The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Off to the Land of Oz August 22, 2010

Filed under: Life,Workshops — Rebecca Coleman @ 2:11 pm

I’m writing this as I sit at my gate in YVR, waiting for my flight to LA. I have a fairly long layover at LAX, and then I’m on to a 15-hour plane ride to Melbourne.

I’m not certain what the next 10 days will bring. I know I have three workshops booked in three different cities, and I’m really excited to meet new people and learn more about the indie theatre scene in Australia. My hope it to have enough time and brain cells left at the end of the day to blog, but I can’t promise anything.

All I can say is… watch this space.

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On Vacation August 8, 2010

Filed under: Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 11:27 am

 

The Beast of Bottomless Lake July 9, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Life,Local Shows,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:31 am
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I don’t usually talk about projects that I’m doing publicity for, but this one is different.

The Beast of Bottomless Lake is a feature film that I have been involved with for about four years, now. It has finally been finished, and in January, we held a cast and crew screening.

I’m very happy to report that other people (not just those of us involved) also think that the film is something special. To date, The Beast has been accepted into two film festivals: the Mississauga Independent Film Festival, and the Oakanagan International Film Festival.

MIFF opened Wednesday, and our film screens there July 10. The Beast is only one of 5 feature films to screen at MIFF.  If you’re in the GTA, check it out.

Okanagan… well, here’s the thing: it was the first film fest we were offered, and we felt like that was so fitting–the film reads like a love letter to the Okanagan, after all. OIFF, where we hold the honour of being the opening night gala film, is our true World Premiere. It’s our chance to say thanks to all the great folks up there that really helped to get this film made.

The Beast screens July 21, and I’ll be there, along with Craig and Kennedy, Janet and Keith’s parents.

If you’re near the Okanagan, come and see it.

And here’s hoping that these two festivals are the beginning of the snowball…

UPDATE, JULY 11: The film screened at MIFF last night as planned. I just recieved word that The Beast of Bottomless Lake won Best Feature Film at the 2010 Mississauga Film Festival!! Congratulations everyone!

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Biz Books moves to online-only operation June 30, 2010

Filed under: Business of Arts,Business relationships,E-book,Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:16 am
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Last week I got a very sad phone call from Cat at Biz Books.

She had made a very difficult decision. She had decided to close Biz’ storefront operation, and to make it be an online store only.

My relationship with Biz Books goes back at least 10 years. One of my very first publicity gigs was for an all-female version of Glengarry Glen Ross, and I remember seeing an ad for Biz in the program, and the producer handing me a card with the name “Bronwen Smith” on it.

A couple years later, Bronwen was cast in a play I was producing and acting in, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and today, she is part of my inner circle of friends. I have been jealous of Bron’s job as the manager at Biz since I can remember–what a perfect job for an actor–but now she’ll have to figure out what’s next for her.

Bronwen helps to hype up my book at Biz

I remember their old location in the super dodgy part of E Cordova, with the theatre space right next door, and being so happy for them when they got their new, current location on the corner of Cordova and Cambie.

Cat and Bronwen and the gang at Biz did more for our film and theatre community than just supply us with audition monologues and copies of the plays that the Arts Club was doing this year. Biz was a central hub in our community. There was seldom a time when I’d drop in when there wasn’t someone there I knew, or someone would come by that I knew. They ran workshops, hosted parties (remember Harry Potter releases?), and employed some of the city’s finest actors while they were building a career.

Cat has been incredibly supportive of my own work, hosting a free social media workshop, and selling copies of my book.

While the show will go on on line, I for one will miss dropping into the store to pick up a book, or just to say “hi” to the gang.

Thanks, Cat, Bron, Carrie, Spence, Brian, T, Mel, Shane and Carol.

Here is Cat’s official announcement:

After almost 14 years of being a physical hub for Vancouver’s film, television and theatre communities, we at Biz Books have decided to close our Cordova Street doors and focus on the window to the world that is the internet.

With all of the many changes in filmmaking, television creation and theatre production… not to mention book selling, it has become apparent to us that we need to refocus ourselves on providing you fast, cost effective access to the best and newest resources available and not to be distracted by maintaining a brick and mortar store. Over these past 14 years, the collective efforts of some of Vancouver’s best and brightest actors and writers have come together to build the 10,000 strong Biz Books community. We have loved your visits, support and patronage, and thank you for that and hope that it will follow us to our online store where we plan to continue.

