We got the wonderful news on set from our show runner that Locke & Key S.1 was the most watched Netflix production in 2020! Second only to Tiger King, but we all know there’s no use trying to compete with Carol Baskin. 🙂 I got to work a lot with the Ronin on this show which was a great learning experience. The team is excellent in terms of creativity, professionalism, efficiency and skill. It was an honor to work on! Next season will be coming out in 2021 and I can assure you it is full of surprises! Stay tuned. xo
My dear friend and colleague Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens published her book entitled ‘One Hundred Bells’ this month. The final product is a hardcover coffee table book full of gorgeous illustrations by Carly Jo Carson, luscious photos of Jessica’s work by myself and Suzanne Strong, and of course Jessica’s inspiring, educational story. Viola writes about her life’s journey into becoming a steward of the earth, a business owner, a mother and how her growth and lessons have been mirrored and taught by the way her gardens grow. The book follows this metaphor of life as a garden throughout, leading to wonderful revelations that ground the reader deep into their roots. By taking the elements of permaculture and teaching us how they can be applied not only to our gardens but to our entire lives as we evolve and grow, Viola reveals a splendid ideal lifestyle to strive for that is inherently in tune with nature. The book is now available HERE. Do your soul a favour and order your copy now. xo
I am honored to share this nomination for The Goddess Array photography series for the Fine Art Photography Award in the Professional Nudes category. The Fine Art Photography Awards are issued out of their London headquarters. Here is a bit more about the institution in their own words:
Fine Art Photography Awards is one of the largest award giving bodies for a community of artists ushering an era of new trends in the world of photography. Created in 2014, this competition is a melting pot for people where passion, interest, sense of beauty and openness to diversity in photography collide in intergalactic proportions. At Fine Art Photography, we seek to find artists and unique souls who breathe and live for creativity—where we provide a platform of promotion and support in their pursuit of self-realization and development. Since the beginning of the competition, our jurors have thoroughly reviewed and evaluated hundreds of photographs from dozens of different categories. Owing to the phenomenal trust coming from participants all over the world, within just a span of few short years, we have catapulted to a pedestal alongside the most important and highly prestigious artistic photography contests of this era.
Jake and I were delighted to be putting our bust of an evening in Prague behind us as we boarded yet another flight, to Paris this time, on the first day of Paris Fashion Week. The streets were vibrating with excitement as designers, photographers, models and celebrities descended upon the City of Love. Fashion Week is a bit like hunting season, except the hunters are shooting with cameras, not guns, and the pray are not wild animals, but wild young giraffes of the human sort with cheekbones that could cut glass. A model in the wild is an easy thing to spot. The six foot tall waifs in their Instagram-approved outfits stand out of the crowd like attention-hungry peacocks in mating season. Jake deftly observed that the paparazzi vying for their “street style’ photos were decked out in flashier garb than their lithe working prey. The streets are the runway during #PFW. All you have to do to get published on the international fashion media outlets is go for a stroll in your favourite haute couture. Jake and I were unprepared in the outfit area so we played ninja and stayed out of the limelight. We strolled around the city, pausing to act as voyeurs to the scattered fashion events popping up around town. One particular square was full of posing fashionistas and skaters. We posted up on the steps in the sun and soaked up the glorious scene.
Of course, we indulged in coq au vin, steak frites, and the finest, cheapest beaujolais in the world. I got so excited about finding one of my favourite wines for four euros that I dropped my bag full of wine bottles and smashed them all to bits, but that is neither here nor there. Jake cheered me up with a replacement bottle asap.
I wonder what the world of fashion will look like after this pandemic recedes. Will there still be room in the global economy for the frivolity of fashion? Germany has rolled out a staggering €50 billion aid package for small businesses that boosts artists and galleries. CBC had a two hour program on last week discussing how out-of-work artists should be bailed out by the government.
