Meet Blue Lotus Ethnobotanicals

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver. Want to take part? Drop me a line.


Meet my sister, Amelia, and her partner, Patrick! I’m so inspired by their whimsy ways and deep connection to the earth. Read their story below and learn about how they craft herbal tinctures, salves, and tea blends by sourcing right from nature.

Tell us about yourselves. How did you meet?

We both own the company Blue Lotus ethnobotanicals. We spend our time formulating and making tinctures, salves, and tea blends. Wildcrafting, camping, and learning new ways to perserve wild foods and medicines is our passion! We love each other and being in the forest! Of course our families and community also! We met when I had just come back from Vipassana, a meditation camp in Alberta, and was headed to “The Potluck House” (where Patrick lived in) to meet my friend Sara, although, she was not there yet, Patrick and my friend being the only ones there! It was love at forest site ahaha I suppose!

What is Blue Lotus Ethnobotanicals?

Blue Lotus Ethnobotanicals is a company based on bringing the best medicinals from around the world, as well as working with what grows in our local environment. We focus a lot on wildcrafting medicinal plants and fungi here in Alberta and British Columbia. By using sustainable harvesting practices, and preparing medicines from these wild plants, we hope to raise people’s awareness of local herbal medicines, and to foster an appreciation and love of the wild lands and forests, to see them not just as empty or wasted space but as a valuable resource worthy of protection.

What got you started on this venture? How did you get into creating tinctures?

When we first met, Patrick made a tincture of Sexual Tonic and Aphrodisiac. Not that WE needed it at the time, but we tested it out on our friends, and it was such a huge hit with our friends we decided to continue to create more and more! As we got more into wild plants and foods it came naturally to tincture the medicines as it’s a great way to preserve and extract them!


What sort of tinctures do you offer? What do they do? Do you have a favourite?

We offer a variety of tinctures ranging from our more playful ones such as Sexual Tonic and Aphrodisiac and Herbal Ecstacy to more medicinal ones such as Adaptogen and Immunostimulant, Medicinal Mushroom blend, and then to a whole line in which we wildcrafted ourselves such as Wild Adaptogen, Wild Ginger, Wild Sarsaparilla… etc.

If you’d like to order some tinctures, salves, and tea blends or just learn more about their products, send them an email.

What has been the biggest challenge?

The Biggest challenge has been to be organized on a business point of view. The making of everything has come naturally and with joy. As for the business aspect, we fly by the seat of our pants and sometimes it feels more forced than natural. Marketing and selling our product on a level other than one-on-one basis is challenging.

What advice can you give to crafters & artisans starting on a similar journey?

Do what you love! It’s worth it no matter what if it’s something that you enjoy doing and will do no matter what!

What’s in the works for you in the near future?

Our goals are to expand and get into more stores and continue on with new formulas as they come!

How do you keep your life playful & brilliant?

Well, we love what we do and spend so much of the time wildcrafting for the tinctures that life couldn’t be better! We have allowed ourselves to go at our rate and grow our business slowly, so we haven’t had much stress about the need for expansion or over commitment! We love it to say the least.

Much love to Amelia & Patrick. I’m so happy to share their story. Again, if you want to order tinctures, learn more or just say hi, simply email Amelia & Patrick!

26 Easy Ways to Help the Environment

My Little Sister (in the Big Sisters Study Buddy Program) and I came up with 26 easy ways to help the environment. We’re both pretty conscientious about our daily choices, but felt that there is always room for improvement. So, if you’re looking for easy ways to help the environment, here are 26 of them!

26 Easy Ways to Help the Environment

25 Easy Ways to Help the Environment

  1. Don’t smoke

  2. Throw away waste/recyclables/compost in their appropriate bins

  3. Don’t pick plants or cut down trees just because you want to

  4. Bring your own mug/thermos to the coffee shop

  5. Use things made with recyclable materials as much as you can

  6. Donate to environmental organizations

  7. Walk, ride your bike, or use public transit

  8. Watch nature channels and documentaries to learn more about the environment and how you can help

  9. Don’t waste water

  10. Turn off the lights and unplug outlets when you leave the room

  11. Plant more plants!

  12. Use revolving doors (they help conserve energy)

  13. Don’t run water while you brush your teeth (you can use a cup of water instead)

  14. Don’t use exfoliants with plastic microbes because they harm fish and wildlife

  15. Pay your bills online

  16. Use environmentally friendly lightbulbs

  17. Don’t wash your hair frequently

  18. Stir coffee with dry pasta instead of a stir stick

  19. Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand and only run it when it’s full

