by Jason Whyte
The Shrine - At Victoria Film Festival
"Itís about a small, secluded European village where random travelers are going missing. Three American journalists head there to try and get the story and discover a cult of people who are practicing human sacrifice, and thatís when things start to get real sick and twisted. But thatís really just the tip of the iceberg; the film twists into the supernatural world when you start to realize the reasoning behind the cultís actions." Writer and executive producer Trevor Matthews on the film "The Shrine" which screens at this year's Victoria Film Festival.
Is this your first film at the Victoria Film Festival?
This will be my first time at the festival. I have family in Victoria, so I'm really looking forward to coming back and attending the festival.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and what led you to the industry.
I love to travel, so after high school I back-packed across the alps for several months, climbing many different peaks in Germany, Austria and Italy. It was during that trip that I realized I wanted to be a filmmaker. It seemed like a great challenge and I saw it as fulfilling work. I enjoy how the business incorporates the creation of new ideas and that there are opportunities in the work to develop stories with passion. I have always loved movies and have always been inspired by good stories. It has certainly been a challenge to break into the business, however, along the way I have learned a lot. There is something about filmmaking that reminds me of those early expeditions, constantly exploring and discovering new things about business and art.
How did this whole project come together?
My business partner Jon Knautz (director), came into my office one day with a new Horror idea. We had been brainstorming in the Horror genre, trying to make something to frighten audiences. So we began developing it and eventually hired a writer to join the team. Over the next 6 months we poured our creative energy into "The Shrine" and after roughly 14 drafts we were moving into production.
Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the filmís cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.
We shot "The Shrine" on the Red camera. Our DP was a guy named James Griffiths. This was our first time working with James and we got along great. He really knew what he was doing. We shot our first feature film on 35mm so it was interesting to switch to a digital camera and have the first hand experience of the different formats. There are certainly a lot of benefits in modern movie making when shooting digitally, and the new cameras look very cinematic.
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 time for me with this project was probably during the development process. The script went through many different drafts and it was a challenge to stay motivated and to keep things moving forward. The creative process can be very difficult to formulate and control. I dream of an open, creative environment, where all of my best ideas flow freely through my mind and onto the page; but the truth is, when you actually have to sit around a table with your team and consider all of the factors to deliver a great screenplay, it is really difficult. We are always finding new ways to tap into our creative work, however this has to be the most difficult process. That being said, you have to be willing to take risks and push through, because in the end, itís the possibility of making something great that keeps you going. We managed to push through and develop something we are really proud of.
The best moments for me were all during the actual filming. It was busy and exciting, and there was lots of action and stunts. I love that stuff.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?
I have so many inspirations in this business. I certainly respect a number of directors such as Danny Boyle, Darren Arronofsky, Sam Mendez, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and so many more. I also admire filmmakers who Act and Direct projects such as Mel Gibson or Ben Affleck. For me as a producer, Scott Rudin is an amazing role model, making some of the riskiest and most prestigious films in the industry. Inspirations for The Shrine in particular were pulled from a lot of 70's Horror flicks like "Carrie" and "The Exorcist".
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 filmís screenings at Victoria?
Our US premiere was at Screamfest in Los Angeles. This was the first time that I saw the film in a big theatre and at first I was kinda nervous. I am pleased to say that the film played fantastically, and we had a great response. We frightened the hell out of our audience and we received some great reviews from various press in LA. The twist at the end of our film played great! For me the festival was a hit! We also won Best Canadian film at the Fantasia festival in Montreal.
If you werenít making movies, what other line or work do you feel youíd be in?
I love business in general. I am inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit. I wouldn't want to be doing anything els besides running a business and trying to make it successful. The film business is in a funny place right now, in part because of the current economic climate and considerable shifts in technology that effect content distribution. However, I believe the content business is a safe bet, because regardless of how its delivered, there will always be a demand for good stories and new movies.
How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?
Very important! I always check reviews and ratings before going to see a film. It's easier now to find opinions on content than ever before. It's a normal trend for moviegoers and it has a strong effect on the likelihood of an audience seeing the film.
If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?
Any theatre is fine with me, as long as there is 3000 of them! We are in the middle of our domestic distribution deal right now and it looks like our distributor will be doing a theatrical release. I am pleased to see that after all of our hard work on the project, the film may be available on the big screen.
If you could offer a nickelís worth of free advice to someone who wanted to make movies, what nuggets of wisdom would you offer?
The best advice I have if you want to make movies is to go out and make movies! Nowadays, technology for filmmaking is readily available for those who are ambitious enough to use it. It is a difficult task and it takes fierce commitment. It doesn't have to cost you a ton of money. "El-Mariachi" was made for $7K. Plan everything! Filmmaking is not just showing up with a camera to see what happens. You need to break your movie down like a scientist and consider every detail. Short films are a great way to show your skills without breaking the bank.
What do you love the most about film and the filmmaking business?
I love that you can see your work at the end of the process and it speaks for itself. I love how time seems to stop and nothing else matters when youíre making a movie. I love that it is such a collaborative art form and it allows you to work with so many talented people. It has provided me with so many great experiences.
What would you do or say to someone who is talking or being disruptive during a movie?
I have been known to throw large soda's at people who won't shut up.
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?
"Braveheart". Great story, Great filmmaking, Great acting, Great music. It was a 10 out of 10 in my books.
"The Shrine" screens at the Victoria Film Festival on Sunday, February 6th, 9:30pm at the Odeon.
This is one of the official selections in this yearís Victoria Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this yearís fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to www.victoriafilmfestival.com.
Be sure to follow instant happenings of VFF í11 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #vicfilmfestival is the official hashtag.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3160
originally posted: 02/07/11 04:25:45