Toronto actor and screenwriter, Jonas Chernick is starring in two very different movies competing for the Whistler Film Festival's coveted Borsos Award for Best Canadian Film.
Blood Pressure, slated for a Canadian theatrical release in 2013, follows a housewife who has become bored with her life as she embarks on a potentially dangerous dalliance with a stranger, played by Chernick.
On the other end of the spectrum is My Awkward Sexual Adventure, in which Chernick is a jilted accountant who tries to win back his ex-girlfriend with help from a stripper. He also wrote the script for the quirky sex comedy. Pique caught up with Chernick over the phone to chat about the latter role ahead of its screenings at the festival Nov. 29 and Dec. 2.
Pique: How would you describe the film?
It's about a man in his 30s facing things most people face in their teens and 20s. I've been torn between calling it a sex comedy and a romantic comedy. My director, Sean Garrity, thinks that all comedies are romantic comedies, so it makes more sense to call it a sex comedy. It's really a coming of age story: A guy on a quest to figure out who he is through a sexual education.
Pique: Why should WFF viewers see your film?
Chernick: I go to a lot of film festivals and I see a lot of movies. Festivals typically program what we think of as festival movies: art films, darker, dramatic, dysfunctional families, war stories, quiet movies, heavier stuff is what you see at film festivals most of the time, which is one of the reasons we're so thrilled that film festivals have been embracing My Awkward Sexual Adventure. It's an all out comedy. It's a sexy, raunchy, watch-it-through-your-fingers out of embarrassment to the character kind of sex comedy, but with heart. I think it's nice counter-programming for festivalgoers.
Pique: What was the best moment on set?
Chernick: There are a number of scenes I wrote for myself that are embarrassing, shocking and sexually explicit. There were moments I found myself, for example, performing oral sex on a cantaloupe with the crew laughing hysterically around me and the cameraman laughing so hard the camera was shaking. That was a highlight. Then I found myself outside in December in Winnipeg wearing skintight leather pants, a leather vest and a choke collar. That was also a highlight.
Pique: How about the biggest challenge?
Chernick: A lot of times the biggest challenge is not laughing. Especially the way we shot this movie with a lot of improvisation. The actors would often just riff and take it in a new direction and you'd have to keep it together and stay with them. That's a challenge, but a fun challenge.
Pique: What do you hope people take away?
Chernick: We really have an unpretentious goal with this movie. We just want people to laugh. If people say to me afterwards they thought it was a funny movie, then I win. That's my goal. It's hard to make a funny movie and we don't do a lot of comedies in Canada. This is my fourth film with the director and there's humour in our other movies, but in a sense, we're blazing new territory for ourselves creatively.