selected writing from Kathryn Brinton
SAM Magazine, September 2017
An article about recruiting and hiring practices at ski resorts on the east coast.
“Don’t Let Rain Ruin Your New Zealand Vacation”
Traveling to New Zealand in the “off-season” can be a great way to save cash and avoid crowds. Come Spring, cheaper flights, discounted excursions, and beaches and mountains emptied of vacationers are ripe for the taking, with one caveat: expect rain. The weather doesn’t have to hover like a dark cloud over your vacation though. With a little flexibility and a good raincoat, disappointing weather can turn into an exhilarating adventure.
Go Down a River
New Zealand is a veritable mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and you should not let a little (or a lot) of rain put you off of pursuing those adventures. When the rainfall is high so are the rivers, which means more fun for you.
The North Island is a world-renowned destination for white water kayakers. High water levels from all the rain and snow melt in the spring mean challenging rapids. There are many rafting companies all over New Zealand, but for a truly special experience, skip the raft and go white water kayaking instead. The Kaituna River has the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world and you can kayak it with Kaituna Kayaks on your own or in a tandem boat with a pro.
Or, if you like your rapids with an extra injection of adrenaline, go black water rafting in the Waitomo Caves, famed for the glowworms that light up their darkest recesses. Go with Legendary Black Water Rafting Company, NZ’s first black water cave rafting operator, and enjoy astral-looking glowworms and rushing rapids all in one package.
Get On a Boat
If you are on the South Island in a downpour, there is one place you absolutely cannot skip, stunning Milford Sound. While every promotional photo of the fiord shows it on a sunny summer day, it is at its finest in the rain when the waterfalls go from trickling to roaring. To get close to those waterfalls, you’ll want to hop on a boat.
There are dozens of Milford tour operators. If you are looking for a luxury experience, take an overnight cruise with Real Journeys. On a budget? Check out Jucy Cruises. Remember a waterproof camera and a proper rain jacket— you won’t want to hide inside as your boat pulls along side roaring Bowen Falls.
Head Above the Clouds
New Zealand is a premier ski destination and if you are traveling in early spring, there is still snow on the mountains. Skeptical about skiing in the rain? Don’t be. Because you are above the clouds, there is a real possibility that it will be a clear day on the ski hill even if it is raining in town.
But even if you aren’t blessed with bluebird skies, skiing in the rain is a real pleasure—you’ll find soft snow and no lines. Just be sure you wear a waterproof jacket and lots of layers. Coronet Peak is a short bus ride from Queenstown, NZ. While the other holidaymakers are cowering in their hotel rooms, you’ll be tearing up the empty slopes.
You cannot fight the inevitable rain that will accompany your off-season holiday, but you can be prepared for it. Pack the right clothes. Synthetic layers will be your friends, especially if you are traveling on the cheap. They dry quickly and they are usually very compactable—they’ll fit right into your backpack and they won’t cling uncomfortably to your thighs like your favorite pair of (very wet) jeans.
Do not skimp on accommodation. If you have been out in the rain all day, you are going to want to at least be able to take a hot shower in the evening. Since you are traveling in the off-season, you will have a fair selection of low price accommodation. For budget travelers, there are Top Ten Holiday Parks all over the country, and the facilities offer a variety of accommodation options from motel rooms to campsites. They are reliable, clean and have A+ showers.
Not a tent camper but not prepared to spend money on hotels? Consider the camper van. In the spring, you can find lots of relocation deals for rental cars, budget camper vans, and luxury mobile homes that need to be moved (usually) from south to north. To snage a posh motor home from a company like Apollo or Maui, book your relocations a head of time; they tend to post them more than a month in advanced. For the budget companies like Jucy camper vans, look for last minute deals.
Now go get wet!
Breaking into the Biz
Off-Script, February – July 2012 (publication now defunct)
“Cracking the City of Angeles, and Crashing in it”
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I got a job (internship). I got in a car crash (I’m fine).
But let’s back-up.
LA is the kind of city where making money is difficult. This is a statement that anyone who has lived here for any period of time will corroborate. Take Alison Mason, my new Independent Film Director friend. She is part of the 4% that has managed to get distribution for a no-name indie drama this year. She wrote, produced and directed Finding Jenua, and is the first person to say she had no idea how slim the odds of success where when she decided to perform this super-human feat.
Ms. Mason has been actively working in LA for the past 10 years, but it’s only now that things are really coming together for her. Finding Jenua is picking up film festival awards like nobody’s business and Ms. Mason is finally breaking into the major studio film-scene as a screenwriter, which is a fantastic thing because, as Ms. Mason told me, she is sick of not making money.
And that’s the thing with LA, even when you are successful creatively speaking, you don’t make money. It just doesn’t happen…at least not until you’ve spent a decade paying your dues. Which brings us back to me. See my father is eager to get me off his payroll and onto someone else’s (fair enough, Dad), and I am eager to accommodate. I even got a job.
