St. John’s filmmaker Nik Sexton has parlayed his short comic film due to open at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday into a feature deal.
Union Pictures and Rink Rat Productions have signed up to back a feature film based on his How To Be Deadly, a short about the antics of Donnie Dumphy, a hoser and badass hero whose ambition is to enter the St. John’s dirt bike competition.
Donnie Dumphy, played by actor Leon Parsons, originated as part of a series of comedy sketches Sexton made with a group of St. John’s friends.
Sexton says the Dumphy character "took the piss out of being a rapper" in the Havin’ a Time YouTube video before his adventures in How to Be Deadly. Havin’ a Time had 1.2 million page views online.
How to Be Deadly was screened as part of a Cannes short films program this May before becoming one of just 44 shorts, out of more than 700 submissions, accepted for TIFF in Toronto.
"TIFF is a wicked festival to show off Canadian films," Sexton, who has been a writer for Rick Mercer Report, told CBC News.
TIFF programmers describe the 15-minute film as "Newfoundland's response to Fubar and Trailer Park Boys."
"Donnie Dumphy is an utterly unique piece of humanity who takes us down the grimier streets of St. John’s during an era when Newfoundland was considered to be a have-not province, not the pretty, upscale picturesque one we see on TV today," Sexton said.
The video has a ‘90s feel and takes place in St. John’s low-rent homes, back alleys and dirt bike track, he added, "far from the nice houses."
The low-budget feature film, written with Rare Birds screenwriter Ed Riche, will be shot next summer in Newfoundland.
Sexton is to make his debut as director with the film, with a storyline featuring the dirt-bike race and rapping.