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My 2017 in short and my top personal moments!

2017 was a challenging yet rewarding year in the sense that although things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go film biz wise, by the time the year was over, I had some solid foundations laid out, I connected with talented/hungry people and am pumped to build on top of that come 2018.

This year, I’ve also re-dipped my toe in the Montreal Film Industry. I had left it behind  after my last local production left a bitter taste in my mouth in terms of the avalanche of BS that fell upon me.  And it was groovy to partner up  on a film prod with locals again. I did a lots of traveling too (as usual) which expanded my horizons culturally and spiritually and also gave me the “breaks” from the battle that I needed to keep coming back to it with replenished vigor.  And my film The Shelter locked further territories (still have some key ones to nail down) and opened up new doors for me.

On the negative side, I spent more time at the doctors this year than I like (bum knee, messed up foot, ear problems) which interfered with my training.  Moreover the Boxing Gym I used to train at burned down (arson) and I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I loved that f-ing place, the vibe  was right and I enjoyed the people I trained with. It kept me sane and I have yet to find a suitable replacement. So it was a huge bummer for me. So for now, am just weightlifting and hitting the bag at home. But I so miss sparring and the camaraderie I had at that Gym.

The loss of this Gym affected me way more than I thought it would.

Moreover, I lost 4 of my cats this year (they went outside and never came back), which broke my heart, specially Jon Snow (below) whom I loved the most .

Now the first 8 months of the year were trying. I believe in the old adage: you pose actions – you get reactions. But in the film biz it’s you pose actions, you get strung along, and it can take years to get the proper reaction. But the tail end of the year spun that around for me out of the blue and just kept on giving. Am starting 2018 with lots of options and that’s a good place to be. Nothing is done, but I am just happy that my my hard work and constant pushing got me on the playing field. You can’t win a fight if you’re not in the ring.

I walked through bigger doors within the film industry this year, made more prominent contacts and things fell in my lap out of nowhere (which never happens to me). I made new friends in the biz as well, with many that I now consider to be brothers and educated myself further in terms of editing, film sales and the art of crowdfunding/social media know-how (my last, last resort  – good to have in your back pocket).

Losing this guy broke my heart. One of the most affectionate and cool as f*ck cats I ever owned.

As an aside, one thing that I recently realized that I’ve been doing unconsciously is teaming up with peeps that are cut from the same cloth as me.  Folks with strength, a sense of honor, loyalty, biz smarts and that are driven to succeed and achieve like motherf*ckers. Am starting to have a very strong circle around me. People that I’m stoked to work with next year and I’m mucho happy about that. You’re only as good as the folks that surround you. And one thing that I have been doing consciously this year – is leaping out of my comfort zone to try things that I normally wouldn’t for the better of the whole.

So yeah, I’m feeling good right now. Stronger, wiser with more knowledge under my belt.  I’m on the right path… so lets go 2018! I’m ready for ya! On that, here are my top favorite moments of 2017! In no particular order…

After years of talking about doing it, my bro Berge and I finally hit Amsterdam and went NUTS down there. NUTS! Loved it! The varied settings, the partying, hanging with my brother, the broads, and finally switching off for a week to  just “be” was much welcomed. An effortless trip. What a great time!
Took a trip to Rome (my second time there) and for a guy who is fascinated by Christian history, man was I spoiled! I explored the countless sights, got blessed by the Pope, enjoyed the night life and got so much out of it on a whole. My fav place to visit was Saint Paul’s Cathedral Outside the Walls, the resting place of St. Paul, hence the pic! The energy there was palpable. I didn’t want to leave!
Got to hit Paris again, see some friends, biz contacts, meet new people (like the great Julien Seri) take in the sights and hanged with bro David Cholewa and his wonderful family. Paris always does good by me! In my perfect world it would be yearly thing! It almost is at this point.  Viva Torrente!
Finally got a new dog after the passing of my girl Toby. Although he’s a freaking handful (part Lab, Part Golden, part Husky) and is now huge for a puppy (80 pounds at 8 months old), it’s a pleasure to have Caesar be part of the family. And yeah I got him right after Rome – which explains his name.
Got to go to Australia for 3 weeks and helped produce (and acted in) a Medieval action film called THE SIEGE with hungry as the wolf actor/producer Paul Allica (pictured).  It was a rewarding experience, it was enthralling to be on set, I saw it as good training ground for my Templar film Heretic, I learned more about action directing from Master Paul Adreovski and gained further experience on every level. I left there  feeling fulfilled and with a handful of brothers in my heart (Siege actor Marc Natoli and I are already working together) – You can’t ask for better than that!
I got to spend some time in Bruges, Belgium this year. Gorgeous, peaceful and a still very Medieval (much to my pleasure) city. I’d love to get married there some day. And I was so happy when I found a Templar site known as the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Hypnotizing  place, filled with a transfixing vibe. LOVED IT. And I saw finding the place by accident as a sign, being that I am developing a Templar film. Yeah I’m THAT guy 🙂
My end of year trip to LA was a success personally and professionally! It was AWESOME to spend time with my bro Eric Red and his lovely wife Mer, (and their doggies),  got some big meetings under my belt and got to see some of my friends out there like this f-ing guy Paul Sloan.
Spent some time in Philadelphia this year! Eric Walkuski and I got an Award for our work on my site Arrow in the Head (Eric W is the Managing Editor on it). But the highlight was getting f-ed up with Eric and just cutting loose with the lad. Even though I’ve known him for eons, I felt that I got to know him more on this trip.  It was also gnarly to meet some people whom I’ve been talking to online for years and finally get to interact with them in person. You bet booze and arm wrestling went down. Fun times!