On the one hand, arts and culture bring an extremely important element of humanity to this strange time of social isolation, but on the other hand, you could say being an artist is a complete luxury undeserving of government funding that could be used more effectively in the social sectors. When you sign up to be an artist don’t you automatically agree to put the sharing of your work with the world first and hope to syphon a few dollars off the top to feed yourself and keep a roof over your head? Being an artist is risky business. Often we are working on a contract to contract basis without any safety net. We sink all our money into our work and then hope and pray people find it valuable. There are no guarantees. We must be creative in our work and also, in how we get paid for our work. Now that we are in this new era, it’s time to reassess our streams of revenue and use our creativity to imagine where we can go from here. I was flabbergasted that artists were getting so much airtime when it seems like our healthcare workers, government workers and grocery store employees should be getting our undivided attention. What do you think? Should the government put a special stimulus package together for the freelance artist community? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I love Toronto so much! Thank you again to everyone who came out Saturday evening to celebrate and check out the art. It was another heartwarming turn-out. I love you all! This evening there is a three hour life drawing session at Hashtag Gallery (830 Dundas St. W). It is open to the public and only $12. 6:30PM – 9:30PM. xo
What an incredible, eclectic group of Toronto’s finest came out last night to celebrate the opening of the third manifestation of The Goddess Array! All you beauties in your stilettos in the snow went above and beyond. The LOVE was palpable. Thank you! The show is up until Feb. 13th at #Hashtag Gallery(830 Dundas Street West). We are having a party at the gallery Saturday night (02/08) DJed by Young Teesh. I hope to see you there! Bring your dancing shoes. xo
From She Does the City:
On Thursday February 6th, photographer Jennifer Toole will be showing fourteen new, never-before-exhibited framed prints from her Goddess Array series at Dundas West’s Hashtag Gallery. The evening will also act as a launch event for her stunning new photography book.
The photos on display represent four years of work—shot here in Ontario, but also in California, Quebec, and Ibiza. Snapping women in the nude, against magnificent natural backdrops, is not a new idea, but the way Toole’s subjects appear is refreshing: each exude a kind of comfort and confidence that most of us long for.
Toole describes her series as a way for women to claim more space, or “a defiant act of freedom”. The project was inspired by her love and appreciation of Greek mythology. “Greek Goddesses are diverse, archetypal and mythological in proportion,” she says, and thus began an epic adventure to shoot powerful Goddesses in her own life. “The models are real life goddesses in their own realms.” Women who all exude a strength that Toole feels, and admires.
Beyond an evening to celebrate the divine in all of us, there will be a video installation of nymphs bathing in the river on display (which we’ll be treating as a mini mid-winter getaway).
Join us at the reception for The Goddess Array Exhibit + book launch on February 6th, at 6p.m. at Hashtag Gallery (830 Dundas St. W.). More on Jennifer Toole’s work here.
I directed a new music video. It’s a steampunk acid barbie trip starring dancer Jenny-Anne McCowan. The artists are from Mexico City and the track was released on Controlla label. The video premiered yesterday on Como Las Grecas, a techno blog out of Amsterdam. They wrote (translated from Spanish):
“A collage as attractive as hypnotic, which plays with a multitude of Internet resources, a way to reuse the most common images, from memes to excerpts from videos of other times, to configure a unique and unique unit, such as the same track: Eclectic, overwhelming and sexy. Both visually and its sound, they easily transport us to another dimension. A candy that you can not miss. Enjoy it!”
I know. I know. It’s already January 8th! It has been a whirlwind holiday and New Year! I was on a deadline to finish my most recent directorial foray; an acid barbie music video for my friends in Mexico City who did ‘Pachanga.’ Look out for that video in the post to follow and take it as my excuse for the tardiness of my year-end wrap-up. 2019 was full of abundance on all fronts! And extremely busy. So let’s get to it. My top ten professional highlights of 2019:
Now, this was my #1 highlight last year in anticipation of publishing this book much earlier than October 2019. As it turns out, getting a book out into the world is a long and arduous process. I worked with the wonderful people at Bookart in Montreal and we brought the book to life. The final product ended up being 11″ by 16.5″ aka HUGE with 90 silk pages wrapped in a paperback cover. The book features the full photo series of The Goddess Array each accompanied by a sonnet detailing the myth of each Greek goddess. There is a perforated tear-out print of Nike Goddess of Victory in every copy numbered and signed in a very limited edition of 62. I am so pleased with the result. The presale saw half of the books go and the remaining half will be for sale at a proper book launch early February in Toronto. Keep an eye on this space for your invitation! The book is available for purchase at the following link as well: https://jennifertoole.com/Shop-2
2. Acceptance into the International Cinematographers Guild
The application process is long and the interview was stressful. I was sure I had bombed it when I got a call one day in April from the coordinator offering me acceptance! Then she said, “Are you available today?” And all of a sudden I was on the set of Titans! I worked on three big shows in 2019 which I will tell you about below. I have been a creative freelancer my entire working life and now, with a union behind me, I feel a new sense of support and security. It is blissful.
