Writer director Ivan Kavanagh is an award-winning Irish filmmaker. With "The Canal" he has created a masterful psychological horror thriller. It premiered at Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) and stars Rupert Evans as David Williams.
David lives with his wife Alice (Antonia Cambell Hughes) and their 5-year-old son, Billy (Calum Heath). All seems well until David begins to suspect his wife of cheating on him and accidentally discovers film footage from 1902 about a brutal murder that took place in their home.
Examiner Dorri Olds sat down with the director and actor in Chelsea on April 19, 2014, one day after the world premiere.
Dorri Olds: What do you hope people left the theater thinking about?
Ivan Kavanagh: We left it ambiguous. I’ve heard all sorts of interpretations about what it’s about.
Can you say more without spoilers?
Sure, some people think it’s purely supernatural, others think it’s supernatural plus psychological and others think it’s just psychological. I love movies that don’t give you easy answers and leave you haunted. That’s the type of film I wanted to make.
How did you created the look of the old film reels?
I was researching old films stocks and read about this guy who had recreated the film stock that Auguste Lumière used in 1895. Lumière made all his own film stock. I tried to contact the archiver but unfortunately he had died. The next name I found was this guy who had all these old hand-crank cameras. He flew to Ireland with this particular camera. It had all the same exact working parts as it had in 1915 when it was used in the trenches in the First World War. It had been put in storage for decades and never used. When we got the stock back it looked perfect.
Did you become comfortable working with such an old camera?
The frightening thing about it was that there was no viewfinder. So you had to measure all the distances between the camera and the actor. You never knew what you were getting. So, we had an idea of the frame but we didn’t know whether the focus was right or what the exact frame was. It was a lot of chance and a lot of fear. We couldn’t afford a reshoot, so it either had to come out or we wouldn’t have any footage.
Was your stomach in knots during that time?
Well, you kind of put these things aside. I don’t worry about stuff like that.
You’re able to relax?
Oh yeah, I just get on with it. That’s for someone else to worry about. When, we got it back it was all perfect.