The Magic of TV

One of the most magical things about making TV is how your work becomes like family.  

I posted this last week on my Facebook page, but thought it was worth posting here too:

I have been in shock since hearing yesterday of John’s passing. He was a dear colleague and friend to many. John was vibrant, funny and fabulously gay. He was always so supportive, eager to hear all the juicy details from set and a generous soul. In my rational mind, I understand that people live then die. Yet I’m still struggling to understand how he could be here and then not.

I had the privilege of working with John when he was story producer on some of the Princess episodes I directed. He was smart, fast, witty and was my lifeline during many high-drama shoots and politicking behind-the-scenes. He had the patience and ability to deal with the spoilt and entitled young women with diplomacy, grace, a sense of compassion and humour. I’ll never forget the last episode we worked on together, it was many late nights emails back and forth always wondering if Princess Ashley would drop out and what I’d shoot to complete the episode if she did. It is a strange thing, working in this industry: we work closely and intensely for long hours with a passionate group of people who become our happy little dysfunctional family, then move on to the next production, only to do it all again. John was the type of person whom everyone felt comfortable with. He made you feel like your favourite gay grandmother was watching over you (if your grandmother were gay). A man with integrity, John had the strength to turn down working on the first reality series featuring gay men, because he felt it exploited them in its portrayal and reinforced stereotypes they’d fought so long to dismantle. I was so happy and proud to hear about his success producing CBC’s How We Got Gay doc instead.

No matter how long or how short of a time you had working with him, the time he shared with us was too short and he was too young to go. He doesn’t have children we can fundraise for, but maybe we could all follow his example and create TV that honours his spirit and values. Because when you get to work with someone as talented and fun as John, you really did get a chance to make some TV magic. And I’m sad that the magic-making time with John is now gone.



Video of Gynecolo-LOL-ogy: The Musical

It’s been a whirwind of a month.  Amongst rehearsals, re-scoring music, tweaking costumes, painting props, I was also interviewed on CBC’s Metro Morning about what inspired my musical.  You can have a listen here.  It was fun to meet Matt Galloway so early in the morning.

We were trying to get the CBC logo, but looks like we got the EXIT sign instead.

We were trying to get the CBC logo, but looks like we got the EXIT sign instead.

So now I’ve caught up on some sleep and have finally had a chance to upload the recording of the workshop for my very first musical and…  tada, here it is! I guess if it’s a workshop of the first 10-mintues, it’s not really called a premiere.  Still, it was thrilling to hear people laugh, and even in some unexpected places.

Gary Pearson’s performance makes me laugh, and I feel pretty lucky that he let me wrangle him into playing the part of a smarmy singing-dancing gynecologist.  And the rest of the cast – I could hug them all over again – they made my words and music come to life, it was pretty magical.

Thanks to my friend Monica, who was so kind in taping this so I would have a permanent record of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Next phase: finishing the first draft and deciding on the ending.  Happy ending or sad?  Oh, the power.

It’s happening….

Every day for the past month, “update blog” has been on my to-do list.  Obviously, it’s not a very effective list.

I’ve been deliriously busy writing, rehearsing, directing an excerpt of my musical, which has been invited to be a part of bcurrent’s rock.paper.sistazhs festival.  I meant to do a daily post, because pulling a musical together, even 10 minutes of it, has been quite a process.  But alas, here we are, 7 days away from the workshop performance and my first post.  Announcing…

Gyno musical - promo poster

It’s been a lot of work but so so soooooooo much fun.  Today started off doing some promo and then sending the lighting designer some badly-drawn sketched of some blocking for the opening number.  My disproportionate stick figures amuse me:

Doctor Gyno blocking

Doctor Gyno blocking

I’ll try to catch up with my progress posts soon…  Thanks for reading!

Can you tell me how to get…

If you know the rest of that line, you grew up on Sesame Street.

