Continental Drift

13709839_10157232385560607_6722764092779073535_n

Things that move slowly.

This post originally was a portion of yesterday’s until I realized I was muddying my themes. You’ll notice it’s not unrelated. I think. One of the things you learn while writing your Masters thesis, and then re-learn in, say, a writer’s room: thoughts that are obviously connected in your mind — they’re not necessarily connected in anyone else’s.

On our last day in Iceland, Brett dove the continental divide while I sprawled on a mountain of blankets on the most comfortable bed in Reykjavik (seemingly, anyway, after eight nights in a camper van) and finished a rewrite of my second episode of TL2. I was on a hard deadline but was having a hard time, emotionally, letting the draft go. I mean, what if that was it? And how could this possibly be my last stab — it feels like I only just started. Like I only just started…  back in the dark ages of last autumn.

I remember at the end of last summer — it might have technically been fall —  I left my first meeting (interview?) with our showrunner and I thought to myself, I think that went well. He’d asked about my availabilities and travel plans, and I secretly thought ooh, this one’s in the bag. Okay fine: I told my mom and I told Brett that I thought it was in the bag. I probably also told my brother and my sister-in-law. My dad was likely within earshot.

This is a rookie mistake. Never say shit like that out loud. If possible, don’t even think it.

The waiting began. The waiting and the wanting, soon followed by the squirming. And I thought, oh shit, what if it wasn’t in the bag? When the good news finally came in (I’m almost sure it was the autumn, although I think I was wearing short-shorts and carrying a bottle of rosé out of an SAQ; that there was sweat beading at the small of my back) I could have collapsed from gratitude on the pavement. My eyes darted repeatedly across the email on my iPhone to confirm I wasn’t misreading. So when I arrived for dinner with my family and told them the news, their reply was “Didn’t that already happen?”

I probably sighed loudly, but I can’t blame them. I trick myself like this all the time. Or the industry tricks me. Everything happens very slowly, but also kind of overnight. Moments of success, achievement, and celebration shift around in this somewhat intangible state. Once they concretize, it feels like they’re already in the past. Your head snaps back to see them, like a sign you blast by on the highway. But it’s already behind you. The characters in Gurov and Anna do this with moments of decision and action; moving them around so they’re never in the present. I know why they do it; they’re cowards. But what am I?

Sometimes I even fail to fully celebrate and rejoice in something because it happened too quickly or easily. When something wonderful just manifests, it’s harder to believe in it. You just eye it curiously it and think “is this really happening?” Isn’t it easier to believe in the importance of something when you seek it out, rather than it calling upon you? A few things have surprised me like that recently, and in these cases I recognized them immediately as valuable. But seizing them kind of feels like robbing a bank. Or like that old Ikea commercial: Start the car! Start the car! Instead of experiencing it you’re just frantically trying to make your getaway with the loot. Come on already! Quick, before someone stops us! 

Several weeks (or lifetimes?) ago, my girlfriend and I drove from the TL2 set in Baie d’Urfé to have drinks with her fellow castmembers in the Old Port. Hours earlier I had just made my first deal to create my own original series. The deal had been “as good as done” weeks prior, followed by an excruciating period of waiting and questioning. And so when I finally signed the papers and emailed them back to my manager, I had this moment of meekly mumbling “hey guys, this thing just happened — guys, I think I did a thing…” In the car, on the way to drinks, I asked my friend whether she always celebrates her successes. And she admitted that she doesn’t either. It’s not always clear whether it’s the nature of the industry that does this to us, playing a shell-game with those occasions, or whether we do it to ourselves.

Is this just another way we cheat ourselves out of our own happiness?

Thank goodness that I’m characterized primarily, I think, by gratitude. Or audacity first (according to my Proust questionnaire, anyway), with gratitude a close second. There is no fanfare, no champagne corks being popped, no parades, and no ponies. But I think I’m in a constant state of quiet celebration. Which explains all the bourbon.

Thanks everyone for the messages in reply to yesterday’s post  which was actually written in scribbles over the last few weeks and made semi-coherent yesterday, on my iPhone, while stuck in traffic. Of all the replies I received, one stood out in particular, from my friend Ellen in Dallas; a regular on the Brac. I asked her if I could share it here:

“If you can permit me an old woman’s perspective, don’t fear regret! It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. A life without regret will be a life without the texture of ever having been foolish, scared, mean, brave, vulnerable, blindly in love. Regrets will come but their lessons make us our best selves.”

