VIFF '09 Interview - Zooey & Adam director Sean Garrity
By Jason Whyte
Posted 10/06/09 19:02:47
“On average, Canadians see only two films a year at the cinema. This year, “Zooey & Adam” is the film they need to see – twice.” Director Sean Garrity on the film “Zooey & Adam” which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (Oct. 1 – 16).
Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you have any other festival experience? Do you plan to attend VIFF for the screenings?
This is my seventh film at VIFF. I love the VIFF. I attend every year – wouldn’t miss it!
Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …” Finish this sentence, please!
When I grow up I want to be an adult. Filmmaking does not help.
How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement
I read some statistics about rape victims who are left pregnant after their attack, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. To try and exorcise it from my head, I got some actors together to improvise some scenes and recorded them on a handi-cam. The result is this film.
What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production?
Clearances. We shot totally guerrilla, and no matter where you point your camera in a Canadian city, you have 10 corporate logos in your shot the second you take off your lens cap. It really burns my beard that corporations can spray their logos all over public spaces, and then insist that we clear them before we can include street scenes in our movies.
Tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.
I shot on an HDV camcorder to engender a feeling of intimacy with the actors. There were just the three of us in the room most of the time. I hate my cinematographer; that bald, talentless goof wrecked every great scene that the actors created for this movie. I’ll never use him again.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?
The greatest inspirations are the people that I work directly with, but in terms of other artists, this film was particularly inspired by Susanne Bier, Thomas Vinterberg and Bruce Sweeney.
If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?
I believe that if filmmaking were suddenly made illegal (and I think Stephen Harper is working on it), most American filmmakers would open strip clubs, and most Canadian filmmakers would become university professors. I like the idea of having summers off.
Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.
Christopher Doyle, Yue Lü, Susan Shipton, Andre Turpin, Mickey Mouse. I’d like to cast the mouse as a crack-head petty thief trying to go straight, but bedeviled by a falsetto he just can’t shake.
How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?
English Canadian cinema gets no marketing at all – no TV ads, no poster campaigns, no publicity stunts. Often a review is the only thing that tells an audience that the film is even in their town. For us, reviews are disproportionately important. It therefore is essential to always have a tenner in your pocket, in case you run into a reviewer at the pub.
If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?
Winnipeg Cinemateque. It’s not the hall, it’s the audience – and how many of them will help you push your car out of the snow after the movie.
What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the local megaplex?
Wouldn’t you rather have a profound experience at the cinema than be titillated with escapism? Wouldn’t you rather see a light that illuminates a path, than a light that dazzles & confuses? Wouldn’t you… hey… hey, where you going? I’m not finished yet!
No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start?
Don’t do it! We’re a sick, sick bunch, in bad need of professional help.
And finally…what is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?
Sans Soleil, To Live!, Oasis, Exotica, Brothers… I could go on and on. The films I love are the ones that are open enough to allow me to fill in the blanks with pieces of my own life.
This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. For more information on the film’s screenings, showtimes and update information, point your browser to viff.org. – Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com