by Jason Whyte
NUMB - At #wff15
"You have been without work for over a year, your last hope for a job fell through and then you come across GPS coordinates that seem to promise to lead to stolen gold. But it's out in the snowy wilderness, and you're not the only one who has made this discovery. You need to go right now or not at all. Would you go for it? It's [also] a survival treasure-hunt thriller in the snow! Need I say any more?" Director Jason Goode on NUMB which is the closing night gala screening of the 2015 Whistler Film Festival.
I am thrilled to see that NUMB is the closing night film of Whistler Film Festival! Is this your first time with a movie here and are you coming to the screening?
I was there in 2011 for a short film I wrote and directed call THE PLANTING. And for sure I am going to attend the screening! I like to see how different audiences respond to the film. This is the best part; after all the blood, sweat and LOTS of tears, it is enjoying the film with audiences that makes you forget the pain.
So for you, what is it about Whistler, either the festival or the town itself, that excites you the most?
It's an intimate experience. The festival is so concentrated in terms of geography and time that you can't help but see everyone else participating. Plus, it's Whistler. In December!
Glad to hear you are coming! Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and your previous work in the industry.
I'm not sure I have yet. In a lot of ways this film is my start. I was coaching college volleyball in my mid-20s and after a season of a lot of reflection and prayer I finally said to myself, "I want to be involved in the arts. Why am I not doing that?" I didn't know what to do. I was scouring the film production websites trying to figure out my way in. And then when I moved back to Vancouver I was lucky enough to meet some folks at the Theological graduate school (Regent College) I was attending who also wanted to make films. So I joined in with them, and then after a couple of years in 2004 I tried my hand at directing my first short, Ducks (also starring Aleks Paunovic), and shortly after that made THE HITCHHIKER, a short that traveled around the world and won a bunch of audience awards. And then it has been a long decade of learning as much as I can about writing, directing and pretty much anything related to filmmaking, making the occasional short film and trying to get a feature projects off the ground. NUMB was the first one that really got traction and went the distance.
So how did NUMB all come together for you?
It was almost five years from reading Andre Harden's first draft to the film finally being finished. We first hoped to shoot in the winter of 2012. Then the winter of 2013. And 2014. We finally got it up and running in 2015. You could say we had a lot of perseverance. But in truth we got encouraging signs every few months. We could see we had a great script and a sellable concept. And just when you think we might have gotten discouraged, we got some sign that we should keep going; that it wasn't a lost cause.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
I'm not sure if there's a good explanation for this. It's just what I do. I experience a great deal of life through cinema, and so I have a built-in desire to be a part of, and contribute to, this great artistic tradition. I don't really have a choice in the matter.
With the location shooting and the cold, I am sure there were many challenges with making NUMB. What were the biggest ones for you? When did you know you had something special?
The weather and landscape was the biggest challenge. It's one thing making a low budget movie on a short schedule. It's something else to do that out in the bush, in minus 10 degree celsius, in knee deep snow. And honestly, because of the challenges of the shoot I didn't know if we had something special until very late in post-production. I always knew we had good performances, but I wasn't sure we could structure the pace and plot of the film in a way that would highlight them and slowly build the film towards an earned climax. I think we succeeded in the end. And audiences seem to really like the film. But every film is a risk. You just never know.
Iím about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie, your relationship to director of photography Jan Kiesser and how the movie was photographed.
I prefer a more classical approach to framing films. And Director of Photography Jan Kiesser definitely comes from that tradition. Once we were out in the bush, though, it was much more loose and fluid in terms of style. The pace of shooting just forced us to do that. But Jan has a great eye for framing landscapes, and a few times he blew my mind with shots that I had never even considered in pre-production. So I think we have a really interesting mix of visceral handheld shooting mixed with classically framed landscapes.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie as a gala screening in Whistler?
Whistler is a special film festival. It's intimate, fun, often outside of the box. So to be a part of their lineup is amazing. But to be doing it in a gala presentation is mind blowing. Huge crowd. Snow outside the theatre. Great atmosphere. Honestly, I'm giddy.
After the film screens in Whistler, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to show?
We are hoping to have a solid US premiere and then screen it at festivals around the world before it goes into theatres in many territories. The film has already sold to quite a few territories and we are hoping to get more distribution partners in the next few months. In Canada, honestly we are not sure what the story looks like for theatrical, due to the less than ideal setup for Canadian films within Canada, BUT we are expecting it to be on VOD, iTunes and other platforms in the Spring and on Super Channel beginning in the Summer.
If you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?
The Regina Public Library theatre. It's the small theatre in the basement of the main library. I frequented that theatre a lot during the artistic awakening of my mid-to-late 20s. I was coaching womens' volleyball at a college just outside of Moose Jaw, and it was my first exposure to a repertory theatre and I was exposed to all kinds of films I would never have seen. Among the many great films and speakers I encountered there, I saw THE BIG KAHUNA, which was a small independent film with Kevin Spacey and it changed my life.
What would you say or do to someone who was being disruptive at a screening you were attending?
I would apologize for not making the film engaging enough for them. I want to make films where you are just too into the story to be disruptive. It's my responsibility to keep the audience engaged. The audience doesn't owe me a thing.
What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
DO. NOT. DO. IT.
And if that stops them from doing it, then they shouldn't be doing it. If it doesn't, then they MIGHT be on the right career path. It's an absurdly difficult career choice.
Seriously, though. I can only say that I began equipping myself as soon as I decided the direction I wanted to take (this was in 2002). I stock piled the skills and knowledge I would need to be a feature film director. And I knew the chances of making it were slim, but I was OK with that. I stared failure in the face the whole time. But if the chance came about, I'd have a shot. But I was prepared for the reality that I might not get a chance. Lots of people don't.
Two other things; have a better-half that fully supports you in your crazy dream. In my case, my wife, Christie, bore the brunt of this pursuit for the better part of a decade. The other is to pursue filmmaking with someone else, a partner. For me it was partnering with producer Dylan Jenkinson and forming Jenkinson/Goode Productions in 2008 that I finally felt like I was moving toward my goal.
You can't do it alone. Nor is it any fun when you are trying to do it alone.
And finally, what is your all time favorite movie? Or film festival movie?
My favourite movie changes on a weekly (daily!) basis depending on my mood.
But sticking with the outdoor theme, I will go with The Man Who Planted Trees. It's a beautiful, rich, animated short film produced by CBC that won the Oscar in 1988. It's a reminder of the barrenness of envy and rivalry and the goodness of endurance and self-giving. Watch it online and then tell me it doesn't change your life.
NUMB screens in the Closing Gala section on Sunday, December 6th, 8:00pm at the Whistler Conference Centre.
For more information on the film and its progress, check out the official website and follow on Facebook and Twitter at @numb_movie. You can also follow Jason Goode on Twitter at @jasonrgoode.
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
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3884
originally posted: 12/06/15 06:34:17
last updated: 12/06/15 06:43:30