Thursday 19 November 2020

Interview with Jon Ornoy - Producer of All Joking Aside

Canadian producer Jon Ornoy fills us in on his latest film All Joking Aside, now available On Demand, and his upcoming projects including a biopic on a Canadian snooker legend.

All Joking Aside is available now at AppleTV -

Such an interesting career you have, sir. Tell us, where did it all begin for you?

After moving to Vancouver to attend film school in 1999, I started working on set as a camera assistant after graduation, and continued doing that job for about ten years. That was a great experience for me in terms of the exposure it gave me to the production process from which I learned a lot, and the network of other professionals that I would start drawing on once I began my own filmmaking. I produced and directed my first short "Critical", while working full-time, 70hr weeks on a TV series, and while that was stressful, having almost the entire crew come out to help on their very short, and precious weekends took a lot of pressure off me.

Okay, "Scary Movie 3". Just being on set – what was that like?

That was definitely one of the bigger productions I've worked on, but it was pretty early in my career and I didn't have much responsibility there, so I don't have much in the way of stories unfortunately.

And did you get to meet the legendary Leslie Nielsen?

He was one of my favorite actors growing up so that would've been great, but sadly I never got to meet Leslie Nielsen.

Have you always gravitated towards comedies and comedy in general?

As a viewer, sure, but as a filmmaker not as much, and I think I'd even describe this film as more of a dramedy than an outright comedy. I loved movies like "Naked Gun", "Airplane", and "A Fish Called Wanda" growing up and couldn't get enough Monty Python, but I don't think I've ever made a concerted effort to make comedies myself.

Where did the idea for "All Joking Aside" come from?

I optioned the script from writer James Pickering back in 2016 and we then spent a couple of years working on it together. What really grabbed me the first time I read it was the way Charlie got over the initial embarrassment of being heckled off-stage, and found the courage to go after the guy who humiliated her and turn him into a fan.

I imagine it was quite different working  a feature film to a short – what were some of the first, most noticeable differences?

Everything about making a feature is the same as making a short, there's just a lot more of it. I think that the primary difference when working at the micro-budget level that we were at, is that the favors you're asking just get bigger. When you're only shooting for a weekend, it's not that big a deal to get people to volunteer, but when you've got a three week shoot and you live in a place like Vancouver that has a lot of production going on, it gets much harder to get people to commit when they know they can go get paid properly somewhere else. I'd say that the other major difference is the extent to which you need to plan what's going to happen with your completed feature and how you're going to get it to market. There's very little money to be made with shorts, so usually you just make those to be a calling-card, but with a feature you shift to how you're going to pay your investors back, so that adds a whole new dimension to the marketing and sales.

Have you got the producing bug now? Working on anything else, sir?

I'm happy to keep producing, but my real objective is to direct, so I'm currently developing four projects for myself, including a biopic of unsung Canadian snooker legend "Big" Bill Werbeniuk and a documentary with world champion magician Shawn Farquhar. 
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