Learning to Count to ten in Beijing

Here's a look at my 2 weeks in Beijing! I was there visiting my wonderful friend Kirsty. We met 6-7 years ago scooping at Ben & Jerry's in Montreal and have stayed in touch ever since. It was so great to see her in the place she's made her home, meet her incredible friends and experience this awesome city (and eat all the food). 

Hyphen to the Motherland - Part II (Kerala, Mumbai, Goa)

I'm slowly digesting my recent trip to India and it's incredible impact on me. Until I can put words to my emotions, here are some photos from my time with my mom as we traveled through Kerala, Mumbai and Goa!

Hyphen to the Motherland - Part I

The first leg of this trip is done! I've been traveling around Britain with my mum for the past 2 weeks and I even managed to squeeze in a weekend in Antwerp! Tomorrow we are off to India and I can hardly wait. Travel jitters galore; ready for a long journey to Kochi where we will be visiting the south west of India for the next 3 weeks.

Here is a look at the first part of this trip.

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Trafalgar Square  

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Trencrom View  

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Warrior ladies in Penzance  

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Mousehole

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Mum on the hill

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Pot head

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Mead! 

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Cornish landscape  

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Cornish landscape  

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Sunny London stroll  

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Mum at Holland Park

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London view from the Sky Garden

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Sky Garden

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Sky Garden

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Brixton Village

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Brixton Village  

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Brixton lunch in a container  

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Container hub in Brixton  

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We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue and then we'll take it higher

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The Saint-Catherine Beguinage in Antwerp

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 The Saint-Catherine Beguinage in Antwerp

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 The Saint-Catherine Beguinage in Antwerp

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The MAS museum  

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Belgian, waffle

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In front of the MAS

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Biking by City Hall

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Biking under the Scheldt

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Biking selfie  

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Park on the Left Bank

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View from the Left Bank

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Linkeroever

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Frites! 

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Antwerp golden hour

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Sunset on Antwerp

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Doel

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Graffiti in Doel

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Blending in with the graffiti  

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Doel

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Doel

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Doel

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Doel

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Tower Bridge in the distance

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London sunset

Hyphen Next Steps: Self-Care and a Trip to the Motherland

I've been home from the Hyphen Roadtrip for about 2 months now. I've unpacked, decluttered, caught up with friends and family and tried to settle back into my routine. But my mind and my heart are still wandering. Most of you who have seen me since my return know I haven't been myself, and our conversations have been heavier; because I feel heavier.  

I've been struggling with readjusting to how life was before I left, but most of all, I'm struggling with the work I have to do to continue producing Hyphen. Saying that the Hyphen Roadtrip was life-changing feels like an understatement. Most of you have asked me if I got what I needed from the trip and the interviews, and I can definitely say that I did; and then some. I am so grateful for the people who entrusted me with their stories. I hold your truths of trauma, of questioning, of hurt and discrimination in my heart. I am inspired by all of you and can't wait to share our stories. I'm still collecting stories and despite still feeling exhausted from the trip, my drive and love for this project has not diminished at all. I have learnt so much from our conversations and I'm thrilled to be able to keep in touch through the wonders of the Internet, because I miss you all!

The rawness I am feeling comes from all the unearthing I did on this trip, discovering truths about this country and myself that I had kept at arm's-length until now. I know the importance of the work I am doing and that this is so much bigger than me. But in order to do this, I need to take a break and make sure I am strong enough for this fight. The general overwhelmingness I've been feeling has been difficult to manage. I've been taking some time to be alone, to stay grounded and be mindful. I started counselling which has helped me voice my emotions, find ways to cope with my anxiety and direct my energy in a more positive way. I'm very thankful for my friends who have been available throughout this whole journey with energy healing so I can feel more centred and not so all over the map.

I think it is important for me to acknowledge this part of the process and talk about self-care. I want to be open about what goes into making impactful art and driving change. I want to support those who have not had a voice, but also recognize that I need support in this too. Thank you to those who have let me lean on them and helped me process. 


So. I'm taking a break. But I am also planning the very exciting next step for the film: I'm going to India, for the very first time. This January, my mother and I will be taking a trip back to the motherland. We will be visiting the Warrior home and the place where my mother spent her childhood. I am very thankful that I get to experience this with my mum and have a chance to learn more about her history and her life. I will be gathering more content while traveling, so I'm also gearing up for another intense adventure. My mother and I will be spending time with family and friends in the UK before setting off for India, and I will be traveling to Beijing after for a long overdue visit with this lovely lady.

Until then, I'll be taking it easy and remember that I get to escape the winter for a few months. Stay warm, friends!   

