Matt Hansen. His social circle includes cultural icons like John Waters. When he was still a university student, Noam Chomsky once helped him with his homework. He was once a professional cyclist. He is a former writer for Marvel Comics. And at this year’s TIFF, he is the screenwriter responsible for ZOOM, a film about a sex doll designer who sells coke to get rid of her newly bought breast implants.
Matt Hansen might be the most eclectic personality at this year’s TIFF, just ask anyone who knows him. He also happens to be one of the nation’s most talented young writers.
“I love writing wacky things. I don’t think that will ever change. I think it would be hard for me to write some rom com. But I don’t want to think the envelope pushing is a gimmick–I guess I just like crazy stories. That’s the kind of film I would like to see.”
Fitting too, because this Toronto writer is a natural at summoning off-the-wall stories, drawing from his real life experiences and his creative well alike. Hansen, who can often be found scouring the shelves for Star Wars paraphernalia at One Million Comix, or scarfing down tacos and beer at Playa Cabana, seems to know almost everyone in the film industry. He’s been on the distribution side with some of the biggest companies in the world as he plugged away as a burgeoning writer. Add a dash of humility (Hansen gives a lot of credit to his director, Pedro Morelli, for the ZOOM process) and you have a rising star in the screenwriting world.
“The original concept of ZOOM came from the director, Pedro Morelli. So from there we refined the storyline, changed a lot of things, and I wrote the first draft.
It was a very collaborative process–I was lucky to have a lot of input not just from Pedro but from Niv Fichman and Fernando Meirelles. It was almost like a masters class in writing.”
ZOOM premiered at TIFF via two sold out shows this week, and audiences were not disappointed. The film, which intersperses classic a-ha style animation within a story told from three different perspectives, delves into ideas like self-analyzation, sex and drugs. Hansen’s ability to provide the connecting tissue allows the audience to absorb the differentiating dimensions with relative ease.
Did I mention it’s also the most original screenplay at the festival this year? To boot, the entire score of the film was produced by Canadian legend Kid Koala, something Hansen did not know when he was writing the film.
“When I wrote it I don’t think I had music too much in my head. There was a scene where I used lyrics for an Edith Piaf song–Michael Eklund plays it in a scene–so that was definitely on my mind. But Kid Koala is amazing. He’s really amped up the movie with his stuff.”
ZOOM is in the running for the People’s Choice Award, a coveted recognition for filmmakers and one that provides a future for writers and directors alike.
And whether ZOOM wins or not, one thing is undeniable; one of Toronto’s most interesting talents has surely arrived.