Unfortunately, that job does not pay because it’s an internship and this is Hollywood and I’m nobody. So I will need another job. An additional job. But first, I’m going to celebrate this little victory, because an unpaid position is the first step to a paid one these days. Of course in any war, even the victorious side has casualties. RIP Fran the rental Fiat.
I nailed the interview for the internship, but on the drive home from the interview, I also nailed another car. We both thought we had the green light at a busy West Hollywood intersection where eight lanes of traffic converge. I was talking on my mobile to my mother (it was in perfectly legal, hands-free mode, I promise), neurotically over-analyzing said interview when I heard the crunch of metal. Poor Fran the Fiat was totaled. The other driver and I, thankfully, emerged from the wreckage undamaged, if somewhat traumatized. My mother was horrified—she had the pleasure of hearing the crash over the phone and listening to the line go dead. You can imagine the scene playing out in my parents’ kitchen in the time it took me to extract myself from the debris, check on the other driver, and call my mom back.
Not my finest moment. I now have a ‘No Distractions” rule when I drive. I’ve given up sipping on my drive-thru coffee while on the road. (In LA, you don’t have to get out of your car to buy a cup of coffee if you don’t want to.) And I religiously put my cell phone in my bag in the backseat when the key hits the ignition. If I could elect not to drive, I would. But this is LA and to make money (or spend it) you drive—you drive to your casting calls, you drive to the grocery store, you drive to work.
I would like to keep this internship I’ve just secured, so, sadly (for the other drivers), I will be back on the roads soon. All in all, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Although LA is still a strange, smoggy beast, I’ve committed to staying here for a while. And—car crash aside—I think I am starting to figure things out. My new job is engaging (even if I’m not being paid to do it). I am covering scripts and making recommendations about potential development projects for an independent film finance and distribution company. Which is great, because I love to read and I love to evaluate other people’s writing. And I officially went union. I am now a card-carrying member of AFTRA, soon to merge with SAG and thereafter be known as SAG/AFTRA. Now there’s a Hollywood mouthful.
The marriage of these two unions (forgive the pun) is as fraught as the constant industry struggle to marry creativity and financial sensibility. I am eager to ride AFTRA’s coattails to SAG membership (think of all those award season screeners), but the jury is still out on whether this merge will hurt or help small, indie filmmakers like Ms. Mason. As the newest intern at an independent film finance company, I think I have a box seat to the upcoming show.
Highland Film Group, April 2013
RKO TAPS HIGHLAND FILM GROUP TO HANDLE INTERNATIONAL SALES ON BARELY LETHAL
Sales to Begin at CANNES 2013
Los Angeles, Calif., Apr. 22, 2013 –Vanessa Coifman of RKO Pictures announced today that Highland Film Group (HFG) will handle international sales for independent action comedy BARELY LETHAL, which will begin principal photography shortly.
Kyle Newman (FANBOYS) will direct the film written by John D’Arco. Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld (TRUE GRIT, ENDER’S GAME) and multi-award winner Samuel L. Jackson (PULP FICTION, DJANGO UNCHAINED) are attached to star. Action legend Jackie Chan has also expressed interest in the project.
Brett Ratner (HORRIBLE BOSSES, X-MEN THE LAST STAND) and John Cheng of Rat Entertainment will produce the film in conjunction with Vanessa Coifman and Ted Hartley of RKO, and Hopscotch Pictures’ Sukee Chew.
BARLEY LETHAL is a fast and furiously funny teen action comedy in which 16-year-old professional assassin Megan fakes her own death to become an ordinary high school student. When Megan’s disgruntled training master and a vindictive drug lord track her down at her new home though, she finds herself with more extracurriculars than any teenager could handle.
ABOUT RKO PICTURES
Founded in 1928, RKO Pictures is Hollywood’s oldest continuously operating studio. With a legacy that includes timeless titles like CITIZEN KANE, KING KONG and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the modern RKO Pictures produces, finances and distributes both remakes of its classic films and exciting original entertainment.
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Overview of TOEFL Integrated Speaking
A sample of the type of educational videos produced for Access USA Prep and its digital branch Prep Mobi.
An adventure travel blog.
“The City in the Caves”
(A short fantasy story.)
The earth used to spin, but something happened—a boom, a bang, depends on whom you ask—and the world, part of it at any rate, plunged into darkness. The world changed in the dark. It grew more vicious and cruel. The humans, who had once been on top, sank lower down the ladder as other animals and plants adapted faster. We changed too, the darkness seeping into our bodies, making us strong, but we were slow, and for innumerable lunar cycles we were defenseless.
