Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Hunger Games.. Passing of the Torch

Everybody has to start somewhere. In the case of Jennifer Lawrence, that's exactly what she did before landing in one of the most talked about films this year. Currently known as the girl who played Katniss Everdeen (also up for a nominee at this years 2012 MTV Movie Awards), she really isn't all that new to the big screen. She played roles on hit tv shows such as Cold Case, Medium, and Munk moving eventually into movies such as Winters Bone and X- Men . Yes, she has done quite a bit of work - but nobody really would have notice, until now.

So I am going to assume that if you are reading this blog, you have actually gone to see the movie/ at least read the book. I was recently reading an article posted last friday titled The Hunger Games: five challenges facing the sequel's new director.   New director? I don't really know if I feel excited or very nervous - that is some big shoes to fill.  Upon reading the article further, here are some 5 challenges facing the birth of the Hunger Games sequel:

1. Time
"As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule," said Hunger Games's Gary Ross earlier this month after walking away from its sequel. Lionsgate got a huge stock market boost from the spectacular box office success of the first film which requires it to get the followup into production pronto. Coupled with star Jennifer Lawrence's commitment to a second X Men: First Class film, that means a pretty preposterous August start date for the Catching Fire shoot, requiring Francis Lawrence to hone a completed screenplay by Slumdog Millionaire's Simon Beaufoy in just a few months. This is a far cry from the kind of room for manoeuvre which directors such as Christopher Nolan and JJ Abrams have been handed with regard to the latest Batman and Star Trek films, and provides a very different environment to that experienced by Ross for The Hunger Games. The latter approached (and says he was allowed to approach) the film from an auteurish standpoint, taking on both directing and writing duties (alongside Collins) to ensure that the final product emerged as a unified vision. The new director will not have the same luxury, but at least a lot of the prep work has already been done and a screenplay, cast, and many of the locations are already in place (or can be recycled) from the first film.

2. Maintain the pace
The Hunger Games throws the audience almost straight into the action as Katniss Everdeen is forced to volunteer for the lethal tournament in place of her younger sister within just a few pages. Catching Fire takes rather longer to get going as it deals with the aftermath of Everdeen's joint victory with Peeta Mellark. Much of the slack before we return to the action is taken up with fairly vital background on the emerging anti-Capitol movement in various districts, and Francis Lawrence won't be able to excise it because it has ramifications for the rest of the series. The second Hunger Games novel is no longer just about the tournament itself: there are wider intrigues taking place, but the new director will have to find a way of showing this without departing from the blitzkrieg-paced tournament scenes for too long.

3. Create room for Gale
The Hunger Games was flagged as the new Twilight prior to its release partly because of the love triangle at its centre. Yet one corner of that triangle was barely present in the first book and is almost as absent in part two. Gale, Everdeen's hunting partner and best friend, finds himself sent off to the District 12 mines in Catching Fire, and while the pair do have the odd romantic moment they are not exactly joined at the hip. Audiences will be expecting to see more of a character upon whom the entire series' dynamic depends, but Gale is a little thinly drawn in the books and may need some help from the screenwriters. Fortunately Liam Hemsworth did such a good job in the first film that it wasn't hard to see why our heroine might be drawn to him.

4. Keep away from the Twilight
Speaking of Twilight Collins never sinks to the lovelorn level of Stephenie Meyers' sickly sweet vampire romance series, with its protagonist Bella Swan, in Catching Fire. Yet the novel, which once again is told in the first person from Everdeen's standpoint, does feature its fair share of teenage angst. Ross and Jennifer Lawrence did such a fabulous job of presenting Everdeen as a tough, independent young woman that it would be a pity to see her transformed into a swooning little flower in the sequel. Fortunately, Collins makes it clear that her heroine is fairly interested in romance but really rather more bothered about staying alive and keeping her family from being throttled by the powers that be. There's no need for Catching Fire to doff its cap to the Twilight crowd, and we must hope the new director realises he has a more wholesome proposition on his hands.

