Whistler Film Festival 2015 Interview: THE HOTEL DIEU director Adrian Thiessen
By Jason Whyte
Posted 12/05/15 03:09:45
"THE HOTEL DIEU is a drama about a boy, his brother, and a girl. Luke, a teenager, has his reality challenged after he loses his vision in a car accident. The film explores Luke's emotional and physical recovery as he learns to deal with trauma, love, relationships and maturity." Director Adrian Thiessen on THE HOTEL DIEU which screens at the 2015 edition of the Whistler Film Festival.
I am excited to have you as part of the 15th Anniversary at Whistler! Is this your first Whistler Film Festival experience and are you going to attend your screenings?
Yes! THE HOTEL DIEU is my first feature film, so as a result this is also my first time at the Whistler Film Festival. My producer Kristen Nater, art director Ryan Rivando and I are all attending the screening. We have had a few screenings overseas at a few festivals, but we are super excited to play back home in Canada again!
Great to hear you are making it! Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and your previous movies.
I started making shorts and videos as a kid. Part of that generation where everyone's parents got a new video camera so I was exposed to the potential at young age. Eventually I graduated from a film studies post secondary program and started Fourgrounds Media, a video and film production company. At Fourgrounds I have directed a handful of award winning shorts and commercials, which lead to eventually directing my first feature THE HOTEL DIEU.
And with that, how did THE HOTEL DIEU become a reality?
It was a sort of culmination of many things. At Fourgrounds, we knew we wanted to get our first feature made to establish ourselves in the Canadian film industry. One of the producers Mike Krasnay and I were working on a short script which eventually we developed into a feature. The film was fast tracked as our locations team gained production access to a recently de-commissioned hospital in Niagara called THE HOTEL DIEU. The set was an amazing resource for a micro budget first feature so we quickly got everything in motion to shoot while the building was still vacant. This, evidently, is also where we got the name.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
In the early stages of any creative production especially a film, there is a sort of magic that you can see in peoples' eyes when they buy in or sign on to work on the project. You see it in pitches, auditions, interviews and on set as scenes come to life. As your team grows and people believe in the project there is a motivation that grows. Your team is everything, and in my opinion that's what keeps us all going.
So with THE HOTEL DIEU, what was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment where you knew you had something?
On a micro budget feature the challenges are not hard to find. As a first time director, there are nerves you have to deal with, but that all sort of falls to the side the moment you call action. There were some distinct scenes and moments on set where, we all looked at each other after we cut, and we knew we had something.
I am about to get tech on you, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie.
The look of the film is probably the aspect I am most proud of. It has a texture and beauty that stands out and for a film that deals with visual impairment nailing this style was very important to us. Kristen, the Co-Owner of Fourgrounds was the DOP, and our core FG team Barsin Aghajan and Rick Fast were the camera OP and AC respectively. I had an enormous amount of trust in this team to explore and build the visual style. We were all on the same page and our Art Direction and Set Design was on point so it wasn’t hard to make the film stunning.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie in Whistler?
After you leave the editing room, as a filmmaker you don't really watch your film, you watch your audience. We haven't screened in Canada since our Niagara hometown premiere, so I am excited about that
After the film screens in Whistler, where is the film going to show next?
We are nearing the end of our festival run so next step is distribution, we have a handful of irons in the fire here so we will see what happens.
If you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?
We have played our first film in Niagara, France, The UK, Estonia, and now Whistler, so to be honest I am already overwhelmed with the success it is having. I am honoured and humbled anytime it plays anywhere.
What would you say or do to someone who was being disruptive, like talking or texting, at a screening you were attending?
I would give em the half turn. Then if things got ugly, the full turn.
What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
I would say spend a TON of your time in writing and pre-production.
And finally, what is your all time favorite movie?
I love Quebec cinema so I think Jean-Marc Vallee's CAFE DE FLORE would have to be #1, but it seems anything Xavier Dolan does these days comes close to stealing the top slot.
THE HOTEL DIEU screens Friday, 5:30pm at Village 8 Cinemas. Also be sure to check out the progress of the movie on Facebook and on Twitter at @thehoteldieu!
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 whistlerfilmfestival.com!
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, efilmcritic.com