Category Archives: News

University Video Essays

The other day, I helped put together a little minute-long video essay for a friend of mine. He came to me looking for help with his NYU Wagner video application.

Before setting out to record this short personal message, we sat down and looked at what other people had submitted to various NYU programs.

I was amused at the quality of the competition. A vast majority of video essays were shot off of a laptop’s webcam….

… while others were shot vertically, quite possibly from an iPhone.

 

I guess that’s alright for Buffalo Hot-Wings, but we needed something a little more interesting.

It was a quick little exercise and I felt it went alright. Hopefully it’ll pay off for my friend Robbie.

One Small Space

It says that it’s day 25 on the revolutionary calendar but days are no longer measured in hours. Everything has merged into an everlasting block of memory. I cannot tell you what happened yesterday because, in order to do so, I’d have to start from the beginning.

The truth is that I’m embedded with the Occupy Vancouver movement and I’ve been anchored on the frontline.

I’ve learned more about this organized occupation than all the regular everyday-folks with their reactionary opinions rife with misinformation. After 25 days of hearing propagated half-truths, I’ve done my best to inform the public and correct the spreading of sloppy journalism.  I’ve even had to correct a news station during an interview on air.


But, live reporting is not why I’m down there. Rafferty Baker and I are knee-deep in the filming of our documentary The Occupation. Essentially, it follows the rise of Vancouver’s interpretation of the #OccupyWallStreet movement.

The documentary follows the relationships and interactions of the occupiers within the encampment as they deal with the city, weather and unexpected tragedies. The Occupation is an intimate look at one of the most talked about events of the year. The documentary will humanize the movement like no one has shown before.

Lately, the encampment has been on edge because the increasing threats from the city have been getting louder and louder.

Now, there’s information spreading that says city workers and VPD officers will roll in to dismantle the tent-city tomorrow (November 10). With so much information being passed around, it’s no wonder that the occupiers are on edge and at times involved in militant rhetoric.

All I can do is wait with my camera ready to roll.

“We’ll do it live…”

The first rotation is finally over.

A small group of us were involved in making the weekly student lead television news program BCIT Magazine. The experience was intense and I ended up doing some things I thought I’d never do.

Anchoring was the main event. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the deed but I got my fair share of face time during the past three weeks.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, let me take a minute to tell you a little bit about myself:

I sweat a lot. I am like a blowfish, in the sense that I have a unique self-defense mechanism. Instead of spines pushing out from my skin, I have copious amounts of sweat streaming from my face. It’s an uncomfortable affliction that keeps things awkward most of the time.

My hyperhydrosis is not ideal for doing things that require performing in front of an audience. I have never liked presentations nor the pressure of being calm and serious on camera. Anchoring has never interested me but somehow I ended up anchoring two casts and also delivering a brief weather stand up.

Yes, there were screw-ups. But, keep in mind, this is not my thing. I only wanted a little fun.

I’m sure someone will ask “was it worth it?”

And I’ll answer, “yes, yes it was.”

Federal Funding Cuts for the Renfrew Moon Festival

The 9th annual Moon Festival celebrated Vancouver’s diverse art, music and cultural scene but, as I found out, the even faced federal funding troubles.

The Still Moon Arts Society Director Carmen Rosen says that the small community based festival along the Renfrew Ravine has lost 50% of their funding after they were denied a federal heritage grant.

“It’s very disappointing,” says Rosen. “But, we’re still making it work with the people that make it happen.”

The event still went through with big smiles beaming from the families in attendance but some organizers were a little discouraged with what could have been.

Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies was at the festival set up in a small NDP tent during the start of the event but he was called off to another block party. I had to phone him in Ottawa after the first parliamentary sitting back from the summer break.

Seattle Remembers 9/11

The United States is still picking up the pieces after the attack on the World Trade Centre ten years ago.

Citizens of Seattle still remember the tragic events of 9/11, even ten years after. Many people walking around the city would run into visual reminders of the historic day. Flags were at half-mast and small memorials littered city parks spent the Sunday immersed in various activities.

