Yearly Archives: 2014

Doreen Brownstone: Still Working After 90

Our documentary “Doreen Brownstone: Still Working After 90  continues to be available to subscribers of MTS Digital Cable, but is now also available to everyone. In partnership with distributors VUCAVU and The WInnipeg Film Group, We are pleased to offer the following options:

  • Watch online, on demand at
  • BUY NOW On DVD: directly from us here, or from the WFG Distribution Website.



BROWNSTONE_poster_digital03 copy

click here to view the trailer.

Perk Update!

This post is of especial interest to all you fabulous people who supported our IndieGoGo (or post-indiegogo) campaign: our t-shirts have arrived and they look fabulous!

We will be rolling out the perks in the next couple of weeks, including delivering shirts and magnets.

We will also be unveiling our new Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular website (which will, among other things host the “Insider’s Knowledge” blog).

Thanks to all for your patience and especially for your support!



I am a huge admirer of Jim Henson’s, and I want to share a quote of his which really speaks to me.  It is excerpted from notes written in 1986 for an unpublished anthology “The Courage of Conviction”. I first read these notes in “Jim Henson: The Works (The Art, The Magic, The Imagination)”, published by Random House in 1993.


 “At some point in my life I decided, rightly or wrongly, that there are many situations in this life that I can’t do much about—acts of terrorism, feelings of nationalistic prejudice, cold war, etc.—so what I should do is concentrate on the situations that my energy can affect.

I believe that we can use television and film to be an influence for good; that we can help to shape the thoughts of children and adults in a positive way. As it has turned out, I’m very proud of some of the work we’ve done, and I think we can do many more good things.

When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here.

It’s a wonderful life and I love it.” Jim Henson, 1986.

My great admiration for Henson and the Muppets is often understood as a love of puppetry in general—but the truth is it’s much more specific (and non-puppet related) than that. I have an admiration for the incredible collaboration, teamwork and hard work that gave us early Sesame Street.  And I have a special admiration for the spirit of the man who wrote those notes. He’s who I want to be when I grow up.

The influence of Henson, and Sesame Street, can sometimes be seen directly in my work (such as my plays written for children, or my  educational videos), but it is always there, even (or perhaps especially!) when it isn’t obvious.

‘concentrate on the situations that my energy can affect’ is excellent advice, that can be applied to any project close to your heart:

▪       If you believe talented 91 year olds should have interesting work available to them, and not enough people seem to have gotten the memo, create that work yourself!

▪       If there are colleagues you want to work with, and the opportunities to do so aren’t falling into your lap, create that opportunity yourself!

There will always be difficulties, and harshness and unpleasantness in the world. There will always be things we can’t fix. But there is also always some opportunity to use our energy to make something better, something good.

“It’s a wonderful life. And I love it.”


Watch Rowlf the Dog (Henson) sing “What a Wonderful World” to a cocker spaniel puppy. (from season 2 of The Muppet Show)

Henson & Rowlf on Jimmy Dean Set 1964

After Indiegogo

It’s now been 23 days since the end of the Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the “Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular”.

This was our first ever foray into crowdfunding, and in the 40 days of the campaign, which took us over Christmas, the end of the deadline-for-tax-deductible-charities, and the credit-cards-are-now-due-for both those things season (the very worst time of the year to run a crowdfunding campaign, studies have shown), we raised over $16,000.  We also learned a lot, and amassed followers through Indiegogo, Facebook and Twitter,

As I have written previously, the goal of any crowdfunding campaign is twofold: certainly to raise funds, but just as importantly to raise awareness of, interest about, and participation in the project.

Since the campaign ended, we have continued getting requests from people who wanted to donate but could no longer do so through Indiegogo.

Indiegogo was an invaluable tool for us to set up the campaign and reach people we would not have otherwise. But just because that campaign is over does not mean that your chance to participate in the project with us is!

So, we have set up a donation page right here on our website.  Click here to get to it (you can also access it through the front page).  You can donate on line, or by cheque as you prefer.

Please check it out, and send us any feedback through the comments section, or by emailing this address. We’d love to hear from you.

Stefanie (and Angus)

Stefanie discusses The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular on the Radio

Stefanie was on the radio yesterday (Tuesday, January 21, 2014) discussing The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular.  In case you missed it, you can listen here:

Part One (5:30):

Part Two (2:15):

Thank you to Ismaila Alfa and everyone at CBC Radio.  Please do not send your lawyers to beat us up for sharing this…

To help support this worthy cause, click the link below.

Crowdfunding Fun Facts (Doreen and Me part 5)

For several days now, I have been trying to write a blog post about crowdfunding: why I think it’s a good match for The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular, and what I like about it in general.

But, it is slowly turning into a blogpost about procrastination, and worse yet, one that mirrors its content in its process (ie: I keep procrastinating finishing it).

