Out today in theaters, VOD, and Digital HD from Samuel Goldwyn Films and AMBI Media Group is the supernatural thriller Lavender, and we caught up with co-writer / director Ed Gass-Donnelly for our latest Q&A feature to discuss the making of his new horror film.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Ed. How did you initially get involved with Lavender, and what attracted you to telling this story that you also co-wrote?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: My co-writer, Colin, brought me a draft years ago that I optioned and we developed together. It was one of those projects that had to spend a lot of time in a drawer before we could figure out exactly what it needed to become. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of ghosts being memories frozen in time, that a psychological haunting can be just as terrifying as a supernatural one.
What types of horror can viewers expect to experience in Lavender?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: There is a constant state of dread that permeates the film and preys on your fears and imagination. I often think off-screen horror is more effective, it’s the fear of what is lurking around the corner, just out of sight, that can leave you on the edge of your seat.
Where did filming take place and what did those environments add aesthetically and atmospherically to your movie?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: We shot the movie about an hour outside Toronto. There’s a lot of lush, rural beauty around there, especially in June, which is when we shot. The original plan was to shoot the film in October with more traditionally creepy cornfields, but that would have felt so much more conventional. By embracing the lush green fields, we were tasked with making beautiful scenery feel scary, which I actually found to be much more exciting and unnerving. We even switched a number of scenes from night to day so that we could play against those visual conventions.
What was the shooting schedule like for Lavender?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: We shot for five weeks in June/July which, by indie movie standards, was a decent amount of time, but never feels like enough. I always wish we had 3-5 more days than we do, but I’m sure that’s par for the course with most directors.
Do you have any favorite horror films that influenced you while making this movie?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: Two of my favorites are The Others and The Shining. The Others was definitely an influence insofar as that it was the movie that made me want to make a horror movie. It looks stunningly beautiful and has such wonderful performances (not to mention a killer story). I could watch that movie any day and enjoy it.
When you look back at your time on set, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: Working with Justin Long always leads to funny moments, but sadly I can’t think of any that would translate hilariously in this context. I will say the most memorable moment might have been when we finally found that farmhouse. If we’d had more money we would have built a set for the interiors, but we were forced to use an existing location, so finding that place was so crucial. It really became a character unto itself.
Lavender is brought to life by a wonderful cast. What was it like working with Dermot Mulroney, Abbie Cornish, and Justin Long?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: Everybody always say this, but I don’t think I could have worked with a nicer group of people. Everybody was just so committed to doing great work, it never felt like “work." I was a huge fan of Young Guns as a kid, so I have to admit that working with Dermot gave me a secret thrill!
With Lavender coming out in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD on March 3rd, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
I’m directing a new movie this spring, but I can’t say what it is yet, as it hasn’t been officially announced. I will say it’s a really cool high-concept horror thriller that feels like an early Amblin movie and will get a wide release… and more will be announced in a few weeks! I’m occasionally on Twitter at @realedgd, but am trying to get better!