A woman falls under suspicion when her partner seemingly disappears after reporting a domestic disturbance. Siobhan is an award winning independent film directed by, Bruce Wabbit. It was our pleasure to speak to him about the making of his film.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the making of Siobhan.
Two of the biggest inspirations behind making Siobhan were David Fincher and Chirstopher Nolan. Two filmmakers I have the highest admiration for and one of whom I've had the pleasure of being around and watching them work. I wanted to tell a Fincher type story with a sort of vintage Nolan esque approach. Something me and my filmmaking team have never tried before. I’m very partial to police crime dramas, but lately I’ve been trying new things. A question raised was, could we pull off a thriller? Then it became, could we pull off a psychological thriller? Only one way to find out.
Why were these themes in your film important to you to work on? Tell us about how the story started forming and developing for you.
The theme of Siobhan is love, trauma and the vicious cycle they produce. I thought it was a topic worth exploring. Here you have a character who is playing out their traumatic past through their relationships and isn’t even aware of it. This is love because this is what they were raised to believe. And that can be terrifying depending on what perspective you’re viewing it from. I took the concept to my mate and fellow filmmaker Joe Sharkey, and we started developing the story over a few months. Once we had everything in place, we started production.
Talk to us about how the film went into production and the most challenging or interesting thing about the process of making the film.
We made Siobhan during the height of the pandemic when things were locked down and all borders were closed. So virtually none of the actors were able to actually interact with each other. I had to direct most of them individually from different countries, over messenger and zoom while they used whatever media sources they had to record. Then I had them send me the footage to put together with everything I shot here in Vancouver. It changed a lot of the original ideas production wise, but allowed us to complete the film.
I was very sceptical that any of this would work given there were so many changes to the original story and outcome. But I have to hand it to the cast. They came through in a way that relieved a lot of my scepticism. The advantage of being a visual editor/ visual effects director is that you’re used to working with a lot of elements that aren’t really there. So giving cues to the actors was the easy part. They did the rest which was the hard part. And they nailed it. Salma and Joe share the most screen time together yet Joe was in Belfast and Salma in Vancouver. Same with Salma and Carlos. He’s actually in the US but on film it’s the same apartment they’re living together in.
What is the message of your film and who is your targeted audience?
Guess you can say the film is a cautionary tale about what we teach our children. Often how we behave as adults is a result of what we were exposed to as a child. Most times it’s hidden in our subconscious and we don’t even realize what we’re doing or why. Like a character in the film says, " It's not your fault. It's just learned behavior." We pass that on to our children in one form or another.
There isn’t really a targeted audience per say. I just hope that anyone who watches the film walks away either entertained or with thoughts and theories of their own. Something I learned from Mr. Nolan. And also don't be afraid to try new things or take advice from your peers. You never know what's possible.
Tell us about your next film project.
There’s two currently in the works. One I’m directing remotely that takes place in Belfast titled “The Crook & The Creek” starring Sohaib Syed and Joseph Sharkey. It’s set in 1930s Ireland about a hostage situation between a notorious bank robber and police inspector.
And second there’s a project I’m filming here in Vancouver titled “ Sobriety Killed The Lyricist “ starring Mike Johnston and Andrew Neary. It’s about two local musicians on parole struggling to write new music without the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Tell us about the most fascinating thing about the language of cinema for you.
It’s just the storytelling aspect of it really. You can tell the same story in a plethora of different ways. It all comes down to how you capture the audience. Which perspective are you telling it from and can the audience relate or simply be entertained. I have a lot of respect for the art of filmmaking, even if I don’t agree with the filmmaker or their choices. It’s all subjective at the end of the day. But I think you should give credit where it’s due. I recommend films I don’t personally like to people, because I understand where my bias interjects. I also caution folks to films I like, because they might not feel the same way, but to focus on the elements I think they might appreciate.