  20. Reduce or eliminate meat consumption

  21. Use a refillable water bottle

  22. Limit use of napkins (try using only one next time)

  23. Don’t put glass in the trash

  24. Eat + shop locally

  25. Support + use renewable energy as much as possible

  26. Volunteer!

The Cutest Instagram Animals to Follow Now

The cutest Instagram animals are where I spend my time on Instagram. It’s hard to resist their sweet eyes, endearing grins, and awkward poses! Here are the top nine cutest Instagram animals. Go follow them right now!

The Cutest Instagram Animals to Follow Now


Cutest Instagram Animals - TheodoreToast
TheodoreToast tops the list because he lives next door to where I work. Plus he’s just so fluffy. Look at those eyes!


Cutest Instagram Animals - BunnyPigi
I love BunnyPigi also because she’s fluffy. I just really want to feed her a carrot.


DarcyTheFlyingHedgehog has made me fall in love with rodents. He looks so sophisticated don’t you think?


Cutest Instagram Animals - UnderBite
UnderbiteUnite (aka Daisy) makes my heart melt. I love these animals overcoming adversity.


Cutest Instagram Animals - Maru
MaruTaro looks like the life of the party. I want him… now!


Cutest Instagram Animals - Marnie
MarnieTheDog is one of the luckiest and cutest Instagram animals. She gets to meet celebs on a regular basis. Bitch.*

*Pun intended


Cutest Instagram Animals - ShiShi
Shi Shi (aka @emonemon) 100% reminds me of my own cat. Namely because of this photo.


Cutest Instagram Animals - PudgeCat
PudgeTheCat is one of the cutest Instagram animals that looks the most surly. I seriously take pleasure in his misery.

Chi Chi via @stephiestylings

Cutest Instagram Animals - Chi Chi
I also share photos of my own cutest Instagram animal, Chi Chi. Follow us @stephiestylings.

VIFF 2016 Must See Films in Vancouver

I don’t think I’ll have time to see all my VIFF 2016 must see films, but I’m excited for the festival nonetheless. The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is by far my favorite festival in Vancouver. Every year, I buy a six-pack pass for all my VIFF 2016 must see films, but it’s not nearly enough to catch all the flicks that peak my interest.

Here is my list of the top 11 VIFF 2016 must see films in Vancouver.

Top 11 VIFF 2016 Must See Films in Vancouver

VIFF 2016 Must See Films

Screenshot taken from

All descriptions are taken from the VIFF website.
I have no affiliation with VIFF, just absolutely love it!

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 01 :: Julieta

After the raucous sex comedy of I’m So Excited and the psychological body horror of The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar brings us a vivid, female-driven picture that takes him back to a near-extinct genre: the heart-on-the-sleeve melodrama. Based on stories by Alice Munro, Julieta uses a familiar framework to house the director’s idiosyncratic style.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 02 :: The Teacher

The prolific Czech director-writer duo Jan Hřebejk and Petr Jarchovský (Divided We Fall) return to top form with the compelling Slovak-language dramedy The Teacher. Set in Bratislava during the final decade of communism, it examines the abuse of power at a middle school. Zuzana Mauréry (named best actress at Karlovy Vary) tears into the part of a lifetime as a terrifying instructor who heads the local Communist Party and uses her pupils to manipulate their parents for her own personal benefit…

Buy Tickets

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 03 :: Franca: Chaos and Creation

hen fashion insiders want to visit the territory where fashion, art and provocation meet, they pick up Vogue Italia, considered the world’s most important fashion magazine. With Franca: Chaos and Creation, director Francesco Carrozzini has made an intimate portrait of his mother, Franca Sozzani, the legendary editor-in-chief of the magazine since 1988. Encompassing both the ridiculous and the sublime, her astonishing but often controversial magazine covers have not only broken the rules but also set the high bar for fashion, art and commerce over the past 25 years. From 2005’s infamous Plastic Surgery Issue in which photographer Steven Meisel documented supermodel Linda Evangelista’s “makeover” to the legendary Black Issue in 2008, which featured only black models and—despite industry prognostications to the contrary—sold out in America and the UK in 72 hours, Sozzani was unafraid to take the industry by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. As the film shows, she remains deeply committed to exploring subject matter off limits to most and occasionally redefining the concept of beauty in the process.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 04 :: The Unknown Girl

