Renuka Jeyapalan is a Toronto-based filmmaker and a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Director’s Lab. Her short film Big Girl premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival where it was awarded the ShortCuts Canada Best Short Film Award. Since then, Big Girl has screened at over thirty-five film festivals around the world—including the Berlin International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival—and was nominated for a 2007 Genie Award for Best Live-Action Short Film. In 2010, Renuka was awarded the Kodak New Vision Mentorship Award by Women in Film and Television-Toronto and was mentored by director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen). Renuka recently wrote and directed the short film Arranged for TMN, Movie Central, and the Harold Greenberg Fund and is currently developing her first feature film, How to go to a Wedding Alone with Gearshift Films. Renuka has an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Toronto.
Hart House late 1990s
- Hart House Film Board
- Camped out in Reading Room between classes or used the athletic gym
“When I was a member of the Hart House Film Board, I made my first short film. It was called Sunday Afternoon and was about a girl who fell asleep in her apartment and dreamt that she was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I knew nothing about filmmaking at the time and took full advantage of the resources at the Film Board to make the film. I cast one of my friends, used another friend’s apartment for a location, and shot it myself using a Hart House Super8 camera and some black and white film stock. I even used one of the Hart House pianos to record the score. The film ended up screening at the annual Hart House Film Board’s end-of-year screening and won one of the awards: Best First Time Filmmaker. It was very encouraging. The experience of making my first short film through the Hart House Film Board changed my entire career path.
“The initial inspiration for my short film Big Girl came from a story on the podcast This American Life. It was about a guy who couldn’t get his new girlfriend’s daughter to like him, and I thought that conflict would be a good starting off point for a short film. The film developed into a much different story, but that was the original inspiration.
“There are so many challenges as an emerging filmmaker. Film is a collaborative medium, but it’s also an expensive one. You can’t make a film on your own so the biggest challenge is finding the support and financing to make your films. We’re lucky that in Canada we have a lot of funding options, but it’s still a rough road. I think the key is to stay dedicated to your craft and the stories you want to tell and no matter how discouraged you may feel at times,
How to Go to a Wedding Alone is a romantic comedy in the vein of Four Weddings and a Funeral. It’s about a woman who bumps into her newly engaged ex-boyfriend at a wedding and sets out to win him back. The film has been in development for the past three years and has been supported by Telefilm Canada and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. We plan to shoot the film during the summer of 2014 and are currently casting the leads. I have a another feature project called Sex with the Perfect Stranger. It’s set over the course of one night and is about a woman who has a one-night stand with a movie star.
“I also recently wrote and directed the short film Arranged for Marcon Pictures. Based on the bestselling Canadian novel Arranged by Catherine McKenzie, the short film is a fun and heartfelt look at love from the left-brain perspective. It was one of three projects selected from across Canada to participate in Harold Greenberg Fund’s Shorts to Features program. The film will be broadcast nationally on TMN and Movie Central in 2014.”