Luna, Mother Moon, is a fickle goddess. Sometimes she breaks through the inky sky with a light so bright you can see the texture of the moss that grows outside the caves and the craggy sharpness of the rocks that make the mountains. But Luna grows bored with us quickly. She is always leaving to cavort with the Sun. When she comes back, she is often a sliver of herself. Sometimes she does not come back at all.
It was in one of these unbearably dark times, when only the stars punctured the endless black of the sky, that a girl and her mother went out hunting. It was not safe to hunt in this kind of dark. The animals you might eat were hard to see with no moon in the sky, and the animals that might eat you blended seamlessly into the black.
“We should seek shelter,” said the girl. Her stomach growled.
The mother smiled. “Your belly does not agree with you.”
“We can survive a little longer,” the girl said. Her clothes hung limply on her shrinking frame. She should be nearly a young woman now, but the struggle to live had left her body thin, frail and still childlike.
The mother shook her head. Her own bones ached. “We must eat,” said the mother. “I will set a snare, and we will hide and wait.” The mother laid her trap, and she and the girl hid inside the mouth of a cave.
The girl was woken from fitful sleep by a deep growl. It was not her stomach. She shook her mother. “Mama.”
Her mother rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “I was just resting.”
She did. The growl was coming from the spot where they had set the snare.
“Perhaps we have caught something big,” said the mother. The girl could hear her mother’s smile in the dark. A big haul would mean food for a whole lunar cycle.
The mother began to creep forward. The girl grabbed her ragged shirttail. “I am scared, Mama.”
Her mother stopped and cupped the girl’s chin. “Do not be afraid. You wait in the cave. I will get our prize and bring it back to you.”
The girl nodded and squeezed her mother’s hand.
The mother slipped from the cave. She carried her knife out as she crept toward the snare. The growling grew louder. The girl knew her mother must be close.
There was a shriek. The girl gasped. “Mama.” Something had gone wrong.
There was more snarling and shouting. The girl rushed blindly from the cave mouth toward the sounds. The noise echoed off the walls of the rocks, moving further away from the girl.
In the starlight, the girl could see a small animal wriggling in the snare. The moss around the snare was slick and shiny. Her mother was gone. The girl collapsed to her knees. Her chest was tight. Her eyes burned with tears.
Next to her the thing in the snare whimpered pitifully. It was a pup, still blind in its newness. Perhaps it was the pup of the shadow wolf that must have taken her mother. The girl grabbed a heavy rock. She raised it above the pup’s head. She needed food and here it was.
The pup stopped whimpering. The girl stayed her hand. Did the pup realize that its dam had left it in favor of prey? The girl sat the rock down and picked up the pup. It nuzzled into her chest. Its little body was warm and fat against her ribs. Thick tears rolled down the girl’s cheeks. She and this pup were both alone.
“I cannot feed myself,” said the girl. “How will I feed you?” The pup licked her with its little tongue that was blacker than its fur.
Above the girl, the stars watched.
While the moon often left for a time, the stars always stayed. They had a keen interest in these humans thrust into darkness. The stars wanted to see them survive. Observing the changes of the animals, plants and earth was interesting, but humans, with their volatile emotions, made for the best watching.
One star watched with more than interest. She watched with pain. Stars do not have mothers. They burst into existence. But this star had seen the way humans are made, and born, and grown by their mothers, and she knew that this little human and that little pup would not survive without one.
The star could not become their mother, but she could help them. It would mean no longer being a star. It would mean giving up her view from the sky. The star was afraid. Maybe it would not work. She had to try.
The star dove from the sky, her tail flaming out behind her. She landed at the girl’s feet and began to spread.
The girl jumped up in surprise. She cradled the pup close to her, and watched as light began to pulse through the moss. It spread out in waves toward the cave, leaving a bright residue on the moss, lichen, and plants.
The star rippled along the walls of the cave, dotting it with specks of starlight. The girl followed the light. It weaved deep into the dark, sending up light as it went. The girl chased the star all the way to the center of the cave.
The center room was an enormous cavern with vaulting walls and no ceiling. The other stars watched as their friend spread herself along the floor of the cavern and down into the great lake at its middle.
There were fish in the lake and plants. The star flooded them all with light, clinging to the fishes’ scales and the plants’ stalks.
The girl sat the pup down on the bank of the lake; it lapped thirstily at the water. The girl took her own big gulp of fresh water—it was pure and bright. Was this what starlight tasted like?
Here was food and water enough for hundreds, maybe thousands of people. The girl and the pup could survive here. They could live here. And live they did, thanks to the star.
The girl and the pup both grew big and strong on the bounty of the great lake. The star watched them from her place on the walls and in the water and through the moss. The girl—now a woman—and the pup—now a wolf—came and went from the cavern, returning often with new people. The people built buildings and brought animals, and cultivated the plants in the lake, and eventually the cavern was filled with so much light and life that it might truly be called a home.