So all in all, although not as evened as I hoped it would have been – 2017 was a solid year for this guy. Trying for the first two thirds, which went down smoother by all the traveling that I did, and the last third made it all worthwhile with all of the opportunities that arose. So am riding on that last third, going into 2018.

I’ll leave you with a little video that I like to listen to at the end of every year. Give it a try! May pump you up! Happy New Year everybody! Wishing you all health, success, serenity and happiness. God Bless! JF

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My 2016 in short and its top personal moments!

13528422_10154367892279759_6452184030626893313_o“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him.” – John Paul II

Although the world around me seemed to go totally bat-shit crazy (the older I get, the less I relate to our society – I think that’s normal… right?), I had one major professional let-down (a film role that I was sure I had locked but lost due to politics…) and that death/near death was rampant in my inner circle (my uncle died, my aunt died, my dog died, two family members almost died…), 2016 wound up being a solid year for me personally and professionally.

I grew a lot as a human being, got close to my family again, started seeing life in a new light, solidified my spiritual path (which sent me on pilgrimages and lots of diving into books and shit soaking in knowledge…) and switched gears (for the better) as to the man I want to be. I also finally started reaping the rewards of my hard work. Yeah it felt good and definitely gave me the moral boost I needed to keep digging deep and going for my goals no matter the cost. Amidst doing what I love (traveling, being in nature, training, hiking, kayaking, hanging with close friends aka family like Berge, Deke, Elaine etc.) here are my top moments of 2016!

shelter-prem
After what felt like an eternity of pushing, hustling and overcoming obstacles, I steered my directorial debut THE SHELTER in the direction it needed to go and pretty much reached a peek with it. The film had a successful premiere in Beverly Hills, a solid QNA, it screened in theaters, got lots of good reviews (like in the LA times), the script is now part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences library and the film comes out on DVD in North America today (Jan 3, 2017). It should be said that every time somebody tells me how the film moved them or made them think – it affects me. Although the battle is not over (still have foreign to lock), 2016 felt like the beginning of the end of The Shelter chapter in my life. What a ride it was! I grew so much in every way imaginable through it.
oz-bry
I returned to Sidney Australia! Not only did I get to take in the sights and hang with old friends, I also got to visit the set of Ridley Scott’s new ALIEN movie: ALIEN COVENANT. Wow. It was a film buff’s dream come true.
boxing
I spent less times in Pubs and more time in the ring this year. Yup, went back to boxing full time with a great coach in Daniel Guerin and have been loving every second of it – even the beat downs. It relieves stress, challenges me, keeps me in shape and helps me remain sane.
old-pals
I’m the type of guy that doesn’t have many friends, but the buds I do have, usually become family. So it was a pleasure to visit my bros Jason Hewlett and Shawn Knippelberg in Kamloops, BC this year. We partied, shot guns, hiked and partied some more. And yes, I consider both gents to be family now – blessed!
eva-script
The last feature length script I had written was THE SHELTER. Being that all of my energy went into getting that film where it needed to be, my creative energy was fairly non existent i.e. tapped out. This year though, with The Shelter sold, the pressure lessened. I got the chance to spend lots of time at my bud’s lake house and finally pulled off writing a new feature length screenplay. It’s a grounded and harsh female vigilante flick called EVA and it’s gonna own. Am back baby! 😉
new-people
I meet a lot of people in this business but now and again you encounter folks that you can totally relate to and that you wind up respecting fairly quickly. Lucky to have met guys like Mark Lawson (right), Kevin Interdonato or even Paul Sloan (left), whom I’ve known for a bit but will still mention cause he’s on the fucking pic 😉 You’re only as good as the people around you!
wash-bro
I finished off 2016 by going to Washington DC to visit my brother who now lives there (am still in DC as I type this). Loving spending time with him and visiting the sights (and the bars). I missed the basterd…

So that’s pretty much it! I’m personally very excited for 2017! Professionally, I have EVA and THE PRIZE (two films that I will direct) that are heading in the right direction in terms of getting off the ground. Am also diving into HERETIC today, a screenplay that I am writing with Karim Chériguène (it started off as a short by Karim, one that was so damn good, that it begged to be a feature). Think Apocalypse Now but with Templars! Am very excited about that one and already have some production pieces locked in Spain for it. It’s my new passion project! Meaning I’ll kill myself to see it through.

I also anticipate in traveling further this year and establishing myself even more within the film biz. Lots of new cards were handed to me in 2016 and I’m gonna play them the best I can this year. No matter how it goes, I am now better equipped to deal with what goes down, which will make the process easier for me. I see hardships differently, take on obstacles differently and view life as a whole differently. Get in the ring 2017! You’re mine.

RIP-toby
RIP Toby. My heart is missing a piece since you’ve left us and I hope you’re running around freely and happily on another plane of existence.
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