Toronto: Judd Apatow, Eugene Levy Help Bring Laughs to Canada
Funnymen Ivan Reitman, Judd Apatow and Eugene Levy are helping drum up big-screen laughs for Canadian filmmakers. All three comics have lent their support to the CFC over the years: Both Levy and Reitman have held master classes, while Apatow, along with wife Leslie Mann, discussed the comedy craft at a Bell Lightbox event. The CFC generally holds public events at Bell Lightbox and master classes at the Film Centre itself.
“They’re like an overenthusiastic aunt. They love what you do and want to encourage you along the way,” says Jason James, director of romantic comedy That Burning Feeling, which was recently produced as part of the Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange.
The CFC program, which is associated with the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, offers Canadian producer-director teams packaging and financing expertise from comedy veterans.
That’s invaluable for Canadian filmmakers looking to make it into the comedy big leagues with shoestring budgets, no-name casts and tight deadlines.
Hollywood screenwriter Kirsten Smith (10 Things I Hate About You) recalls mentoring James, giving notes and reading drafts to help That Burning Feeling realize its creative and commercial potential.
“I feel like I’m really invested in helping bring some of the projects to life, and helping the quirky Canadian sensibility be pushed into other territories and marketplaces,” says Smith, who has been working with the CFC Comedy Exchange for four years.
For Carolle Brabant, executive director of Telefilm Canada, supporting the CFC Comedy Exchange will help diminish the federal government film financier’s traditional dependence on indie dramas as part of its investment slate.
Says Brabant: “We feel it’s now time to connect better as decision makers with script writers and producers in Canada. That’s where the projects evolve."