Friday, 13 January 2017

Local Horror Films...Going Live!

Brett Kelly is a local tour de force of artistic creativity. He has been one of the local scene's most prolific filmmakers, and markets his films worldwide. While he has made films in diverse genres, he is especially well-known for his horror films. Fans of the genre may recognize such Kelly titles as Raiders of the Lost Shark, The Bonesetter, and My Fair Zombie, which he also wound up producing for live performance.

A Blood-Gushing Brett Kelly Classic!

Brett has made it possible for numerous Ottawa/Gatineau actors to get a screen debut, sometimes in conjunction with appearances by onscreen notables such as Kevin Sorbo (remember Hercules??) and Joe Estevez. These days, he is busy preparing his second live musical, Phantom of the Opry, which debuts at the Gladstone Theatre next month (see the link for tickets!), running from February 22 to 25. Fun crossover fact: the music was written by Joel Elliott, aka Jumpin' Joel Flash, who was interviewed on this blog in an earlier post.

Sneak peek of the Phantom >:]

Below, Brett gives us some background on the new production, talks about what he'll be releasing in 2017, and shares a fun fact about his past :)

SceneRazr: You're a prolific film director who typically wraps multiple full-length films every year, and you have a busy family life as well. Musical theatre performances have demanding time commitments - what prompted you to add them to your dance card?

Brett Kelly: I just felt like flexing a different muscle. My background is in theatre and it's a great outlet that has many of the same perks as film except the benefit of immediate response from an actor or an audience. It's nice to mix it up a bit.

SR: With your first musical theatre production, My Fair Zombie, you created a film version first. Can we look forward to a film version of Phantom of the Opry at some point?

Not your average Cockney zombie flower girl...
(partial capture of the MFZ theatre poster)

BK: I hadn't really thought of it. Never say never I suppose.

SR: The theatre production of My Fair Zombie was, like your film version, faithful in many ways to the classic story it parodies. Without giving any spoilers, would you say that Phantom of the Opry draws on Phantom of the Opera to a similar degree?

BK: This one is much less faithful to Phantom of the Opera. I dipped into several different adaptations for inspiration. This one is set in a country and western show in Calgary, not quite Paris. LOL It's good old silly fun. Laughs and catchy tunes.

SR: I've heard you say that, of all the possible jobs in filmmaking, you enjoy acting the least. Yet, you are a gifted and engaging actor. Would you consider taking a role in one of your own live theatre productions?

BK: Thanks, that's very kind. I like acting, just not in my own productions. Directing is a job that takes all my attention. I'd happily act for other directors.

SR: About your creative process: does the medium you're creating for (film versus live theatre) dictate how you create your stories? Or do you create the story and find a way to make the medium fit with the story you want to tell?

BK: Good question. I guess for me it's all about the title. A catchy title with a hook inspires me. Usually I think of the medium first, then the title, then the rest comes naturally I suppose.

SR: It is notoriously difficult for people in the creative arts field to be successful in a town better known for politics and hockey. What would you say has been the key factor in your ability to work and develop in your field?

BK: It's certainly not easy to create in Ottawa but we do what we must to scratch that itch. The key factor is that i'm stubborn and once I get an idea in my head, no one can tell me that I can't get it done.

SR: Do you think that more can be done, at a municipal, provincial, federal or community level, to support creative arts in Ottawa? If so, what would you suggest?

BK: Sure, more can always be done to support the arts. I'd put the onus on the general public. Don't depend on the government to pay for your entertainment. Support independent art.

SR: Amen to that. Tell us a bit about what 2017 looks like for you. Will you be releasing films? Any plans for more musicals?

BK: In 2017 we should have the movie GHASTLIES out on DVD and VOD. It's an 80s inspired Creature Feature. We also hope to have the film COUNTRYCIDE playing festivals. We are also planning a Christmas theatre production. Not sure yet how musical it will be but it will no doubt involve music in some capacity.

SR: Do you have any New Year's resolutions? If so, which one is the first one you'll break?

BK: No resolutions in the traditional sense. I'd like to maybe play a few hair metal shows. LOL Long story.

I've actually seen Brett wail to some of these bands  >:] 

SR: Ah yes... you have a rock and roll past in addition to your other talents. And it's not uncommon for you to be invited to get onstage and take the mic at local metal shows these days. Care to tell us more about your mad, bad rocker side? And will you be putting a band together any time soon?

BK: When i was younger I sang in what is now known as a hair band. Occasionally I entertain the notion of doing some fun shows a la Steel Panther but with legit love for the genre. We'll see if i can get something going or if i chicken out. I have the range of a daisy air rifle but i have a blast. Lol

SR: It was great to hear about the new production and your upcoming films... and we'll keep our ears stretched for any hair metal efforts  >:]  All the best for 2017, Brett!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Roots and Vines with Kim Valentine: Local Painter Inspired by Nature

SceneRazR had the opportunity in late October to attend a vernissage of Kim Valentine's work at The Tea Party in the Byward Market. Tea Party is a lovely establishment that sells a wide variety of loose tea, makes delicious food, and brews a comforting cup of coffee if you are stumbling in with wet sneakers on the night of the NCR's first heavy snowfall. Snow before Hallowe'en? Not cool man, not cool.

