Defendor takes flight at Darius

Putting together an A-list cast with an unknown director can be tricky, but Nicholas Tabarrok insists a top-notch script helped pull in talent such as Woody Harrelson and Sandra Oh for Defendor, currently shooting in Toronto and Hamilton, ON.

Putting together an A-list cast with an unknown director can be tricky, but Nicholas Tabarrok insists a top-notch script helped pull in talent such as Woody Harrelson and Sandra Oh for Defendor, currently shooting in Toronto and Hamilton, ON.

Actor-turned-director Peter Stebbings brought his script for the drama to Tabarrok three years ago, after the pair collaborated on the 2004 sci-fi drama The Limb Salesman, in which Stebbings starred.

‘I was hooked from the very first read… and the cast really responded to the script,’ says the busy producer, who has three other projects in the pipeline through his Toronto shingle Darius Films. Tabarrok (Coopers’ Camera, Weirdsville) adds that flying Stebbings to Los Angeles to meet with the actors in person sealed the deal.

Harrelson stars as a disillusioned man who believes he’s a superhero and combs city streets in search of his arch enemy, while befriending a young prostitute played by Kat Dennings (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist). Oh portrays his psychiatrist.

Tabarrok says there’s a ‘bit more risk involved’ in working with a new director (this is Stebbings’ first feature), though he notes the pair are making plans to partner on another film.

‘Peter lets those who have experience in certain areas do their jobs, but at the same time he’s very sure of what he wants… he’s excellent with the actors [and has] a clear sense of the look of the picture,’ says Tabarrok. Executive producers on Defendor are Sean Buckley and John Kozman (Coopers’ Camera) and Daphne Park (The Eleventh Hour).

The crew, including DOP David Greene (Across the River to Motor City), are shooting in a Toronto warehouse and at other locations including the Humber River Regional Hospital. Production runs Nov. 21 to Dec. 17. Post will be done at Technicolor, Stealing Time and Urban Audio.

Coming off a warm reception for Coopers’ Camera at the Toronto International Film Festival, Tabarrok is aiming to have Defendor ready for next year’s edition, noting that the film is ‘ideally suited’ to festivals.

‘It’s not a studio picture with a lot of marketing behind it; it’s a smart indie production with a cast that’s high-profile enough to really interest audiences,’ Tabarrok explains.

The film will be released in 2009 through Alliance Films, with Insight Film Releasing handling international sales.

Tabarrok – who was recently named one of Variety’s Top Ten Producers to Watch – has three other projects in the works, and is again joining forces with Weirdsville director Allan Moyle on the horror/comedy Nerds vs. Vampires, and the quirky laugher Housebroken.

Meanwhile, producer and screenwriter/director Jonathan Sobol (Everything Is Connected) looks to shoot the dark comedy A Beginner’s Guide to Endings early next year. The film, about a dysfunctional family, has a Wes Anderson/Coen Brothers feel, says Tabarrok.

Tags: