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VIFF 2016 Interview: LAVENDER director Ed-Gass Donnelly

by Jason Whyte

"LAVENDER is as much a taut psychological thriller as it is a musing on the fallibility of memory. When a traumatic car crash leaves a photographer with severe memory loss, she begins to suspect she may be responsible for the death of family members she never knew she had. And it features great performances from Abbie Cornish, Dermot Mulroney, Justin Long, and Diego Klattenhoff." Director Ed-Gass Donnelly on LAVENDER which screens at the 2016 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

I am thrilled to welcome you to back VIFF this year. I know you have been here before, too!

I attended VIFF in 2007 or 2010 with either my first or second film (THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY and SMALL TOWN MURDER SONGS, respectively) but after two kids in the past four years, everything prior to their existence now seems like a blur!

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background, Ed!

I started out directing theatre, then eventually migrated to shorts, music video, then features and haven't gone back to theatre now in over ten years. My first feature, THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007 and was nominated for four Genie Awards. Since then I have made three other movies between Canada and the US with LAVENDER being the most recent.

So how did LAVENDER come together from your perspective?

This was a script that had been kicking around for a while. My co-writer, Colin Frizzell, gave me an early draft years ago and we started developing it together. Since then, other projects popped up and got in the way which ultimately benefitted the creative development, giving us time to really figure what we wanted the movie to be. Then, once we attached Abbie Cornish as our lead everything else fell into place, including our other cast, Dermot Mulroney, Justin Long, and Diego Klattenhoff.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you, creatively?

There's not really any choice in the matter. Presuming you're making a movie that you want to make there's no choice but to see it through. And that should be a joyous thing!

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and how did you over-come it?

I know I'm supposed to have some epic talk of woe, but honestly, LAVENDER came together quite smoothly. There's always some tension about whether you will close your financing in time but frankly that's rather par for the course. If you surround yourself with great people it shouldn't, hopefully, be a chore.

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

The final day of shooting was pretty special because it had some of the most complex stunt work. I had envisioned how the crash sequence would work and it was very fulfilling to see it executed exactly as I had hoped.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film and how you achieved the wonderful visual look.

It's my third movie with cinematographer Brendan Steacy so our approach is almost second nature at this point. We have a very quick shorthand. It's our second movie shot on an Arri Alexa, though this time we shot open gate raw.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences at VIFF?

It's always exciting sharing your movie with an audience. We don't make movies just to watch ourselves! It is the audiences who give them life.

Where is this movie going to show next? Theatrical release?

LAVENDER will be released in theatres in Canada on Nov 4 then in the US in January 2017.

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

The Uptown #1 in Toronto, which, sadly, no longer exists. Rest in peace. (Editor note: amen, brother.)

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

I don't know. But Justin Long openly made fun of a texter at our premiere in NY so beware. You never know who is sitting behind you.

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews on If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

If you have a story that you want to tell then just start. Technology is so available and adaptable. That said, figure out the story first!

And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?

The premiere of BOYS DON'T CRY at TIFF was pretty special!

Thanks Ed for talking with me! Watch our site in a few days for an interview with one of the actors from the film, Peyton Kennedy!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 29th to October 14th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the VIFF app for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 10/04/16 03:39:59
last updated: 10/04/16 03:44:22
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