Meet our Client: Sebastian Pigott

Born and raised in Toronto and educated at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, Sebastian Pigott’s numerous credits include multiple TV series’ The Listener, Haven, The Bridge, and Deadliest Sea, and feature films Small Town Murder Songs and SAW 3D. Pigott has a recurring role on Being Erica, and holds a supporting role in the film High Chicago. He also enjoys writing music and screenplays, and taking his Honda Shadow 750 RS across Ontario to fish and go camping. He currently lives in Toronto.

We had the opportunity to have a quick drink with Sebastian and we got to talking about upcoming projects, his time on Canadian Idol, and his love for fishing. Thanks for visiting us on the fourth floor, Sebastian!

Twitter: @sebastianpigott

Photo credit: Indrek Mandmets.

What do you do?

I am an actor, writer, and a musician.

When did you start acting?
I went to Etobicoke School of Arts but I didn’t have great passion for it. That came later, about seven years ago, when I started studying as a profession. That was followed by the requisite years of poverty and desperation, then you start to cobble together a living. That’s what drove me to pursue writing, which has proved to be most excellent.

How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
Known Debra for a while now, but officially with rock-it for the last couple months.

Why is PR important to you?
I think it goes back to the idea that in my line of work, there are things that I have to do. I want to work and I want to make myself more employable. So I have to do things that will expose me and ultimately, make me more employable.

What do you love most about your job?
I’ve been lucky to be able to write, act and sing. I would be happy to finger paint if that’s what people wanted me to do – it’s a fortune to be a professional artist.

What do you like least about your profession?
I find doing media a little tough. It’s such a big part of what we do and yet at the same time, not at all what we do. I mean, who’s to say that a person that plays the guitar is going to be a great conversationalist? They may come across as boring on paper. I think that should be a new title, professional conversationalist.

On the show Being Erica, your character Kai Booker is often referred to as a time-traveling singer/musician. I know you have a musical background. Are there any other qualities you and Kai share?
I’m pretty much playing myself! That being said, I’ve had to dig inside to darker places to get inspiration [Ed. note: Kai, Sebastian’s character is an opium addict]. At the end of the day, Kai’s a guy hung up on a girl, there are other things going on, but the main thing is being hung up on a girl. And that’s easy to relate to.

You got your musical break during Canadian Idol, what was that experience like?
I did it on a whim. I didn’t go in thinking I was going to audition, I just went along to hang out. I think this is what gave me an advantage over other people, I was more relaxed than the other contestants. After being on the show [he ended in top 10], doors started opening up. Opportunities like Being Erica came up, which is pretty cool.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I’ve written a film that is now being looked at by some key people. I can’t say much, but it appears we’ve found a producer in the US (knock on wood). This is going to be a great project. I’m (cautiously) over the moon.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer: Versace. I have a vintage Versace jacket and I love it.
Book: Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.
Snack: Liquorice, although I recently found out that I have a gluten allergy, so I get by on nachos.
Season: Spring.
Sexy: Pajamas.
Drink: Strongbow.
Motto in two  a few words: It’s harder to walk forward when you are stepping on your own feet.
Idea of perfect day off: Going fishing! Especially going up to Big Rideau Lake. Went there last weekend and caught a 26” pike.
Indulgence: Candy, I have a ridiculous sweet tooth.
Greatest achievement: The song that my brother and I wrote for Kai. We got some great feedback and tons of YouTube plays. [Ed. note: over 200,000, to be precise].

Rave: Textuality: 10 Minutes with Carly Pope

Our intern, Amalia, tagged along on our recent press day with for the film Textuality. She sat down with one of the stars, Carly Pope. They chatted texting (of course), shooting in Toronto and juggling university with acting. Textuality opens in select theatres today. 

Today I found myself in the most amazing position in my professional career: I got to attend the press day for the Canadian film, Textuality.

Click for more info.
The film is a lighthearted look at two people trying to get into a relationship, who must first get OUT of the multiple relationships they were managing through their BlackBerrys before they met. At it’s heart, Textuality is a story about living, loving, and most importantly, laughing at ourselves in this intensely digital age. The movie stars none other than the Absolut Hunk himself, Jason Lewis, with the gorgeous Carly Pope playing the leading lady.

Carly Pope at the premiere of Textuality.

I sat down with Carly to chat about her character, Simone.

We understand you first started acting on the stage back in high school. Is theatre something that you’d consider going back to at all?
I would 100 per cent go back to theatre. In the past, I’ve produced and starred in several plays, including a recent play in L.A. It’s something that I really enjoy, and it brings back great memories.
Keeping with the theme of school, did you continue your education while you worked?
At first, yes. I went to the University of British Columbia out of high school for six months. Then, I had to leave because I landed a role in a TV show called Popular.

