Archive for January, 2015

1. Start a family

My wife and I had planned on starting a family in 2014 but the harsh reality of our personal and financial circumstances made it very clear that bringing a child into our world at that particular time would be unfair to the baby and therefore we put these plans on hold. As things are starting to look up for us in 2015, we will once again attempt to add a new (and un-fluffy) member to our household.

2. Go back to being a vegan

Somebody call the vegan police, I fell off the wagon in 2014! This is rather ironic considering one of the reasons why I moved to Toronto was because it was supposed to be easier to be a vegan given the vegan-friendly nature of the city. But for reasons that I still cannot fathom, I went back to consuming dairy and the odd meat dish. Perhaps it was no coincidence that when I went back to consuming food produced by a cruel industry, my energy levels and psychological makeup dropped to suicidal levels. In 2015, I plan on getting back on the wagon and really disciplining myself in this regard.

3. See a psychologist

On the subject of psychology, 2015 will be the year that I finally decide to seek some psychological help. In 2014, I made numerous references to the fact that I was suicidal only to receive “support” in the form of “likes.” Personally if a friend made numerous references to the fact that he was thinking of taking his life, I’d actually make the effort of contacting that person and talking to him. Evidently this is a practice that doesn’t seem to exist in the age of Facebook and so I find myself in a situation where if I am going to be of any use to my wife as a partner, to any future children I may have as a father and especially to myself as a human being worthy of love and consideration, I will have to do something I’ve been quite reticent to do and seek some help.

4. Find a job in my field

I was very fortunate that my first real job in Toronto was in my field, albeit peripherally. I was employed as a copywriter and photographer. Unfortunately it was for a company living out their own version of As the World Turns and in the process of getting caught up in their soap opera, I found myself unemployed and forced to take a job at a company that is the equivalent of Florida. In other words, it’s a place people go to when they’ve lost the will to live and simply want to die as quickly as possible. In 2015, I plan on dedicating myself to finding something in my field – particularly that of writing as I find myself rediscovering the joys of sitting down and letting my thoughts flow out on paper, or to be more “21st century” digitally on a laptop.

5. Write my first feature-length screenplay and my first book

I keep referring to myself as a writer and filmmaker and yet in 2014, I produced nothing to back such a proclamation up. 2015 I plan on rectifying that by not only writing my first feature-length screenplay but my first book to boot! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been talking about writing and directing a film based on one of my favorite true crime stories. We’re talking about 8 years now. Before this turns into another Chinese Democracy, I plan to finally sit down and write this thing out. I suppose the reason why I’ve been so hesitant to do so is that I hate investing myself in a project where there’s no foreseeable “payoff.” By “payoff,” I’m referring to a green light as far as if I’m done writing by such and such a date, we will then be jumping into production not too long after. While I don’t have any prospects at the moment in actually getting this screenplay into any immediate production, perhaps it’s time I abandon a philosophy that’s been holding me back and start embracing one where I write for the sake of writing itself. The act can be very therapeutic and given the approach I plan on taking with this material, will likely be very cathartic as well. In regards to my book, this I can be a little more open on the subject. I’ve always wanted to teach a course that I would call The Philosophy of Filmmaking. It’s not so much that a would-be filmmaker understand the “hows” of making a film, but rather the “why” we do it. Having made films for 10 years now, I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m a “master filmmaker,” but I do think I’ve learned a thing or two and as such, I think I’d like to put down in words my own philosophies of writing, directing, acting and directing actors, editing, the promotion of one’s film once post-production is done, etc. This book, may even be somewhat autobiographical in that I may write about my own experiences becoming a filmmaker and making the films I’ve made. Given how easy it is to self-publish a book, there’s really no excuse for me not to.

6. Meet people in the Toronto film scene and build a network

Setting in a new city took a lot longer than I anticipated and as such, I didn’t really have any time to pursue building a new network for myself in the Toronto indie film scene. Now that I have established a base for myself financially, I can finally move on to introducing myself to the Toronto scene and hopefully meet new people who I can build a network around and start working on projects together. I’ve debated what would be the best way to do this. Should I book a cinema and hold a retrospective for myself where I screen my films so they can meet Matthew Saliba the filmmaker? Perhaps. But that could be a little costly, if not self-indulgent. Then I thought one of the best ways I can integrate myself in the Toronto filmmaking community would be the way I did it back in Montreal – acting! In my 10 years making movies, I found that the best way to meet potential casts and crews for your own projects was through acting in indie films and plays. You gain greater insight into how actors work and you see firsthand who are the ones that are genuinely enthusiastic about the process and who are the egos you want to avoid. In 2015, I plan on starting to audition for films and plays and hopefully meet new people who I can begin a longstanding professional relationship with.

7. Finish reading The Wheel of Time

Okay, my final resolution is rather less significant and a tad anticlimactic in relation to the previous six, but it’s still a mountain I intend to climb in 2015. I’ve given Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy saga which clocks in at 14 books (15 if you include New Spring, the prequel) multiple chances over the years but usually around Book #5 (The Fires of Heaven) is where my interest starts to drop. The furthest I’ve ever gotten was Book #7 (A Crown of Swords). I’m currently 3/4 of the way through The Fires of Heaven, and I intend on sticking it out until the bitter end. At its best, it is a masterpiece of fantasy literature that for my money, eclipses The Lord of the Rings. At its worst, it’s first-year creative writing student bad with its endless padding, inclusion of uninteresting side-characters and plots and misogynistic portrayal of female characters. Either way, I dropped more than a pretty penny buying the entire run of books and I intend on getting my money’s worth.

