May 2020 has been a surreal experience for most of us… just like April 2020, for that matter. One great thing about lockdown is that it has allowed us to watch even more films than before. And spreaking of films, our big winner for the May 2020 edition of TMFF’s awards was Susie. In case you haven’t read our review yet, go check it out over here. Director Jordan Doig has agreed to have a chat with us about his film, from a safe social distance, of course.
JL: Congrats, Jordan, on your achievement – we really loved your film and it came out on top in a month with really stiff competition! As far as we’ve seen, you’ve been racking up quite an impressive amount of selections and awards for Susie!
Jordan: Thank you! It’s been really nice to hear some positive feedback. This is the first project that I’ve ever written or directed so it came with a lot of nerves that I’d really mess it up, ha.
JL: I find the starting point of an idea really fascinating. Where did it all start in Susie’s case?
Jordan: This project started with the more surreal elements you see. I had a few images/scenes that abstractly illustrated the effects of a toxic relationship at the end of its course. I built out the narrative around that visual signpost.
JL: It’s always imperfect, but what genre would you say Susie falls under best?
Jordan: I’d be happy to say it’s straight up Horror, ha. It’s the genre I love and although it often comes with this idea that it’s possibly a lesser art form, I wholeheartedly disagree.
JL: My favourite film of all time is David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. And, while doing many things differently, Susie reminded me of it several times. Our reviewer also identified some Lynchian elements. Has Lynch by any chance inspired you to some extent, and if not, which films or directors have?
Jordan: We definitely had a few specific influences for the film. David Lynch was a big one, the way he can inject surreal moments into narrative and really amplify emotion is the absolute best. We also wanted some Argento style colour and Polanski tension/shot direction. I was attempting to steal from the best, ha.
JL: Congratulations for also winning the Editor of the Month award, very well deserved! How difficult was it to make sure that each scene conveyed the right emotions?
Jordan: I started out as an editor, and my current day job is in animation, so post-production feels like home to me. That being said… my early cuts of Susie were terrible, ha. I was so close to the story/shots/direction that I don’t think I could be subjective at all about watching the cut. The ONLY reason it got to where it is now is because of my producer, Ian McGuire. He gave notes that seeped so much more empathy/emotion into the edit. He really deserves this award but also, too bad Ian, it’s mine so you can’t have it.
JL: Also, congratulations to Stephanie Gould for her excellent cinematography work! Have you worked with her before?
Jordan: Steph and I started film school together back in Australia over a decade ago. We’ve worked on absolutely everything together since. From photo to art installations, music videos, and film projects. We share similar taste in aesthetic, style, and pacing. We understand a lot about what we both want out of art and she’s crazy talented. If all goes to plan we’ll be working on projects together forever.
JL: Did you by any chance have to do post-production under lockdown, or was the project finished before the corona problems started?
Jordan: A lot of it was done but we still had some sound design to finish. The sound designer, Mariusz Glabinski, was a dream get (again, thanks to my producer, Ian McGuire). He had done work with Cary Fukunaga, Robert Eggers, and Jeremy Sailnier… the list goes on. It also means he is super in demand. He was dealing with finishing up some remote work for HBO when the pandemic really hit and I will be forever grateful for his kindness to spend time to do an amazing job on a budgetless indie horror short… during a pandemic, ha.
JL: And speaking of the lockdown, have you managed to use the downtime productively? Any screenplays written whilst staying at home?
Jordan: I have. Due to feedback and recognition from places like your amazing festival, TMFF, I feel energized to get my next project going. It’s certainly in its infancy but I’m excited about it.
JL: Thanks for your time, Jordan! Stay healthy and keep making films – we’d love to see more!
Jordan: You’ll be the first place I submit when the next one is done. Truly a great experience with TMFF. Thank you all for the thoughtful process and time you give to the films and for the great space you’ve given filmmakers.