A still from the music video for So Far Gone by Nanaimo rapper Konfidential. A story about the video, which was filmed at the Discontent City homeless camp, was the most read arts and entertainment story of 2018. (Konfidential Music/Facebook)

Nanaimo News Bulletin’s most-read arts and entertainment stories of 2018

Three stories about Chesapeake Shores among Top 10 stories of the year

1. Nanaimo rapper Konfidential films music video at Discontent City, Aug. 21.

In early August Nanaimo rapper Konfidential, real name Tyler Birch, visited Nanaimo’s Discontent City homeless camp to film a music video for So Far Gone, a song that contemplates the struggles of addiction. After a couple weeks the video racked up close to 40,000 views, but Birch wasn’t surprised by the attention.

“Addiction and drug abuse, in general, it’s definitely not slowing down here and just because you don’t have a drug problem, you always know somebody that does or has lost their life recently,” Birch said. “I feel like a lot of people can relate to that, so I had expected [the video] to do pretty well. I thought people would stand behind it for sure. I thought the way we did it was respectful, too.”

Birch said it’s been 10 years since he kicked his own addiction problems, and he wrote So Far Gone looking back on that period in his life. He said getting sober seemed impossible at the time.

“I was just as bad as some of the people down there [at Discontent City], living that lifestyle, but there always is a way out, no matter how hard,” he said. “People might not see it, but if you want it, there is help there.”

2. Famed Canadian musician loses ‘irreplaceable’ hat aboard B.C. Ferries vessel, Oct. 5.

On Sept. 30, after playing to a sellout crowd at the Short Close Song Shelter in Ladysmith, rock guitarist Tom Wilson of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Junkhouse lost his hat while travelling on the B.C. Ferries boat from Duke Point to Tsawwassen.

The missing headgear was a black hat manufactured by Beaver Brand Hats, a company which dates back to 1860 but has since ceased production in recent years.

“It’s a very special hat … It’s an irreplaceable hat,” said local concert promoter Cathleen McMahon on a video posted to Facebook. “We are asking for you to get in touch and see if we can get this hat returned.”

The Ladysmith resident’s video was viewed more than 1,100 times but she encouraged people to continue sharing it.

“I’ve done all the things I’m supposed to do, I’ve called lost and found and put out a description of the hat but it has not surfaced,” she said. “If you know somebody who was travelling on a B.C. Ferries boat last Saturday from Duke Point to Tsawwassen and (found) a black hat, a Beaver company hat, and happened to see it and thought it would be a great souvenir, no questions asked just please return it and we’ll get it back to its rightful owner.”

3. Chesapeake Shores begins filming this week, April 16.

In early April cast members of Chesapeake Shores announced via social media that the Hallmark Channel television program would soon begin filming its third season in the mid-Island area.

Andrew Francis, who plays one of the O’Brien children, Connor, tweeted April 8 that filming would start in just over a week.

“T minus 9 days until #ChesapeakeShores #Season3 starts filming!!” he wrote.

Barbara Niven, who plays Megan O’Brien, tweeted that she was getting on a plane to Vancouver Island to start filming.

“Oh my gosh, after all the waiting for #ChesapeakeShores S3 I can’t believe I’m actually at the airport waiting to board the plane to Vancouver Island. Thx to all of you #Chessies for making this happen. It’s going to be a great family reunion. See U soon!” she wrote.

Chesapeake Shores was given the green light for a third season back in January from the Hallmark Channel network. During the announcement at the Crown Media Family Networks’ TV Critics Association press tour, Hallmark stated the show is one of the network’s most-watched original series

4. Las Vegas-based Circo Osorio Circus comes to Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Centre, Sept. 11.

From Sept. 13 to 17 Las Vegas’ Circo Osorio Circus came to Nanaimo for the second time. The tent, which ringmaster and magician Robert Osorio described as a unique design unseen in the Northern Hemisphere, was set up at Woodgrove Centre.

The Osorio family has been performing under the big top since the late 19th century, when Osorio’s great-grandfather ran away to join the circus whenever it came to his Mexican hometown. Three times he left and three times his father had to drag him back.

“A typical love story – he fell in love with the girl on the trapeze,” Osorio said.

Among the acts in Nanaimo were clowning, magic, trapeze, a woman who shoots a bow and arrow with her feet and the “globe of death” – two motorcycles spinning around in a giant spherical cage. Osorio said his father didn’t expect that he and his siblings would carry on the family business.

“My dad immigrated here to the States for us to become doctors and lawyers and to become all the good stuff. But he kept on practising us in the backyard and eventually my two crazy brothers and my sister decided that they wanted to go back in the circus,” he said.

5. Island-filmed TV series gets third season, Jan. 15.

On Jan. 13 it was announced that Chesapeake Shores, the Hallmark Channel’s most-watched original TV show, which is filmed in the mid-Island, will be returning for a third season.

The announcement was made at the Crown Media Family Networks’ TV Critics Association winter press tour.

Parts of the first two seasons were filmed in Parksville Qualicum Beach, with sections of Second Avenue in Qualicum Beach proving a popular filming location.

“Viewers have fallen in love with the heartfelt and compelling storylines as each character navigates the complexities of life, love and choices,” said Michelle Vicary, executive vice-president of programming and network publicity for Crown Media Family Networks. “We look forward to continuing and further exploring the multi-generational family journeys that people of all ages can enjoy and relate to, which makes Chesapeake Shores a fitting series for our brand and the quality, family entertainment we provide.”

