Western grad Paul Fler makes mark at Slamdance

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Ryan Ward

Gazette File Photo

FAMOUS LAST WORDS: I DON’T EVEN THINK TRAINS USE THESE TRACKS ANYMORE. Ryan Ward, writer and director of Son of the Sunshine, stars in the film. Western grad Paul Fler produced the film.

Western graduate Paul Fler was a hit at the Slamdance Film Festival.

Every year, there are images of the hottest celebrities dressed in winter garb for the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The Slamdance Film Festival came about as a rebellion to the glam and glitz of Sundance and is held simultaneously in Park City. Its goal is to truly promote independent films and filmmakers in their most gritty artistic form â€" no glam, little glitz.

Paul Fler, a recent Western film studies graduate, is the producer of one of Slamdance’s biggest hits, Son of the Sunshine. The movie has garnered rave reviews from critics at The National Post and the website NY Movies Examiner. The IndieWire raves that Son of the Sunshine is a “mature, immediately involving story.”

The film follows the life of Sonny Johnns, who has been diagnosed with Coprolalia Tourette’s Syndrome, and chronicles his life as he undergoes a life-altering surgery that will open the doors to the “normal life” he has always envisioned. The film revolves around the idea of identity and the idea of discovering who we really are.

For Fler, the realization that film production would be in his future came at a young age. After the release of Star Wars, he became fascinated with film and began thinking about how the magic of cinema was created.

Fler describes his time at Western as enjoyable; he liked the city but wasn’t around as much in school as he should have been. He says Paul Brown’s film production class left a great impression on him, as he encouraged Fler to pursue his artistic side freely.

Fler’s career took off when he volunteered on a zombie movie called The Awakening the summer before his final year at Western. The producers began to give him work throughout the school year. Fler later got into production management for videos in Toronto and his career took off.

The Son of the Sunshine is currently being submitted to more festivals in Canada and the U.S., and will hopefully premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, the beacon of the festival circuit.

“Search Craigslist, it’s how I got started,” Fler advises aspiring artists.

Shedding more wisdom on the issue, Fler advises young people looking to get into the film industry to volunteer, be an asset on-set and, in the beginning, to work for free.

Fler has a list of things already lined up for the near future: taking Son of the Sunshine on the festival circuit, pitching new projects and working on a short film.

Fler says Western definitely helped him cultivate his inner artist and is especially thankful to Brown, saying he accepted, understood and encouraged Fler in his art.

The encouragement Fler received at Western has been impressionable on the young producer and has helped him get to where he is today.

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