A pandemic portrait series of Ms. Amber-Jean Fairlie, owner of The Manor Salon, shot on digital, 35mm & 120mm April 2021.
Photos of my bubble on 35mm and 120mm from 01/21. xo
Introducing my first short film entitled ‘Blackout Rage.’ It is the story of a young woman who is unconsciously violent with her first boyfriend in bed and the resulting exploration of her childhood trauma to try and find the source of her torment.
I wrote the script when I was twenty years old, so it had been sitting lifeless for quite some time. Our incredible lead actress Celia Green inspired me to make the film, as I was sure with her inestimable talent she could play the difficult and bipolar roles of Mona and Amber. She did an incredible job alongside Ethan Laniado as Lucas and Pancho Bhogal as John. It was a pleasure to work with such wonderful talents. Their trust and commitment to the project has been an invaluable asset.
Celia’s sister Lucie Green saved the day with her incredible style and makeup skills. Reuben Ward agreed to do the sound recording after we met by chance and connected over film in real earth angel style. Amber Fairlie came through with the slicked back ponytail for Amber’s look in a pinch. Frida Jenkins-Roe gave us her valuable time assisting with the set decor. My loving husband DJ Fathom and Ali X supplied the original soundtrack which really is the glue of the film. And finally my mum, Jeanine Mackie, was by my side every day of shooting, making sure we were all fed, happy and on schedule.
I took on the writing, directing, shooting, production and editing of this film in a learning exercise for myself, as I want to be a director who is knowledgeable about every aspect of filmmaking. That being said, I wasn’t sure if the final product should be included as part of my portfolio because I wasn’t sure if it was good enough. It is a dark, strange film that is very close to my heart. It can be tough to have any perspective from a creator’s point of view. Sometimes objectivity can save the day. So I decided to submit the film to a handful of short film festivals I admire. If any of them accepted ‘Blackout Rage’ I would show it to the world. If not, I would put it away and take the lessons into my next project.
Much to my surprise and delight the film has been honored as an Official Selection of Venice Shorts, Montreal Independent FIlm Festival and Big Sur Film Festival so far. So here it is for the watching. Please enjoy and watch responsibly. Rated R. xo
2020. 20/20. Perfect vision. The year we were forced to slow down, stop working, stop spending, curb our consumption and really sit with ourselves and one another without farce or filter, and well, it hasn’t been easy, but growth never is. The wounds we have inflicted upon our earth, our people, our economy and our fragile democracy are festering in the beginnings of great change in COVID-19, the BLM and #MeToo movements, the obvious evil in 1% of the world’s population owning over half of the world’s capital, and the symptom of Trump. My hope is that we emerge out of this chaos with a new respect for the collective and a rejection of complacency. Did you know that one of the only ways to naturally increase your oxytocin (the love hormone) is to do something nice for someone else? Let’s aim to grow out of this era with that miracle in mind.
I usually focus solely on professional highlights in this annual roundup, but 2020 was an exception as I didn’t get to work much and my personal life was quite the rollercoaster. So I will pepper my top ten professional highlights with the personal events that deserve a mention here as well. Let’s get to it!
- The Goddess Array V.3
In February I showed fourteen new goddesses and launched The Goddess Array book in a show at #Hashtag Gallery. So many wonderful people came out to support the work in the middle of winter. Here is what the press had to say about it:
“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.”She Does the City
There are some wonderful photos of the opening and party events at the following links:
There are four copies of the book left. It is an 11″ by 16.5″ paperback coffee table book featuring the full photo series of The Goddess Array each accompanied by a sonnet detailing the myth of each goddess. There is a perforated tear-out print of Nike Goddess of Victory in every copy numbered and signed. 90 pages. Limited edition. You can get yours HERE.
There was a video installation piece up at the show as well entitled ‘Nymphs Bathing’ which you can take a peek at below if you need a little escape:
Unprofessional Interlude #1. The Covid Diaries I hit the road after my gallery show heading to Brussels for a Eurotrip with my brother Jake who was working at a wind farm there for a bit. We bathed and raved in Budapest, almost died in a prop plane to Prague, and hit up Paris for fashion week. Then I head home for a day before taking off to Nassau for my bachelorette party week which started off with my girlfriends and I getting robbed at gunpoint. And then COVID hit! Read the whole story with photos via the links below. The truth really is stranger than fiction: 1/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Brussels, Feb. 20 2/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Budapest, Feb. 22 3/10 Covid -19 Travel Diary: Prague, Feb. 23 4/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Paris, Feb. 24 5/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Toronto, Feb. 28 6/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 2 7/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 3 8/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Paradise Island, Mar. 4 9/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 5 10/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 6
2. RICV – PVLOMO x GALO x TKUZ
The RICV music video I created for PVLOMO x GALO x TKUZ on the Controlla label out of Mexico City is a barbie acid trip dance video starring my bestie and magical dancer/choreographer Jenny-Anne McCowan. The video premiered in January on Como Las Grecas, a techno blog out of Amsterdam. They wrote (translated from Spanish):
“A collage as attractive as it is hypnotic, 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 unit, just as unique as the 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!”
