Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sean Kelly

Fantasia 2015: Turbo Kid: The First Success of Frontières

This year's edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival was a major homecoming for the film Turbo Kid. The film is the first completed project to come out of the Frontières International Co-Production Market, which is now in its fourth year. Following Turbo Kid's highly successful Canadian premiere, a panel was held to break down Turbo Kid's three year journey. In attendance at the panel was moderator Stéphanie Trépanier, producer Jason Eisner, directors François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissel of RKSS, producers Anne-Marie Gélinas and Benoit Beaulieu of EMAfilms, Quebec distributor Andrew Noble of Filmoption, executive producers and international distributors Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson of Epic Pictures, and Canadian distributors James Fler and Michael Paszt of Raven Banner.

The three filmmakers of RKSS got their start by directing a series of short films, including Le bagman (2004), Total Fury (2007), Demonitron: The Sixth Dimension (2010), and T is for Turbo (2011).  The latter was a submission for The ABCs of Death and it was the basis of the film that would become Turbo Kid.  The team brought Jason Eisner (Hobo with a Shotgun) on board following a chance encounter at Concordia Hall during Fantasia, with New Zealand-based producer Ant Timpson of ABCs of Death also being on board the film.


RKSS prepared a quite elaborate pitch for Turbo Kid, which was presented at the inaugural 2012 edition of Frontières.  It wasn't long after that Anne-Marie Gélinas and Benoit Beaulieu of EMAfilms came on board the project. It was through an introduction by Gélinas at a TIFF cocktail party that Michael Ironside came on board as the villain Zeus. The character was actually written with the actor in mind, but RKSS never thought in a million years that they would actually get Ironside to agree to come on board the project.

In order to secure tax credits, Turbo Kid needed to have Canadian distribution locked down before it went into production. Canadian genre label Raven Banner was more than happy to pick up the distribution rights for English Canada, while Andrew Noble and Filmoption picked up the French Canadian distribution.  International distributor Epic Pictures came on board Turbo Kid in March 2014, mere weeks before the film was set to begin shooting.


The filmmakers held a casting session in Toronto to find an actor to play the lead role of The Kid. Munro Chambers was the very first person to audition for the role and the filmmakers knew right away that they had their kid. For the lead female role of Apple, RKSS had always intended to have the role played by Quebecois actress Laurence Leboeuf, though like Michael Ironside, they were unsure whether or not she would accept. In fact, as part of the effort to bring her aboard, a photoshopped image of Leboeuf in character was sent along with the script.

The script for Turbo Kid was written in about three weeks, though rewrites and new storyboards were happening all throughout production. Production of Turbo Kid began in March 2014 and was marred by the worst spring in 70 years, with much of the filming being done in freezing cold temperatures. The filmmakers made sure to use practical effects in Turbo Kid wherever possible, though there was also VFX done by Montreal-based company Alchemy 24.

Turbo Kid had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance film festival, mere months after post-production was completed. This opened the door for Turbo Kid to play at other festivals, including SXSW, where it won the Midnighters audience award.  The film's Canadian premiere at Fantasia marks a massive homecoming for Turbo Kid and the end of a three year journey.

Turbo Kid screens one more time at Fantasia on July 31, 2015 at 11:55 PM. The film will then be opening across Canada on August 28, 2015.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).