Which is what I'd have to do if there weren't awesome places like The Tea Party.

Kim is a local artist and performer who uses palette knife and oils to create dynamic interpretations of Nature. Palette knife painting is not necessarily the first go-to method for oil painters, but certainly not unheard of. Give the people at Palette Knife Painters a follow to learn more.

Kim Valentine's weapon of choice!

Read on to find out what inspires Kim as an artist, and to learn more about what she'll be creating in 2017.

SceneRazR: What inspires you to grab your palette knife and start creating something?

Kim Valentine: This sounds so cheesy...
I really love nature. I mean trees are just so crazy. They just take up as much space as they can, so unapologetically. I love them so much. I love watching the way grass, or leaves, or flowers move in the breeze. 

Sometimes, it’s just a colour that I spot somewhere, and I’ll have to get to the studio and start playing with similar colours.

Kim with one of her choice creations :)

SR: There is a very dynamic energy to your work. I overheard a remark from a guest at your vernissage: "Her paintings look like she had so much fun creating them." How do you feel during your creative process?

KV: Oh, I love hearing that! I am definitely having fun while I paint. I used to have some serious anxiety issues. I couldn’t do anything without feeling anxious about what other people would think. It prevented me from even trying art for a long time.

Since I discovered painting I’ve been able let go of all that. I paint for me. It makes me happy, and I think that maybe that’s coming out in the art.

SR: Are there other artists who inspire or influence your work?

KV: This is a hard one. There are soo many awesome artists around. I love Nava Waxman, Stephen Frew, Brenda Dunn, Alison Fowler. There are so many more. I just think that art inspires more art. When I see something great that someone else has made, I feel totally inspired by their creativity.

SR: Describe your ideal creative environment - as in: what's your best time of day/night to work? How is your studio set up? Do you have music playing? Do you work best in isolation?

KV: I’d probably describe my studio as a mix between a ten year old’s bedroom, and a hippie’s living room. Full of soft lamps, and Christmas lights hanging all over the place. I have a ton of plants filling the window, and a stupid cat yelling at me when I pay too much attention to the canvas. Other than the cat, I prefer to be alone while I paint. Except for the cat.

I love listening to music while I paint. Specifically instrumentals. They allow me to get into my head, and swim around in there.

I’m a big fan of mornings. I feel most productive, and usually crazy inspired first thing in the morning. I think a dream would be to have a studio with a window facing the sunrise. I could paint with the sunrise, and drink an obnoxious amount of coffee. I’d never get tired of that.

SR: The majority of your work portrays plant life, but you have also done pieces featuring still life and animals. Do you see yourself focusing more on non-flora based work in the future?

KV: I think so. I have a few things that I’ve been playing with lately that are more elemental than flora based. I’m really excited about where these thoughts are going, and I’m looking forward to sharing them in the new year.

SR: Do you do commissions?

KV: I do! Commissions are so fun. It’s so nice getting to know the people who order a commission, and creating something with them in mind. It feels so nice to hand over that piece of original art in the end.

SR: In addition to your painting, you have several acting credits under your belt, and you play ukulele as well. Are there other creative avenues you'd like to explore?

KV: I feel like you can never have enough art in your life. I wrote a feature recently for STATUS, which is a local online publication. I interviewed Frank Sukhoo about his designs. I really had fun with that, so I’m going to see where else that can take me.
I recently joined a local band with my ukulele - which is crazy to me. We started performing a song that I helped co-write. I didn’t realize that performing your own original music could give you such a rush. I’m hooked on it. I’m going to spend a lot more time exploring music writing and performing.

SR: You've just completed a vernissage at The Tea Party Cafe in the Byward Market - congratulations! Please tell us of any upcoming installations and let SceneRazR readers know where and how they can obtain your paintings.

KV: Carben Food + Drink is a restaurant in Hintonburg that will be hosting some of my pieces for a while. That started on December 5, and will be ongoing. I’m going to be involved with the Hintonburg Happening, which is a really cool new festival happening May 3 - 6 at different locations throughout that neighbourhood. There’ll be a month long show at Irene’s Pub on Bank St. starting June 4, 2017.

I have a few other things in the works right now, but I’m keeping quiet for now. Once details are nailed down, I’ll let you know!

SR: Thanks so much, Kim! For all the maniacs reading this, you can stay current with Kim's creations via the social media links below. It sounds like we'll be hearing much more from Kim in 2017!

Keep up with Kim Valentine on: Twitter