Adèle Haenel (Love at First Fight, VIFF 14) confirms her place in the firmament of French movie stars with a riveting turn in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s (Two Days, One Night, VIFF 14) latest drama. She plays Jenny, a committed young Belgian doctor who, when not training interns and making house calls, cares for the poor and needy at the clinic where she works. One day she receives a call from the police: a woman’s body has been found on a nearby riverbank. Might Jenny have any information that could help with the investigation? With a shock, she realizes that the woman was someone she had turned away from the clinic due to the lateness of the hour. With her conscience preying on her, she makes some inquiries of her colleagues and realizes that few seem even remotely interested in the fate, or even the identity, of the woman, who was black and without papers. So, driven by guilt, Jenny decides to investigate for herself…

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 05 :: Sonita

The dismaying practice of selling teenagers into marriage is thrust into the damning spotlight in Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s essential documentary. An Afghan refugee in Iran, 14-year-old Sonita aspires to be a hip-hop superstar like Rihanna. But such fantasies can’t fully distract her from the grim reality that she and her teenage friends all have prices on their heads. During breaks at school, she and her fellow refugees don’t talk about boys or pop culture trends, but how much their parents will get for them. When Sonita’s brother requires a dowry to pay for his own bride, her family decides that selling her is the best way to secure the necessary funds.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 06 :: Lights Before Water

Made in collaboration with the Cree community of Waswanipi, Lights Above Water is an extraordinary documentary that is equal parts observational and poetic. Shot over the course of a year, co-directors Nicolas Lachapelle and Ariel St-Louis Lamoureux’s film follows a group of young children through their daily lives as they talk about their home, play, hunt, and dance (a moment that triggers a particularly memorable Rihanna music cue). The camera manages to keep a distance, allowing the children to guide the film and express themselves, privileging the viewer by immersing us in their world. Expressive stylistic flourishes and striking imagery imbue the work with a lyrical quality unusual for documentary. A generous and humane meditation on identity and place unfettered by an issue-driven hook or a conventional narrative, Lights Above Water (a colloquial translation of “Waswanipi”) is the rare sort of film that refuses to impose its own agenda while transcending categorization and refraining from delivering a simple message. In so doing, it becomes a beautiful work of art to behold.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 07 :: Neruda

Another robust and inventive drama from Pablo Larraín (No, VIFF 12; The Club, VIFF 15), Neruda, set in 1948 Chile, is more about the transformative possibilities of art and the power of cinematic storytelling than it is a biopic of the great poet, politician and diplomat Pablo Neruda (played here by Luis Gnecco). In fact, while the spirit of the poet hovers over every frame of the film, Neruda, the personage, takes a back seat to Gael García Bernal’s terrific performance as Oscar Peluchonneau, a somewhat inept yet self-aggrandizing police detective who, Javert-like, makes it his mission to hunt down Neruda once the poet is forced into hiding due to his communist beliefs. That we are never sure of Peluchonneau’s reliability as a guide through the proceedings is a deliberate strategy, as is the complex depiction of Neruda—the man is not accorded saint-like status by any means. For Larraín, the mere facts are secondary to the film artist’s ability to create worlds, and to celebrate the power of art. It is, after all, the poetry that really matters.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 08 :: Cadence

Local filmmaker Alex Lasheras arrives on the scene with this debut feature, a unique psychological thriller dealing with notions of self-identity and reality. When the eponymous heroine begins to experience hallucinations during what is supposed to be a romantic getaway with her pop-star boyfriend, fear and confusion test her ability to distinguish the visions from reality.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 09 :: Personal Shopper

