Home Producers Rock Demers

Rock Demers

22

B: December 1, 1933 in Sainte-Cecile de Levrard, Québec
D: August 17, 2021 in Montréal, Québec

Rock Demers was one of the most successful film producers in Canada. Known for his series of children’s films, Demers grew up in the pastoral area of Sainte-Cecile de Levrard, Québec and spoke to Northernstars contributor Maurie Alioff for a detailed article in a 1987 issue of Cinema Canada magazine. His father was a farmer, his mother a teacher. He told Alioff that he remembered his father in barns and stables, telling fairy tales and fables like Le Petit chaperon rouge and Barbe Bleue. He remembered getting hooked early on adventure novels and watching his first film (V for Victory) on the floor of the parish hall. Eventually, even before there was electricty in the village, his father bought a radio, so that the day the lines were connected, the family was ready. Like everyone else in Québec at the time, they immediately became eager devotees of Un Homme et son peche (A Man and His Sin). He did not see his first movie until he was 10 but by his late teens, he had the film fever that was just beginning to take hold of people. It was an exhilarating, naive time. Great films were being made by people like Gilles Groulx, Arthur Lipsett, Michel Brault and Norman McLaren. Magic foreign names were imprinting themselves forever on people’s consciousnesses. “Alain Resnais, François Truffaut and Godard,” Demers recalled, “and Kobayashi, Bonderchuk, and Fritz Lang, and John Ford – they all came to Montreal in those years.” He had traveled when he was young and returned to Québec in 1960 and was almost immediately offered a job with the original, now forgotten, Montreal Film Festival that ran until 1967. Film writer Marc Gervais, once called Demers “one of the major architects of Canada’s new success – a success based on experience and professionalism.” Honey Dresher, a media consultant, and a director of the Societe generale du cinema du Québec when Demers’s production company was picking up steam, said he had an on-time idea in a “propitious” environment. Demers’ idea was to concentrate on films for the very young. As stated in the article, Demers had an absolute conviction that Canadian films must specialize. He believed that 97% of La Guerre des tuques’s penetration of foreign markets was due to the fact that it’s a children’s film. “Let’s face it,” he argued, “It’s so goddamn difficult to bring people into the theatres” especially when, from the point-of-view of people in foreign markets, “you have no-name stars, no-name directors, no-name producers, a no-name country.” Roger Cantin, co-screenwriter of La Guerre, saw Demers as someone who had “really created something interesting” and as a “kind of locomotive, pulling everybody into his idea and the path he’s following. That’s the quality you need to be a good producer.”

Northernstars began plans to produce an on-camera feature interview with Demers just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He was to be interviewed by Maurie Alioff in Montreal. We deeply regret that we lost that chance and are saddened by the passing of this important Canadian filmmaker whose work had been recognized with 160 awards. He was given the prix Albert-Tessier by the Government of Québec, the prix François-Truffaut by the Giffoni Film Festival and was an Officer of the Order of Canada, which was elevated to a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2008. His son Jean released the information that Demers had died at the I’institut de cardiologie de Montréal. He was 87. We list his credits as a Producer.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

La guerre des tuques (1984)
The Peanut Butter Solution (aka Opération beurre de pinottes, Executive Producer, 1985)
Bach et Bottine (aka Bach and Broccoli, 1986)
The Young Magician (1987)
Tadpole and the Whale (1988)
Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (1988)
Bye bye chaperon rouge (1989)
Summer of the Colt (1989)

Pas de répit pour Mélanie (1990)
Vincent et moi (1990)
Campioana (1990)
Motýlí cas (1991)
Why Havel? (1991, documentary)
The Clean Machine (1992)
La vie d’un héros (1994)
The Return of Tommy Tricker (1994)
The Making of a Leader (1919-1968) (TV-1994, documentary)
Le Silence des fusils (1996)
Land of Hope (1996)
Whiskers (TV1997)
Dancing on the Moon (Executive Producer, 1997)
Gladys (1999, documentary)

My Little Devel (Executive Producer, 2000)
Hathi (2000)
The Hidden Fortress (2001)
Regina (2001)
Madame Brouette (2002)
Summer with the Ghosts (Executive Producer, 2003)
Daniel and the Superdogs (Executive Producer, 2004)
A Cargo to Africa (2009)
La guerre des tuques… au fil du temps (TV-2009, documentary)

La Gang des hors-la-loi (2014)
Bienvenue chez nous – La gang à Richibouctou Village (2014, documentary)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Bye bye chaperon rouge (1989)
Campioana (1990)

Credits as a Actor:
Maria Chapdelaine (1983)
Bach et Bottine (aka Bach and Broccoli, 1986)

Pas de répit pour Mélanie (199)
Vincent et moi (1990)
The Clean Machine (1992)