By Alfea Donato
Justin Friesen was five when he played a boy encountering a pedophile in Major Crime.
“I had it explained to me mildly… very strange experience,” says Friesen.
Since then, the fourth-year film student has had a number of on-screen appearances — including a Superbowl Doritos commercial and a Tim Hortons ad that still gets broadcasted.
After taking a film course at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, Friesen was inspired to pursue directing. He purchased a $2,500 camera and started making short films with his friends.
At the 2012 Air Canada enRoute Film Festival in November, Friesen won an award for People’s Choice and Achievement in Documentary for his film, Let’s Make Lemonade.
Let’s Make Lemonade followed Lemon Bucket Orkestra, a Toronto music group that describes themselves as a “Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-
“As much as people criticize the film industry, there’s a demand for unique content and stories that haven’t been told before,” says Friesen. “Life’s too short not to have fun, that’s the thing I tend to gravitate towards.”
For aspiring filmmakers, Friesen advises them to learn by doing.
“There’s no right way or wrong way to do films,” says Friesen. “Don’t follow the rules, do what you want and don’t take no for an answer.”
As a winner at the enRoute festival, Friesen’s film was shown on Air Canada flights for a month, and he was given two plane tickets to anywhere in North America. He plans to go to Los Angeles and start working on a documentary about Toronto subcultures and a film “about a girl in a surfer punk band who has an existential crisis at 25.”