Looking for creative practice and experiential learning all in one? Check out what Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley is doing on her study leave: shooting the feature film Two 4 One, using a mix of professional and student crew. While Bradley is an award-winning short film veteran and the driving force behind the highly successful Writing 420 film production class (more on that later), Two 4 One marks her feature film debut. But it’s also notable for being the first transgendered romantic comedy, one created for a wide audience.
Director Maureen Bradley looks on from Club 9One9, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)
“I do want it to be a breakout film that a general audience sees,” Bradley said back in January before she started shooting. “I’ve had tons of films at film festivals but I want to reach a broader audience. Living life as a transgendered man is not something most people know anything about.”
Of course, they’ll know a lot more once Two 4 One is wrapped, edited and released. Starring Gavin Crawford (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Gavin Crawford Show), Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter, The Five Senses) and Canadian TV veteran Naomi Snieckus (Second City), Two 4 One is described as “a bittersweet romantic comedy about oddball couple Miriam and Adam, who have an ill-advised one-night-stand and both wind up pregnant.” (Romantic comedy indeed!)
When asked why frame the story as a romantic comedy, Bradley opts for practicality. “I’m a lapsed activist, and storytelling is a way of reaching people that’s easier than activism,” she explains. “When people laugh, they’re open and might take in new ideas, and understand ‘the other’. From a film studies perspective, I’m dealing with ‘de-othering’ a huge ‘other’ in our culture—but in entertainment terms, I’m trying to tell a good story: it’s a familiar narrative, just with somebody new. As an activist, people will listen to me far more if I tell a good story than if I just shout, ‘You should accept difference!’ Humour is very subversive.”
Read more about her ideas behind Two 4 One in these recent interviews from The Martlet, Plenitude and the Times Colonist. And you can find out more about the long and arduous journey Bradley has taken to get this film made here . . . and here . . . and here.
Bradley speaks to actors dressed as construction workers on location (photo: Arnold Lim)
Not only is Bradley shooting Two 4 One locally throughout February, but the $150,000 film is also set locally—a rare thing indeed for a city that has made its cinematic name as being able to stand in for American, British or European destinations. (Consider the TV series Gracepoint—starring David Tennant of Doctor Who fame—which is also currently shooting in Victoria, standing in for a fictional northern California town.) Reached during a hectic shooting schedule, Bradley juggled a conversation with her location manager while giving us the scoop on her shoot.
“The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter how much money you have—you’re always pushing it, you always want more, it’s never enough, you’re always racing the clock,” she says with a harried laugh. “We work these crazy days, it’s an adrenaline high—but that’s the nature of the beast. I can’t sleep because there’s still so much to do. It’s a lot like having kids: you think you’re never ready, but you’re never ready; then your baby is born and you just roll with it.”
Producer Daniel Hogg, (left) and first assistant director Lorne Hiltser look on from the Roundhouse, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)
With a 30-person crew drawn from California, Vancouver and Victoria—including Fine Arts digital staffer Daniel Hogg serving as the film’s producer (“we shot our longest day at Dan’s parent’s house, so we got to see baby photos of him,” she laughs)—Bradley is clearly practicing what she preaches in her Writing 420 film production classes by hiring past and present students as well. “I’ve got three students doing directed studies on set, and the other day I checked in with them and said, ‘You have completed plenty of hours and learned a ridiculous amount, so you really don’t have to be here anymore.’ But they’re sticking around—they’re into their jobs so much. The caliber of the crew is just so high.”
Not that she can focus on that. “I’m not very good at accepting and receiving and people giving me things or praising me—it freaks me out,” she admits. “So I look around and see 30 people working for peanuts and not sleeping all for my show, my vision, and it’s a bit overwhelming . . . so I just go back into the gopher hole and focus on the next scene.”
Gavin Crawford (left), Naomi Snieckus and Gabrielle Rose
She’s also pleased with her cast, which is a similar mix of actors from Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria. “I was so happy to hear that the Toronto and Vancouver people are really impressed with our local talent,” she says. And it sounds like they’re all game for getting the job done, given that they’ve been shooting five script pages a day. “I’ve never shot that much in a day before. And every day it’s creeping up—five, six, seven pages. The other day we actually shot nine pages in one day.”
Bradley considering a shot on set (photo: Arnold Lim)
Principal shooting on Two 4 One is due to wrap on March 1, but the work doesn’t end there; then comes the editing, the marketing, the promotion, the distribution . . . but for now, Bradley is just enjoying the process of shooting her first feature—if “enjoying” is the right word.
