Your new movie Facade
- in a few words, what is it about?
At its core, it is about the internal struggle high school students
face Ė or refuse to acknowledge Ė concerning their true identities and
how little they coincide with their reputations among peers. Itís about
how far they are willing to go in order to uphold this facade for the sake
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Facade,
and was any of the movie based on personal experiences?
an amateur high school filmmaker, I firstly need to narrow the scope of my
ideas to something that I know I can conceivably shoot. And since my most
common public environment is that of a high school, I tend to gear my
creativity towards subjects involving high school students. Thus my
inspiration really was observing the world around me, and the theme I
landed on was the problem of youthís confused sense of self-identity. It
isnít a topic that hasnít been handled time and time again, but I
hoped to bring a fresh approach to the subject matter as a youth myself
living within the bubble of muddled young personalities. My inspiration as
far as writing the story was simply determination to say something honest.
Having said that, I wouldnít exactly say it is based on personal experience,
as Iím quite certain Iím comfortably aware of who I am and unafraid to
show it. And unlike some of the characters in Facade, Iím
actually not familiar with any real bullying or delinquency in my small
Canadian school. Nevertheless it is known that such things exist in many
places, and the overall theme is universal.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
film undergoes many alternating tones between scenes, from drama to
tension to romance Ė and even some lighter humorous moments. While these
tones may differ greatly from one another, all can still be found in
everyday life at a high school. Therefore, one of the major goals was to
balance them and make each of them work without shifting from one to
another jarringly. In order to do that, a lot weighs on the believability
of the setting and characters. My way of attempting to achieve this begins
with paced continuous shots that focus and at times linger on the quieter
or less cinematic attributes of the lifestyle portrayed. I mostly relied
on the characters, with their speech and their silence, to set a mood of
authenticity. From there, my directorial style alters with each respective
sequence to fit the mindset of these characters. The editing, the
soundtrack and the cinematography range from soft to rampant based on the
charactersí situations and emotions, but in the end my approach
ultimately comes down to finding a tonal place that reflects how one
experiences or remembers the highs and lows of their teenage days.
supposing you didn't have a huge budget - how did you get all these
Thatís where I live! The school is
always free for me to use for a while after or during classes, so there
was no trouble in that department. Once I had extras, the production
design needed no work as the settings were already perfectly suited to my
needs. The outdoor locations are nearby and all I had to do was choose
times when I suspected few other civilians would be around.
From the looks of it, Facade
seems to be your biggest production by a landslide - so what kind of a
challenge was the movie from the production side of things, also compared
to your earlier movies?
In all honesty, there was only one
real challenge that continuously extended the production which was
conflicting schedules of the actors. Aside from that, it wasnít any
different from my other work as the scenes themselves were never
particularly difficult to pull off. There was one other setback, though,
when about a third of the film was accidentally deleted and I had to
re-edit it back togetherÖ
You often appear in front of the
camera in your movies, but not in Facade
- why is that?
Funnily enough, I actually wrote the central
role of Arthur with myself specifically in mind. It took some faith to
hand it over to someone else, but I realized it was what I wanted to do so
that I could maintain full control behind the camera. This was especially
important to me for the three-minute-long tracking shot, in which I
certainly wouldnít be able to act without constantly worrying about how
What can you tell us about your cast, and
why exactly these people?
Of the twelve listed actors in
the ensemble, only three are ones I have worked with (many times) before.
I wrote the character of Drew for my most common collaborator Trevor
Adolf, as I wanted to see his darker side shine through in a character
while still playing to his abilities with dialogue and facial expressions.
My other ďmuseĒ, Josh Tevlin, was meant to play Franklin from the
beginning as well. Itís a role that relies heavily on nuance, which I
have found he has consistently been able to convey with even just his
eyes. The other protagonists, Arthur and Emily, underwent a different
casting process. Scott Bernard had actually never acted before in his
life, but I sensed in his quietness and intelligence a hidden screen
potential. I went to him before anyone else (besides myself) to propose
the idea, by which he was surprised but intrigued. After an informal
audition, I began to see the possibilities more clearly and my confidence
in him grew more and more as filming progressed. Then thereís Conner
Dwelly, who plays Emily. The real truth is I had only approached her
because I knew she had a background as an actress, and I went in with
nothing but hope that she would deliver. I quickly knew that I was more
than safe, as her capabilities impressed me every time we shot. Along with
the rest of the ensemble Ė some friends, others acquaintances, and one a
drama teacher Ė I was quite pleased and grateful for the cast I ended up
Do talk about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Shooting mostly in a
school, with kids who go to school, trying to capture the essence of a
school, the on-set atmosphere was often that of any school project. For
the sake of the film, I didnít want to separate the actors from their
reality, so I tried to make the process feel relaxed and allow the actors
to have some fun Ė albeit grasping their full attention and cooperation
simultaneously. Due to the aforementioned difficulties in arranging
shooting times that catered to every actorís schedule, the whole thing
took about seven months to make.
