Joining the union in Toronto, even as a background performer, gives you access to events, such as the Winter Member’s Conference. Based on how involved I tried to be back in Montreal while not being a part of the union, you know that handing me a membership card, of any kind, means that I will be there for everything.

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Amanda Brugel, Sarah McVie, Ryan Belleville, Juno Rinaldi, Peter Keleghan and Nikki Duval.

It was a 2 day conference,  beginning with a breakfast with the cast of Workin’ Moms. Mostly, we ate while they talked, but they are the interesting ones, so that was perfect. We covered what it’s like working on their show, working with children, Canadian television and what it means to be an actor in Canada, all kinds of fun and interesting anecdotes from set, before they left us with some pieces of advice. Improv at Second City was Peter Keleghan’s recommendation, while Juno Rinaldi stressed that you should “Be you. Because no one else can do you.” This panel was also the first of very many to suggest that we create our own work, but especially to be happy to create just to create.

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Next, Johnny and I attended Nailing the One-Liner. I had signed up to all the workshops without realizing there was a brochure, so I was going entirely off of the session titles. This one was given by Ron Leach, whose weekend class I have already taken, but there was still some valuable information to learn, or at least be reminded of. Even in his classes, he stresses that there is a whole life to be lived in a one-liner, that they shouldn’t just be thrown away, and as someone who would kill for a one-liner, I completely agree. Not that you should stress and go insane over a one word audition or something, but don’t dismiss it and treat it like it’s beneath you either. Do the same work you would for a scene. It was a very condensed version of the weekend workshop, so he couldn’t go into most of his techniques, but he did bring a few people up and worked with them, to show how much certain things can elevate your audition.

For lunch, there was salad and sandwiches, and new friends to be made. Although it wasn’t quite intentional, we focused on quality over quantity, so I didn’t make a bunch of new connections during the conference, but I did really get to know the ones that I did make.

The afternoon was for masterclasses, starting with Sudz Sutherland, who was hilarious, generous, and clearly someone I have to work with someday. He seems to truly love actors and creating and telling stories, which has me excited 🙂

The last class of Day 1 was with Adrienne Mitchell, where I found out about TAWC, the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee, and a wealth of resources for female filmmakers. Adrienne was a huge proponent of creating your own work and a brilliant director. I felt humungus pride watching clips from her reel, which included Bellevue. I haven’t had the pleasure of being on it yet, but there was Montreal pride, and the one that comes from seeing your friends doing awesome things.

Some people had wine, I had cheese and got to meet some really cool people before heading home and getting ready for day 2, which started with a panel discussion entitled, So, You Wanna Make A Movie? And boy, do we want to make movies 🙂 I have pages of notes with a wealth of information from all facets of filmmaking. Hearing the panelists talking about their journeys, their jobs and the process of bringing a film from pre-production to distribution made me want to just rush home and start writing.

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Jackie English, Bill Marks, Matt Campagna, Greg Jeffs, Dan Lyon, Dan Abramovici, Jen Pogue

After lunch, we had the ACTRA General Meeting, which covered the Operating Plan for 2018, with some exciting things on the horizon, as well as a panel on sexual harassment, which isn’t exciting, but very topical and necessary. Knowledge is power, so knowing your options and who to turn to if something happens is always a good thing.

My last panel was on Social Media, where I found out that I am doing some things right, but also have a lot of room for improvement. It was a smorgasboard of panelists, so I found out more about creating your own work, how to navigate the world of publicists and even some tips about O-1 Visas. One of my favorite things that was said, that I wrote in BOLD in my notebook was “BEING SHY GETS YOU NOWHERE”. It wasn’t even so much about social networking, but about not selling yourself short or diminishing your accomplishments. It hit home for me because I spent most of my life missing out on opportunities and connections, both in my personal and professional life, because I was too busy being shy and worrying what others thought about me. During this conference, almost everyone I went up to with the assumption that they would know me had no idea that we had met before. And while the old me, who wouldn’t have gone up to them, would have been saved that initial embarrassment of ‘nice to meet you’ when that isn’t actually the case, she also won’t be remembered by them next time. I’m not saying I was super memorable this time and they’ll never forget my name, but I am working on it, and participating more in conversations, and building relationships rather than just collecting people I know. Not that it’s what I was doing before, but being connected on facebook doesn’t mean much if they don’t know who you are when they run into you in life.

During the wine and cheese, other than approaching people I thought knew me, I also met some new people, including some people on the stunt committee. My new game plan is one I do expect people to laugh at for now, but they were really nice and offered some advice, even if they probably thought I was crazy.

Today wasn’t exactly a part of the conference, but we did attend the TAWC meeting, where I met a multitude of female filmmakers, found out about their initiatives, volunteered to be on some committees and got even more excited about creating my own work and some of the opportunities and resources that are out there. It is inspiring to be around people who are accomplishing the things you want to accomplish, and I can’t wait to get more involved in what the committee is trying to achieve.

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Now it is time to time up these notes and start putting it all into practice 😉

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

-Jennifer Lee

 

 

 

 

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