Re-teaming after 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria, director Olivier Assayas and star Kristen Stewart journey into the uncanny with a terrific horror story that begins, innocuously enough, as the tale of Maureen (Stewart), an American in Paris who makes ends meet by assisting snobby and demanding supermodel-cum-fashion designer Kyra (Nora Von Waltstätten). Though ill-treated, Maureen gets her own back by surreptitiously making use of Kyra’s haute-couture outfits and camping out in Kyra’s luxury apartment when the designer is away. But Maureen is much more than just a mildly transgressive personal shopper: she is, in fact, a medium who makes forays into the psychic realm in an effort to contact the spirit of her twin brother Lewis, a lad who died of the same congenital heart problem Maureen herself suffers from. When one of her frequent wanderings through the creepy old Parisian house that she and Lewis grew up in seems to lead to a connection, Assayas ratchets up the tension with the finesse of a master. In her heartfelt attempts to contact the other side, just what has Maureen wrought?

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 10 :: The Phantom Detective

Weird and rather wonderful, Jo Sunghee’s take on gumshoe mysteries, hard-boiled noir and vast conspiracy thrillers is every bit as idiosyncratic as you might expect from his previous films—all of which have played in VIFF. It’s set in a retro world without mobile phones and modern tech, and stylised in ways that bring memories of the Hollywood studio heyday rushing in. But at the same time it’s as Korean as kimchi (the underlying paranoid fantasies about a power-elite have a lot to do with Korea’s authoritarian past), and it has a gentle streak running through it which offsets the cruelty and violence. In short, it’s a typical Jo Sunhee movie.

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

VIFF 2016 Must See Films 11 :: Nelly

Anne Émond (Nuit #1) returns to VIFF with the startling and sensual true story of Nelly Arcan (born Isabelle Fortier), a young escort-turned-award-winning writer whose lurid life, skilfully penned accounts of her exploits and tragic death became a cause célèbre in Quebec. Arcan’s first novel Putain (Whore) caused a sensation and enjoyed immediate critical and media success. It contained enough similarities between the prostitute protagonist Cynthia and Arcan’s own experience as a professional sex worker to press the media’s buttons, making for instant celebrity in the Québec pantheon. Mylène MacKay delivers a memorable and steamy performance in the title role of Nelly, or, more precisely, the four faces of Nelly. There’s Nelly, the tell-all writer; Amy, the rapturous lover; Cynthia, the top-shelf whore; and Marilyn, the sparkling “glitterati.”

Buy Tickets :: Watch the trailer

Nine Contemporary Art Blogs for an Aesthetic Feast

Contemporary art blogs are important because they bring art from around the world–the stuff you wouldn’t see in your hometown gallery–into your home. Artists can now reach further and establish credibility by having their work showcased on contemporary art blogs. Plus they are pretty, like an aesthetic feast. Here are nine contemporary art blogs to add to your reading list.

Nine Contemporary Art Blogs for an Aesthetic Feast

Contemporary Art Blogs

Contemporary Art Blogs 01 :: Waiting Words*

Waiting Words isn’t exactly a blog, it’s an Instagram account. But still, it’s worth following. (Though I may be bias since I’m the author)! These are the words I write while waiting, after catching my breath, before diving deep into the moment. The photo above gives you a bit of a taste!

Contemporary Art Blogs 02 :: The Jealous Curator*

The Jealous Curator is a blog that put a positive spin on that little green monster. Instead of hiding behind artist’s block or a fear of failure, this contemporary art blog encourages you to be inspired by the art around you and celebrate creativity wherever it comes from.

Contemporary Art Blogs 03 :: Artparasites*

Artparasites showcases art, yes, but also commentary on relationships, the creative process, and life lessons in general. Plus, I love how their navigation is sorted by mood. Enjoy.

Contemporary Art Blogs 04 :: Colossal*

Colossal is art, design, and visual culture rolled into a contemporary art blog. This blog often incorporates unexpected art, like iridescent oil spills and glistening solar panels.

Contemporary Art Blogs 05 :: Brain Pickings*

Brain Pickings doesn’t exactly focus on art, but the essays on this blog are thought-provoking and offer unique headlines for content that’s created with intention.

Contemporary Art Blogs 06 :: Booooooom*

Booooooom showcases art from around the world in all genres. You can have a read through the posts, or submit your own work.

Contemporary Art Blogs 07 :: Artforum

Artforum is not only a contemporary art blog, but a print magazine as well. It’s like a newsy arts site.

