Toronto Film School recently welcomed a four-time Canadian Screen Award-winning director, writer, producer and editor to its faculty of industry-active instructors.
Jeremy LaLonde – best known for writing, directing and producing Sex After Kids, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, and James vs. His Future Self, to name a few – just joined TFS this Winter Term. He is currently teaching the Advanced Directing Techniques course for second-term screenwriting students.
“I am so exited to have Jeremy join us here at Toronto Film School,” said Writing for Film & Television Program Director Michelle Daly, who previously worked with LaLonde in her former capacity as CBC’s head of comedy for nearly a decade.
“I know first-hand how good he is at his craft having worked with him on several shows – including the multiple award-winning Baroness Von Sketch Show. I feel lucky to have him on board and the students are in excellent hands!”
“I try to be as personable as possible and get to know my students as people. Directing is a big, scary thing, and I don’t shy away from them with that. But a big part of what I teach is that, if you break it all down into steps, anything is achievable – all you have to do is try.”
Recruited to teach at TFS by his long-time filmmaking partner, Film Production Program Director Jordan Walker, LaLonde is far from a stranger to the Toronto Film School community. In addition to giving guest lectures to Walker’s classes over the years, he’s also worked alongside many of the school’s students and alumni on his film sets.
“I’ve made three features with Jordan, and he has always brought TFS students and grads on to our projects – and I can’t even hire some of them now because they’re working non-stop,” he said, praising the skills and work ethic of the many he’s worked with.
“What excites me about TFS is just the level of standards they have for students and that the school really wants to prime them for the real industry. There are so many film schools that don’t teach you the harsh realities of the industry and what it’s like to work on a professional set.”
In contrast, TFS students coming to work on LaLonde’s sets have come in knowing not only what to expect, but also what was expected of them – a winning combination for a positive experience for all involved.
“They weren’t shell-shocked by the experience, they knew how fortunate they were to be on a set, they were ready for it, and they were willing to learn – and because of that, they rose above,” said LaLonde, whose films have screened at international festivals including TIFF, Slamdance, Cinequest, Santa Barbara, and Whistler.
“Half the time I forgot which crew members were students because they all came in so professional.”
While LaLonde said Walker had tried to woo him onto the TFS faculty in years past, his busy schedule always stood in the way – until Walker approached him one last time this past December.
Currently in development on “a ton” of projects for the next couple of months, LaLonde nonetheless found his Monday schedule light enough to take over the reins of the Writing for Film & Television program’s two Advanced Directing Techniques classes.
For LaLonde, taking the leap from the director’s chair to the head of the class was a relatively seamless transition.
“I think most directors would probably be fairly comfortable teaching, because we’re natural teachers, anyway. We’re constantly working with people, passing on our knowledge, and trying to be a leader,” he said.
“What I like about this class, in particular, is that all of the assignments are things that you do as a director as part of your prep. In fact, it’s all stuff that I do on a regular basis when I work on a project, so it doesn’t feel like homework that you’re never going to use.”
LaLonde’s new gig as a TFS instructor isn’t just about inspiring the next generation of young filmmakers, though – he’s also using the experience as a tool to help himself become a better one.
“Over the years, I’ve mentored a bunch of young filmmakers, so I’ve kind of been preparing for teaching for a long time. There’s something about those conversations and mentorships that helps you focus and hone your craft in a different way when you’re forced to articulate it,” he said.
“It just makes you strengthen your own skills when you have to explain what it is you do – and I really, really enjoy the process.”
About Jeremy Lalonde:
Jeremy LaLonde is a filmmaker who resides in Toronto, where he was awarded with NOW Magazine’s Best Local Filmmaker Reader’s Choice Award in 2015. His films have screened at international film festivals including TIFF, Slamdance, Cinequest, Santa Barbara, and Whistler.
LaLonde has won multiple Canadian Screen Award, a Director’s Guild of Canada, and a Canadian Comedy Award for his work both directing and editing the Baroness Von Sketch Show, which he played an integral part of for its first three seasons.
His fifth feature film, James vs. His Future Self, was co-written by Jonas Chernick and stars Daniel Stern, Frances Conroy, and Cleopatra Coleman. It recently took home four awards at Toronto After Dark, including Best Feature Film (Bronze), Best Canadian Feature, Best Sci-Fi Feature, and Best Supporting Actor. It also screened at Whistler, Santa Barbara and Glasgow, and was nominated for four Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Stern), Best Original Score, and Best Original Song.
LaLonde is in post-production on his sixth feature film – an as-yet untitled project about a dysfunctional family that was filmed in the Cayman Islands and stars the late Bob Saget – and has a secret project that will be announced at the end of January.
He also has a documentary cooking show, PB with J, set to premiere on Bell Fibe in March, which chronicles his three-year weight loss journey after changing to a whole food plant-based diet.