James vs. His Future Self is a sci-fi-comedy where time plays an integral part in the overall context of the film’s underlying theme of fleeting opportunities.
Jonas Chernick co-wrote, produced, and stars in the film as James, a scientist determined to become the world’s first time traveller. Just as James is about to figure out how to do it, he’s kidnapped by “Jimmy,” his pissed-off future self (Daniel Stern, Home Alone and City Slickers) who’s come back in time to stop James from making the same mistakes he made. “It’s a movie about appreciating what’s right in front of you, in a world where we’re all so focused on where we’re going and what comes next,” says Chernick.
Music is a big part of the film, with a soundtrack including classic tunes by Canadian musicians Sarah MacLachlan and Jann Arden. “Music has always played an instrumental role in my development as an actor and a writer. When I’m gearing up to play a big role in a TV series or a film, I spend a lot of time deciding what the character’s ‘inner music’ would be, and then I immerse myself in that music, listen to it on set, and allow it to absorb into the performance.”
To celebrate this moment in time — and everything that came before it — we’ve asked Chernick to tell us five of his favourite Canadian tunes centred around the concept of time and how they played a part in his own journey… through time.
“Out of Time” – Jason Collett
Collett’s Dylan-esque vocals, some Stones-style “oo oo oo’s” and a killer guitar groove coming out of the first chorus all add up to make this the best track on his 2008 album, Here’s to Being Here. I was working on a CBC TV series called The Border that year, and my character, Slade, was the comic relief on an otherwise serious cop show. I listened to this track on repeat in my trailer on many a long day on set to get me into a playful headspace.
“Time” – Blue Rodeo
When I was 17, I discovered Blue Rodeo and this track from their 1990 record, Casino, was one of the reasons I became a fan. I remember that same year I saw Don McKellar and Bruce McDonald’s film, Roadkill, and then Highway 61, and I realized, ‘hey, we can make exciting movies in Canada!’ Major turning point for me. I wanted to do what those guys were doing.
“A Long Time Coming” – Sloan
When I moved to Toronto from Winnipeg at the age of 27, Sloan was my soundtrack on the cross-country drive, especially their 1999 album, Between the Bridges. I was leaving home, pursuing my dream, taking the plunge… and developing a story and a character that would eventually become my first film, Inertia, which won the award for Best First Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001, and kickstarted my career as a film actor and writer.
“All the Time” – Grapes of Wrath
Undoubtedly the most under-rated, under-appreciated Canadian band of my generation, this track was the B-side to their biggest hit, 1991’s “I Am Here,” and it’s quite possibly their best. When I was 16, the band came to Winnipeg for a gig at legendary venue Le Rendezvous, but I broke my leg the week before the show and couldn’t go. Fast forward 30 years and, thanks to a connection through film composer Ari Posner (who scored my feature films “My Awkward Sexual Adventure” and “Borealis”), I’ll be one of 30 people watching Grapes of Wrath band members Kevin Kane and Tom Hooper perform in a private living room gig in November. Can’t. Fucking. Wait.
“This Is The Last Time” – Stars
In yet another example of my love of Canadian music and my love of Canadians weaving together in an alchemical dream, I’ll never forget being at a TIFF party in the mid 2000s and hearing my favourite Stars tune blasting from the main hall. By the time I made it into the other room to dance, I realized that the band was actually playing live on a make-shift stage, in an impromptu and unannounced surprise gig. One of the best Canadian bands of all time, and one of the greatest nights of my life.
James vs. His Future Self is available to stream now via Crave.