Contemporary Art Blogs 08 :: Art Mag Blog

Art Mag Blog is the online publication from Saatchi Gallery in London, United Kingdom. It’s more of an academic, gallery approach to art and isn’t as contemporary focused as the rest on this list, but add it to your blogreel and you won’t be disappointed.

Contemporary Art Blogs 09 :: Art F City

I found Art F City through a Huffington Post article about some of the best contemporary art blogs based out of New York. It seems pretty neat. This blog also has a daily gif, which are all super weird. Have fun perusing the site.

*Indicates contemporary art blogs that I read regularly.

Three Life Lessons I Learned from my Mentors

A mentor is a guide, an advisor, someone you trust (and sometimes imitate) before you find your own way. I’ve been lucky to have had many mentors throughout my life, and I’d like to join Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland (PS I’m the new Marketing + Communications Manager there) to celebrate the lessons I learned from my mentors.

Three Life Lessons I Learned from My Mentors

My Mentors

Lessons from my Mentors 01 :: Your Voice Matters

Every mentor I’ve had has been brazen and bold, unafraid to speak their minds. But what’s more is they encourage others to raise their voices as well. As women, we’re often taught not to speak unless spoken to, and when we do our opinions get dismissed based the the apparent mood of the moment. (That’s been my experience anyway). But, through my mentors, I’ve learned how to tactfully and effectively communicate my opinions, thoughts, and expertise.

For those of you still uncertain of your voice, learning to speak your mind doesn’t come easily. I’ve made many enemies, burned a few bridges, and embarrassed myself countless times. But it was worth it to get to a point where I trust my voice.

Lessons from my Mentors 02 :: Let Your Gift Shine

Another lesson we learn as women is to hold back our talent so that we don’t make others feel bad. This was a common self-sabotage I inflicted on myself until my mentors began celebrating my talents. I became aware of the way I downplayed my successes and brushed off compliments as if they belonged to someone else. Through my mentors, I learned that the best way I can make a positive impact in the world is by following my dreams and letting my gift shine.

Lessons from my Mentors 03 :: Have Fun

As a perfectionist, it used to be hard for me to have fun at work. Sure I laughed, made jokes, and had friends, but inside I was analyzing every moment of my day. My mentors knew that having fun was part of what made them successful (+ able to hustle when the time came).

September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Month

Celebrate Big Brothers Big Sisters month with me by sharing your stories of mentorship. Share your experiences on your own blog, or on social media using hashtags #MyMentor, #MentoringMatters, and #BBBSMonth. And, if that doesn’t curb your appetite, become a mentor and see firsthand the impact that mentorship has on young people.

Five Canadian Authors on my Reading List

For a writer, I don’t read nearly enough. But I do have a bookshelf, a nightstand, and some drawers full of pages waiting to be turned, most of them written by Canadian authors. Here are five Canadian authors on my reading list. Now if only I could stop time and jump into these books!

Five Canadian Authors on my Reading List

Canadian Authors to Read

Photo by Sov Sylvester Sin

Canadian Authors on my Reading List :: Kim McCullough

When I took UBC’s writing mentorship, Kim McCullough was the MFA writing student who helped me finalize my story. She’s been published in Room Magazine, Grain Magazine, Prism international, and more. Her novel, Clearwater is next up on my reading list.

Canadian Authors on my Reading List :: Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore judged Sarah Selecky’s Little Bird Writing Contest this year. Her first two books were nominated for the Giller Prize, which is one of literature’s most prestigious prizes. I’ve placed them both on my reading list, along with February, which was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

Canadian Authors on my Reading List :: Jane Urquhart

I first heard about Jane Urquhart when I was studying creative writing in university. Her compilation of Canadian fiction was our required reading and I devoured every story assigned to us. Jane Urquhart is a Canadian author with over 15 titles to her name. It may be a challenge to read all of them, but my reading list is now plentiful thanks to her.

Canadian Authors on my Reading List :: Elizabeth Hay

A Giller Prize winning Canadian author, Elizabeth Hay came out with a new novel last summer. I’d like to put that on my reading list, but with nine books in her bibliography (only one of which I’ve read), it’s hard to choose where to start.

