Your movie The House
- in a few words, what is it about?
A character-driven, one-of-its-kind
psycho-thriller/drama about lost souls stuck in self-imposed spiritual and
psychological entrapment in a haunted mansion.
What were your
inspirations when writing The
House? And to what extent do you identify with your main
terms of concept and style, The Shining, The
Others, Solaris were sources of inspiration.
I wanted to craft a story that is not a typical horror or thriller
for "cheap" scares but a genre film that challenges the heart
and mind in spiritual, emotional and intellectual ways. A story that
has something to say and ask of ourselves about personal and
socio-political issues like infidelity, moral ethics, spiritual conscience
and so on.
main character is actually inspired by a real life former Wall Street banker turned
journalist that I know named Nomi Prins. I've been
inspired and intrigued by Nomi's story of how she found success on Wall
Street but ultimately her moral and social conscience led her to leave
that world and became a whistle blower of that whole scene. Personally,
I feel that Jean in The
a character that one can relate to if they have been through the deep
self-transformational stage of life when one finds themselves at a certain
crossroad in their lives that begs the question: "Am
I being true to myself in living the life I am meant to?" In
other words, "Am I being
honest to myself about who I am and who I really want to be?" Anyone
who has truly looked deep within for an answer to this would be able to
identify with Jean in some way. As for myself, I have
certainly come to that crossroad quite a few times in life, the most major
awakening being first to come to terms with myself as gay and subsequently
coming out to the world around me.
House deals with death and the afterlife in a rather unusual way -
so what are your personal thoughts
on the subject?
I was brought up as a
Buddhist and have always believed in reincarnation. We are mortals
caught in this cycle of reincarnation until we have learned all our karmic
lessons and cleared our karmic debt through the cycle of life and
death. In other words, until we are completely
"enlightened" and free from samsara. I also know
that our physical lives are limited, but our souls live forever. The
purpose of our physical lives is to serve our spiritual life and soul
journey. In my spiritual belief, often times souls who have
not come to terms with their death find themselves stuck in limbo in
between the soul world and the physical world. They don't know where
they are and why they are stuck until there is some kind of divine
intervention. Unfortunately, there are a lot of these kind of
"lost souls" still roaming from hundreds and thousands of years
ago... so haunted mansions (and more) do actually exist beyond the silver
What can you tell us about the look and
feel of your movie?
It's nice that you were
able to appreciate that the mansion in The
House is actually also a
character in the film. It was my intention to design the shots and
ambience of the mansion that would turn it into a character like Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, even though the mansion
doesn't talk back. It's like the silent observer who sees everything
without judgement. The mansion is also like a spaceship hovering in
oblivion, completely isolated from the rest of the world. Even if
all the human beings are disconnected from the "real" world,
they are still trapped in their own quagmire. So it doesn't matter
where you are, or whether you are still breathing -- ultimately, you
cannot run away from yourself and the demons within.
Do talk about your key cast for a
bit, and why exactly these people?
Skye who plays the main character has been a long time collaborator of
mine and I wanted to cast her in a role that would challenge her to dig
deep within and also allow her talents to shine. The rest of the
cast are all some of the finest actors we have in Vancouver and we were
lucky to have them on board. The casting just sort of organically
fell into place and I am grateful that everyone just really took their
characters and ran with them in brilliant ways. It's never easy to
direct an ensemble of actors who have never worked together, especially
for an intimate setting like The
House where all the characters
needed to gel in one limited location and under time constraints. Every
single actor plays such an important part in the whole puzzle that if the
chemistry didn't work in one place, the whole piece just wouldn't stick
What can you tell us
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
it was a low budget production, we had long shoot days and everyone worked
very hard. Most of the crew were relatively young and new, so the
production wasn't like a well-oiled machine. There were challenges
due to lack of crew, time and other factors, but we managed to find
creative ways to work around issues. I am grateful to everyone on the
team i.e. cast and crew for going the extra mile to challenge
themselves on every level. On a shoot with limited number of
days like this, it’s always a blessing to have a team of actors who
“get” the characters and can deliver good performances once the
cameras roll – like we did. We didn’t have time for
rehearsals and the actors just all dove right in, fearlessly. They
really brought the characters to life beautifully. As we were
always racing against the winter sun and chasing the (ever fading)
light in this house of glass, there were certainly moments of high tension
and stress for everyone! There's also the underlying stress for the producer
(myself) that someone could break some glass or cause some kind
of costly damage to the mansion which belongs to a good friend of mine.