While it may seem obvious to anyone who’s been following my life exploits on Facebook that 2014 was a rough year, I actually prefer to look at it as the year I finally became a man.

Now what does it mean to “become a man?” Some may equate such a transformation as having turned 18. Others may define it as the period in which one finds a partner and gets married. And others still may see it as finally securing a future for themselves via landing a great job. Personally, and as 2014 taught me all too well, I see “becoming a man” as the moment one stops making life decisions based on personal self-indulgences and starts taking into consideration the needs of his loved ones and above all else, that of necessity.

We often talk about “living in the moment” and how we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the past and especially a future that we can never be certain will ever come to pass. And as such, we come to define “living in the moment” as forgoing a life of laid out plans for the future and embracing an existence on temporary satisfaction and hedonism. But what if “living in the moment” means realizing you have rent to pay and no financial means to do so? What if “living in the moment” means having to choose whether you or your children (or in my case, my cats) get to eat today. What if “living in the moment” means having to consider your personal morals and beliefs and finally being forced to challenge them in ways you could never imagine having to do so?

These were questions I faced throughout 2014 and I am very proud to say that for the first time, I was able to step up to the plate and make the necessary decisions to ensure the personal and financial security and well-being of my family at the expense of my own values.

It is very easy to remain content and comforted living in a bubble where one ignores the harsh realities of life. Real men are the ones who grab that needle and burst that bubble to face these realities head on.

So while I can sit back and bemoan the fact that 2014 was an awful year, the eternal optimist in me prefers to look at it as the year in which I not only burst the aforementioned bubble, I annihilated it and graduated to manhood in the process.

As if premiering in 21 different countries for a grand total of 24 film festival screenings in 2014 wasn’t enough, EROTICIDE was extremely fortunate to snag a pair of year-end awards for 2014!

Brian Skutle over at Sonic Cinema listed EROTICIDE as one of the “movies that made an impact on me in 2014” and had this to say about his decision:

“Eroticide” (Directed by Matthew Saliba) – Yan and Elise are out on a romantic dinner, celebrating nine months together, when in walks Kendra. Kendra is Yan’s ex, who Yan broke up with after five years because, he realized, that he deserved more than her humiliating form of “love.” He grew a positive sense of self, and moved on to something better. When Kendra comes back into his life, though, there is a shocking reversal that sends his relationship with Elise spiraling. Watching Saliba’s emotionally absorbing short film again, the thing that really continues to stand out is the way we aren’t quite sure whether or not to feel sorry for Yan after his emotionally abusive ex comes back into his life, or pity him for how little he seems to have really changed, despite having a wonderful woman in his life in Elise, when we see the effect Kendra has on him. At some point, we have to just accept the choices we’ve made in life, and Yan makes some truly awful ones here. The result is a powerful look at a damaged soul, and how one event can have tragic consequences. It will stay with you.”

He was also very generous to list Stephanie van Rijn‘s performance as Elise as one of his “favorite performances of 2014.” Van Rijn is in grand company as the following list illustrates:

1. Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
2. Jake Ghyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
3. Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
4. Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin” & “Lucy”
5. Russell Crowe, “Noah”
6. Chloe Grace Moretz, “If I Stay”
7. Matthew McConaughey, “Interstellar”
8. Jay Baruchel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
9. Stephanie van Rijn, “Eroticide”
10. Jessica Chastain, “Interstellar”
11. Chris Pratt, “The LEGO Movie” & “Guardians of the Galaxy”
12. Suley Rivera, “Showing Sydney”
13. Edward Norton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
14. Eva Green, “300: Rise of the Empire” & “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”
15. Kevin Costner, “Draft Day”

The entire article can be viewed here.

Thank you very much, Brian!

For those who are still not in the know, EROTICIDE is available to view for free online right below:

Theatrical Viewings:

  1. MR. TURNER (2014) – directed by Mike Leigh
  2. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (2014) – directed by Shawn Levy
  3. BIRDMAN OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2014) – directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
  4. GONE GIRL (2014) – directed by David Fincher
  5. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) – directed by Stanley Kubrick (70mm)
  6. BIG EYES (2014) – directed by Tim Burton
  7. INHERENT VICE (2014) – directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (70mm)
  8. ROMY & MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (1997) – directed by David Mirkin (35mm)
  9. BIG HERO 6 (2014) – directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams
  10. WHIPLASH (2014) – directed by Damien Chazelle

Home Viewings:

  1. BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKSTAN (2006) – directed by Larry Charles
  2. TOO TALL (2014) – directed by Ivan Petric
  3. SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT (1999) – directed by Trey Parker
  4. TWINS (1988) – directed by Ivan Reitman
  5. AMERICAN MOVIE (1999) – directed by Chris Smith
  6. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) – directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
  7. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014) – directed by Dean DeBlois
  8. UPSTREAM COLOR (2013) – directed by Shane Carruth
  9. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) – directed by Henry Selick
  10. GREMLINS (1984) – directed by Joe Dante
  11. JINGLE ALL THE WAY (1996) – directed by Brian Levant
  12. PRANCER (1989) – directed by John D. Hancock
  13. BLADE RUNNER (1982) – directed by Ridley Scott
  14. ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS (1988) – directed by John R. Cherry III
  15. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992) – directed by Brian Henson
  16. HOME ALONE (1990) – directed by Chris Columbus
  17. CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) – directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
  18. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) – directed by Frank Capra
  19. NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. I (2013) – directed by Lars von Trier (2nd viewing)
  20. NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. II (2013) – directed by Lars von Trier (2nd viewing)

Television:

  1. THE FLINTSTONES, 6×01-6×14
  2. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, 1×01-1×05, 2×01-2×04