The Hyphen Roadtrip - Part II

I’ve always loved solo travel. You can get lost, spend 3 hours at a coffee shop, visit the museum of wallpaper (is there such a thing?), and it doesn’t matter. Apart from being happy I get to spend all this time on my own, I’m also very grateful for the connections I’ve made with strangers along the way. Meeting people at camp grounds, in vintage shops, in an Uber carpool, and talking to them about my film has been amazing. I’ve heard so many different points of view. But above all else, I recognize the complete excitement about my project; people want to hear these stories, there is value in this documentary and Canadians (for the most part) want to have this conversation and recognize that it may get ugly. So thank you, to all the strangers I’ve met and chatted with along the way, you are making this experience so real. 

Day 7 of the roadtrip, and I’m off to Montreal. I lived in Montreal during my undergrad and return as often as I can to visit my dad and my family. Despite being homeless for the next two months, I think I can definitely call Montreal home. I got to my dad’s late that evening, made dinner and had an early night. I have 3 participants in the city, although only 2 are available to interview during this roadtrip. I met Fred the next day at Laurier metro; the plan was to walk around the area. 

I guess I haven’t mentioned how exactly I plan on making this documentary. The first thing you should know is that I am not filming the interviews. What? Yep. I originally wanted to move away from the traditional way of making a documentary, which involves lots of on-camera interviews and then a selection of additional footage (also known as b-roll). Well my film will only be b-roll. I was a little scared to explore this concept, worried that audiences wouldn’t have moments to breathe, or that they would not be able to connect with the subjects if they don’t see them talking directly to them. But watching films like “Room 237” or “Thoth” reminded me that there is always room for new ideas in documentary filmmaking. And after producing the short film “Hyphen: Gabriela’s Story” about my own experience being mixed-race, I was confidant in pursuing this vision. Not only has it allowed me to be more creative in the way I shoot this film, it also lends itself much better to my one-woman team and my DIY approach. Doing on-camera interviews means having a light kit (which I don’t have), a lapel microphone, or a boom microphone and operator (which I don’t have), a tripod (mine has been duct-taped into place), and preferably 2 cameras (guess what, I don’t have that either). Making the doc this way means I can be flexible, in terms of where we shoot and how I get there. Relying on public transport to reach my participants is fine, because all I have is a small backpack with my DSLR in it. I also get to be more flexible in terms of how the interviews are recorded. I got myself a fancy Yeti microphone, that plugs right into my laptop. That means I can go to the participants’ homes, no need for studios and sound booths (I can’t even imagine trying to book those across the country during my roadtrip). I’m also including myself in the interviews; think of a podcast, like Serial or Invisibilia, rather than an interview, where you get to hear me ask questions and share my own experience. I’m also encouraging to have questions asked of me; it’s all about sharing and having a conversation. I am not an expert in any regards and it’s nice to have people question my own position on this topic. 

Ok, back to Fred. Fred and I met through a mutual friend. She grew up in Aylmer, a similar area to where I grew up. We talked about her time in Greece, her closeness to her family and her connection to Quebec. She definitely recognized her privilege of being white and was a great listener. We shared our different experiences and she made me think about how I navigate my Quebecer identity. Despite her mostly positive experience, she has dealt with internal struggles and society’s need to label us. 

The next day, I met Emma. Emma grew up in Montreal and lives with her parents near the mountain. We spent the morning at Jean Talon Market with her mom and went for a walk around the mountain with her dad. Emma is the youngest participant in the film, but that doesn't stop this girl from having some real depth. She's an artist and an ally and such a wonderful person to know. Her passion for learning and and exploring this topic is inspiring.

This was a great way to start the interviews. I feel incredibly lucky to have people be so generous with their time and their stories; I've been introduced to families, welcomed in their homes. I don't think I can say thank you enough. Working on this project from home for the past 2 years, it's been crazy to actually be out there with my camera, meeting the people who will shape this film.

I left Montreal and headed home to Gatineau/Ottawa. It was strange to drive through the city I left only 2 weeks before. But in retrospect, it was nice to have a break and be in a familiar space before setting off on the most intense portion of the trip. I got to stay with my mom for a few days, and was able to celebrate her birthday. We had a lovely lunch at Fraser Café and went to the Star Fleet Academy Experience at the Aviation and Space Museum. I had a fully packed amazing 4 days to see as many friends as I could before leaving for Toronto.

