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Winnipeg’s own Jonas Chernick discusses how he made his latest movie, “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF”

Jonas Chernick

By BERNIE BELLAN
Elsewhere on this website we have an article about a new movie, titled “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF”, which was slated to receive its Winnipeg premiere April 3.
As events have overtaken the original plan, filmmaker Jonas Chernick, who wrote, produced, and starred in the movie explained that the Canadian distributors of the film have changed how the movie will now roll out.
Instead of being shown in theatres, the movie will now go straight to video on April 3, including digital release on iTunes and Video on Demand through such providers as Shaw, Bell MTS, and Rogers.

We had a chance to talk with Chernick while he was cooped up in his Toronto home – along with his wife, two kids, a dog and a cat.
For those of our readers who are not already familiar with Chernick’s background, here’s a brief summary: He’s a graduate of Grant Park High School and the University of Manitoba. He is also an alumnus of Camp Massad, where he was both a camper and a counselor. He served on the staff of the Rady Jewish Community Centre and has appeared in four different productions of the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre over the years.
“JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF” marks the third film that Chernick has written and produced and in which he has starred. The previous two were “My Awkward Sexual Adventure” (released in 2012) and “Borealis” (released in 2016).
As someone who has always maintained a strong connection to the Winnipeg Jewish community, we have been chronicling Chernick’s career in these pages for years. Making films is not an easy route to follow, but Chernick has shown that it is possible to forge a successful career path despite the many challenges that await any aspiring filmmaker.
But now, with the latest hurdle to overcome in the form of a pandemic virus that has thrown all the previous plans for unveiling the film across Canada out the window, Chernick is still looking forward to seeing the film find success in a different way than he might have otherwise anticipated – by going straight to video, something that usually doesn’t occur until at least six months after a movie has been shown in theatres.

We began our interview by asking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered plans for not just “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF”, but so many other movies that were slated to be released soon?
Chernick said: “They actually have announced that several major releases are going to come straight to our living rooms. ‘Trolls’ – which was expected to be a huge blockbuster, is going to be released straight to digital.”
I wondered whether Chernick himself was going to take a financial hit over the change in plans for how the movie is going to be released.
Chernick explained that “the way it works with my film and the way I think most films – certainly Canadian films, is we’ve already sold the Canadian rights to the movie to a Canadian distribution company; in our case, they’re called Northern Banner Releasing. I’ve done a number of films with them; they’re wonderful partners – and they’ve had the Canadian rights to this movie for years.
“The way it works is they help us make the film by prebuying the Canadian rights, so the revenue from Canada goes through them and, if the movie does very well – sure, we’ll get something called ‘overages’, which means some of the profits will flow through to the producers, including me. But, that’s not really a concern for my team. We just want the movie to be seen by as many people as we can. Nobody gets into the independent film business to make millions of dollars.
“Luckily for me, as an actor, writer, producer, story editor, consultant – I do fine with multiple projects, but nobody is in this to become a millionaire. We’re artists, we made a movie – and we’re very proud of it. We made one that we think people will really like – it’s an audience friendly movie.”
I said to Chernick that I always enjoy helping to promote one of his new movies, saying to him “It’s like having a baby again: You go through the same steps. This time around though, the baby’s in the hospital and you’re not sure when it’s going to come out.”

