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Canadian Film Programmes Blog Coopers’ Camera – Makin’ It Work Posted By Warren Sonoda

5e0141421-620x430It’s been pretty crazy lately.  I’m on an airplane right now, flying to Vancouver to start prep on a new movie… and I’m browsing through the aircraft’s movie channels, and what do I find? My buddy Michael Sparaga’s movie “Maple Flavour Films” (for all you indie filmmakers out there, you should check it out — it’s basically a wicked primer on the state of our cinematic union).

So I sit back and watch it, love it, thinking – this sets up my next TIFF blog post nicely – how does one make movies in Canada… and more specifically, how did we get Coopers done?

In Maple Flavour Films, the always erudite Richard Crouse succinctly puts it (I’m paraphrasing here b/c I want to cram in a viewing of Vantage Point before the flight ends), “It’s hard making films in Canada – but as long as people pick up a camera in Victoria, or Winnipeg… people will always find a way to make a movie here….”  But why? And how?

It’s not easy (it’s supposed to be hard to weed out the weak) but if you have the passion, the talent and the stamina for it – filmmakers will find a way to get’er done. Richard might have been talking about my producers, Sean Buckley and Nicholas Tabarrok. They been supporting and guiding Jason, Mike and myself throughout the entire process of making Coopers’ Camera in its (probably) record-setting pace to hit the screens.

Sean Buckley has been a big supporter of my career for several years now – (literally) paying my rent, representing me for commercials at Buck Productions. Throughout that time, we were always looking for a larger movie project to work on. When Jason and Mike brought me the screenplay for Coopers, I immediately thought this might be a film Sean would get behind. Not only because I knew we could do it together at Buck – that it was something I knew Sean could finance entirely on his own – but more importantly, it was fresh, edgy and exactly the type of film someone like Sean would “get”. Remember, we’re taking the conventional Christmas family story and turning it on its ear and ass with a couple of groin punches thrown in for good measure.

Sean got coverage done on the script in late November 2007. And it was brutal – seriously – like, the WORST coverage ever in film-making history. (I reference what I said earlier about Sean’s the type of guy that would “get” this film). Undaunted, and maybe even challenged by the early review of the first draft, Sean & Buck Productions set up the project with Nicholas Tabarrok of Darius Films (talk about someone who’s supported me over the years — Nicholas has been instrumental in getting me out there on movie projects and editing jobs ever since I was a fresh-faced music video director knicknamed “The Kid”). Nicholas also brought John Kozman and their Boutique Films label on board. This was early December.

As legend has it – at the Buck Christmas party Dec. 21st, the deal for Coopers Camera was done, Jason and Mike were heading into rewrite mode and I was making a movie once I got back from the holidays. Let’s do the math here: Sean got coverage done on like, November 26th – and it was terrible – he and Nicholas got the deal done LESS THAN A MONTH LATER — and on February 13th, 2008 (less than 2 months after that) – we went to camera, and had one of the best shoots I’ve ever had in my career and hopefully one of the funniest comedies I could have ever hope to make.


That it took only 11 days to shoot, and from the time we started cutting to now is only around 5 months – adds to the whirlwind that I remember Coopers being. But sometimes, under complete duress and in the middle of absolute chaos, some genius gets shaken from the saltshaker. (that’s the saying, right?).

How do you do it in Canada?  By not being too precious and going for it. By surrounding yourself with the very best people – believers. I will take believers over the rich or beautiful or talented anyday.  Sean and Nicholas are a bit of all that. Sometimes coverage people aren’t.

You do it by just going out there and trying to make the best movie you can make… and if you can do it with your friends, all the better.   Ok – we’re landing now. West Coast here I am!!

Shoot Good Film,


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