You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss

10 Producers to Watch

The careers of Canadian producers Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss took flight the way many do — overnight, after years of toil.

The Toronto-born duo, who struck a chord last year with Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” (with Daniel Iron also producing), followed news of the film’s theatrical release while they were in Jordan, where they were filming Brian De Palma’s “Redacted.”

As that film unspools at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival in September, they will be prepping Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration.”

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind,” Urdl concedes, “but I don’t think it has come out of nowhere.”

Urdl’s career is closely tied to that of Egoyan, who hired her out of film school in 1991 to be his assistant. “He’d never had an assistant before, and I’d never been an assistant, so we figured it out together,” she says.

She was at his elbow for “Exotica,” “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Felicia’s Journey,” working her way up to associate producer on “Ararat.”

One day, Weiss, a friend of a friend who had worked for the Toronto fest, called her for career advice. Her timing was impeccable.

“I had found a feature I was going to produce, and I wanted to take on a partner,” Urdl recalls.

Together the two produced the comedy “Jack & Jill,” after which they set up their own shingle, the Film Farm.

“It’s an amazing case of symbiosis,” Egoyan says. “They have different personalities, but they understand each other really well.”

Their next feature was “Luck,” another comedy, starring Luke Kirby and Polley. While not a B.O. smash, the film snagged several awards on the fest circuit, including SXSW. They then teamed up with Polley for “Away From Her.”

They met De Palma during the Toronto fest. He was impressed that “Away From Her” went from concept to unspooling as a Gala at the festival in just a year. It was also budgeted at $5 million, about the same as “Redacted” and “Adoration.”

While they don’t want to be known as the $5 million producers forever, they say it’s a nice round figure to work with.

“You can make a really good film for $5 million,” Weiss says. “It’s a particular type of film, but it’s a good number from a business standpoint. It can be recouped in the international marketplace.”

Ages: Urdl, 40; Weiss, 36
Provenance: Toronto
Inspired by:
Urdl: European melodramas, Sally Potter’s “Yes.”
Weiss: Tragedies, Wong Kar Wai’s films, Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves,” Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm.” “I remember seeing ‘Exotica’ long before I met Atom Egoyan,” she says. “I remember being inspired and thinking, ‘I can make films in Canada.’ ”
Company: Film Farm
Web: n/a

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

  • Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya

    ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

    The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets. Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron Speaks Immigration, Diversity in ‘The Addams Family’

    They’re creepy, they’re kooky, and they’re an allegory for immigration in America.  Charlize Theron discussed the changing face of the nuclear family and her animated film, “The Addams Family,” with Variety at the movie’s recent premiere at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. “When you think of [the Addams] being around since the sixties, [...]

  • Emma Stone attends the Los Angeles

    Emma Stone Talks 'Cruella' Transformation, New 'Zombieland' Sequel

    Despite inevitable comparisons to Glenn Close’s iconic turn as Cruella de Vil in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” Emma Stone teased that her take on the infamous villain in the upcoming “Cruella” movie will be very distinctive. “It comes long before her story,” Stone told Variety at the premiere of “Zombieland: Double Tap” at the Regency Village [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content