For the last 10 years, I’ve tried to complete courses through distance education, but I’ve understood what I love about school is being IN the classroom environment. To me, what’s important is the experience. My mom has often told me, “you don’t need a B.A., you have life experiences!”.

In the movie, you play the female lead – Simone. Without giving too much away, can you tell us if the texting theme of the film resonated with your personal life?
I actually set my phone to silent a year ago. I didn’t want the noise and buzz around all the time. I find that dealing with responding to people [via text], you lose connections with [them]; you miss out on intricacies of speech.

My cellphone in Vancouver doesn’t even have caller ID. I honestly want to be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised when I pick up the phone! Keeps things interesting.
Back to Simone… can we talk about her amazing loft?
Well, the loft and I kinda go back. You see, the producer for a previous film I was in (Young People F*cking) tried to get this loft for my character in that film, but things didn’t work out. So when I heard that we would be shooting at that same loft (and, most importantly, that my character would be living there), I was so excited.

It was a great experience shooting in the apartment. Everything from the walls to the artwork was so inspiring. The combination of the vintage décor and modern art displayed throughout the space gave it such a great vibe.

If you’re wondering: Carly told us the loft is in Cabbagetown. Exactly where? We aren’t sure. 😉
What was your favourite part about shooting in Toronto?
For me, it’s a special treat to come to Toronto. I have family and dear friends that live here, so any excuse to come back is happily welcomed. I also really enjoy the vast differences within Toronto. There’s the financial district, which is the corporate side of the city, and then you have this other rich, lush and diverse cultural scene. It’s amazing, I like the high energy that I feel, and I also don’t mind hitting the pavement every now and then. 😉
Thank you – it was a pleasure chatting with you. 
You too!

Tweet about the film @textualitymovie or join the Facebook group here. Watch the trailer here!

TIFF’10: Meet Our Client: Allen Altman

With a talent for playing deep, brooding roles, complemented by characters ranging from comedic to dramatic, Montreal-raised Allen Altman is making a scene at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The dashing actor stars in Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated film, Incendies, and a Greg Atkins short titled Above The Knee.

Altman will also shine on the small screen this fall, with his recurring role on HBO Canada’s Living in your Car and Incendo Productions’ Wandering Eye. Prior to becoming an actor, Altman enjoyed a successful career as a model. He studied acting at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City before relocating to Los Angeles to learn the Meisner Technique with Sandy Marshall, and later, at Warren Robertson’s Theatre Workshop.

Altman (who is bilingual) lives and works in Toronto, where he gardens and avidly practices Bikram yoga.


What do you do?
I am an actor, and I run an interior design company.

How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
I met Debra about five years ago.

What do you love most about your job?
I am passionate about following my INSTINCT in everything. I also love the playfulness and discovery in acting, being able to live in the moment. Whether it’s drama or a comedy, it’s so rewarding to follow your heart. Over the years, I realized that the more you follow your voice, the greater the rewards.

What do you like the least about your profession/industry?
I am no bull, and raw, and have a hard time with superficiality and attitude. I try and stay focused on the work and the generous positive artists I collaborate with.   

What’s your next big goal?
I would love to do a movie with Bruce McDonald. He directed me in Living in Your Car and I found his honesty inspiring and his positivity contagious.

Why is PR important to you (and what you do professionally)?
Some projects are so rewarding and the storytelling is so epic that you want to shout it from the rooftop.
PR is the rooftop. When I read the script for Incendies, even before auditioning, I knew that it would be amazing, especially with Denis Villeneuve directing. I feel blessed to have worked on it and want celebrate that.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your public relations experience?

I love Debra Goldblatt, and Christina (Walters) and Lisa (Power). The gang at rock-it know what actors deal with and they make PR fun and effortless.  

A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer: Andy Warhol
Store: Home Depot
Book: Fallen by David Maine
Snack: Olives
Season: Seasons of love
Sexy: To me, honesty and the capacity to laugh at yourself are sexy.
Inspiration: The elements 
Drink: Water
Motto in two words: Fearless Creativity
Idea of perfect happiness: Always staying curious…
Indulgence: Green and Black’s’ Organic Ginger Black Chocolate 
Greatest achievement: Life

TIFF ’10: Meet Our Client: Noah Reid

You’ll soon see Noah Reid lacing up his skates in TIFF’s opening night film, Score! A Hockey Musical. Plus, he just scored the lead in a Syfy pilot on Fox called Three Inches, an action-adventure/fantasy with a superhero twist.

An actor since the age of eight, Reid has lent his voice to many animated series, including Franklin the Turtle, Jane and the Dragon and Pippi Longstocking. He also starred in various small screen roles, including Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, Terry, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Soul Food and In Love and War.

