Interview with Filmmaker Dustin McGladrey (HOUSE AFTER)

HOUSE AFTER, 16min,. Canada, Drama/Historical
Directed by Dustin McGladrey
House After is an Indigenous story that takes place in the 1940s in the middle of the second world war in a cabin on the west coast of Canada. We follow a grieving widow and her child as they experience the duality of living an Indigenous life and the pressures of conformity from the church.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The film is my way of conceptualizing and dealing with my intergenerational trauma. I concluded that while at film school, I’d like to tackle my childhood and family trauma so that when I”m dealing with bigger budgets, I can deal with them in a good way. For instance, this film taught me that I must take care of myself in all aspects of pre, prod, and post. There were times on set when I had to step away and allow my DoP to take the set over for a few shots. There were times when my hard-working editor had to follow his instincts for a cut where I’d tell him, “Hey, I can’t watch it right now.” Understanding these behaviours I’ve had when dealing with heavy subject matter will help me immensely in the future. I know now that I need to have a work-life balance. I need to take care of myself spiritually. I need to know when I have too much on my plate.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

It took three years. I remember at 2 in the morning, while I was in a writing hole and could think of an ending, hitting me like the largest ton of bricks. I remember thinking to myself. What the hell? I cried my eyes out, all traumatized while writing the film ends. After writing it, it sat for a year before I pitched it. I remember in that year, it sat on the shelf, I’d hear more and more stories of the 215 children and mass graves, and it just became more and more important to film the story.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Beautifully traumatic.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

There were many. I’ll share one. There was supposed to be an animatronic rabbit that could breathe, bleed, and move. There was supposed to be one anatomically correct to be cut up on the screen. At 6 am the day of that it was scheduled to be shot in the forest; my props masters shed had a chemical fire and burned to the ground. I got that call, and my heart sank into my stomach for 1 second before I went into pivot mode. This is all after a long 13-hour shoot the day before. I gave my art director my card and told him to search the city for a rabbit carcass that could replace the fake one. They found one!! Rejoice! He went to defrost it! Perfect timing; we shoot that scene in 4 hours. He defrosted it in hot water and cooked the outside of the carcass. Pivot mode again! Find another one! He did, defrosted it perfectly, and then wrapped fur around it. It’s barely seen in the film because, in the edit, my editor pointed out that it looked like a hair turd. Thus! The Hair turd never made it into the film except for a few really quick shots. If you notice, we never see a rabbit getting its neck broken in those scenes. Breeze, the child actor, is miming a rabbit in her hands.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I had a couple of tears. It was important to me to hear that people picked up on the many dualities the film deals with.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I wanted to make films when I was really young. I remember in elementary the school did a video presentation about what kids wanted to be when they grew up, and I said: “actress,” not knowing that “Actor” was what I should have said. I got teased a bit. Didn’t stop me, though!

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Hellraiser was traumatic as a child, Taika’s Boy has changed my life, and Edge of the Knife showed me true west coast Indigenous storytelling through film.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Not sure! I haven’t been to many festivals.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I’m not sure again, unfortunately. I’m not that familiar with festivalling.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Sea Lion Stew.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am in pre-production for another short film called “They Met At The Beach.” It’s a psychological romantic horror. And I am in production with a shot documentary about Weaving matriarch Debra Sparrow, which is called “Living Weaving.” The Doc is sponsored by the National Screen Insitute.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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