The 50 Hour Film Festival (or, A Character, a Line of Dialogue, and a Prop Walk into a Bar)

We come to university to learn, or at least that’s what my dad says when he sees me blogging and shakes his head. It is true that classes impart a lot of useful (or not) information, but it is also true that much of what we learn comes not from lectures or exams, but from frantically preparing for lectures or exams. By half-way through their first year, the average student has mastered the all-nighter, the cram session, and the ability to meet a seemingly-impossible deadline on nothing but determination and Red Bull. We learn these skills to help us learn other things, of course, but it’s also so satisfying when we can apply them to other situations.

Take, for instance, Lost Episode Festival Toronto‘s upcoming 50 Hour Film Competition. A creative contest open to anyone and everyone with a camera and some friends, this local challenge encourages aspiring film-makers (or anyone else interested in winning terrific prizes) to re-create “lost” scenes from famous TV shows, or to make fake advertisements or trailers, all in only 50 hours. Remember those consecutive all-nighters for that econ final? Remember cursing the time and energy spent in learning something you thought could not have any practical application? Well, now you can put at least some of that experience to use.

The competition begins on the night of Friday, May 3, when each team is given a character, a line of dialogue, and a prop to incorporate into making a film. The teams then have only 50 hours to write, shoot, and submit their masterpieces. The entries will be evaluated by the festival’s judges and the winning teams will be awarded cash, prizes, and all the glamour and prestige that comes with winning a film festival. There’s also an audience choice award, for the film-makers who somehow manage to go commercial in under 50 hours. All entries will be screened in the big, beautiful, fully-licensed Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, only a few blocks from campus

To participate, simply sign-up on the festival website here. Participation costs less than a statistics textbook and is, I’ve been told, at least twice as enjoyable. Anyone of any level of skill and experience is welcome to enter, and a team can be of any size. It’s the perfect activity for those, like me, who have only a few weeks between the end of exams and the beginning of summer school to have a little fun. Or a lot of fun. Or 50 hours of fun.

Why Are We Afraid To Be Wrong?

Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong

I recently watched a video of a TED Talk by Kathryn Schulz (it’s posted above). Most of what she said resonated with me because there are times in my life when I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong. A recent example of this is when I told my mom that I was going to a friend’s birthday dinner and where it was, and she told me I was taking the longer way to get there. I then decided to take an alternate route to get there and she said I was also going to take the train in the longer direction. I didn’t want to acknowledge that she was right after I looked at the map and navigated my way to the restaurant.

As mentioned in the video and illustrated with my anecdote, we live in a culture where failure isn’t tolerated.  Individuals who make mistakes are seen as failures or they are humiliated, embarrassed, or teased. That got me to thinking about my time at U of T thus far. Why on earth did I decide to go to university? Originally, believe it or not, the main reason why I wanted to attend university was to learn more about subjects I didn’t know about and to expand my mind. I do admit that it was also a way to delay adulthood when it came to working full-time. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced adulthood in different ways during the time I’ve spent here so far (e.g. paying bills, finding a summer job, sending and responding to correspondence in a formal manner). Yes, I wanted more information on how to prepare myself for the working world, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.  I had these thoughts in my mind when I was a high school student desperate to leave the highly structured environment. Once I was admitted to U of T, all of this changed. I still remember my first month here. I was still in a state of disbelief and shock that I was admitted to a top university and was now in a completely different world. However, the honeymoon ended and reality came crashing down on me as my first midterm deadlines approached.

When participation during class became an important part of my final grades, which was after I completed my first year, I started to become more insecure. I am a very talkative person and yet I’m not one of those people who likes to impress someone by pretending to know everything about a subject; I just want to share my point of view. In some of my classes, I was told by professors that my opinion was the wrong answer or not what they were looking for (sometimes it’s true and sometimes it’s not as I’m pursuing a double major in English and Sociology). I didn’t let my professors’ attitudes get me down but recently it has affected the amount of confidence I have in my responses. I still participate in class discussion (as participation is a large chunk of my final grade in all of my classes) but I noticed that I have been more reserved in recent years.