As a special treat, I got to meet with Rema, one of the participant of the film who lives in Toronto, but grew up in Munster Hamlet, just outside of Ottawa. I met her in person for the first time, along with her husband and brand new baby. We went for a walk in the woods and she told me a bit about her experience growing up black in a rural setting. 

And off to Toronto I go! As I'm writing this, I just wrapped up my 15 day stay in the city. I will definitely take some time to process everything that happened, so stay tuned for that.

The Hyphen Roadtrip - Part I

I left Ottawa just over 2 weeks ago. After an emotional screening of my CBC premiere of "The Hyphen Project", I left my cozy house in Chinatown (at 6am!), ready for adventure. I drove with Hyphen participant Clarissa to Sydney, Nova Scotia (yes, in on day). After driving through 4 provinces, we made it to Glace Bay late that night. I spent the next day with Clarissa, exploring her home town: the Whitney Pier.

We went to the Caribbean Festival held at the African Orthodox Church, dipped our toes in the Atlantic at the Polar Bear and picked some wild blueberries around the Pier. If there was any place to start this journey, it would be the Whitney Pier. The people were as beautiful as the scenery, and I felt like I witnessed something very interesting: a community predominantly made up of mixed people. Despite a complex past, the black community and the white community had come together. I was fascinated to see such diversity in a small place, and I understood when Clarissa spoke about the Pier, saying she had grown up in a place where there was "no one way of being black". 

After leaving Clarissa, I head out solo for the first time. I stopped at a grocery store to stock up for 3 days of camping, and set off to the Cabot Trail. I was told to do the drive counter-clockwise to get the best view of the ocean as I drove down the side of the mountain. I had read up a bit about the Trail and had my eye on a small camp site near Chéticamp. It was a no-reservation site, right on the ocean. I had no idea what to expect from the trail, and once I arrived, I was floored. If there's anything you need to do on a short trip to Nova Scotia, it's to drive the Cabot Trail. I got to my tiny camp site at the end of my drive and managed to score the last spot. I hadn't camped on my own before, so setting up my tent, starting my fire and cooking became time consuming activities. That evening, as I walked down to watch the sunset by the ocean, I met a lovely woman who was also traveling solo. We bonded over our love of nature and photography and decided to plan a hike together the next day. After the Cabot Trail, I made my way to the Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. This would be my last night of camping before going back to reality. These 3 days alone had been wonderful; enjoying nature's company, practicing my ukulele by the campfire and signing songs in the car. 


GABY'S LIST OF SOLO-CAMPING TIPS AND TRICKS:

  • Buy a tent small enough so you can hold either end while setting-up
  • Do not attempt to boil water on the fire; your water will disappear before you make it
  • If you cook on a burner, make sure you can cover the flame, or you will be using your body to constantly shield it from the wind
  • Shorter, thinner pasta is much easier to cook that longer, thicker pasta
  • Bring your own fire starter (like cut-up cardboard) because they never give you enough kindling. People will wonder, "wow, she's like a pro at starting fires!"
  • That 18-in-one soap stuff is the bomb; dishes, laundry, body, teeth, bug corpses on your windshield. 
  • A stove-top espresso machine (like the Bialetti) will make your camping mornings all the better. Just put that thing on the fire or your burner and sit back.

*I will add more to this list as I continue camping


My love-affair with nature was now on a break. I drove through New-Brunswick all the way to Quebec City. Before departing the East Coast, I stopped at Alma's Lobster shop and bought myself a lobster roll to enjoy on my lunch break somewhere at an Irving's Big Stop. Good call, Gaby. I got to Quebec City in the evening and enjoyed a nice pint of cold beer with my roommate's brother who kindly offered me a place to stay. I do not have a photo of his to share, but rather a photo of the cute cat he lives with. Apologies. The next morning, before driving to Montreal, I got to stop by my brother's place to meet his new baby girl who arrived a few days early! She stared at me as I held her, and I felt so very big in her eyes. I got back in my car, started a new audio book, this time Nora Ephron's "Heartburn", read by Meryl Streep, and drove. I think if anyone was to narrate my life's story, I think I would like it to be Meryl Streep. Just a thought. 


Next up, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Stay tuned!

"The Hyphen Project" Trailer

Saturday is coming up quick, and I can hardly believe it! You can watch "The Hyphen Project" on CBC Ottawa Television this Saturday at 7pm ET. It will be playing as part of the Absolutely Ottawa series.

Producing something this big has been a first for me, and it definitely gave me an idea of what I will be facing when I return home this fall with all the footage of my roadtrip and the participants.

"The Hyphen Project" features what I've done so far and what my plans are for Hyphen. Here is a little sneak peek! 

