In January I was able to go the cast screening for Sex After Kids, (which I reviewed here), written and directed by Jeremy Lalonde, as I was an Indiegogo contributor. Part of my perks, along with the screening and the promise of a DVD copy of the film when available, I was to be able to see his previous film The Untitled Works of Paul Shepard online, (which I also reviewed here.) (If you don’t feel like reading the reviews, just know I loved them and I recommend them both. Highly.) And starting August 13th The Untitled Works of Paul Shepard will be available for streaming on Vimeo! Click HERE to purchase.
As well as writing and directing, Jeremy Lalonde has an ongoing pod/web cast called “5 Questions" (videos of the webcast can be seen on SmiteeTV’s You Tube page.) I sought to turn the tables and by the power of twitter, I was able to secure his OK to ask him a few of my own questions. (If you’d like to follow him, he’s @LaLondeJeremy . Don’t tell him I sent you though. Life needs mystery.)
The questions are, and his responses, below.
1) The Untitled Works of Paul Shepard was your first feature length film. What was the most surprising thing to learn while doing it?
That as hard as it is to make a film, it’s even harder to make sure people see it. For various reasons it’s been a struggle with this film to some degree. But my producing partner on it, Anthony Grani, and I decided to get control of it back to see what we could do with it on our own -that’s why we’re launching on Vimeo-On-Demand in August. We’re selfdistributing from here on out so any and all help is very much appreciated!
2) Chicken or the egg: There were some of the same actors for Sex After Kids that were in TUWOPS. Did you have some of them in mind while you were writing the script or did you create the characters as themselves and trust that you could find actors that could inhabit them and give you what you needed?
I almost always write with actors in mind - especially with Sex After Kids. I knew I was going to be drawing (mostly) from the very talented pool of Toronto actors, and so for that film about 80% of the roles were already cast before I wrote the film. This is not the usual way to make a film, especially not an indie. For TUWOPS it was actually the opposite. When I first set out to write it I didn’t know any of the actors that ended up playing the parts, so I was really reliant on the casting process and was really overwhelmed by a wealth of talent that exists inside of Toronto.
3) Like Woody Allen, your movies are of a personal nature with a touch of humor. But like him, is there a character that is a surrogate for you in TUWOPS and SAK? (Cameos do not count. But that’s very Hitchcock of you…)
All of them, in some way. Whatever you find beautiful in the characters in my films are taken from things that I find beautiful in people that I know. And when it comes to the ugly parts of characters, it’s generally from what I find ugly in myself. As you mentioned both films are very personal - The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard is about the struggle between yourself as an artist and as a person. Can being good at one justify being bad at the other? I struggle with that - I think any honest artist would admit that they do as well. Sex After Kids was my love letter to frustrated parents everywhere. But not just sexually frustrated, it’s hard raising kids for so many different reasons. I’m kind if dancing around the answer here. I think, most obviously, that the title character in Paul Shepard is close to me. In Sex After Kids while I identify with all of them, Jody and Larissa’s story is closest to my own.
4) What director would you want to make a movie based on your life?
I’m not just saying this to be humble, or typically Canadian, but my life would make a very boring film. So I’d need a very exciting filmmaker :)
Woody Allen would be the obvious answer - but if I had to pick someone… if it was a documentary I’d pick Werner Herzog and if it was a narrative… Jason Reitman…
5) It seems to me that in Canada it’s easier to secure funds to make a movie, however when it comes to distributing you are on your own. Do you sometimes wish there was a similar studio system in Canada as there is in the US that would make getting movies to the theaters easier
This is a very complicated answer, made even more complicated because the answer will be different in a month from now than it is as I type this. We are extremely fortunate in Canada to have funding agencies that give money to the development and production of feature films. However those places are only able to offer money at certain times of the year, and because getting that money is so competitive when the funds for that year are depleted you’re out of luck until the following year. The studio system in America is open year round, but they aren’t taking chances on small films the way that they used to. The studios are mostly looking to make tentpole blockbusters, or films by very established and celebrated filmmakers. It’s a tough time everywhere for filmmakers and we’re rewriting the rules for financing, production, and distribution with every project. It’s not especially hard to get a film in a theatre in Canada if you’ve got a distributor - it’s just hard to get people to come out and see it. It’s hard to compete with the marketing dollars of the American films. The system is broken almost everywhere because we live in a society where people can get most content for free if they put any effort into it. It’s hard to monetize in that landscape. Now, more than ever, it’s important for people to find ways to support the artists that they love - and sadly the easiest way to do that is to vote with your dollars.