“I’ve only had two breakdowns on set,” she laughs. “And not in front of anybody yet.”
Latest Writing 420 film wins award
Meanwhile, the latest film created by Bradley’s Writing 420 class—‘Til Death—recently picked up the Audience Favourite Short film award at the Victoria Film Festival. That makes three awards from various festivals for ‘Til Death—directed by recent MFA Connor Gaston, written by Writing alumnus Ryan Bright, produced by Bradley with Daniel Hogg as cinematographer.
‘Til Death also just played at the Sedona International Film Festival in Arizona, where director Gaston quipped, “Arrived just in time for the screening of ‘Til
‘Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project
Death, which played before a feature film. Audience member: ‘The short was better than the feature!’”
That’s four festivals now for the well-received ‘Til Death (Sedona, Victoria, Whistler and the Vancouver Short Film Festival) with more no doubt to come. Read more about Writing 420 and their past successes here.
Jamie Kemp is back in the news again. The busy History in Art and Medieval Studies PhD candidate was named one of three recipients of UVic’s Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award for Graduate Students on February 6. Not that this is surprising for the 2012 TEDx Victoria alumna, who also just finished inspiring middle school students in her session for February’s Fresh Minds symposium here at UVic.
Jamie Kemp (left) with Andy Farquharson (Photo Services)
“Jamie is a gifted teacher who exemplifies the effective learning model, who is passionate about writing and who is a valued member of the History in Art Graduate Student community,” noted Dr. David Capson, Dean of Graduate Studies, in his award presentation. “Her students all attest that not only has she changed the way that they learn by fostering an open and collaborative environment free of boundaries, she also brings a sense of fun and excitement to whatever she is teaching.”
While only three recipients are selected to receive the Teaching Excellence Award, there were 16 nominations—so Kemp is indeed among the most outstanding Graduate Students here at UVic. She has participated in a number of teaching-related conferences and workshops over the past few years, including the 2012 Association of Learning Technology conference at the University of Manchester, and has led workshops for both UVic’s own Learning and Teaching Centre and the annual “Let’s Talk About Teaching at UVic” event. She has also been the Educator in Residence at MediaCore Technologies, an education software company, where she curated and created content for The Flipped Institute, a resource site for both K-12 and post-secondary educators. Clearly, Kemp is serious about her teaching.
Jamie Kemp at TEDx Victoria in 2012
Kemp’s own teaching philosophy is simple: “In our present ‘Age of Information,’ when students have a seemingly unlimited access to knowledge and ‘information overload’ is often the norm, my role as a teacher can’t revolve around transmitting facts from the front of a darkened room,” she says.
“I believe that in order to offer meaningful education, I need to create engagement in a positive and open learning environment, offer my students practical ways to apply their theoretical knowledge, and provide them with opportunities to share their work with each other, the wider university community, and the rest of the world. My goal is to give my students experiences that will get them as excited about learning as I am. Curiosity and intellectual pleasure push us to develop our minds and improve our work when it would be easier to do just enough to get by.”
Kemp in action with one of her classes (photo: Aurora Allen)
How exactly does she do all that? “I’m really inspired by the flipped classroom method of teaching,” she says, “which is just an emphasis on making the time you spend in class with students count as much in possible—not always spending the time in front of a class lecturing, but also incorporating interactive projects, discussions and trips to special collections as well. I always ask myself what is my real function as a teacher—what can they do without me, and what do they need me for?”
When asked if she has any advice for other graduate students keen to improve their teaching, she doesn’t hesitate. “The key to effective teaching is actually quite simple,” she says. “You have to do what you can to stay passionate about the material you’re working with—I love the topic of every single course I teach, and that’s where the real passion comes from. If students see you’re enthusiastic about the topic, it’s easy for them to connect, get involved and really make a nice learning community out of the classroom.”
One of Kemp’s students examines a medieval text (photo: Aurora Allen)
But isn’t there a bit of a disparity between her academic specialization in ancient manuscripts and her yen for using modern technology in teaching? Not at all, says Kemp. “To me, they’re exactly the same thing—in my research, I work on medieval encyclopedias that were designed as schoolbooks to help students with their reading processes by teachers who didn’t know how to connect with them,” she explains. “These are actually very early kinds of intellectual technologies, used as mind-expanding objects to help with the education process. Manuscripts, videos on iPads . . . all of this is about communicating the initial round of communication so class time can be spent on things like discussion, and really synthesizing the information.”
As the TEDx site notes, “Kemp is tackling some of the oldest problems in education: her mission is to help the world learn more, do more, think more clearly, and manage knowledge in better ways by thinking about what tools, technologies, and situations make this possible—and sharing that knowledge with those who are transforming the educational landscape through technology.”
Be sure to watch her TEDx talk, “Head in the Cloud,” to get a sense of what this award-winning educator is all about.
The Malahat Review‘s annual “intellectual icebreaker at the cusp of spring” returns this week, and many Department of Writing faculty, alumni and graduate students are involved. It promises to be a fascinating and illuminating weekend of literary learning. Here’s what’s in the works—but you can get all the details, including ticket information, at WordsThaw 2014.
• Landsowne Lecturer Daphne Marlatt (7:30pm Thursday, February 20, in Turpin A120)
In the opening event to WordsThaw 2014, Vancouver writer Daphne Marlatt celebrates the fluid relationship between language and place—in particular, Vancouver—and how they stream into and out of one another, both of them accruing allusive sediments. (Lansdowne Lectures sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities)
• Words on Ice: Evolution of the Author (7:30pm Friday, February 21, in HSD A240)
A reading featuring writers at every stage of a writing career, hosted by Malahat Review editor John Barton and local poet Yvonne Blomer. From high school-aged writers, University writing students, authors without a first book, those who’ve published a first book, to those with an established writing career. Panelists include paulo da costa, Cynthia Flood, Phil Hall, Anita Lahey, Daphne Marlatt and Miranda Pearson, as well as Writing professor David Leach and Writing student Benjamin Willems.
• Author as Avatar: Social Media and Blogging (10am-noon Saturday, February 22, HSD A250)
Fine Arts communications honcho and Writing instructor John Threlfall will lead a discussion with local writers, bloggers, and publishers about the importance of social media for writers. Questions to be covered will include: How important is it for an author to develop a following and community on social media? What is the best tactic for an author to take while participating in social media? Roundtable panelists include Times Colonist journalist Sarah Petrescu, Brindle & Glass publicist Emily Shorthouse and Writing alum Will Johnson.
• Spirit of Place: Writing Local History (10am-noon Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)
What role does history play in contemporary society? Has the rapid pace of today’s world led us to lose contact with our past? How acquainted are we with Victoria’s rich and fascinating heritage, with the stories and lives behind the streets and buildings we pass each day? Local-history authors will discuss their research, their craft, and how the writing (and reading) of local history can shape our perception of the present in powerful ways. The past is not dead. But it relies on writers to keep its spirit alive. Readers include John Adams, Linda Eversole, and Peter Grant. Moderated by Rosemary Neering.
• The Inner Life of our Words: Writing and the Human Spirit (1:30-3:30pm Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)
Is there a relationship between poetry and the inner life? And if there is, what form or direction—or directions—does this relationship take? Can writing and reading be a useful, even insightful tool to probe the spiritual life (or lives) of the self, of another person, of a community, or even of an age? With moderator Andrew Rippin as their “guide,” poets Jane Munro and Writing professor Tim Lilburn and Writing instructor Marita Dachsel—also the current Artist in Residence for UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society—each approaching the inner life of our words from a unique perspective, talk about how poetry can be a catalyst to discovering and expressing not only “what we know,” but about “what we want to know.”
• Shining a Light: Writer as Witness (3:45-5:45pm Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)
All writers are observers, perceptually attuned. But what is the difference between seeing and witnessing? In many cases, to be a witness is to dare—to risk one’s emotions, or one’s reputation, in order to make known what others would keep hidden. Representing different backgrounds and genres—First Nations, environmental science, and poetry—panelists will explore the various ways writers use their craft to speak out, raise awareness, and shine a revealing light on some uncomfortable truths. Readers include Gary Geddes, Monique Gray Smith, and Andrew Weaver. Moderated by Amy Reiswig.
• Brief Encounters: 15-minute Critiques of Your Work (noon-1:15pm Saturday, February 22, in the HSD Building)
This year WordsThaw will also have one-on-one critiques set up in several genres over the lunch break. Local writers will be available to critique your writing in the following genres: poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, life-writing, or young adult/children’s writing. Critique spots will be filled in advance (once registered for WordsThaw), on a first-come first-served basis. Writers include Maleea Acker, Dede Crane, Catherine Greenwood, Steve Noyes, Aaron Shepard, Robin Stevenson, Christine Walde and Writing instructor Matthew Hooton and Writing graduate student JoAnn Dionne.
Want to change the world? All you need is the right idea.