"The Hyphen Project" on CBC


This has been a big summer for Hyphen, and it's about to get a lot bigger. For the past month, I have been busy working on a "behind the scenes" piece, which will air as part of the "Absolutely Ottawa" series, presented by CBC Ottawa Television. CBC was introduced to Hyphen through SAW video's RESOLUTION 2016 screening, where my short film "Hyphen: Gabriela's Story" peaked the interest of a CBC Executive Producer. This led to the production of a special one-hour feature on me and my larger documentary project, called "The Hyphen Project".

On July 30th, tune in to CBC television at 7pm E.T. to watch my one-hour episode. The episode will also be available online after the broadcast.

During that hour, you will see my journey in making Hyphen: 2 short films, my personal exploration of my own multiracial experience and my introduction to the 20 multiracial Canadians who will make up the film.

This project includes a lot of on-camera interviews with me. The interviews were done in-studio; lights, 2 cameras, makeup, the whole thing. If you know me, you know how comfortable I am behind a camera. I had to sit for hours doing the interview, because when I face a camera, I somehow forget how to say words. Not only that, I have also been editing the hours of footage. And it's been a whole lot of this:

I digress, it's also been an amazing piece to put together, with a lot of this: 

I then discuss the production of the short film about my own experience of being multiracial. I got to talk to my mother about the integral role she had in recording home videos since before I was born. Her meticulous documentation of my childhood was the building blocks for the short film "Hyphen: Gabriela's Story".

I also share my short film, "Go West, Young Women" which features the cross-Canada roadtrip I did with my good friend Melissa after deciding to leave my job to pursue filmmaking. This is the trip that ultimately inspired Hyphen and began my journey as a documentary filmmaker. 

I end with the big picture: the people who are in my film. Hyphen will feature around 20 multiracial Canadians who live in different parts of the country and who represent a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. The one-hour episode will introduce these participants and the stories that will makeup Hyphen. Here's a little sneak peak:

Producing "The Hyphen Project" has really given me the opportunity to take a step back and observe the evolution of my documentary project. I have witnessed my own growth and journey to self-awareness and acceptance and am confidant that this process can do the same for others. 

The episode airs July 30th and I leave for my solo two-month cross-Canada roadtrip the very next day! I leave Ottawa and set-off for Cape Breton and will be driving all the way to Vancouver. I can't wait to hit the road and meet with all the incredible people who are participating in the film.


You can follow along with me here, or on social media using the tag #HyphenRoadtrip. 


A Long Overdue Update

Despite my radio silence over these past few months, I can assure you that Hyphen is still very much happening. After a lot of planning and talking, I am thrilled to see this project finally coming to fruition! 

2016 started out with a bang: 2 public appearances for Hyphen that helped get my documentary out in the community and give me the confidence to move forward. 

On February 2nd, I stood in front of a full room at Arts Court during a Soup Ottawa event, pitching to an eager audience for help in funding part of my project. Soup Ottawa is a micro-grant event where audience members pay $10, get a bowl of soup and a vote. They listen to 6 different pitches and get to vote for the local project they would like to fund. 

Despite not walking away with the prize, I felt an intense boost of confidence. I met several people who felt very strongly about the potential of my film and my vision as a filmmaker. I felt like I was giving a voice to those who had never been heard. 

The next week, I got to see the first part of Hyphen play alongside other local productions as part of SAW Video's RESOLUTIONS 2016. Seeing my film at the Bytowne Cinema was something very special. I can't wait to see the finished product on the big screen one day!

Those next few weeks were the most productive I have ever been. I can tell you now, I am an expert at cold-emailing. I revisited art projects, academic papers and articles that I had saved or published on hyphennation.ca and got in contact with their respective authors and producers. I was amazed by the sheer kindness of people who are so willing to help out a stranger. I feel like I've just tapped into a strong community of people who are so passionate about the subject of multiracial identity and who want to see this project come to life.

So far, I have 4 confirmed subjects outside of myself who live all around the country. Through our discussions, I have really started to shape the vision of what Hyphen will be. It will be a film about a journey. This summer (now that I've said it, I guess it's real...!) I will drive across Canada, documenting my journey of meeting these multiracial individuals. Hyphen will paint a new portrait of our country, one that is filled with colour, experience and fluid concepts of identity. 

Keep an eye for more details about the film and the participants.

I want to take a moment to thank you all again for your support and your patience. This is happening!

 

 

 

Welcome to HyphenNation!

