At age 27, Ari Lantos is tall, tanned and possessed of sea-blue eyes you could swim in. It’s really no surprise that Ari made Shinan Govani’s “lusty lothario” list in 2006 as one of Toronto’s most eligible bachelors. His undeniable natural charisma certainly lends itself to the business of film producing, where the ability to troubleshoot and delicately handle a variety of personalities is crucial.
Ari is making a splash in the wading pool otherwise known as the Canadian film industry. “I’ve been immersed in the film industry for as long as I can remember,” he says, referring to the legacy of his illustrious father, world-renowned film producer Robert Lantos, whose films include Eastern Promises, Being Julia and The Sweet Hereafter. He was also the founder, chairman and CEO of Alliance Communications, which he sold in 1998.
“Despite years and years of my father’s best efforts to talk me out of a career in the entertainment business,” says Ari, “I somehow managed to find myself in the exact position that he said not to be in.” As a young lad, Ari envisioned himself as a marine biologist, a career path that was strongly encouraged by his father, who always told Ari, “Don’t become a producer. It’s a difficult way to make a living.” But by the time university came around, biology had been abandoned and Ari had decided to pursue a degree in the arts. Four years and a diploma from McGill University later, it was time to return to Toronto. With no clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life, it seemed only natural for Ari to try his hand at the film industry.
He started work in an entry-level position in distribution for Alliance Atlantis. After a year, he had had enough of the confines of the office and begged his father for the opportunity to work on his film Where the Truth Lies, directed by legendary Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan. Ari was given the task of filming Egoyan for the behind-the-scenes featurette. He refers to this as his creative awakening. “Working on-set in Where the Truth Lies was a pivotal point for me,” says he. “I was always more interested and motivated in the business of entertainment. But the experience of working with Egoyan—one of the most artistic and talented directors in Canadian film—opened my eyes to the creative side of things, motivating me to dive into that world.”
Despite his father’s reservations, Ari had discovered a passion for production. He co-founded his own production company in 2005, and his first real independent foray into the film industry came shortly after when Ari’s long-time friend Jonas Bell Pasht asked him to help out with production on a short film. The Waldo Cumberbund Story was paraded about at the Toronto International Film Festival and was sold to Showcase and Sundance Channel. With its success duly noted by industry insiders, it was time to try a feature film. Ari produced Real Time with seasoned film folk Julia Rosenberg and Paula Devonshire. The film, which stars Randy Quaid and rising star Jay Baruchel, received accolades as the opening film at Slamdance, a festival that runs concurrently with Sundance in Utah. It will be seen at TIFF this September and released later this year. Ari is currently working on the film You Might As Well Live, which he hopes to complete this summer.
It’s clear that Ari has been making waves and gaining recognition in his own right. “The key,” he says, “is to diversify.” Indeed, he intends to try his hand at television in his quest to conquer the various media of this mercurial industry. Not one to merely splash about, he has the focus and lucidity to see which direction he is heading in—surely toward the top of Canada’s entertainment hierarchy.