Reid holds impressive theatre credits, including roles at the world-renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, Blyth Festival and Theatre Aquarius. He was a recipient of the prestigious John Hirsch Award (2009), which is given to the most promising actor in the Stratford Festival.

Reid attended Etobicoke School of the Arts (Toronto), and is a graduate of the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada (Montreal). He currently lives in Toronto and is a client of Gary Goddard Agency. He is managed by DF Management in LA and NYC.

What do you do? 
I’m an actor. And a semi-musician. 
How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
We started working together in June 2010, to gear up for the release of my film Score: A Hockey Musical. [Ed. note: In select Canadian theatres beginning October 22].
What do you love most about your job?
I get to wear other people’s lives and see what it’s like to be them. I can leave whatever else is going on in my life at the door, and literally walk in someone else’s shoes. I mean, I started acting when I was about six years old, professionally when I was eight, and I had never had so much fun. Everyone involved seemed so cool and funny, and had great stories.
I got to say and do stuff I would never say or do as a normal kid, and audiences would laugh and applaud, and it all seemed like organized goofing around to me. I guess it’s never really changed. 
Now, I can also appreciate that I get to learn from the different walks of life that my characters come from. Actors end up with a grab bag of (often useless) skills and knowledge from playing the roles they play in their careers, and I think there’s something really cool about that.
What do you like the least about your profession/industry?

I find it tough to deal with the business side of things. It’s all fun and games when you’re acting, but there’s a real edge to the industry as well, and I find I am always reminded that it is a business where business decisions are made. 
The classic example is the audition process, and the rejection that goes hand in hand with it. Actors always have to remind themselves not to take it personally, which is hard when our work is so deeply personal. Actors are also friends with other actors, and sometimes a part can come between a friendship. But, I think you learn to deal with that pretty quickly. 

Personally, I would be thrilled to just learn my lines, show up and have a good time, but there’s a game within the game.

What’s your next big goal?
I’d like to get to a point where I have more control over the projects I’m doing. I mean, I’ve never said yes to a project I didn’t want to do, but that’s different from choosing roles and projects and colleagues. It’s probably a ways down the road, but for me the goal is a little bit of creative control.
Why is PR important to you (and what you do professionally)?
I mentioned the “business” side of the business; the “game within the game”. Well, these are areas that are important in getting ahead, and they’re areas I can use help with. 
I am terrible at self-promotion. I want people to know who I am and to think of me for interesting and challenging roles, and if my name and face keep popping up in the right place at the right time, then maybe I’m a little closer to that. But, if I were in charge of making sure that happened all on my own, I’d probably want to shoot myself.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your public relations experience?
It’s really nice to not be stressed out about this side of my work, and to know that there are some very capable people behind me. 

A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer Hugo Boss.
Store – A music store called Paul’s Boutique, in Kensington Market.
Book – Anything by Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Martin McDonagh or William Shakespeare.
Snack – Anything with salt and grease.
Season – Winter.
Sexy – Definitely.
Inspiration – Irish playwrights, Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, women, older actors.
Drink – Guiness.
Motto in two words – Have fun.
Idea of perfect happiness – Going to the cottage with my lady for a week after working on something really challenging and meaningful.
Indulgence – Which one?
Greatest achievement – Continuing to do what I love.

TIFF ’10: A visit from…Leesa Butler

It’s on! The Toronto International Film Festival officially starts tomorrow. Every year, TIFF brings celebrities, great films, parties and swag, and with it, the annual Tastemakers Lounge. In its sixth year, the most-hyped swag lounge of the festival wouldn’t be possible without co-founder Leesa Butler. She’s made many trips up to the fourth floor as of late, to plan and execute the details of this year’s (fantastic) Tastemakers Lounge. We were able to catch some stories from the past six years – here they are.

Debra Goldblatt and I met when she was doing publicity for Canadian Idol (my husband Jake was a judge), getting the judges seen out on red carpets and events. Jake didn’t like to go without me, and Debra and I quickly hit it off. I was new to Toronto, and overwhelmed at the lack of vision behind event gifting in Canada, given the popularity of gift lounges everywhere else celebrities gathered. Quite simply, Debra and I had lunch one day to get to know each other better and ended up brainstorming Tastemakers.

Film festival was barely a couple of months away, but we made it work, and launched the first-ever swag lounge at TIFF in 2005. Since then, we have hosted Tastemakers Lounges at every major celebrity event in Canada. Our biggest event is during TIFF.

One of our crowning moments was HGTV filming the Green Lounge episode we did, when The Designer Guys designed our lounge in entirely eco-friendly materials. During TIFF, I spend 10 days making celebs and VIPs smile with all kinds of great products and services that we bring together in the Tastemakers Lounge. As the VP of Operations, I work on logistics and sponsor relations, and Debra and her rock-it promotions team work the media. We both secure sponsorships and develop the vision.

