Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'm not a recognizable figure on the Club scene. Couldn't tell you the difference between "Electro", "Cool" or "House" if my life depended on it. And much as I enjoyed "It's All Gone Pete Tong", I still can't get my head around the concept that guys who play records are Stars.

Just what exactly separates them from the dude in the bad tuxedo who does the same thing at weddings anyway?

But I went to "Cirque", Toronto's hottest, hippest (I'm not even sure if those adjectives are current anymore) club last Friday.

I endured the goofing from the Bouncers, who always think it's funny to ask for my ID and never get the joke when I compliment them on their headgear or jacket in return and ask if they got a free bowl of soup with it.

I ran the gauntlet of the hot chix in the foyer ("Omigawd, Raven! Is that your dad?") and bellied up to the bar -- being the only guy in the place with an actual belly to put in that position.

And -- I was once again reminded that even ordering a drink in one of these places is beyond me. Ask for a Vodka Martini and the Supermodel mixing drinks as research for her role in the next Tom Cruise movie reels off six brand names and seven flavors I've never heard of as my initial list of choices.

Is this why Daniel Craig didn't order any martinis in "Quantum of Solace" -- the risk that he wouldn't be "hip" by the time the film came out?

Anyway -- my own embarrassments aside, (and I would have endured worse rather than miss what followed); I was there to attend a screening of one of the most interesting television projects to cross my path in some time -- a half hour pilot entitled "15 Minutes".

Frustrated by their attempts to get past the gatekeepers at all of Canada's television networks, the producers of "15 Minutes", Tyler Fillmore and Samantha Vite, called last summer to ask my advice.

Filmmaker veterans of the club scene, they had concocted a half hour "hyper-reality" series they describe as "The Hills on Crack" set in the world of club promotion, endless partying and palpable desire for celebrity status.

Financing the project themselves and calling in favors from actors, musicians, local Club stars and friends, they shot and packaged the project figuring if they made it as good or better than anything on MTV, VH-1 or CW, one of the local networks would snap it up.

But nobody was responding and they couldn't figure out why.

So I visited their edit suite and screened "15 Minutes".

It blew me away.

Not only was this one of the most funny and charming pieces of Canadian television I'd seen in some time, it was embued with an infectious excitement and passion for its subject you don't see in many places anymore. All the hours of Brittney-Lindsay-Paris coverage I'd seen for years couldn't hold a candle to the connection this half hour immediately made to what the world of celebrity means to those who those hours target.

The characters were completely believable and real. What they wanted from life and the Clubs was suddenly understandable -- even to a guy a generation removed from it.

Most of all, the show was just plain fun to watch.

But neither the program nor their endearingly low-ball sales tag -- which would have seen them working for nothing just to get the show on the air -- had moved anyone here to give them a shot.

I knew there were offices in LA where the doors would have been locked and they would have been forcibly confined until they agreed to a deal. I made some calls. Some friends made some calls. Within a week they had an LA agent and meetings with all of the very same networks they were trying to be better than.

Friday night's screening was a "Thank-you" to Cirque for being the scene of much of the action in "15 Minutes". Tyler and Samantha couldn't afford it as a location, so they shot Guerrilla style, cast and crew paying admission, smuggling in their equipment and pretending to party. Occasionally they had to coax or coerce staff or security to look the other way while they got their shots.

It was interesting to watch the pilot being screened for a crowd that had come to drink, dance and take care of other agendas but gave itself over to a show that was about them and people they knew. They laughed, cheered, went quiet and applauded in all the right places, a huge number taking time to fill out the detailed questionnaire the filmmakers handed around to measure their reactions.

Admittedly, you could win a haircut from somebody who charges $200 for that service by returning a completed questionnaire. But that didn't mean people had to say nice things -- yet 87% of those who responded did just that, many asking to be contacted when it went on the air.

I'm not going to go into whatever might have prevented all those Canadian networks so apparently intent on reaching that 18-30 demographic or just finding good Canadian programming from snapping up "15 Minutes". Let's just say the reasons are easily discovered elsewhere on this blog.

What I do know is -- as cash strapped as they all seem to be at the moment, it would have been easier picking up the show for Canadian dollars than the 20% more expensive American ones it will likely cost if they want to broadcast it in future.

On a personal note, it was really rewarding to watch that club audience and confirm that I could still connect with what entertains them. You can sample "15 Minutes" here. I have a feeling you'll see its potential as well.

As for me, I'm going out to celebrate.

"Hey Raven! Who's your daddy!?!"


Rich Baldwin said...

That'll totally sell in LA . . . and maybe London.

Sell it all to the States first! - is that how it has to go?

Brandon Laraby said...

"I never said I was smart, I just said I had vodka.".

Man, you cannot write that stuff.

Tell me they didn't write that...?

Brilliant. Simply brilliant - sums up the entire thing to perfection.

I'm not much of a clubber anymore but man, I was smiling within 20 seconds.

When's this getting on the air??

meatgeemale said...

Congrats to your buddies who made "15 Minutes" happen.
My ex art director/designer, Humberto Garcia, pretty well gave up on the film/tv industry in TO. He became the designer at "Cirque". I guess he's still in whether he wants to be or not!!! lol!
Humberto is one of the most brilliant guys around. Check out the design at the club. I keep trying to get him back into production, so far, no go!

Kelly J. Compeau said...

Ah, yes, I remember those days, back in the late '80s when I was a nightclub performer/promoter. I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I was a star, baby. A star! :-)