Online Shorts Fest with David Renaud

We're so excited to introduce writer/director David Renaud and his short film, THE MORNING AFTER, to you.  David is the perfect example of what hard work and passion can accomplish.  He seems to actually know how to create time out of thin air.  David is a full-time medical doctor, his wife who produced the short is a lawyer and they also have two toddlers!  Clearly David doesn't believe in excuses. 

About David: A native of Toronto, Canada, David is a renaissance man who brings new meaning to the term script doctor. Prior to embarking on his career as a writer and director, he earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of British Columbia and completed his Family Medicine Residency at the University of Toronto where he earned the distinction of serving as Chief Resident. He spent the next several years suturing his way across two countries and four time zones and saving lives from the barren wilderness of the Canadian artic to the glistening beaches of Santa Monica.

David is also an award-winning writer and director. He obtained an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA where his script Handicap Heist was a Quarterfinalist in the prestigious Academy's Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and a Semifinalist in the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards competition. His film The Morning After (2014) is an Official Selection of dozens of major festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe including the Oscar-qualifying 2013 Palm Springs International Shortfest and the Oscar-qualifying Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF Flickers) where the film won the Echoes of Earth Grand Prize Award. The film is scheduled to air in the fall of 2014 on Shorts HD, the premiere cable short film channel. Prior to attending film school, David also wrote and directed the award-winning short film The Getaway (2006), winner of an Audience Choice Award at the D.C. Shorts Film Festival.

A wheelchair bound paraplegic who was permanently injured in a tragic car accident at the age of 19, David’s boundless optimism, intelligence, and determination have enabled him to overcome tremendous odds. He exudes passion, humor, and an infectious lust for life. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

How long have you been directing/writing?  My brother Jeff and I goofed around making short comedies in high school.  They were more like SNL skits than movies.  I didn’t really take it seriously until I made my first short film The Getaway (2005).  But I guess it all goes back to those early days.  The name of my production company, Flying Renaud Productions, harkens back to that time when my brother and I were young and wild and everyone in our Scarborough neighborhood knew us as the “Flying Renaud Brothers.”

Did you go to school for filmmaking?  After making The Getaway and realizing just how much fun you can have making movies, I started wishing this gig could be more than just a hobby.  Winning an Audience Award at the 2006 DC Shorts Film Festival gave me enough courage. That is also where I met my wife, Mia, a lawyer and film festival programmer who shared my passion for film.  A year later, we moved to Los Angeles and I entered the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA.  That was a fantastic experience and it convinced me to continue on at UCLA and earn my Masters in Screenwriting. 

How many short films have you directed?  I have written and directed three short films -- The Morning After (2013), 22 lbs. (2009), and The Getaway (2005). 

What is your top advice for first-time directors?  1) Don’t listen to anyone who tells you this is a crazy thing to do.  They don’t have a clue what they are talking about.  Naysayers and waylayers can exit stage left.  Make your movie.  And don’t try and make “the” movie.  It should be fun.  Stressful likely.  Expensive probably.  But if it’s not fun, you’re probably taking it too seriously.  2) Know the story you’re trying to tell before you start preproduction.  If you’re new at this, you’re going to have a steep learning curve.  And if you’re smart, you’ll learn from you’re production team – the DP, Production Designer, Composer, Editor, and Sound Editor.   You’ll learn a lot from these people and that’s a great way to learn, but you don’t want to lose control of your film in the process.  If you have a clear vision and convey it well, then you’ll get your movie made.  3) Learn to love working with actors if you don’t already.  Most new directors get can pretty confident with their production team behind them, but they cower in front of their cast.  Working with actors is my favorite part of the process.   Show them where you want them to go, but let them lead you there.  If they can’t take you there, you screwed yourself in the casting room.    

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? My favorite part of the writing process is breaking the story, figuring out how it is all going to connect.  That is the fun part for me because it is when I feel there are no restrictions or parameters limiting my imagination and my creativity is at its height.

The best part of the directing process for me is working with actors to find the emotional truth in the script.  After the solitariness of the writing process, I really enjoy that collaborative aspect of directing in which you are working hand in hand with your actors to find those truths that make the moments real for them. 

The Morning After

A woman wakes up naked in bed with a sexy stranger and no recollection of the previous night's events. Sometimes you have to wake up to find the man of your dreams.

A woman wakes up naked in bed with a sexy stranger and no recollection of the previous night's events. Sometimes you have to wake up to find the man of your dreams.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? I am a romantic. I believe in love at first sight. I believe that a kiss (or a dance) with a stranger can be electrifying. I believe in the coup de foudre -- that moment when “lightening strikes” and you fall in love with that one person you were meant to be with.  That is how it was for me when I met my wife Mia one life-changing weekend at a film festival in Washington, DC.

Life has taught me to cherish my desires and relentlessly pursue my dreams.  When I was 19 years old, I was in a serious car accident that left me in a wheelchair.  I survived my accident and found inspiration in the pursuit of my passions.  One of my biggest passions is making movies. 

The great romantic comedies pay tribute to our dreams of romance and passion.  This movie is my homage to one of the classic couples of cinema, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers.  No cinematic couple has enshrined romantic love so beautifully in terms of dance.  In The Morning After, Frank is a lounge singer with an almost boyish dedication to pursuing his dreams and chasing his passions, both artistic and romantic.  Mae is trapped in an unhealthy relationship with the wrong guy, one that is devoid of real passion and foundering on its own deceptions.  Her romantic chemistry with Frank is the catalyst she needs to enable her to face those deceptions and a powerful reminder of her own suppressed but innate need for passion and romance in her life.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? Topher Osborn (Dear White People) shot the film on the Red Scarlet.

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? I would say the biggest challenge was finding the time.  Malcolm Forbes once said, “There is never enough time, unless you are serving it.”  I work full-time as a medical doctor and my wife/producer is an immigration lawyer.  We also have two toddlers so between us we don’t have a lot of spare time.  We just had to commit to a shooting date and make everything happen in the time we had available.  I wanted to shoot on the soundstage at UCLA because I felt we needed that type of location in order to pull off the fantasy sequence during the dance number.  I wanted disco balls and spotlights.  We had to shoot before the fall semester began and that limited our pre-production time to about two months. 

To learn more about the film, click here.