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Victoria Film Festival 2014 Interview – CINEMANOVELS director Terry Miles

Cinemanovels - At Victoria Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

“I tried to create, with Cinemanovels, a film for people who love cinema. Cinema, its language, its effect on the audience and its unique ability to influence were my primary interests when I sat down to write the script. Because my last film, A Night For Dying Tigers was an ensemble, I wanted to make a film that followed one female protagonist.” Director Terry Miles on CINEMANOVELS which screens on the last night of the Victoria Film Festival.

If I'm not mistaken, this is your first movie in the Victoria Film Festival. What took them so damn long?

I’m not sure! I’m happy they got in touch and wanted to program Cinemanovels.

Tell me a bit about your initial background before your first feature, WHEN LIFE WAS GOOD, and what you were up to before you made motion pictures.

I started in music as a singer/songwriter for the bands Saturnhead and Ashley Park. It was making music videos for those bands that led me to film. I bought a camera and two wireless mics in 2007 and made WHEN LIFE WAS GOOD for about $500. We were fortunate that the Toronto International Film Festival programmers responded to the film and were kind enough to program it in 2008.

Your production company is CinemaNovel productions, and the movie's title is CINEMANOVELS. Is this your dream movie, or why did you decide to title THIS one after your company?

I named my company after the script. I had a version of the script finished around the time of WHEN LIFE WAS GOOD, which was when I named my production company. But it wasn’t until I met Lauren Lee Smith while shooting A NIGHT FOR DYING TIGERS that I knew I had found the character of Grace. The name Cinemanovel was something I came up with as a nod to one of my favourite directors, Krzysztof Kieslowski. He stopped making documentaries because he felt he could get much closer to the truth with narrative fiction films.

What was the most difficult part of making CINEMANOVELS?

Definitely finding the locations. This was a very expansive film to make on a micro-budget.

What was your single favourite moment or rewarding experience out of the entire production?

Getting into TIFF was amazing. The response from the programming team was so positive and affirming. Also, working with a crew of two is always exciting. The night Jennifer Beals, Lauren Lee Smith, myself and three other good friends/crew drove up to UBC on a whim to grab a scene. It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had shooting.

You seem to always be creating something whether it is a feature or a short, and you are so incredibly prolific. What's your process? What keeps you going every day?

I feel like I have a lot of ideas and not a lot of time to realize them. I’ve already got more feature film scripts, outlines, and ideas that I’ll be able to realize in my lifetime, so it’s a constant push to get things made. Also, it’s not easy to make a living writing and directing, so I have to constantly be “spinning plates” and “rolling creative boulders up the hill.”

I would love to know about the technical side of the film and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

I shot the film myself because I knew exactly what I wanted the film to look like. I wrote it in a very visual way. I essentially shot it on the page. In post production I gave all of the “films within the films” unique looks and deeply saturated the film proper.

I saw your premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in the midst of a crazy 11 days of movies. What was your experience with showing CINEMANOVELS in Toronto, and how were the reactions?

Toronto audiences are fantastic. It’s a great place to premiere a film. They had great questions and a great deal of enthusiasm for the film. It was a really positive experience.

After it played TIFF, how did it play at Vancouver Film Festival, your home base?

The screenings in Vancouver weren’t as full, but the audiences were responsive and, again, good questions at the Q&A.

After the film screens in Victoria, what is the future release plan for the movie? Anywhere you WANT the movie to be shown but haven't done so yet?

CINEMANOVELS will be theatrically released in Canada and the U.S. this summer, which is exciting!

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film in a cinema?

First, kick them right the fuck out of the movie, then send them to the Alamo Drafthouse website to watch those amazing trailers and warnings.

You're a helluva hard worker and no doubt have inspired many. If you could offer any words of wisdom to someone jumping into the film industry, what would you tell them?

I would suggest, if you want to direct, you should write scripts. A lot of them. Your first five or six aren’t going to be any good. Keep going. Also, buy a camera and a zoom recorder. Go out and make something. I’ve learned everything I know from watching films and practising my craft. If you live in Canada, you’re going to have to work on a number of things at once. Never pin all of your hopes on one or two or three projects, keep moving forward.

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?

There are way too many! I will say that seeing Woody Allen introduce YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER at TIFF was really cool, and Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling introducing BLUE VALENTINE was inspiring as well. But let’s go with Kristian Levring’s FEAR ME NOT. We saw it during our first trip to TIFF in 2008. FEAR ME NOT is a great film, and both Levering and Ulrich Thomsen were there to introduce and talk about it.

This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Victoria Film Festival. For showtimes and further information visit

Be sure to follow instant happenings of the festival and updates on my Twitter @jasonwhyte!

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 02/17/14 03:32:02
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