5. Find the political satire within
While The Hunger Games showed us a society of haves and have-nots in which all are transfixed by the riotously entertaining (and compulsory) tournament of death at its apex, much of the political commentary was insipid to say the least and was outshone by Katniss' personal struggle for survival. Catching Fire offers us a wider glimpse of Panem society, its cruelty and its overconfidence. In the decade of the Arab spring and the ongoing protests in Russia, here is a film with a real opportunity to reflect our changing global political arena. There are far worse things than The Hunger Games going on in parts of our world: a brave director would find a way to shine a spotlight on them via a movie which will probably be shown in many authoritarian countries, or will at least become widely available on illegal DVD. It might sound a little over-ambitious to expect a blockbuster Hollywood movie to act as a Trojan horse for anti-authoritarian polemic, but a Catching Fire without a few satirical nods to real-life events would be an opportunity sorely missed.

Alot of the above just makes me wonder as a viewer, will there be a huge difference with a new director? There certainly are some interesting challenges that lie ahead between now and when Catching Fire is released. No Pressure.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Real Housewifes.. who says?

If you haven't heard of the new reality tv show Real Housewife's of Vancouver it is creating quite the buzz. Having been living in North Vancouver for just alittle over 7 weeks now, I just want to say not everyone around here looks that HOT. It may be the most expensive place to live but alot of the people who live here are quite the opposite. The same goes for the Lower Mainland/East side of Vancouver. Alot of talk about the show comes from Vancouver's own locals "people are going to come to visit and expect to see the luxury Vancouver and get a real wake up call". The majority of the higher income live about a 10 - 15 min car ride from my house in what is known as West Vancouver.  So together we are typically considered the "North Shore". Travelling back and forth between areas is like stepping into a whole different way of living - i.e the cars, the houses and the prices of food. The whole concept of the sexy reality show came from an idea to produce "real housewife's of Toronto" but they decided that Vancouver women were much "hotter".

I got this idea to base this blog around the titled "reality" tv show after reading a recent article in the National Post.  "reality is not what draws interest in these shows. They promise rich women doing sheltered-rich-woman things.Viewers feel better about themselves by comparison. The producers say it is more than that; people follow the arcs of the Housewives as though they were scripted characters. A real-life soap opera, and all that."

If there is anything "real" about the cast in the new reality show, is that they are portraying the reality that skin care centres are EVERYWHERE. Its like a booming trend here. Its like jersey shore, but without the tanning beds.  

To conclude today's rant, I just wanted us all to be clear that not all of Vancouver is high class - hell, if you have a drug problem, the lower mainland/east side may be your calling. Maybe the producers should simply just call it "Real Housewife's of West Vancouver".

When one door closes..

Finally finished my 6 week internship as a Junior Art Director, Designer and Copywriter for CoDevelopment Canada, I think it would be only fair to write just one more blog. It feels AWESOME!  I think I can say that I have even finally adapted to the rain. I don’t think this will be the final goodbye/ end of my “studies”, but the Advertising and Integrated Marketing Program at SLC (in which I have spent my last 3 years evolving) has opened up a world of possibilities/ career paths I hope to one day proceed into.

I think choosing St. Lawrence was a great idea. I probably had the best 3 years of my life in that small town like city – some of them including live band performances, sports events and the student nightlife.

I figured that I would dedicate this blog to any students looking for something to do within the Kingston Area. If you are looking for things to do I suggest some of the following: On the topic of food, what EVER you do… you HAVE to try Smokes Poutine, no joke. Just one time (or when you’re going to be out past 1 am) there is no need to have an overdose. Also try the Copper Penny for sandwiches / wraps etc. and of course The Toucan. Yummy!

There are all sorts of things to do; you just need a weekend without the books. If you find yourself without the time to explore, take your books to Queens and change up that study environment. If you have the extra time to do other things other then listen to lectures and review notes until your brain is no longer of service – check out laser tag and glow in the dark mini putt located in the front mall.. I know, that sounded super lame but it is actually pretty awesome! There is also Fort Henry, the K- Rock Centre (for all of your sports and events) and of course Wolf Island / Sandbanks Park if you have a sunny warm day.

