JASON SHARMAN is a Toronto-based filmmaker and performer with a BFA in Theatre from York University. Having a passion for the arts, Jason has studied film, acting, directing, playwriting, piano, graphic design, photography, painting, and dance. Jason has appeared on stage in shows like “Rule of Thumb” (Toronto Fringe 2008 – “Outstanding Ensemble” NOW Magazine) and “Vacancy” (The Creative Ensemble). He has also appeared in numerous film projects including a lead role in the independent horror film “Queen of the Zombie Punks”.Jason is also part of the team at Behind The Scenes Services where he does the Business and Legal Affairs for many television and film productions. He has worked on productions such as “Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh”, “Sanctuary”, “Bump!”, and “Textuality”.
The zombie short “Happy Birthday Chad!” (playing in the OUT THERE! Shorts presented by Inside Out LGBT Film Festival Toronto at 2pm SAT Feb 1 at The Screening Room) marks his directorial debut.
Reelout Rita: What is your favourite zombie movie and why?
Jason: My favourite zombie film would have to be “Return of the Living Dead”. It scared me as a kid but I love it today. The dark humour, the special effects make-up, the music and the over-the-top acting are so unapologetically ‘80s and I absolutely love it. Plus it has a punk rock chick named “Trash” dancing around naked in a cemetery rocking some fierce pink legwarmers.
Reelout Rita: Your film premiered at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto last May. What was that experience like?
Jason: It was my first film festival experience attending as a filmmaker so it was pretty exciting. For me, seeing our film play on the big screen for the first time (and it being at the TIFF Bell Lightbox) was the most exciting and memorable moment of the festival. I also loved having the opportunity to meet the other filmmakers and other industry professionals. At the filmmakers’ brunch we met a member of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and they are now the distributor for “Happy Birthday Chad!”. Then to receive the Emerging Canadian Artist Award at the end of the festival was the cherry on top to an already incredible experience.
Reelout Rita: Jason, you had the chance to attend Out Fest in L.A. How was it a different experience from Inside Out?
Jason: The experience of simply being in L.A. to screen our film was pretty surreal. The main difference I noticed with Outfest would have to be the amount of events. Everyday there were several functions or opportunities to meet and schmooze with industry professionals while enjoying an Absolut Vodka. A couple of the highlights for me were the Horror Panel (with Bryan Fuller and Kimberley Peirce) and the filmmakers’ pool party in the Hollywood Hills.
Reelout Rita: What queer films/videos or filmmakers have left a lasting impact on you?
Jason: Some of the first queer films I saw as a teenager (“Beautiful Thing”, “Get Real”, and “But I’m a Cheerleader”) had a huge impact on me. I was in the closet and these movies really helped show me that it was okay to be gay and there were others like me. Later on I discovered Charles Busch and fell in love with his films. “Psycho Beach Party” and “Die, Mommie, Die!” are hilariously over-the-top and just a lot fun.