Transforming the Arts Project

Tasked with creating the support videos for “Behind the Curtain: How we Survive”, I knew that I wanted to do something with floating pictures of loved ones lost.

Shooting in natural light was important to me.  Located downtown, in London, Ontario, there exists a community art space known as “The Arts Project”. The third floor studio is a decent sized room, with old exposed brick walls, three floor ceiling windows and a whole bunch of character.  

Upon my visit to the Arts Project to book the studio, they informed me that we couldn’t suspend anything from the ceiling or attach anything to the walls.

This posed the problem, how do we suspend pictures above the subject and allow them to walk through them.  As this was a project funded by donation, budget was very tight.

After thinking about it, I thought that constructing a “Cage” of sorts from PVC pipe may be an option. It would be me the opportunity to create ‘lanes’ of suspended pictures where I could have Carly walk behind a few rows of pictures, each moving at different time on the frame. 

I had to figure out how this would look and if it was possible.  First step was creating a blueprint to figure out the design.  Creating a 1/10th mockup in Illustrator, I was able to figure out the measurements of each piece needed.

Original Mockup plan.

Original Mockup plan.

Since I was going to make this from PVC pipe, the challenge was finding connectors with the configurations that I needed.  After a trip to three of the local Big Box hardware stores, I found out quickly that stock ABS connectors only come in a few options, not enough to cover the what I needed. Enter FormuFit, a company out of the US specializing in furniture grade PVC connectors.  The added bonus, was that they provided the Sketchup models for all of their products. I chose PVC compared to making this from wood so I could easy dismantle this, if I needed to, and the entire cage also needed to fit in my car.

Turning to Google Sketchup, I was able to make a 3D model based on the actual measurements of the Arts Project, and shoot the set virtually to see if this was a viable option.  After a few hours of designing… in the virtual set, the PVC cage actually became a totally viable option, allowing me to suspend pictures from 7 feet from the ground.  I had my set.

nteractive 3D model of the arts project with PVC cage and photos

Pipe and fittings were ordered.  With my dad’s help, we cut the pipe and assembled the cage in their backyard to see if this thing would stand by itself.  A bit wobbly, but it worked perfectly.

Arriving on our first day at the arts project, and finally being able to assemble the cage in the actual space, I was pleasantly surprised that it worked out perfectly.  My measurements were a bit off, possibly due to the fact that I had to use pictures I took on my tour with a piece of paper in the corner for scale, and didn’t actually measure the room.

Virtual Set / Real Set

Virtual Set / Real Set

Problems faced with the construction of the set were the pictures.  The pictures would spin easily, or just fall down.  Granted we only used gaffer tape and fishing line to hold them up, but they needed to be able to be moved quickly and repositioned if needed as I was filming the music video, plus a series of interviews in the space.  Also, budget reared it’s ugly head as my original vision of filling the room with 300 pictures didn’t quite fit into our limited budget.

The music video for "I Remember You". 

In the end, being faced with the logistical challenges ended up being a lesson on overcoming physical restrictions and coming up with an alternate plan to complete my vision.  

 

Behind the Curtain: How We Survive

Two years ago, I was approached by two women, Nancy Hiron & Julie Varley to help tell their story on film. Their story was the loss of their children to suicide.  I was about 10th on the list of people that they had spoken to in a two year period trying to get their film made.

As a father of two, the thought of losing either of my children is an awful thought, I couldn’t pretend to imagine the grief.  

Their mandate for the film a bit challenging, they didn’t want to do a straight up documentary of talking heads. They wanted to be able to tell their story in an elegant way to honour the legacy of their children, and deliver a message for other survivors faced with grief. 

Iain Laird, met with them for the initial sessions and had the task of taking their stories and crafting the screenplay for us to use as a blueprint to tell their story.

The film’s budget was provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association through donations.  Their plan was to use the film to show other survivors of suicide to help deliver a positive message in time of need. With this in mind, we needed to cover points in the grieving process in the film as well.

To solve this, we broke the narrative of the film, from the first person to the third person and allowed both Julie and Nancy have a conversation on camera about the grieving process.  This also allowed them to talk about the differences between the loss of all three of their children.

In the end, we wrap the film with a positive message of hope.

The CMHA released the film in 2012 (Press: "Film Delivers Message of Hope"- London Free Press) but were cautious about having this film available as a public resource because it took the viewer on the emotional journey of loss, all on their own with no outlet for conversation afterwards. The film was screened in many public forums where both Julie and Nancy could speak about their experiences afterwards, it was meant to open up conversation, something that is impossible through a YouTube link.  

Nancy and Julie were nominated for the Champion of Mental Health Award in both 2013 & 2014 for speaking engagements and screenings of the film.

Moving ahead two years, we reunited over dinner to speak about the film, and how we could get it to more people. The idea was to create a website where both Julie and Nancy could blog, take questions, and also tell their story in accompaniment to the film.  

On Sept 10th, we launched http://howwesurvive.ca, a new community resource for survivors of suicide.  

The website is home to the film, as well as interviews from both ladies and other survivors of suicide. 

Below is the film, updated this year to further show the growth of both Julie and Nancy.

My friend Carly Thomas wrote the song “I Remember You” for the film.  We have created a music video in memoriam of people lost to suicide.

The song is available for purchase here, all proceeds going towards the CMHA.

Completing a project of this emotional weight, has been an honour to work on, my sincere thanks to both Nancy and Julie for helping them advocate mental health wellness.  

 

Catching Up

What have I been up to? Well, A lot.  

In 2012 I decided to start production on a documentary about the EDM movement in North America, entitled “The Drop: The EDM Culture Explosion”  The film has taken me all over the world in exploration of the rise of dance music culture.  I have been working on this project for over two years.   Like every film, there has been both ups and downs that accompany each project.  Not to gloss over this aspect, but this story in itself is a blog post on it’s own. 

While filming the Drop, I have had the opportunity to have my work featured by Canon in support of their Cinema EOS cameras and Glass First campaigns.  

On the home front, I have been able to lend my time to help support some local causes that I believe in and have a very personal connection with.  

I have been very proud of my work with the Stage for Change campaign.  A campaign built around raising awareness of the stigma of addiction.  I have had some incredible conversations about strength and change with people who has successfully battled their addiction.  My life has been touched directly by disease of addiction, and anything I can do to help spread awareness is important to me. 

Before starting production on The Drop.  I completed a short docudrama with two mothers who lost their adult children to suicide.  Nancy Hiron and Julie Varley are two of the strongest and charismatic women that I have had the pleasure to work with.  The short 15 minute film we created has been used to help other parents who may be coping with the loss of a child.  These two woman have served as a great example of resolve and courage.   I’m am pleased to be able to share this film publicly very soon.  

I've also had the privilege of working with some very talented artists to create quite a few music videos in the past two years.

This site relaunch is to showcase the work that I’ve had the honour to collaborate with many talented people on.    Thank you for visiting, I promise to update this more often than every two years. 

The Rose is White

Six months ago my friend Pat Dryburgh and I set out to make a film in 62 hours.  After throwing the idea around about quitting the 62 hour festival about 5 times we gave up and lost out on 15 hours of valuable time in such a time restrictive contest.

The results of having to push creatively for 37 hours resulted in one of the proudest moments of my life.  

The Rose Is White (Trailer) from Edward Platero on Vimeo.

Completing this film in such a short time frame, and have it win both the overall prize as well as prize for best visuals helped validate in my head what I love to do.  

Fast forward 6 months and I’m working a the most exciting project of my life.  Who knew that cold weekend in March could ignite such a fire.