Take me back to the NSI Drama Prize film gallery

Presented by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation


Bird, a grumpy employee at the family fun centre, spends his days resetting the bowling lanes and cleaning up toddler puke but when a young and pretty girl is hired to work the snack bar, he finally has something to look forward to. Will the appearance of a precocious six-year-old and a children’s book, simply titled S, stand in his way or help him find happiness?

Creative team

Producer: Darren Kaliciak
Writer/director: Matt Austin Sadowski

Director’s statement

Matt Austin Sadowski says:

“S is for Bird is my first film that isn’t dark and tortured. It’s certainly not autobiographical but I definitely owe its colourful and sweet disposition to the fact that people would probably describe me that way. This is the first film I’ve made since I’ve become a dad.

As I read and re-read and re-re-read the same children’s book nightly over and over for my daughter I began to really examine all the metaphors to the point that they related to my life – in the same way people can link vague horoscopes to events in their day.

Taking my daughter to countless indoor kid’s playgrounds/amusement parks and being a people watcher, the one thing I noticed about everyone who works at these places was that they all looked miserable.

Sure there’s screaming and crying and vomit to clean up but they work in the happiest of places with kids running and laughing and, well, loving.

Take someone who hates their life, who doesn’t have any joy in the day and put them in that environment and … yeesh.

That is every day for Bird, a character who works at the Family Fun Centre. Located in the basement of a strip mall in a small town, he descends the stairs to his own personal hell, into the blackness of his glow-in-the-dark mini putt/bouncy castle/stale nacho world.

S is for Bird begins when his usually monotonous day is shaken with the arrival of a cute new snack bar girl and a simple children’s book he discovers stuck in the pinsetter behind the bowling lanes. These two new things force the usually cantankerous and unfortunately named Bird to begin a friendship with a precocious six-year old girl.

The film is about the funny way we look for, and find, love.”

About the creative team

Matt-Austin-Sadowski-Darren Kaliciak

Matt Austin Sadowski

Matt Austin Sadowski is a former actor. His short films have opened film festivals (Jimmy – Rendezvous with Madness – 2004), won Grand Prize Jury Awards (Plus or Minus – Renderfest 2010) and been commissioned by the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games (The Butterfly and the Bee).

His feature documentary Don’t You Forget About Me (2009) is a timely film looking at the impact and absence of director/teen maestro John Hughes (distributed by Alliance Films). It gave him his first real break into the industry as a director. His first feature film, Most Likely To (2007), was called ‘a potent calling card’ by Variety Magazine.

Matt recently directed Last Man on Earth for Corey Marr Productions, starring Jonas Chernick, Rachel Wilson, Meghan Heffern and Catherin Discher, and is currently directing season two of comedic reality series The Right Hand for HBO Canada.

The Tape, a short film Matt shot directly after S is for Bird, was selected by Telefilm Canada to be screened as part of their Not Short on Talent: Perspective Canada program at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival 2012.

Darren Kaliciak

Darren has over 10 years experience working in film and television. During the last few years he has coordinated script/story departments for one-hour drama television series The Listener (CTV/Space/FOX International), The Bridge (CTV/CBS), jPod (CBC) and Whistler (CTV/The N).

Darren also worked in several producer offices for the television pilots Criminal Minds (CBS) and Eureka (Sci-Fi), television series The Lone Gunmen (FOX), studio feature films An Unfinished Life (Miramax), Agent Cody Banks (MGM) and A Guy Thing (MGM), and the Canadian independent feature film Suspicious River (TVA).

Darren is a past participant of the CFTPA Production Internship Program.

About the cast

Matt Watts / Bird

Matt Watts

Matt Watts is a comedian, actor and writer whose credits include the television series Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays and the international Emmy-winning The Newsroom, both for CBC Television.

Matt has worked in the writers room on Twitch City and Slings & Arrows, and during the last few years has written and performed radio drama series for CBC Radio including Steve, The First, Steve, The Second and Canadia: 2056.

His feature film acting credits include Scott Pilgram vs. the World starring Michael Cera and Fever Pitch starring Drew Barrymore and Don McKellar’s Childstar.

“Matt Austin Sadowski asked me to be a part of this project via Twitter. That was a first and I have to admit I was skeptical until I read the script, and the skepticism turned to excitement.  Then I found out Lauren Ash was involved and I was in. When I read with Halle Nunes, my heart melted and I couldn’t wait for the shoot.  It was all worth it, I had a blast working with Matt, Lauren, Kate, Halle and the crew and I think that comes across in my performance of a sullen, miserable, downtrodden, lost soul of a man.  Seriously, look behind the bangs and you’ll see joy in my soulless eyes.  I’d do it again if I could. Can I?”

Kate Todd / Snack Bar Girl

Kate Todd

Born and raised north of Toronto, Kate Todd’s breakout role came at age 14 when she was cast in a lead role on The N/Family Channel’s award-winning television series Radio Free Roscoe. Roles on Degrassi: The Next Generation and Life With Derek followed.

Kate can be seen as ‘Erica’ in My Babysitter’s a Vampire for the Disney/Family Channel and as ‘Katee’ on The LA Complex for Bell Media and the CW Network.

“Shooting a short indie film presents its own unique set of acting rewards and challenges.  The script, I felt, allowed me the artistic freedom to develop my character’s personality through her ambiguity.  It was a pleasure to work with a professional, young, aspiring and talented group of people.”

Lauren Ash / Sunny

Lauren Ash as Sunny

An actress skilled in both drama and comedy/improvisation, Lauren Ash was featured in the short-lived comedy series Almost Heroes for Showcase.

An alumnus of the Second City Chicago Mainstage (one of three Canadians ever to be cast), Lauren has been featured in Scare Tactics (SyFy), The Ron James Show (CBC), Howie Do It (NBC), Hotbox (The Comedy Network) and appeared in the Academy-Award®-nominated film Lars and the Real Girl.

She provided the voice of ‘Sam’ in the animated series The Dating Guy (Teletoon).

Lauren won best female performer at the 2012 Canadian Comedy Awards.

“It was great to be a part of a project that Matt Austin felt so passionately about.  His enthusiasm is contagious in general and that translated well on set.  It was also a personal dream come true for me to get to work with Matt Watts, a writer and performer whom I deeply respect.  Kate Todd was lovely, Halle Nunes was amazing and the crew was fantastic. All in all, this was a great filmmaking experience that I will not soon forget.”

Halle Nunes / Chloe

Halle Nunes

Halle Nunes has a promising film and television acting career ahead of her having appeared in a few dramatic roles, and commercials for Joe Fresh, Froot Loops, Pledge, Dodge Caravan and Sponge Towels.

“It was pretty cool.  It was fun, too.  I liked when I had to jump on the trampoline.  I liked working with everyone.  I liked when Bird finds out what ‘slide’ means.  Matt Watts was really funny.  I had a little crush on him but he’s like 50 years old.”

Take me back to the NSI Drama Prize film gallery