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1. Friends, Family, Film

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

Welcome friends! This is exciting. My inaugural entry of a weekly “Friends, Family, and Film” blog I am starting. Though I am not new to writing, I am new to the idea of writing a blog, so please bear with me while I work out a few of the kinks. Each week I’ll add a new entry on the topics of filmmaking, friendships, family, life, love, and anything else that might pique your interest. If you have heard any stories about me and want some clarification, please feel free to ask and I’ll write it.

*Quick Disclaimer*

I’ve lived a non-traditional and exciting life. These are the stories that I’ll share with you from week to week. Due to the sensitive nature of some of them, names, dates, and locations will be changed. Further to that, in my prime developmental days, I suffered several significant head injuries and lived for years with heavy addiction issues. So, my stories will be just that. My stories. Told the way I remember them.

Are they fictional stories? No. They all happened.

Is my perspective going to be slightly askew? Totally. But most stories around the water cooler are.

So, if I forget some the facts or the people involved along the way, it’s not intentional. With traumatic brain injuries, sometimes your memory is like playing phone tag with yourself. Over time the little facts may change a little, but it all plays like a logical narrative film in my head. I will do my best to honour those who have walked this journey with me, with all the good and bad.

Guess I should start at the beginning. This entry is going to be a short biography of me, just so you know who you’re getting into a cognitive bed with. A simple brush stroke of the amazing, hilarious, tragic, sexual, adventurous, creative, and heartbreaking canvas of my life.

Writing this, reflecting on the years, and thinking about how to describe my very short blip on Earth, leaves me with a sense of calm. I’ve overcome much. There are words that I could use to describe it, but I feel like there’s a sense of humility in writing it all out and letting the universe decide.

I was born in Northern British Columbia, Canada in the early 80’s. My father, Peter, worked in forestry, a classy way of saying “Lumberjack”. My mom, Sue, worked odd jobs and was the household primary care/love giver to my older brother Chris, and younger sister Rhianna. It was a full-time job.

When I was five, we were living in Victoria, BC. My father died of Cancer. One of my earliest memories is the morning he died. Talk about a predisposition to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My mom went into full blown single mother survival mode. She was a beast. I like to think the transformation was like that of Sara Connor. Again, I was too young to know for certain, but I like to think she was cool, carefree, loving, fun, and ambitious. Like Linda Hamilton’s character in the original Terminator. After losing her love and the father of her children, she became much more hardened, purposeful, determined, and bad ass. She was a world breaker. Like Sara in T2. We lived a modest childhood, but delicious food was always on the table, we were clothed, holidays were always celebrated. As children you don’t see the struggles behind the scenes.

When my mom met my stepdad, Jim, I assume there was some mental and financial relief. He was a career sailor and our own personal angel in Navy blue dress. My siblings and I took an immediate liking to him. At the time I was probably just super stoked to have another buddy to climb all over. Now, looking back, I’m grateful he was there to give my mom the love and support she needed at a very dark time.

I don’t want to brush over my childhood, lots more happened, but I want to save some stuff for future entries.

I was an energetic kid. More so than most. Late 80’s early 90’s, call us the processed sugar generation. I played sports and had a wild imagination. In grade five I remember after a play I was in, my friends Mom told me I had charisma and I was going to be a star. That stuck with me. It’s the little things.

In grade six and seven, I had the first two of three serious head injuries. Again, I’ll get into more detail with this in a later post. But right now, just know, these accidents changed the trajectory of my life.

In high school, after my injuries and aspirations to play professional baseball were over, I started writing jokes. I wanted to be an actor and/or a stuntman. Naturally, I thought my easiest road to doing so was stand up comedy. It was also my outlet to stay out of trouble. I always had a strong conscience. Every time I stole or fought or did some nefarious shit, I always felt horrible. Comedy was my way out of that life. It was the first time I ever decided for myself. In my short experience on stage, about a year and a half. I turned my life around in many ways. I wasn’t good at it. I wasn’t bad. I was great at making my friends and family laugh. But I was inexperienced in life and the nuances of preforming live for an audience. After a rather jarring performance where I was fortuitously heckled. I was turned off stage work and refocused on script writing. I was eighteen.

For a few years I worked an assortment of regular jobs: Baker, drywall apprentice, metalsmith. Jobs I could’ve held down but chose not to because I was a “writer” and that took my energy.

When I was twenty-three, after surgery to fix my hearing damage (from one of my accidents). I joined the military. First Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Canada’s fighting unit. Call me biased, but this is the best of the best. I joined to pay my way through film school, and signed a three-year contract. Months prior, I had been commissioned to write a script and nothing came of it. It was my first creative heartbreak so I decided I would make my screenplays myself. Unfortunately, my career in the forces went from three years turned to six, then ten. I put my film career on hold for the brotherhood. The adventure. The clout. Even with all the physical and mental injuries I sustained, it was a life changing experience. Halfway to a full military pension, I just couldn’t do it anymore. By the time I got out, I was lost in addiction and a complacency took hold. I got comfortable dialling it in. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. Something had to change.

I applied and got accepted to Vancouver Film School in 2017. The day I got out of the military, I packed up all my baggage: clothes, trinkets, addictions, and mental health issues into my little car and drove West. When school started, I was fully addicted to alcohol, women, food, cocaine, and crack, with untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After a suicide attempt, behavioral problems, and my blossoming addiction, I lasted about half a year before they removed me from class. I was angry at first, but now I know it was the greatest blessing of my life. It allowed me to finally get honest and look inward. I reached out to Veterans Affairs Canada, and they got me into a treatment center, whose aim was congruent trauma and addictions recovery. After that, I took a full year off to focus solely on my mental, physical, and spiritual growth.

In late 2018 I started the independent production company, Haley House Productions and got back to work. In the few short years since, I have managed to collaborate with a talented and fun team of filmmakers and produce several short films and a full-length thriller, The Twelve Step Strangler. Growing and evolving with every film.

What are my goals with this new blog? To stretch my creative muscles while sharing my knowledge and insight with you, the reader. I don’t know everything and I’m not above making mistakes. I’ve made more than I can count. The balance between fun and misery, happy and sad, success and failure, is part of the human condition. More mistakes will come. There’s humility in fucking up. I try to count my successes and learn from my failures. I feel that with writing and sharing these candid stories about my life, it will not only give myself a chance to grow but will give you the opportunity to learn from the mistakes, celebrate the victories, walk the line. These posts aren’t just for aspiring filmmakers. A lot of the topics I will discuss will be centered on the industry, mainly because I’m such a big movie nerd, but it’s my intent to reach a wider audience, for optimists who want to try to do better and live the positive life they deserve. The time to spread love and inspire one another is now.

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