••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Archives
Summer 2002- Hot Sweats
at a Cold Read- Nights at the Anza Club
Theres something quite special about Vancouver and the people in
it, although I dont think I should mention it in case they become
self-conscious and as snarky as the rest of the world they inhabit.
It occurred to me when I was attending the weekly Cold Reading Series
at the Anza Club on Ontario St. Just for the record, this is shit
hits the fan in the shape of writers screenplays given to
actors at random five minutes before they go on and act the
darn thing. This is heart attack time for the writers and astonishingly,
the event is terrific. The writing is almost always great, often very
funny, the acting amazing, considering there is no rehearsal and shows
the importance of giving description and direction in a script.
The atmosphere is noisily supportive, nurturing, enthusiastic and afterwards
everyone gets together to drink and talk about it. Its so simple,
and this has been running for nine or ten years already. Theres
another similar event but more formal event called Alibi run across town
and the quality is equally good, although the critical comments can go
on a tad too long.
So why isnt this happening in London I ask myself?
I belong to the New Producers Alliance and have suggested we do this,
but people cast their eyes wildly about the room and shuffle their feet
as if you have suggested they smear margarine on their genitalia. The
Writers Guild would rather die that get writers and actors involved
in an activity other than debating a crisis in publishing.
The Script Factory has it so organised and exclusive, it is neither fun,
nor useful and it happens only about four times a year. It takes about
a year to get a script read and who knows what it takes to get it accepted.
In the UK every producer bemoans the fact that there are no good scripts
and no place to hear them if there were. They hate reading scripts, so
a place where they could hear and see them would be great. They are right.
Outside of film school or a screenwriting class, there is no genuine venue
such as exists in these two places in Vancouver.
Sure there are poetry readings and book events in London, but yawn, you
wouldnt get a producer with connections to one of those now, would
you. All you are left with is trying to pitch to someone as they cross
Golden Square in the hopes they arent an accountant or worse, another
The Anza experience is a revelation. Support, good writing and good acting.
There is such a pool of talent here, it quite belies the fact of the city
being a small place compared to London or New York. If you
are a budding producer forget London, fly here buy these scripts. Better
yet, make them here. With the 24hour Film series and the 48Hour Film series,
there are tons of experienced, competent, highly skilled camera pros here.
There are experienced crew and props, all who have worked on some TV show
or another. Great soundmen, directors, you name it, you can find them
Vancouver is a film town and the one thing it really lacks is oddly enough,
producers with money. Its one of those typical ironies.
A town full of talent and yet everyone has to send their stuff to Toronto
or LA. Better yet, these scripts arent the usual Toronto Troubled women
must tragically die fare. In the UK we have come to expect that
all Canadian produced films are gay subjects or about sports. Vancouver
doesnt even feel Canadian (though that might upset them to hear
that.). Its ambition and talent base mirrors San Francisco and there
doesnt seem to be that general bitchiness and back stabbing that
holds London back, or a entrenched media mafia who just make the same
damn movies every two years.
The talent in Vancouver is here in-depth. Good writing, singing, acting,
art, sculpture, photography and dance, and there are tons of good places
turning out more artists such as the William Davis Centre, BCIT, Emily
Carr Institute, or Vancouver Film School and getting the kids trained
early at Arts Umbrella on Granville Island. There is just a wealth of
accessible learning opportunities here. Just this Wednesday at the Celluloid
Social Club hosted by the funny and personable filmmaker Ken Hegan, actress/director
Rae Dawn Chong showed her new short movie 'Mary's Stigmata' at
the Anza. Best film of the night was the funny "Swimming Upstream'
director by Bonnie Benwick, both films part of the' Crazy 8s' Films sponsored
by the Director's Guild of Canada. It's amazing who turns up and how democratic
it is and being creative is really important to people and no one is
sitting back and saying poor me, no one has noticed me. You
have to be proactive and show your work.
The next step would be to somehow hook up all this talent with the famous
producers with who are in town right now making major Hollywood films.
The Anza Club might be a tad rough and ready but this is talent in the
raw and it wouldnt get any better with air-conditioning.
I like it the imaginative spirit here, applaud it and will put my own
scripts where my foot is any day now. If you can survive a cold reading
you can probably open a door somewhere. Who knows where.
The Cold Reading Series is at
The Anza Club 8th & Ontario -
Thursdays at 8pm. All summer long.
Meet Actors, Writers, Filmmakers
Come to the Vancouver Music Festival August 1st
Summer Theatre Festival
July 24th-August 30th One Act Plays
Sunshine Coast Festival of Written Arts
Every famous Canadian Writer (except Douglas Coupland) still living in
Aug 8th- 11th Sechelt.BC. TeL: 604 885 9631
The 6th Annual Wreck Beach Bare Buns Race August 10th.
- Dare to be bare no talent actually required here.
© Sam North
August 2002 - Managing Editor
Carine Thomas -
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