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Victoria Film Festival Interview: TRUNK director Martin de Valk

TRUNK - At VFF 2015
by Jason Whyte

"Cop or killer? She is convinced he murdered her daughter, and today is payback. His pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. Lies are useless, mind games backfire and the truth doesn't work. In the end, the only way he can stop this death-ride could kill them both." Director Martin de Valk on TRUNK which screens at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first movie in the Victoria Film Festival, and are you coming to Victoria for the screening?

Yes, this is my first feature film at the Victoria Film Festival and I live in Victoria, so I will be at the screening and party afterwards which is sponsored by CINEVIC.

Tell me a bit about your background and what led you into movies and film festivals.

I started out as a photographer focusing on B&W documentaries. Around 1997, I made a transition into film and have since that time produced, directed and edited over fifty documentaries for TV Broadcast. For me it was a natural progression moving from stills to moving images; they are both about telling stories.

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

A few years back, during one our weekly gatherings at a local pub, myself and two friends, Keith Digby and Brian Paisley who are both writers began chatting about making our own feature film, a film we could contain, in budget and setting. Yes, I have made many documentaries but it seemed like the right time to consider making a feature film. Keith came up with the idea of film that takes place in a trunk. It sounded intriguing, but it wasn't quite ready. We threw around ideas and went back and forth over the next year until we were all happy with the script. The key was to keep the film moving forward, story wise, while being contained in a trunk.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film? And the most rewarding moment?

The biggest challenge was getting everybody who was working on the film or for the film aligned, so we all had an opening in our schedule. This may seem like a no brainer; because I was asking favours from some key people it was important to make sure I was working within their schedule. The most rewarding moment is coming soon; watching the film on the big screen, at the festival with the people who helped make the film possible.

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

I don't drink coffee, but I do get intense. Pure adrenaline and the need to succeed and make sure I have done everything possible to get the best possible result. I like to get it right and push until it feels right.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

I have worked with Sean White on two of my Doc Series. He was the cinematographer for a six part doc series I produced, directed and edited for APTN. The series won a LEO for Best Doc series in 2011. Sean and I were both at one time professional photographers and worked with B&W film, which for me meant that he understood light and shadow. TRUNK lives on the edge of light and shadow. So it was important for me to be working with someone I trusted to interpret the feel and look I was after in TRUNK.

We shot the film using the RED and CARDINAL cameras. For each set-up we had two cameras rolling. The film is shot entirely inside a closed TRUNK. I wanted the actor, Kayvon Kelly, to always feel claustrophobic; trapped and not quite in control, and to feed off that frustration during the film. So prior to the shoot, I mapped out fourteen camera holes, all different angles that were cut out with a plasma torch. So the camera holes that were not in use remained closed. This way I could open and close any two camera holes I needed for the shot and maintain that claustrophobic feel I was after.

What are you looking forward to the most about having your screening in Victoria?

I am looking forward to enjoying the moment and sharing the film with the people who worked hard to complete the film together. It's a cliche, but working on a film is a collaborative effort, and maybe more so when working on a film with a micro budget.

I would love to hear about the journey this movie has had on the fest circuit, and the plans you have for the movie after it plays in Victoria.

I attended AFM in December 2013 and was able to secure a distribution deal for TRUNK. I then completed the sound mix at Pinewood studios in North Vancouver around February 2014 and finished the colour timing around April 2014. I delivered the film to the distributor last year May, so at this time it is up to the Distributor to get the film out there.

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

Same thing I would say to anyone texting or talking in any film. "Dude, do you mind, I'm watching the film!"

There are a lot filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

It is a balance between creativity and business. The film has to make business sense; passion and creativity feeds us on the inside but having a business sense and understanding what is possible pays for the food.

And finally, what would you say is your favorite movie?

My favourite movies are APOCALYPSE NOW and CASABLANCA.

For additional information on the Victoria Film Festival including screening times, ticketing information and other events happening around the city in the next ten days, point your browser to

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @jasonwhyte for live updates throughout the fest including Instagram updates, commentary and links to upcoming interviews and coverage. If you see me in line, please say hi!

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 02/08/15 20:55:19
last updated: 02/08/15 20:58:47
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