So, I find myself with the original version of that post, and instead, I’m going to celebrate day 20—the  ½ way mark of our 40 day Indiegogo campaign—by listing 20 interesting facts about crowdfunding that I’ve learned in preparing and/or running this campaign, or that people have brought up to me in messages or conversation.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. You don’t need to subscribe to Indiegogo, to follow and/or donate to a campaign.
  2. To get updates from the campaign sent directly to your e-mail address, click on the pink star (or the word “follow”)  below the pitch video.  You will then get any campaign updates e-mailed directly to you.
  3. You can contribute as little as $1 at a time.
  4. Donating a small amount of money does make a difference: the number of donors contributes to a campaign’s gogofactor.
  5. Gogofactor? Yes. Indiegogo uses an algorithm ( “gogofactor”) that tracks the amount of activity a campaign generates: and the more activity a campaign generates, the more visible the campaign becomes on Indiegogo, and the more donations from ‘strangers’ are likely to come in: think of it as your donation potentially spawning more donations.
  6. Thanks to “gogofactor”, you can help The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular with no money at all in a number of ways:
  7. Simply commenting on the Indiegogo campaign will help our gogofactor
  8. Sharing or referring people to the campaign using one of the sharetools on the indiegogo page itself will also help our gogofactor.
  9. The total number of page visits a campaign receives also affects the gogofactor.

10. Moving away from gogofactor—if you have an Indiegogo profile, you get credit for every person who visits a campaign page because of your referral. Should you ever wish to run your own campaign, this is a good thing.

11. If you didn’t select a perk and wish you had, just get in touch with us through a direct message or private comment, and we’ll make the adjustment.

12. You can upgrade your perk for The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular campaign by making an additional donation (again—just send us a private message after the donation; it won’t show up on the page, but as long as you use the same e-mail address, it will all get we will add up the total amount you donated(this can vary from campaign to campaign, but this is how we’re doing it here at DBFS!).

13.  You can keep the amount you donate private (only you and the campaign owners will know), or not. It’s your choice.

14. You can keep your name/identity anonymous, or use whatever moniker you like.

15. If you have an Indiegogo profile (which you can create free of charge), you have even more options, and can change your visibility status at any time.

16. You can donate as many times as you want.

17. You can even donate in someone else’s name: you could make several donations in the name of each of your kids, for instance.

18. Crowdfunding isn’t just about raising money: it’s also about raising awareness and hopefully sparking excitement about our project. Once the campaign is over, the Indiegogo page will stay up, and we will continue to provide updates throughout all the stages of the film.

19. “Crowd’ is the secret to crowdfunding: our campaign is nowhere without you and the other fabulous spctacular supporters. Thanks for reading all the way to the end—If there are things you’re curious about in regards to our campaign, we’d love to hear from you!

20. Having started this post on a procrastinatory note, it seems fitting to point out that it’s important to let people know the time limited nature of your campaign; it will end, and often sooner than we think.  The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular, for instance, is ending on January 26th, 2014.

20 days to go folks! You’ll be hearing from me again…unless I’m quietly procrastinating…


Meaningful Occupation (Doreen and Me, Part 4)

The start of a new calendar year leads many of us to reflect on what we’ve been doing, and what we want to be doing. It’s a chance to check in with ourselves about what is important to us, and whether we are on the path to doing more of what is meaningful, and wasting less time on what is not.

As an occupational therapist (OT) I believe that us human beings need/are driven to engage in the occupations* that are important to us in order for life to be its most meaningful and joyful (*occupations in the sense of activities, ‘things that occupy our time’).

Actually doing things is incredibly important to the concept each of us has of ourselves as a person.  The joyful “I DID it!” of a small child mastering doing up a zipper or putting on shoes is the distilled essence of the importance “doing” things has for most of us.

Spending time with Doreen Brownstone frequently leads me to reflect on the power of meaningful occupation.  I can’t help but see a link between her health and vitality at 91, and the fact that she makes a point of engaging in meaningful occupations every day: she bakes and knits for friends and acquaintances; she cooks for herself; does all the other activities she needs to do to run her household; she occasionally throws fabulous teas and coffee mornings; and, when she gets the opportunity to, she acts.

Acting is a meaningful occupation to Doreen, but she doesn’t let it (or lack of opportunity to do “it”) to define her; if she doesn’t have the opportunity to act, Doreen picks herself up and carries on with what she wants or needs to do; what will make her feel useful and alive.

Undoubtedly Doreen has her down moments: even 91 year old dynamos are human, after all. But her perseverance is remarkable and constantly inspires me: to do more; to engage in more productive, meaningful activities; and, of course, to pursue The Doreen Brownstone Feature Film Spectacular project.  This is a great example, actually, of how an activity can become meaningful depending on the context. Raising money is not, on its own, something that I would ever describe as a meaningful occupation; however, making it possible for us to make a film starring Doreen—a movie that will be fun and delightful, and preserve her joy in performance on video forever—well, that’s a meaningful occupation.

I’ll be blogging again tomorrow. In the meantime, check out our Indiegogo campaign page if you haven’t had a chance yet (click on any of this blue part for the link).

IGG Doreen image

There are only 24 days left in the campaign (!!).  There are more ways to participate than you might think, and participating in what might seem like a very small way has a greater impact than you might guess.

Hey, that sounds like a topic for the next blog post…


PS: Such Creatures opens in Winnipeg tonight–featuring Doreen Brownstone–and runs for only 4 shows (more information here).

PPS: Wondering just what an Occupational Therapist is, or does? I sometimes describe my job as an OT as enabling  people to do the things that they want, need or are expected to be able to do; the curious can find a longer and more graceful definition of OT here, at the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists website.