And so it is…

Yesterday afternoon, my friend (and social media compadre of all things I Can Dream Theatre) Chelle and I went to technical test my doc at the theatre where it will be screened in a week’s time.  The test itself went well. There were some tiny hiccups but we seem to be all set for next week.

I hadn’t watched my film in more than a week. We needed a break from each other. It’s a great feeling knowing that your film is finished; knowing that you’ve said what you needed to say so you can leave it alone. A tiny door finally closing after over a year of being open.

When I watched scenes flicker in front of me on the big screen yesterday, I felt like I was keeping my emotions in check and not really taking in where I was at that moment. I mean, here I was in a movie theatre – a setting that I have worshipped and adored ever since I was a kid….watching my film being shown. I wasn’t taking that in at all. I was in troubleshooting mode to make sure all details were confirmed and organized.

It was about an hour later when I had left and was sitting down that the realization of all of this hit me.

Perhaps this golden moment will never happen to me again. So it’s important to me that I feel and breathe in all of these moments.

The first piece of footage I ever filmed for this documentary  was on January 10, 2015.

The last sequence that was tweaked and signified the end of this film was on April 11,2016.

I made this film with a simple video camera, and on my personal laptop. Let this be a lesson to anyone else: if you want to make a film, you have the capacity to do so!

It doesn’t have effects or super crazy editing.

All that’s left is seeing how people receive it.

Thanks for reading all of these posts and following me on this road. It’s not a road that is fully traveled but just a part of this journey is done.  I look forward to seeing how this film will keep moving.

Hope to see you at the screening. Make sure to come and say HI and let me know what you think, good or bad.  I might look like I’m in the moon that night so a good way to get my attention is to yell my name. Or wave your arms in a circular motion…if anything it’ll make me laugh and alleviate any anxiety or stress I’ll be dealing with that night. 🙂

Consider this film my pushback to the universe; me sending out a positive heart shaped signal.

Speaking of hearts, I hope the film speaks to yours.

April 20th 2016 (6)



Letting people in…

Nearly two weeks ago, I showed what is the nearly final version of “The Making Of A Dream” to my wife.  She’s been seeing me working on this for so many months now, that the time had finally come to start letting others see what has been percolating in my entire being.  There were times as she was watching where I couldn’t be in the same room as her, because I was too antsy.  My mind was racing.

There’s no BS with my wife.  If she doesn’t like something, she’ll tell you right away.  So I knew that if she wasn’t going to like it, husband or not, she was going to tell me.

When I heard the ending moments, I came back in the room.  She liked it.  She REALLY liked it.  She presented me with a working Word document of notes and suggestions that she had gathered while watching, but basically validated what I was doing.  Man, did that feel good.  Don’t get me wrong – I am confident in the film wholeheartedly without question.  But, hearing that first person (who has essentially peered into your brain after months of being very insular) say that it was good and that she saw potential in its future – nothing can beat that.

Four days later, I showed “The Making Of A Dream” to the I Can Dream Theatre management team of seven people.  I’m pretty sure that I bit all of my fingernails off all day in preparation for this screening night.

During the screening, I was pretty calm and found some glee watching them watching my film.  I loved anticipating knowing when certain parts were coming and waited for their reaction.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a position where I’ve put something creative out there into the universe for dissection.  I’ve forgotten how much of a process it is for me.  It feels good though.

There were chuckles and sighs, and moments of wonder and surprise.  But, it was a wave of positive energy. I went there armed with questionnaires for everyone to fill out, and to keep all reactions structured.  It was amazing to read their comments and take in their really interesting suggestions.


I also grabbed my video camera once the screening was done and I started filming the feedback.  No spoilers, folks.  What’s here hopefully gets your attention a little.

So after nearly a week of NOT looking at the film, I return and begin my tweaks and edits.  On top of that, I actually did another interview shoot this week with a few of our amazing crew from I Can Dream to get their perspectives on what it means to them.  Their insight will bring another added element to the final film.

We’re getting closer to April 28th more than ever now. There’s still a lot more work to be done. Thanks for reading.  This journey is far from over.



Tick Tock


Some of the cast members during shoot after rehearsal (February 27, 2016)                        Photo credit: Michelle Meighen

How is it already March?!