Canadian Authors on my Reading List :: Annabelle Lyon

Annabelle Lyon had just come out with her novel, Sweet Girl, when I was first looking into taking the UBC MFA in creative writing. Her work can also be found in Jane Urquhart’s short stories anthology mentioned above.

Canada has no shortage of talented writers, but as an emerging writer, it’s important for me to read more Canadian authors. Read more from my other favorite Canadian writers.

My Favorite Canadian Writers

With the United States as our neighbors, when it comes to role models, it often seems like Canada lacking. However, when it comes to literature, we are plentiful. Maybe it’s because I’m ingrained in the writing community, but I’ve always felt like Canadian writers are the ones to beat. Here are a few of my favourite Canadian writers (PS they’re all women)!

My Favorite Canadian Writers

My Favorite Canadian Writers :: Alice Munro

Alice Munro is a Canadian writer who has mastered the art of short story writing. Her stories are rich, tragic, and thoughtful. I once saw an interview where she admitted she often felt like she wasn’t a good enough writer when she first started out. She won the Nobel Prize Prize for Literature in 2013.

My Favorite Canadian Writers :: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the iconic Canadian writer. She’s written novels, short stories, creative fiction, and poetry. She’s one of those writers who has created an enterprise of her work. I’d love to have a career similar to hers, and to one day have my work studied in high school classrooms, like hers was when I was behind the desk.

My Favorite Canadian Writers :: Sarah Selecky

Sarah Selecky has the writing business I long for. She’s created an online community where she both teaches and creates. I often felt like writing was a bit of a misfit, not quite seen as an art form and not quite seen as a valuable commodity. Sarah Selecky has shown how writing is both, and how it can be a lucrative career.

My Favorite Canadian Writers :: Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence is another iconic Canadian writer whose work is studied in high schools across the country. My favorite are her Lake Minnewanka characters that pop up amongst many of her stories. She created a world that was both unmistakable Canadian and entirely fictional.

My Favorite Canadian Writers :: Ann-Marie MacDonald

Ann-Marie MacDonald is best known for two of her novels: The Way the Crow Flies and Fall on your Knees. She is also a host of the CBC Doc Zone series. Her stories navigate traumatic realities that many girls face with an elegance and truth that lingers long after the pages have turned.

The Best Places to go in Vancouver

I was talking to a tourist recently who asked about the inside scoop on fun in Vancouver. I had so much fun imparting my local knowledge I decided to share my favorite best places to go in Vancouver.

The Best Places to go in Vancouver

Best Places to go in Vancouver

Ice Cream

Craft ice cream is a thing in Vancouver. I’ve spoiled myself so much with these delicious venues that I can’t even enjoy regular store-bought ice cream. My favourites are:


There’s no way I could list all the amazing food in Vancouver. I drool just thinking about it. But,the places you shouldn’t leave without visiting are:


Like food, the selection of booze in Vancouver is overwhelming. Craft beer, craft cider, and custom cocktails abound. Check out these venues:


Vancouver has some pretty nice beaches, but many of them get super busy in the summer. Here are my favorite beaches:

  • Third Beach (for a quieter day)
  • Kits Beach (if you want to meet young, hip, active locals)
  • Second Beach (if you’re with your kids)
  • Wreck Beach (it’s a nude beach)


One of the best things about Vancouver is the art. We’ve got a wide range of art galleries, from big to small, and private to public. These are the art galleries I go to often:


Take a stroll around these Vancouver neighbourhoods to get a feel for the local culture:

  • Mount Pleasant
  • Gastown
  • Lynn Valley
  • Hastings Sunrise


If you want to pick of something nice to take home with you, I recommend these souvenirs:

Meet Brianne Nord-Stewart, Writer, Director, and Editor

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Photo by Lung Lui

Photo by Lung Lui

Tell us about yourself.

Make the first question a little harder why don’t ya! Well, I’m a filmmaker. I write, direct, produce and edit various works of film and media. Mostly scripted, mostly comedy. I love collaborating with musicians on music videos, whether concept, or live videos. The goal is to have most of my focus on sole directing, both in TV and feature films, while remaining a creative producer, and co-writing, or working with a writer to build the project together. Outside of that, I ride my bike, do yoga, borrow dogs and cars for hikes, dream of owning a boat, and travel at every opportunity.

