More Onscreen Laughs: The 2016/2017 Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange Heats Up in Los Angeles

By Margaret DeRosia ● March 22, 2017 15:30

Two men eating cereal.

A scene from 'Chokeslam', a film made in part through the Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange, which opens nationwide April 7.

The 2016/2017 Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange is in full swing, with our four teams currently in Los Angeles, pitching their projects and taking creative and marketplace meetings with key industry experts.

With the support of lead sponsor/partner Telefilm Canada and associate partner Just For Laughs, the Comedy Exchange is a high-level, cross-border project and business accelerator that supports a customized approach to advanced project development, packaging and strategic marketplace positioning. Up to four feature projects are invited by an international advisory each fall. Producers and their writer/director teams head to Los Angeles in March for targeted one-on-one meetings and sessions on their revised drafts, continuing to access creative counsel, financing and packaging expertise, while building strategic relationships with key decision-makers and comedy experts.

Some recent Comedy Exchange projects are heading our way. Don’t Talk to Irene is writer Pat Mills’ second feature comedy about a misfit teenage girl who rallies the members of a retirement home to join her dance crew. The film stars Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis and Michelle McLeod as plucky Irene. Executive-produced by Ed Gernon and Producers’ Lab alumna Alyson Richards, it will be released in Canada by Search Engine Films this year.

Shooting is underway near Montreal for Birthmarked, a comedy starring Toni Collette and Matthew Goode as scientists raising three children contrary to their genetic disposition. Marc Tulin wrote the script, with Marie-Claude Poulin and Pierre Even are producing.

Chokeslam had its world premiere last October at the Calgary International Film Festival, where it was the closing night film. Directed by Robert Cuffley, and co-written by Cuffley and Jason Long, Chokeslam follows a mild-mannered deli clerk, who gets a second shot at winning back his high school sweetheart-turned-notorious wrestling star. It was picked up by Canadian distributor A71 and will land in theatres Canada-wide on April 7, 2017.

Buzzy new film Public Schooled just finished principal photography in Vancouver last December. Based on an original script by producer Josh Epstein and director Kyle Rideout, the film got its start in the Exchange in 2013, and went on to be produced by CFC Features. Chronicling the brave new world of public school that a home-schooled tween must enter, Public Schooled boasts a dream cast: critically-acclaimed Judy Greer (Jurassic World, Antman, War for the Planet of the Apes), Russell Peters (Source Code, The Jungle Book) and Grace Park (Hawaii 5-0), alongside winsome newcomer Daniel Donheny in the lead.

With that track record, check out this year’s projects and teams below, who promise more on-screen laughs will be heading our way soon.


After her slacker husband Jeff gets amnesia in a car accident, Veronica, a type-A successful architect, tries to reprogram him into the ideal man she wishes him to be.

Emily Alden (Producer) heads production, distribution and development for PNP and is executive producer on several of their past and current slate of films, including Ed Gass-Donnelly’s upcoming Lavender, Jason Bourke’s Drone and Robert Carlyle’s feature directorial debut, The Legend of Barney Thomson, starring Emma Thompson.

Jed Rees (Writer) splits his time between Canada and the U.S. as an actor in film and television productions, with appearances in The Chris Isaak Show, Men With Brooms, Luck, DaVinci’s Inquest, CSI, NCIS, Deadpool and American Made. He is studying screenwriting at the University of College Los Angeles Extension.

Jason James (Director) is an award-winning Vancouver-based producer/director. He directed and produced the indie feature, Entanglement (2016), and That Burning Feeling, which won Best First Feature at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival and was released in both the U.S. and Canada by eOne Films and Search Engine Films.


After a terrible one-night stand, a headstrong college student risks her future to make a feminist pornographic film to challenge her generation's conception of sex – and hopefully result in her first orgasm.

Jordan Walker (Producer) produces films that have screened at festivals in Toronto and Cannes as well as on CBC, TMN and Bravo! His 2015 comedy, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, had its U.S. premiere at Slamdance and won Best Film at the Canadian Film Festival.

Mika Rekai (Writer) is a screenwriter and journalist from Toronto. She is the creator of comedy webseries, AntiSocial. A College Girl's Guide to Pornography is her first feature.

Jeremy LaLonde (Director) is a Toronto-based filmmaker whose award-winning films, Sex after Kids and How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, have screened internationally at Slamdance, Cinequest, Santa Barbara, Toronto, Edmonton and Whistler. In 2015, he was awarded NOW Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Local Filmmaker.


Convinced that one single embarrassing night in high school defined his blundered adulthood, a middle-aged man attempts to reset his life by throwing the party in his parents’ house he couldn’t as a teenager.

Tex Antonucci (Producer) has 10+ years’ experience in the feature film and television industry, producing projects from early script development to final delivery. Based in Vancouver, he has experience working internationally, with past experience at Infinity Features, and currently with South Creek Pictures and Screen Siren Pictures on multiple feature film and television projects.

Dennis Heaton (Writer/Director) is an award-winning writer and producer from Vancouver. His work spans animation, webseries, feature films, television comedy and drama. He recently completely showrunner duties on Motive. Other credits include the television series Call Me Fitz, The Listener, JPOD and Blood Ties, and the feature film, Fido.


Ever since his rabbi-father died and his mom started dating again, 16-year-old Ben Feldman has been a mess, but his friends have the cure – a road trip to a Reno brothel. With crazed bouncers, cops and stashed drug money, virginity is the least of these boys’ problems.

Leah Jaunzems (Producer) is VP, Development at Darius Films in Los Angeles and Toronto, with credits in Defendor (2009), A Beginner’s Guide to Endings (2010), The Art of the Steal (2013), The Intruders (2015) and Cold Blooded (2012), which won the Audience Award for Best Canadian Feature at Fantasia (2012).

Ryan W. Smith (Writer) is a Vancouver-based screenwriter, working in various genres, with his historical thriller Jacaranda a Semifinalist in the Austin Film Festival’s Screenplay Competition. Smith has written over 137 episodes for television series, such as ReBoot: The Guardian Code (YTV), Some Assembly Required (Netflix/YTV), and Mr. Young (Disney/YTV).

Learn more about the Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange HERE.