Thank you, Ellen. And all of you!

And now, back to packing my bags.

 

 

Goers and Leavers

wrecking ball

The wrecking ball. (Or, how to air-dry your hair in Iceland.)

Above is a photo of me in flux. Delirious, free. Not pictured: Scared.

I am constantly in flux. Usually it’s like continental drift. This time around, it’s more like a wrecking ball.

On March 14, 2014 I posted a blog entitled “Going versus Leaving.” I was leaving Montreal during the middle of filming of Gurov and Anna and beginning a new journey in Los Angeles.

Two and a half years later I returned to Montreal from the Brac to make my contribution to season 2 of CBC’s This Life. And now I’m leaving again. 

Or am I going?

It’s not always obvious, whether you’re moving toward something, or away from another. Being drawn to, or driven away. It’s only clear when you’re moving into complete uncertainty. Then it’s clear. You, my friend, are leaving.

Whatever it is I’m doing at this moment, all of my essential belongings are being shoved into one suitcase. The all-seasons, all-climates sort of packing job. Who knows when I’m coming back? I’m completely untethered. I’m peering over the edge of the cliff and feeling a little dizzy — but I feel around for my parachute and I think, well, okay, what the fuck. Fine, maybe I don’t jump exactly. I’m not much of a jumper, who are we kidding. But I close my eyes and relax and let the wind take me. 

I’m a “goer,” as my friend Rebecca would say (what a goer!)  because I’m saying yes, to opportunity, to possibility, to a belief in myself and in my vision for my future — full disclosure: the vision is pretty blurry,  but it’s marked by a feeling. I feel it, and I say yes, more of that please, and I follow it. Sometimes it then says no to me. Okay, I reply. And I seek it elsewhere. Other times it says yes back, it embraces me, lifts me up even  — and I’m not even sure I have what it takes. But I tell myself I’ll figure that part out later. And I always do. 

I’m a leaver, too, because while I muscle ahead into what is essentially mere promise (bolstered by a confidence in myself) without stability, I’m consciously rejecting other lives for myself, other versions of myself, other feelings that don’t serve me. Experiences that threaten to reduce, rebate, or undermine me. I’m saying a loud, deliberate, and emphatic no to Procrustes’ Bed, professionally, creatively, and emotionally. That’s the easy part. If you don’t know what I mean by Procrustes’ Bed, you should really Google it. Now there’s a metaphor that will serve you well for the rest of your life. Once you recognize it, you’ll never sell yourself short again. 

There’s a key difference now from March of 2014. Well, two key differences. It was still wintry in March 2014, and that was easy to leave. Always easy to leave Montreal in the winter. But more importantly, back then I was afraid of almost nothing. It was easy for me to drop one version of my life and leap into another. As of this writing, I can (mostly) honestly say I regret nothing. Sure, there may have been things that have happened to me that, you know, maybe I didn’t need. But even those, even the ugliest and bleakest of them, I turned them into honey. And even the most ill-advised of my own choices have raised me up…eventually.

But now that I’m wading deeper into my thirties (as if I have a choice), I’m kind of terrified. Not of any one thing, apart from regret. Regret terrifies me. 

The thing is, fear is by far the sneakiest of Procrustean beds. Without even realizing it, you amputate yourself. And so I have to steel myself and say no to that, too. And I’m just relying on history now — that I’ll look back and see that I made the bold, kind of insane choice — which turned out to be the right one. 

It’s the only choice, really. Don’t believe me? Here’s Paul Auster in Moon Palace. Every time I read him I have to slam the book down on my lap and shout “Nailed it!”

“I felt the taste of mortality in my mouth, and at that moment I understood that I was not going to live forever. It takes a long time to learn that, but when you finally do, everything changes inside you, you can never be the same again. I was seventeen years old, and all of a sudden, without the slightest flicker of a doubt, I understood that my life was my own, that it belonged to me and no one else. I’m talking about freedom, Fogg. A sense of despair that becomes so great, so crushing, so catastrophic, that you have no choice but to be liberated by it. That’s the only choice, or else you crawl into a corner and die.” 