While my conscious self is happy that we’re inching a bit closer to Spring and hopefully a quick thaw of all things snow like, my subconscious self is officially now counting down to the screening of my film.

About three weeks ago, I completely had a new vision as to how my film was going to end, so rather than wait until I got to it, I decided to concentrate on the ending right away.  I was really excited by the arc that I had set up in my head, and seeing the scenes getting assembled together was like a rush to me. I love tweaking and changing scenes and clips in order to get the right emotional pitch that I want someone to receive.

I decided to watch what I had put together from beginning to end.  I’m my own harshest critic, but I found myself pretty happy with what I was seeing.  I think it gives a global view of what I Can Dream Theatre is about and gives more insight on what happens in this group.

I was particularly anxious and excited for a supplemental shoot that I was planning on doing to give a better perspective on how much of an impact this group is giving not only its cast.

I first filmed and interviewed two big fans of the group who also got a chance to dance in one of the big sequences in the last production.  I find it so amazing that these two people – completely not tied to the special needs community whatsoever -have connected with what the group does and loves it so big that they come back every year to check out their newest work.  They are articulate, warm and so loyal – and at 9 and 13, some of I Can Dream Theatre’s youngest but strongest in their fanbase.  What a lesson that we can all  learn from them – they’re embracing the beauty and  focusing on the ABILITY.

The picture posted above here is also from my shoot.  I asked Ada, Michele and Trish to cut their rehearsal short and leave so that I could ask the group a few questions about what it’s like to be in I Can Dream Theatre.

There isn’t enough room on this post to describe what exactly transpired during our conversation.  It was candid, it was funny but most of all it was absolutely loving.  These individuals love being in this group – and it’s clear that the effect it has on them goes beyond rehearsals and performance. There were times as I was standing behind the camera where I couldn’t believe some of these beautiful responses that were being said. I was so happy that it was being captured and it will remain alive through this project always.

That’s what I want to come through with “The Making Of A Dream” – that in our world that is filled with negativity  and hard truths; where we have racism and violence smeared across our computers and ears, that there are always those who are doing work that inspires.  And if we let that in, it can be transformative.

Back to my film I go.  🙂







When I decided to start going to rehearsals for I Can Dream Theatre’s production of “The Tale Of Macbeth(ish)”, I hadn’t set out to make a documentary at that time.  I remember randomly asking if anyone had ever come to their rehearsals and just filmed stuff for their own posterity.  I was told that yes someone had come before, but it never really went anywhere.  So I took it upon myself to go and perhaps put together some fun videos for Facebook based on whatever footage I was recording.

In fact, last January when I had gone to their first rehearsal and shot a fair amount of footage, I had the idea to make a few “mini documentaries” over the course of 2015 with a bigger documentary once the show was done in November.  Everyone agreed.  I was excited.

I actually finished one mini doc and I showed it to the team.  Everyone really enjoyed it.  I was excited. I went home after the screening really buzzed by the whole thing.

And then I woke up the next morning deciding that I was going to stop the entire idea.

Because it occurred to me that morning what could be done with this.  There was something bigger than Facebook posts at play here.  I think my little epiphany moment was that perhaps there was a greater story to be told about this organization, this group, the members.

So I jettisoned the entire idea of “the mini doc” and focused on a larger full length one.

I went to a rehearsal once a month from January until October (minus the summer months) and I just filmed what was going on, occasionally speaking to cast members one on one and asking them why they loved being in the group.

I sat down with Ada, Michele and Trish and had a little question and answer period with each of them.  Their answers to my questions were both hilarious and honest.

But it’s about the cast.  It’s always about the cast.

What I hope to get with my film is the palpable joy that its members have with they’re all together. It’s not only just about rehearsing, but about their camaraderie as friends, as those that truly care and enjoy being around each other.

And it was fascinating to witness the evolution first hand.  From those first beginning rehearsals straight through until the nights before a rapturous audience at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall.  So much work goes into putting on a show like this.

I’m glad there was a camera lens to capture it this time around.