UVic’s third annual IdeaFest is back and ready to expand your mind with fascinating ideas from fascinating people. Running March 3 to 8 at various venues across campus, IdeaFest offers over 50 ideas worth celebrating.
This year’s theme is “Ideas that can change everything,” and Fine Arts is once again in the mix, with every department offering something. Here’s a quick rundown by date of what we’ve got scheduled, but be sure to see the main schedule for complete details. Remember, all events are free and don’t require registration—unless otherwise noted.
• Get an inside look at how musicians make music with a Cello Master Class featuring School of Music professor Pamela Highbau Aloni. (1:30-2:30pm Tuesday, March 4 in the Phillip T Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin B Wing)
Inside the Kwisitis Visitor Centre
• What do you do when you suddenly find yourself over your head with a creative project? Find out in “A Props Master Out of his Depth”, a slide lecture by Department of Theatre master props artist Bryn Finer. Finer will address how his theatre experiences translated to the development of sculptures and dioramas for the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. (12:30-1:30pm Wednesday, March 5, in the Roger Bishop Theatre, Phoenix Theatres)
• The annual Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards feature new research produced by 115 young scholars—of which 10 are from Fine Arts: Caroline Baicy, Justin Barski and Evelyn Brotherston (History in Art); Alannah Bloch and Jocelyne Lamarche (Theatre); Abigail Laycock and Graham Macaulay (Visual Arts); Bethany Hughes and Benjamin Willems (Writing); and Sondra Moyls (Music). Be sure to check out what they’ve got on hand in this fascinating exhibit. (11:30am-3pm Wednesday, March 5, Michelle Pujol room, SUB)
• Get an inside look at how musicians make music as School of Music professor Patricia Kostek leads a master class on the clarinet in this workshop. (1:30pm – 2:30pm Wednesday, March 5, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)
Lafayette String Quartet
• Find out how young musicians hone their craft and learn from master musicians at this string chamber master class with UVic’s own artists-in-residence, the Lafayette String Quartet. (7-9pm Wednesday, March 5, in MacLaurin B016)
• Ever heard of Soundpainting? Find out what it’s all about at this presentation and interactive demonstration by UVic’s new music ensemble, Sonic Lab. All are invited to participate with movement, visual arts, spoken word, acting or music in a real-time, gesture-based group composition. (1-2:30pm Thursday, March 6, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)
• A late addition to our IdeaFest lineup: The 3-Minute Thesis competition! School of Music graduate student Michael Dias will have three minutes to explain the ideas behind “The Creative Process: A Composer’s Sketches and Drafts” with one slide, 180 seconds and no jargon. Can he do it? Find out 7-9pm Thursday, March 6, in the David Lam Auditorium.
• In this age of digital publishing, you don’t need a printing press to create your own magazine—unless you choose to go the traditional publishing route. So You Want To Launch A Magazine offers an interactive panel discussion and showcase of some of the very successful magazines—both digital and print—created by students in the Department of Writing to address social and literary concerns in society. The panel includes moderator Dr. Lynne Van Luven (Writing), Nadia Grutter (Coastal Spectator), Patrick Close (The Warren), Kimberley Veness (Concrete Garden), Patrick Grace (This Side of West) and Andrea Routley (Plenitude). (noon-1:30pm Friday, March 7, in HSD A270)
• If you’ve ever been to an opera, you’ve heard how the voice can be an instrument in itself. Learn more about this primordially human instrument when professor Benjamin Butterfield leads a master class in voice. (2:30-3:30pm Friday March 7, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)
Dániel Péter Biró and students
• Unless you’re a musician yourself, the process of creating music can offer be a complete mystery. Discover more in “Exploring Aesthetic Diversity Through Music,” an interactive workshop where you can experience the excitement of live music creation. School of Music composition and performance students will also perform their latest music compositions, created under the guidance of Music professors Dániel Péter Biró (Tsilumos Ensemble) and Joanna Hood (Lafayette String Quartet). The general public is welcome to attend! (7-9pm Friday, March 7 in MacLaurin B016)
Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)
• This year’s “Concert Without Borders” features the UVic Orchestra, under the direction of Ajtony Csaba, offering a program that includes Berlioz, Grisey and Beethoven and is punctuated by multi-media interventions highlighting Learning Without Borders projects from across campus. Theatre, song, visual art and spoken word shine a spotlight on the many ways in which members of the campus community are working to internationalize the curriculum and campus life. (8-10pm Friday, March 7 in the Farquhar Auditorium. Note: this is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased at the UVic Ticket Centre.)
