PechaKucha Night in Vancouver


Tonight, I attended my first Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver. The theme of the evening was: film. It was a special evening because on September 20 apparently there were other pecha kucha nights happening the same day all around the world.

Pecha kucha means “chit-chat” in Japanese. It’s a short presentation of 20 slides of 20 seconds each. The slides advance automatically. People speak for 6 minutes and 40 seconds, then get off he stage.

The lineup featured the hidden heroes of the film industry in British Columbia such as a digital colorist, a showrunner, a documentary filmmaker, an actress, etc.

The doors of the Vogue opened at 6:30. The line was moving fast. When I got in the theatre around 6:45, the middle aisle was about 70% full. I took a seat on the side aisle so I could see better.  By the time the show started at 7:10, it was a full house. Warning: Pecha Kucha is often sold-out, so if you want a good seat or if you are coming with friends, it’s best to come early.

There’s a bar. Alcohol is served in plastic cups, or you can have your beer in a can!

At 7.10, the show started with a musical act by Brasstronauts. Excellent. The played for about 25 minutes, then there was a 10 minutes break while they removed the microphones and instruments off stage.

Then pecha kucha began at about 7:45. Speaker were introduced to the stage by the host (from Cause and affect), a very funny guy. The first presenter went on stage and the show began.  After the last slide, the screen turned black and the words NEXT PRESENTER appeared on screen.

There were no breaks and the evening ended about 10.00  There were more guests than usually tonight and I found it ran a little long for my comfort (I started shifting in my seat), but all the speakers were good. I just wished there had been a short intermission or something.

The evening was really inspiring. I would totally go back to another pecha kucha!  Here are some notes I took (yes, in the dark!)

Kristin Lehman, actress on CTV’s series Motives, recalled a dream in which someone said to her: “Make a joyful noise”.

Andrea Chlebak, a digital colorist, recalled one of her mentor’s philosophy: “When you want to be creative, you have to be three persons: artist, observer, technician”. She presented a funny Facebook post by her nephew revealing how little people actually knew about her job which is to add color to a movie. She mentioned that movies are like travelling, they take you to other places. And when you travel, it allows you to see the world differently.

Simon Barry, creator and showrunner of Continuum tv series, learnt that “power is about giving it away”.  You have to trust your directors, actors, fx department. Working in tv is a collaborative effort. When he wrote in the scrip “Vancouver – the future”. They built a model of futuristic Vancouver and this helped the story and the actors to know what they were looking at.  Also, when they wrote a barn into the show, they had to build it… and then they blew it up… because it’s tv and that’s what they do.

Kevin Eastwood, director of The Art of Delicate parking (a low budget film that became a success). He directed Fido, starring Carrie-Ann Moss (who accepted to play the part, even though she became a mega-start after Matrix). After that, he had trouble finding funding for his next project, so he turned to documentaries (Eco-Warriors), reality show (Animal Hoarders), his upcoming project is the hilarious Oil Sands Karaoke.  He worked for The Emergency Room (reality show) in Vancouver. He said: “You don’t know your city until you worked in the ER. I didn’t know there were so many stabbings in Vancouver.  I saw family, friends, colleagues, politicians. Death, accidents, illnesses… they are the great equalizers.” Funny thing is while he was working on ER Vancouver, he flew to LA for a meeting, and had a cardiac arrest outside LAZ. His friend Sonya (7 month pregnant) performed CPR on him.  The ambulance technician worked on him, but he basically flatlined. They directed the ambulance towards a crappy hospital (where they thought they would just pronounce him dead), but when they suddenly got a pulse again, the ambulance did a 180 degrees and they moved him to the good hospital where they could fix him.  He was a in a coma for a long time. Had 250,000$ of work done on him (the price of his last film!)  What he learnt is that everyday is a gift.

Damien Gillis is an environmental journalist turned documentary filmmaker (Fractured Land). He follows the dialectic principle that from opposing idea (thesis, anti-thesis) grows something new. His documentary Fractured Land featuring an aboriginal lawyer fighting big oil sands company. As he says, “Someone who can throw a hatchet and sue you is a force not to be reconed with.” The filmmaker and the subject of the documentary discovered during the shoot, that their grandfather were friends, long time ago.

Edo Van Breemen (lead singer of Brasstronauts discovered early that he was good at beatboxing. He learnt to play piano. At a residency in Banff, he met Bjork’s brother and his band was invited to play at Rjekiavjic. It was their first gig, in this old shipyard turned music venue. Then they got known in Europe and played in Hitler’s bunker in Hamburg : the old building couldn’t be destroyed so they turned it in to a music school and the top floor is a night club/music venue.  He’s working on music for Fractured Land. “Inviting music scores is fantastic. Just with music, you can make this guy (from Fractured Land) look like a superhero, he can give him his own theme.”

There were also other guests who were equally inspiring (Save BC Films, Project Limelight), etc., but I didn’t take any notes on these ones. You’ll find their picture below.

I really enjoyed PechaKucha Night in Vancouver and I will be back again.