A Look Back: 10 Years of Banff World Media Festival

Thursday, 25 August, 2016
A Look Back: 10 Years of Banff World Media Festival

A Look Back: 10 Years of Banff World Media Festival

Ten years ago in June 2006, I was awarded a CTV Fellowship to attend the prestigious Banff World Television Festival. Since then I’ve attended to report on most of the yearly Banff World Media Festival (Banff’s new name). Based on my personal experiences, I recommend the annual Banff gathering be something someone working in media/entertainment industry should attend at least once in her/his life (and may be even yearly). Great way to pitch projects to concentrated groups of decision makers from around the world, to meet and make friends with industry peers, and learn from the many Master Classes you given by some of the best creatives in the industry.

Take this year as an example, knowing HBO Chairman and CEO Mr. Richard Plepler will attend the 2016 Banff, I did some research including watching these two videos to prepare. And I ended up learning lots from attending and meeting Richard in his Company of Distinction Keynote: HBO’s Richard Plepler Banff World Media Festival Banff. And yes, I felt totally honoured when Richard compared me to his mother after I asked him about his work experience at “RLP International quoting what I learned from his commencement speech to the Franklin & Marshall College Class of 2015!

Let me share just another highly insightful and fun to watch video from the 2016 Banff:  In Conversation with Sir Peter Ustinov Comedy Award Recipient Russell Peters. I love Russell Peters even more as I heard the etalk co-host Lainey Lui asked Russell, “You’ve been making this kind of money for the last few years and you are still hustling, 250 shows, 120 cities, 25 countries, you are still hustling with an immigrant work ethic!

(More info on Russell‘s new show “The Indian Detective“)

In the last 10 years, I’ve met and interviewed a lot of creatives and senior executives at Banff. The following are some samples of my video interviews.

*2010) Meeting someone I really admire like Ricky Gervais was epic and wonderful for me. I was able to capture his “Award for Comedy Speech” which I think is better/more fun than the official Banff version shot with more expensive video equipment. (watch and read my full 2010 report of Ricky here)

And asking Ricky a brief question on the 2010 Banff red carpet was something I still remember fondly today, six years later.

*2008) Two years before I met Ricky, Banff attendees had the pleasure to meet the highly successful producer Jon Plowman (photo) who came to Banff to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as former head of BBC comedy and producing/executive producing great shows like Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, Little Britain, and The Vicar of Dibley! I wrote a brief report in 2008 but didn’t shoot any video. I did walk up to meet Jon and personally thanked him for his great work!
*2011) Mike Farah, President of Production, Funny or Die
,
*2010) TiVo CEO Tom Rogers interview,
*2013) Watching “VICE co-founders Shane Smith & Suroosh Alvi at Banff 2013” was a lot of fun and then interviewing “Shane @ Banff ” was awesome given how much VICE Media has grown since 2013!

*2012) “Masterclass with Terence Winter creator of Boardwalk Empire at #banff2012” (more info on Boardwalk Empire)

*2012) And my video interview with “Terence Winter, Creator of Boardwalk Empire at banff 2012

*2011) Tom Perlmutter, NFB Chairperson,
*2010) Tony Lacavera, Globalive & WIND Mobile Chairman audio interview, (It was fun for me interviewing Tony, an University of Toronto alum, over the years. In March 2016, Shaw Communications Inc. closed its acquisition of Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion.)
*2008) David Hoselton (Producer of House) (I LOVE House so it was interesting for me to know that creator David Shore and producer David Hoselton were University of Toronto Law School buddies.)
*2012) Duncan Fulton, SVP Canadian Tire, talks about cutting edge advertising/e-commerce technologies at #banff2012 (Since then, Duncan has been promoted to President FGL Sports Ltd in March 2016.)
*2007) Jane Mote, Director of Life Style, UKTV,
*2007) Vicky Taylor, Editor, Interactivity, BBC Television,
*2007) Dale Herigstad, Chief Creative Officer, Schematic,
*2007) Greg Goodfried, Co-creator and Executive Producer, Lonelygirl15, (note: In 2012, AdAge reported that “Everyday Health Buys Lonelygirl15 Producer EQAL in Expansion to New Genres” quoting TechCruch which “pegged the price at $15 million plus a $5 million earn-out“. EQAL founders are Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried.)
*2007) Dawn Airey, Director of Global Content, ITV,
*2012) Paul Chard – The most interesting person at #banff2012 to me,

