On its surface, filmmaker Jeremy Larter’s latest feature, the Prince Edward Island shot Who’s Yer Father? has all the hallmarks of a traditional crime-comedy caper as it tells its story of Larry Constable, a down-and-out private investigator hired by a wealthy seafood tycoon to investigate black market lobster sales.
…it’s really a love story. That’s what it is at the core. – Jeremy Larter
“So Larry takes this case and travels to the other side of the island where he meets Rhonda Perry, and together they get way in over their heads investigating this case,” explains Larter, who wrote and directed the film. “But it’s really a love story. That’s what it is at the core.”
But while love may be its heart, Larter is also living somewhat vicariously through the film, with a long fascination with detective stories and private investigators.
“I love Raymond Chandler novels, and The Big Lebowski is one of my favourite movies,” says Larter. “I always liked film noir detective stories, where finding out the secrets of a town or a place or peeling back the curtain of what’s going on in people’s lives, that was always something that interested me as a storyteller.”
Larter was also intrigued by the world of the private investigator, even toying at one point with taking a course to become a P.I. himself to help offset his income as a struggling artist.
“I lived in Toronto for several years, and there was a $500 one-week P.I. course that I almost took many times because I really needed side hustles,” he says. “That was until I realized it wasn’t as glamorous as it seems as, for the most part, you’re mostly just sitting around in your car all day.”
A call to the only private investigator listed on Prince Edward Island as part of his film research also helped solidify the direction he would eventually take.
“Surprisingly, someone picked up, and he told me that he was getting out of the business because everything on P.E.I. was just too closely connected to be a private investigator,” he says. “He said, you try watching your cousin’s house with no cover in the middle of the day and then have to deal with the blowback when they find out you’ve been spying on them.”
The idea that everyone knows everyone else’s business in a province of just 180,000 people would also help inform his film’s very East Coast title, which Larter says factors into the movie in both big and small ways.
“Who’s yer father is a shorthand way for Islanders, or anyone in the Maritimes for that matter, to figure out if they know each other, if there’s a connection or if you’re related,” says Larter. “Especially if you are dating.”
Given its connection to the region, it seems fitting that Larter’s film will receive its world premiere at this year’s Atlantic International Film Festival (AIFF).
“AIFF has been a big supporter of my past work,” he says. “I’ve had a long history with AIFF, and I lived in Halifax for two years in my early twenties and went to school there, so I have a fondness for the city, and it’s just a great place to have a premiere because a lot of Islanders will be able to come over and we’ve got a fan base in Halifax for my past work.”
The AIFF premiere will also be the first opportunity for most cast and crew to see the finished film together.
“Some people have seen rough cuts, and others have seen it at different stages, but this will be the first time that people will see the finished thing with all the music and sound,” he says. “So yeah, it’ll be a big moment for everyone involved to see it together.”
With the film’s first public screening comes a feeling of both excitement and anxiety for Larter.
“There’s a very small team of people involved in the post-production part of filmmaking, and you’re just sort of dying to have people watch it together,” he says. “But at the same time, I am terrified by the prospect of sitting there in the crowd, out of fear that the audience isn’t going to respond to it more than anything else.”
However, his apprehension may be misplaced based on what three of his potentially biggest critics think of the movie.
“I’ve already seen how my three kids respond to it in my living room, so it will be nice to see an audience responds in a big theatre with great sound,” he says.
Beyond the AIFF premiere, Larter has already struck a deal with Paramount Plus to stream the movie later this year or early next.
“We’re not 100 percent sure on all the details right now but at some point, Levelfilm, the Canadian distributor, will also be doing some kind of a theatrical release later this fall,” he says.
With Who’s Yer Father? in the can, Larter is already looking at his next projects, including another very East Coast story.
“I’ve got a couple different ideas, including a story about a Chase The Ace lottery I’ve been working with my production team for a while now,” he says. “So that could be the next one, but we’ll see as you never know which one ends up lining up next. But to get a movie made every few years in Canada, you must get on things quickly, so I’m hoping we’ll make another movie next year or the year after.”
Who’s Yer Father screens as part of the 2023 Atlantic International Film Festival’s World Cinema program on September 16 and online from September 17-24. Visit atlanticfilmfestival.ca for more information.