3/10 Covid -19 Travel Diary: Prague, Feb. 23

Bidding a sweet adieu to Budapest, a land of wonderful parties, spas, food and vintage Korean clothing, Jake and I embarked upon our next stop; an overnight in Prague. We were to arrive around 11PM and had a dinner reservation at a neat-looking restaurant in an old clock tower for 11:30PM, a 20 minute walk from our $30/night Air Bnb. That was the plan anyway…

We were flying Czech Airlines for the first time. Again, we breezed through security and customs without a hitch. No one was wearing masks or gloves or taking any precautions yet regarding Covid-19. When we reached our gate, Jake took a peek at the plane we were about to take. It was a smaller propeller plane built by Bombardier. Jake mentioned he had worked on the design for this particular model at his stint as an intern at Bombardier last year. In his words, “I hope it doesn’t fall out of the sky.” And with that promising warning, we hopped aboard, sanitizing everything in our sight, of course.

The hour-long flight was peaceful up until our approach to landing. There was a torrential storm hovering over Prague. Out the window all we could see was horizontal precipitation in the flashes of light caused intermittently by the plane’s caution lights and the actual lightning bolts touching down all around us. The little plane felt like it was being tossed around by a bored giant and many people around us emptied their dinners into the lovingly provided barf bags onboard. Then the news came that we were unable to land for 45 minutes due to the weather. So we proceeded to circle in this storm for the next hour as our anxiety levels soared right up to our current altitude. I said to Jake, “If this is it for us, I just want you to know I love you, man.” And Jake said, “You know, it’s not such a bad way to go. We’ll be worldwide! The two Canadians who perished on the crashed Czech Airlines flight. We’ll be infamous!” It was a moment completely out of our control, so we relinquished ourselves to the machine. Finally, we were cleared for landing, which was rocky, but we survived.

Back on solid ground with our nerves totally shot, we set out about getting to our AirBnb. We missed the public bus, and splurged on an Uber. The keys for the AirBnb were at a sketchy shawarma spot down the street. We got the keys, dropped our bags, and hurried over to the bell tower restaurant to try and rescue the evening. If the walk there told us anything, it’s that Prague is haunted. The streets were deserted. It was a great scene for a murder. The looming clock tower could have housed Frankenstein back in the day. The troll woman who manned the lift up the tower refused to let us in, saying the restaurant was closed despite the numerous signs around posting the closing time as midnight, which was still a half hour away. Turned down and discouraged, we headed back to the shawarma spot and proceeded to get drunk on cheap beers and lebanese food. A slew of very drunk English tourists kept the joker guys behind the counter busy and entertained as they fed them and charged them way more then was fair. I went to order another dish and they said because I was Canadian I wouldn’t mind paying more than the fair price and charged my card without asking. What had been funny until that point then turned gross as we realized the racket these guys were onto every night. I plead karma and one of the cooks said he had twelve children, so fuck karma. Point taken. We retreated back to our AirBnb and got in a couple hours of sleep before our early flight to sweet Paris…

 

2/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Budapest, Feb. 22

The flight from Brussels to Budapest was as smooth as a Corona-infested stainless steel countertop. We checked in online and sailed through security and customs. No one even checked our passports. No one was thinking about Covid-19. Life was still normal.

A friend said to me yesterday, “We lived in the time of large gatherings.”

Our first stop in Budapest was the Szechenyi Spa & Baths, the largest spa in Europe. Imagine Versailles, but switch the gardens for hot spring pools. We proceeded to sweat and cold dunk on repeat with trips to the outdoor pools in the interims for heavy waterfall massage pouring out of ancient fountainheads. Groups of excited people were celebrating their bachelor(ette) parties there as the bar was selling mulled wine and the shining sun kept everyone’s spirits bright. That evening there was to be a Sparty, the infamous spa party, but Jake and I decided as neat an idea as that was it could become a literal cesspool of germs. We decided to go dancing instead.

We stumbled into Akvárium Klub where Rebekah was spinning and proceeded to dance for hours to her high-energy, driving, mechanical beats. The club was wall-to-wall packed. The crowd was swept up into a trance and time was suspended as our feet left the ground. 

We escaped both large gatherings unscathed and Corona-free thankfully. Looking back, I wonder when we will be able to hit the spa and party again. I am feeling a little less free than just a week ago. Our next stop is Prague…

1/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Brussels, Feb. 20

Jake, my crazy smart little brother, got an amazing contract working at a wind energy company in Brussels for the year. I knew I had to visit him at some point during his stay there, and, with the film industry being in its slow season and my photography exhibit over and done with, late February seemed the perfect opportunity. My flight was booked for a February 19th departure. The day before I boarded the plane to Brussels, my mother, an avid viewer of CNN, showed up at my place with three ziplock bags full of face masks, medical grade wet wipes and rubber gloves respectively, with very stern warnings of the Corona Virus and detailed instructions of how to keep myself safe on my travels. At the time, we knew that the virus could live on surfaces for concerning lengths of time and that it could be avoided by wearing gloves, frequent handwashing and refraining from touching ones face. Armed with my Mom’s love, I masked up and flew to Europe.

Jake was awaiting my arrival at BRU. We strolled around the beautiful city in the rain as I reveled in the wonderful street art, new and old, like the tourist I am. We stopped in at the Delirium Brewery for a pint. Delirium is my favourite beer of all time. It’s perfectly balanced, delicious, and very strong. After one Jake and I had quite a buzz going and the conversation took a turn toward gender fluidity and online dating. We needed some fresh air! And food. Back out in the rain, we went to a lowkey, well-priced restaurant specializing in traditional Belgium dishes recommended by one of Jake’s friends. We shared a main course of delicious beef stew and decided to try a popular, pricey place for another course. The decor and the architecture at the second spot were impressive, but the chocolate foie gras was dry. The lesson to revisit is to always trust a local’s recommendation over internet hype. Still pouring rain, we traipsed back to Jake’s subterranean bachelor pad like two excitable fillies in Springtime. The reflection of the lamplights on the rained-upon cobblestone streets interrupted by the octogonal shadows of hurried umbrellas gave the evening a special filmic quality that can only be found in old Europe.

We discussed the virus. Jake was worried about staying in Brussels as it began to spread around Europe, but honestly, no one was really ringing the alarm yet. Life was still normal. We packed up Mum’s precautionary supplies and readied ourselves for our flight to our next stop: Budapest!

The Goddess Array V.3 Party

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

The Goddess Array V.3 Opening

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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

The Goddess Array V.3 @ Hashtag Gallery

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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.

RICV -PVLOMO x GALO x TKUZ

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!”

 

 

Dailytoole 2019 Highlights!!!!

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:

  1. The Goddess Array Coffee Table Book

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Photography: Jennifer Toole // Hair: The Manor Salon // Make-Up: Estelle Phillips // Models: Brianna J. Wood, Beatrix & McKenna Nahaiowski

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

 

10. Goddess Massage Candle

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:

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Shot by George Vale

Here’s to an abundant and fabulous 2020! Thanks for reading. xo

Brianna x Moschino

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Looking like a 90’s supermodel, Brianna works the patio furniture in new a Moschino full-length leather coat dress. VaVaVoom! xo

Photography: Jennifer Toole // Hair: The Manor Salon // Make-Up: Estelle Phillips // Model: Brianna J. Wood

Poppies to Remember

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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. I do love a bit of danger. xo

Photography: Jennifer Toole // Hair: The Manor Salon // Make-Up: Estelle Phillips // Models: Brianna J. Wood, Beatrix & McKenna Nahaiowski

 

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