I also noticed fellow classmates who constantly spoke in a way to affirm their opinions and manipulate their arguments in such a way that the professor would give them favour (if they weren’t asking an open ended question). I’m not saying that the students in my classes weren’t intelligent; I just thought that sometimes their answers were inauthentic and every word that comes out of their mouth is a way to prevent them from feeling like they were wrong. Most people don’t speak up when it comes to close ended questions out of fear that they’d look stupid. I have begun to develop a line of thinking that I have to be right about everything and even if I have done my research at all, don’t speak.  This way of thinking has lead to me believe that I have to impress everyone all the time. I had to have all of the right extra-curricular activities (even though I am interested in them) and earning job credentials. I kept thinking about the future and the past but not the present. I became stressed all the time and it became a larger problem and I became unhappy and started losing interest in school altogether. I am getting help when it comes to planning for school but I still felt this way for most of last semester. As I am in my third year, I battle these thoughts as graduation approaches. Now I realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes and that I’m human. I am slowly learning how to stop putting more pressure on myself because let’s face it, the world’s harshest critic is yourself.

It’s only through making mistakes that we are able to learn. Life is a process, not a fixed path, and we need to be more open about this and creating a culture that allows us to show our flaws and not allow egotism to flourish. As Kathryn Schulz mentioned, if we continue to allow ourselves to ignore others when we are wrong, it can lead to larger problems in the future if our world and business leaders have this mindset. As Thomas A. Edison once said in an interview, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This doesn’t mean that you don’t try your hardest or to be a low achiever, just keep pick yourself off of the ground and keep going but don’t let other people’s comments eat you alive.

 “I err therefore I am human.” – St. Augustine


Now if only I can learn to continue to practice my advice on a daily basis…



The OC: A Review

So, I just finished watching The OC and, I must say, I was skeptical about the show near the beginning. I even got bored at certain points but, now that I’ve finished it, I realize how much I truly loved the show. For those who haven’t watched, it’s about a 14-year-old kid named Ryan, whose mother is an alcoholic and whose Dad and brother are in jail.

The show begins with public defence lawyer Sandy Cohen bailing Ryan out of jail (Ryan’s brother forced him to help steal a car) and, after seeing how hopeless Ryan’s situation is, he decides to bring him home. Sandy lives in Newport Beach, where everyone is extremely rich: they all have huge mansions and all the teenagers have their own cars. Soon, Ryan becomes part of the Cohen family and bonds with Sandy’s son, Seth, who is a social outcast until Ryan comes into his life. From there on, Ryan meets Marissa, who is a popular and attractive girl. Things get especially complicated as Marissa’s boyfriend starts getting into fights with Ryan. By the end of the show, you see how much everyone’s lives (including Ryan’s) have been impacted because of Ryan’s arrival to Newport.

This show does a believable job of presenting the class issues involved in having a “poor kid” move in with a “rich family”. Others have pointed out that it avoided the initial cliché by having Ryan and Seth become friends, but later episodes have shown that, in spite of their friendship and common interests (like comic books), there are still deeper issues of class and sexuality that show how different their worlds really are.

Finally, I was surprised to see that the writers were actually able to make me care about the problems of the rich characters! (The adults, anyway.) For too many nighttime soap operas, portraying the “problems of the rich” are just a way to get us “unwashed” types to sneer at the problems that money brings (“I wish I had those problems!”). In The OC, the writers actually explore questions of money, class, and love in the various adult couples in a way that brings Jane Austen to mind; we can relate to the struggles the characters are going through even if their day-to-day lives are completely foreign from our own.

If you haven’t watched this show or still feel skeptical, I suggest you watch the first 5-6 episodes. I’m sure you’ll be hooked.

UTTV is Making a Reality Show: Win $500


Want to win $500?

Come out to audition for UofT’s Reality Show where we lock 8 students in one room for 12 hours. Every few hours one player gets eliminated until there is only one player left! They compete for the grand prize of $500 CASH! It’s a drama-filled, exciting game, with competitions, alliances and rivalry.

Sound exciting?

We’re holding auditions this Friday January 25th 2013 from 2pm to 8pm. It’s a drop-in audition so come any time you like! Auditions should take no more than 10 minutes.

Should be a lot of fun!!!

It will be held at 21 Sussex Ave. Room 422.

On January 25th 2013 from 2 pm to 8 pm!


For more information, check out UTTV’s website.

TV in 2012

People always look at me with a hint of skepticism and disturbance when I tell them just how much television I watch on a weekly basis. It’s true that the amount is substantially higher than that of the average passing university student, but there’s also the generations-old stigma attached to television that calls it an inferior art form and insists it is essentially trashy. What these people don’t seem to realize is that over the past few years television has changed drastically. New shows like Breaking Bad and The Good Wife present all the drama, profundity, and depth of character of cinema while others like Community take full advantage of their self-aware medium and present smart, funny comedy on a weekly basis. With the end of the calendar year, mid-season schedule changes will replace old shows that were floundering in the ratings (among them Glee and, unfortunately, Community) with these new, exciting, television programs:

Continue reading “TV in 2012”