One of the most insightful people I’ve met at Banff
*2009) Gary Carter’s Storytelling in the Digital Age (2009) (Long list of videos, highly recommended even the 2009 content may seem a bit dated)

Attended and filmed,
*2012) “In Conversation with Chuck Lorre (Creator of Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory)“,
*2010) “William Shatner speaks with ‘The Big Bang Theory’ creator and showrunner Bill Prady“,
*2012) “Conflicts in Reality TV and psychological profiling – The Chicken or The Egg – Most fascinating and controversial session at 2012 Banff
*2010) “Ian Brennan, creator/writer Glee (19 Emmy nominations) @ 2010 Banff” (extensive video)
*2013) “Julia Louis-Dreyfus talks about Veep and other topics at Banff World Media Festival 2013

*2012) This was a lot of fun and insight for me, “Master class Q&A with Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead at 2012 Banff World Media Festival

*2006) Finally, It was my honour to meet and listen to Oscar winning director & writer Paul Haggis at my absolute first Banff in 2006. I wish my “professionalism” hadn’t stopped me from asking for a photo! Oh well, something I have regretted ever since. Anyway, the story of how Paul broke into Television is something I will likely remember for the rest of my life! Enjoy!


*** More
2016 Banff World Media Festival stuff and one 2012 Master Class with Chuck Lorre (creator: Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory).

*2016) I think Girls is one of the most cutting edge and funny TV comedies in recent years. I had the pleasure this year to attend and listen to Jenni Konner talk in person. And I enjoyed the session very much.

Comedy Master Class with Casey Bloys and Jenni Konner (note: Casey Bloys is senior vice president, HBO Entertainment)

*2016) I didn’t know the name Jay Baruchel but after watching this, I discovered I’ve watched A LOT of Jay‘s stuff without knowing his name and I LOVE them all! Very insightful: “In Conversation with Canadian Award of Distinction Recipient Jay Baruchel

Further references:

*2016) Richard Plepler: Stick with the Optimists (background research for Banff 2016)

*2016) HBO CEO Richard Plepler: Full Discussion @The Paley Center for Media (background research for 2016)

*2016 Banff) “The Night Of” Master Class: A Closer Look at HBO’s Limited Series Model featuring Academy Award-winning writer Steven Zaillian. After watching the video, I realized one of my favourite films “Searching for Bobby Fischer” was written and directed by Steven and he talks about it at timecode 16:10.

*for 2016) Westworld: Teaser Trailer (HBO) (brand new to viewers at Banff, publicly released after 2016 Banff)

*2012) In conversation w Chuck Lorre (Creator: Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) at #banff2012

P.S. On a personal note, I want to thank Scott Benzie, Lindsay Nahmiache, Robert Montgomery, and, for the last 10 years, many other team members for their kind help at Banff and arranging my press credentials, etc. I really enjoyed attending Banff and I’m happy to share what I learned with my readers/viewers.

It has taken me some time to create this post and I am still amazed how many great creatives and industry senior executives I’ve met and tried to learn from all these years. And there are still some that I haven’t listed! Like in 2009 when I met and interviewed Ron Moore who amazingly re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (BSG)!

Let me mention something most people might have missed. For a few years in a row, I noticed Tony Lacavera, Founder and Chairman of Globalive & former WIND Mobile Chairman, was sponsoring the Banff CRTC Breakfasts. (see my 2010 report) A side benefit was Tony got some “face time” to chat with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein (photo of the two at CRTC Breakfast). Well, to me, that was money well spent in the long game of business! As you may know, this March 2016 WIND Mobile was sold to Shaw Communications Inc. for $1.6 billion.

If you ask me, I say the C$1.6 billion deal has to be one of the biggest deals that Banff World Media Festival has *indirectly* facilitated! Pretty cool!