What is changing?

We are closing 302 West Cordova Street on August 15th. We will then be conducting all of our business from our online home at http://www.bizbooks.net

What will continue?

The many things you love about Biz Books will continue on BizBooks.net. Our efforts to bring you the latest and greatest in the areas of film, television and theatre as well as our active role in bringing you the classes, workshops, book launches, author readings, events and contests that you have come to appreciate from our variety of industry partners and presenters.

Where are we going?

We will still be based in the Greater Vancouver area but will not be maintaining a retail space. We will continue to grow our stock levels so that fast local shipping and our presence at many local classes and events will provide you great access to books and software.

Why now?

With all the many changes to Gastown we have been hearing from customers about the challenges they face in coming to see us. Looking towards the future, we do not see those challenges getting any easier or the costs for maintaining a retail space in this neighbourhood (or frankly any in the Lower Mainland) being at a level that any independent bookseller could shoulder, much less one whose customers have had such a challenging few years keeping themselves going.

What about the staff?

Over the years, Biz Books has been so very fortunate to have had the time and talent of so many great people focused on building it. It is with a heavy heart we realize that we will no longer be able to provide regular access to the incredible knowledge of Bronwen Smith, Jennifer Spence, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Teresa Weir, Melanie Walden, Brian Sutton, Carol Hodge and Shane Kolmansberger. We know that they are a huge reason that we have gained the support of so many of you and thank them, with special appreciation to Bronwen for her incredible efforts during her time at Biz (How could we ever sum up her 13 years!?!?), and we wish them all well with their future endeavours. They were the heart of Biz on Cordova Street and they will always be in mine.

We also want to recognize the contribution of the group we lovingly refer to as the “Biz Books Alumni”: Patricia (without whom we would have never opened!), Harlan, Kyle, Cam, Eileen, Jason, Alexa, Gillian, Sydney, Daniel, Melanie, Alana, Jane, Kristin, John, Stacie and Jazmin.

And while we are thanking people… Dave at Webbervision, Ian at Atomic Fez, Rebecca at Rebecca Coleman Marketing and Media Relations, Jasper at NovaCurrent Creative Solutions, David Cowan, our computer genius, my fantastic in-laws Herm & Shirley (for building all of the beautiful wood fixtures that helped to create such a cozy atmosphere here) and our wonderful landlords JP & Barbara… thank you so very much for all of your support over the years and for your kind wishes for us on our new phase.

We are planning a sale to start on July 2nd (we will of course be closed for Canada Day July 1st!) so stay tuned for more details on that and also, please use your gift cards before August 14th or bring them by to have them converted for use on our online store – again before August 14th!

And now the invitation part….

Our last day of operation on Cordova Street will be Saturday, August 14th and we are planning on it being a celebration so we invite you to come by for our BizBooks.net Going-Online Party!

Thanks for 14 great years on Cordova Street and we’ll see you out and about at events in the community and of course, at BizBooks.net!

Cat

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Being and artist and a parent June 9, 2010

At Babz’ memorial service a couple of weeks ago, it was mentioned many, many times how, “her kids were her life.” Babz had three children: Aviv, Orpheo and Jordana, and I think, at times, their lives were a little crazy. Babz was a singer with a band, and her kids went with her.

Babz' family at the memorial service. Wendy D photo

It started me thinking about those of us that choose to be artists and parents. What we sacrifice for our kids, and what we can’t…

I have a deep admiration for Christine Willes. I first worked with this talented actress a few years back when she directed a production of Metamorphoses that took place at Pacific Theatre. I was very happy to hear that Christine is going to be in a production that I am doing publicity for that opens Friday at the PTC Studio: Herr Beckmann’s People. When I first met Christine, I was adjusting to my new status as a single parent, and we had some really great conversations about parenting solo and being an artist. Christine made the choice to continue in the arts and to raise her two children. And she did it–by securing quirky character roles in cult series like Dead Like Me and Reaper. Her kids are now grown, but she is a real inspiration.

I am also very inspired by Rachael Chatoor, someone that I met through Babz, but have become friends with on another, deeper level. Rachael is a singer, performer and mother of two children, 6 and 10. Rachael says:

Rachael Chatoor

My life changed when I had a child because I was no longer living for myself.

