It was quite disappointing when the Vanguard programme of the Toronto International Film Festival was dropped to decreased the size of the festival. Â Vanguard was home to some great classics like Cold Fish, Goodnight Mommy and The Duke of Burgundy. Â Once more we were quite surprised that Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes stepped down which all had us wondering about the future of this beloved part of the festival. Â Peter Kuplowsky has taken over the reigns of Midnight Madness and has selected Canadian director’s Seth Smith’s film The Crescent who Â brought you the festival circuit favourite Lowlife. Â The Crescent follows the life of a woman and her child who embark on a dark journey to a remote coastal estate in order to deal with the loss of her husband. Â What should be considered a getaway quickly becomes an eerie and creepy downward spiral for her bringing her down to the pits of anxiety. Â FERNTV spoke to director Seth Smith about the angle of The Crescent.
FERNTV: Â Can you tell us here on FERNTV of why you wanted to get intoÂ theÂ film industry as a director?
Seth: Â I just get bored easily. I like keeping busy and doing a lot of things, visual art, music, writingâ¦ Film kind of combines all of those for me. There are a lot of different stages in making a film that keep things interesting.
FERNTV: Â Give us an idea of what inspired this story for this film and why Danika Vandersteen was perfect forÂ theÂ lead role?
Seth: Â AtÂ theÂ time of writing I just had my first child and there were all of these new, wonderful, primal feelings I hadnât experienced before. Also some intense anxiety. It was also a time when there were some deaths inÂ theÂ family and it really made me think about how precious and temporary everything is. So I really drew from that.
With such a young child starring in this our primary concern was to surround ourselves with good people to make things safe and comfortable. Danika is such a kind person and positive force.Â TheÂ two instantly got along and it just felt right. Sheâs also a super talented visual artist. Marbling is a pretty technically complicated art form and it was important to pull it off like a pro.
FERNTV: Â How were you able to cast two year old Woodrow Graves for this film?
Seth: Â He is my kid. We had previously done a short together, a bunch of home videos. I think itâs nice to involve family in your work. I spent a year making this film and spent a lot of it with him. And we had a lot fun. I donât think I would want to attempt it with someone elseâs child. Communication is so hard at that age and I think you really need to beÂ theÂ parent to know how they are feeling.
FERNTV: Â Was it difficult to film some ofÂ theÂ scenes that Woodrow was in and did he have an idea that he was in a film acting?
Seth: Â TheÂ difficult part was getting only one take each scene. We learned pretty quick thatâs all he hadÂ theÂ attention span for. SoÂ theÂ challenge became setting up multiple cameras and trying to give him and Danika a little space, and almost treat it like nature photography. Danika ledÂ theÂ scenes and Woodrow would mostly just be himself. But he was very good at line reading. It was a perfect time where he really liked echoing speech. And he definitely did know that he was being filmed. He likes workingÂ theÂ camera too. Luckily he didnât stare atÂ thelenseÂ theÂ whole time.
FERNTV: Â Do you feel that this film followsÂ theÂ tradition of Canadian horror?
Seth: Â I donât know. I grew up on Canadian horror for sure. Love Cronenberg. Lately, Iâm very inspired by allÂ theÂ good work coming out of Nova Scotia. Look out for Heather Youngâs MILK, and Cory Bowlesâ Black Cop also at TIFF this year.
FERNTV: Â DescribeÂ theÂ experience of how it is like to have your own band, Dog Day, composeÂ theÂ score for this film?
Seth: Â Itâs very affordable. No, itâs nice. Definitely different from writing pop tunes. More fluid. I really enjoy it and hope to do more. But Iâm actually looking forward to going back to playing a little rock nâ roll.
FERNTV: Â ExplainÂ theÂ feeling of having Raven Banner behind you in this film?
Seth: Â There arenât a whole lot of distributors in Canada and weâre lucky to have Raven Banner around focusing on smaller. genre, and weird films. Iâm glad they exist and weâre very happy to be teamed up with them forÂ TheÂ Crescent.
FERNTV: Â What are some ofÂ theÂ advice you would give toÂ theÂ up and coming filmmakers here in Canada?
Seth: Â Be nice to people you work with. Be open to feedback but trust your vision. Prepare. Donât wait around forÂ theÂ perfect time, gear, money, etc. Do it now. Keep active. Try harder.Â
FERNTV: Â How does it feel to be part of TIFF and of course everyone’s favouriteÂ MidnightÂ Madness?
Seth: Â MidnightÂ Madness isÂ theÂ best. Weâre very honoured to be apart of Peter Kuplowskyâs inaugural year asÂ theÂ new programmer. Iâm glad heâs also taking on some ofÂ theÂ weirder films that might have have been inÂ theÂ Vanguard section. And I canât wait for people to actually see this thing we made. This is actually my first year at TIFF and I canât wait to tear it apart!