Thing My Friends Gone and Done in 2014

Thing My Friends Gone and Done in 2014

Totally forgot to post this article. It was sitting there, abandoned and neglected in my Unpublished bin. Here it is:

(header image by Jon Simo)

I have a lot of awesome friends who are incredibly creative and inspiring and I thought I would namedrop share some of their best work from this past year as well as have a go-to playlist of their best work.

Mike Palmer & Jon Simo

Roaming Focus Ep 5 – Prison

Roaming Focus is a cool, ongoing photography series but this episode was on another level. An incredibly interesting discovery episode that takes a decrepit environment and shows it in a really creepy, cool way. Beyond being a showcase of Mike’s photography, it’s exploratory and Jon’s cinematography captures the eeriness of the setting. Mike’s work looks great but I dig how it also serves as a BTS for his process, sharing how he captures his images. Both Jon and Mike are photographers and both have pretty awesome Instagram feeds. You can follow Jon here and Mike here.

Glen Matthews

Room Service

Made a few years back but it’s been on the festival circuit until now, my Maritimes actor pal Glen Matthews has finally shared his directorial debut with the rest of us plebs. It absolutely blew me away when I first saw it. As an actor, Glen really gets performance and how to squeeze an actor’s potential out of the camera. The performances are great and how they deliver Glen’s intense dialogue really honours the amazingly clever script. I mean, this script people. This script. Glen’s second short, Saving Face, is doing festival rounds and will be public next year so follow him on Vimeo now. It’s also great, I snuck a peek.

Cameron Wyllie

Sherlock Holmes and The Adventure of The Ejaculate Narrator (NSFW)

Cameron is the guy basically responsible for teaching me how to be a competent editor. He is also the king of Facebook feed comedic status updates. He’s also part of a sketch comedy duo called Bitches Leave, yes, that’s right. Oh, oh, wait, I’m not quite done plugging Cameron. He’s also the editor behind that WestJet Christmas video you all loved so much last year. Yeah, he’s the guy that warmed all your hearts. Now watch as he rips that heart out in this new NSFW skit he directed–yeah, apparently he does that too.

Aaron Gaistman & Andrew Cariboni


Andrew and Aaron understand music on such another level I just nod and agree with whatever they suggest or recommend. These are guys that don’t lean on what’s already working but are constantly trying to find new, cool ways to approach their own work and surprise their listeners. Their latest project, Identikit is some of their most realized work yet. They’ve got a bunch more to come in 2015.

Tristan Douglas


Tristan and I know each other because of video games and a general disdain for retail. However, Tristan is also a much better illustrator than I am. He has proved this by giving me an awesome piece that has found a home on my wall. He has spent the last two years sharing his sketches and finished pieces. Too often, I find line drawings lack expression and personality, but Tristan’s are overflowing with it. Plus they are mildly disturbing. In September he had some pieces in a Simpson’s Art Show in Kensington where he made some baseball cards from Homer at Bat – how can you argue with that? You can’t. That’s how. I’ve included a few random pieces here because they all awesome.

Back to my Simpsons project

A photo posted by Tristan (@32stories) on


Rob Scarborough & Matt Atkinson

18 Waits Video Look Book

These guys are like Deakins & Coens – they go together nicely and they seem pretty inseparable. Their work always looks and feels nice and textured, there is clearly a lot of passion here.

Sean Wainsteim

Sean co-directed a series of bizarrely genius spots for Oatmeal Crisp. I mean, just look at this! It’s madness! Sheer madness! I don’t know if this is actually 2014, and frankly, I don’t care. Sean is one of the nicest and most imaginative guys you’ll ever meet, and has a signature style that reflects it. Just browse through the rest of his goldmine of a Vimeo channel to see for yourself. Oh, we also did this little music video together, so why don’t you be a doll and click this big block of text to watch it. Cool!

Nate Kogan

Super Geometry / The Kingdom

The problem with Nate is that you can’t just plug one thing. He is a multidisciplinary artist who is madly prolific. Easily the most prolific person I know. Nate’s self-labelled title is “Professional Pervert”. Even his digital abstract art is named things like “Whore.” or “Fake tits/Cocaine (Miami)” I actually have no idea how you’d go about describing his work. It’s some cross-section between acid-glitch-porn-chic. Yes, I went to art school. He is amazingly unpretentious about his work. His abstract stuff becomes weekly Facebook guessing games of what everyone sees in the images and that’s brilliant. Oh, he has also sold out like a little bitch and started a company. Just kidding — his company, Huely Socks, (of course Nate would have a sock company of all things) is just as authentic and artist & culture oriented as his personal work. He never compromises on his perverted vision. I also dig his The Kingdom series on his website.


