30. May 2017 · Comments Off on Five Questions with Lasha Mowchun, Director of “Hue Quilted Windowpane” · Categories: Canadian Filmmakers, Five Questions with..., Short Films · Tags: , , , , , , ,

In the short film Hue Quilted Windowpane imaginary love is better than real loneliness as Edi, a lonely woman finally finds love when Elvis Presley charms her through the television.

As a host of the Shopping Channel, Elvis can communicate with Edi privately as she watches the screen. He even dazzles her with a real cubic zirconia ring! But when he promised to come by to deliver the pantyhose she ordered from the telly, Edi must wait to see if the man of her dreams will appear in reality.

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Lasha Mowchun

Fascinated by this pop art gem, Ottawa Indie Fest had a chance to speak to Lasha Mowchun, director of Hue Quilted Windowpane about the inspiration for and making of her film which has its Ottawa premiere at Ottawa Indie Fest on Saturday June 3, 2017, 11:00am.

Where did you get the idea for your film?
I grew up as the daughter of a psychiatrist worried that, like many of my family members, I would one day become schizophrenic. My dad would often tell me frightening stories about people suffering. This scared me because of my family I am predisposed to schizophrenia. Luckily I never became sick with schizophrenia, but the threat loomed for much of my teenage and early adult life because this is the typical onset period.

One story my dad told me stuck out in my mind because unlike the others it wasn’t really negative. It was actually kind of fun. One of his patients was a very sweet older woman who had suffered with schizophrenia her whole life but managed to retain her gentle demeanour. Some of her delusions seemed kind of pleasant. The little birds outside her window would talk to her. This film is based off of a particularly dazzling auditory hallucination she had. She was a big Elvis fan and when she put on her pantyhose she said she could hear Elvis singing in her legs. Imagine being able to hear music through your legs! This idea made the illness seem less damaging. In this film, I explore the potentials of altered perception to teach us new things about the body and love.

Can you talk about the script writing process from your initial idea to final shooting script?
The script came to me in a spasm of inspiration. I had been thinking about the idea in the back of my mind for years, but never been moved to write, when suddenly the feeling came over me. I typed the entire thing on my phone in 45 minutes. Initially I never write in the screenplay format because I find that structure far too rigid. After the initial wave of inspiration, I adapted my writing into a proper format to make it more shoot-able.

During filming the script changed slightly because I let the actors improvise. Jean-Jacques – the actor who plays Elvis – had one especially genius moment when he says, “Thank you, Thank you very much.” (Please see film.)

Elvis Photo

Actor Jean Jacques Janvier in the role of Elvis

Lasha Mowchun

What challenges did you faced during the production of the film?
Hue Quilted Windowpane was produced during the Winnipeg Film Group’s 48 Hour Film Contest. The film was shot on a Friday night, followed by a 12 hour day of shooting on Saturday. The bulk of the film was shot on the Saturday at a neon and vintage warehouse called The Neon Factory. The shoot list was perhaps a bit ambitious for Saturday and we barely finished within the 12 hours. In the morning I let the actors and DP play creatively, taking perhaps a bit too long to shoot our first several shots. Unfortunately I think we spent a lot of time on some things which were less important in the big picture. Beautiful ideas can come out of moments of experimentation, but that must also balance with the shooting schedule.

What kind of feedback have you been received about the film?
The feedback has been really positive and we all feel very proud and lucky. In general people enjoy the aesthetic, the colours, the playfulness and the sense of wonder that Hue Quilted Windowpane creates. My Aunt Nancy’s kitchen television inspired the Shopping Channel themes. Her response was my favorite,'”I inspired you, Oh give me a break”.

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Actor Zorya Arrow in the role of Edi

What themes and ideas do you like to explore in the films you have made or are currently working on?
I can’t entirely map all of the different territories I have explored in my filmmaking in a coherent way. My journey as an artist has been a spiralling crisscross. Just to give you an idea, the first film I ever made was a feminist porn. It used crochet bits to realize the act of love through stop motion animation. It also included some live action. The finished work was presented as expanded cinema. The film was projected on my back and I sang the score.

I feel that this film set the tone for the risks I was willing to take as an artist. I have explored diverse themes including gender, representation, insanity, god, the story of my Jewish family, the holocaust and now I am trying the most horrifying thing of all; I am making a documentary by going in a completely new and utterly scary direction.

I am used to working on experimental stories with kooky style, but now I am completely out of my comfort zone interviewing subjects about their real lives. The film is called ‘Don’t Worry About It,’ and it is about how no one in Winnipeg is talking about the looming threat of climate change on the prairies. This is a completely new direction for me. It is the first serious documentary I have ever made. There is obviously less room to play around with weird aesthetics, but it is an opportunity to deal with real issues that matter to me. I am interviewing school children, conservative politicians and former oil rig workers and it is exciting!

Hue Quilted Windowpane screens on Saturday June 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. along the feature documentary film Heroes Manufactured at Ottawa Indie Fest.

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