‘Tis The Season-For Back To School!

As summer winds to a close, it’s time to gear up for another school year.  We would like to offer  some helpful advice to make the most efficient use of the time you have to prepare.  The whole family needs work and play together to make the mental and physical adjustment successful.

Yes...It IS that time again!

Yes…It IS that time again! (photo by Quinn Dombrowski)

Begin by slowly moving your sleep and wake schedule closer to that which will be required during the school year.  You don’t want that first early morning to be a shocker!

Play some family games that require thinking.  Fall back on the oldies, but goodies: Pictionary, Charades, Scattegories and trivia related games.  A new personal favourite of ours is Snake Oil, a very creative game that builds strong communication skills.

If your children have not been doing any academic work throughout the summer, it would be a good idea to print out some cummulatative review worksheets from the grade level they just completed.  Have them begin to write compositions by providing purpose driven topics.  For example, ‘Write a review of all the television shows you watched this summer, or video games you played’,  ‘Review and recommend different phone apps’.

In order to avoid last minute stress, start organizing school materials now.  For once, take the time to find out which markers are dried out and which pens no longer work! Start planning for those dreaded daily lunches and experiment to find different options with ‘summer taste tests.’

If your child is a school-age actor, plan to have a meeting with his/her teacher within the first week of school.  Gather the teacher’s contact information and decide on a mutual policy for missing school.  This will save you time when your child books a role.  We recommend creating a set kit that is always ready to go.  Be sure to pack paper, pencils and other miscellaneous school supplies.  Days on set can be long so we suggest  including a good book and educational games.  A mini version of your set kit can be made to take along on auditions.

At Ahimsa Media we are always available to help you with transitions between home, school and set.  We hope everyone has had incredible summers and that all of our past and future students have a successful school year.

Happy New Year!

Hope you have enjoyed a holiday filled with good health, enjoyable company, and relaxation.

As people head back to work this week, we thought we’d take a moment to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year, best said in pictures in our Holiday Card.


Ahimsa New Year


If you still have time off this week or wish to revert into holiday mode on your weekends this month, here are some ways to unwind with our tradition of sharing a holiday activity: Vegetable Scrap Gardening (on Erica’s new speaking site) and Holiday Decorations for the Birds (on a client’s site).


With Warmest of Wishes,

Erica, Lori, Emme, Brie and the rest of the Ahimsa Media Team

Join In The Experience

All of us here at Ahimsa Media have been enjoying our  relationship with Paperny Films and talk daily about the adventures their shows have inspired us to have.  We are pleased to share some exciting opportunities that have come along for others to get involved with them as well.  Paperny is casting for a few shows that are close to home for topics we either support, or are experiencing ourselves.  Within our education department, we are always working to educate students of all ages, not just on academics, but on how to be well rounded, respected individuals in society and within their own family environments.  One of Paperny’s new shows is looking for families who may have a teen that is rebellious and out of control and for behaviour specialists that can provide the struggling families with tools to build a a strong unit for a healthy future.
Displeasure of a Daughter

As Ahimsa has begun to spread its wings and create offices in Vancouver, Toronto and LA, we find ourselves amongst many boxes and small items that don’t really seem to have a proper place.  We suspect that we will be closely following the new HGTV de-cluttering show, which is also accepting casting applications, closely for some wise advice.  A large part of enjoying new places, and distracting ourselves from clutter, has been to indulge in divine local food.  If you are a supplier of such divinity, the ever-popular Eat St. is looking for food carts to feature across North America.

In addition to these casting opportunities, Paperny also has employment positions available for Story Editors and Writers.

The Vancouver Sun asks: Can Technology Improve Literacy Skills?

Last week The Vancouver Sun‘s digital life writer Gillian Shaw approached Erica Hargreave to discuss the effect technology is having on literacy skills.  An issue often discussed in the Ahimsa Media office and, it would seem, many other offices too. Gillian’s article went to press on Saturday, and it was fascinating to read the full analysis, and hear other opinions.