Interested in the nightlife other then Stages? Kingston hot spots the Brass and the Tir Nan Og
knows exactly what it takes to enjony a few beverages. Don't be afraid to even try out karaoke nights!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one, which has been opened for us.”
- Helen Keller -

Meet Your Intern

Every Company out there wants free labour. Its a given. But trying to find that Company and getting them to sit down and listen to why they should take YOU under their wing as an Intern is a whole other story. When searching for that internship opportunity, it really is all about 2 common factors:
1 )WHO you know
2) your EXPERIENCE - or what makes you different then the other guy.

If you have both of these, you should be set. Sometimes, for the most part – it really is not that easy. For the world of Advertising and Marketing, if you are interested in working with any Agency – your experience is KEY. Its a competitive field, and you really have to:
  • Believe in what you can do
  • Be confident
  • Be able to say no; if you feel you are taking on too much by saying yes.
Internships just don’t come overnight!! In theory if person A studies days before his or her exam and person B studies hours- you are almost guaranteed different outcomes. The same is with any internship (unless you have super awesome luck or are just blessed with an unreal memory). You may send out 10 different emails with your resume and only hear back from 3 and of those “3″ you may or may not get an interview. Lets say you get one interview,even then your not always guaranteed a position. So to anyone seeking a strategy, the best luck I can give you.. START EARLY. Do your homework. Begin to work on your portfolio! This is your life. Organize it from most important and what you can quite simply just leave out. Your portfolio will not get you the interview, so when applying for that internship – work on your resume and make it look professional, impressive and clean. Another tip – be sure to include what you know about the company, what they have done in the past and why you feel you can benefit THEM. The more you know about THEM, the better.

I remember sending out a ton of emails requesting a “moment of your time” and finally I heard from not one but two companies. One of the replies was from a mobile marketing agency in Toronto -Plastic Mobile. The reply stated that they had been extremely impressed with my resume and they would like to set up an interview for a 4-6 month PAID internship. The other was from a Vancouver based (not – for profit agency) – Co Development Canada. Both positions were suggested through my college professors. After having sat down with Plastic, I quickly realized that I had walked into a super competitive position and gave it my best shot. Unfortunately I did not get the internship in Toronto but had managed to secure a position in Vancouver.

Most Internships are free work.. but sometimes (in the case of Plastic Mobile) it can be the total opposite. Regardless, you have now secured a company willing to take you on board. Now you have to put every effort to keep that position and maybe get a job.

Its all about Networking.

When looking for a proper definition of the word "networking" (according to Google) there are 3 definitions: Computer, Social and Business.  I want to focus around the term Business.

Business Networking
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
is a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognise, create, or act upon business opportunities.

I look back on when we (students of the School of Business at St. Lawrence College) boarded that 7am bus departing for the 2011 World Business Form, and I really don't think I was aware just how big of an opportunity this would be. With its destination set on NYC, I still remember trying to sleep off a really bad head cold and dreaming of the lights of time square. The World Business Form was the first and largest conference I had ever attended. You had everyone from speakers Bill Clinton,  Howard Schultz, Angela Ahrendts, and Seth Godin to attendees such as Google. COME ON PEOPLE. They may be the main point to the entire event, but what happens down in the lunch room is where things happen. I remember thinking, there is no way a group of business students will ever get to eat in the same room as these top notch business executives and ceo's or even get a chance to talk to them. There were approximately "1,500 companies, 5,000 attendees, 65 countries " crazy. But we did just that - well sort of. We got to sit down and interview one on one with guys like Seth Godin and Michael Liebreich.

I have gone to networking mixers and talked about interests with actual business professionals, but in 2011, NYC took that experience to a whole new level. I guess my point here is to always just jump in with both feet - no matter how small you may feel in a situation so big around you, embrace it and act like you deserve to be there.

I can say, that in the 3 years of studying Advertising and Marketing all of my professors have almost been “that guy” who repeats everything over and over again. Their message: “Networking is COOL”. I can say that my visit to NewYork City which lead into one of the biggest interviews to date, couldn’t make their message any more true. As soon as I returned to Canada, I felt it was extremely necessary to say thank you.

