Seeing its Montreal premiere during the Just For Laughs Film Festival, Peepers tells the story of a group of urban voyeurs on the hunt for the “perfect peep” in Montreal…
This cheeky tale was created by Montreal’s Automatic Vaudeville Studios and features a cast of actors with deep connections to MTL, like Joe Cobden (I’m Not There), Paul Spence (Fubar), Ricky Mabe (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and Jessica Paré (Hot Tub Time Machine). I spoke to AVS’s Mark Slutsky, the co-writer and co-producer of Peepers, which screens on Wednesday and Sunday this week…
Brendan Murphy: What is Automatic Vaudeville Studios?
Mark Slutsky: Automatic Vaudeville Studios was started in 1998 in a loft in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. The idea was to recreate the studio system of Hollywood’s glory days but on an indie movie scale: to develop our own “star system,” to do everything from props to sets to music in-house, to revisit the great lost genres of the 20th Century and to create our own little mythology.
BM: How did the idea for Peepers come about?
MS: The idea came out of a conversation Seth Owen (the director) had with our friend Eric Hart (who appears in the film) some time in the late ’90s. Seth, Dan Perlmutter and I began working on the script in earnest sometime in 2003 or 2004. It went through many, many drafts.
BM: How did you recruit the cast?
MS: It’s always important to us to work with actors we know, love and trust, and PEEPERS was no different. Still, we brought onboard a bunch of new faces as well. We’d worked with Joe Cobden and Paul Spence before on The Recommendations, and for this film we were lucky enough to work with the insanely talented Janine Theriault, Jessica Paré and Ricky Mabe, as well as friends of ours like Matt Silver, Amy Sobol and Daniel Beirne.
BM: I recognize lots of Mile End rooftops and apartment in the film- any specific reason you picked that area?
MS: We picked this neighbourhood because this is where we work and live. It’s AVS Central, where we’ve shot so many films, held so many parties, drank so many coffees. We know it very well, and we know the people, and the kindness of our neighbours was essential to making a very tough, short shoot work. Finding rooftops—especially ones with views into apartment windows—was very, very difficult, especially on a budget, so we figured it was best to work with what we knew. We also did some shooting in Old Montreal and on the West Island, when we needed non-Mile-Endy locations.
BM: How are the ticket sales and, more importantly to me, where’s the afterparty?
MS: Wednesday is sold out, although we will be having an afterparty at the Casa del Popolo (from 11pm onwards) that night that everyone is welcome to. But here are STILL tickets available for the Sunday, July 18 screening.
BM: Since you’re also a (great) film and food writer- how about one Montreal eating spot that people don’t know but should?
MS: This is going to come back to bite me in the ass as the line-ups are already getting tough, but Kazu, a Japanese izakaya on Ste-Catherine and St-Marc, is my favourite new restaurant of the year.