It had been four years since I last spoke with Chernick – just after “Borealis” was released, and I noted that he had mentioned that back in 2016, while he ”had several irons in the fire”, there was one movie in particular that he thought had the best chance of being made.
Chernick agreed, saying: “This was the one that people were most excited about when I pitched it, so I felt like we had a good chance at getting this one made.”
I noted that this was now the third film that Chernick had written and produced, and in which he had starred – and about which I had now written, so some day I will be able to write about “the pantheon of Jonas Chernick movies” because I’ve never used the word “pantheon” in a sentence before.
It was following release of “My Awkward Sexual Adventure” in 2012 that Chernick met the guy who eventually became the director of “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF”, Jeremy LaLonde. They were both at a California film festival and someone introduced them to each other as the two Canadians who had just made “sex comedies”. In time, Chernick would end up starring in a LaLonde film called “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town” (which can be purchased on iTunes, Chernick said).
As people who are involved in the film industry are prone to do, Chernick and LaLonde traded ideas – and scripts, back and forth, bouncing ideas off one another, until the idea for “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF” began to take hold – in 2016.
According to Chernick though, before they began to focus on “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF”, LaLonde had asked him whether Chernick had “any ideas in the science fiction world” and Chernick said “I have one idea that’s not much of an idea and I kind of pitched it to him in probably two sentences – and he loved it and said ‘let’s develop that, let’s flesh that out’, and very quickly we turned that into what became “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF”.
We discussed how the drastic change in how the movie is going to be released might affect the kind of “buzz” that a movie needs to develop in order to be successful.
Chernick explained: “Normally a movie that gets released on digital or VOD (Video on Demand) doesn’t receive a lot of media attention because there are so many titles, but in this case we already have a lot of attention. We’ve won a bunch of awards and we’ve played at a bunch of prestigious festivals, and the media in Canada have been very supportive – so, thanks to people like you and other outlets, it’s going to make a splash and people are going to know about it.
“Everybody’s at home! What else are they going to do? You can have a laugh, feel charmed – and enjoy yourself for an hour and a half.”

I said to Chernick that I was amazed how many reviews of “JAMES VS. HIS FUTURE SELF” I had actually been able to find online. “It’s amazing,’ I said. “Your film has only been on the festival circuit, yet it already has so many reviews.”
“You’re right,” Chernick answered. “It’s only been on the festival circuit, but I will say that I am a tireless soldier when it comes to promoting my movies.”
“And almost all the reviews are favourable,” I noted – except for one, “from a guy who complained that the movie was a ‘rom com’ – early 2000s vintage. “
“But, when I read that,” I said to Chernick , “I thought to myself: ‘I love rom coms. I wish they would make more of them.”
“Absolutely,” Chernick said. “All of my movies are romantic comedies. I think most comedies are rom coms. We call this a ‘sci fi rom com’, but it’s less sci fi than it is rom com. It’s truly a romantic comedy hiding inside a time travel movie – with very little time travel…just enough to satisfy the science fiction geeks, as we learned when we were programmed by one of the top science fiction film festivals in the world – the Toronto After Dark Festival.
“We were worried that the audience was going to turn on us at that festival, but we ended up winning four awards at that festival.”
I noted that I wasn’t familiar with that particular festival. I said that I assumed it “was a festival for people who didn’t like to go out in the day time” (which got a laugh from Chernick).
Chernick went on to say that “the real surprise for us was getting nominated for Canadian Screen Awards because this is not the kind of film that typically gets acknowledged by the Academy (of Canadian Cinema and Television). This is a fun comedy with some raunchy humour.”

Daniel Stern in a scene from the movie

At that point in the interview I said to Chernick that I wanted to switch gears and, rather than talk more about how the film was made and how it’s going to be distributed, I wanted to talk about Daniel Stern, who really steals the movie when he appears in it.
I said that I purposely hadn’t read much about the movie before I watched it, but when I saw Daniel Stern appear for the first time, I said to myself: “I know that guy. He was in ‘Home Alone’. “ (Later, Chernick pointed out that Stern was also made famous for having been in the “City Slicker” movies.)
(Note: Stern plays an older version of Chernick, who comes back in time to try and persuade the character played by Chernick to abandon his dreams of time travel.)
“Where has Daniel Stern been all these years?” I asked Chernick.
“He kind of stepped away from the limelight after the ‘Home Alone’ and ‘City Slicker’ movies were such blockbuster,” Chernick explained. ”He wrote and directed some films and some TV and then, because he didn’t have to work, he kind of walked away a little bit and he became a reclusive artist.
“He lives on a property in California – away from all the action, and he makes gigantic bronze sculptures in his art studio – and sells them all over the world. He’s an amazing artist, but he hasn’t really done a lot of movies in the last several years because he doesn’t really like leaving home.
“But we went after him pretty aggressively because we just felt that he was the perfect guy for this part. We had a really short list that he was at the top of – for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because we have this nostalgic relationship with Daniel Stern based on his movies from the 80s and 90s – and our movie is about nostalgia; it’s about looking back.
“Also, he’s similar enough to me in his personality and his persona – his lovable loser, Jewish, nebbishy vibe – from his earlier years, but he’s become something else at the same time. He’s now a big guy (physically – as viewers might be surprised to see. Man, has Stern ever put on a lot of weight!) and somewhat intimidating, so we really liked the idea that he was once like me but that he’s evolved into something other than that – and we found that really interesting for his part.”

