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Whistler Film Festival 2015 Interview: THE BIRDWATCHER director Siobhan Devine

by Jason Whyte

"THE BIRDWATCHER is the story of a single mother who has recently been diagnosed with cancer which spurs her to go on a quest to find her estranged birth mother." Director Siobhan Devine on THE BIRDWATCHER 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?

I have been to Whistler Film Festival before! I came to pitch a short film as part of the MPPIA Short Film Award Competition in about 2008. While I am at the festival I am going to do as much as I can; watch movies, attend panels, meetings and get togethers! I can't wait!

What is it about Whistler, either the festival or the town itself, that excites you the most?

The very first time I came to the Whistler Film Festival I loved it so much I promised that one day I would come back with a film, and here I am with my first feature film! I love the village and also the intimate nature of the festival. Each film is celebrated big and small.

Talk to me a bit about how you got your start before Whistler came along!

I have been making movies for all my adult life as directing is all I have ever wanted to do but mostly short films and documentaries. I started in theatre so that's probably why I love actors so much.

So how did THE BIRDWATCHER come about from your perspective?

I made a short film with writer Roslyn Muir called OMG and not only did it do well but we still liked each other at the end so we decided to make a feature together. She sent me this script and it just happened to cross my desk just after I had learned a friend of mine had died of cancer and the script spoke to me very loudly, so I had to make it.

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

I have a whole rolodex of things that drive me but the main ones are that I love movies, I love telling stories and I love coffee so these things seems to be a good combination to get me moving every day.

All projects are challenging in many ways, some more than others. What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment where you knew you had something?

The biggest challenge in making this movie was that we were shooting an ultra low budget movie right during pilot shooting season in Vancouver, and we wanted crew free or cheap and gear free or cheap. Our amazing producer Ines Eisses was very resourceful dragging film students out of their classes to help out and the cast and crew were incredibly tolerant of our limited facilities. The moment where I knew we had something special was a moment when I was sitting in tent in the middle of a forest in the pouring rain watching the cast light up the screen with their performances.

Iím about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

This film is about the story and the characters so I wanted to shoot in a kind of minimalist way. The director of photography, Peter Woeste, was totally onboard with my plan so we designed the shots to capture the action and highlight the performances rather than highlight the camera work. There are actually some lovely technical shots in the film that compliment some of the more dramatic moments in the story and those were fun to shoot too.

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

I am looking forward to screening THE BIRDWATCHER for the very first time in front of an audience as this will be the World Premiere of the film! I remember the Whistler audience as generous and knowledgable and I am excited to share my first feature with them.

After the film screens in Whistler, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to screen?

We don't know where THE BIRDWATCHER will show next but we are very hopeful that it will be programmed at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival in March so the film can have its hometown premiere.

If you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood of course because it's one of the most iconic movie theatres in the world and pretty much ground zero for the birth of movies as we know them today.

What would you say or do to someone who was being disruptive at a screening you were attending?

I don't know how to answer this as the disruption could be so many things, but I would definitely tell someone off for talking on the phone during a screening.

What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

Never give up.

And finally, what is your all time favorite movie?

My all time favourite movie is MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE.

Check out more information about THE BIRDWATCHER HERE!

Be sure to see THE BIRDWATCHER which screens at Whistler Film Festival at the following times:

Thursday, December 3rd, 6:30 at Millennium Place
Sunday, December 6th, 9pm at Millennium Place

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 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: 11/28/15 06:39:50
last updated: 11/28/15 06:52:47
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