DGC Ontario Production Disappearance at Clifton Hill premiered at TIFF in September and is now available on VOD/Digital. We caught up with Director Albert Shin and Picture Editor Cam McLauchlin (currently editing Nightmare Alley) to discuss the Niagara Falls set neo-noir thriller.
Albert: Since the film’s premiere at TIFF, Disappearance at Clifton Hill was picked up by IFC Midnight in the U.S. and will hit theatres Feb 28th. What’s it like to have that sort of momentum over the span of 6 months?
Up to this point, all the films I’d been involved with really worked the film festival circuit, but never garnered much attention from US distributors. So to be releasing theatrically in both the U.S. and Canada on the same day and have that support from our distributors has been a new and exciting experience. Hopefully that momentum carries over to the audiences!
Albert: Most challenging part of directing Disappearance at Clifton Hill?
We shot on location all over Niagara Falls, Hamilton and Mississauga on a pretty tight schedule, so like most (all?) directors, you always wish you had just a little more time!
Cam: Most challenging part of editing Disappearance at Clifton Hill?
Initially scripted, the film was intended to be a much larger piece, in scope and tone. Given various last minute challenges, this was not the case. It was originally written with this unique spirit and tone of geography in mind, and in the end I feel we were able to craft a version of Albert’s intended vision without sacrificing his original concept. We had to say goodbye to a lot of fantastic scenes and performances, but ultimately, the film was telling us what it needed. It was definitely a lesson in economy and pace, which helped develop the protagonist character more than I think Albert or I ever anticipated. That said, I have to give major shoutouts to our musical collaborators, Alex Sowinski and Leland Whitty, as well as Neil Haverty. They helped us take the film to the finish line, as well as our sound team, led by Matt Chan. I always consider sound to be paramount to my work as an editor (beyond design and photography), and these fantastic, talented folks bailed us out on many issues. Overall, the challenges Albert and our team faced actually proved to help the film and give it a unique voice.
Albert: Can you speak more on your creative collaboration with fellow DGC Ontario Members: Production Designer Chris Crane and Sound Editors Claire Dobson, Krystin Hunter and Paul Germann?
Our production was cosmically unlucky with some major location issues and if it wasn’t for Chris Crane’s Herculean effort, I don’t know where we’d be. I mean, Chris and his team had to design and build our own Clifton Hill from scratch, essentially at the last minute! And if you know what the actual Clifton Hill looks like, that is no small feat. But Chris was so attuned to the world we were trying to create, it was amazing watching him bring everything into three-dimensions.
As for our post sound team, everyone at SIM/Tattersall works in a beautifully holistic way and the effort and care they put into their craft was truly inspiring. They really opened my eyes to what’s possible in this realm and made me want to be more ambitious with how I approach the soundscape of a film.
Albert: What advice do you have for up and coming filmmakers?
Have something to say, and know how you want to say it. Then find great collaborators. After that, take some risks!