September 4, 1962
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Occupation||Writer and performer|
|Notable work||Never Shoot a Stampede Queen, The Green Chain, Shylock, Free Magic Secrets Revealed|
Mark Leiren-Young was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Creative Writing from the University of Victoria and graduated with distinction in 1985. Leiren-Young's first full-time journalism job was at The Williams Lake Tribune, a small newspaper in Williams Lake, British Columbia. In the late 1980s, he was known as an active theatre writer and critic in Canada.
Leiren-Young's news and feature writing, humour pieces, reviews, and columns have appeared in a host of publications in Canada and the United States, including Time, Maclean's, and The Utne Reader. He writes a theatre column for The Vancouver Sun. He's a contributor to The Georgia Straight, where he has written since the mid-1980s. He has covered the Toronto International Film Festival for The Georgia Straight for the past ten years. His celebrity interviews can be found at The Georgia Straight online, detailing a range of celebrities from William Shatner to Salman Rushdie and including such A-Listers as Emily Blunt, Michael Cera, and Terry Gilliam. In the fall of 2014, Leiren-Young was appointed editor of Reel West Magazine, a publication focused on the Western Canadian film industry. Leiren-Young also became the University of Victoria's 2014 Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for the Department of Writing, the first alumnus to hold this position.
Leiren-Young is a passionate environmentalist. As a columnist and podcaster for Vancouver's independent online news site The Tyee, he often addresses issues facing British Columbia's old growth forests. His Tyee interviews provided the content for his book, The Green Chain: Nothing Is Ever Clear Cut (Heritage House, 2009), which examines the logging industry. Described by the National Post as “Canada’s go to guy for dolphins, whales and trees”, Leiren-Young has also been dubbed "Canada’s greenest writer". Many of his projects feature a sustainability theme, such as his award-winning short film, The Green Film, and his feature-length movie, The Green Chain, which stars Tricia Helfer. As one half of the comedy duo, "Local Anxiety" with Kevin Crofton, Leiren-Young wrote and co-starred in the EarthVision award-winning TV special, Greenpieces: The World’s First Eco-Comedy. He released the 2009 CD Greenpieces, and cuts from the satirical album are often featured on CBC Radio. He also coauthored This Crazy Time: Living our Environmental Challenge (Knopf Canada, 2012) with controversial Canadian environmentalist, Tzeporah Berman. In 2012, Leiren-Young debuted Greener Than Thou, a comic, autobiographical monologue detailing the journey of "going green".
In October 2014, Leiren-Young wrote the article “Moby Doll” for The Walrus. The project tells the story of captured killer whale, Moby Doll, harpooned in the summer of 1964 off the coast of British Columbia’s Saturna Island. Moby Doll lasted a mere eighty-seven days in a waterfront pen, creating controversy. The Walrus article was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Awards. Leiren-Young developed Moby Doll: The Whale that Changed the World, which aired as a radio broadcast November 7, 2014 on CBC Radio's Ideas with Paul Kennedy. At the 2014 Jack Webster Awards, Leiren-Young won Best Feature Story in radio for the broadcast. In 2016, the book The Killer Whale Who Changed the World was published, and has been long-listed for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize.
A feature-length film documentary of The Killer Whale Who Changed the World is currently in post-production (2017). The movie is set to be distributed by Kinosmith (the Canadian distributors of Blackfish).
Film and Television
Leiren-Young's first feature film, The Green Chain (2007), which he wrote, directed and produced, explores the issues facing dying logging communities in British Columbia. The movie won the El Prat de Llobregat Award at the 15th Annual Festival Internacional de Cinema de Medi Ambient (FICMA 2008) in Barcelona. Leiren-Young also has extensive television writing credits, with over 100 hours of produced work. His love of comic books inspired his work on a number of animated series, including a ReBoot episode parodying The X-Files (details of which were featured in Entertainment Weekly) and Beast Wars: Transformers. He has many credits writing for drama series as well, including PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal and Blood Ties.