父親節快樂 Happy Father’s Day – 與 Simon 談書法的創意 Talk Chinese Calligraphy Creativity with Simon

Sunday, 19 June, 2016

父親節快樂! Happy Father’s Day! In 2013, I had the pleasure of LIVE chatting (unedited LIVE streaming) with my father about Chinese calligraphy creativity.

與 Simon 談書法的創意 Talk Chinese Calligraphy Creativity with Simon

My father has taught me, by personal examples, how to maintain life-long curiosity and learning. Dad LOVEs to learn. And he is a much better teacher than I ever will be. I sometimes lack the infinite patient that he seems to have.

During the LIVE chat, dad told me (amongst many things), on a purely calligraphy level, Dr. Sun Yat-sen 孫中山, Chinese revolutionary, first president and founding father of the Republic of China, loves to write the four Chinese words 「天下為公」 (The world is a Commonwealth). A photo example of Dr. Sun’s writing: 孫中山在故題的「天下為公」四個大字。(Google image search of 孫中山 Dr. Sun’s 天下為公 samples.) And Chairman Mao’s 毛澤東 loves to write the five words「為人民服務」五個字. (Google image search of 毛澤東 Chairman Mao’s「為人民服務」samples.) We had some fascinating discussions on top of the calligraphy in the LIVE video chat.

After my chat with dad talking about 鄭板橋’s words「難得糊塗」, the curious me (thanks dad!) conducted some research Zheng Xie 鄭板橋 (formally 鄭燮) and ended up reaching out to Dr. Lee Shew-Hua in Taiwan to ask her if she could kindly share her PhD thesis with me. As Dr. Lee had conducted her research 20+ years ago, she didn’t have an electronic copy of her thesis. But after finding out which pages/section I am most interested in, she was so kind to arrange and scan an excerpt of her Phd thesis 李秀華博士 〈鄭板橋書法之研究〉博士論文 (4.5 MB, PDF image file) for me. As all PhD thesis are in public domain, I am now sharing Dr. Lee’s PhD thesis excerpt 李秀華博士 〈鄭板橋書法之研究〉博士論文 on this Father’s Day to celebrate the teachings and inspirations by fathers from around the world.

Thanks Dad! Thanks for your continue teachings and inspirations! You rock!

Happy Father’s Day! 父親節快樂!

P.S. Upon further research, I found this Chinese TV show about Zheng Xie 鄭板橋. Enjoy.

《老梁故事汇》 20151023 郑板桥的糊涂人生

There are two Chinese series: 扬州八怪 YouTube playlist and 鄭板橋外傳


Watch “Revolution Trilogy” 睇「革命三部曲」

Friday, 18 March, 2016

Director/producer/independent reporter Kempton Lam has made three full-length documentaries from 2004 – 2015. (Cantonese with English subtitles 廣東話、英文字幕) Collectively, the three documentaries are known as his “Revolution Trilogy「革命三部曲」. Kempton’s debut documentary Long Hair Revolution 「長毛革命 has been collected by the Canadian national archive since 2009. You can watch the three films at this YouTube Playlist (projected on your big screen HD TV or on your computer here). Enjoy!

Long Hair Revolution 「長毛革命」 (full-length 2005) (read film & Canadian national archive info)

HKtv Revolution 「香港電視革命」 (full-length 2015) (read Director’s Statement)

Umbrella Revolution: History as Mirror Reflection 「雨傘革命實錄:以史為鏡」 (full-length 2015) (read Director’s Statement)


Interview with Adler Yang, director of Taiwan documentary “If There is a Reason to Study” (學習的理由)

Monday, 15 September, 2014
If there is a reason to study

If there is a reason to study

Taiwan documentary “If There is a Reason to Study” (學習的理由) by Adler Yang (楊逸帆) will be screened at Chinese Documentary Festival 2014 in Hong Kong. This reporter has the great pleasure to have an in-depth video interview with the young 19 years old director to talk about the film. Here is a brief film description from the festival,

Humanity [RenWen] Junior High School is a non-traditional school in Taiwan. To encourage free development, there is no ranking based on grades. On the other hand, however, students must face the same standardised tests as students from traditional schools in order to progress to senior high.