Evenings these days, you’ll find me in my home editing and editing and editing this story together with my goal of effectively telling the  I Can Dream Theatre tale in a way that touches you on a different level than when you go to see one of their productions.

My goal as a creative person is to tell good stories.

I look forward to sharing this one with all of you.





I’m makin’ a movie.

I think I’ve wanted to make a movie ever since I was 6 years old.

My love for film probably goes back that far – it’s a love rooted in so much of myself.  It’s a pure, organic, unfettered by nothing kind of love that either some people just get, or some people think it’s absolutely insane.  It’s about the same way I feel about music.  The connection I feel between either one of these forms is indescribable, almost religious, almost sacred.

I studied Film, I ate Film, I completely immersed myself in all kinds of filmic experiences.  I never ever thought that I would make one in the end because I never felt like I had something with weight to say.  I worked on film sets and I saw the work and the sweat and the minutae of details that go into creating a film.  It’s a helluva lot of work that requires an almost animalistic drive and devotion that I knew I couldn’t cut it.  It made me inspired, and yet it made me nervous.  And that was ok.

I’m not gonna lie though: whenever a life situation happens to me, in my mind, I feel like sometimes I look through the moment through the lens of a film projector.  I know – its weird.  Whatever.

So, 20 years later, after studying about film and writing about it I find myself in the surprising shoes of making a movie.  A documentary.  About a theatre group made up of adults with special needs. It’s a group (I Can Dream Theatre) that is pretty near and dear to my heart. It’s funny when you don’t look for something, sometimes the opportunity just comes to you.

After shooting footage of the group in rehearsal for the better part of a year, and then capturing their performance unveiled to a rapturous audience, I am now weaving together the story of this group so that more people can understand the great work that is being done.

It’s been shown to the public in the Spring. April 28th to be exact.

I’m excited, nervous, nauseous and in awe all at the same time.

For the next couple of blog entries, I’m going to write about the process of putting the film together leading up to the big reveal in April.

Hope you enjoy the read!



20 years ago was June 1995 – I was 18 years old inching closer to 19, completely lost on many levels but focused in others, growing out my hair, just finished CEGEP and was nervous and excited at the prospect of starting university in the Fall. Very insecure, very much living at home and trying to find my way.

Musiqueplus was my gateway to new music and videos. Living in Quebec, we had our quirks – the quirkiest being the shows the channel would air that would be subtitled in French (if it was an English program) or seeing VJs on the spot translate any celebrity anglophone artist who would come in for an interview.  (As time wore on, I realized that this was a practice not just reserved chez nous but for any music channel that catered to a language other than English).

As the risk of sounding like Sophia Petrillo from The Golden Girls, I say Picture it: Montreal, June 1995.  The internet existed, but I wasn’t a part of it (yet).  You could say I was completely unconnected to the world, but that my TV was my source. The biggest thing that I was listening to that summer was Annie Lennox’s Medusa album and Michael Jackson’s HIStory greatest hits record.  I remember seeing the “You Are Not Alone” video featuring him and his then wife Lisa Marie parading nearly nude – yep, this was excitement.

When out of the haze came this woman with long hair, obscuring her face, this whirling dervish beauty, in a video set in the Mojave Desert.  Backed by a sharp band, she was singing about a lover gone wrong.

You Oughta Know.

I remember being a bit blindsided by the song – I thought it sounded hard, a bit weird.  And then I saw the name at the bottom of the screen: Alanis Morissette.


Is it that Alanis? I had known only of ONE Alanis and she didn’t have a last name.

photo 1

Yep, these are photos of my tapes I still have! Alanis (1991) and Now Is The Time (1992)

photo 3photo 2This one also was signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records. At the time, I was always curious at the roster of artists that were signed on her label – always finding them very varied.  Was it the same person?


Sure enough, the media started buzzing about her and I was intrigued.  This was the “Too Hot” Alanis? The one whose tapes I bought back in 1991 and 1992? I really liked those songs on those records – but she was a dance artist.  THIS Alanis that I was hearing was really not.  Snap judgement made: this was an act.  Clearly she was now trying on another image to an unsuspecting American audience.  I wasn’t fooled – CANADIANS would not be fooled.  I ain’t buying this.

