News: TIFF talent development
A lucky dozen writer-directors get their hands metaphorically dirty with development sessions and skills workshops at this year’s TIFF STUDIO programme
By Katherine Monk
“Writer-director” sounds good, but in the world of Canadian Film, it often means a hand-to-mouth existence without external support.
The Toronto International Film Festival wants to change that, and this year, it refocused its STUDIO programme to assist writer-directors with a series of professional workshops designed to empower the nation’s storytellers.
The monthly modules began Friday with sessions that include peer review, project development, packaging and talent, working with actors and casting agents as well as the requisite art of the pitch pep talk.
“Since its launch in 2013, STUDIO has boasted immense success in readying Canadian producers for the global film industry,” said TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey in an announcement released Monday.
“For 2016, we’ve refocused the spotlight of the programme to centre on the unique artistic and creative process of writer-directors, and we are ecstatic to welcome the best and brightest talent from across the country into the fold once again this year.”
Twelve lucky creators were chosen: Juan Andres Arango, Jill Carter, Sophie Goyette, Naomi Jaye, Renuka Jeyapalan, Joey Klein, Trevor Mack, Lindsay Mackay, Pat Mills, Jeffery St. Jules, Sara St. Onge, and Randall Thorne.
Columbia-born Arango has lived in Canada 10 years, and his first feature La Playa was selected as Columbia’s 2014 selection for the Academy Awards. His second feature X Quinientos is currently in post-production.
New Brunswick native Jill Carter developed a career as a script supervisor before making the transition into directing with her short film Moment. Carter now works as a director on episodics such as Murdoch Mysteries and Beauty and the Beast.
Sophie Goyette has screened five award-winning short films at TIFF, including her most recent, Le Futur Proche, which screened at Sundance.
Naomi Jaye has the distinction of making Canada’s first Yiddish-language narrative, The Pin, and is currently adapting Martha Baillie’s The Incident Report in addition to her regular duties as an adjunct professor at Ryerson and MFA candidate at York.
Renuka Jeyapalan directed the Genie- nominated short film Big Girl (2005), Arranged (2014) and A Bicycle Lesson (2016). She is currently developing several feature film projects and the comedy TV series Girl in the Boys Room for the CBC.
Joey Klein has written, directed, and scored two short films, Waiting for You (2012) and Waterloo (2013), and the feature The Other Half (2016). His acting credits include The Animal Project (2013), The Husband (2013), Girl in the White Coat (nominated for a Jutra Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2013), and American Gangster (2007). He currently has a recurring role on CBC’s This Life.
Trevor Mack is an award-winning Tsilhqot’in nation filmmaker from the interior of British Columbia. At 17, Mack helped create a freelance video-editing and motion-graphics group called Viral Design.
Lindsay Mackay is the creative force behind Wet Bum (2014), her feature debut that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was named a finalist in the prestigious Zoetrope Screenwriting Competition.
Pat Mills wrote, directed and starred in the comedy Guidance (2014), hailed as a “Grade A” comedy by the Los Angeles Times and was a New York Times Critics Pick. It also gained him an ACTRA nomination for Outstanding Male Performance.
Jeffrey St. Jules is the only Canadian ever selected for the Cannes Festival Residence, where he developed his feature debut, Bang Bang Baby (2014), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was awarded Best First Canadian Feature.
Sara St. Onge lives in Toronto but spent her formative years in Seattle and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in photography.nHer films have screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, the Palm Springs Film Festival, and MoMA.
Randall Thorne has 160 music videos to his credit. In 2012, he developed, co-produced, co-wrote and directed an original TV movie special for MuchMusic entitled Alive. He currently works out of Toronto as a television series director.
The TIFF STUDIO programme is co-presented by the Harold Greenberg Fund, with support from The Directors Guild of Canada and Anne-Marie Canning.
Photo: Jake Gyllenhaal opened TIFF15 with Demolition, from Canada’s own Jean-Marc Vallée
THE EX-PRESS, June 6, 2016