After a busy summer, I am thrilled to announce the next step for Hyphen: HyphenNation

HyphenNation is a collaborative website, used not only as a way for me to find families who would like to be featured in the documentary, but to encourage a new discussion around race and culture. I want to challenge the definition of identity by allowing the sharing of content and perspectives. Anyone can join and participate. If you have a photo, an interesting link to an article you found, a video or text, you can share it on HyphenNation by submitting it via the "Share your Story" page. If you would like to submit your content anonymously, you can do so by sending me a note via the "Questions?" page and choosing the "Ask Anonymously" option before submitting.   

I will be contributing to the site with content and news about Hyphen myself, but I can't wait to see what you all have to say. From the conversations I've already had about this topic, I know there is a lot left to tackle and so many perspectives I haven't heard yet. 

Despite feeling a bit overwhelmed after the amazing fundraiser screening night this past May, I am so excited about getting back into a productive mode and moving forward with the project. 

If you have any questions about HyphenNation or would like to talk to me about being featured in the film, you can contact me via email at warrior.renaud[at]gmail[dot]com.

Let’s work together to build a new, more inclusive nation!

After the Fundraiser Screening for HYPHEN

I can't believe almost a week has gone by since I was standing in front of a sold-out crowd, introducing my film "Hyphen" for the first time to an audience. Last Saturday, May 30th at the Arts Court Theatre, I watched as my guests filled the room, anxiously waiting for the screening to start. I had spent the day nervously getting everything ready to make sure the event was everything I wanted it to be. 

So, of course I made the executive decision to get my hair styled at a salon instead of worrying about it myself. I sat at Jet Black Hair & Studio, let myself relax and tried not to stroke my hair too much after (it was soooo soft!). I then set off to pick up fresh homemade deserts from Rebecca at Café Eddy (she made cookies with little hyphens on them because she's amazing!). After "taste testing" the treats, I packed up the car full of Lug-Tread beer from Beau's All Natural, tasty meats and cheeses from Seed to Sausage and all the goodies I'd prepared for the event. 

A BIG thank you to my amazing roommate Catherine for helping me set-up the room for the event. We prepped the wood-panel courtroom at Arts Court as the pre-screening mingling room. I had a playlist prepared for the evening, full of songs that played in my house when I was growing up; some Beatles, some Frank Sinatra, some Céline Dion. I set up a corner with my Artist Statement for the project, a photo album full of photos of my family and a map of the world. I asked my guests to place stickers on the map in the places they identified with.  We pulled in 60+ chairs in the screening room, and we were ready. All that was left to do was wait for my guests.

I wasn't even aware of the rain until people started coming in, soaking wet. And then everyone showed up. I have to admit that I am not the best at mingling, but knowing that everyone was there for me made it pretty easy to walk up to a group of people and say hello. Makes a girl feel pretty special!

A definite pinch-me moment was meeting people who had come out because they heard me speak on CBC's Ottawa Morning the day before. 

The time came to get everyone to move to the screening room to watch Hyphen. I got my parents and my brothers to go in first, so they would be able to sit in the front, by me. After Bradley Cayford introduced me on behalf of the Ottawa International Film Festival, I made my opening remarks. Seeing the room completely full (we even had to bring in some extra chairs) was overwhelming. I took my seat between my parents, and as the music started, I felt my mom reach out for my hand. And she held it, clammy and shaking, the whole time. I think I must have watched most of the film with my eyes closed, knowing it by heart but focusing on listening to the audience's reactions; I recognized some laughs. I was so terribly nervous to not only show my art for the first time, but to also share my story and be vulnerable to the comments and reactions of a crowd. 

But the lights came up and everyone started clapping. With tears in my eyes, I made my way back to the stage to get ready for the Q&A. Despite some "colourful" comments, I think the discussion went very well. I was able to answer questions about the film and my personal experience with the subject. But mostly, I got a confirmation that this film NEEDS to be made. And I can't wait for the next steps!

So what is next? Well, I am so pleased to tell you that we raised $2,010.40 (yes, $0.40!) which will help complete the film. I'm taking the month of June to reflect on the evening and plan my next step. I will apply to have the film shown in film festivals, locally and internationally, which will help in finding future funding opportunities. I will use this first part to help approach other families who may be interested in participating in the film. I am also planning the creation of an online forum for Hyphen, so people can share stories about their own hyphenated identity.

Safe to say, this project still has a long way to go and I am so excited to get to work! I would like to thank The Ottawa International Film Festival for hosting the evening. You can see more photos of the evening, all taken by the amazing Justin Van Leeuwen, on my Facebook page (that you can also follow to get news about Hyphen).

Keep an eye out for news about Hyphen; I am looking forward to the future! 