3. Goddess Remix Project
For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a talented aerosol artist / graffiti king who writes ‘FATHOM’ all over the world, but especially in Toronto. A woman who was admiring his work while out for a walk with her kids in Roncey contacted him inquiring about a commission this Summer. After much discussion, my work got thrown in the mix and an enormous FATHOM piece with a Nike, Goddess of Victory ink transfer was decided upon. The process and result were so delightful to us we continued with remixes of Bia and Pheme from The Goddess Array. Do you like them? Should we do more?
Unprofessional Interlude #2. Bloordale Art Thief On Dec. 28th we got home from a glorious Christmas getaway to a completely smashed in front window and two pieces of stolen art. The two collaborations pictured above, 'Bia Remix' and 'Pheme Remix,' are one-of-a-kind ink printed on canvas with aerosol and acrylic paint. They are 2 x 3 ft and very special to us. If anyone has any information on their whereabouts please let us know. Cash reward!
4. Locke & Key Season 2
I had the wonderful opportunity to work on season two of Locke and Key this winter. With three full-time camera teams, two camera trucks, two full-time utilities, a DIT and a DMT it was certainly the largest camera team I’ve ever been a part of. I learned so much as we did awesome catch and release Ronin shots and made magic happen with the special effects team. Forbes announced season one to be the second most watched Netflix production in 2020, second only to Tiger King, but who can compete with Carol Baskin anyway? She’s a legend!
‘Photos to Nourish’ was a print sale featuring the work of an array of Canadian photographers, created with the intention of raising funds for Food Banks Canada to support their heightened need for donations in the face of the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. 100% of proceeds from sales were donated. I was delighted to offer up prints of ‘Pomona Stands, Goddess of Fruit’ from The Goddess Array series as part of the sale. With your support, Photos to Nourish raised $10,000+ for Food Banks Canada. We extend a huge thank you to each and every person who made this possible, and supported the initiative.
Unprofessional Interlude #3. We got married! We flew out to Vancouver Island in August for a small Covid-style wedding with our closest family and friends. It was totally surreal and magical; the perfect day to celebrate our love. And to top it all off, we had our honeymoon resort all to ourselves! Here's to bending plans to make these restrictions work in our favour while being safe and healthy. xo
We didn’t win, but it still felt good to receive a nomination from the London-based establishment for The Goddess Array series in the Professional Nudes category.
Unprofessional Interlude #4. Cottage Season With the city in lockdown this Summer we felt luckier than ever to have a cottage to escape to whenever the opportunity arose. We could feel free and relaxed up north away from the city with no one around, in nature, breathing the fresh air and jumping in the lake. Here are some of my favourite photos from the cottage this Summer.
7. Pretty Hard Cases
Pretty Hard Cases is a brand new buddy-cop CBC comedy starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is the New Black) as two detectives in their 40s with opposing personalities and similarly incongruous approaches to police work. The result is a hilarious show with refreshingly strong and unique female leads. It was a pleasure to get back to work with this camera team in the Autumn after the long shut down due to Covid-19. Grateful to be back, we all donned our masks and visors and doused ourselves in hand sanitizer and volunteered for regular testing to make sure we could keep on working. A small price to pay for pandemic-era employment! Safety first! Pretty Hard Cases premieres February 3rd at 9PM on CBC!
8. One Plant Kensington
First of all, thank goodness weed shops were deemed an essential service through this pandemic mess, am I right?! The shiny brand new and enormous One Plant Kensington opened to the public in Spring 2020 and had me out to shoot some promo and product shots. We are currently in the design phase of the campaign roll-out so keep an eye out for the launch. In the meantime here is a little tease of what we got starring the seductive Sonia. Check out One Plant for all your cannabis needs.
