Credit to Author: Dana Gee| Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2019 19:00:41 +0000
When: Dec. 5 at 8.30 p.m., Dec. 6 at 3 p.m.
Where: Village 8 Cinemas, Whistler
Tickets and info:whistlerfilmfestival.com
What makes the Dec. 5 world debut of her new work even more memorable is that it is the first feature-length film from the Vancouver/Los Angeles based filmmaker.
“I mean the barf emoji comes to mind,” said Edwards who also wrote the screenplay and was the lead producer on the project. “I’m trying not to be nervous.”
Edwards is not alone in the newbie category, as 10 other directors will premiere their first features at Whistler this year. Edwards is also one of 13 female feature directors bringing work to the festival.
Now in its 19th year, the five-day festival is showing 86 films from 15 different countries. It also boasts the largest Canadian content — almost 70 per cent — of any film festival in Canada. The festival also offers creative and professional development panels and events.
While Fall Back Down marks a turning point for Edwards, she is no stranger to the filmmaking process as she has 10 years of movie/TV art department experience, short filmmaking and writing credits for TV on her resume.
But taking the reins of a full feature production, including launching it into the world, is another animal completely — something that is not lost on Edwards.
“… I don’t really know what I am doing so this whole process has felt like I am just in a constant state of about to be blindsided by something, which is a bit nerve-racking,” said Edwards. “But I think it is going to be wonderful because I feel really proud of how the film turned out.”
The film’s leading actor Andrew Dunbar, who is also a producer on the project, shares Edwards’ feelings.
“Nobody has seen it yet — I’ve seen it a 100 times — so it’s such an interesting place to be,” said Dunbar, whose acting resume is a testament to a busy career in Vancouver.
“I’m so excited that it is going to be screened at the festival; we’ll get some sort of closure. We’ll get to see it screened, and then it’s the start of the next chapter for the film. It’s nerve-racking. It’s super exciting. It’s all the feels,” said Dunbar.
Set in Vancouver, Fall Back Down is a romantic comedy with a punk rock pastiche. The story follows Nick, a heartbroken and listless activist who has decided to not invest himself in anything anymore. That leaden outlook has resulted in an employment record littered with firings from crummy jobs.
Finally he manages to secure a gig at a garment sweatshop, and meets the bristly, quick-tempered Reena (Aadila Dosani). At first the pair clash but all that changes when they discover a serious crime, a crime Reena is convinced that if they expose it they will become victims of the “textile mafia.”
Nick’s activism and the activists he is close to are familiar territory for Edwards. She called a “punk rock house,” home and has been an activist since she was young. She has been on the protest lines for a wide range of causes more times than she can count, and is still active in making her voice heard.
“For me, it started out being about the world I was in and the communities that I was in,” said Edwards, who began thinking about the story 10 years ago.
“I felt the need to put us on screen and celebrate activists who protest. It’s kind of interesting that the timing for that is more topical now.
“Without becoming too preachy — because I have seen many a film, an activist based film, go down with the preachiness — I wanted to paint everyone that I feel like are my people in this noble light,” said Edwards.
Another point that Edwards wanted to make in the film is how people react to big emotional upheavals and how the rest of society has a tendency toward wanting people to just get over things. That’s not happening in this story as Nick really struggles after his radical and charming girlfriend (Jacky Lai) heads off on a humanitarian mission and never contacts him again.
“What I wanted to talk about, too, is how slow I think emotional recovery is,” said Edwards.
“In media something happens and people get better. It all gets wrapped up in an hour. I just wanted to look a little more at how long these periods are when we are mostly falling and then just slightly getting a little more healthier and a little more capable and then one day you kind of look up and you are over something you have been struggling with. When you finally reach a point when you can move in a new direction.”
Made for a very tight $200,000 , with $120,000 of that coming from a Telefilm Canada grant, the film focuses on Nick’s bumpy journey. Played perfectly by Dunbar, Nick is one of those sad-sack characters that avoids coming off as a whiner thanks to some emotional depth and humour.
For Dunbar, getting a character like Nick was a gift that every actor loves to unwrap.
“I don’t get to go out for roles like this. Casting directors don’t see me as the punk activist, usually,” said Dunbar who has also been named one the UBCP/Actra Stars to Watch at this year’s festival.
Edwards knew Dunbar before this project, and she knew he could take some punk rock roughing up.
“I always knew he would do a good job, but I was shocked and thrilled and had that feeling, you know when something feels kind of magical. He is a star,” said Edwards who also gave big props to Dosani and Lai.
“You don’t worry. You don’t worry his performance is going to fall apart at any point. You just get to settle in and be carried by this lovely human who goes through these various emotional challenges.”
While the film’s spotlight is on Nick, there is plenty to watch in the surrounding characters who keep Nick from falling further into his pit of despair. It’s these characters that Edwards hopes to give more to do in the future.
“My dream is that Fall Back Down magically turns into a spinoff TV show so I can write all the characters I didn’t have time to explore in the movie,” said Edwards.
Dunbar said that Edwards personal experience of life in a punk rock house is packed with plot ideas.
“Don’t you just want to see that world? You can dig so deep into it,” said Dunbar, who just finished the Netflix film There’s Someone Inside Your House.
The TV show idea aside, Edwards is busy working again with Fall Back Down executive producer Chris Moore (Manchester by the Sea and Good Will Hunting) on developing another TV show.
Called Nowhere, the show is about a fraternal male and female twins who were bullied growing up in small town. There is murder and mystery, says Edwards, who is the creator and head writer on the project.
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