Back to the ... present?

New movie featuring ex-Winnipegger focuses on the importance of living in the present

Currently sporting a 100 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, James vs. His Future Self, which is slated to be released on April 3 on iTunes and VOD, has impressed both audiences and critics. Jonas Chernick, writer and lead actor, says “As we are about to open across Canada, given what is happening in the world right now, I feel that the scenes in this movie are suddenly more important and timelier.

“This moment is unlike any moment in our lifetime. We are so hyper-focused on the future, what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month. However, the only way we can really get through this is to really focus on the moment.”

This film, a sci-fi rom-com hybrid, focuses on a young scientist named James who encounters his future self (played by veteran actor Daniel Stern of Diner and Home Alone). It develops into a journey, where through future James’ guidance, present James begins to realize the opportunities he has, appreciating the joy of every moment of his life.

Director Jeremy LaLonde notes that though he and Chernick wrote and developed this film over the past three years, there were two main inspirations behind this.

“Growing up, we always watched Back to the Future,” he says.

“We really tried to make a movie of that ilk and of that era, while having the sensibilities and themes of today in mind. So if you are looking for a film that has a great strong message, not overly heavy-handed but fun and light, then you may not find much better than this.”

Fastforwarding years later from the 1980s hit film, Lalonde reflects and says that a personal matter at the dinner table made him realize the importance of living in the moment.

“I was on my phone while we were trying to have dinner, and my wife looks at me and says, ‘Do you have to be doing this right now?’” he says.

Although he initially pointed out the importance of being on his phone, his wife said, “When you are here, be here.”

“So, I translate that into the movie. Wherever you are, be all there. Do not be half present.”

Out of all the films Chernick has worked on, this is the first to be shot outside of Manitoba. As an ex-Winnipegger who says he is deeply connected with the city, Chernick reflects on this change and future film endeavors.

“As much as I enjoyed this process and this movie, I will tell you that the next movie that I will make, I am going to come back and shoot it in Manitoba,” he says.

“I miss the city, crews, actors and the city itself as a backdrop. For me, this was a wakeup call to and a reminder of what I loved so much about Manitoba.”

As COVID-19 continues to impact the world, Chernick says that after precautions and medical assistance are in place, this can be a valuable time of learning to embrace each moment in life.

“As soon as we start picking up the news feeds, looking for when this is going to end, what is going to happen to the economy, and how our careers will survive, we can be sent into an uncontrollable panic,” he says.

“But when you are thinking about the moment, then you are focusing on the present, and there is a feeling of calm when you are truly present.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 26, 2020)

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