In the shadow of the Space Needle, a group of 9/11 Truthers handing out pamphlets and encouraging passersby to question the government.

Across the park, there was another group of people assembled to promote peace and harmony at Memorial Field. The ONE Festival had guest speakers recalling the fateful day ten years ago. Local artists also preformed for the small crowd gathered at the Seattle stadium.

A final memorial at Alki Beach in West Seattle attracted a larger crowd for a candle light vigil. People gathered to sing songs and look on at the tribute to day of remembrance.

New Pornographers in the Park

The New Pornographers play the main stage at a free concert at Stanley Park to celebrate 125 years of Vancouver. Three giant inflatable balls were released into the audience and passed around during the performance.

A concert in the park is not a phrase normally associated with Vancouver or Stanley Park but for three days in July the city hosted free concerts showcasing an array of local talent.

The festivities were put on as a celebration of Vancouver’s 125 year anniversary. The location for the event could not have been any more perfect than along the peninsula of Stanley Park’s lush green Brockton Point. The stage and festival goers were surrounded by water and towering Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks. These grand old trees filtered the day’s radiant dying sun and a slight breeze from Coal Harbour kept the summer night below the average annual temperature.

Saturday night’s headliner was The New Pornographers. They are a successful local band that started back in 1997 and have released several acclaimed albums with hits like “Mass Romantic,” “Use It” and “My Rights vs. Yours.”

The New Pornographers took the stage around 9:30 as twilight set in over Vancouver.

Niko Case singing with The New Pornographers during a free concert at Stanley Park to celebrate 125 years of Vancouver.

For the most part, The New Pornographers’ sound was crisp and clear. The band has a polished live performance and they prove to play with masterful skill. The only technical snag to the show came with moments of sharp feedback when all members of the band sang in harmonious chorus. As the concert continued, most of the audio problems were properly regulated by the sound crew.

The crowd had its moments of douche-baggery. There were a couple of ass-holes in the crowd that pulled some idiotic stunts. The first came during the intro to “Adventures in Solitude.” Some of the crowd started to clap out of time with the rhythm of the slow ambient sound of the intro. Frontman, A.C. Newman started to laugh and stopped playing.

“You’re not even close,” he jokingly said to the crowd. “Do you know how hard it is to play when you’re clapping out of time?”

A.C. Newman sings with The New Pornographers at Stanley Park during free shows to celebrate Vancouver's 125 years as a city.

The band started the song over again replaying the slow intro of a carefully plucked acoustic guitar and the soothing sound of simple piano chords.

A handful of people started a rhythmic clap just like before.

“Stop it!” said Newman with a serious authority.

The clapping faded out a second later but a few people continued the distraction in defiance of the simple request. Newman accepted this and waited a few more beats before attempting to sing.

Another display of idiocy came during the last song of the night. The band had just started singing the final portion of “The Bleeding Heart Show” when someone threw a half can of beer on stage. The can landed to the right of Nico Case and some of the beer showered her as she sang. There was a brief moment of disgust on both Case and Newman’s face but they carried on with the final song.

It was unfortunate to see a beer thrown on stage at a free, family friendly event. I can understand if this happened at a rowdy major music festival. It is a luxury and a privilege to have an opportunity to watch a free concert at a beautiful venue.

It seems like a very small handful of people keep overstepping the boundaries of acceptable behaviour while the rest stand by and watch for what happens. I only hope I’m out of this town when these few rotten apples spoil the harvest for everyone else…

The VANCOUVER CUP-RISING

I think it’s safe to say that the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot (or the Vancouver CUP-RISING) that followed the Canucks 4-0 loss to the Bruins was more exciting than the game itself.

We’ve seen the footage and photos, we’ve heard first hand accounts and we are now watching rioters arrested for their foolish decisions. This event was covered by thousands of people standing by the epicentre of destruction and their stories have been broadcast all around the world through major news networks.

The real question today is; What can I contribute to the ongoing debate regarding the Vancouver riots that has not been already said?

Probably nothing…

My main goal that day was to photograph the fans watching the final game. I wanted reactionary shots, win or lose. I arrived to the fan zone on Georgia Street around 4:30 in the afternoon. Everyone had shown up expecting to watch the game and celebrate an epic win.

The Vancouver Police watch over the crowds massing at Georgia and Homer to watch the Canucks game in the fan zones. The crowds were very different from the other playoff games. There was a lot of pushing to get a better vantage point to watch the final game.

But, something was different even from the beginning of the game. I spent 15 minutes making my way through a dense crowd. There were thousands of people mindlessly lining the streets staring at a silent jumbo-tron that looked minuscule from 200 metres away.

I spent a while working my way only one city block. People were pushing and shoving to get closer to have a better vantage point. There was also a steady stream of frustrated people trying to leave the turbulent crowd because it just wasn’t worth it.

I quickly realized that the worst place to watch the game downtown also happened to be downtown. So I hopped on a SkyTrain to watch the remainder of the game at home.

A fan sits on the shoulders of another while watching the first period of the Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals. The mood of the crowd would change quickly after the end of the first period.

I heard the reports that a riot was starting only a few minutes after the game had ended. Minutes later, classmate Rafferty Baker, currently interning with CKNW, phoned me up and told me I should get back downtown to photograph the madness.

I quickly grabbed my cameras, one with a 70-300 lens, the other with an extreme fisheye and within minutes, I was downtown bound.

**Note: Unfortunately, my 18-105mm was in the shop getting the mounting bracket fixed. I could have really used that lens for this event.

A young man is bloody after encountering the riots downtown. The young man was tending his wounds on the Main Street - Science World SkyTrain station platform.

A policeman approaches the intersection of Georgia and Hamilton during a riot after the Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

A man with a video camera capture the chaos at the corner of Hamilton and Georgia after the Canucks lost the game seven Stanley Cup Finals.

I got off the SkyTrain at Stadium/Chinatown and walked over towards the CBC/Library. I knew that’s where I’d find some action because only minutes before I had seen the car fires on TV.

I had never seen anything like this. The chaos of the frantic people doing what they wanted for no apparent reason. There were fires burning along the street. People had started little fires from all the trash that was lying around from the spectators watching the games in the fan zone.

People were rallying and cheering at the destruction happening around them. Fights broke out and some idiots even threw sucker punches at unsuspecting bystanders trying to extinguish garbage fires.

A woman kneels down to light a cigarette in a fire that was started from trash left on the side of the road. Hamilton and Georgia was the epicentre of the Vancouver 2011 Riots.

The woman leaves the fire with what seems to be a cigarette in hand. Another person takes her spot near the fire after the women leaves. Like moths, people are hypnotized by the fires and the police presence during the riots.

The Vancouver Police Department’s reinforcements soon arrived and formed a wall to push rioters back.

The VPD were equipped with rubber bullets, concussion grenades and tear gas.

A VPD officer stands in the street next to a burning fire during the riot that started after the Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

A young man lifts his shirt to reveal rubber bullet wounds after being shot by police during the riots.

I was able to get behind the line of police after ducking through an exterior corridor that runs through the Vancouver Public Library. As I emerged on the corner of Homer and Georgia, I noticed I was in the middle of a safe zone surrounded by police fanning out.

Vancouver's streets are littered with debris as police regain control over the people.

A glass bus stop at Georgia and Homer is destroyed by rioters. Angry mobs of people started breaking widows and setting cars on fire after the Vancouver Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Everything in this area was already destroyed. Rioters had been pushed back and were already working on looting department stores like The Bay and London Drugs.

This gave me an opportunity to start photographing everything and anything.

Rioters used newspaper boxes to break the glass of store-front windows to gain entry and loot. Around 50 stores were reportedly vandalized during the riots the followed the Canucks game seven loss.

