The Beautiful Risk  (2013)

The Beautiful Risk (2013)

William (Shaun Benson), a respected artist who lost everything after his divorce, arrives in Montreal on a job prospect. When the job falls through he then is saved and forms an erotic friendship and exposes his soul with a young woman named Paulette (Eliane Gagnon).

William, un artiste respecté qui a tout perdu après son divorce, arrive à Montréal sur une perspective d'emploi. Lorsque le travail tombe à travers, il est alors enregistré et forme une amitié érotique et expose son âme avec une femme nommée Paulette

William , un respetado artista que perdió todo después de su divorcio, llega a Montreal en una perspectiva de trabajo . Cuando el trabajo cae a través de él a continuación, se guarda y se forma una amistad erótica y expone su alma con una llamada Paulette

Winner of Many International Awards

Official Selection:



MARK PENNEY, Writer / Director / Producer

Mark directed the highly acclaimed 2004 independent feature The Right Way at the age of 21. Prior to that, he directed various shorts film and hundreds of hours of television programming for Canadian networks. While attending Seneca College and York University, he worked on the Academy Award-winning film Chicago and the critically acclaimed Narc. The Right Way premiered at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, and – along with touring the international festival circuit – had limited North American theatrical release. The Globe and Mail heralded the film as “the birth of a great new director.” Mark also directed an experimental film called Life in 2007, The Beautiful Risk in 2013. Mark is also in development on many feature films which includes More & Calla Lilly.


SHAUN BENSON / “William Murphy”

Benson was born in Guelph, Ontario. He is the son of Eugene Benson, an English professor and a prolific novelist, playwright and librettist. He summered at YMCA Camp Kitchikewana on Beausoleil Island where he held the position of Music Coordinator (where he went by the alias MC Benson) and later held the esteemed position of Music Director (under the alias Shaun Benson, MD). Highlights of his Kitchi career include directing Les Misérables and a memorable street fight with Perry "Hound-Dog" Grassic. Benson played the role of Dr. Steven Lars Webber on the soap opera General Hospital from 2004 to 2005.

Shaun Benson took on the role of Dr. Steven Webber, formerly Steven Lars, in September 2004. Shaun began studying the arts from a very young age, including piano, ballet and modern dance. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario (where he appeared in many college productions) with a bachelor of science in chemistry/biochemistry, Shaun decided to become an actor and trained at the George Brown College Theater School in Toronto. He went on to appear in numerous acclaimed theater productions in and around Toronto.

He made his television debut as a series lead on the critically acclaimed series The Associates, which led to another lead for the W Network on Just Cause. In addition to various independent and experimental films, Shaun appeared opposite Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson in K-19: The Widowmaker.

He is also a 4th degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate Jitsu (as of June 5, 2010). He is part of the Legacy Shorin Ryu Karate Jitsu Association based out of St.Thomas led by Gary Legacy.

Recent television appearances include Cold Case, The Unit, and Tornado Valley. In 2012 he starred in the IMAX 3D documentary film Flight of the Butterflies and in French comedy Populaire. In 2013 he landed the coveted lead role of William Murphy in Mark Penney's The Beautiful Risk.

In addition to acting, Shaun plays bass, acoustic guitar and keyboards for the LA-based rock band ANALOG SMITH.

ELIANE GAGNON / “Paulette”

Eliane was born in Montréal,Quebec. She became interested in acting and films at the age of 13. She made her television debut at the age of 18, through the very popular Quebec show Ramdam, in which she played Kim Bellavance, a bright and energetic girl during five seasons,

Eliane expanded her craft by attending numerous acting workshops with Danielle Fichaud and Jean-Pierre Bergeron from 2006 to 2012. Eliane moved from the small screen to the big screen. Which included feature films Behind Me, directed by Raphael Ouelett, and Jo pour Jonathan, directed by Maxime Giroux. Her performances were pointed out for their truth and their intensity.

In 2012, she landed the lead role of Emiliana Cyr in Louis Cyr. Eliane landed her first english lead role in Mark Penney's The Beautiful Risk in which she plays the troubled character Paulette.

Q&A with Director and Writer MARK PENNEY

What was your inspiration for the film?

When I was in my early twenties I had a lot of personal struggles and substance abuse problems. I also lived in Quebec and became acquainted with the people at that time. This film grew out of that.

How did the film get off the ground? What was the process of getting the film made?

After the success of our first film. I was trying to do a big budget indie. We were financed and had an A-list cast attached. One of our financiers pulled out last minute, due to the recession, and the tower came tumbling down.

After 5 years of struggling on the bigger budget film. We decided to do a smaller and more risky film. After I finished the script, we were able to raise some cash, and we went into production.

How long was the shoot? Where did you shoot?

8 days with actors, and we slowly pieced together the rest of the film as we waited for spring. We shot mostly in Montreal, but we also shot in Toronto & New York City.

What is your favorite scene in the film?

My favorite has to be the scene right after William gets beat up by the two big men. I felt that both Shaun and Eliane acted that scene perfectly. You can feel the awkwardness and anxiousness between the two characters.

What was the most difficult scene to shoot?

Shooting the movie was like a vacation. All the hard work went into prepping the film. Shooting the film was the easiest part. If I had to choose one, I’d say the sex scenes. The scenes were really intimate and the space was cramped and claustrophobic. The whole apartment scene, which we shot over four days, was particularly difficult. First off, we had two naked actors completely exposed in a small room, two make-up artists, a boom operator, an A.D., and myself, all in a little apartment. We were shooting long takes, because of limited time. We were lucky they turned out as great as they did.

Describe the casting process?

This film was very hard to cast. A lot of actors talk about taking risks, but very few wanted to take the risk when the opportunity came.

We originally had a A-list actor attached to the role of William, but he backed out about a month before we started filming, because he was uncomfortable with doing the sexual content required for this role.

Our casting director Rosina Bucci helped us do a nationwide search over a two week span to find William, after auditioning about a hundred actors. We found Shaun, and thank god that we did, because he did a great job.

Finding Paulette was a little tricky, because we wanted a francophone to play the role. Most actors in Montreal can speak English and French perfectly. Eliane was the first person we saw for the role, and no one could top her. She kind of embodied the role as a francophone, and she had a certain innocence to her. I think it was perfect casting. Rosina was great.

What format did you shoot the film on?

We shot the flashbacks on the Fujifilm Finepix HS25 EXR. Using the factory lens. We chose this camera because it gave it a retro look and it also shot in 24P. The idea was to create a memory feeling to all the flashback shots.

We shot the present on a Red camera and the Canon 5D. The cameras were mostly affixed to tripods and placed as far away from the actors at all times. We affixed short lenses to achieve the close-ups. The idea was to create a world of distance from the characters like you were watching their struggles right in front of you. The Canon 5D was used for the candlelight scenes, because of its ability to perform well in low light.

As the film’s screenwriter, what do you think the essence of the film and its characters are about?

Love and acceptance can find you anywhere, even if everything else in your life seems wrong.

The Beautiful Risk  (2013)
  • The Beautiful Risk

    William, a respected artist who lost everything after his divorce, arrives in Montreal on a job prospect. When the job falls through he then is saved and forms an erotic friendship and exposes his soul with a young woman named Paulette.

    William, un artiste respecté qui a tout perdu après son d...