The New Hollywood North: Randall “R. T.” Thorne

The Porter director on his big break, his favourite films and what movie he’d make with $1 billion

The New Hollywood North: Randall "R. T." Thorne

Known for: The Porter, a CBC series about Canada’s Black train porters

First filmmaking experience: “In high school, at York Mills Collegiate, I made a fake trailer for a movie called The Day. It was basically just people running around corners and jumping over cars.”

Why you decided to become a director: “When I had an internship at MuchMusic, in the early 2000s, I worked in the tape room and studied all of the music videos that went to air. That sparked my interest in film.”

Your big break: “I did a video with Kardinal Offishall for ‘Everyday (Rudebwoy),’ which won three awards at the MuchMusic Video Awards. That got my name out there.”

Something every young director should know: “You need to have a clear vision of what you want, then you assemble the right team.”

Desert island movie:Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee. It’s got everything: social commentary, humour, tragedy.”

Movie you’ve watched the most times:The Big Lebowski. It gets better with age.”

Hollywood star you most want to work with: “Denzel Washington. He’s the greatest actor alive.”

Most memorable celebrity interaction: “I met Prince while I was working at MuchMusic. He told me, ‘If you do what you love, it will never feel like work.’ I’ll never forget that advice.”


Favourite cinema snack: “A bottle of water. I’m not there to pay $20 for popcorn and candy.”

Toughest part about directing: “A lack of time is every director’s worst enemy.”

One simple fix that would improve the film industry in Canada: “We should embrace more diverse storytellers at the executive, writer, producer and director levels, which would create more inspired and varied narratives and open up lucrative new global audiences to Canadian storytelling.”

Someone gives you a $1-billion budget. What movie do you make? “I would make Children of Blood and Bone, based on the books by Tomi Adeyemi. Then I would donate $200 million to create a fund to empower BIPOC and LGBTQ filmmakers.”

Would you rather win an Oscar for best director or direct the highest grossing film of all time? “I’m sure my agent would be happy with the money, but I’ll take the Oscar.”


Your next project: “I’m working on my first feature film, a thriller called 40 Acres.”

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