How Picture Day made it to the TIFF screen


For a rookie feature film director, Kate Melville has received major industry support for Picture Day, her brutally comic coming-of-age film to receive its world premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival.

That’s no surprise, says Picture Day producer Lauren Grant.

Melville did her homework before securing key financing from Telefilm Canada.

“What helped was Kate had gone out and shot sample shots with her cast and DOP and demonstrated her skill as a director, as she didn’t have a lot of shorts,” Grant told Playback as she recalled Melville, a screenwriter-turned-director preparing for a key pitch to Telefilm Canada.

Melville, who also worked as a script consultant, early on attached Daniel Irons as an executive producer, and Tatiana Maslany and Steven McCarthy as leads.

Then Melville approached Grant, a principal at Clique Pictures who last year won a Genie for the residential school musical short film Savage, to help out with production funding applications.

Together, Melville and Grant gauged the size of the budget required to shoot Picture Day, taking care to ensure it wasn’t too big or too small to pass muster with Telefilm Canada.

And then the duo were joined by Iron and members of the cast to pitch Telefilm, which looked at the application as part of its low-budget film program.

Then, only a few weeks later, Grant received a phone call from Melville. Telefilm Canada was coming on board.

“When Kate rang to say we had the (Telefilm) funding, I was surprised. It was really quick, for a first time application,” Grant recounted.

Picture Day, based on a screenplay by Melville, portrays Maslany as Claire, an acid-tongued young woman forced to repeat her senior year of high school and who attaches herself to a nerdy student, played by Spender Van Wyck, and a 33-year-old would-be rock star, played by Steven McCarthy, frontman of The ElastoCitizens.

The indie pic is executive produced by Iron (Inescapable, Bang Bang Club) and produced by Melville, Grant and Peter Harvey (Seven Sins: Greed).

Picture Day also received a license fee from The Movie Network and Movie Central, the Canadian pay TV channels.

Grant also has a second film in TIFF this year, Frost, writer/director Jeremy Ball’s short film about a young arctic hunter’s search for food that stars Emily Piggford and was produced by the Canadian Film Centre.

Photo: courtesy Picture Day / Tatiana Maslany and Steven McCarthy