 

Hyphen Trailer - Gabriela's Story

We're getting down to the wire and I'm feeling all the feels. This project has been really intense and intimate, and for the first time yesterday, I shared a piece of it with the world. The feedback I got, just in that one day, has given me the motivation I need for this last push. Here is the trailer for the fundraiser screening, happening May 30th at the Arts Court Theatre.

This trailer gives you an idea of what I'll be showing during the screening. What else can you expect? You'll also be hearing from my mom and my dad, and there will be a lot more sweet images from my childhood. 

I'm working on some other exciting elements for the evening, and I can't wait to see you all there! 

For more information about the screening and to RSVP for the event, visit hyphen-fundraiser.eventbrite.ca

Join the Fundraiser Screening for Hyphen!


I was sitting with a friend a few weeks ago, reminiscing about some great moments from the past few months, and it occurred to me that I've been working on Hyphen for almost a year now! I feel terribly lucky to be where I am; always happy to wake up and get to work. Even if I am constantly challenged by this project, I'm learning to embrace the vulnerable place it has put me in. And this past week has been one to remember.

I am beyond thankful to have such amazing support from this community. Despite the difficulties I've faced trying to find funding for Hyphen, the discussions I've had with so many of you have proved to me that this film needs to be made, and I need to continue forward. 

My vision for Hyphen is to create a portrait of the Canadian hyphenated identity, told through a series of stories. I would like to travel the country to interview multiple families and get a sense of the multiracial experience in Canada. My personal connection to this subject has definitely been the driving force of this project. As a starting point, I wanted to look at my own experience and analyze my family's story. With the support of my parents, a patient mentor and the help from my wonderfully talented (and award-winning) friend Travis Boisvenue, I have managed to produce the first story for the film: my own. 

I am still in the process of editing this part, and it has been challenging to remove myself from the process (spending the day listening to my voice isn't something I would categorize as enjoyable). But it has really helped to hone in my process for this documentary. My goal to produce this part separately is to build a base for the project, get feedback from my peers, to get some visibility and to start funding the bigger project.

This is where I talk to you about the screening. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Nina from the Ottawa International Film Festival to make this screening happen. I am so excited to see my little idea become a reality in front of my peers, family and friends. The event will take place on May 30th at the Arts Court Library from 7pm to 11pm. The doors will open at 7pm, and guests will have a chance to get acquainted, have some drinks and snacks and participate in a few interactive activities (don't worry, I won't ask anyone to sing). The screening will start at 8pm, when guests will view, for the first time, the story of my family. After the screening, a special guest will facilitate a Q&A and discussion with me about the film. 

The entry for this screening is by donation, so you can pay what you can. However, if you donate $20 or more, you will receive a drink voucher for the evening. You can get more information and RSVP here. If you are unable to make the screening, please feel free to share the event and invite anyone who would be interested in joining! You can also share the Facebook event.  

I can't thank you enough for your support, and I look forward to seeing you all at the screening!

Hyphen in Montreal (and England)

Another step forward: I just completed a second full day of shooting for Hyphen. Once again accompanied by Travis Boisvenue, I drove to Montreal over the weekend to visit my dad and my old university stomping grounds.

We spent some time at my father's condo, making lunch and enjoying a hot cup of coffee before venturing out in the cold. We took a (short) walk along the water where my dad lives.

We then drove to the Loyola Campus of Concordia University, where I completed my BA in Communication Studies and lived on campus during my first year of studies. 

As a little bonus, I flew to England a few weeks ago and brought my camera along. Sadly, my grandmother passed away in December, so my mother and I joined our little family in Hayling Island for a beautiful ceremony. We listened to some of my grandmother's favourite songs, including "Smile" sung by Nat King Cole and said our goodbyes. It was a wonderful short visit where I got to spend time with my family, something I rarely get to do. I mostly shot footage around my aunt's cottage near Penzance in Cornwall and managed to get some clear footage of London during takeoff. 

I have a few more things to gather, but I'll be ready to start editing my portion of Hyphen soon! I'll have a chance to get comfortable with the look and feel of the film before approaching potential interviewees. How exciting! 

Hyphen in Gatineau

I have been busy planning the production of my newest film project: Hyphen, a documentary about cultural identity within multiracial families in Canada. Yesterday was a pretty important day: it was my very first shooting day!

My goal for this documentary is to create a collection of short stories featuring multiracial individuals; one of those individuals is me. I thought it was necessary for me to go through the interviewing and filming process before I could start including other stories. My close and talented friend Travis Boisvenue has kindly accepted to film my section of the documentary, as I didn't think using a selfie stick would have quite the same impact. So I brought him to my hometown of Gatineau for the day. We visited my childhood home where my mother still lives, and we cooked a delicious curry together.

