Q&A with Lance Edmands, Director of “Whiteout”
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
I realize this might sound pretty bleak, but I can relate to Mia Farrow from Rosemary’s Baby. In my darkest days, I look at the people around me and think they have a secret desire to use the most personal and delicate parts of my insides for their own nefarious purposes. That is frequently what feels like to be a creative person surrounded by a callous industry that exploits our dreams and emotions for profit.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
There’s no such thing as bad ideas. Just ones that haven’t found their shape yet. If something doesn’t inspire me to start writing right away, I’ll file it away and let it marinate for a little while longer. Sometimes it’s just missing a piece of the puzzle that I haven’t discovered yet. Then one day, I’ll be at a museum, or at a repertory screening, or reading the news, and it will suddenly click into place. I think some ideas just need time to grow and mature.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Not really. WHITEOUT is my first stab at what might be considered “horror,” although I think it’s really more of a comedic thriller or suspense film. My friends and colleagues are all over the map; documentary filmmakers, commercial filmmakers, sketch comedians, musicians, video artists, etc… I don’t really believe in quarantining yourself by your discipline or genre.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere. I try not to limit myself only to other movies. I like to look at paintings, theater, photography, and other types of visual and performing arts. But the truth is, once I’m burrowing into an idea, I don’t usually look at a lot of other media. I try and keep the project as self-contained as possible. Too much outside influence can lead you to make boring, expected choices that have been done before. You have the let the film tell you what it wants to be. So I sort of let the film inspire itself, if that makes sense.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Funny enough, that question is probably why I made WHITEOUT in the first place. It’s really a “what would you do” scenario. I think we all assume that we’d make the correct moral choice in this situation. But when our “fight or flight” reflex is activated, you never know how you’ll react. I’m interested in the way our lizard-brain is often in conflict with our intellectual response. The film asks the question, what happens when our sense of fear overwhelms our sense of empathy? It can lead to disaster. Hopefully, that idea makes the film resonate with a lot of what is going on in the world right now while still being entertaining, scary, and funny in its own right.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
I would want my squad to be made up entirely of evil children. Damien from THE OMEN, the kids from VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, and THE BROOD, the girl from the EXORCIST, and that troll-child from DON’T LOOK NOW.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy, for his fashion sense. I have to say Stephen King because I grew up in Maine and he’s basically our unofficial mascot. Practical, because that’s how we did WHITEOUT and I respect the physical craftsmanship of it. I would say pre-apocalypse, because that’s what we’re living in now and it’s pretty fucking terrifying.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
The fact that we can contemplate our own death is at the root of everything. It’s existential. You can trace everything back to that essential fear of the unknown. We’d like to think we’re civilized beings that can grapple with this notion in a rational way, but we’re not. We’re primal animals. I like write stories about how people respond to the idea that nature is indifferent to our suffering and we don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I like to disassemble the stories we tell ourselves about our own nobility and grace. We’re selfish, impulsive, fearful beings and we’ll soon be extinct unless we can find a way to transcend our existential anxiety and truly see one another.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
It’s a tie between THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and DON’T LOOK NOW.