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Whistler Film Festival 2014 Interview: STAY AWHILE director Jessica Edwards

Stay Awhile - At Whistler Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

'STAY AWHILE is an intimate portrait of the first super group in Canada told by the daughter of the bands' two principals. Long before Canadian content radio quotas made stars of Canadian musical artists, The Bells burst on the scene in the late 60s/early 70s with ubiquitous hits such as Moody Manitoba Morning, Fly Little White Dove Fly and especially Stay Awhile which led to appearances on The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin and American Bandstand. Evoking love, fortune, failure and the ties that bond in a document of unforgettable moments. Stay Awhile is a lovely nostalgic look at the late 60s/early 70s music scene, as remembered by people who were in the eye of the storm and will stir audiences to question what, and who, we are products of.' Director Jessica Edwards on her movie STAY AWHILE which screens at the 2014 Whistler Film Festival.

Is this your first Whistler Film Festival experience?

Yes and I will be attending the premiere screening. What is NOT there to love about Whistler! It is a magical place. I spent a few months skiing in Whistler before heading to FILM/TV school.

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?

I grew up immersed in the entertainment business and had a love for storytelling. It was just a matter of time until I honed my style and vision as a filmmaker. Previously I have directed short films, commercials and creative content.

How did this movie come together from your perspective?

I knew I was sitting on a story that was accessible and one that forced me to be vulnerable, which I think adds a level of intimacy with your audience that is not always easy to achieve. Once I said out loud that I was going to make this film I was determined to find a way. It wouldn't have happened without my family agreeing to it and an incredible crew jumping on board. A true labour of love.

What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?

Loaded question. It was the most challenging thing I have ever done personally and professionally. I had to wear both the filmmaker and daughter caps.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee?

I have a hard time giving up on something that I believe in. I like rising to the occasion as dire as the circumstances may seem. The end result high is always that much sweeter when you achieve something that is not easily obtainable.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

Two favorite moments; when I watched archival footage of my family for the first time, and when Ron Sexsmith and I sat at a piano and performed my family songs together just before I rolled camera on his interview.

Tell me about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on/format and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

We shot on the Red Epic Camera. The digital cinema quality is amazing and there is room to play with final look and output. A lot of the film has archival footage so I wanted the current day footage to look sharp as the characters reflect on the more grainy times of their past.

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

I hear it is pretty relaxed and welcomes you with open arms. This sounds dreamy after making such a personal film.

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

If you love what you do, you will always find a way. Trust your instincts.

And finally what is your all time favorite movie? Or film festival movie?

My love for film knows no boundaries nor one genre. I will always remember the first time I saw CINEMA PARADISO, THE SHINING and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. And then there is also Wes Anderson.

Be sure to check out STAY AWHILE at Whistler Film Festival:
Saturday, December 6th, 7pm at Millennium Place
Sunday, December 7th, 7pm at Village 8 Cinemas

This is one of the many films playing at the 2014 Whistler Film Festival. For show information, tickets and for other general information on films and events, point your browser to the official website HERE

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,

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originally posted: 12/07/14 03:42:30
last updated: 12/12/14 08:41:19
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