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Whistler Film Festival 2015 Interview: HE HATED PIGEONS director Ingrid Veninger

He Hated Pigeons - At #wff15
by Jason Whyte

"A young man is pushed to the borders of sexuality, sanity, and to the edge of the earth as he journeys from the north to the south of Chile to fulfill a promise." Director Ingrid Veninger on HE HATED PIGEONS which will screen as a unique special presentation at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival.

I have to get this first question out immediately. I understand this movie is having a very unique type of one-time only screening with some music involved! Tell me more!

The presentation of this film in Whistler will include a live improvised score by B.C. based alt-rock trio MORNING SHOW. I first noticed MORNING SHOW was part of Whistler's Music Cafe and I liked their sound and exploratory way of making music. Also, I was curious what a trio would do with HE HATED PIGEONS. In Toronto, the live score was performed by Ohad Benchetrit and Justin Small of DO MAKE SAY THINK. In St. John's and Wilmington, North Carolina it was flutist Rozalind MacPhail who improvised her own unique version. I should really call it "live composing" because there is no set music, as every musician creates their own score. I connected with MORNING SHOW a couple of weeks ago. They watched the film, and we had two conversations, but aside from giving them one note as to not perform music in the first 6 and a half minutes of the movie, I have no idea what they are going to do! Whatever goes down at the Whistler Film Festival will never be repeated. The screening is a one-time-only event. If you want to experience it, you have to show up.

I am excited to have you as part of the 15th Anniversary at Whistler! Can't wait to see you again! We have met many times at festivals over the years, at Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, but tell our readers about your past Whistler Film Festival experience.

This year is my second time attending the Whistler Film Festival. My first time was in 2013 with THE ANIMAL PROJECT, which won the EDA Award for Best Narrative Feature. I'll never forget that Awards Brunch, when Academy Award winner Melissa Leo shot to her feet pledging $6000 in support of the pUNK Films Femmes Lab initiative.

Aside from that glorious moment that I was also there to witness, what is it about Whistler, either the festival or the town itself, that excites you the most?

I'll be attending the festival with my son, Jacob Switzer. He has never been to Western Canada. So it will be about the mountains, the movies, the music, and everybody in the hot tub.

Let's go back a bit. I know you have had years of experience but remind me how you got your start?

I started acting when I was eleven and it was my passion until my early twenties. I worked with many amazing people in front of the camera like Meryl Streep, Holly Hunter, Vincent D'Onofrio and behind-the-camera such as Rene Bonniere, Kari Skogland, Sturla Gunnarsson, Jim Abrahams, Dan Petrie Sr. Then, I moved into producing and worked with Jeremy Podeswa, Anais Granofsky, Peter Mettler, and Charles Officer, among others. It wasn't until 2008 that I started writing/directing feature films. This year I made HE HATED PIGEONS, my fifth feature. Next year, I plan to direct my pUNK Films Femmes Lab script, ROMEO'S HEAD. If you want to Executive Producer it, let me know.

I just might! Now how did HE HATED PIGEONS get its start?

Lead actor Pedro Fontaine answers this one:

I met Ingrid at FEMCine in Santiago. It's a women's film festival and they were doing a retrospective of her films. I was translating her Q&As and workshops and we got to hang out. I told Ingrid I was an actor and she said she wanted to write a lead role for me. Her offer was shocking, but exciting too. I was nervous because I knew it would mean a big change in my life, and it did. This summer I quit my job in Santiago and moved to New York to study acting full-time at the Neighborhood Playhouse.

Back to you Ingrid! What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

If I say I am going to do something, and people put their faith in me, then I am compelled to follow through.

So aside from the presentation of the movie at Whistler, what was your biggest challenge with making HE HATED PIGEONS?

This project has been the most intense not because I booked the crews' flights to Chile before there was a script, or because I planned to shoot in a foreign country and in a language that I don't speak, or because I promised the lead role to an actor whose work I had never seen. This film was the most challenging because every step of the process had to allow for the added uncertainty of a live-score. The idea of different musicians, in each city, improvising their own music was a commitment that influenced and informed every choice of making this film, from writing and shooting, through editing and sound design. There was no way the live-score could be a gimmick, it needed to be intrinsically woven into the fabric of the film so that it became essential. HE HATED PIGEONS deals with letting-go. Life is uncertain. Filmmaking is uncertain. And, I want the audience to feel something which has its own intrinsic impermanence.

I have always been a fan of your unique look to visual storytelling, so tell me about the visual design of the movie and how it was filmed with cinematographer Dylan Macleod.

In high school, I directed Dylan Macleod in a John Guare play, THE LOVELIEST AFTERNOON OF THE YEAR. In 2000, he shot a CFC short film I produced entitled, THREE SISTERS ON MOON LAKE. Over the years I have seen him at the Toronto International Film Festival and we casually spoke about doing something together. When I heard that Dylan had been to Chile and had an affinity for the landscape, I knew he had to be my cinematographer for this film.

Unlike my past films, which have a documentary hand-held camera approach, I wanted this film to have a wider and more formal gaze. We decided on the Sony A7s, partly for the compactability and partly for the prospects of experimenting with the unprecedented low light ability the cameras sensor has. In pre-production, Dylan and I spoke a lot about juxtapositions: Dry/Wet, North/South, Inner/Outer, Lost/Found, Life/Death, Light/Dark. We discussed the lead character of Elias being "hidden" in the beginning, and gradually more revealed as he opens up and engages with his surroundings. We graded the film to be subtly de-saturated in the beginning and become more vibrant as we get closer to the end. And we spoke a lot about capturing remnants and things left behind.

(Author note: see below for a link to a tech podcast from DP Dylan Macleod.)

After the film screens in Whistler, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to show with another type of live score presentation?

Stay tuned to as I have exciting screening announcements with live score coming soon.

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

I would love to show it in the 200-seat theatre in Modra, Slovakia where my great-grandmother worked and my grandmother worked. Live Scored by my cousin Brano Dugovic improvising on clarinet and Jan Slavik on cello.

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

Be curious, determined, brave, and work hard.

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

Can I say most traumatic movie? When I was five my parents took me to see BARBARELLA because they liked Jane Fonda. Those attacking dolls still haunt me.


ALSO: An awesome interview with Dylan Macleod pre and post-production on HE HATED PIGEONS. If you are a technical person listen HERE.

Be sure to catch the ONE time screening of HE HATED PIGEONS at #wff15 on Saturday, December 5th at 9:30pm.

As well follow the progress and future screenings of the film at, on Twitter at @punkfilmsnow, on Instagram and on Facebook.

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!

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,

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 12/06/15 06:09:38
last updated: 12/06/15 06:15:20
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