Then we ventured around my neighbourhood, visiting my elementary school and local hang out spots. 

We also drove through downtown Gatineau and ended up at my high school in Hull. 

We ended the day in my current apartment in Chinatown, to have coffee with my roommate. 

It was definitely a strange day. I was thrilled to finally see my project become a reality, but being in front of the camera all day was something I wasn't so comfortable with. It really made me realize how vulnerable you are in these situations, and I hope to make my subjects feel at ease, like Travis was able to do for my mother and I.

 It was also a strange feeling to visit places I hadn't seen in years, bringing back the good and bad memories from those times in my life. But that's exactly what I'm looking for from this project. So I'm keeping the momentum of yesterday and planning to start my interview. I am only recording the audio from the interviews, to have more space to be creative with the visuals. I'm looking forward to what will come from my first interview: a conversation between my mother and I. 

I plan to keep updating you all on the process I take for this documentary, as I want this project to be open and flexible. Feel free to give me any feedback or thoughts you may have, I'd love to hear your ideas!

Friday Food Frenzy: Apple Galette with Salted Caramel Awesomness

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It has been pretty cold out there, Ottawa! But do not fret, I've got an awesome tip to keep your thermostat down while still keeping your house warm. Turn on that oven, and let's make a delicious no pie apple pie covered in a salted caramel sauce. Sounds pretty magical, right? But it couldn't be easier and you don't event need a pie dish. This tested to perfection galette recipe is a great alternative for people whose apple pies look like they left a 4-year-old in charge of the kitchen.

Here's what we'll need:

for the dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 14 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed (comes up to a little more than 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup ice water (before starting, fill a glass with cold water and pop it in the freezer)
  • 1 egg, beaten and set aside

for the filling

  • 4 apples (I used Wolf River apples because they stay firm after baking)
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. butter, cut into small bits

for the salted caramel sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Here's how we'll make it:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined. You can pulse in a food processor if you have one
  • Add the butter. I use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mix until it resembles rough sand. Again, if you have a food processor, go ahead and pulse.
    • My pastry cutter has become my new best friend. If you don't have one, I'd suggest getting one. We found ours at HighJinx, a social enterprise located on Catherine street (that place is worth a trip regardless). You can probably snatch one at a thrift shop for a low price.
  • Add water and mix until the mixture comes together
  • Roll it in a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 1 hour or 15 min in the freezer.
  • While the dough is chilling, peel, core and slice the apples.
  • Place apples in a bowl, mix in sugar, cinnamon and butter until all apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
  • Once dough is chilled, we can roll it out. On a well-floured surface, roll out into a 1/4 inch round.
  • You can trim the edges to make the round even all around.
  • Place the filling in the middle of the round.
  • Fold the edges over the filling, leaving centre exposed.
  • Take your beaten egg and brush the crust. This will give your crust a nice golden crisp.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown.
  • While the galette is baking, let's make the sauce!
  • In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for about 5 minutes without stirring.
  • Remove the sugar from the heat.
  • Whisk in the heavy cream gradually.
  • Stir in the butter and salt.
  • I like to keep the extra sauce in a jar for later use (it's amazing on toast, or even drizzled on some yogurt and fruit).
  • Once the galette is ready, remove and let it cool for a while. Once it's chilled a bit, slice, pour some caramel sauce over it and enjoy!

What are you baking this week? Tweet me @warriorrenaud, or comment below!

Friday Food Frenzy: Chilli Con Seed to Sausage

This cold weather calls for some hearty meals to keep you toasty warm, and this chilli recipe will definitely do the trick! I recently started working at Seed to Sausage’s General Store and have been enjoying trying out the tasty meat selections. This week, I took home some handmade sausages and whipped up my own version of the chilli: chilli con Seed to Sausage.

Heres’s my recipe, so you can try it too!

Ingredients:
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
– 1/2 tsp ground coriander
– 1/2 tsp dried oregano
– 1/8 to 1/4 tsp chili powder (I used less since the chorizo sausage are already quite spicy)
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 tsp cocoa powder
– 1/2 tsp brown sugar
– 4 Seed to Sausage sausages (I used 2 garlic red wine and 2 chorizo for some extra kick)
– 1 can of diced tomatoes
– 1 can of mixed beans (or you can use your favourite bean)
– 1 can of corn
– corn tortillas (I got my tortillas from Little Latin America at 762 Somerset Street West)

Instructions:
– remove the casings from the sausages
– roll out 2” balls with the sausage meat
– heat your oil over medium heat
– add onions, cook until onions are soft and translucent
– add garlic and all the spices, cook for another 2 minutes
– add sausage meat balls, stir occasionally until cooked
– add the diced tomatoes, beans and corn
– turn the heat down, cover and let simmer for another 20 minutes
– when your chilli is almost ready, grab some corn tortillas, place them in a dry pan and cook them over medium heat. They should only take a few minutes each side to get nice and crispy.
– serve and enjoy!