I did sacrifice for a few years, and as my children grew as I spent every waking moment seeing to them, but later, I learned that I could honour them best by also living my best, most creative life, by chasing my own dreams and leading by example. I do feel that we may sacrifice too much when we only live to serve our children. If we don’t stop doing this then once they are grown and are out on their own, they will wonder “Why isn’t the world serving me”? and they may not be fully able to chase their dreams. If they are never left alone to fill their own time you rob them of the need to create, they just sit there waiting to be told what to do.

How does she manage as a single parent who is out gigging on weekend nights?
I have a great village, there is one free room in my house and I have given it away to a room mate who exchanges child care for it. I also am lucky to have lots of family who will take the kids if I have out of town shows.
For a slightly different (ie: male!) perspective, I talked to my old friend Bart Anderson. Bart is an instructor in the acting program at VFS, and will star with his old Ryerson buddy, Eric McCormack, in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Arts Club opening July 22. He is also dad to Louisa, and his wife, Hillary, who also works at VFS, is pregnant with their second child. Congratulations, Bart and Hillary!
Here’s what Bart says about parenthood and being an actor:
Life has changed dramatically since Louisa was born… to the degree that I’ve forgotten almost all of it!! Gone are those Friday nights home alone, exfoliating, snackin’ on Doritos, watching a movie and wondering when I’d meet that special gal. My life was ready for an overhaul and I welcomed all of it!!
The struggle to keep alive, financially has amplified, and the focus quickly shifted to creating stability (or the illusion anyway). And the love… there is so much joy and love in my life. That changed how I see it all: a bit more compassion and clarity of purpose.
I don’t do as much of the non-paying work I used to before having a family. I would get involved in things knowing there was no money, for all the reasons we do as actors. I’m more selective now. I love collaborating with friends and the students at VFS, I do these kinds of projects when there is time. Hilary is an actor, director and works in wardrobe as well. and we make sure we continue to do projects we feel passionate about.
How do they juggle childcare? Creatively!
We have Louisa in daycare Monday to Wednesday. Hilary has Thursday off, and I get Friday  off from VFS… we have our weekends and our weeknights to play!!
It can be tough being an artist and having kids. But every single person I spoke to echoed the same sentiment: it’s worth it.
How about you? For those of you out there that pursue an artistic life and have kids, how do you manage it? What have you sacrificed? Do you have regrets?

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For Babz May 23, 2010

Filed under: Life,Musings — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:00 am

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about legacies.

You see, on May 7, we lost Babz.

I need to say that I haven’t known Babz for very long: only about a year. A little more than a year ago, I did a gig for my friend Carrie. The play was called Dying City, and it was directed by Ben Ratner. Ben and I got to know each other a bit through working together, and one night he called me up and told me that the current admin person at the Babz Chula Society was leaving, and would I be interested?

I was heading into summer, and wanted as little work as possible, but it didn’t sound like a big job, maybe just a few hours per week. I’d lost my mom to cancer a year previous, and knew Babz from her work. I thought, “my mom’s gone, her fight is over, but maybe I can help this person a little bit.” I was unsure if I could take it on, but agreed to meet Babz.

I met Babz on April 3 last year. We met at Delaney’s, and I remember she had a cinnamon bun and a soy latte. She bemoaned her food choices (trying to avoid sugar is part of an anti-cancer diet), but characteristically enjoyed every bite.

We talked about many things: mutual friends, being an actor, my mom, our kids and the cancer. I spoke the language of cancer, and she was always very forthcoming about the details of her disease. I came away from that meeting knowing that I already loved this amazing, stubborn, vibrant woman, and that I would do whatever I could to help her fight. That was Babz. You loved her the moment you met her. You couldn’t help it.

Over the last year, there’s been many meetings, Thai and Chinese food, a new website, emails, discussions about fundraisers, chemo, and many, many hugs.

I last saw Babz in late December at a Society meeting. Babz was leaving shortly for 6 weeks in India. At the end, I gave her a hug, told her I loved her, and how excited I was for her trip, and that I’d see her when she got back.

Shortly after she came back (feeling fabulous, by the way), she took a turn for the worse, and the doctors said the cancer was in her liver, and they were done. We knew it was only a matter of time. I tried many times to get to see her, but between my work and her bad days, I never was able to.

