Sonoda set for Cooper’s Camera

Toronto helmer Warren Sonoda received an early Christmas present on Dec. 21 when he got the go-ahead from producers for his latest comedy, Cooper’s Camera, which goes to camera Feb. 13 in Toronto.

The 34-year-old Sonoda (Ham & Cheese, 5ive Girls) brought the script – penned by actors and Ham & Cheese writers Mike Beaver and Jason Jones – to a Christmas party put on by Toronto prodco Buck Productions.

‘I showed the script to [producers] Sean [Buckley] and Nicholas [Tabarrok] to see what they thought…and the handshake deal happened during that party,’ Sonoda tells Playback on the phone from Chloride, AZ, where he was shooting a music video for country singer George Canyon’s single Spanish Angels.

The deal meant a quick turnaround for Sonoda, who immediately started preproduction, so that Cooper’s Camera can shoot during February while Jones and wife Samantha Bee are on hiatus from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They star alongside Beaver and Jennifer Baxter, who worked together on the Showcase sitcom Billable Hours.

Set in 1985, the comedy follows the dysfunctional Cooper family, whose Christmas is turned upside-down at the unannounced arrival of an estranged uncle. The story is told through the eyes of their youngest son Teddy, via the family’s Christmas present, a second-hand VHS camcorder.

‘It shows a family coming apart in the grand tradition of storytellers like Judd Apatow,’ says Sonoda, referring to the producer of Knocked Up and Superbad.

Cooper’s Camera, which is currently locking shooting locations, will be filmed in Toronto using $100,000 of private money, and with help from ACTRA’s Toronto Indie Production program. Sonoda credits program director Tasso Lakas for ‘giving indie film directors a chance to make movies.’

Sonoda got his start in the business by directing music videos after he dropped out from Ryerson University’s film program at the age of 21. He has since helmed more than 100 music videos, including clips for Amy Sky, The Wilkinsons and Bruce Cockburn.

‘When I started in the early 1990s, it was the wild west of music videos where I could be this 21-year-old director and be calling the shots…it was very much my film school,’ he says.

Next up for Sonoda is the hockey comedy Puck Hogs for Toronto’s Protocol Entertainment (Train 48), with support from Telefilm Canada.

‘It’s my first Telefilm movie, about a men’s beer league hockey team that tries to win the championship,’ he says.

Cooper’s Camera will be distributed in Canada through Tabarrok’s Boutique Films, which he launched last month with partner John Kozman.