And yet I couldn’t escape that song.  I couldn’t shake it.

Ok, I thought, maybe I will buy this CD but I won’t tell anyone.  I mentioned to my sister that whenever she was near a record store at some point in time, to pick up this album called Jagged Little Pill.

June turned into July – and You Oughta Know was on everyone’s lips.  People wondering “who is this singer?” “what is this song?” I remember it being a conversation starter with many of my friends at the time, all of us trying to reconcile that this was the Alanis from a couple of years back.

For my generation, You Oughta Know was a song whose lyrics were unheard of before – such blunt honesty, such frank sexual nature being heard on mainstream radio everywhere.

And let’s be honest.  The “Are you thinking of me when you fuck her” lyric is awesome.

It was fascinating.

August rolled around, and my sister had bought the CD for me.  She handed it to me in an HMV bag, and I gazed at the album cover. It was a hazy image that didn’t give you a fully clear look of her face.  I stared at her profile, thinking that indeed it did look like the Alanis from the past, but an older version.

I popped the CD into my boom box.  And “All I Really Want” began – this feverish mix of slight hip hop drum beat, harmonica blowing, yodel voice inflections and lyrics that were slightly indecipherable, and yet relatable.

I was in my mother’s living room. My brother’s wedding was approaching and I remember being really excited about it, sitting on the floor and listening to this album.  Her voice was piercing and raw – a quality that I can now describe as someone who was hungry to get these words out of her system – and each song had a real sing-songy chorus to them.

I wasn’t convinced still – and yet I couldn’t stop listening to it.

And the more I kept listening, my opinion began to shift.  The album was good.  Really good.  In many ways that album took the place of the voice in me that wasn’t able to express.

That summer was the summer where I had my first real job working at a day camp.  Holding my weekly culture based newspaper in my hand, I saw that Alanis was playing Cafe Campus, a super tiny club. Tickets were $12.00.  I wanted to go, but I couldn’t. Missed opportunity.

As summer became the Fall, Jagged Little Pill seemed to show no signs of wearing out.  In fact, it was becoming bigger. I’ve read about Beatlemania and what that was like – well, this was my Beatlemania.  A wave was coming over me and I dove right in: I devoured any article, any taped interview, any bootleg material I could get my hands on. I made scrapbooks of articles on her like some weird fanatic. My room was adorned with posters of her.

Her simultaneous landing of the covers of Rolling Stone and Spin was a fanboy’s dream – two very different articles and interviews with her.  One highly positive and depicting the road that lay ahead for her – and the other poking holes in her musical past and questioning whether she was for real.  It would be a conversation that would come up a lot during that time.

And when she returned to Montreal that Fall to Metropolis, there was nothing that was going to stop me from seeing her.  I could sing every single song off of that album.  And I did – loudly. I remember The Rentals (another Maverick artist, a group fronted by Weezer’s Matt Sharp and also featuring a then unknown Maya Rudolph!) opened for her. I remember Alanis saying “thank you” after every song.  I remember when she sang “Head Over Feet” when she reached the line of “I am aware now” she added an I swear to God I am. And I remember when she was called back for an encore, her and her band mates returned throwing apples to the audience as a thank you.

Once that concert was finished, I was completely sold.  She was the real deal.  Jagged Little Pill was a lesson for me to understand that indeed a person (and an artist) can change and become more authentic.  Don’t we all evolve as time goes on?

For the better half of the fall of 1995 and all of 1996, Jagged Little Pill was all that I listened to. There were other artists I would be interested in here and there, and I would buy their stuff.  But Alanis was my everything. I pretty much shut off anything else musically for that year.  That’s how much I worshipped this sucker.

I’m pretty sure my family thought I was obsessed – for sure I was. I got anyone and everyone I knew to listen to the record. I bought it for people for birthday gifts.  I even managed to convert my then 2 year old nephew into a fan (he’s now nearly 21 years old and obviously doesn’t remember all of these instances where his uncle tried to brainwash him)

Seeing her again only nine months later, now at the Molson Centre (now known as the Bell Centre) with 15,000 screaming fans singing back at her was an overwhelming thing to witness.  I remember seeing 10 year old kids standing on their chairs trying to get a glimpse of Alanis on the stage.  Seeing these kids waving their peace sign fingers, hailing a taxi cab and all of the other actions described in “Hand In My Pocket” was an interesting site.