3. Suits: The Final Season
I guess I can spill the beans now that it’s all over Netflix. Mike comes back! 🙂 Working on the camera team of Suits was an incredible challenge for me as it was my first big show stint. I had a real learning curve to overcome. It was also my first foray into the lengthy hours film people work. 14 hour days are considered “not bad.” I was curious if I could muster the stamina and I did. It was a joy to work with Katherine Heigl, Gabriel Macht, Sarah Rafferty, Amanda Schull and Dule Hill. They are all seasoned pros and made the work easy. Rick Hoffman, however, is such a delight to be around and had me and the rest of the crew in stitches laughing all the time, which is the best medicine. He made the days shorter, that angel.
4. Tiny Pretty Things: Season 1
“Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed series featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.” – Google Reads
This series is going to be FIRE! I can’t talk about it as it isn’t out until Autumn of 2020, but be sure to watch it on Netflix when it does come out. The scandal! The drama! The dancing! I’m excited to watch. The Tiny Pretty Things set was a dream to work on and the camera team became my family for a couple of months. It was an experience I will never forget. Here’s a pic of me slating:
5. Good Witch: Season 6
Now, I’m not a big fan of the show or the Hallmark channel in general, but it is the top rated station in the U.S.A. so millions of people love and appreciate it. Personal opinions aside, this show was a joy to work on. It’s a well-oiled machine being in its sixth season and the camera team members were relaxed and eager to teach, which was awesome. As my third show of 2019 it was eye-opening to witness and compare the wide variety of styles of lighting and shooting from three different DOPs. As I watch, I learn and soak it all up like a sponge.
6. Blenders Pride Fashion Tour
I got the awesome opportunity to work with the elegant and hilarious Priyanka Chopra on this Blenders Pride commercial last winter. It was shot by the legendary DOP Robert Richardson, who’s CV includes all your favourite films like both Kill Bills, Platoon, The Doors, Natural Born Killers, JFK, Aviator, Inglorious Bastards, Casino, Django Unchained, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood etc. If you don’t know of him look up his catalogue and be entertained for days. It was quite the experience hanging out with Richardson for the week. He is one of Hollywood’s elite. If you buy me a glass of wine I’ll tell you the whole story. 🙂 Amber Fairlie of The Manor Salon in Toronto came through in a hair emergency and saved the day. Many thanks to P.M. Lisa Ericsson for giving me this opportunity. It was a blast! xo
7. Vogue Italia
The fashion bible published two of my submissions in 2019 to PhotoVogue.
The first photo features jewellery by Mindham Jewellers on model Teesh. It’s called “Still Life w. Canary Diamonds” and was styled by Asia Vickovic.
The second image is a black and white 35mm still of my little brother River Rae and his snake at an abandoned women’s penitentiary in Davie, Florida.
8. Poppies to Remember
To commemorate Remembrance Day, the team at The Manor Salon put together a beautiful shoot featuring gorgeous headpieces by Fresh Floral Creations with an emphasis on the poppy. The photos turned out to be quite regal as the models balanced their enormous crowns while teetering on the side of a highrise. We added some couture into the mix and got some powerful photos. Take a look:
9. I AM IN THE WORLD AS FREE AND SLENDER AS A DEER ON A PLAIN
I received my first camera credit on the big screen for this sensitive look at the cold, dry experience of coming of age in the era of online dating.
“A young woman (Micaela Robertson) begins to figure out what she does and doesn’t want from the men in her life in this evocative piece from Toronto writer/director Sofia Banzhaf…” – NOW Magazine
After discovering the pleasure a CBD massage candle can bring to aches and pains, I decided to make a bunch so that all my friends could have the same experience. Then I thought I would test my marketing skills with a commercial for the product starring dancer Alison Keery, and much to my suprise, the Goddess Massage Candles infused with CBD were a hit! I sold out and even had them carried in a store on my block. I had to put a stop to the whole thing as my focus is on filmmaking not candle making, although now I have something to fall back on if times get tough. 🙂 Here’s the ad campaign:
I am currently developing my first dramatic short. I wrote the script when I was 20-years-old and thought I would bring it to life on screen. It is a dark, abstract exploration of a young woman’s sexual perversions and their roots in her childhood trauma. Should be uplifting! I am excited to share it with you.
Here is a photo of me for good measure, taken after the Good Witch camera wrap dinner a couple of weeks back:
Here’s to an abundant and fabulous 2020! Thanks for reading. xo