Going through some old emails the other day, I found this one, dated December 14.

Rebecca.  It is early-ish on Monday morning and I’m struck by an
image of you in my apartment last week when you came to make the
video blog.  I want to tell you how much I appreciate you…how
wonderful you are at what you do, certainly, but more than that…the
person you are.  Beyond what you are doing for the Society, it is the
way you do things…the grace and dignity with which you execute all
your actions, and I am so pleased to know you and so very honoured to
have you on my side.

That’s it.  That’s all.  I’m buzzing around here trying to get going
and you kept popping into my head…as you have for days.  I needed
to tell you what I think and I wanted to thank you for everything.
Hope to see you soon at our dinner and if that doesn’t happen, then I
wish you a lovely holiday and I will see you when I return from
the…uh…continent. Ahem.  Love. Really.  Love.   babz chula

That was Babz. Prepping for a trip to India, dealing with chemo, and yet she still had the time to send me a really wonderful email.

Which brings me back to legacies. Babz has left many: the Society, which will continue on in her name, and help others, a remarkable body of work, and many, many people who loved her, of which I am one.

You see, I went into this whole thing hoping that I could help someone out. But I probably got more from Babz than she did from me in the short time we knew each other.

She showed me that, no matter how tough things are, no matter how desperate, there’s always someone else worse off than you. And that person could maybe use a helping hand. And that love, while it can’t cure cancer, can make an impact on your life you never thought possible.

I love you, Babz. You live always in my heart.

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Relay for Life May 7, 2010

Filed under: Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:27 am
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This is a business blog, not a personal one. I hope, though, that you will forgive me one personal post. I wouldn’t be using my blog as a platform unless it was incredibly important, and something I feel deeply about.

Mom and I at one of my University graduations

A little more than two years ago, I lost my mom to Cancer. My mother was a very stubborn lady, a trait that served her well in the three years that she fought the cancer. They were tough times. We spent a lot of time in the hospital, because no matter what kind of chemo they tried on her, they all made her very sick. There were operations, a colostomy, a permanent needle in her arm. She pushed through it all. But in the end, while her mind was still willing to fight, her body couldn’t do it any more, and, early in the morning of April 14, 2008, she passed away, with my dad and my brother by her side.

Cancer has touched my life far too much. Both of my mother’s parents died of it, within 6 months of each other, and my dad’s parents had brushes with it as well. My dad’s sister has breast cancer. My dear friend Babz Chula is fighting three types of cancer.

It felt like it was time to do something about it. Earlier this year, my brother, Don and my sister-in-law, Simi, decided to enter the Relay for Life, and I have joined on as a team member. Simi has also lost her mother to cancer, leaving my nephew, Dylan, who’s 8, without a grandma.

On June 5, we will be participating in the Relay for Life in Coquitlam. Our team, Lil Dude’s Crew (Lil’ Dude is Dylan) has committed to raising $5000 for cancer research.

Here’s the official blurb:

Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life changing fundraising event that gives you and your community the opportunity to Celebrate cancer survivors, Remember and honour loved ones lost to cancer, and Fight Back for a future without cancer.

Funds raised help the Canadian Cancer Society save lives by funding leading cancer research, offering support services to those in need and leading prevention initiatives. Relay participants commit to raising a minimum of $100 for the Canadian Cancer Society. The average participant in Canada raises $350. Challenge yourself and your team, the more money raised, the bigger the difference.

During this non-competitive fun-filled event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps around the track. Each team is asked to at least have one member of your team on the track at all times throughout the event.

Mom and Dylan

On May 15, we’ll be holding a Fundraiser at The Press Box, 2889 East Hastings St (by the PNE). There will be live music (a rare appearance by the Artie Devlin Trio), door prizes and raffles, and the $20 cover includes a burger and a bevvie. Click here for the Facebook event.

Click here to see my personal page, and to donate.

Thank you for helping us to create a world without cancer.

UPDATE, MAY 7:  This morning, Babz Chula passed away. She was a shining light in our community, and I feel honoured to have known her and worked with her these last few months. Babz was one of those people that you instantly fell in love with the moment you met her. She was one in a million, and I will miss her deeply. But her suffering is over, and she is at peace.