by Jason Whyte
Love at the Twilight Motel - At Victoria Film Festival
“The Twilight Motel is the busiest motel in Miami, where the rooms rent by the hour, the concealed garages have private staircases to the rooms, and the sheets are clean.
Part confessional, part broken love story this series of remarkably intimate interviews softly penetrates the darker side of desire, as sex, infidelity and the allure of the fast lane propel these stories. All are seeking some kind of justification for their actions. Mr. R, an affluent businessman recounts a lifetime of lunchtime sexual encounters with secretaries. Mr. B loves his wife "more than life," but has a plethora of excuses for his hooker and drug habit. Beautiful, soft-spoken Rose was a straight "A" student until she fell in with the wrong crowd. Richard feels his destiny in life is to seduce married women. In the privacy of the motel bedrooms men and women become candidly revealing, dark and funny, transcending the limits of their circumstances, and redeeming themselves with their stories.” Director Alison Rose on the film “Love at the Twilight Motel” which screens at this year’s Victoria Film Festival.
Is this your first film at the Victoria Film Festival? Tell me about your festival experience, and if you plan to attend Victoria for the film’s screenings.
Yes, this is my first Victoria Festival Screening. I wish I was going to be there – it’s -20 here tonight in southern Ontario, and I haven’t been to Victoria since I was a teenager.
How did this whole project come together?
The motels were pointed out to me jokingly the first time I was in Miami: I was being driven down SW 8th street and my guide said, “These motels look like ordinary motels but they have mirrors on the ceiling and they’re for sex.” There were 20 of them, and they were on a main thoroughfare, which I thought was interesting, to say the least.
Please 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.
We shot on an HD camera, the Sony F900, and we shot 16:9 format at 24p. The final film was mostly shot by Daniel Grant, who’s the son of a doctor in Nova Scotia. Daniel has an innate talent, and loves his craft, but I mention his upbringing because he possessed a few ideal qualities that he probably picked up by osmosis from his parents. He is attentive, he listens, he’s respectful, non-judgemental and quiet, all of which helped our subjects be as open as they were. There were only two or three crew in the room at most – me the cinematographer and our translator, if we needed on, and just Daniel and me if our motel guest spoke English. I think that was essential to the interviews we got, and resulted in the film that you see.
Out of the entire production, what was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Also, what was the most pleasurable moment?
The most difficult part of the production was trying to make the film I set out to make -- one with the owners, staff and the guests of the motel. I was tenacious to a fault trying to get that film, because I lied to them so much. The owners were a lovely Cuban-émigré family who’d been farmers in Cuba that had gotten into the business of hourly motels and I was curious about that. How does a good family run an hourly motel? Their motels were clean, well maintained, well-staffed, and very busy. I liked the owners, but they didn’t really want to be in a film, and I can understand that, looking back. I thought if I waited long enough they’d open up, but I wasn’t thinking straight. The staff very politely said they’d participate, but they didn’t have any issues, and in any case they didn’t want to say anything that would jeopardize their jobs, because the motel was a good steady job, guaranteeing 50 weeks a year of employment and two weeks of vacation.
To reach these guests, I placed a series of ads in different city publications ranging from the Miami Herald to Taboo magazine, saying “Motels on SW 8th Street: Do you have a story to tell?” We offered to protect people’s identity to whatever degree would make them comfortable, and we screened them for guests who had stayed in our motel.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?
I like to see film, and I love good work, but I haven’t referenced specific films or filmmakers while making this film.
I love Bruno Dumont’s films “Flandres” and “Hadewijch”. I just saw Bernard Emond’s
“La donation” and I loved it. My favorite line is “j’aime la neige. – moi aussi.”
Claire Denis’ Beau Travail
Xavier Dolan’s j’ai tue ma mere (also playing at Victoria Film Festival this year) for his freedom. Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck is another one. Documentaries that stick with me include “Fast Cheap and Out of Control”, “The Way we Get By”, “The White African” and “The Beetle”.
How has the film been received at other festivals or screenings? Do you have any interesting stories about how this film has screened before? What do you think you will expect at the film’s screenings at Victoria?
The film premiered at Hot Docs to four star reviews, which was a stunning debut. It has been well received at the other festivals I’ve attended. My parents have seen it, and they say I did a very good job with a very difficult subject matter.
If you weren’t making movies, what other line or work do you feel you’d be in?
I’d be in medicine.
How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?
Critical response is important to me because I make films because I have something to say, and I therefore want to hear back from people. The quality of my work is important to me, so I respect what critics have to say based on their knowledge and experience.
If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?
The great big movie theatres I first saw movies in, in Toronto; The Uptown or The University. The University is now Pottery Barn, and the Uptown was raised for Condos.
I had a great screening in Toronto in the same theatre I mixed the film in, The Royal. Great sound, new screen and HDSR projector: I couldn’t have asked for more. I’ve lived within walking distance of The Royal almost all my life in Toronto, so that was great.
My niece says “Galaxy Cinema in Newmarket. The circle theatre in Alliston.”
If you could offer a nickel’s worth of free advice to someone who wanted to make movies, what nuggets of wisdom would you offer?
Get a partner. Don’t do it alone. You need someone to make decisions with, commiserate with and celebrate with.
What do you love the most about film and the filmmaking business?
The joy of learning about a subject I’m drawn it; the alchemy in the editing process.
A question that is easy for some but not for others and always gets a different response: what is your favourite film of all time?
“Moonstruck”or “The Princess Bride”.
This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Victoria Film Festival. For showtimes and further information visit www.victoriafilmfestival.com.
Be sure to follow instant happenings of the festival and updates on my Twitter @jasonwhyte!
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2937
originally posted: 02/01/10 05:18:25