Out with Jason Leaver – The Interview about ‘Out with Dad’

PNT Tv has had the webseries Out With Dad, on our program listing from it’s very first episode to it’s current Episode 203 and all I can say is that OWD is the best coming-of-age, family oriented, teenage driven, self-discovery, LGBTQ webseries in Canada, most likely in North America and quite possibly, the world.

The series has been given a number of awards for the show, their actors and their use of music. It is published in six different languages besides English and during their hiatus in-between seasons, they were shown on the Canadian television channel Rogers TV from Toronto in an hour-long version. Premiering on Monday, March 14th at 11:00PM.

If by the slightest chance you’ve missed it until now, Out With Dad is about a 15 year-old teenager girl, Rose and Nathan, her totally devoted and loving father. The two share a positive and very close relationship. The story follows Rose as she comes of age and comes out of the closet as Dad/Nathan tries his best to create a smooth and painless path for Rose to do so but unfortunately Nathan sometimes tries too hard…sometimes comically, sometimes tragically…

Some still wonder how a single, childless, straight man could have possibly created, maintained, and by all accounts, including my own, be getting a storyline so far out of his comfort zone, so right.

The following is an interview I had with the man behind it all and as we say here in the Caribbean, he’s also chief cook and bottle washer, Jason Leaver.

I wanted more than that question answered, so I asked much more and I hope you enjoy what this very entertaining and talented man had to say, as I did.

(Tee Spicer) Before ‘Out With Dad‘ had you been involved in previous film projects?

(Jason Leaver) My day job is making corporate videos (which is why I own all the equipment we use for our production and post-production). Prior to Out With Dad I’d made a handful of short films. Some of them even won a few awards at festivals. My favourite achievement was ‘Mobius’, which is a film and an installation piece. It’s an infinitly long film that loops back on itself due to a reoccurring time loop. Not only was it a hit at Toronto’s ScotiabankNuit Blanche, but it was also the first time I got to work with Will Conlon as an actor.

(TS) What training did you have in the industry?

(JL) I got my first taste of filmmaking back in high school in a class called Broadbase Communications. I knew then that this was a career for me. After high school I went to Ryerson University’s School of Image arts. It’s a four year hands-on experience. It was an excellent program for me.

(TS) What is the story behind OWD?

(JL) Around the time before the idea struck me, I’d been itching to do something character driven. I remember having a lot of discussions with my wife about what kinds of stories I love, and why. Actually, a lot of the things said in those discussions worked their way into the movie theatre scene in “Movie Night with Dad”.

Then one day, after a frightful nightmare in which I wound up being a single father, I was musing what it might be like to have a daughter and to raise her on my own. While sitting on the subway just thinking about this imaginary daughter named Rose the thought “what if she came out to me” crossed my mind. The idea of a father/daughter relationship seemed really cute to me. Later that day, I sat myself down and started researching and writing.

(TS) Why did you choose a queer coming-of-age storyline?

(JL) In a way, I’d say the storyline choose me. I never realized it was a coming-of-age story until I was well into the writing! Normally I’m a sci fi/action/adventure guy. I never figured I’d ever want to make one! That said, I’ve always enjoyed them – because who can’t relate? Why queer? Well, once again, Nathan explains my reasons for me in “Movie Night with Dad”. I’ve always enjoyed queer romances. Emily and Naomi broke my heart in the UK series Skins. And I could watch Imagine Me & You over and over again. And while I did love Willow and Oz, for me it’ll always be Tara.

(TS) Why the web-series format and not a feature film?

(JL) Right off the bat this story felt serial to me. So that scratches out film. It could work for television – but I don’t really know about pitching ideas to networks, and if I did succeed at pitching – why would they let some guy with almost no “professional” experience write, directed and edit an entire show? I didn’t know anything about web series at the time – but what I liked is that it felt like something I could doon my own. With the equipment I already own, my friends for crew, meet some actors, put it online… how hard could that be? It’s a lot of work, but, here we are over two years later!

(TS) Now that OWD has gained so much success, are there any plans of making it into a feature or a television series?

(JL) I wouldn’t say never – but I do feel Out With Dad is best told on the web. I love the medium of web series. It’s so freeing! I don’t have to worry about executives approving my ideas. I also don’t have to worry about the duration of episodes. If the episode feels right as 3 minutes, 3 minutes it is! If I want it to go longer, then fine! No need to concern myself with commercial breaks either! Plus, I want the whole world to see Out With Dad. If I got it on Canadian television, you’d never get to see it where you live, would you? Well, unless we got international deals and all the complicated stuff. But that’s a lot of “business stuff” that I hate dealing with. With the web, I can just put it out there and anyone can see it.

(TS) The actors of OWD are so ideal to their characters, which I give kudos to you for that, where do you draw your pool from?

(JL) Will Conlon and Darryl Dinn are the only two actors I knew in advance. Will and I knew each other from high school days. Darryl and I met through work. In fact, the role of Johnny was written with him in mind.

The rest of the cast I met through auditions. I simply put a casting call online and they submitted for the roles. Interesting story: Kate Conway looks quite a bit older in the headshot than she does in real life. So I almost didn’t invite her to audition! How lucky are we that one of my producers told me “why not?”!!

(TS) As the second season rolls on, what can you give away about the new season?

(JL) What I’m most excited about for season two is that we finally have that weight on Rose’s shoulders out of the way. She’s actually OUT with dad! We’ve got lots of great emotional stuff ahead of us. You’ll be amazed by what’s ahead. Oh the emotions!

(TS) As for the music used on OWD do you get submissions from musicians or do you still have to approach them?

(JL) Adrian Ellis and I have known each other for many years, and we’re dear friends. I asked him about scoring Out With Dad even long before I’d started casting.

For the songs in season one, I approached people I knew of through friends.

Adrian posted the music video to the Late July song “A Well Kept Secret” on his Facebook wall one day. I didn’t know what scene I wanted it for, I just knew it had to be in Out With Dad. He put me in touch with her, and she gave me permission in a heartbeat.
Later, she asked me to make the music video for Side Swept, I agreed in a heartbeat. I love that song, and while listening to it I couldn’t help but think about Rose and Vanessa. It inspired me to write “Party Out”.

I’ve met Dan Beausal (who is also an actor) and Trio Argenta through Will. Dan is his guitar teacher. And he worked with one of the Trio Agenta band members.

Lara Martin, who’s putting together a new album, I met through Lizz Hodgson – our art director.

For season two, many of these same artists will be heard again. I’m excited to say that many independent (and many out) musicians have contacted me. I’m looking forward to including their music too! In fact, there’s so many new musicians I know that I’ve written a minisode that gives me the chance to play lots of songs and showcase all these amazing indie artists! Look for that episode in November. I’ve now posted an open call for music here: http://www.outwithdad.com/making-out/your-music-in-out-with-dad

(TS) And lastly, where do you see OWD going or becoming?

(JL) I just want to keep making it. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do a third season for free, I regret to say. It’s a LOT of work. So we’re going to have to get creative and figure out ways to fund it and make it sustainable. If I had my way: we’d keep making Out With Dad for the rest of time! Would we love to see Rose go off to college? Maybe see Nathan settle down? And what of Vanessa? There’s so much to all of their stories that we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Places to find OWD:

PNT Tv | WebsiteYouTube | Facebook


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