I love Sesame Street.  It was the one show my mom would let us watch as children.  I loved the funny songs, the wacky jokes, guessing which one is not like the other, Big Bird and I always wanted to be Maria. She was the closest thing to looking like me in a time where everyone on TV was White.  It was the era of nobody being able to see Snuffleupagus except for us, the viewers.   And Julie Andrews made the dream duet with Kermit.

I think no matter what our age, Ernie and Bert, Kermit, the Count and many others will always hold a special place in our heart.

So I was absolutely thrilled to be one of the few filmmakers chosen to pitch Sesame Street at the TIFF Kids industry conference this week.  Tomorrow, to be exact.

On Monday, we had a full day pitch training session with the formidable Deb Day.  Those of us from Toronto converged at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, while those in Montreal, Thunder Bay and beyond joined us via cyberspace conferencing.  It was all very high tech.  Or, “digital age”,  as the latest buzzword goes.  I was in the company of some very prolific and accomplished filmmakers.  I was humbled, awed and inspired by their accomplishments: one is having his short premiering at Cannes in May, another has been nominated for an Oscar and an Emmy, another got a TV series off the ground…and that’s not even everyone!  But we’ve all been brought together by our love and passion for Sesame Street.

We practiced pitching, gave each other feedback and notes, revised and practiced again.    It has been an intense few days of writing, re-writing, revising and writing again.  In the past few days, I’ve put together a pitch package, a storyboard, a song demo, a budget, a revised budget, learned Power Point, pulled together a new Powerpoint presentation and now, am about to re-write my written leave-behind and script out my verbal pitch.  It’s a lot of work for a maybe yes, maybe no.  But in the TV world, it’s all a crapshoot.

By this time tomorrow, I will have met and pitched the producers of Sesame Street and then it’s a waiting game.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if my pitch “wins” or not.  Just the opportunity to start establishing a relationship with Sesame Street and the other filmmakers is a big win.

And to quote Oscar the Grouch, “There’ll be more trash tomorrow.

Casting Call for Musical

CASTING – ACTOR/SINGERS who can dance for a workshop production of   GYNECOLO-LOL-OGY: THE MUSICAL.  A 10-minute excerpt will be performed in bcurrent’s rock.paper.sistazhs festival in Toronto, May 24-31st, 2013.

Directed by Nathalie Younglai.
Book & Lyrics by Nathalie Younglai
Music & Music Direction by Nathalie Younglai & Joe Bowden
Choreography by Laura Paduch

Casting info:

(Lead) SUI-LIN GRANT: Asian female, 30-45.  Musical Range: Mezzo Soprano.  2-months pregnant, years of racism have made her bury her voice inside.

(Lead) DOCTOR GAINES: Caucasian male, 40-55. 
Musical Range: Tenor, good comedic timing without being a ham.  
 Gynecologist who is a self-proclaimed expert on women’s reproductive system because he’s a man. 
 Would never admit his racist bent.

ENSEMBLE/ CHORUS LINE: 3 females, South Asian, Asian, Black, Caucasian, 25-65, all shapes and sizes.  Alto, Mezzo Soprano, Soprano.  Must be able to harmonize.   Will play dual roles of NURSES and VULVAS.  Mostly singing, dancing, re-setting the stage, minor speaking roles.

All roles require both acting and singing with a moderate amount of dancing.  Pianist with a keyboard is also needed.

Rehearsals beginning April 10, 2013 – full schedule TBD once everyone has been cast.  Twice a week to start, 4x a week as performance nears.

Non-union, non paying.

The Show

GYNECOLO-LOL-OGY: THE MUSICAL is a raucous musical comedy about the need to connect with another human being. The audience is taken on a hilarious yet poignant view of the doctor-patient relationship and the perils and pitfalls of the ticking fertility clock.   Contains coarse language and provocative subject matter.

To submit, please send your head shots, url and resume to Nathalie Younglai at crazy {the number four} living {at} rogers {dot} com.  Thank you! 

Gobsmacked by generosity

Huzzah!  This deserves a separate post.  We’ve reached the goal of sending 30 kids from Regent Park Youth Focus to opening night of Home Again.

