Sarwer-Foner gets his due

Director Henry Sarwer-Foner’s Gemini win for best direction in a variety or performing arts program or series for an episode of This Hour Has 22 Minutes brings long overdue public recognition to an integral cog in Salter Street Film’s East Coast comedy machine.

A native of Montreal who now splits his time between Halifax and Toronto, Sarwer-Foner has directed (and edited) every episode (roughly 130 half-hours) of Salter’s highly successful weekly dig at Canadian politics.

This past summer, instead of directing episodic tv – as he has in the past with shows such as Atlantis’ Traders – Sarwer-Foner helmed all six episodes of Salter’s critically well-received new satire series about the Canuck entertainment industry, Made In Canada.

And unlike many tv directors who simply get dropped in to do a episode or two of a show before moving on, Sarwer-Foner has his hand in nearly all aspects of both Made In Canada and 22 Minutes, from cutting and scripting to designing both shows’ overall look and feel.

‘As a director you’re kind of like the gizzard of the show – everything goes through you,’ says Sarwer-Foner, who also designed and packaged many of the promos and bumpers for both series.

For Made In Canada, the director chose to shoot on video with a two-camera setup – ‘to get the coverage needed for comedy’ – but with a long lens – ‘to give it a filmic quality.’

Of the new show’s look and feel, Sarwer-Foner says, ‘I was just trying to do a hybrid. . . hopefully it looks different than any other comedy show out there.’

Sarwer-Foner says the Rick Mercer starrer falls into the relatively new genre of comedy first seen on Larry Sanders that he calls ‘docucomedy.’

Between developing new sleep-deprivation techniques with all his responsibilities at Salter, Sarwer-Foner is working on a low-budget black comedy feature script with 22 Minutes scribe Edward Kay.

While pleased with the Gemini win, the previously thrice-nominated and self-described ‘Susan Lucci of Canadian comedy directing,’ seems to be taking the win with a sense of humor.

‘All I know is I kicked Yo Yo’s ass,’ says Sarwer Foner. ‘Yo MaMa!’