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Whistler Film Festival 2015 Interview: THE LIFE & DEATH OF AN UNHAPPILY MARRIED MAN's Josh Hope

THE LIFE & DEATH...At #wff15
by Jason Whyte

"A 29 year-old Chicago man (Tommy Beardmore) tries to understand his feelings of unhappiness with his failing marriage and his dead end job. When he loses both the same week - his wife leaves him for another man and all his worldly possessions are stolen - he decides to revisit his past. Returning to Oklahoma where he grew up he tries to understand where he may have derailed his life." Director Josh Hope on THE LIFE & DEATH OF AN UNHAPPILY MARRIED MAN which screens at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival.

I am excited your film is here this year! Is this your first Whistler Film Festival experience and are you going to attend your screenings?

Yes, this is my first experience at Whistler, and I will be at our screening along with actors Tommy Beardmore, Kate Froehlich, Elyse Cantor, Mindy Fay Parks, producer/editor Chris Hong and our composer Tony Green. I haven't been to Whistler before, but Whistler has an amazing reputation and I've wanted to screen here ever since I started making movies.

Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and your previous movies.

I got my start working as a production assistant on a bunch of reality shows, commercials and indie movies. I didn't go to film school so I just learned about how things worked by being on set every chance I could get, and worked my way up. I made 5 short films that screened around a lot and did pretty well on the indie circuit which gave me the confidence to start making features. A few years ago I made a tiny micro budget feature called WILD BLUE. It really proved to myself that I can tell a good story despite having financial restraints. THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN UNHAPPILY MARRIED MAN is my 2nd feature film, and I have a few other feature projects that I'm excited to move forward with in 2016.

How did this whole movie come about from your perspective?

Well...the story is based on my real life. I have gone through a couple of long term relationships in my twenties that both ended in disaster, and had a lot of weird experiences come out of them. After my last relationship ended I figured I could dive into a pit of depression and go insane thinking about how much my life sucked, or channel all of that negativity and frustration into something positive and make a movie about it. I thankfully decided to choose the latter.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? Coffee?

I am one of those weird people who doesn't really consume caffeine on a regular basis, so no soda or coffee for me. Although I am quite a bit of a sugar/candy junkie. Honestly, once I'm on set and production is underway I'm so excited that all that pre-production planning and hard work is over and we're finally getting a chance to do the fun part of actually making the movie that I don't have any problem staying focused and driven. I think I've done it enough now to realize that 2 weeks of craziness seems like nothing when you look back at it in a year. I always keep that in mind on set if we're having a long difficult day of filming.

With LIFE & DEATH, what was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment where you knew you had something?

For the most part production was pretty calm on this film compared to others I have worked on. We only had two days of filming that actually went past 8 hours. I try to keep my sets as close to possible to a 9-to-5 job as I can, but there was one day in particular that was pretty rough. We we're filming out in the middle of nowhere in Western Illinois, and it was super hot and humid that day. We had a scene where our lead actor Tommy Beardmore was supposed to run naked through a thick patch of trees because the character was having a bad experience with hallucinogenic drugs. The hot humid air that day caused the tree patch where we filmed to be filled with bugs and mosquitos. It was horrible...all of us we're just attacked by bugs. It was the hardest scene I've ever had to film, but everyone, especially naked Tommy, was a trooper and we just went in and filmed it as fast as possible and got out of there. Now I think it's one of the best scenes in the movie.

I think I knew we might have something good on our hands early on like day 2 or 3 of filming. I wanted all the actors to take a loose approach with the written dialogue and improv and deliver a performance that felt real and do whatever they felt normal to them. I knew Tommy wouldn't have any problem with this approach because I had worked with him on my last feature film WILD BLUE, and he has a ton of training and experience in the improv world, but I was a little worried how all the rest of the actors who we're coming on as day players would be able to keep up with our production model. We had a scene in a professional office setting and had 4 different actors come in and film their scenes all in on one day. One after another, Robyn Coffin, Patrick Zielinski, Tara DeFrancisco and Mindy Fay Parks just crushed their scenes in the best way possible and gave us so much to work with. The trend continued all the way through the movie. Every single actor in the film delivered something that wasn't written that made it into the movie and made the film better. I couldn't have asked for a better cast and performances.

I must get technical with you as I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

Seth Savoy was our DP. Early on in the process when we we're looking for a cinematographer to come on board I was passed along a short film that Seth had shot and directed. I watched it with the sound off as I usually do when I'm looking at a DP reel and found his style very raw and beautifully striking. I could tell Seth knew how to make something look good on a low budget, and would be a good fit for Life and Death. He had a very small crew and budget to work with, but I thought he knocked it out of the park.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie in Whistler?

It's always nice to be able to attend the screening of your film in person, and get that instant feedback. I love hearing people laugh, and it's always interesting to see what lines in the film get the biggest laugh. It seems like every city we've played at seems to link a character or line better. That's really fun to see.

After the film screens in Whistler, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to show?

This is our 25th film festival screening, but our Canadian premiere. We'll be screening through spring, and we like to show the film anywhere people want us!

If you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

I was able to show this film several times back home where I grew up in NW Oklahoma which was a lot of fun. I think they got a kick out of watching a fictionalized version of me and my parents on the big screen.

What would you say or do to someone who was being disruptive, like talking or texting at a screening you were attending?

Oh man! Thankfully that hasn't happened at any of our screenings yet, and fingers crossed never will. Maybe I would just follow them to their job and be disruptive at their office in return.

What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

Just make sure you're okay with people asking you what your "real job" is after you tell them you're an indie filmmaker.

And finally, what is your all time favorite movie?

As a movie junkie that is an extremely hard question to answer, but my favorite movie of all time is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I guess that's where I get my love for long movie titles.

Be sure to check out THE LIFE & DEATH OF AN UNHAPPILY MARRIED MAN, playing at #wff15 on Thursday, December 3rd, 1pm at Village 8 Cinemas.

More information on the film can be found at the official Facebook page and on Twitter at @LifeandDeathPic. You can also follow Josh on Twitter at @FilmStallion.

This is one of the many films playing at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival. For show information, tickets and for other general information on films and events, point your browser to the official website at!

[bigger]Be sure to follow instant happenings of Whistler Film Festival on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a photo or two. You can also follow the festival on my Instagram at jason.whyte!

Jason Whyte,

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 12/03/15 02:46:48
last updated: 12/03/15 02:48:38
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