Best known as the drummer for the Vancouver-based band We Are the City, Andrew Huculiak makes his directorial debut with Violent, a beautiful and atmospheric film shot in Norway. Scored with music from the band and starring newcomer Dagny Backer Johnsen, the film tells the story of a young woman who, after enduring a catastrophic event, loses herself in memories of the people who loved her most.
The film will be screening next month during the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival (September 25th to October 10th) and VIFF had the pleasure of having director Andrew Huculiak answer a few questions about the film:
VIFF: What inspired you to make Violent?
Huculiak: The film was truly a collaboration between two Vancouver groups, one a band called We Are The City and the other a video production company called Amazing Factory. Amazing Factory’s goal has always been to make feature films and We Are The City often have paired with AF in unconventional means, so making a film together made sense in a complicated-to-explain kind of way. Because the film was quite an ambitious undertaking, the level of communication and trust between all of us had to be pretty solid. It would have been impossible without those things. It could be said that we inspired each other to make this film.
VIFF: What was the biggest challenge you faced while making the film?
Huculiak: The film is mostly in Norwegian. None of us speak Norwegian. It’s funny, because we always knew that conducting this sort of experiment would be a challenge in many obvious ways, but there were so many things that came up as we were already deep into the process. For example, when we got to the editing room with all the footage taken in Norway we assumed that we could subtitle each individual takes by referencing the script, but it quickly became clear that doing it without knowing Norwegian would be impossible. There were natural breaks mid-sentence and we’d be like “where in the English translation are they stopping?!”. Or things like small improvisations made by the actors — we had no idea what to do with those! That was a funny time where we felt like we were just treading water.
VIFF: What’s the main message you want people to take away from Violent?
Huculiak: There are so many pieces of each of us, the four writers, in that film. It’s a message on human experience, on memories and nostalgia, on relationships, on questioning the Divine, on death.
VIFF: Who is the filmmaker that inspires you the most?
Huculiak: It would have to be Paul Thomas Anderson.
VIFF: What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers in BC?
Huculiak: Make a film. Make another one. They’ll be bad at first and then they’ll start to be better.
Check out the trailer for Violent: