Smart Serve, scarecrows and sasquatches!

 Since I moved to Toronto (from Montréal) over a year ago, people often ask me:

“Good move?” or “Are you working?” or “So, is your career taking off?”

Well, let’s see.  I’m still working as a bartender – actually, in order to serve alcohol in the province of Ontario, one has to pass an online test that costs $40 and three hours of their life! I am now, proudly, Smart Serve certified – and for a catering company (does Party Down ring any bells?), so…

I remember when I first got here, my goal was to meet (read: audition for) as many casting directors as possible  in the first year.  Three months in, I was going in to see one of, if not the biggest, casting directors in Toronto, for the role of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz touring company…     I had 17 pages of dialogue to memorize and a song to learn (ie. If I only had a brain).  I bombed.        I mean, nobody wants a nervous nancy to open in Vegas, am I right?!   The best advice I could give myself that day: what happens in the audition room stays in the audition room.

Months later, thank goodness, that same casting director called me in for a big american TV series, FARGO.  It seems she had forgotten how bad I was.  Or, maybe she simply didn’t think I was cut out for musical theatre.  Either way, NEVER TAKE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRANTED.

Speaking of which, I went in for a commercial audition to play a sasquatch (ie. Bigfoot) for an outdoor camping, fishing and sporting goods store, SAIL.  I got the callback. And in the callback, I was asked to strip down to my underwear (my agent did not even know they were going to ask this)…  “Whatever it takes, right guys?”  Meanwhile, as I was taking my clothes off I told the two in the room that I had been working out.  To which the director and chief creative officer of Top Drawer Creative Inc. replied, “No, the skinnier the better!”  Great.  Check.

I got the gig!  And it was more than a commercial.  We’ve shot a total of 15 commercials, travelled to North Carolina AND Argentina (on two separate occasions), and the sasquatch has appeared on the front cover of the city’s biggest newspaper, The Toronto Star twice!

IMG_6703

 

Due to time sensitivity and content, SAIL does not post any of their commercials online.  Here’s a sample of one of the generic commercials:

In this line of work, one often struggles with what tomorrow will bring.  In speaking with the account executive at the agency, he told me the campaign was designed to run a minimum of two years, and a maximum of… wait for it… FIVE!  I couldn’t believe it.  The account exec then asked me if I was “too busy to play a sasquatch?”  Not even.  I’m just grateful to be a working actor.

Here’s the trailer the agency made after our first trip to South America:

 

Gaëtan Tanguay – agent de service pour Hydro Québec

Funny man Gerard Harris asked me to ‘perform’ in his play Let’s Start A Country, written & performed by Harris and stellar aussie performer Shane Adamzcak.  This is a clip that appears during the play. I play Gaetan Tanguay, Hydro Québec service agent… One take!

Gaetan Tanguay, Hydro Québec service agent… on YouTube:

LAST CALL !

Voici un joli projet que je tiens à coeur – un court-métrage style comédie musicale tourné en UN plan séquence !  J’ai été choyé d’avoir pu y participé à ce film avec tant d’artistes de grand talent.  La musique a été composée par le magicien Habib Zekri et l’idée originale conçue par la sublime Albane Château, la fabuleuse Julie Renault et le passioné Dominic St-Laurent.  Les trois ont aussi écrit les textes et paroles.  Nous sommes tous pas mal fiers de ce bijoux.  Malheureusement je dois vous annoncer qu’il est temps pour le…

LAST CALL !

(Bon visionnement, sur YouTube)

Brothers In Arms

I’m very proud of this short film.  It’s only 30 seconds long, however, much like brothers in arms, it took a few talented people to team up and offer their passion and creativity for the end result to become reality. My compadre Manuel Sinor and I wanted to work together, meanwhile, we couldn’t seem to come up with a script.  Enter Najat Jelab, director of Le Projectionniste (award-winning film at the Harlem International Film Fest), who was able to inspire us to co-write the story.  She ended up directing it and, within hours, found us a DOP, Sasha Brunelle, sound engineer, Matteo Pelligrini, and the music, graciously donated by Mr Mo & the Sideliners! And thank you to Arthur Couka for his editing.

Brothers In Arms, on YouTube:

 

 

Pimp My Karl

Sometimes, discussing ideas with talented artists can actually lead to something. And, when you get off your ass, like the famous Nike slogan preaches, JUST DO IT!

So. We. Did.

PIMP MY KARL, on Vimeo:

 

Attache ta tuque [ataʃtatyk] …hold on to your hat

A rapid photo shoot for Québec Original (Ministère de tourisme du Québec) :

Où suis-je ?!?!

Sasquatch: The Making Of

Sometimes in life one gets lucky.  Last Spring, I went in to audition for Top Drawer Creative, for the role of a sasquatch in a SAIL commercial. No script to prepare.  No videos to view on the SAIL website.  Just a blind audition as they say.  I checked YouTube videos of Chewbacca in the Star Wars series, as well as the caveman in the Geico commercials. I also came across the very funny Jack Links commercials with their sasquatch character. This video was my favourite (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5Ed8YOaUqo).

