Whistler Film Festival 2018 Interview – Woodland director Jon Silverberg

“Set in 1989, Jake (Richard Harmon), an out-of-work photojournalist who struggles with addiction and a troubled past, takes a job as watchman of a wilderness lodge on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, alongside veteran handyman Sparky (Philip Granger). Jake sets up a darkroom to develop the photos he shoots, which begin to reveal disturbing premonitions of their future.” Jon Silverberg on WOODLAND which screens at the 2018 edition of the Whistler Film Festival.

Congratulations on your film playing and welcome to the wonder that is Whistler Film Festival! So is this your first time here and are you planning to attend your show?

Yes, I’ll be there! Our premiere is on November 29th at 9pm, and we screen a second time on November 30th at 3pm.

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?

I have been in love with cinema for as long as I can remember. I used to shoot and develop my own photos in the darkroom with my dad when I was a kid. But the realization that I could actually be someone who made films came later. After film school, I directed a few shorts films, produced 20 or so, and started my company Red Castle Films in the process. More recently, my short DISAPPEARED was a finalist in the Canada Shorts Film Festival and I helped to produce the Leo Award-winning sci-fi/comedy series Android Employed.

So how did this movie come together?

I wrote for quite a while, and then we slowly started casting, scouting for locations, and other prep. But the main character of ‘Jake’ was a tricky one to cast, since he appears in virtually every shot of the film, and it’s very emotionally demanding. Once I met with Richard Harmon, it was obvious that he really understood the role, and style of the film – and he was incredibly committed (he lost 15lbs for the shoot). Main unit was eleven days in Port McNeill, BC, then we came back to Vancouver for thee pickup days. We had an amazing crowdfunding campaign during post-production which kept us going, and after all the fine-tuning, the film was just completed recently on Halloween night.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What is your drive?

What keeps me going? Adrenaline. Coffee’s good too, but during production I’m usually so caught up in the work that I often forget to eat or drink, or sometimes sleep. So I guess it would have to be mainly adrenaline that gets me through.

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?

Since most of the film takes place outdoors, the biggest challenge was dealing with nature. We shot on the Northeast Coast of Vancouver Island, in late winter, and had to contend with strong winds, rain, snow, rugged terrain, and changing tides. Also cougars. An “a-ha” moment would be filming with a certain animal on set. I had never worked with animals before and it worked out surprisingly well.

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.

The film was shot digitally on RED, as we had a lot of night scenes. We used primarily natural light, and shot on a lot of wide lenses for a more immersive feel. We also used some extreme framing of certain shots to reflect the lead character’s emotional state. The whole film is through his eyes.

After your WFF screening, where is the movie going to go next? Theatrical? Online? Any dream screenings or exact theatre in mind?

We’re planning to take the film to more festivals, and also looking into a few options for distribution. Check our Instagram and other social media for updates at  @woodlandmovie

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?

Work hard, and hone your stories.

And finally, what is the single greatest movie you have ever seen?

Greatest movie is a very tough question. Single greatest film-viewing experience would be 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY. Kubrick was one of my biggest filmmaking influences growing up. But I have never seen it in the theatre.

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!

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