers is good sense. A weird split personality develops in me where I see both sides now. The world has become more and more like the world Diane’s dad promotes – where you always need to do the safe thing, the smart thing, the calculated thing. Lloyd stands for the world which is about the bold move, the big move, the passionate move – not the smart move.

What my son did was dumb and impulsive and it put his team in a bad situation but my view of it has changed from irritation to amused embarrassment to a kind of pride. He acted from his heart with passion, he put himself out there. It blew up in his face but I hope the lesson he takes from it is not to stop but to keep trying. I hope he keeps going for it with gusto, to create his own life like he dreams for it to be.

He pulled a Lloyd Dobler.

All right.
Image result for lloyd dobler all right

P.S. Many people I have told this story to want to know, was she won over, did she add him to SnapChat? Well, he never got to finish his message so, as far as I know, no. But there are other games…

Lloyd Dobler: I am looking for a dare to be great situation.