The director, aged only 14 at the time of filming, used his camera to record what his classmates said as they faced the challenge, and to explore the motivations behind studying.

When Yang was only 14 years old in 2009, he started filming footage for an earlier 6 minutes version of this film called 《不想考基測 The Soul》(2010)). Majority of the filming for Reason to Study was completed in 2010 with brief update footage of the documentary subjects at the end of the film. Readers may be amazed to hear that Yang already had 70+ hours of footage to work with to create his 6 minutes short 2010 film《不想考基測 The Soul》 (viewable on YouTube). And then 300+ hours of footage to work with in his latest 93 minutes feature  “If There is a Reason to Study” (學習的理由).

The film is a frank and interesting look at education in RenWen and it even features the film director taking a public exam specifically for this film in order to experience what his schoolmates experienced through the eyes of the young director (14/15 years old at the time). The film is screening on 17/9 (Wed) at 7:30 pm & 21/9 (Sun) at 2:30 pm at agnès b. CINEMA, Hong Kong Arts Centre (香港藝術中心 agnès b. 電影院).

Here is my in-depth video interview with Yang to talk about the film,

Here is a trailer,


Cantonese interview with Jo Ho, co-director of HK documentary Women’s Horizon (好風景)

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014

Jo Ho Ka Wui (何嘉滙) is the co-director of HK documentary Women’s Horizon (好風景) with Bryan Chang Wai Hung (張偉雄). A documentary that recorded the lives of five Hong Kong women from 2010 to 2012. Here is a description of the five women from the film outline,

“Kitman, a big fan of online sweepstake; Charlene, a dance instructor and urban fashion shop owner; Esther, growing up in in a christian community aspiring to live the life within the church; Chan Hei, was an advocate for the fair treatment of sex workers and is employed at a bookstore; Kai Kai, Representative of the League of Fanling North Villages and Residents.”

Here is a trailer,

When Jo and Bryan were first planning to shoot Women’s Horizon in 2010, they talked about being inspired by the British Up Series documentary that has “followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old.” The directors of Women’s Horizon hopes to revisit the lives of the five Hong Kong women in a few years to make another documentary. Over the two and a half years, the filmmakers made the documentary with their own money and shot ~60 hours of footage and editing the footage down to a 58 minutes documentary.

Here is an extensive and exclusive interview with co-director Jo Ho Ka Wui (何嘉滙) conducted on the eve of the film’s world premiere on September 9th at the Chinese Documentary Festival 2014.


Hello Kitty is not a cat! Video interview with LA Times reporter who started worldwide debate

Saturday, 30 August, 2014

Hello Kitty is NOT a cat? Really?! In recent days, people from around the world have expressed shock as they found out Hello Kitty is not a cat from articles quoting “Hello Kitty is not a cat, plus more reveals before her L.A. tour” by Los Angeles Times reporter Carolina A. Miranda. My in-depth and exclusive Skype video interview with Miranda talks about what lead her to write the article and different aspects of the Hello Kitty brand. Have a watch of the interview as it was a ton of fun to conduct and should be a lot of fun to watch.

To be honest, this reporter is one of the people who was shocked to find out Hello Kitty is not a cat from reading Miranda’s article. And then changed my mind again Read the rest of this entry »


Kashy Keegan sings “This is my dream” LIVE at HKTV rally outside of HKSAR gov HQ

Friday, 25 October, 2013

Kashy Keegan at #HKTV rally interview after "This is my dream" LIVE performance

Kashy Keegan sings “This is my dream” LIVE at HKTV rally outside of HKSAR gov HQ

Kashy Keegan #HKTV rally interview after “This is my dream” performance 

Commentary: HK Chief Executive Mr. CY Leung and the Chinese government may not realize it until it is too late. But the repeated protests on the street and in front of the HKSAR Government HQ for  various bad policies may have the unintended consequence of training citizens to voice their views publicly which is required in any healthy democracy.


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