Frame of Mind: To Toy With Audiences, Focus On What They Don’t See, Says Lavender Director Ed Gass-Donnelly (Video)

What makes a scene work?

Does it lie in the carefully executed plans of a film’s cast and crew? Or does the magic rest upon fortuitous mistakes, spontaneity and improvisation? What steps must be taken to convey your vision and intent? Watch our new video series, Frame of Mind, to get answers to these questions and more from commentators working in a wide variety of areas in production who’ll guide you through clips from their films, in their own words. Moviemakers and film fans: Grab your notepads, popcorn, or both, and press play.


Moviemaker Ed Gass-Donnelly first broke onto the scene with his directorial debut, This Beautiful City, which was nominated for four Canadian Genie Awards in 2008, and went on to be named one of Variety‘s top 10 filmmakers to watch in 2011 before landing and directing projects stateside. For his latest feature, the hallucinatory thriller Lavender, Gass-Donnelly renders a portrait of a woman (Abbie Cornish) suffering from memory loss who begins experiencing terrifying visions upon revisiting her childhood home.

In the videos below, Gass-Donnelly shares his commentary on the challenges he and his cast and crew faced during the making of Lavender, discussing how they shot small locations; how cinematographer Brendan Steacy lit the film’s farmhouse-bound set with LED strips; how they combined two rooms into one to free up the actors’ movement through the space of the set; and more.

Impressively, with the exception of one tiny closet (shown in the first clip), none of Lavender‘s sets were built, making Gass-Donnelly’s reliance on “classic sleight of hand” essential to build suspense and toy with audiences’ startle response. As the director says laughingly: “That’s moviemaking on a budget.”

Let us know what you take away from Gass-Donnelly’s frame of mind in the comments below.  MM

Lavender opens in theaters, on VOD and Digital HD March 3, 2017, courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films and AMBI Media Group. Video courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films and AMBI Media Group.

2 Comments

  1. Padrick P.

    March 9, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Cool. Nice to know that you can employ make-shift fixes like attaching lights to the ceiling and still have a professional look. Now I just have to find me a nice corn field.

  2. Tom Luca

    March 1, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I really like this article. Thank You for sharing.

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