Chesapeake Shores is based on the novel series of the same name by author Sherryl Woods. The show stars Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalf, Treat Williams, Dianne Ladd and Barbara Niven.

The multi-generational family drama follows Abby O’Brien (Ory), a high-powered career woman, divorcee and mother to twin daughters, as she adjusts to life back in her hometown of Chesapeake Shores.

6. Chesapeake Shores filming in Nanaimo, April 20.

Downtown Nanaimo streets were a bit busier on the week of April 16 as crews, equipment and actors crowded sidewalks to film scenes for a season three episode of the Hallmark Channel television series Chesapeake Shores.

Multiple scenes were shot April 19 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre and on Victoria Crescent throughout the morning and evening, which provided some entertainment for passersby who stopped to watch the filming in progress.

The News Bulletin was on hand to capture pictures and video of the activity and the sidewalks were full of crew members and equipment getting ready for another shoot.

The Bulletin was alerted to the ongoing television production when a reader provided a news tip that “Jersey Shores” was being filmed in downtown Nanaimo.

7. Nanaimo filmmakers at work on first feature-length film, March 16.

Darcy Touhey, Devon Kuziw and Maarten Bayliss have been making movies together since their days at Dover Bay Secondary School. Back then it was mostly parodies of the MTV stunt show Jackass, but this year the Nanaimo trio were at work creating their first feature-length film, and launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help make it happen.

Touhey started writing the script three years ago after feeling dissatisfied with his last short film. That script became Four Walls, a film that captures a day in the life of 17 different characters. Touhey is the film’s director, Bayliss is acting and composing the score and Kuziw is on board as a producer.

Touhey said it meant a lot to be working on his first feature film with his best friends. It’s a project he’s wanted to tackle for a long time. They’re a long way from their Jackass parodies.

“Unfortunately, that footage is lost, but it was pretty good,” Touhey said of the trio’s early efforts.

“That kind of got us started down the road of making movies together and I think, honestly, making movies is what’s kept us together all these years.”

8. Nanaimo child actor Hannah Zirke, 13, being cast in more mature roles, July 3.

Nanaimo child actor Hannah Zirke’s recent roles are a far cry from her recurring work on the Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart.

This spring the 13-year-old wrapped up filming a pair of more dramatic, mature productions. In March she spent a day on the Langley set of the Twentieth Century Fox film Bad Times at the El Royale, a star-studded crime thriller, and in May Hannah filmed what her mother Sarah describes as “the first role where she’s actually getting more lines and it’s more of a real character.”

That role was for Sacred Lies, spearheaded by two of the producers behind HBO’s vampire drama True Blood and broadcast on Facebook’s new Facebook Watch streaming service.

Season 1 follows a teenage girl without hands who has information about who killed her cult leader. The show is based on American young adult novelist Stephanie Oakes’ Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly and the Grimm Brothers story The Handless Maiden.

Sarah said while there are sometimes mature or creepy themes that come up in Hannah’s work, it provides an opportunity for discussion.

“I feel like you should expose children, not to bad things, but you shouldn’t shield them from it because they’re going to be exposed to it sooner or later,” Hannah said.

9. Schmooze Productions presents ‘Chicago’ at Malaspina Theatre, June 7.

Dean Chadwick said he waited for more than a decade to get his hands on the rights to stage the 1975 musical Chicago, and last summer it finally happened when Schmooze Productions presented it at Malaspina Theatre.

“It’s been one of those restricted licences that you can’t get very easily and it finally became available to a group like ours and that was it,” the Schmooze Productions artistic director said. “I saw it live on stage in Vancouver about 10 years ago and it was instantly my favourite. I knew it was just the best show I think I’ve ever seen.”

The musical takes place in Prohibition-era Chicago and follows a pair chorus girls imprisoned for murder who turn their infamy into self-promotion as they plan their return to vaudeville.

“I like the character development, I like the stories, I like the strong women that are in it, I like the dance, the singing, the music is fantastic,” Chadwick said.

“The story I find really relevant in today’s society, too. It takes place in the 1920s but the headlines and the things that happen and the characters could easily be from today’s world, too, which is kind of cool.”

10. ‘Little Feet’ book documents B.C. woman’s horrific 2001 accident, Sept. 19.

This march, mid-Island-raised performer Heather Williams released Little Feet, a book that documents her experience before and following a life-changing accident.

In 2001, when she was 23, Williams was working as a dancer, actress and singer in Osaka, Japan with the inaugural crew of Universal Studios Japan when she was struck by a taxi while riding a bicycle. She ended up in a coma for nine weeks and awoke with a traumatic brain injury.

The accident could have killed her, but Williams survived into a very different reality than what she had known before the incident. She has a vague recollection of what happened and bits and pieces of knowledge about the life she knew before.

She said it was a struggle for her to regain independence and try to find a semblance of her former self from within. Writing the book was very therapeutic for Williams in many ways.

“I’m a dancer. I still feel like a dancer,” she said. “Can I dance like before? No. It’s losing your identity.”

After her release from hospital, Williams endured a lengthy period of rehabilitation back in Canada. The book details the pain of the process and the everyday struggles that continue to the present day.


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