Concordia University

Alum’s The Fish takes first swim at Fantasia

Director Colin Riendeau’s short film premieres July 29 during the international festival at Concordia
July 27, 2016
By Richard Burnett, BA (journ.) 88

Montreal filmmaker Colin Riendeau, BA 13, is thrilled that his short film The Fish will have its much buzzed-about Canadian premiere at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival

The Fish poster Poster for The Fish.

The Fish first competed at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner — also known as Cannes Court Métrage. Its Canadian launch will be at Fantasia on July 29 in Concordia’s D.B. Clarke Theatre — a homecoming for the communication studies grad.

The Fish stars Montreal actor Raphael Grosz-Harvey as Jimmy, a young man who unknowingly buys a prize-winning betta fish in a pet store and plunges into the “electrifying and dangerous world of high-stakes fish fighting,” explains Riendeau. He completed the film on a $20,000 budget.

Riendeau, who founded his indie film company No Water Studios in 2010, says he thought of the concept for the film while a student at Concordia in 2012. “The idea came to me for an assignment for Ken Briscoe’s advanced scriptwriting class, after having a random conversation about betta fish at a Concordia cross-country running team mid-season party,” says Riendeau.

It took him a few years to further develop the idea.

“After I graduated I worked as an assistant to director Bryan Singer on the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. It was overwhelming, but I just jumped into the fire. There was no second-guessing. You had to take off running and figure it out. It was one of the most difficult but rewarding work experiences of my life,” he says.

Colin Riendeau and Sean Lu. Director Colin Riendeau on the set of The Fish with actor Sean Lu. (Photo: Lionel Pierron)

“I got to see how Bryan directed, got to see how a large machine like X-Men gets produced, and it gave me access to actors I would go on to work with in The Fish,” he says. “One of the X-Men producers also read my script and told me, ‘If you want to be a director, go direct your own stuff.’”

Which is exactly what Riendeau did.

In addition to Grosz-Harvey, the 19-minute short features an ensemble cast of Montreal actors, including renowned local comedian Mike Paterson playing a mob boss.

Besides Riendeau, much of the cast and crew are also Concordia alumni: producer Ethan Maharaj, BA 15; co-producer Pierre-Luc Miville, BA 12; casting director Alina Gotcherian, BA 11; production manager Erin Hogg, BA 12; aerial drone cinematographer Tim Zafir, BA 13; assistant camera Joel Bernstein, BA 13; publicist Paisley Prevost, BA 11, GrDip 13; casting assistant Adam Brunet, BA 10; and associate art director and “fish wrangler” Philip Fortin, BA 13. Costume designer Elizabeth Familiar Da Silva is also a Concordia student.

“I relied on my Concordia community throughout the whole process of making this movie,” says Riendeau. “It was the same core group of people who were with me when we shot our first roll of film as undergrads, and who were with me years later during the production of this film.”

Filmmaker Colin Riendeau Reindeau believes it’s appropriate that The Fish will make its Canadian debut at the D.B. Clarke Theatre.

Riendeau also praises the late Concordia Department of Communication Studies professor Martin Allor, who died in February 2016.

“I owe a great deal to Marty, who pushed me to develop this film as part of my undergraduate thesis on independent cinema production,” Riendeau says. “It was this initial push that helped get the film off the ground and ready for pre-production.”

He adds, “My studies at Concordia didn’t teach me how to make movies; they taught me how to think about making movies, which I feel is much more valuable because it gave me a solid foundation on which to build.”

Reindeau believes it’s appropriate that The Fish will make its Canadian debut at the D.B. Clarke Theatre.

“I feel like I am coming full circle, because I had course lectures in that theatre,” he says. “It’s going to be really cool to premiere our film in a place where I saw many of the films that inspired me, projected from the very same film projector!”

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