Jesus, Paul. A little hyperbolic, no? But still. You get the idea.

And now off I go: to work, to create, to strive. Three new exciting projects arose at the perfect moment, to carry me away from here. One created by me, another co-created,  and the last on commission.  I said yes thrice — despite my fear.

I’m off New York on Thursday. And then…

Nomad

13043468_10156871197475607_7814367144716201953_n

After a brief stint in the south, most of which was spent holed up with my computer to rewrite a feature on commission, I arrived back in Montreal just in time for patio weather and TV production season. Four weeks I’ve been home (“home”? — what’s that?), and I have another nine weeks on set, writing and story editing for Season Two of CBC’s This Life, before Brett swoops in on my 32nd birthday to whisk me off to Reykjavik with bags stuffed with bourbon, foie gras, and terrines of duck, rabbit, caribou, emu, deer (etc.).

Once there we’ll drive and camp around Iceland, waking up at the feet of waterfalls, glaciers, and volcanoes. What the country lacks in fresh produce, it makes up for in otherworldly views.

a0f4cfe487e9c244c314ebe0db3ac664

I’m starting to feel as though I’m only at home when I’m on the move, and yet I’m in a constant state of missing — my family, or Brett, or Montreal or Toronto or Cayman, or writing features or writing television, or the blessing/curse of having more work than I know what to do with or the blessing/curse of having virtually none.

I joked with a colleague recently that’s there’s no joy in happiness; the joy is in the pursuit. It feels far less true now that I sit counting the fourteen interminable days until Brett arrives to celebrate his thirtieth birthday (also our third anniversary, though I think my ol’ “I am your birthday present” is getting tired). Each of my colleagues at This Life is far from their chosen person so at least there’s lots of room for good old-fashioned commiseration as we read and note each other’s work after work (“after work” — what’s that?). Or, perhaps more accurately, a good “old fashioned” while we commiserate and read and note each other’s work:

13076713_10156870029470607_9190302579311009475_n

After Iceland, the future is once again a bit foggy. Projects are lining up, but it’s as of yet unclear where they will take me and when. How long before I get to have my favourite view once again?

13051694_10156870029460607_2425986890359143481_n

Best view: Brett, my easy rider.

And once I have it, how long until I get restless with the nagging feeling that my home is actually that warm but stress-sweaty spot underneath a mountain of work?

It’s a good problem to have; too much goodness in too many places with too many people. Hmm. Life is so hard. (winkyface.)

13043704_10156870029430607_6958475553262703678_n

Touchdown

9183_10156715638665607_1555263610706236210_n

Après-gala

I’m finally coming down from the utter thrill that was Sunday night. It’s hard to believe it was real, but the proof is in the pudding: my back still hurts from sitting like a lady all night.

It was an honour to represent Gurov and Anna at the Gala du Cinéma Québecois. Predictably, I did not take home the trophy — but I did win, in a way (my money was on Felix et Meira, after all).  I had a blast celebrating Quebécois cinema with my colleagues. I also had the opportunity to be a total fangirl, gushing all night over Maxim Gaudette who, let’s face it, is so glorious he seems like he can’t be real. Spoiler alert: he’s real. (swoon!)

Many thanks to Québec Cinéma for the extraordinary honour that was this nomination. Thank you as well to my producers Jacques Blain and Marie-Dominique Michaud for having taken a chance on me, and on a woman’s response to a man’s trope. Thank you Myriam Rafla, script editor and super-pal extraordinaire, for your generous mind and heart from the very beginning. And thanks to Raf and to all the artists/collaborators on the film who elevated my words with their astonishingly beautiful work.

And thanks to family and my friends (old and new) who watched from home and texted me throughout the evening wishing me their best. Brett was in Cayman and couldn’t accompany me, but at no point did I ever feel like I was alone. You’re a bunch of good eggs, you!

À+

xo

celeste parr gala cinema quebecois gurov anna mathieu denis corbo

Yeah that’s Mathieu Denis sitting RIGHT behind me, eeeeep! #fangirl

 

The Greatest of Company: Quel Honneur

I was writing out on the balcony squinting at my laptop screen in the sun when my phone dinged. It was an image sent to me on Facebook by the enormously talented David Di Francesco, the editor of Gurov and Anna. The image was accompanied by a message of congratulations.