“And you provide a credible explanation as to why there’s no real physical similarity – except for one part of your anatomy (cue the penis jokes),” I suggested. “Now, that’s one that I found a bit of a stretch – no pun intended.”

Frances Conroy

I also asked Chernick about another actor who appears in the movie who, I admit, I had never heard of – until Chernick filled me in as to who she is and where I might have seen her. The character, Dr. Crowley, is head of a world class lab in which Chernick’s character is also a scientific researcher.
“Her name is Frances Conroy,” Chernick said. “She’s in many ways an acting icon. She was the matriarch on one of the most ground-breaking shows of all time: HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’.”
“Oh,” I said, “but you know I never watched that.” (which shouldn’t excuse my ignorance because I usually am quite au courant with useless trivia).
“That show was nominated for five or six Emmys every year,” Chernick added. “She’s also a Broadway star. She’s also been one of the leads on a very popular show called “American Horror Story” (which I always assumed was a story about my own family) and most recently she played the mother of the Joker in the “Joker” movie.”
“Oh, that’s her,” I exclaimed, showing once again my ignorance of an all-important fact.
“Her character has this turn of phrase,” I noted, “when she reacts to someone swearing. What does she call it?” I asked.
“Swear scream…. She says it as if it’s a common phrase,” Chernick explained – as in, “If you’re going to ‘swear scream’ someone’s name, at least have something compelling to say when you finally have their attention.’ “
I said that she’s so ‘self contained’ when she appears in the movie – constantly showing incredible restraint when she’s subjected to a barrage of profanity from one or another of the characters in the movie, especially the character played by Daniel Stern. Also, I wondered, considering how she’s so terrific in her relatively small part, couldn’t Chernick have written a larger role for her?
“I think one of the appealing things for her,” Chernick explained, “is that this was an extended cameo for her. This is something that she would be able to come in and do relatively quickly. Now, it should be noted that, being the pro she is, she didn’t treat it that way at all. She had read so many books on particle physics (Conroy plays the part of a particle physicist, as does Chernick), she was so prepared – she was over prepared – she blew our minds how great she was.”

I said to Chernick that he must be so disappointed he won’t be able to premiere his movie in person in front of a Winnipeg audience.
“I was really excited to be there in front of my home town audience,” Chernick admitted, “with friends and family, but we’re going to try to do some sort of question and answer session online via Reddit or one of these online chat systems.”
I asked whether there’s anything else Chernick might like to add.
He said that “people are running out of things to watch right now. Why not watch a funny, entertaining movie by a Winnipeg Jew?”
Then, I thought to add the most important question that I had forgotten to ask:
“When is the movie going to open in Lithuania?” (in reference to the fact that the Lithuanian remake of “My Awkward Sexual Adventure”, titled “Nepatyres” (or “Unexperienced” in English) had the third best box office opening for any movie ever shown in that country).
Chernick laughed and said, “it’s opening (or slated to open) in the United States on May 1st and in the U.K. on April 27th, but I’m not sure about Lithuania.”
“The Baltic states will be key to your success,” I suggested.

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Popularity of Online Casino Games in Canada

In recent years, the popularity of online casino games in Canada has surged, captivating the attention of a diverse audience seeking thrilling entertainment. With the convenience of accessing these games from the comfort of home, Canadians are exploring the vast world of virtual casinos that offer an extensive array of gaming options.

Diverse Selection of Casino Games:

One of the key factors contributing to the widespread appeal of online casino games in Canada is the vast selection available. There are hundreds of top casino games online, covering every genre imaginable. From classic table games like poker and blackjack to immersive slot machines with captivating themes, Canadian players have a plethora of options to choose from.

