Daniel Roby, director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer (born 25 October 1970 in Montréal, QC). Daniel Roby’s skill at working in a variety of different styles and genres displays an impressive directorial range. His first film, the genre-bending horror film La Peau Blanche (White Skin, 2004), won several major prizes including the Claude Jutra Award for best Canadian debut feature of the year. His next two films, the disco drama Funkytown (2011) and the historical biopic Louis Cyr (2013), were both box office hits in Québec; the latter won nine Jutra Awards, including Best Film and the Golden Ticket Award as the highest grossing Québec film of 2013.
Education and Early Career
A graduate of Concordia University in Montréal and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Daniel Roby started his career as a director of photography and camera operator on numerous television and film projects in addition to working on commercials. He was the camera operator on Michel Jetté’s Hochelaga (2000) and founded his own production company, Zone Films, through which he developed and produced five short films that toured the festival circuit including Quelques instants de la vie d’une fraise (2003), which he directed.
Roby’s first feature, La Peau Blanche (White Skin, 2004), which he directed, co-wrote and produced, screened at over 25 film festivals around the world and won the award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It was named one of Canada’s Top Ten films of 2004 by TIFF, received the prestigious Claude Jutra Award at the Genies as the year’s best debut feature, and screened as part of New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s Canadian Front Series, an annual survey of Canadian films. Based on Joël Champetier’s 1997 novel of the same name, La Peau Blanche is a genre-bending film that mixes elements of science fiction, horror, romance and fantasy. Thierry (Marc Paquet), a young man from Gaspé, arrives in Montréal to study and becomes smitten with a red-haired beauty, Claire (Marianne Farley), that he spots playing violin in the metro. Thierry’s infatuation with Claire leads him to discover her family’s deadly and dangerous secret.
La Peau Blanche’s critical success, as well as its sale to 12 international markets, brought Roby to the attention of American agents. He signed with the ICM talent agency in Los Angeles to develop new projects. After working as a cinematographer on Québec TV series such as La vie rêvée de Mario Jean (2004–05) and François en série (2006), he completed his second feature, Funkytown (2011), featuring Québec star Patrick Huard. Set in Montréal, the film charts the rise and fall of disco in the 1970s and 1980s nightclub scene, as well as the economic, political and social mores of the time. The film depicts a fictionalized version of the well-known Montréal disco, the Lime Light, and features characters loosely modeled on several prominent figures from the time. The first Québécois feature since Érik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) to use both English and French dialogue, Funktyown became the subject of much debate when La Presse columnist Nathalie Petrowski argued that the film was not truly bilingual because it featured too much English.
The relative commercial success of Funktyown enabled Roby to undertake his biggest budget to date on his third feature, the $8.2 million Louis Cyr: L’homme le plus fort du monde (2013). Following in the footsteps of other historical biopics such as Denise Filiatrault’s Ma vie en cinemascope (2004), about Québec chanteuse Alys Robi, and Charles Binamé’s Maurice Richard (The Rocket, 2005), about hockey legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Louis Cyr recounts the true story of Louis Cyr, a late 19th century strongman, as a Québec national hero. Louis Cyr won nine Jutra Awards, including Best Film and the Golden Ticket award as the highest-grossing Québec film of the year (over $4 million). It also received Telefilm Canada’s Prix Guichet d’or as Canada’s highest grossing French-language film of 2013.
- Best Canadian First Feature Film (La Peau Blanche), Toronto International Film Festival (2004)
- Best Canadian Feature (La Peau Blanche), Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival (2005)
- Claude Jutra Award (La Peau Blanche), Genie Awards (2005)
- Best Film (Louis Cyr), Jutra Awards (2014)
- Cineplex Golden Ticket (Louis Cyr), Jutra Awards (2014)
- Prix Guichet d’or (Louis Cyr), Telefilm Canada (2014)