Good afternoon Michael.
I would like to take the time to thank you for sitting down to answer some questions with myself and my partner Ian. As we have arrived back into our studies, we have certainly shared our insights from both our interview with yourself and overall experience at the 2011 World Business Forum.
Once again,
Thank you so much for your time.
Monique Gatien a 3rd year Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications Student from
St. Lawrence College, Kingston Ont. Canada

– Within 24 hours, I went back into my inbox and spotted 1 new message. It read:

It was a pleasure meeting you and Ian, and I hope it was useful for you.

Even though his reply was very brief, my point is that by creating conversation (or networking) with other attendees at an event: live conferences, social gatherings – you never know who’s business card you will walk away with. So yes, networking IS cool.

That's just IMC

SLC for the Win Contest Video – created by students from the Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications Program 2009-2012

Looking back on a long 3 years of understanding what it takes to become a Graduate of the Advertising and Integrated Marketing Program at St. Lawrence College, I can't help but laugh at the smaller projects , feel exhausted with the amount of hours spent inside the "mac lab" but also feel confident in what I have learned from each faculty along the way. I have created my own sort of  dictionary of things that defines it all.

A) Rebel Alliance;
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- represents the force of faculty in which guided us young Jedi’s to become great masters.

B) Greg Awards;
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- just like the Oscars, but BETTER.
- alot of coffee and power naps for the planner.
- a life time of memories for the IMC students of St. Lawrence College.

C) Seth Godin;
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
represents a man with a blog.
- “hes the man”

D) Marketing in Action by Keith J. Tuckwell;
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
that book you should always read along in class with.

E) IMC Hub;From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
that place we went to...

F) Social Media;From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
how to use it and not abuse it.

With all the humour aside, each class did infact serve its purpose to making each of us "students" become a graduated expert in the field of Advertising and Interactive Marketing Communications. I would like to end my blog by saying a big thank you to all of the faculty!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

PR in Hollywood is a full time Job

In Canada, we have to worry about three things - keeping everyone happy, hockey and remaining up to date with what’s happening in our "linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States." -quote from Wikipedia. There are three big areas that we tend to focus on when it comes to our good old Canadian Media Coverage - Government, Sports, and Entertainment. Now, I am not saying that we don't have buzz worthy news here in Canada, but what I am trying to say, is what happens down in Los Angeles California seems to have some sort of special power over the consumer world. Meaning, we want to be closer than ever and with social media that has never been easier. I enjoy my entertainment news that is why I would like to dedicate this blog surrounding the gossip within the hills of Hollywood and how social media plays its role.

We all know the story behind the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation. The first time I had heard of the events that took place, I couldn't help but think of this in a Marketing sense. Marketing your "star" image is becoming very easy to maintain, if done appropriately. However, if actions (such as Browns) happen, how does one manage the flow of information between an  organization (in this case the American singer/songwriter) and its publics (the music fans). Well, if you have a great team of PR, that shouldn't be to hard - just tell the man the appropriate thing to say (or tweet). In the case of Chris Brown and Rihanna, this has probably been a full time job as seen recently - the case may have been closed, but the listeners/ critics have long not forgotten.

For Rihanna, such a situation has actually "helped" her launch some very powerful music material - after a long road of recovery of course. For Chris, it’s been quite a road in making an "appropriate" comeback. In 2011, I read article that resurfaced the 2009 incident. CTV sat down to talk with PR expert Mike Paul in an interviewed titled "What should Chris Brown do to repair his image?". A lot of great points were brought up, however - C "Breezy" strikes again in 2012, when his preformance on the Grammy Awards sparked rage with Country singer Miranda Lambert. She tweeted "How dang long did they give Nicki Manaj to do whatever that was? Strange. And Chris Brown twice? I don't get it. He beat on a girl...".  This has recently evolved into more feud with WWE Champ  CM Punk (whom also sides with team Rihanna).

With all of this said, should stars be allowed to use social media?! If so, when is a good time even consider shutting down their accounts?! We all know that whats said on social media sites (such as twitter) STAYS online. In the case of Chris Brown, I doubt the PR team will have anytime off with the events that have taken place recently. May I suggest the wise words of the Reputation Doctor Himself (Mike Paul) "maybe he needs to get comfortable with his past and say sorry  if he's ever going to rehabilitate his image".