Director's Bio

photo: Tim Leyes

Justin Friesen

Hometown: Toronto
Age: 21

Justin Friesen is an award-winning filmmaker, actor, photographer and musician from Toronto. Starting as an actor at the age of five, Justin has pursued the life of an artist, no matter what facet that came from. In high school, that led him to The Shambhala School in Halifax and Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto. He is now entering his fourth and final year at Ryerson University Film School.

Name three of your interests (not film-related) and one pet peeve. 

I’m an avid photographer, musician and I watch/play Jeopardy every day. My pet peeve is the disappearance of motion picture film as a medium.

What is your favourite movie and why?

It ‘s Punch-Drunk Love by my favourite director Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s a truly well rounded film that succeeds within the often low-browed romantic-comedy genre. It makes me simultaneously cry, laugh, smile and cringe.

When did you make your first film? What was it about?

In Grade 10, I made a film titled What. It was a Lynchian/Harmony Korine-esque piece shot on Hi8 video about a masked gunman who breaks into a messy young man’s house and holds him hostage for no clear reason. I’m sure my classmates thought I was very strange after its screening. In retrospect, it was a terrible film – but I kind of like it.

Sum up your film, Let's Make Lemonade, in a 5-word sentence. 

Musicians bring joy to people.

Which films or directors inspire you?

I was mainly inspired by my favourite documentary film titled A Cross The Universe about the electronic band Justice directed by Romain Gavras and So-Me. This resonates in the way we shot the film and the way my editor Christina and I cut it. A lot of my inspiration came from the styles of documentary filmmaking known as cinéma-vérité and direct cinema. This style is naturally easy with a band like Lemon Bucket, who are always raucous, spontaneous and flamboyant.

What's your motto as a filmmaker?

Do what you believe in and don’t take no for an answer.

What's your dream film project?

A fictional feature film that I would write and direct – and it would be shot on 35mm film, of course!

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