What are you making for supper? Tweet me @warriorrenaud, or comment below!

I’m Making a Documentary, it’s Called Hyphen

Since leaving my full time job a few months ago, I've been busy cooking up my next big project. I had a few ideas up my sleeve, but I needed some time to consider my options. I left for my cross-country roadtrip, hoping the adventure would bring me the inspiration I needed to come home ready to work. And I was right! As I traveled through the country, meeting strangers and seeing some incredible sights, it hit me. The Canadian story has always intrigued me, and I wanted to share my particular point of view. As a multiracial person, my connection to the Canadian identity has shifted and evolved throughout my life. There was something about driving from one end of the country to the other that made Canada seem much more approachable than ever. It deconstructed a lot of the conceptions I had and I was able to discover a new connection to our country. But I still wanted to tell the Canadian story from my own perspective: the hyphenated identity, and I knew I wasn't the only one with a story to tell.

Once I got home, I started planning my first independent production: Hyphen. My plan is to produce a collection of short stories surrounding the multiracial experience. I want Hyphen to be a space where multiracial individuals can speak about their personal journeys, and find a sense of community within this experience.

As a first step in the project, I want to dig deeper into my own experience. I don’t think I can ask others to question their identity before I take the time to question my own. I have recently started production of the first short story: my own. I've had fun going through all the old home videos my mum took throughout my childhood, amazed at the things I observed. These clips will be an integral part of my short story, along with additional footage of my family and myself today.

I wanted to share a few home video clips with you, to give you an idea of my direction. This kid was pretty damn cute, and even I couldn't help saying "aw".

Monday Movie Marathon: When I Grow up, I Wanna be Just Like You

This week’s movie marathon features films with characters you can look up to. They make you re-think the way you see the world and give you that push you need to be confident in yourself. Like a good friend, these characters have helped me reflect on the things that really matter.


1. PLEASANTVILLE (Gary Ross, 1998)

I love this film’s take on the concept of perfection. Not only do the characters literally change the way they see the world, but they open their minds to ideas that challenge the status quo.


2. LE FABULEUX DESTIN D’AMÉLIE POULAIN (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

Obviously this was making the cut. I didn’t cut my bangs short for nothing! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching this movie. It fills me with so much inspiration, from the music to the details in every scene.


3. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2006)

If you ever need a pick-me-up, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll fall in love with all these characters and want them to reach their final goal.


4. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (Colin Trevorrow, 2012)

Watch this movie and you might just start believing in time travel, or at least believe in some magic in this world. Let your inner child run free!


5. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)

The timeless story of growing up and figuring out who you want to be. I still feel like I’m trying to work that out, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone.


That’s it for this week’s Monday Movie Marathon. I hope these movies put a huge smile on your face, and don’t make you re-question everything. Crap.

What would your picks be? Tweet me @warriorrenaud or comment on this post!

Joining Third Son Laserworks!

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I am happy to announce that I have joined my friend Jesse Kaunisviita in his new business, Third Son. Third Son specializes in handmade lasercut products for you and your home. Jesse and I met while we both worked at MediaStyle, a digital public affairs company here in Ottawa, Ontario. When I decided to take the leap to leave the team at MediaStyle so I could focus on my filmmaking, I turned to Jesse for advice, as I knew he had made a similar jump a few months before me. I admired his dedication to his passion and was thrilled by his supportive attitude. During our chat, we realized that I would be a good fit for Third Son. I wanted to focus most of my time on filmmaking, but didn't want to lose the skills I had acquired during my time at MediaStyle. I now have the opportunity to practice my communications and marketing skills with Third Son, while still having the time to pursue filmmaking.

My role within Third Son is to manage and produce our online content, from video production to social media. The small nature of our team also means that I get to be involved in many aspects of the business, from brainstorming designs, to attending craft shows and even lending my seamstress skills to textile productions.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with Jesse and can't wait to see what's in store for Third Son! As my first project with Jesse, I produced a video about his vision behind his business, and the process that goes into the production of his merchandise. Enjoy!


And you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!