Here is the image:

12644801_10156502064085607_4500815252680435729_n.jpg

I was nominated for best screenplay for Gurov and Anna at this year’s Jutra Awards. And, as you can see, I’m in the very best of company.

So, you know, as I said to David: “WHAT!

What a thrill, what an honour, to be recognized in this way at home.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. See you at the Gala Jutra in March.

xoxo

Living This Life

11011020_10156267399440607_8197052685773374971_n

The front yard

I write this morning over a breakfast of homemade gluten-free pancakes (correction: pancake) and cold tea in Cayman Brac. I’m borrowing wifi from the unbelievably kind Canadian family next door, who I’ve come to know as dear friends.

The first cold front of the season is moving in and with that the island and everyone on it sighs with relief. A friend of mine — or was it someone I read? — used to joke about how the winter confronts you with your own weakness. Oh, I’m confusing two people. My friend, who said something along those lines, and Shakespeare in As You Like It. “Thank goodness the wind doesn’t flatter me.” That’s what I’m thinking of. Well, Shakespeare, the sun and the heat don’t flatter either. Any illusions I have about what a strong and robust body and mind I possess — those illusions flee me within a couple of days on this island. It’s as though I’ve been walking around, writing, cooking, sleeping with a whole other person sitting on my shoulders. Everything is heavier. Every distance is longer. And goodness I am so weak.

Until the cold front arrives. Which it has.

This morning the breeze floats in from the ocean in my front yard. The 9 a.m. flight from Grand Cayman just flew over me on its way to the landing strip in my back yard. The skies are blue outside my windows and yet it’s raining, obviously from a cloud that hides over my roof.

I’ve only been here for ten days and yet two young and healthy members of my community here have died rather unexpectedly. This is a beautiful island, but there’s nevertheless an enormous amount of suffering here, economically, politically, emotionally, spiritually. In weeks like these, the beauty of the place mocks us. “Paradise.” That’s what they say. This irony of course was the impulse behind the series I’ve been developing here this past year, rather obviously titled The Brac.

But after a looming feature deadline on Friday, I leave here on Saturday for Toronto, where I’ve spent quite a lot of time these past months getting my feet wet in television. Now, while being un-flattered by the winter, I’ll be joining several enormously talented individuals to develop la suite of CBC’s This Life. And, given the subject matter of the series, I’m especially well-equipped now with these re-learned lessons about irony, and the impermanence of life, and the unpredictability of death.

Which reminds me to be grateful for who and what I have. My family and loved ones. My health. My creative life. This pancake. And this beautiful, horrible, and wonderful island.

12224195_482521998593775_1099633690_n

Filed under things I’m stoked about:

tifflogo2015 I’ll be headed to TIFF next month, where I’ve been selected to participate in this year’s Talent Lab with governors Wim Wenders and Jim Stark. Very, very exciting. The lab officially concludes on September 12 but I’ll be sticking around thereafter to make the most of the fest.

See you there!

celeste parr talent lab

Transatlantic

11334677_862927387131034_678634636_n

Six weeks ago I boarded a flight from Pearson to Heathrow, and spent some long, sweaty days in the writer’s room of a television series in Notting Hill (UK-Canada co-prod) with three very talented and inspiring people — two of whom I had never met previously. It really did feel like the first day of school, but very little time was needed to break the ice. By the end of the first day we had already made enormous progress and by the time we met our deadlines almost five weeks later, we’d developed a powerful bond and a body of truly exciting work.
The marathon writing did have its usual way of nudging me off the face of the earth for a while, but I’ve since found my way back — suddenly a year older — and am returned to Cayman for the next ten days or so, at which point I’ll return to Montreal and Toronto, where I’ll be showing my stupid face until the autumn.