Unprofessional Interlude #5. Dad's Death My Dad crashed his plane on October 13th, 2020 and didn't live to tell the tale. My family and I are still reeling from the loss with broken hearts. Our lives are forever changed. I miss him so bad every single day. Make sure you tell the ones you love how much they mean to you as often as you can because you never know what life will bring your way tomorrow. Here are some photos of his Celebration of Life in Davie, Florida: Celebration of Life
9. One Hundred Bells
My dear friend and colleague Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens published her book entitled ‘One Hundred Bells’ this past November. It’s 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
Unprofessional Interlude #6. River's Wedding! My little brother River and his beautiful bride Bronte got married on the ranch while we were down there for Dad's Celebration of Life. I was so delighted we were able to attend! The pouring rain stopped just in time for the ceremony and all River's sweet friends and family came out to celebrate. You can see the photos here: River & Bronte's Ranch Wedding
10. Blackout Rage
In January 2020 I shot my first dramatic short film with the most wonderful team at the Grand Canyon Theatre in Toronto’s west end. I took on the writing, directing, shooting, and editing of the project in a learning experience for myself. Needless to say, I am still working on the edit. I am excited to share it with you once it is finished, if I ever manage to finish it. The process has been invaluable and I appreciate my cast’s patience with the release very much. In the meantime here are a few screenshots to give you a taste of what’s to come starring Celia Jade Green, Ethan Laniado and Pancho Bhogal. The film is entitled Blackout Rage and follows a young woman’s exploration of her unconscious act of violence on her boyfriend and it’s roots in her childhood trauma. Wish me luck!
And that’s a wrap on my craziest year to date. To all of you reading this thanks for taking the time and thank you for your support. I am full of gratitude for each and every one of you. May 2021 bring you change for the better, mental health, physical health, and the courage to follow your dreams against all odds. I will leave you with my favourite selfie of 2020, taken during a nap in Paris when life was but a dream. Love you longtime, Jen. xo
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
Black Swan meets Gossip Girl. Set in Chicago’s elite ballet academy, Tiny Pretty Things showcases gorgeous choreography by Jennifer Nichols and the drama that goes on behind the scenes; including jealousy, lust & murder. It was wonderful to be a part of the camera team on this juicy shoot under the leadership of the great DOP Luc Montpellier. I’m so excited to watch it!. Premieres on Netflix December 2020.
On October 13th, 2020 at 7:48PM my Dad called me from Florida in a panic. “Drive to the runway and turn on your lights so I can see! I can’t see anything! Turn your car lights on the runway so I can land!” He sounded scared and drunk. I was driving home from a photoshoot in Toronto. “Dad, are you calling me from your plane again? I’m in Toronto! I can’t give you light! I’m so scared. I love you so much. I’m going to hang up so you can call Aunt Frances to give you light to land. I love you. You’ve got to land that plane safely. Please don’t die.” And then he disappeared.
After a sleepless night, the heavy fog finally lifted and the search helicopter went out. At noon I got a call from my Aunt Deborah. “He didn’t make it.” My heart broke. The plane was found upside down in thick swampland two miles beyond the runway with Pops still in it.
My Dad was an adrenaline junky. He lived to catch a thrill, whether it be deep sea fishing, racing cars around the horse track on the ranch, airboating at top speed through the everglades and more recently, flying his plane. I think he felt most alive when he was cheating death, and he did cheat death many, many times. He seemed magically indestructible in my eyes; able to get himself out of any tough situation. At his 65th birthday last year he kept expressing his awe that he managed to live to see it. “65 and still alive,” he kept repeating while shaking his head in disbelief. I wish with all my heart he was here for his 66th.
Here’s a letter I wrote to my Dad last year:
I am writing to express how grateful I am to have you in my life. You have taught me to always follow my instincts, to be confident in being different and how to use my creativity to carve out my own special and unique path through this life. You have taught me how to have fun and how to live life to the fullest, how to be an entrepreneur, how to live large and how to accomplish all my dreams!
I love you so much,
He wanted to die in an epic way, and he did, just as epic as his life. I feel his spirit watching over me. RIP Pops. You will live in my heart forever. I hope I can make you proud.
Dave (my husband) and I flew down to Florida a few days after the crash and organized a Celebration of Life on the ranch. Here are some photos from the event in 35mm. 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
Pretty Hard Cases, originally titled Lady Dicks, is a buddy-cop CBC comedy starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is the New Black) as two detectives in their 40s with opposing personalities and similarly incongruous approaches to police work. The result is a hilarious show with refreshingly strong and unique female leads. It was a pleasure to get back to work with this team after a long shut down due to Covid-19. Grateful to be back to work, we all donned our masks and visors and doused ourselves in hand sanitizer and volunteered for regular testing to make sure we could keep on working. A small price to pay for pandemic-era employment! Safety first! Look out for Pretty Hard Cases on CBC next year. xo