Talk about intense: imagine directing your first and second feature films, and sandwiching your first doc feature project between them, all in an eight-month period.
“2011 was the year where everything exploded, because I spent years in the industry trying to get stuff off of the ground and then everything happened simultaneously,” Toronto-based director Jason Lapeyre tells Playback.
Cold Blooded, Lapeyre’s first film as a writer and director, came to him in the form of an invitation from Guildwood Entertainment. The prodco invited a group of writers to tour an abandoned hospital set it had access to, and submit script ideas based on the set. Lapeyre submitted two, for both a zombie movie and a crime movie; the latter eventually turned into Cold Blooded.
Immediately after wrapping that feature, he was back in the hospital environment with Faceless, a feature documentary about Toronto General Hospital’s in-patient psychiatric unit, where he spent a year as the filmmaker-in-residence.
Two months later, Samaritan Entertainment approached him to direct I Declare War. Lapeyre had written the film’s script in 2002, about a kids’ game of war in the woods that gets out of hand; it went into production in July 2011.
“I wrote [the film] knowing that it would probably be very low budget. I intentionally wrote something that would take place entirely outdoors, in a location that wouldn’t require a lot of set dressing,” Lapeyre recalls. “One of the great things about shooting in the woods is that if you turn the camera 90 degrees, you have a whole new location.”
Fast forward to 2012: Cold Blooded won the best Canadian feature award at Montreal’s Fantasia fest and I Declare War premiered at TIFF. I Declare War also won the audience award at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, screening alongside Cold Blooded and The Captured Bird, a short Lapeyre produced with EP Guillermo del Toro.
He’s also branched out to TV with the prep school sex drama Restless Virgins, a Lifetime MOW shot in Vancouver.
“It’s kind of my attempt at a John Hughes movie… my first TV experience, period,” Lapeyre says.
And he recently pacted with director Randall Okita on an agreement to produce each others’ projects and make films together. So far, it’s a success: their first short film, Portrait as a Random Act of Violence, will premiere at TIFF this year.
Update: Next up, Lapeyre and Okita are co-producing Okita’s feature The Lockpicker, and after that, co-producing Lapeyre’s feature Stealing is Bad.
Check back here as we continue to unveil this year’s 10 to Watch over the next several days.