1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of ALLY WAS SCREAMING, from concept to financing.
Originally, I amused myself with the thought, what kind of circumstance would get my close friends and I to discuss taking part in a murder (and its morality) and how far could we take it. We are supposedly nice guys so I knew the situation would have to be pretty provocative. From there, I really wanted to make a movie depicting characters who challenge their moral intuition with the hope that the audience would question theirs as they come along for the ride. Why? (I’m not alone here as an artist): for no lesser aim than to change the world. I don’t know the answers. Neither does the movie – but it knows the questions that will take us further down that rabbit hole.
And thanks to Telefilm Canada, and my producers’ Colin Sheldon and Robert Cuffley’s know how… yada yada yada… We got the green light to shoot the beast.
2Q: ALLY WAS SCREAMING has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?
Cinequest will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first US festival I ever attended (I’m from Canada), when my first feature “The End” played there is 2008. It marked the first time I ever had two sold out theatres filled with receptive audiences who were not made up of my friends OR family – and yet they still responded so positively that I discretely took out my camcorder and began taping the crowd’s reaction, so my friends back home would believe how well it went over.
With that said, I’m never quite comfortable with filmmaking or festivals. Pre-production makes me faint, production totally freaks me out, and editing gives me deep existential conflict. But at least when it’s done I get to show it at wonderful festivals like this one, right? In theory, yes; but again, I’m starting to feel faint. But I’ll end on a positive note: Francois Truffaut praised filmmakers who embodied either the agony or ecstasy of filmmaking. So subscribing to the prior may not be such a sin.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making ALLY WAS SCREAMING?
My best experience was witnessing the team pull together to make the climax so rewarding. The acting that we were capturing gave me confidence that this movie was really going to work (thanks in particular to Charlie Carrick, Giacomo Baessato, and Camille Sullivan). The process can be very hard, because at the beginning of the day its all in your head, and you know that by the end of the day, what you’ve developed for years must be executed – and well. It’s like competing in an Olympic event you’ve trained for for years, and now you must perform. And as hard as the process can be, what makes it survivable (& even exhilarating at times) is the team. With our veteran Robert Cuffley (taking a break from directing features like “Walk All Over Me” and “Ferocious”), to the wise-young-diligent producer Colin Sheldon, to our old cowboy production manager Tom Benz (“Brokeback Mountain”), to our stylish and elegant DP Dan Dumochel and his camera team, to the Emmy-nominated sound team from Propeller (“Fargo”), to the wickedly talented cast, etc., etc… – this team has lifted this little movie to heights I could have only hoped at conception (& saved my ass a few times along he way!)
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
Here is a merciless thriller (which I’m told brings to mind Shallow Grave and A Simple Plan!) that gets friends fighting and couples not speaking to each other. AWS is a moral rollercoaster (if such a thing were to exist) that acts as a tense suspense yarn at some times and as a dark comedy at others. Along the way you may root for our heroes – (who may actually be villains) – or fall for its antagonist – (who may be heroic), or realize that the heroes, who you thought were villains may be heroic after all (unless you believe that murder can never be justified…) Something tells me that we’re not all going to agree, but we may at least be revitted as the eerie drama unfoulds (unless it’s a comedy… Or both.)
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for ALLY WAS SCREAMING. Give us your acceptance speech.
I would refuse to attend the Oscars for fear that John Travolta would mispronounce my name and touch my face.