Before writing for T.V., Leiren-Young was a widely produced playwright. His plays have been produced in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia. He has also been translated into French and Danish. Leiren-Young's 1991 radio drama, Dim Sum Diaries, received international recognition when it debuted on CBC Radio's Morningside. His romantic fantasy, Blueprints from Space, was honored at New York's Open Eye Theatre with a staged reading. Leiren-Young is best known for controversial work, such as the teen drama Basically Good Kids and Jim, about the life of Doors frontman Jim Morrison. His mainstage work includes Articles of Faith (Anvil Press, 2001), about the Anglican church's internal struggle over the issue of gay marriage, and the award-winning Shylock (Anvil Press, 1996), about the tensions surrounding theatre's most famous Jewish character. Shylock has been produced around the world.
Twenty years after his stint at The Williams Lake Tribune, Leiren-Young turned his experiences into a comic memoir, Never Shoot A Stampede Queen (Heritage House, 2009), which won the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Leiren-Young adapted the memoir for stage, where it received its world premiere with the Western Canada Theatre company in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada in 2013. A second production debuted at Vancouver's Granville Island Stage in May, 2013. Additionally, he released his latest memoir, Free Magic Secrets Revealed (Harbour Publishing, 2013), on April 3. Leiren-Young is currently adapting both memoirs for film.
Leiren-Young was the 1993 recipient of a National Magazine award for his Theatrum column and has received two Western Magazine awards, the latest presented in 2013. Leiren-Young has also received three Writers Guild of Canada nominations for his work in radio and film.
- The Killer Whale Who Changed the World - 2016
- Free Magic Secrets Revealed - 2013
- Never Shoot A Stampede Queen - 2009
- The Green Chain: Nothing is Ever Clear Cut - 2009
- The Green Chain - Writer/Director/Producer
- RollBots (TV series) – writer, (2009)
- The Green Film (short) – writer, (2008)
- Blood Ties (Lifetime series) - Story editor and writer, (2007)
- The Green Chain – written by, (2007)
- Pucca (TV series) – writer, (2007)
- Class of the Titans (TV series) – writer, (2007)
- The Collector - scriptwriter, (2006)
- Ace Lightning (TV series) – writer, (2002-2004)
- The Great Canadian Music Dream (CBC miniseries) - scriptwriter, (2003)
- Mentors (TV series) - writer, (2001)
- Psi Factor - scriptwriter, (2000)
- Life and Times: The Brian Orser Story - scriptwriter, (2000)
- Greenpieces (TV special short), (2000)
- Grand Illusions: The Story of Magic (TV series), (1998)
- The 27th Annual Juno Awards – (1998)
- Beasties (TV series) – writer, (1997)
- Reboot - scriptwriter, (1996)
- Jonovision (CBC) - scriptwriter, (1996)
- Never Shoot a Stampede Queen - 2013
- Articles of Faith - 2001
- Easy Money – 1999
- If You Really Love Me... - 2000
- Shylock - 1996
- Basically Good Kids - 1993
- Blueprints From Space - 1993
- Dim Sum Diaries – 1991
- Jim - 1990
- Escape from Fantasy Gardens - 1989
- Watchin` - 1986
- Greenpieces - Local Anxiety - 2009
- Hockey Nut in Canada - Local Anxiety - 2007
- Forgive Us - We're Canadian - Local Anxiety - 2003
- "Mark Leiren-Young". University of Victoria, 2015.
- "Mark Leiren-Young Biography". Stampede Queen, 2012.
- "Mr. Dress-Up: Mark Leiren-Young chronicles his days in costume". The National Post, June 3, 2013.
- "Reel West magazine appoints Mark Leiren-Young as editor". Masthead Online, October 7, 2014.
- "Funny Writing Secrets Revealed". University of Victoria, August 28, 2014.
- "Orcaholic - MLY". leiren-young.com. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
- "Mark Leiren-Young honoured at Barcelona film festival". The Georgia Straight, June 10, 2008.
- "Mark Leiren-Young Biography". Simple Movie, 2009.
- "Mark Leiren-Young". Anvil Press, 2008.
- "Leiren-Young wins Leacock Medal". The Globe and Mail, April 30, 2009.
- "About Mark Leiren-Young". Mark Leiren-Young Official Site, 2015.
- "Mark Leiren-Young Biography". The Internet Movie Database, 1990-2015.