Anything you can tell
us about audience and critical reception of Facade
For those who have seen it, the general consensus
is that itís my best film so far Ė many even say by a distance. I
couldnít be happier with the current reception.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
be taking a bit of a break as the school year comes to a close, to make
room for studying and all that wonderful stuff, but I do have one
screenplay written that I would love to make. Itís called Mourning
Day and Night, and itís about the complicated relationship between
two brothers following the unexpected death of their parents.
got you into filmmaking to begin with, and especially considering your
young age (17, if my info is correct), where did you learn the craft even?
16, actually. Iíve always loved cinema, but the thing that really
put me on the path to where I am now was Tarantinoís Pulp Fiction.
If I begin to talk about that film and how it shaped me as a person, I
will not shut up, so I shall refrain from doing so. Iíve only learned
the craft to the degree one can by simply watching thousands of films. I
believe that passion and love for film is enough to produce a quality
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Facade?
since I was a little kid, Iíve made short films. Granted, they used to
be ridiculously silly and horrible, but they do still have a piece of me
in them. I have seven titles listed under my official filmography prior to
Facade, all of which can be found on my
YouTube channel, RyJamCinema. Among them are horror films Nightfall Hunt and
a bleak suspense/thriller I shot in Vegas called Getaway Vacation,
comedies The Pinkett Scheme,
Deep Cove: Les Adolescents and
most recently The
Big Conspiracy, and tragic high school drama Tumble,
which until now has been my most acclaimed film.
have made movies in quite an array of genres - any genre(s) you lean
towards more than others?
It would appear that at the
moment Iíve made more comedies than anything, but I really do like
experimenting with all genres. Deep down, I think dramas are what Iíd
lean towards more than the rest as far as what I enjoy, and probably where
my talents shine most as proven by the two common favorites, Tumble
How would you describe
yourself as a director?
From the actorís point of view,
it really all depends on who Iím working with, and the conditions under
which Iím working with them. If weíre talking about the eyes of the
viewer, Iíd like to think Iím versatile in that sense as well. A
directorial flair unique to myself is still developing, and Iím sure
Iíll grow as a writer, cinematographer and editor in the future as well.
For now, I think Iíll leave it to everyone else to describe what Iím
like as a director. Is that a cop-out?
Filmmakers who inspire you?
big one, my God, the filmmaker everyone associates me with and who will
always have a special place in my heart and in my work, is Quentin
Tarantino. While my films may often differ from his, one can almost always
find inspiration, homages or references to his work in each one of them,
whether they be intended or not. Iím an obsessed fanboy and proud to
admit it. He really, truly did make me the person I am today, and that is
no exaggeration. I could praise and discuss my love for that man to no
end. The next ones down would be Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese and
the Coen Brothers. Stanley Kubrick, too. Also up there but more so on a
writing standpoint are Woody Allen and Richard Linklater, the latter of
which more so than anyone when it came to Facade. Iíll leave it
at those, but there are plenty others I adore as well.
Oh, boy. Pulp Fiction, which goes
without saying, as well as just about every other Tarantino film Ė most
notably Inglourious Basterds, while the next tier would consist of Reservoir
Dogs, Django Unchained and the Kill Bills. For Paul Thomas
worship Magnolia and The Master, and I really love Boogie
Nights, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood too.
Scorseseís Casino and Goodfellas are perfect to me, and Taxi
Driver and Raging Bull arenít far behind. The Coensí No
Country for Old Men and Fargo are big favorites as well. I
think Linklaterís Before trilogy is a masterpiece. Also Refnís Drive,
Ciminoís The Deer Hunter, Boormanís Deliverance,
Coppolaís Apocalypse Now, Nicholsí The Graduate,
McDonaghís In Bruges, and Wendersí Paris, Texas.
Farhadiís A Separation and Benigniís Life Is Beautiful
are a couple of my favorite foreign films. I could go on and on, but I
think Iíll leave it at that. And yes, Iím aware that most of these
happen to be relatively new. Thatís just what my taste has geared
towards for whatever reason.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I tend to stay away from films I donít think
Iíll like, and I generally donít have hatred so strong for a film that
it ruins my day or anything. Looking at my IMDb ratings, thereís nothing
I hate that everyone else doesnít hate as well. I guess Iím just a
very warm person.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/RyJamCinema/feed
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I think you covered it!
Thanks for the interview!