After his first feature ‘The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard,’ Canadian writer and director Jeremy LaLonde is now in the process of planning and crowd-funding his second comedy, ‘Sex After Kids.’
LaLonde gladly accepted to talk to Digital Journal about his new project and provides a broad understanding about what inspired him to make this film, the casting process and particularly the funding campaign of Sex After Kids, which is in full swing.
In a nutshell, LaLonde is a filmmaker, a father and a storyteller. During his career as an editor he worked on Canadian productions like Carlawood, Wipeout Canada and Princess. He wrote and directed a few short films and a documentary series, Ontario Visual Heritage Project, before making his first feature, The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, a romantic comedy released in Canada in 2011.
Since then, while he’s been frustrated with some projects that were stalled, LaLonde followed Edward Burns’ example. Burns is an actor but also a filmmaker who’s been working on a lot of small budget films in New York, having the entire control on his projects. Burns made an interesting argument about filmmaking being “the only art form where you’re forced to do things in such a compressed time; but you can take that away if you do things at a smaller scale and are able to control them yourself,” explained LaLonde who felt inspired by that.
Sex After Kids - the idea, the cast, the writing
Having already the experience of what a low budget movie entails through The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, he realized he actually has all the resources he needs regarding cast and crew to do a big ensemble film. “The day I decided I was going to do that, I came home and one of my wife’s parenting magazines was sitting on the couch. I just looked down and I swear the article said 'Sex After Kids'. I realized nobody had done a movie on that topic in any kind of specific scale,” said LaLonde.
According to the film’s website, “Sex After Kids is an edgy comedy about what happens when you’re too tired, uninterested, or annoyed to seduce the person you love, loathe, or haven’t even met yet.”
Once LaLonde came up with the idea, he made a list of what actors to approach, started sculpting the characters and worked on the script. He wanted to give the actors something they hadn’t done before, something fun and challenging. “I also want it to make it fun and interesting for their fans who are used to see them one way,” added the director.
The ensemble cast includes some of Canada’s most-loved actors. Zoie Palmer, Kris Holden-Ried, Mary Krohnert, Christine Horne and David Tompa worked with LaLonde before on The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard. Palmer and Holden-Ried, along with Paul Amos, are also starring in the Canadian hit supernatural drama Lost Girl, which airs on Showcase and will start Season 3 production in April. Other cast members include: Ennis Esmer (Wipeout Canada), Amanda Brugel (Paradise Falls), Shannon Beckner (Billable Hours), Peter Keleghan (Murdoch Mysteries) and more.
Sex After Kids crowd-funding campaign
As for funding the film, Lalonde and producer Jennifer Liao are running a crowd-funding campaign through Indiegogo with some attractive perks: from exclusive updates to autographed DVDs to naming a character in the film; from a vacation in either a waterfront cottage near Haliburton/Minden, Ontario, or a house in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, culminating with the dream perk of becoming a producer.
The campaign has still two weeks to go, and it successfully passed the $40,000 mark in record time. What helped contributing to that was also LaLonde’s announcement that once they reach $40,000 by March 23, he and Zoie Palmer would be wearing chipmunk suits to a local playground “where they will get into many hijinks,” and everything will be recorded for everybody’s viewing delight! Palmer’s fans didn’t sit with their arms crossed and kept pledging and spreading the word about the campaign. The video of Lalonde and Palmer “chipmunks” will be available next week.
This is the first time LaLonde decided to go for crowd-funding to raise $50,000 by April 13, 2012. This would be the amount needed to go into production with Sex After Kids. “The actors have been really instrumental by tweeting or plugging the film during interviews, which is amazing of them to do,” highlighted LaLonde.
He’s also appreciative of how big of an impact Lost Girl’s popularity, particularly Palmer and Holden-Ried’s, has on the campaign. LaLonde elaborated on this: “Kris and Zoie are amazing, and whether or not Lost Girl had blown up huge anyway, these are still two people I’d want to work with as I move on through my career no matter what. It’s a nice side effect when good things happen to good actors and they’re able to get a fan base as well.”
During the Sex After Kids campaign Lalonde was happy to notice challenges were minimal so far, and believes it’s essential to keep the momentum of the past couple of weeks. “The main thing for me was to reach out and create a dialogue with the fans through social media and get people involved and emotionally attached to the film,” continued the director. He was also touched by fans who despite not having extra money, came forward and put in a lot of effort by soliciting funds for the film from neighbours and friends.
Given that he works with busy actors, the biggest challenges moving forward would be scheduling and shooting the film. Lalonde plans to shoot Sex After Kids during spring and summer with the intention to send the movie to Sundance Film Festival.
Sex After Kids – Indiewire’s Project of the Week
Two weeks ago Sex After Kids won Indiewire’s Project of the Week earning LaLonde a digital distribution consultation from SnagFilms, and is also an official candidate for Project of the Month. The winner will be awarded with a consultation from the Sundance Institute.”That would be huge. They are really big supporters of independent film and harnessing people’s careers. That kind of thing would be worth our weight in gold for us and for me in particular,” said LaLonde.
Asked what he would do with the money if the funding goes over the mark, the director said: “We would make less compromises on the film. We would put more money into the film, into location, costumes and sets. It’s going to go into enhancing the film in every way possible. Maybe license some more popular songs or just put the money into post-production and make the film shine more than it would already.”
As this is LaLonde’s second feature, he learned how important the power of social media and self-marketing is. Sex After Kids hasn’t even been shot yet and already has a passionate fan base that keeps growing. LaLonde works mostly as an editor, but as a filmmaker he also wants to become more comfortable in his own voice now that he’s working on his second film.
Making independent films in Canada
Towards the end of our interview, we discussed what the challenges are in making independent films in Canada, compared to the US. “Canada doesn’t have a strong distribution system, especially theatrically. Canadian movie theatres are owned by the big chains in the US. As opposed to radio and TV stations who are required by Can-con to play a certain percentage of Canadian content, no theatre has to ever screen a Canadian film, unless it’s a film that’s become popular or has been nominated for Genies and Oscars,” said LaLonde who thinks that has to change. There are though great institutions that help make Canadian films like Telefilm, Harold Greenberg Fund and the National Film Board of Canada. So, films are being made, but the biggest problem is getting people to see them.
“Canadian audiences particularly are used to Canadian films being sombre and slightly pretentious. It’s time to make Canadian audiences realize that Canadian films don’t always have to be that way. Changing their perception of their films and filmmakers and storytellers is a thing we have to do as well,” said LaLonde.
Anything he does has the element of comedy in it. His belief is: “Get your audience to laugh and love the characters and then you can kind of twist them a little bit. There’s always going to be a tinge of comedy in whatever I do,” concluded LaLonde.
For details on the Sex After Kids crowdfunding campaign check out the project’s Indiegogo page.