• Finally, we offer the concert, A Night of Schubert. What makes a composer great? Why do we revere the music of one artist over another? Is it the beauty of the melody, a special harmonic sound, or something else? Discover the secrets of the romantic music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) as explained and performed by pianist and School of Music professor Bruce Vogt. There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:30pm as well. (8-10pm Saturday, March 8, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building. Note: this is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased at the UVic Ticket Centre.)
Now that the exhibit Adasla: The Movement of Hands is open at the Legacy Downtown and the Big Button Blanket has had its inaugural dance at the opening ceremonies of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum at First People’s House, the focus now shifts to the next performance on February 22.
The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic’s First Peoples House (Photo Services)
Featuring a special contemporary performance collaboration between Governor General’s Award winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore—a former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts—and blanket co-creator, Tahtan Nation artist Peter Morin, this remarkable experience will begin at 2pm on Saturday, February 22, at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. All are welcome to witness this free event.
The Times Colonist ran this article previewing the February 22 performance, summarizing the history of the button blanket and this blanket’s specific intention.
We talked to Morin recently about his upcoming performance with Belmore. “Button blankets are used as teaching tools—younger artists get told its story, how it was made, what it was made with, who made it, the importance and significance of it in relation to the larger community—so our collaboration will be about acknowledging the blanket as a metaphor for indigenous knowledge practices,” he explains. “Her art has fundamentally changed how I see the world. A lot of my practice is about the places where indigenous and western knowledge intersect or collide, so it’s exciting we can work together on this.”
Peter Morin & the button blanket (photo: Michael Glendale)
Morin doesn’t hesistate when asked about the idea behind the project. “I want people to understand and think differently about button blankets. This is an this art form that has been practiced for more than 150 years over a large geographic region. They are just as beautiful and significant as totem poles—and, in fact, I wanted to make a button blanket the size of a totem pole so people can see them better. It’s an invitation to see this art form differently.”
Morin, who recently returned to Victoria as the keynote speaker for the annual History in Art graduate student symposium Visual Impetus, is now with the Visual Arts faculty at Manitoba’s Brandon University.
Student Ali Bosworth Rumm sews buttons onto the Big Button Blanket (photo: Michael Glendale)
An ambitious collaborative project between Morin, History in Art professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, local indigenous blanket makers and HIA students, there has been a great deal of media coverage about both the exhibit and the blanket itself. CBC Radio’s All Points West featured this interview with Morin and host Jo-Ann Roberts (scroll down to the January 7 entry). Local visual arts writer Robert Amos also ran this Times Colonist article about Adasla, describing it as a “stimulating and multi-faceted show.” The exhibit is also featured in the February/March issue of Preview: The Gallery Guide magazine, was written up in this article for the UVic student newspaper Martlet and Morin is featured in this interview for the February issue of the UVic newspaper The Ring.
Legacy’s Justine Drummond (left) & Caroline Riedel with a small slice of the world’s biggest button blanket (photo: Edward Hill, Vic News)
The Victoria News also ran the article, “Big Art Emerges From A Big Blanket,” focusing on how the 300-pound blanket will be a logistical challenge for the Legacy Gallery. “It’s easily the biggest art object we’ve received or displayed here,” Caroline Riedel told reporter Edward Hill. “The sheer weight and logistics to hang an object of this size is a challenge. The buttons are extremely fragile.” Riedel also explains how they had to enlist Royal B.C. Museum exhibit designer Allan Graves to design a scaffolding for the blanket. “It’s a new challenge with the installation, but it opens up new ways to think about this as an art form,” she says.
Hill also explained how Morin designed the blanket to represent the headwaters of northwestern B.C.’s Klappan River, a sacred place for the Tahltan First Nation, and Tsartlip artist Barrie Sam contributed the design at the centre of the blanket.
For both Morin and Butler Palmer, the exhibit Adaslā—a Tahltan word referring to the act of creation—hinges on the lack of general knowledge surrounding button blankets. “It’s a textile art form, and that’s often associated with women, and textile arts have been suppressed in their recognition in art history, as has indigenous art forms,” explains Butler Palmer. “Even if they are recognized, they’re often configured more as ‘craft’ than art. So we’re challenging both the absence and suppositions of button blankets as an art.”
You can keep up to date with the Big Button Blanket Project via their Facebook page, and the project’s own blog.
Adasla: The Movement of Hands continues to April 25 at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m., Wednesdays to Saturdays.