What drew you to becoming a filmmaker?

As a seven-year-old actor once said to me, “I want to be a director like you so that I can tell everyone what to do.” I was lucky enough to write and direct my first short in high school. I knew right then that I wanted to be a director, and I was more than capable enough to pursue it. From then on I just pursued a a director career and didn’t leave space for any doubt in as to whether or not it would work out. I then started writing so that I would have something to direct, and edited because no one else around me was interested, nor got my humour. Now I have too many ideas to execute them all, and while I know how to edit, and I’m good at it, and others pay me to do it for them, it would be fantastic to find a collaborative editor who gets me, gets my comedy, and makes it even better.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

Real life. Real life x 1000. Or the over caffeinated version of real life. At this point, I will stay longer in almost any situation that I don’t particularly like just to find out: what happens next? Online date that is making animal noises at me, sure. Let’s stay awhile, this might be reaaaaal good. If you look through my body of work, you may come to the same conclusion that my grandpa did, “you seem to make a lot of films about sex, eh?” I think I just want to bring the relief of laughter to situations most of us are too uptight to laugh about. I’m currently working on some serious dark subject matter and calling it a comedy. There is a theatre show on tour that is a comedy about rape, by and for victims of sexual assault. I hope it’s hilarious, and I would love to see it.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start filmmaking?

You need to be seriously flexible with your lifestyle. You need to know how to save when you have a pay day, and make it last when you aren’t making any money, so that you can use that “not making any money” time to really hone in on your craft, and invest in yourself, to finance your own work.

Also, don’t be a prick. No one wants to do favours for a prick, and you will need a fuck ton of favours to get your indie whatever made.

Know what other people’s jobs are all about. If you don’t know what an editor is up against, you are doing yourself a disservice as a director. I have learned so much by editing my own work. I can hear myself directing on set, times when I did well, and times when I should have shut the hell up and let the scene carry on. You also get to see all your mistakes and shots you should have gotten over the ones you did.

What are the biggest challenges for filmmakers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

Making movies is fucking expensive. That said, you can make films for practically nothing now, and a good script is far more valuable than fancy equipment or fancy locations. Story comes first. Finding out that your story isn’t that great while you’re in the editing room, is a seriously expensive mistake. Show people your script. Pay for a script doctor. Make the film, show people, and do it again. As your skills with each project, you can also grow your budget (or not).

You also have to be self-motivated. No one will hold you accountable to write your own first feature. No one cares if you sell it. Only you do. So do yourself a favour and work hard. As for favours, make it better, and try like hell to make it.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

My house (either my desk, my kitchen chopping block, the dining room table, or the old lady chair in my room), my office (on my office mates’ desk), JJbean on Bute & Alberni (the space chairs upstairs are so comfy). When it’s just me and my notebook, Happy Hour at Waterfront Station’s Rogue Wet Bar.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

There are really so many, and every year I just add more. William F. Whites has been HUGE in supporting my productions and I look forward to studios paying them millions in the future to rent their gear for my productions. Women in the Director’s Chair has mentored me since university, Telus and Telus Optik, Harold Greenberg Fund, BC Arts Council, The Movie Network, Movie Central, SEED in Northwest Territories, the NFB, have all financed a film, music video, or my professional development. The people I met at my old yoga studio got me more contract video work than anyone from university or otherwise ever did. I’m a hustler and have either found or created most of my paid work in the last seven years. I’ll be getting an agent very soon and hopefully I will be credited them for a lot in the near future.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I just wrapped Season One of a new comedy web-series, YOUNG & RECKLESS, written by Andrea Shawcross, which will be available on Telus Optik VOD, YouTube, and more come the fall. I have one or two new videos coming down the pipe with singer RYKKA, and my first with Vancouver’s Sadie Campbell, which will be out mid June.

I have three other web-series/series in the works, my short BEAT AROUND THE BUSH is killing it at film fests across the continent and now spilling into Europe, as well as a feature film of the same concept in development. You can keep up to date with all the things at

Anything you’d like to add?

Please recycle. Eat real food. Respect the outdoors, and laugh at my goddamn movies.

Did you connect with Brianne? Check out my interview with Melanie Jones or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

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