On the Making of Giltrude’s Dwelling, An Interview with Jeremy Lutter

22 Jan

giltrude dwelling_poster_smaller.jpgBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Giltrude’s Dwelling is set to make its hometown debut Jan 25th, during the Vancouver Shorts Film Fest, and writer Marcy Waughtal and director Jeremy Lutter could not be any happier. This piece is about a young girl who has seemingly lost her parents. They warn her about the dangers the outside has, especially at night. Their home teleports to new worlds every day. The question of whether it returns is asked, and by only going to see this work, answers can be given.

One night, the folks leave and Giltrude (played by Kennedi Clements, the young girl, and Kacey Rohl, adult) is waiting for their return. Years pass and this young lady has a lot to fear. However, there’s more to this work than meets the eye. Lutter saw something unique in Waughtal’s story and he believes it is has a lot to offer to the viewer.

“It’s a fairly common trait to let bad events have a big impact on your future,” said the filmmaker, “I have seen it ruin people’s lives. I also had my fair share of heartache in my life that I had to see past and not let it stop me. As soon as I read Waughtal’s script, it spoke to me.”

Making shorts are relatively easy. It only takes days to film instead of weeks for a feature-length work. Between promoting The Hollow Child and working on other projects for Knowledge Network and the like, this independent work is the latest from Lutter. Both he and Waughtal share a love for genre films. While the director does not like labels for his works, the screenwriter certainly wants to challenge what defines science fiction and fantasy.

In an interview with We Are Moving Stories, Waughtal spoke about how she wanted to challenge perceptions in what defines a Canadian-made science fiction and fantasy film. She said, “[Producers] tend to discourage genre stories and write them off as low-brow. While I pursued art and writing in any way I could, I grew up in Northern British Columbia and don’t come from a background where fine art is all that accessible. Popular genres like science fiction and fantasy were, however, always accessible, and there are some creators out there who are doing powerful, moving work in that arena (works like Arrival, The Shape of Water, Handmaid’s Tale). I believe the more accessible a work of art is, the higher potential it has to connect people and foster humanity in the world, if you can hit on universal themes and hit them well.”

“When I met Jeremy, we instantly clicked over our love for genre films. [His] international success with his films (Joanna Makes a Friend, Reset, The Hollow Child) was inspiring and I realized ‘Okay, this can be done and it can be done well–and here is someone who has accomplished that right in front of me.’ What felt like a roadblock became a challenge to make a script that was the best genre story I could possibly tell.”

“Then we pitched [our idea],” said Lutter, “We got some money from Bell Media through a now retired program called BravoFACT, then had to make the movie and after that, we had a very long post-production with visual fxs and music put into place before it was considered done.”

Giltrudes_Dwelling -163.jpg

Waughtal’s tale takes place in a universe that is not our own. It’s simply about magical house which the filmmaker sees as a prison of sorts. Lutter wanted a lot of vertical objects to represent prison bars. It’s used to hold the protagonist back. She’s able to break free anytime, but there’s an unwillingness to move on. Instead of going out and enjoying all the adventures that this house can offer her, she chooses to not leave.

“The home is a metaphor for life. You can stay in your comfort zone or you can leave and explore the worlds outside,” revealed Lutter.

The foyer where most of the film takes place represents a threshold of sorts. She’s waiting for something to come to her instead of discovering it for herself. When one hurdle is passed, another will come into play. That’s this girl’s ability to empathize with others. She meets Oscard (Liam Hughes) and as for whether or not they embark on new adventures depends on reception for this short. Waughtal said feedback has been largely positive and Lutter is very enthusiastic to direct the continuation. Key to any part two is having the funding to help support it. Interest can only go so far. Perhaps a crowdfunding effort might be considered.

“I must also mention that my casting director Tiffany Mak is a huge asset,” added Lutter. Getting the right talent to be the guide, like in BBC’s Doctor Who, is just as important and Hughes is a talent worth keeping an eye out. He’s the type of spirit who can go unfettered to any strange realm and not be afraid. For him to be Giltrude’s shepherd just feels right. Plus, this filmmaker always wanted to work with this lad and Rohl. Additionally, to decidedly cast Jesse Hutch and Priscilla Faia as the parents were just as important. They had to be empathic. Intentional or not, they were representative of that adventurous spirit found in Jules Verne’s literary works.

When comparing this short to Lutter’s past works, similar themes also permeate which can lead to a shared universe. He loves telling stories involving youths transitioning to adulthood. This filmmaker is not against it. “My films are little different from each other and that might be hard to put together. But strangely I view them all in my creative space. I learn things from every project I work on and they feel like a family of sorts. There might be crossover, someday,” smiled Lutter.

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