6) What was the most surprising thing about raising funds via Indiegogo for SAK? And is having a gaggle of funders a help or a hindrance?
A help. A huge help. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of the people who contributed in various ways to the Sex After Kids crowdfunding campaign. As you might imagine I have quite a few thoughts on crowd funding - pros and cons - how to do it properly. It’s benefits. The biggest benefit outside of the obvious (getting the funds to make the film) was the fanbase we started for the film, before it was even finished shooting. I think the think what impressed me most was how people really rallied behind us. From all across the globe. And in most cases total strangers. It would probably surprise a lot of people to discover that the majority of funds came in from people who were not friends or family of the cast or crew - not fans of our cast - they were complete strangers looking to support an indie film that they could get behind and believe in.
7) I see listed on your IMDB page another short called Out. Is that something available to be seen soon?
Is that already up?! There are a few short film collectives in Toronto, and one of them, The Splinter Unit, asked me if I’d do a film with them. So I found an old short film script that I’d always wanted to do, and we shot it in the spring. It will be having it’s world premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival - so I’m pretty excited about that. Not entirely sure what Splinter Unit’s plans are for the film otherwise - I know my Canadian distributor for Sex After Kids wants it. I hope it’ll become widely available in some form. David Tompa, who is almost always in my films, plays the lead here. He’s so great - and we’ve got an awesome supporting cast including Tommie-Amber Pirie and Paula Brancatti.
8) I noticed on your twitter feed you mention playing a lot of board games. What board game would you make into a movie and how?
The best one has already been done ! CLUE. My son would probably want me to say MOUSE TRAP. I think some the games I really like to play (Strategy Games) would be boring to watch as a film (Agricola, Settlers of Catan, The Farming Game, etc…). I apologize for not having a great answer to this question. Wait. Balderdash. I don’t have a goddamn clue how you would turn that into a film - but that’s a great title and a great challenge. Sign me up for that.
9) Because this is for a Kris Holden-Ried centric blog… what is it like working with Kris?
It’s so tempting to just write a smart-ass answer, but I can’t even do that. I really lucked out with meeting Kris and having my casting directors for Paul Shepard recommend him. I was aware of him beforehand, but I never would have thought of him for the part otherwise - we grabbed lunch together and the rest, as they say, is history. I really enjoy working with Kris for a variety of reasons, and I know that he’s going to be someone I’ll want to continue to work with through-out my career. One of Kris’ gifts is how in the moment he is - Kris is incapable of a false moment because he’s always feeding off of whoever he’s working with - he’s not relying on just what he’s prepared and bringing to the table, but using it to build something with whoever he’s in a scene with. He’s very selfless in that regard. He’s not concerned with being likable or pretty - he wants the work to be good and the scene to be solid - and he’s not scared to speak up when he thinks something isn’t quite right. I’m a collaborator, and one of my biggest collaborators are the actors I work with. Kris’ instincts are superb. I’m really excited that people can finally see The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, and I think fans of Kris are going to be surprised - first he’s physically very different than what they’re currently used to seeing him as - he’s almost boyish. I’m really proud of the work he did in that film, as well as the work he did in Sex After Kids. I remember after screening the film for the first time all the way through one of the first thoughts I had was “Shit. Kris is REALLY good in this.” Now that’s a film that’s full of stand-out performances, but again, there’s stuff with Kris in that film that I don’t think audiences have seen before. I think we were able to capture in that film what I really think is lovely about Kris himself as a person and a friend. He’s a hell of a person and this sounds like ass-kissery, but it’s an absolutely pleasure to know him.
Thank you so much for your time, Jeremy!
If you would like to keep informed of TUWOPS and SAK both are on facebook: TUWOPS.
Sex After Kids.