Last year I attended my first Toronto Screenwriting Conference, and pretty much immediately after it was over, I was already refreshing the website looking for updates on the next one. My waiting was finally over the weekend of June 23-24. This year's venue (TIFF Bell Lightbox) offered a much more intimate atmosphere than last year's Metro Convention Centre, and as a result,I felt like I had meaningful interactions with TSC guests and attendees alike.
My favourite main stage talks were Corey Mandell's In the Beginning (his approaches are quite formulaic which I like, and he always provides great examples from current shows, and I always leave feeling like I'm equipped to write the next Breaking Bad. Pitch Perfect was another practical and inspiring talk from Ben Watkins, and of course, I loved hearing Stacy Rukeyser (showrunner and EP of UNREAL) discuss The 'Unlikeable' Female Protagonist.
I was fortunate enough to participate in a number of smaller break-away sessions - which included a roundtable discussion with Chip Johannessen (EP for one of my favourite shows - Homeland); an Advanced Writers Process workshop with Corey Mandell (loved his thoughts on combating stress and anxiety); and Personal PR Strategy with Carole Kirschner. All in all, an incredibly valuable and inspirational weekend!
What I was reading:
I've mentioned in a previous post that my method for selecting books to read each month is generally pretty random. This month, it just so happened that all of the books I selected featured children growing up in different parts of the world in heartbreaking situations. But they were also children who showed incredible strength (and made me feel extra grateful for my upbringing).
A Long Way Home: A Memoir by Saroo Brierley - (this memoir was adapted into the movie Lion). How a 5 year-old managed to survive on the streets of India is beyond me, and how he used GoogleEarth to trace his way back to his childhood home is just as incredible - his story is in many ways tragic, but also incredibly hopeful and uplifting.
The Good Sister by Chelsea Bolan - an exploration of gender expectations and the immense strength of two sisters living in Mexico.
The Less you Know the Sounder you Sleep by Juliet Butler - A truly fascinating portrait of the lives of the institutionalized Soviet conjoined twins who were known as Masha and Dasha, based on the author's 15 year friendship with them. An interesting look at what it meant to be different (or "defective", as they were considered) in a country that did not acknowledge otherness. I had a difficult time getting into this one, but once it picked up I was fully present for the ride. (PS one twin was 'good', and the other was evaluated to be a psychopath).
What I was watching:
The X-Files (original), Season 1 (Netflix) - I had NEVER seen The X-Files before now!! I loved Gillian Anderson in The Fall and David Duchovny in Californication (don't judge me) so I figured I would check out the series that made them...
The Staircase (Netflix) - all I can say is: the jury is still out for my husband and I on what actually happened that night!
Queer Eye, Season 2 (Netflix) - this season didn't tickle me quite as much as the first, but it still had its moments, and was a real feel-good watch for me.
Robert LePage's Frame by Frame at The National Ballet - This piece was inspired by Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren's life and work. Overall I found this ballet inspiring, innovative, and made me want to learn more about Norman McLaren.
Paz de la Jolla, The Man in Black, and Cacti at The National Ballet - I'm not so much a fan of traditional ballet, but I was intrigued by the trailer for Cacti, and the performance didn't let me down. The Man in Black (a piece for 4 dancers to several of Johnny Cash's most beautiful covers) surprised me with it's simplicity, beauty, and how it resonated with me.
Come From Away (Mirvish) - Wow. It's been running long enough that I've heard all the hype (Astrid, one of the actors from Well Born workshopped this show and is currently performing in the BROADWAY version so I've definitely been interested to track its journey) and it was still nothing like I expected it to be. In the best way. I was lucky enough to be gifted with tickets to two performances (the other one is in September) and I am already looking forward to seeing it again!