A young man scales the side of a parkade while the Vancouver Police Department pushes rioters and on-lookers back towards Granville Street. Many people pack the parkade and watch as the police sweep the streets and try to gain control of the chaotic streets.

Remnants of a fire in the middle of Georgia Street during the riots that occurred after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup Final.

Big black plumes of smoke billowed above the buildings so I thought I’d head over to see where it was coming from.

Rioters had flipped and torched several cars in a car-park along Richards Street. Police formed another line and slowly marched towards the aggressive rioters. Two empty glass bottles rained down meters away from the police line while photographing the police making their advance.

A line of police stand along Richards Street in Vancouver as a car burns out of control in a parkade.

Two fire-fighters walk towards a blazing car fire on the second level of a parkade in Downtown Vancouver. The cars were set on fire after angry rioters took to the streets after the Vancouver Canucks lost in Stanley Cup Finals.

Fire fighters quickly came in to battle the fires started by the mob. There was a Hummer that proved to be an extremely difficult fire to manage. Flames and sparks reignited the charred rubble just when you thought the fire was under control.

Fire fighters try to contain a raging fire burning a Hummer into nothing more than a hollowed out shell. The firemen battled the blaze for about 15 minutes. Many on-lookers stood around photographing the fire while others cheered at the sight of the destruction.

The chaos continued down the street in front of The Bay. I ran into former BCIT grad and New 1130 reporter Dan Burritt observing the riot with other media stations next to the White Spot on the corner of Seymour and Georgia.

I followed Burritt around for two reasons: 1) because the VPD had started cracking down on anyone without a media pass and 2) I needed a human shield from any unexpected explosions or rogue rubber bullets.

Smoke rises from a car fire out front of The Bay along Seymour Street in Vancouver.

A man runs along the awning of the Hudson's Bay Company during the Vancouver riots after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup.

Three fire fighters observe the almost extinguished car fire that was in front of The Bay.

The Bay's store-front windows are smashed-in and three mannequins on display are all that remains.

A young man sits on the ground and leans against a wall after enduring the riots in Vancouver. He was extremely intoxicated and in pain. He needed help from his friend to get up and walk away from downtown.

A Canucks fan poses on the top of a burnt out police car as the riots started to fizzle out after the Vancouver lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals.

A man poses for a picture in front of one of the original cars to be set on fire. The man requested to have his picture taken. I was hard to understand what he was saying because he was slurring his words but when someone poses triumphantly in front of a disaster you just have to assume they want their picture taken. You're an idiot.

My final thoughts on the riot are simple. Those participating in the CUP-RISING ruined Vancouver’s international image. While Greece was rioting in protest against austerity plans, Vancouver set their city ablaze on the belief that ‘if it feels good do it.’

This was a pointless act of violence and destruction. There was no meaning or message behind the action. And, what’s even worse is that the VPD labelled the hooligans as “anarchists.”

Anarchy is a movement based on political philosophy. The Stanley Cup riot was a movement based on nothing. Why call the participants of the CUP-RISING anarchists when other words like douche-bags, ass-holes, idiots, Neanderthals or stupid-dummies seems more appropriate.

Victory in 7

The Vancouver Canucks pulled off a win in game-seven of the first round of playoffs. Alexander Burrows got the overtime game winner to end the stressful series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

I was at the Shark Club watching and covering the atmosphere of the city for EVOLUTION 107.9.

When I was not talking on the radio, I was taking photographs.

This is what I saw.

Burnaby Feature: Disc Golf @ Robert Burnaby Park

Mitch Pollock and I initially wanted to warn the citizens of Burnaby about the invasive Giant Hogweed but the city never returned our calls.

With less than 24 hours until our project was due, we ditched the overgrown weed and found an alternative.

Disc Golf at Robert Burnaby Park.

Enjoy!

Christy Clark at the BC SPCA

Premier Christy Clark held a press conference at the BC-SPCA today. Clark proposed new punishments for those that abuse animals.

Take a listen to this quick audio story.