There have been some truly hilarious moments, like when Shirley MacLaine, who would allow us to photograph her but refused to pose, was so curious about what was in the lounge that she nearly tore it apart. She was poking through boxes in the storage room like a child, “What’s in here?”, and nearly walked off with a sponsor’s purse, saying “This is nice, you’re giving THIS away?”.

The year Slumdog Millionaire got its rave reviews in Toronto (putting it back on the map for global domination), the director Danny Boyle and top cast members were in the lounge. And the very moment Danny is checking out a tie, one of the key songs from his movie (with Ewan McGregor) Trainspotting came over the stereo. Danny turns to us, cocks his head to listen and says, “Cool, guys”.

Sometimes, they get a little silly, like Jeremy Renner posing with a patent leather and plaid Joe Fresh Style purse. You just never know what’s going to happen.

I love it when they come back after having been to Tastemakers years before, and remember how much they loved something they got from us. Those stories are priceless. That’s why we do this.

Butler’s knack for marketing appeared almost as early as her love of fashion. After growing up in the United States and working in advertising, public relations and online marketing agencies, Butler relocated to Canada.

Here, she created Divine Lab, Inc. with a focus on marketing consulting and event planning for companies like Kontent Publishing, the Fashion Design Council of Canada and Luminato Festival of Arts & Creativity. Butler teamed up with a publicist friend in 2005 to launch Tastemakers Lounge, the first-ever Canadian gift lounge. These swag lounges promote brands and products to media and celebrities at high-profile Canadian events, like the Toronto International Film Festival, JUNO Awards, Gemini Awards and Genie Awards. In 2006, she created The F-list, a web community for fashion lovers in Canada. The F-list was born out of a desire to embrace Canadian fashion designers the best way she knows how – by promoting them. 

With designer profiles, sale and event listings, plus a monthly newsletter (The F Word) with news stories from the front lines of fashion, The F-list champions the Canadian fashion scene. With the advent of social media, her consulting focus has turned to teaching corporations and independent businesses how to engage customers and build their brand using Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. Butler sits on the board of Fashion Group International, a global fashion industry organization based in her former home, New York City. Butler’s fashion advice and knowledge is regularly published in various magazines and websites, and she often emcees fashion or marketing events. In her spare time, she reorganizes her massive shoe collection.

Twitter: @theFlist

Meet Our Client: Jennifer Podemski

Born and raised in Toronto, Jennifer Podemski began her career at age 10, and has since dedicated her life to the performing arts, film and television. Her big break came when she landed a supporting role in the screen adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s acclaimed novel The Diviners. Since then, she has appeared in numerous television series and stage productions, including a starring role in Bruce MacDonald’s Dance Me Outside and the TV series spin off The Rez (nominated for a Best Actress Gemini Award).

Podemski also owns and operates an independent production company, Redcloud Studios, where she writes, directs and produces. She is currently executive-producing the award-winning National Aboriginal Achievement Awards for the fifth consecutive year, just signed a book deal with Fitzhenry & Whiteside, and has a feature film in the works with The Canadian Film Centre (CFC).

She can currently be seen in her seventh season of Degrassi: The Next Generation and has a supporting role in Sarah Polley’s highly anticipated second feature film, Take This Waltz, co-starring Michelle Williams and Sarah Silverman.

What do you do?

I am an actor, producer and director.

How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
I was one of their first clients (10 years)!

What do you love most about your job?
I love working with so many different kinds of talented people. I feel so blessed that I am surrounded by creativity and imagination.

What do you like the least about your profession/industry?
Having to watch my weight!

What’s your next big goal?
To spin my ass off, literally. I am counting down to a nude scene.

Why is PR important to you (and what you do professionally)?
It’s like a reference letter. If you’re in the paper, or if someone is interested in writing about you, it puts you in the public consciousness and could bring in new work.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your public relations experience?
I’m good at talking about other people who I believe in, rather than myself. That is why PR is so important. I am grateful for rock-it promotions and all they have done for me.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer? Angela DeMontigny.
Store? Breds Custom.
Book? My Life So Far, Jane Fonda’s biography, had a profound impact on me.
Snack? Rice chips and hummus.
Season? Fall.
Sexy? Yes I am, thanks!
Inspiration? My baby girl Willow.
Drink? Water.
Motto in two words? PAY IT FORWARD.
Idea of perfect happiness? FEELING LOVED and GIVING LOVE every moment of every day.
Indulgence? Coffee.
Greatest achievement? My daughter.

*Full disclosure – our boss lady Debra and Jennifer have been best friends since childhood; however, their relationship as client/proprietor is strictly professional. Well, most of the time.

Photo credits: Nadya Kwandibens, Bengamin Stevens