TNC Film Interview 2020
A high-powered businesswoman meets a high-rise window-washer for an erotic rendezvous on opposite sides of her skyscraper window.
Hi Morgan thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during the lockdown?
The quarantine life isn’t too different than how I live between jobs. I do miss restaurants. And… human touch.
Is this time offering you creative inspiration?
I wouldn’t say I’m “inspired” by the events which are happening in the world, but the situation has definitely cornered me into a deeper confrontation with my work. There’s nowhere to run!
Do you ever get nervous when a new film is released?
Sure, yeah. When you’re in the process of making a movie, it’s like having a hot, secret affair. A perfect, private honeymoon in a remote country or something. Releasing the work is like having to suddenly introduce this person you’ve fallen in love with to all of your friends, family, strangers…Who wouldn’t get nervous!? What if this person is actually ugly and boring but now it’s too late!? You’re already married!
Your previous film Babysitter had an amazing response at SXSW, what did it mean for you to get such a great reaction to your film?
Being accepted to SXSW was a dream and I wish I had enjoyed that more. Honestly, it's such a personal film… I had a hard time promoting it without feeling kind of bashful.
Can you tell me a little bit about Squeegee, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
I met Blair McKenzie on the sidewalks of Toronto while we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant. When he told me he was a window washer, it instantly stirred something in me. Most of my friends are artists and we all bore each other to death! But here was this incredibly charming, attractive guy with great taste who risked his life every day for a job. The beggar in me smelled a story but I had to muzzle myself because I didn’t want to scare the man. We had only met five minutes ago, so I had to play it cool. We exchanged information and went our separate ways. For a couple weeks, I casually toyed with some ideas…very casually. And one day, the whole thing just came. I saw images of two people squishing themselves against glass, like animals.
You have an incredible cast what was the experience like working with Blair McKenzie & Amy Rutherford?
I saw Amy Rutherford portray Blanche Dubois in a Canadian production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams is a hero of mine, so I went into the show merely to entertain my visiting parents. I was very skeptical, and perhaps a bit American, doubting that these Canadians could possibly have anything to contribute to a perfect American masterpiece. But I was blown away by Amy’s performance — she had me laughing in act one and blubbering when the curtain came down. When it came time to cast the role around Blair, I thought it would be nifty to pair him with a professional like Amy because as a non-actor, he would make her more grounded and she would make him more polished. We rehearsed the whole movie together and developed it very similar to the way you create a dance. Amy was trusting of the vision but also challenged me on some of my weaker ideas, which really made the piece stronger.
What was the hardest scene for you to film?
The biggest challenge was creating a space for the actors to feel free and open with each other. This is always an issue on film sets. But especially difficult when one of the actors is hanging from the side of a 12-story building in the freezing cold and you can only shout directions at him through a walkie-talkie. But they nailed it without any help from me. My job was mainly to protect the space for them like a bulldog. Or perhaps a chihuahua.
"As far as writing, directing and editing go, those are all different sides of the same thing — just making the film."
As well as write, direct and produce Squeegee you also edited the film, how did you manage all these roles on a project like this?
The producing would not have been possible without the help of my friend James Rathbone, who is a great filmmaker in his own right. He came in to help me as a favor and the production would have been an absolute disaster without him. It made me realize how important it is to have fellow filmmakers in the trenches with you. Not just technicians but people who who are thinking like a director and empathizing with what you’re trying to do, bringing the wisdom of their own experiences in that position. I’d like to return the favor someday and produce for someone. As far as writing, directing and editing go, those are all different sides of the same thing — just making the film.
Does your acting background allow you to build closer connections with your actors?
Yeah, I’m very comfortable working with actors. Every actor is different but we all basically speak the same language. I know when to jump in and I know when to shut up. That’s the most important thing.
Where do you feel more comfortable in front or behind the camera?
I’d rather be strung out on the adrenaline of everything going wrong on my own set than sitting on the sidelines watching everything go wrong on somebody else’s set where nobody will listen to me.
Have you always had a passion for writing and directing?
Yes, my mother was an actress and she was often dismayed at losing out on parts. When I was six years old, I decided that I would write great films for her to star in so she could win Oscars.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?
Approach is always evolving. Overall, I’d say that I’m more connected to my instincts now than I was before, because I’ve abandoned them enough times to know how badly it hurts.
Do you have any advice or tips to offer someone making their debut film?
Don’t take advice.
And finally what do you want audiences to take away from Squeegee?
I want people to take whatever they need from it…My goal was simply to make something interesting enough to relieve you of your own consciousness for about 10 minutes.