By Susan Doran
You might think that the real estate and film businesses have nothing in common, but according to Carl Laudan you’d be wrong.
He should know – besides being a real estate sales representative, he’s an independent filmmaker with many projects to his credit, including The Big Thing, which won awards south of the border and was nominated for a Genie here in 2005 for best live action short film.
Laudan has a foot in both businesses and he has found that the skill sets required for each are often remarkably similar. For starters, “connecting with your audience and knowing what they are feeling” is crucial in both real estate and film, he says.
Somehow Laudan continues filmmaking with his company Cinéman Films while also navigating a successful career as a full time salesperson with Bosley Real Estate, a family run brokerage headquartered in Toronto. Loss of sleep is par for the course, he says.
A direct result of Laudan’s career duplexing is his new feature length absurdist comedy, The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger.
The film, which was shot in Toronto, funded in large part by the crown corporation Telefilm Canada, produced by Laudan, and written and directed by his partner, Katherine Schlemmer, will soon have its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival, where it is up for various awards. Among projects the two have previously teamed up on are the feature film Sheltered Life, which Laudan directed and Schlemmer wrote.
“The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger is a bit of a bouquet from Kate and me to Toronto, which has treated us so well,” says Laudan.
The plot revolves around two men with the same name and the coincidences that bind their lives together. Actor Grace Lynn Kung has a central role as – wait for it – a real estate agent. And not just any agent; in the movie Kung plays a Bosley agent and drives one of the brokerage’s signature electric Smart cars.
The film is infused with these touches of “Bosley corporate culture,” Laudan says.
The company has been supportive of his filmmaking in every conceivable way, viewing it as an asset where others might not, says Laudan. He is grateful, and in turn his advice to new agents is, “Choose the right brokerage. It’s important to be with a manager you can trust. Trust is everything – you need a great working relationship.”
When Laudan started in real estate he initially concentrated on it to the exclusion of filmmaking in order to build his client base. But he is adamant that filmmaking “brings a lot of success and confidence” to his real estate career.
“Both careers appear to feed each other,” he says. “This film has powered me forward, given me confidence and led to me doing the best I have ever done in real estate.”
It has taken him this long though to surpass the success of his first year in the business, he admits, laughing.
“Right out of the gate I was doing well. In my first year I passed a company threshold for gross earnings, which led to receiving a black Bosley Real Estate notepad/binder,” he says.
He now looks back on that as beginner’s luck.
“I’ve found that a successful practice is something that must be built over time from consistent learning and conscientious service.”
For the past couple of years Laudan has been part of Bosley Real Estate’s Urbaneer team, which specializes in the marketing, promotion and sale of what he refers to as “unique urban spaces,” including everything from freehold and condominium housing and loft conversions to investment properties and renovated and restored character dwellings.
“I found myself drawn to the loft conversion market,” Laudan says. “I feel surroundings matter, architecture matters. It can be a great determinate of how we live and how happy we are. So working between residential and commercial has always made sense to me. Homes aren’t just boxes to put people in. I try to find creative solutions for creative people when I’m lucky enough to represent them.”
Needless to say, a lot of his clients are drawn from the film and television industries.
Laudan turned to the real estate business six years ago, attracted both for practical reasons (in Canada there’s “not much” financial security in being a feature filmmaker, he points out) as well as by fond memories of his mother becoming a real estate agent back when he was a teenage math whiz finishing high school in Vancouver, where he grew up.
“It was exciting to get into something that would, as travelling had done, bring me to new people and relationships,” says Laudan, who is a film school graduate and along the way spent a lot of time teaching English and making experimental films in Europe and the Czech Republic. (He says it was “kind of a free-for-all” at the time. “The wild, wild East.”)
He also has a liberal arts education. Although he missed getting a degree (“just a few credits shy,” he laments), he distinguished himself at the University of Kings College in Halifax by founding the King’s Independent Filmmakers’ Society.
On becoming a real estate agent he was pleasantly surprised at how well the skill sets from his two careers meshed.
Laudan is mainly a residential agent but he has some commercial dealings, and in both he finds the business, computer, financing, investment and production skills he has honed in the film business useful.
“The more closely my film’s financials stick to reality the better the film will do, so I really feel how important thoughtful forecasting can be to all involved in real estate,” he states. “And there is virtually no skill we use in film direction that isn’t excellent to use in real estate negotiations.”
Next up in Laudan’s filmmaking career is directing a science documentary. As for real estate, he believes that Toronto is “still under-valued in a global context.”
He expects the market to remain strong, and the same goes for his passion for his two careers.
“For me, doing the two things, I am better at both because it allows me to be who I am.”