Justin Brennon Smith & Nate Kogan


Justin and Nate are two crazy and passionate artists. Mostly crazy though. Both have their outlets but a shared appreciation for deep house (or something). Justin has a perfectionist streak and their frequent output continues to show growth and progress. This one is from mid-last year and no doubt Justin would say R+D has evolved tenfold since then. So imagine this times 10 by now. Great editing music.

Keith Hodder

My old pal Keith — remember, we did Van Gore together! — has been busy writing scripts on the daily. When he does get one to camera, he pulls out all his stops. He is a natural with dialogue and DPing his own work has really developed into a classy style. All of his work can be described as chamber dramas with a focus on character. Oppenheimer is an interesting figure and Keith seeks to reveal some of his humanity.

Kevin Sarasom

500px photo

Kevin is a beast of a human. Every day is the best day of his life. And it really comes across in his work. He’s easily one of the most talented photographers and cinematographers I know and the least pretentious. I think he has taken photos of the majority of my Facebook friends judging by daily additions consuming my News Feed and how almost everyones profile photo seems to be shot by him! — hell, he will probably even take your picture if you ask him! Through his series you can really see him grow as a photographer which is a cool result of being so creatively active. Also, he has the best apartment in Toronto. (He also turned me into Doc Ock) 2048

Jon Simo

Simo makes yet another appearance on this list. This guy’s creative output is insane. He also explores different mediums from cinematography to photography to editing to music production. This ‘friends’ series is the epitome of Simo: creating cool shit and involving his friends for no apparent reason other than he likes to do it. 2048 (1)

Best of 2014: Film

Hurray! Year end recaps of the year in movies. The time of cramming all the ones I’ve missed! This list will likely be redundant in six months when I see all the other stuff I missed. Still, a great year for movies. I was especially happy that most of the Oscar bait/prestige pictures were painfully obvious and of little interest to me and many of the blockbusters were actually excellent. I try to base my picks off of Toronto releases (or VOD availability in Canada) but I don’t really care too much so.. just go with it.

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tiff 14 picks

It’s that time of year again.. TIFF time. That means I obsessively comb through the selection and pick best bets about what to see. I update and re-arrange as new info becomes available. I’ll also add showtimes. Hope this helps you.


1. No Galas will be added
2. Suggest anything I might have missed

This is: Update 1 (15 movies added)
Update 2 (3 movies removed; Midnight Madness, Vanguard, Docs, and Masters added)
Update 3 (3 new Canadian movies added; several movies with near release dates removed)

Update 4 (World Cinema movies added; new Special Presentations; three or four movies removed from bottom)
Update 5 (Showtimes added; final batch of announced films added)

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Best of 2013: Film

Best of 2013: Film

Movies live! 2012 was a letdown year for me, luckily a lot of great films were saved for 2013. This year was packed with awesome blockbusters, cool indies, and a variety of envelope-pushers. The following are a loose list of what really made an impression on me, generated some great discussion, and were altogether memorable, satisfying films from 2013. Half of my TIFF films this year are releasing in 2014 and already make up half of my Top 10 list for that year—things are looking good.

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A lesson in self-indulgence. If you have any exposure to Max Landis, you’ll instantly gravitate to the poles of love or hate. Here is a guy whose social dysfunction has him constantly restate he’s a guy no one likes because of his self-aware obnoxious personality and the only reason he’s in front of a camera is because he’s John Landis’ son. That said, when Max is on point, he’s a riot.

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Best of 2012: Film

Best of 2012: Film

2012 was an incredibly polarizing year with the year’s biggest movies and its most recognized arthouse movies both drawing acclaim and rejection in equal measure. I found myself in the disappointed camp more times than not this year, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t great movies. I didn’t get a chance to see everything this year, so the few movies I still want to see from 2012 (which may or may not find their ways into this list someday) include: War Witch, The Queen of Versailles, Searching for Sugar Man, Cloud Atlas, The Grey, Flight, Life of Pi, The Intouchables.

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TIFF 2012: Short Cuts #1 (Canadian Short Films)

As my sixth year at TIFF, I decided to try something a little different. Rather than trying my hand at the toughest tickets, I would experiment with the smaller stuff. I wanted to see what kind of output was coming from Canadian short directors who range from students to veterans. I’ve been to many short festivals and screenings for Canadian stuff, but TIFF is probably the place to get the cream of the crop, one could only assume.

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Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus

Just like any other visual medium, video games have conventions. Video games can play on these or avoid them to stir particular responses in players, and in turn players have begun anticipating what have developed into cliches.

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