The Rise of Online Slots:

Among the various casino games, online slots have witnessed a significant surge in popularity. The ease of gameplay and the potential for substantial payouts make slots a preferred choice for both seasoned players and newcomers. With themes ranging from ancient civilisations to popular movies and TV shows, online slots offer a diverse and engaging experience for players of all preferences.

Convenience and Accessibility:

The accessibility of online casino games is a key driver behind their growing popularity in Canada. Players no longer need to travel to a physical casino to experience the thrill of gambling. Instead, they can enjoy their favourite games with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device. This convenience has opened up the world of online gambling to a broader audience, attracting both seasoned gamblers and those trying their luck for the first time.

Technology Advancements:

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the online casino gaming experience. High-quality graphics, realistic sound effects, and seamless gameplay contribute to an immersive environment that mirrors the excitement of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the integration of live dealer games brings an authentic touch to online gaming, allowing players to interact with real dealers in real-time.

Regulatory Environment:

The regulatory environment in Canada has also contributed to the popularity of online casino games. While each province has its own regulations, the overall legal framework allows for a thriving online gambling industry. This has given rise to reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and adhere to strict industry standards, ensuring a fair and secure gaming environment.

Social Aspect and Community Engagement:

Online casinos in Canada are not just about individual gameplay; they also provide a platform for social interaction. Many online casinos feature chat rooms and community forums where players can connect, share experiences, and discuss strategies. This sense of community adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the gaming experience, making online casinos a social activity beyond the solitary pursuit of winning.

The popularity of online casino games in Canada is undoubtedly on the rise, driven by a combination of diverse gaming options, convenience, technological advancements, and a favourable regulatory environment. With a wide array of top casino games available at their fingertips, Canadians can indulge in the excitement of gambling from the comfort of their homes. As the online casino industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual gaming is here to stay and will likely continue to captivate audiences across the country.

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Features

Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman

By ORLY DREMAN

(Special to the JP&N) Feb. 1, 2024

In every news broadcast that we hear that “The IDF spokesman is permitted to announce”… then every person in Israel sits down, holds their breath and waits to hear the names of the soldiers fallen in action that day. This causes deep sadness to every family in Israel. For example, I found out the son of my T.V technician was killed and my handyman’s son was seriously injured. Death in Israel is so personal.

Our synagogue recently mourned twenty seven year old Inbar Heiman who was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music nature party on October seventh and was murdered in captivity. She was a gifted young woman filled with love and compassion. She was a creative artist that was supposed to enter her senior year at university this academic year. We had prayed and wished that she would return until her family received the tragic news of her death.

When we made personal medical visits to the Hadassah hospital, we often heard helicopters overhead bringing in wounded soldiers from Gaza. In the surgery department we saw a reserve soldier being released after six weeks in the hospital. His wife and newborn baby were with him. The department had a touching farewell gathering with Israeli flags, music and cakes. This is how every soldier who leaves the hospital is treated. More than fourteen thousand civilians and soldiers were hospitalized since October seventh with most of the injuries being in the hands and legs, burns, head and eye injuries.

We seldom are in the mood to go to a restaurant these days, but if we do, such outings are accompanied by guilt feelings. Is it right to go when our people are suffering?- the hostages are starving. We all wear the metal disc that says “Bring Them Home now- Our hearts are captured in Gaza”. They occupy our thoughts pervasively. Some of the hostages have suffered untreated gunshot wounds and the hygiene conditions are poor, many of them not showering for four months, sitting thirty meters under the ground in dark tunnels, with no electricity and suffering from extreme malnutrition. Some of them have diseases like Celiac, Asthma, Colitis, Diabetes, Fibromialgia, heart diseases and allergies. They are getting no medications and time is running out for them. Twenty five of them have already perished. What sort of civil society will we be if we abandon them?