Also, the audience for that show was a lot more varied than the one at Metropolis. Lots of couples, young and older were there – evidence that her music was now speaking to both men and women of various ages.

20 years on, and a part of me can’t believe so much time has gone by and the other part of me believes it.  Time has gone by.

When I listen to the album now, me now inching towards 40, I’m still struck by how honest of a record it still is. I think about the boy I was, and all of the layers with which the music spoke to me.

The marketing machine for Jagged Little Pill was clearly to spin that it was an album that gave a voice to women around the world. Angry women. Like all artists, Alanis had to be labelled in order to be understood and categorized.  I think about what about this record connecting so deeply with me – a brown skinned boy,inexperienced with life and love, someone who on the surface was the polar opposite of the audience who was mainly targeted.  The audience initially that clamored to her were predominantly women. I saw that the album was never just about anger, but about one coming into their own, being more honest with oneself, and questioning the influences and surroundings – its themes were beyond gender. Alanis’s voice on that record tapped into a movement that was already in motion with other strong, directive women artists before her – but it was Alanis herself who brought it in with gargantuan mainstream success and allowing the path to be cleared for younger artists to come after her.

I think I also connected to its inherent Canadian-ness as well.  I think we, as Canadians, by nature always want to say the right thing and make sure everyone feels good, rather than possibly express anything remotely sad, anger filled or sexual for that matter. No wonder after years of wallowing in dance artist mode, there was another part of her wanting to come out.

I can still remember every word to every song – and the entire thing lives on my iPod. It never gets old for me. It represents a huge chunk of my early adulthood. I actually think the album has gotten better with age – a sign of timeliness that really wasn’t predicted for it back in 1995. I mean if you think about it, the other juggernaut of an album that sold a gazillion records during that time was Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View…and you know people don’t talk about THAT album in the same way as they do Jagged Little Pill.

To this day, it’s not very “trendy” to like her – for some people, she represents a vapid point of view that is without substance. Everyone is a critic.  For me, it just drew me in like all music does with people who are open to it.  Is Jagged Little Pill my favorite record of all time? No, it isn’t – it’s up there though. But, I can say that it’s the one that probably left the strongest mark on my life. A mark that I am grateful for as it served as an entry point for me to discover other singer-songwriters and appreciate the ones that came before her.

She has my loyalty.


“Anne with an e”

I was looking on Facebook on Saturday afternoon when my eyes darted to the right of the screen where I could see the items that were trending in social media.  My eyes immediately went to the shocking news that Jonathan Crombie, probably best known for playing Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables movies had passed away from a brain hemorrhage at age 48.  I let out an audible gasp before I read the first article.

And it hit me.  A really deep sadness.  But not because I was a big fan of his work, but because of how much of a piece he was to the Anne films that I so dearly loved.


I think I have my sister Melanie to thank for introducing me to Anne of Green Gables.  Childhood memories are completely jumbled for the most part in my head, but there are a few things that I do remember.  My sister was always one to encourage me to read, and to watch movies that were smart and intelligent.  At the time, reading was the last thing I wanted to do but she kept at it with me until it finally stuck. I read the book by Lucy Maud Montgomery way after the films, but it was my appreciation of the films that brought me to the book.

A teacher of mine in elementary school had suggested to our Grade 3 class to watch Anne of Green Gables. A movie was going to be shown on CBC.

So, I did.  I remember watching it on my black and white TV (complete with rabbit ears) in our house basement, by myself. Never did I imagine what a profound impact that first film would have on my tiny life back then.

Surface level wise, what on earth could a brown-skinned Pakistani Canadian boy of 8 years old have anything in common with a 12-year-old orphan girl from Prince Edward Island? That’s probably precisely why the film worked so well.

I fell in love with Megan Follows in that role.  I remember proclaiming to people that she was my favorite actress of all time.