Thanks to the generosity of SB Edwards, who donated 4 tickets from out West.  SB is an alumna from the Bell Media-WGC Diverse Screenwriters Program.  

And once again, I am totally blown away by the generosity of Screenwriter and Founder of inkCanada, Karen Walton.  Karen won the Writers Guild of Canada Writers Block Award for outstanding service to the screenwriting community and she deserves it 100x over.  On behalf of inkCanada, Karen has donated 12 TICKETS to this endeavour, which brings the total to 37!!!  This means we’ll be able to send some of the guardians and parents to the movies as well.  

I’m going to cover for 3 tickets to bring the total up to a nice round 40.  I know the youth will be pleased to know there are people beyond the community, both within and outside the entertainment industry that are vying for their creative success.  

Thank you all for joining me in helping to make a difference in some young people’s lives!  


Help me send 30 youth to the movies.

Friday, March 22, 2013  is opening night for my friends, Sudz Sutherland and Jennifer Holness’ feature film, Home Again, in select Cineplex theatres across Canada.

“A searing drama in the vein of City of God, Home Again tells the story of three young people deported ‘home’ to Jamaica after being raised abroad since infancy, only to discover that sometimes ‘home’ is the last place you belong.”

Opening night for Canadian-made movies is very important to convince the theatres to “take a chance” on continuing to carry the movie in the theatres.  At the same time, I know it’s hard to make it out due to previous commitments: work, going out drinking, parties, live far away, Raptors games…  just sayin’, not judging!

I know y’all want to be there for opening night but maybe can’t, so I’ve come up with a great win-win solution for everyone:

Donate a ticket (or two) to the youth from Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre!

This is a great organization that services youth who live in a neighbourhood made up of predominantly Caribbean and immigrant families who are struggling to make ends meet.  Regent Park Focus seeks to engage the youth in all types of media (radio, tv, magazine, video, music) in order to inspire positive change.

Please join me in sending 30 of the youth to opening night of Home Again at the Yonge-Dundas Cineplex in Toronto.

Not only is it important for them to see their stories reflected in mainstream media, but it is a great source of inspiration for them to know that no matter what your background, you can be a success in the media arts industry, like Sudz and Jennifer.

I don’t usually hit people up for money or donations to filmmaking campaigns or charities, but this is something I really believe in and hope this once, you will help me make a difference.

Here’s the breakdown:

$15 sends 1 youth.
$20 sends 1 kid and an arm (haha, just kidding.  But you know what I mean.)

$25 sends 2 youth….  Ok, you get it and are probably better at math than me cause at $12.99 for general admission, clearly 2 tickets would be…  $26 but increments of 5 are easier.

So the grand total I am trying to raise is: $450.  (just in case someone is moved to make a bigger donation)

The only catch is that since Friday is opening night, tickets can’t be bought in advance.  Yet I need to know the numbers to coordinate with Regent Park Focus so we know how many youth need to get parent permission to go.  So…  to make this easy on your end, you can either:

1. send me an e-transfer                   or

2. buy a Cineplex e-gift card and email it to me       by Thursday, March 21st at 3pm.

I will then use all the money collected to purchase as many tickets as I can and distribute it to Regent Park Focus on Friday morning.  Sounds good?  Who’s in??

My email: crazy {the numerical four} living (((at)))

**UPDATE: So far, 9 tickets have been donated, thanks to  Corktown Chamber Orchestra and Joe Bowden.  

**11pm update: A total of 14 tickets have been donated!  Only 16 left to go 🙂  

**10:10 am update: 4 more tickets donated!  14 left to go!!  

** 10:30 am update: Thanks to amazing Director James Cooper for donating 2 tickets.  James directed a beautiful short film called Elijah the Prophet and is currently in pre-pro for his comics adaptation, 27:Crossroads.

** noon update: Wow, I am struck by people’s generosity!  Thank you to the talented Writer Patrick Tarr for donating 2 tickets to this project.  Patrick was named Playback Magazine’s 2012 10 to Watch.