People think that being a film producer is just about writing cheques, says Tony Lau, but he has learned better.
“It’s a lot of work,” says Lau, a UWindsor professor of communications, media and film. He is producing the feature Stand Up Man with director Aram Collier.
The project received $120,000 in seed funding from the federal agency Telefilm Canada. Its Micro-Budget Production Program provides monies for the development, production, distribution and promotion of a first feature-length film.
“I know that $120,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t for a project of this nature,” Lau says. “My job is to maximize the use of the budget.”
He has marshalled resources available to him in his adopted home of Windsor. The film’s crew, which combines professionals with 25 of Lau’s students, has spent about a week shooting at locations across the city—including on the University campus.
“We really want this to be a love letter to the city,” says Lau, who came with his family to Windsor at age 12 from his native Hong Kong. He attended Dougall Avenue Public School and Kennedy Collegiate before graduating from the University of Windsor with a BA in communications in 2004. “I gave Aram all the input about when I grew up here.”
Once he had seen what Windsor has to offer, Collier was determined to have the setting play a major role in the film.
“Windsor as a city has something unique that you can’t get in Toronto,” he says. “Even though we’re on an extremely tight budget, it’s worth every penny to shoot here.”
Stand Up Man follows a young Korean Canadian as he reluctantly returns to his hometown of Windsor to take care of the family restaurant and his immigrant teenage cousin, who dreams of musical stardom. The filmmakers describe it as Silver Linings Playbook meets About a Boy with elements of stand-up comedy and K-pop.
Lau is proud to have involved students in the production, where they have the opportunity to assist outstanding professionals.
“It’s important for my students to see that they can create content in their own backyard,” he says. “We pay them, and they get a chance to work as part of this awesome tech crew.”
The filmmakers will relocate to Toronto later this week for additional production work. Lau and Collier hope to host a private screening of the film for Windsorites this fall.