In the meantime, I’m developing another tv series, this one a half hour comedy in the vein of Veep and Silicon Valley. In other words, a satire in which the characters get to frequently say “fuck” and all of its cognates and derivatives. This will bring me joy in abundance. I’ve also continued developing the road comedy feature film I was approached for by director Nicolas Monette. We’ve been working on it for months now and have yet to meet in person. We wonder how long we can keep that up; turn it into a running gag perhaps until the film opens? There was a time I thought I’d never develop good working chemistry with anyone who I only knew via Skype. Those days are long over.

In other news, Gurov and Anna was released today on DVD, available on Amazon. Actually, it’s already sold out, but you can pre-order it here.

IMG_1272

Represent

IMG_0646

I’ve been doing that thing again where I can’t stay in one place. The difference, this time, is that my own restlessness isn’t the guiding force in this scenario. I’m just a happy little kog in the wheels of others, which takes a lot of pressure off my own decision-making. And that’s precisely what a grown-ass woman ought to strive for, hashtag amirite?

If it’s true that I’m deferring to others on a number of fronts, it could be because I’ve had my own share of difficult decisions to make in recent months. The most notable of which is that after many months of serous reflection, I finally decided to part ways with the Omada Agency, where I’ve been represented since this whole adventure began in the summer of 2010. I’m enormously grateful to them for this delightful start to my career, but I’ve put the next stretch of my professional life in the hands of Rena Zimmerman at Great North Artists Management in Toronto. Great North has a long tradition of representing some of our country’s finest, so it goes without saying that I’m deeply honoured to be joining their roster. Also, Rena is just a pure joy to sit with and talk to.

IMG_0732

Apart from that business, I’ve been immersed in all other delightful busyness, including working on two television series, and teaming up with Nicolas Monette (dir. Aurelie Laflamme: les pieds sur terre) for an English-language feature. I won’t disclose the subject matter here apart from saying that it’s a hybrid of two genres I adore and which fascinate me to no small degree. The film speaks to both Nic and I on a deeply personal level, so that not only makes for a rewarding creative experience, it also promises a very rich film, emotionally and aesthetically.

I’ll be leaving this tropical island again shortly, where I’ve been continuing to develop one of the series I mentioned. Not a bad time to leave a country that has just chased out the publisher of the only daily newspaper here because he had the balls to suggest that the Premier is corrupt. The publisher and his wife left the islands under police protection. The word ‘treason’ is being thrown around so casually, as if we don’t criticize the places we love; hold them to higher standards.

“Miss Parr, what’s the purpose of your visit?”

“Oh, nothing.”

celeste parr

I’ll now be returning home to cuddle my niece, kiss my parents, do my dry-cleaning, get a wax, stock up on the good peanut butter, and de-Caribbean myself before business takes me back to Toronto, then London. Or London, then Toronto. In other words, it’s going to be an exciting if improvised few weeks.

Anyway, before I go, let me just reiterate that all new professional queries can be directed to Rena Zimmerman at Great North. You can find the relevant contact info in the “Contact” tab above, or in the WGC Directory, IMDBPro, or, like, you can just email me and it’s almost certain that I’ll direct you to the right person.

Gurov and Anna: Q&A at Cineplex Forum

Just chiming in quickly to invite you all to a Q&A with me and Raf after the 6:45 showing of Gurov and Anna at the Cineplex Forum in Montreal on Saturday March 28th! Join us! It may very well be my last promo stop in Montreal before I fly away! GIF6_out_500 GIF7_out_500 Here’s what the critics are saying:

“Powerful…a brainy, richly layered tale” ★★★★ – Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette 

“An undeniable intelligence, a great beauty… A surprisingly beautiful film that confirms a great talent!” ★★★★ – René Homier-Roy, Culture Club, Radio Canada 

“Quebecois cinema has rarely dealt with the male condition in this way. All you have to do is open your eyes to see the film at its true value… a film of genuine and overwhelming interiority. ★★★★” – Élie Castiel, Revue Séquences 

“Celeste Parr is a young screenwriter who is very astute in her treatment of troubles in love.” – Claude Deschênes

“Director Rafael Ouellet could have confined himself to the banal if not for the ingenious screenplay, with countless ramifications, by Celeste Parr… an astute observer of behaviour. Packed with desire and eroticism…There is so much beauty, peril and, yes, originality!” – ★★★ 1/2 – François Lévesque, Le Devoir

10348389_1590779404502448_3356815465783339441_n