Whole families are recruited for combat duty in different areas of the country. It might be a brother and a sister fighting in Gaza or a father in Judea and Samaria while another brother is fighting on the Lebanese border. If you ask soldiers who have lost their siblings in combat if they wish to go back to fight after the shiva, they do not hesitate, even though it is so hard on the parents. This demonstrates the dedication of Israeli citizens and their wish to complete the task of exterminating the Hamas, while at the same time knowing their family member did not die in vain. The grief is intergenerational and we are even acquainted with grandparents whose grandchildren are in combat and they are given the opportunity to go to workshops that help them with their anxiety.

In a Knesset Committee it was recently reported That many survivors from the Nova party have taken their own lives. Others continue to experience the trauma of the horrific events. They cannot sleep nor eat. Many were sexually abused and even though they were not murdered they continue to experience the pain- the sights, voices- cries for help and the fear. They are in a sense also fighters who awaken to a new existence everyday and continue to fight for their existence.

At the military cemeteries there is one funeral process after another and the families are asked to leave the site to make room to prepare for the next funeral. Wounded soldiers arrive in ambulances, on hospital beds or wheelchairs in order to eulogize their fallen comrades.

The reservists who return home after months of combat are having troubles adjusting because this war, like the War of Independence, is very meaningful. It is the most justified war our homeland has encountered. Upon their return there is a big downfall in physical and mental energy. A stranger cannot understand this. These soldiers were disconnected from normal civilian routine for a long time and they had difficult and intimate experiences with their combat mates. They have lost friends and did not have time to mourn. They must release the stress they were exposed to. They are back in body but not always in spirit. They also might be recruited again in the near future to the southern or the northern front, the war is not over. Many men who were injured worry about their future fertility and sexual functioning.

They entertain such existential thoughts as would it be better that I am killed in action before I have children and leave no descendants, or losing my life and leaving behind orphans. Dozens of children remain orphaned from both parents. They also have witnessed their family members being murdered and their homes burned down. Years ago, Solly treated and did a follow up on a family where both parents were murdered in a terrorist attack. Even though the children were adopted by loving relatives they suffered from survivor guilt and this expressed itself in such phenomena as dropping out of school, turning into juvenile delinquents and having trouble in intimate relations.

The evacuees from the south and the north are dispersed in hundreds of hotels in the center of the country. Hence, they have no permanent home, have no privacy and many have no work, nothing to do for months on end and experience feelings of powerlessness. Some pupils are not capable of returning to their temporary schools because of anxieties, depression and fear. Some teenagers have turned to drugs and alcohol which increases violence and vandalism. For them school is experienced as a waste of time. Their friends were murdered, some still have relatives in captivity and everything is falling apart. They also experience sleep disruptions and are in no mood to study. For them life is a living hell. Some families are moved from city to city several times. The children do not have friends in the new locations and they feel lonely and express a lack of social support.

In the realm of parenting many mothers even those who were NOT directly exposed to the dramatic events reported that their children cry more (eighty three percent). Others say the children have difficulties sleeping (seventy three percent), have concentration problems (fifty four percent) and many children are developing eating disorders. In sixty percent the anxiety of the children is so high it hurts functioning. For example, they are often afraid to leave the house. Other disturbances were reported such as bed-wetting, insisting on sleeping with their parents and acts of anger and aggression.

We, as Israelis are also concerned with our Jewish brethren who are experiencing thousands of antisemitic incidents, higher than the number of all incidents in the last decade. There are many Jews in the diaspora who are considering emigration to Israel after experiencing antisemitic events such as seeing their synagogue, Hebrew school, kosher butcher and other Jewish businesses being stoned and burned. For them Israel is their safest haven.

On a more optimistic note the Jewish people have prevailed over thousands of years despite terrible events. In spite of the uncertainty not everything is lost. We are united and strong. The soldiers are full of motivation and good values. I firmly believe that if we are patient and persist, the Jewish people and the state of Israel will prevail.

Orly Dreman is a 10th generation Israeli. Her cousin, Ruvi Rivlin, was a former president of Israel. Orly’s father was a diplomat who served both in North America and in Europe.
By profession Orly is an English teacher. She has dealt with children suffering from ADD.
Since childhood, Orly has been involved in voluntary work with the disabled, the challenged, new immigrants, the elderly and others. 

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Features

The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

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