Municipal Comedy: Interview with Peter Pasyk and Chris Deacon


Toronto takes center stage on July 12th at Corktown Common Park! Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World plays in company with two local comedies that highlight our hometown. Peter Pasyk’s short film Pole is an absurdist slapstick comedy about a turf war between two postering professionals who happen to be working the same beat at the same time near Dupont station. Chris Deacon’s OK-TV is a parodical short about some recognizable Toronto figures: Toronto city councillors, cyclists, cops, and crosswalk guards each play their part in the city’s daily “news” coverage. Read on to learn more about Chris and Peter’s favourite cinematic cities and what they love about Toronto.

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show invites you to journey to parks across the city for our Cinematic Cities programme all summer long.

TOPS: This year's film programme is titled Cinematic Cities, a theme that draws bridges between vibrant and complex cities around the world while highlighting the people who make each of these cities unique? Do you have a favourite movie that captures the spirit of a city?

Peter Pasyk: Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s about a man’s journey through the city of Rome searching for his stolen bike. It’s all shot on location and the city becomes a character in the film. The story is set in post-war Rome and De Sica was not shy about showing the city’s underbelly, though he does it with great compassion. And the main character puts up posters for a living – which is what I did for years in Toronto, so I can relate.

Chris Deacon: I think The Daytrippers captured a wonderful side of NYC, and La la Land captured a beauty to Los Angeles that we don’t normally see.

TOPS: Is there a city that you dream of capturing on camera?

PP: I hope to make a film in Krakow, Poland one day. My family comes from Krakow – which is in my opinion the most beautiful city in Poland, and one of Europe’s greatest gems. It is a medieval castle town straight out of a fairy tale… before I saw it, I thought it only existed in children’s books. There’s a castle on a hill, a wall surrounding the city, and at its centre is Europe’s largest public square. It really is magical. All the more so for being the only major city in Poland not to be razed by the Nazis during WWII.

CD: I’d love to make a film in NYC’s Chelsea district.

TOPS: Your films are paired with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a super stylized comedy set in iconic landmarks across Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. Can you tell us about the stylistic approach to comedy you used in your short film? Did a Toronto neighbourhood inspire the satire's premise?

PP: It’s great to be paired with Scott Pilgrim because my short film Pole is also a stylized comedy set in the Annex. I come from theatre so my film was really inspired by the Theatre of the Absurd. I was thinking of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot when making it. And it’s based on true events. I put up posters in Toronto for years to make ends meet, but it was such a futile exercise most days. For example, I would put up hundreds of posters along Bloor St. West, and an hour later on my way back down the street I would see that they were all covered over by someone else’s posters. All of them. Explain that to your employer…

TOPS: As people who put on a summer-long festival along Bloor Street, no one understands your plight more than we do!

CD: Because OK-TV is a spoof about municipal politics, Toronto was very much a character in the film. City Hall was probably the most inspired location, as it represents the workplace of the hapless city councillor.

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TOPS: For you, what makes Toronto a cinematic city? Is there something special about Toronto that you draw inspiration from?

PP: Toronto inspires me everyday. It is one of the most eclectic and diverse cities in the world. It’s hard to describe a city as one thing because - rather - a great city is made up of pockets of communities and subcultures etc. What I love about Toronto is that there is always more to discover. Even though I’ve been in the city my whole life there is so much about it I don’t know. That excites me.

CD: I think Toronto is an incredibly cinematic city. There are so many different neighbourhoods, each with a distinct feel. I’d love to shoot in one of the beautiful modern homes overlooking the city’s leafy ravines!

Pole and OK-TV screen alongside Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on July 12th at Corktown Common.