“Magnolia on Acid. A dark comedy exploring the surreal and delusional life we choose when we do no have the tools to love.” Director Wendy McColm on BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS which screens at the 2018 edition of the Whistler Film Festival.
When was the moment you said to yourself “I want to get into the movie business” and what have you worked on in the past?
Since I was a kid all I ever did was create music videos and fake talk shows on VHS with my sisters and kids from the neighborhood. It’s almost as if nothing has changed. I would say I’m surprised but I am more so in love with this sentiment.
So how did BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS come together? Hey that kind of rhymed!
The film came from a place of trauma and survival. Now being here with the final product I realize the film was made the moment before “waking up” for me or releasing old beliefs of unworthiness. I was looking for a way to be “myself” again and making a feature was just the distraction or moment of challenge for my life. I was ready to speak out on my experiences and it just took a website and a few calls to friends, and we began filming that following week. The film is scripted, and we started with 20 pages written and a basic outline. From there I wrote the script in between shooting days. There is ad libs in the film but no scenes are improvised. I thought if Robert Altman could do it, so could I.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What is your drive?
I think just pure joy. I love seeing images through a camera, and I thrive on truth or better yet, inner dialogue spoken on the exterior. At the time it was rare I ever saw that in real life. So filmmaking for me in short is like a drug.
So if you were to pick one moment that you would consider the biggest challenge of making the movie, along with the “a-ha, we GOT it” moment, what would each of those be?
Editing was so tough on this. I even lost my self worth for a bit thinking “Why can’t I do this? I was able to on short films?” Which is nuts. Clearly a feature is more of a feat. So just allowing time for the project to breathe and not rush or judge was needed. It took a year and a half to edit the film.
Could we get technical for a second? For my tech-savvy and filmmaking readers, I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how it was photographed.
We did all in camera lighting. Using simple tactics to make the film look more expensive. One light in a corner showing through as moonlight, or using all neon lighting which was natural outdoors. C100 and a cheap Canon lens. Some people ask if we shot on film. I love that! We didn’t but we lit it in a particular way to create highlights on set vs in post.
After your WFF screening, where is the movie going to go next? Theatrical? Online? Any dream screenings or exact theatre in mind?
Well! Awesome news! Birds will have its theatrical run Early Spring! We are so excited as this piece holds a mirror to audiences and brings a sense of wonder, questioning and or a feeling that we are not really so different from one another. I love the idea that the message of “You are not alone” will seep into a few more viewers lives. This all being said, it is so important to see a movie like BIRDS as it is directed by a woman, low budget and has no stars. Getting movies like this seen in the first week is so important to pave the way for more filmmakers. Let’s do this!
We do have a lot of people out there looking to be inspired and work in the industry in one way or another. What is a piece of advice that you would give to anyone looking to get into the motion picture business?
It seems cheesy but I am standing by this: If you feel you want to do something, you must. This is your inner guidance leading you to your purpose. And it is correct.
And finally, what is the single greatest movie you have ever seen?
This is one of the many movies playing at this year’s Whistler Film Festival. For more showtime information and on the festival itself, point your browser to www.whistlerfilmfestival.com!