I fell in love with Anne.  While it was completely acknowledged that many young girls would effortlessly connect with a character like Anne Shirley, much to my surprise I found a lot in common with her too.  I loved her loner qualities, her large imagination, how she too was a child, but she was strong-willed and opinionated and sought to be the best that she could be in all avenues of her life.  And yet at the same time, when she was sad, I connected to her sadness.  I connected to her loneliness.

While it would be easy to dismiss the first Anne film as being some sort of saccharine kiddie film, I think why the film works is that it transcends that label on so many levels. Having legendary actors such as Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth also elevated the material and gave it the respect it deserved.

It’s also important to keep in mind that when that film was broadcast in 1985, it was still in the landscape having something be “a television event” to gather around the TV and watch with your families.  And we know that people watched in droves where this film was concerned.  It was a huge Canadian television moment.

Two years later, when a sequel to the first film was being released, I remember seeing an article in The Gazette and cutting it out because I was so excited for it.  I remember bringing the article to school and showing it to my teacher, who then took my article and showed it to the rest of the class in order to show that it was a BIG DEAL that another Anne film was coming.

What’s interesting about the first film is that it’s about Anne going from child to older teenager.  Anne of Green Gables – The Sequel is about becoming a young adult and taking the long way to finding true love with your best friend.  It’s an equally memorable, loving, romantic epic film that hits different notes than the first one.  It’s a gem to see all of the previous actors return to be in the second film.  By that point, I was a 12-year-old when the second film came out – and while the film only solidified my love for Megan Follows even more, the epic romance between Anne and Gilbert didn’t completely hit me as it did when I got older.

Here’s a great interview with director Kevin Sullivan on his returning to make the sequel to Anne of Green Gables:

Movies comes and go, and as you get older, you sometimes forget the films that truly had an impact on you.  I remember rewatching the two Anne films again about 12 years ago.  I was happy to see that little boy I was, was still there enjoying every moment.  But, I found myself connecting with other aspects to the film that was lost on me as it would for any child: the interesting choice to have a brother and sister (Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert) adopt a child together, the notion of having Anne be this woman of absolute strength to overcome life’s obstacles that were thrown in front of her and rise above, the sheer openness with which Megan Follows dives into the role, understanding how all of the secondary characters contribute to the fabric that make up the life and breath of this small town in PEI. And I could go on.

And the romance.  I saw the romance more clearly watching these films again.  The buildup of having Anne and Gilbert come together at the end of the second film was well worth the wait.  And it was also a great storyline choice to have Anne to go out into the world and make a life for herself, only to return back to her home more informed and gaining a greater understanding of herself before committing to Gilbert.

About 8 years ago, I had the chance to visit Prince Edward Island for work.  Trust me when I say that it lived up to any kind of expectations I may have had and then some.  I close my eyes today, and I can remember all of the things that I loved about it: its quaint shops, the generous people you would run into, the crisp air. Though my trip there was so memorable, it was way too brief for my liking. I was able to make a new friend while I was there, and she was kind enough to bring me to Green Gables as well as Lucy Maud Montgomery’s grave.  I felt like I was a kid in a candy store being able to see and take all of this history in and make it real.  I won’t ever forget it, and I long for the day when I can go back there.


The passing of Jonathan Crombie this week reminded me just how much these films had a huge impact on me.  I had forgotten somewhat, and it’s a shame that it always takes a loss for one to remember the things that bring them joy.  I’ve been reading a lot of articles about Gilbert Blythe’s role in the literary world: about him being “the ideal man”, being a feminist, being an equal to Anne:  again, these were so many things lost on me as a child watching these films.  But, when you think about it, it’s so true.  Gilbert always gave Anne the space to be who she was, and never asked her to be otherwise.

What’s so funny as well has been reading about how so many people confessing how Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert was their first crush.  I really had no idea, but it was really interesting to hear just how many people share this common love for him and his character.

I have both films on VHS but never got them on DVD.  The idea of transferring them over has often come and gone over the years.  I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube videos this week, reminiscing with scenes from both films and finding myself really crying at certain moments that were so pure, and so connected to my childhood.

30 plus years later, those films still resonate with huge amount of people around the world, but especially Canadians.

Watch this great interview with Megan Follows and Strombo.  Go to 6:36 when George asks Megan what her relationship with the character of Anne is now: