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the artists way

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New Canvas to Play On

Dear Budding Artist,

This is one of my very first shots - I won't torture you with the out-of-focus ones) with my new (used) Nikon D7000. 

This is one of my very first shots - I won't torture you with the out-of-focus ones) with my new (used) Nikon D7000. 

It's been 3 years since I've had a working stills camera. My Nikon D70 served me well as a student in Montreal and functioned fairly well for the next few years for taking production stills, but I never considered myself a proper photographer or went to any great lengths to hone my skills. But as I became more focussed on documentary work I ignored photography in favour of moving images, and then the D70 stopped working and I dropped shooting stills altogether. 

Something prompted me to get another camera before my next trip to Brazil. Yesterday I finally took the plunge, travelled to Victoria to look at a used one, and with a very patient 11-month old German Shepherd in tow, explored and played on Fisherman's Wharf, using Winnie as my non-stop action subject. (I had to bribe her with wieners.)

And the results, while not stunning, are OK. The lens is a Tamron 17-55 mm, it's not great, but functional for now. What I am enthused about is to have a camera to play with, to feel the heft and weight of a Nikon in my hands again, to hear the glorious click of that shutter (ok I know it's digital but it still sounds very satisfying!) and feel like I can start taking real pictures again. 

Here are some of the less horrible ones: 

Winnie-morning light

Here's to expanding my photographic horizons and really allowing my eyes and heart to see the beauty in this world again. We only live once. Let's live with eyes wide open.

Much Love, Tobi

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Marketing vs. doing the work

Social media stuff I love-hate.jpg

This week I found myself tackling a long-overdue job of setting up and sorting myriad social media accounts for the Dorothy documentary I've been working on. OMG it's awful. I both love it and hate it - but the part I dislike most is that I seem to have tunnel vision about the whole thing. Once I started setting up Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Hootsuite and Facebook, it's like a whole Sim City world that you can't just walk away from but have to continually tweak and manage and breathe life into. It's exhaustilerating. 

So that's the struggle this week. Is this social media thing a distraction from the actual work of logging, editing, crafting, watching footage, making stuff? Or is it a legit thing I actually need to keep doing as a producer for this indie film? Again, hate it or love it, it's how you get the news out into the world when you don't have a network backing you. Probably something you have to do even if you do have a network - who am I kidding? Do you really think the busy communications people at any of the major networks have half the social savvy as I do, or the commitment to the story? Nope. So it's all on me. 

But this is a very real struggle people! I'm working on focusing on my art. Doing the stuff. The work. The shitty, grinding, annoying, back-destroying things on my computer and laptop that simply have to get done in order for a piece of craftsmanship to emerge in the world. But the more time I spend on Twit-Insta-FB-Tum-Hoots and all the rest is time away from the actual work. 

If I'm honest, the social media stuff is easier for me than the work. That's why I've delayed logging footage from 2013 until now.. It's just hard work. Social media is a mind-sucking sort of endeavour that I can use my monkey brain on and watch television at the same time. I can get sucked into the vortex of online existence and still feel like "i'm doing something," whereas the actual work doesn't let you lie about production like that. Either you have a beautiful sequence at the end of 5 hours, or you have pieces of things because you distracted yourself with a bunch of busywork crap. The work doesn't let you lie. Social media is pretend work. 

So, in the interest of keeping it real, I'll just say that I love it and hate it. I know it's necessary. I have to keep getting the word out there about this remarkable boat and her incredible survival story, and the only way seems to be with a decent social media platform. But I'll use this blog to stay accountable about how much actual work I get done, too. You will be my witness. 

Am I an artist or still playing at being one? 

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Welcome

Journal: Letters to the Artist is a collection of personal writings from my journey to becoming an artist and independent female filmmaker. It's a raw, honest account of the internal and external resistance and obstacles I encounter, the heartaches and setbacks, the lessons I'm learning and the anticipated, dreamed of achievement of actually, this year, maybe getting some work done. That's my only goal. Just get the work done and let the cards fall where they may. 

So this blog is not a promotional vehicle. I'm not going to sell you my stories or ideas. Just sharing as I work to become a healthy artist with a vibrant, balanced life, one who is not martyred or obsessed with the work, but who produces art in harmony with my life.

The threads of my art and life are inextricably entwined. I've found as a documentary filmmaker that I become so caught up in my subject and what I'm learning, I become either part of the story, or the story becomes part of my life, or both. In "Between Wood and Water", I document the restoration of the oldest functioning wooden sailboat in Canada, Dorothy. I also fell in love with her shipwright, had a tumultuous relationship with him over 3 years, and am emerging on the other side with some more wisdom, a 15-foot wooden sailboat of my own called Golden Eye, and some emotional bruises I'm still healing from. In "Wild Horses" I document the journey of one of Europe's premiere natural horsewomen as she leaves her professional career to teach a bunch of orphaned and neglected boys in Brazil the secrets of the horse. Over the 7 years I've been documenting the story, I've become wedded to the family and stayed on the fazenda not just as a filmmaker, but as house momma and friend. And I've acquired two horses of my own by rescuing them from neglect and potentially death in winter 2016. 

So this Journal is not just the story of my Stories, but the Story of us as we all weave a tapestry of beauty from the many colourful threads of our lives. 

It's going to be personal, raw, unfiltered and unprofessional. You will not find tips and tricks for shooting in certain kinds of light, because honestly I have no idea how to get the sometimes magical images I come away with. Almost nothing in my shooting career is pre-planned and thought out, I just launch the boat from whatever shore I'm standing on, and we go from there. Sometimes I have partners, mostly I work alone. Most of the people I've partnered with along the way have gone their own ways for various reasons - the one main reason being is that I can be demanding, exhausting and challenging to deal with. I keep my own pace, and race against my own clock. It's part of the magic parcel. But I'm hoping one day I'll find a tribe I can work with so I don't die alone. Ha! The existential fear that I'll no doubt keep coming back to explore. 

So I don't know what this will be like. Sometimes I will write to myself, letters to my own artist. Sometimes I'll write to someone else, as if I know you and what you're going through. Sometimes I'll have advice, mostly I'll have questions. I make no promises. I simply want to make art with integrity, and to live life in a way that supports my body, mind and heart. And maybe you want to do that too so perhaps this series of letters will be a medium of communication. Feel free to comment, post your own stories and share your journey. 

My one rule is that I be real, not fake/professional/cutesy or overly smartass. Though I will allow myself to cop an attitude on occasion. I will endeavour not to use exclamation points as I feel I used up my quota in my twenties. 

This is just me. Period.

Welcome. 

 

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