Gillian discusses the use of technology in our schools and the changing face of learning at home.  Many, myself included, were initially fearful, of social media’s growth, particularly amongst children and teens.  Spelling seemed to go out the window, closely followed by sentence structure and even sentences themselves.  But Erica makes a great point about twitter’s 140 character rule: “with young people having to tighten up what they say, they are learning to write very precisely, to focus on what they want to say.”

Another educational tool which I had not previously considered is the ipad, Gillian writes:  “Today’s preschoolers can read books on an iPad that brings the touch features of a traditional print book: they can flip pages and read it sitting on their laps in the back seat of the car, not only at a desktop or laptop computer. The digital version also brings enhancements, from Alice literally tumbling down the rabbit hole on the screen in Alice in Wonderland to books that read aloud and let children take part in the story creation and other features.”

Photo by Tim Bishop for Weber Shandwick Worldwide

One of the reasons we, at Ahimsa Media, love technology is the ease with which it allows us to interact with ease, and The Vancouver Sun piece reflected this.  Less than a day after publication, an email popped into our inbox, from retired news reporter Alexander Young.  He had just read the article and found us through it.  It was timely as he has recently taken his first step into personal publication by beginning a blog, and he too has been pondering the issue of literacy.

He said: “As far as faulty spelling and grammar may be concerned, the point is whether the viewers of the writer can be understood. Take a look at usage in e-mail and facebook and twitter. It’s a fright if you insist on perfect spelling and grammar. But that, as I see it, is mainly because the people, especially the younger generations, who use those avenues of expression are in a hurry, they have little time for worrying about  typos and grammatical niceties, and they comfortably use multitudes of abbreviations and graphic symbols. So cut them a little slack.”

So, as Gillian concludes that if technology is used correctly it can improve literacy.  Please enjoy the full article here: Can technology improve literacy skills? Yes, if done right.

And in true interactive style we want to hear from you, do you agree or disagree?

The NSI speaks to Ahimsa Media (part 2)

As promised, please enjoy installment two of Liz Hover’s NSI interview with Erica Hargreave and Susan Brinton. Here, the conversation turns to the unknown elements of applying to a brand new funding stream and our project’s future should the application be successful. Erica also takes the time to briefly discuss the funding changes within the convergent branch of the CMF. Since the podcast went live the CMF have announced an overwhelming number of applications, pushing back decision dates to October 2010.

Emme Rogers sets her sights on the CMF Experimental Stream

That means that Emme will have to wait a little longer to begin development on her travel adventures. We will keep you updated on the project’s progress as we learn more and if we forget, I’m sure Emme will shout about it all on her site.

The NSI speaks to Ahimsa Media (part 1)

The Ahimsa Media office began this summer abuzz with application preparations for The Canada Media Fund’s (CMF) first ever Experimental Funding Stream. As the printer fell silent, the regular working day returned and the waiting game began, our phone rang. Liz Hover, Digital Media Manager for the National Screen Institute (NSI), was calling to set up an interview with Erica Hargreave and Susan Brinton to discuss the application process as it related to our pitch. Already familiar with our character Emme Rogers, Liz was interested to hear how the development pitch for Emme’s Travel Adventures had gone.

Unsurprisingly, when the questions began to flow, the topics of industry changes and application insights became so engrossing that the conversation generated too much content for one interview. Therefore, two podcasts were created with the first focusing on Emme, the growing collaboration between the broadcast and digital world. As well as logistical tips alongside an insight into the lessons that we learned throughout the application process. Please enjoy the first instalment…the second half will not be far behind.

Tips for Creating Music Video Montages

When I was in high school, a friend and I got more than a little obsessed with making music videos. When I say this, I mean we’d mostly dress up and dance around lip-synching in front of her Macbook, recording ourselves into iMovie. Fast-forward a fews years later, and I’m a working musician, making my own music and starting to think about making some music videos. The first video I started is still being shot, but over the summer another friend and I had an idea to record and film an acoustic cover of a rap song, to serve as a fun contrast to my own music, which is decidedly more on the indie-folk end of the spectrum. Behold my cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Itty Bitty Piggy:” (Disclaimer: there are a few swear words in here. It’s a rap song. Maybe don’t play this when the kids are around…)


My friend Alison Mah and I figured out the concept for the video, and she filmed and edited the clip. She did such a great job of it that she inspired me to try my own hand at video-editing. Alyzee, my fellow Ahimsa Media intern, and I shot a whole bunch of footage with the intention of making a fun tribute video for our teen-friendly character, Shea. As this was a video ostensibly made by a teen with the target audience of other teens, and also because Shea is a fictional character, it was important not to show too much of my face in the footage. This was a challenge, but I think it actually added to the accessibility of the video in the end. Here is the video:


This post is of necessity not going to be a step-by-step guide about how to manually edit videos, as there are myriad video-editing programs out there, and I am by no means an expert on any of them. However I did learn some things in the process that I wish someone had shared with me:

1) Getting timing exactly right the first time IS important. Little gaps, or strange transitions make for awkward interruptions in the video that really are noticeable. Make sure to be as exact as possible about transitions as you go through your footage. You really, really don’t want to go back and fix every transition. Believe me.

2) Play around, both in the shooting and editing process! Lots of my favourite moments in Shea’s video came about by chance or whim. I had actually finished editing the clips together before I discovered that I could play around with contrast and colour in iMovie. I then went through and played with each separate clip’s colour and contrast until I was happy with them. The colours are definitely my favourite part of the video, and give it a whimsical vibe.

3) If you are making a music video montage like we did, look for a song that matches what you want to say in the video, but try not to make it too literal. If the song mentions eagles, and you show a shot of an eagle flying, it might be a little too contrived. Try to be unobtrusively quirky and unexpected in your images, no matter the subject matter. Everyone appreciates a clever image/lyric/music match-up.

4) Make sure to name and tag your video appropriately. The most prevalent part of the name should be to credit the musician. For example, we called Shea’s video “Hannah Georgas – The Beat Stuff tribute,” after the artist and title of the song we made the montage around. The video is yours, but the music is the musician’s. Credit them!

5) Most of all, have fun. If you’re making a video-montage, what better time is there to play around with effects, timing, and images? With modern technology, everyone can be a passable film-maker and graphics editor. Take advantage of it! Explore as you go! Video-editing can be a time consuming process, but it doesn’t have to have to be painful. And in the end, you have a guaranteed crowd-impressing product. (Lots of people don’t realise how easy it is to edit videos…)

Bluepoint Wins the SCN Licence!

Saskatchewan Communcations Network (SCN) has always been close to our heart’s here at Ahimsa.  They (and Joanne McDonald) were the first to spot Erica Hargreave’s talents as a creative producer and aired our first educational series, The Magic Backpack.  Therefore, we have kept a keen eye on the bidding process of the network’s license and were pleased to hear today’s announcement by Saskatchewan Government that Bluepoint Investment Corporation won the contract.

© Liz Kearsley 2010 Richard Gustin (left) and Marcus Guske (right) of Bluepoint Investment Corp pictured at this year’s Yorkton Film Festival with Minister Dustin Duncan and Valerie Creighton.

“Bluepoint offered the best bid,” Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Dustin Duncan said.  “Along with buying the assets there is also a commitment to buy new Saskatchewan programming content that will support the film industry and to develop digital content.”

© Liz Kearsley 2010 Dustin Duncan, Minister of tourism, parks, culture and sport, Saskatchewan speaking at this year’s Yorkton Film Festival lunch in his honour.

Bluepoint are planning to ensure a community focus is alongside growing as a broadcaster, and the government felt they were the best fit to ensure a continuation of a Saskatchewan educational broadcaster.

CEO and founder of Bluepoint Investment Corporation Bruce Claassen reiterated that by saying: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to operate SCN in the spirit of its original vision, yet with a real chance to grow its audience base with additional programming.”