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#Careergoals: Toronto Filmmaker Vinay Virmani

Vinay Virmani has an extensive resume with credits as a producer, writer and actor.

Born and raised in Toronto, Virmani eventually left to pursue filmmaking and theatre at New York’s prestigious Lee Strasberg Institute. He is best known for his role as a writer, producer and lead actor in Dr.Cabbie (2014) and Breakaway (2011) – both films were the highest grossing Canadian English language films of their year. He now runs First Take Entertainment, a production company based here in Toronto and most recently produced and co-wrote the rom-com Little Italy (2018). We had a chance to chat with Vinay, where he dished about his new flick and his inspirations throughout his flourishing career.

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How did you get into this career?
I always wanted to produce. In 2011 there was a script called I was developing called Break Away – it was an ice hockey comedy with a cross-cultural twist to it, it starred Russel Peters and Rob Lowe and I ended up being the lead. It wasn’t my intention but it just sort of happened and it was that experience of being in front of the camera that led me to another movie (Dr.Cabbie) which was a lot of fun but producing is something that I was ready to do now. Little Italy is the first film I’ve produced from start to finish – I’m now at a place in my life where I feel good about making this transition from in front of the camera to behind it.

What does your day to day look like?
Reading scripts is a big part of the job – that’s predominantly what I do a lot of short stories, newspaper articles, there are stories all around us. I get very creatively involved in all my movies from the first words that go into a script to the final edit we lock – even in the promotion phase I like to get involved. The role of a film producer is to assemble the best team, the writers the actors, I really believe you have to surround yourself with people smarter than you and the producer role is to bring people onto that ship and navigate it.

What key components go into being a successful film producer?
You have to have a vision, a knack for story, and assembling a team. You have to understand the market, what you’re making, and how it fits into the changing media landscape. Things are changing fast – how people want to take in their content is changing faster than we can keep up with, from theatrical to people streaming in their home. Being a producer you have to understand the whole landscape.

Any tips for breaking into this industry?
Watch everything, take as many meetings as you can, and get to know people from all different types of media because you never know where you’ll find the best story. You have to be a little bit well versed in everything: the business side of things as well as the creative. Financing a film is it’s own thing altogether.

Virmani’s latest film, Little Italy stars Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen as a couple whose romance is complicated by their parent’s competing pizza restaurants. Directed by rom-com veteran Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality, How to Lose a Guy in 10 days), Little Italy was a three-year journey from story to screen and was released in August 2018. Little Italy is available on DVD and On Demand November 30th.

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