Fortunately, God was on our side… Thank God.
few words about audience and critical reception of The
House so far?
We've been fortunate
to have earned some accolades from several film festivals i.e. at the
Vancouver Women Film Festival - Best Screenwriting Award and
Performance Award (Natalie Skye), and at the Female Eye Film
garnered the Best Canadian Feature Award.
Any future projects you'd like to
I have several projects in
development - romantic drama, thrillers, fantasy drama. Updates can
be found at www.desireelimfilms.com
What got you into filmmaking to begin with, and
did you receive any formal education on the subject?
career started in broadcast journalism where I directed news stories and
documentaries. I studied journalism and communications in university
but did not receive any formal education in film studies. My
knowledge in filmmaking is mostly self-taught, and from my experience
working in TV productions.
far as I know, you started your filmmaking career in Japan - so what can
you tell us about your early days and early films?
went to university in Japan and my career in broadcast journalism started
there. As a student, I started making experimental short films
mainly on the themes of sexuality as I was very involved in the gay
community and activism in fighting for visibility in the face of
homophobia. My first short drama won a small award at the
Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and gave me the sense of purpose and
confidence that I needed to continue making films as an independent
filmmaker even after I started working in broadcast journalism.
Most of my early films contain social and political jabs at the Japanese
society in humorous ways. I liked to use humor to tell a story or
send a message back in those days. My short films led to my first
dramatic feature Sugar Sweet, which was a lesbian erotic
romantic comedy that takes a jab at the Japanese porn industry.
by Love was your first English language movie, right? So what can you
tell us about that one?
With my ongoing
interest and commitment to tell undersold stories with some kind of social
message, Floored By Love is my first Canadian film that
continues along those lines. It's the first Canadian drama
aired on primetime TV that dealt with same-sex marriage as soon as the law
passed in British Columbia where I live. At that time, the same sex
marriage law was not a federal law yet. Floored By
Love also gives voice to immigrant families that are still
struggling to find a place in the western society and deals with the
generational gaps between the young and the old. It's a family
comedy about how an Asian
lesbian couple and a mixed race gay teen struggle with their cultural
identities, and how to balance their family needs and relations, just
after same sex marriage is legalized in Canada. It
is available to watch on demand at Wolfe On Demand :
How would you describe yourself as a
am a collaborator. I especially enjoy the collaborative relationship
with my actors who bring more than any director or screenwriter can ever
imagine to the characters. They truly are the artists who bring the
characters to life. As a writer/director, it is such a joy and
privilege to see the characters I have created from my imagination come to
life through actors. I also love working with the director of photography who understands story and character and can enhance them
through the lens. Every production is always another learning curve
that takes a director to the next level of challenges and rewards.
I'm sure I am not the only director who feels they have grown up (or old?)
a little more after each film.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
are many but to name a few: Krzysztof
Lee, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Dardenne Brothers, Deepa Metha, Ann
Hui, Stanley Kwan, Jia Zhang Ke, Wong Kar Wai, Kenji Mizoguchi, Akira
Kurosawa… the list goes on.
The Three Colors
trilogy (Blue, White, Red), Certified Copy, Baghdad Cafe, Harold and
Maude, Undertow, Brokeback Mountain, Talk To Her,
Fire, Yesterday, Today
and Tomorrow, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Rocky Horror Picture
A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Star Wars, Chungking
list goes on.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Any film with gratuitous sex,
violence and dehumanizing intentions, especially misogyny and homophobia.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
House is coming to VOD across North America
starting June 1st, 2014. The film will be available on all major and
minor Cable/Satellite VOD operators as well as major internet platforms
including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play,
Vudu, Xbox Video and
more. Please check it out and spread the word!
House official website for more info: www.the-housemovie.com
Watch the trailer of The
House at http://www.the-housemovie.com/THE_HOUSE/About.html
Watch Floored By Love on demand at http://muvi.es/w2014/46523
You can like The
House at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-House-a-feature-film/181176908561453
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I think you've got it covered.
Thanks for the interview!