Purely a Business Venture
I don’t really know where to begin this story because it really comes in two parts. No, not two parts but probably four or five. Life cannot ever be simple it seems. It started off with our company hiring a Mrs. Park, a somewhat controversial commercial agent. Not that she was so controversial but rather she marched to her own drummer and had difficulty with Real Estate rules in Canada. I spent a lot of time sorting out her real estate problems during the course of her business. She somehow couldn’t get the hang of doing business in Canada, more or less following her Korean ideas.
Her husband was an entrepreneur, buying and selling things between Korea and here and he seemed like a personable fellow. We first got involved in a meat plant I had for sale in Killarney. It didn’t work out in this case because the plant was only provincially licensed and in order to export one needed a federal approval.
Well we got to talking on the way back and I discovered that Peter had apparently escaped from North Korea and had come to Canada. While here he had written a book on martial arts of some sorts. He had opened a grocery store which had been highly successful and had become an elder in the Korean United Church. He had also been an elder and advisor in the Korean community. Something happened to his business and he had to sell the store, causing a diminishing “respect” in the community for him, but somehow he prevailed and exercised a still formidable respect in his community.
All of this is a pretext to the story I want to tell. I had been working with an Indigenous group of artists in connection with a non-profit organization I had founded. One day I get a phone call from a fellow who said so and so had recommended he speak to me about an animated video project he was trying to get published. He needed me to find him some funding and/or some means of getting it done. Could I please meet with him? Well of course I could! This would be another adventure.
We had to meet at his place since he had everything laid out there. I got to the door at a nice little place in Fort Garry and it was all surprises from here on in. Firstly, a six foot six bodybuilder filled the door frame as he welcomed me in a soft spoken voice as his big hand closed over mine.
Up in the loft of his house there were drawings and notes of all sorts spread out over a variety of tables set up between weight lifting equipment. His day job, or rather night job as it turned out was being a bouncer at a local bar, which then turned a light on in my head. His friend who had referred him to me was also a bouncer (and an artist). I couldn’t figure out how that squared up but paid it no particular mind.
Basically what my new friend had was a whole raft of beautiful and articulate drawings that followed a story line, but he hadn’t got beyond the concept of what he wanted to achieve. There was another thing he wanted to achieve (which didn’t make any sense to me on the surface of things). He wanted the proceeds (or a portion thereof) to go to rescuing the endangered white rhinoceros. That didn’t make any sense to me either until I discovered that the L.A. zoo was working to do just that. Also, Lou Ferigno was in the area and would do a video on the animal. The light went on. My client wanted to meet Ferigno. Well alright then, who was I to argue?
When I told all this to my Korean entrepreneur friend, his eyes just lit up. He could accommodate this. He knew people in Korea who did this sort of thing. He would make a few phone calls and get back to me. I in the meantime got to work to complete a formal business plan including naming all the stakeholders and payment schedule for each.
There are many side stories I could tell about this adventure but the whole thing would become too cumbersome, so I’ll just summarize as best I can. To start with, I completed my business plan for my friend with what information I had and left it with him. Funding was scraped together by my Korean investor for the trip to L.A, and for a trip to Korea to meet the animators which was apparently necessary according to custom. Five days in Korea got the business started and the animators were then to come to Winnipeg to present their story board to my client.
The first thing I know (just before the arrival of the Korean delegation) my investor is driving a brand new Cadillac. Well, he reasoned, you can’t drive around in just any crummy car so he dipped into the budget for that. Another five days went by and I heard from my animator client that he had been approached by my Korean friend to have me removed from the equation. What did he need me for anyway? By eliminating me from the profit picture, he would save a lot of money.
Things went quickly south from there. Apparently the Korean company had been cleaned out (by my investor friend) and they had to go home with their tails between their legs and declare bankruptcy. He in the meantime saw his chances of being a big time movie director slipping away. So he decided to have it out with me and came to my office.
Well, we sat down and began discussing the whole affair. It didn’t go particularly well. Did I get paid for any of my services, he wanted to know. Yes of course I did. That seemed to inflame him. Didn’t I know he had come from North Korea? He had killed a lot of people before and it wouldn’t bother him to put me away too. When I didn’t react to his threat, he decided he had other things to do and left my office.
I don’t think I ever spoke to him after that, but came to a satisfactory conclusion with my animator friend. In fact, he sent me the most hilarious copy of the tape with Lou Ferigno trying to get that stupid rhino to co-operate while he was speaking. That in itself was reward enough.
I didn’t much stay in touch with the animator/bouncer after that. His father had recently died and left the family in somewhat of an uproar. I did speak to his mother though a few times on advice about their real estate, but slowly that all petered out and I went on with my business.