But anyways, I digress… I went in there, with a few story board photos they had posted for our info, and some idea that they would be asking the actors for different facial expressions depicting various emotions.  Well, go figure, days later I got a  CALLBACK!  This time, they asked me if I minded stripping down to my underwear to “move around like a sasquatch?” I simply replied, “Whatever it takes, right?!” They concurred. And then I added, “You guys just wanna check out my HUGE pectoral muscles.”  To which the director, Brian, replied, “Trust me, the skinnier the better!”  I’ve worked hard for this body. ;)

All that to say, I got the gig!  And one commercial turned into five, which in turn became 10.  We shot the first five in Greensboro, North Carolina (beautiful Lake Brandt Park), and we’re off to Argentina at the end of this month to shoot the next five.  Talk about being blessed with good fortune.  Not to mention the fact that the agency is the production team as well, and are gifted, generous, wonderful and kind souls.  Not to mention the client.  What a wonderful experience.  My first gig as an actor in Toronto, and here’s the end result.  For contractual reasons, I cannot post any of the commercials, however, here is the Making Of video:

“It’s business unusual.” (Top Drawer Creative tagline)

(SAIL, an outdoor camping gear company from Québec, has four stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as well as a store in Ottawa)

“If you want to work in Montréal, move to Toronto…”

O les mystères de la vie.

J’ai récemment déménagé à Toronto. Cela fait presque cinq mois.

Le tableau indicateur projets de carrière:

Projet(s) à Toronto : 1.

On set (SAIL commercial): with Paul Jones Effects guru.

On set (SAIL commercial): with Paul Jones Effects guru.

In North Carolina, on set of SAIL summer Sasquatch commercials.

In North Carolina, on set of SAIL summer Sasquatch commercials.

 

Projet(s) à Montréal : 3.

Shoot photo (Photographe: Francis Laroche) pour le Centre des Sciences de Montréal. Agence: Cossette

Shoot photo (Photographe: Francis Laroche) pour le Centre des Sciences de Montréal. Agence: Cossette

J’ai eu la chance de jouer dans Modégalité, un court-métrage éducatif en français ET en anglais, tiré de la pièce Modégalité de Nancy Roberge -  incarnant le rôle d’un père immigrant de la république tchèque.  Une belle journée de tournage à Montréal.  Réalisation: Yann Tanguay. Scénario: Nancy Roberge et Cédric Égain. Production: Nancy Roberge.

Aussi, mon premier rôle (muet) au cinéma depuis mon déménagement était pour le  long-métrage Deux Nuits de Denys Arcand!  Drôlement, j’ai joué le rôle d’un architecte designer de … et oui, TORONTO!

Trailer outside Hotel Shangrila in Toronto.  On set of Denys Arcand film Deux Nuits - Two Nights.

Trailer outside Hotel Shangrila in Toronto. On set of Denys Arcand film Deux Nuits – Two Nights.

On set, Deux Nuits, Hotel Shangrila (Toronto).

On set, Deux Nuits, Hotel Shangrila (Toronto).

Mais bon.  Cette semaine, j’ai passé des auditions pour deux séries télé dont Covert Affairs (USA Network) et Darknet (début sur le Web et prévu pour la télé par après).

All that to say, I love it here.  Toronto, that is. ;)

 

My MTL

To view promo click on the link below:

A letter from a (dear) friend…

Photo: Justin Guzzo Desforges 2012 (Evan Frankel, LIT Director '12)
Dearest dearly dear dear,
The 9th edition of Five-Hole Sam’s Street-Hockey Jamboree is approaching at breakneck speed.  And this year I’ve been instructed that, for the sake of simplicity, the event should now be referred to by its shortened name– Sam Jam.  So in other words, SAM JAM 9 is nearly upon us.

Photo: © Justin guzzo Desforges 2012 (with Evan Frankel, LIT Director '12)

For those of you who are new to this, Sam Jam is a sincerely sensational fundraising event, held in memory of my brother Sam, who was once a revered amateur street-hockey goaltender.  The event includes a rousing road-hockey tournament, corn and sausage roast, t-shirts, raffle prizes, and every other inch of fun you can squeeze in a single afternoon.
This year’s antics will unfold on SATURDAY, AUGUST 25th, between 1 and 6pm, at our usual spot on the South side of Royal West Academy, in Montreal West (map here).
And all for a good cause.  Every penny raised goes to the YMCA Sam Lazarus Fund, which gives underprivileged kids the opportunity to escape the city each summer, and spend a couple of sun-soaked weeks on the magical grounds of Camp Kanawana.  In the 8 years since the fund was initiated, nearly $160,000 has been raised, and more than 50 children have been sponsored.
Sam would be proud.  Nearly every summer of his life, he too would cut his teeth in the woods of Kanawana– first as a camper, and later as a counselor.  It was there that his passion for working with children was discovered- a passion that would eventually take him to Kumasi, Ghana.  Sadly, Sam contracted malaria on that trip, and died in hospital a few days later.  He was 25.
Thankfully, out of that loss has come so much giving.  Your generosity really does make a difference.  This summer alone, the fund was able to send 10 children to camp.  Next summer, hopefully more.
Please support us in any way you can– whether by coming out to the Jamboree (we guarantee a good time), or by donating directly to the fund, which you can do HERE.
Thanks, as always…
Riel.
ps. You can also follow the event on facebook at www.facebook.com/ysamjam