Wednesday, January 24, 2018


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Canadian filmmaker John Ainslie gave me the opportunity to talk with him about his life, career and many other things. John had his directorial debut in a feature film in 2005 when shot THE SUBLET, a psychological thriller filmed in Canada. We talk about the film's creation, the issues that had to faced in and his art craft. I hope you really like this inteview.
EFF: Hi John it is really a pleasure talk to you and first of all thanks for taking time out to answer my questions. When and how did you realize you wanted to be director or be involved into film industry?

JA: I always told stories as a kid and that turned into drawing comic books which turned into making videos at the age 14 or so. I worked a summer job and purchased a Hi-8 camcorder and just started shooting Monty Python style skits with friends. From there it was just a matter of taking any opportunity I could to work with professionals. I would skip school once a week and audit a video production course at the local college once I could drive. I wanted to direct, but once I went to the CFC Writer’s Lab I knew I was a director first and writer second. I gave myself 2 years to get a feature made and The Sublet went into production with a couple months to spare. Now I’m back to the hustle of getting the next one made.

EFF: Where are you from?

JA: I grew up in a small town just outside of Windsor, Ontario which is a city in Canada famous for car factories and strip clubs. It's across the river from Detroit.

EFF: You have made one feature film so far, and that is "The Sublet" in 2015, which you co-written too. How the idea sparked out, why decided make a film like this with its theme? 

JA: I owe most of the genesis of The Sublet to Alyson Richards (co-writer) she wanted to do a low budget horror and I jumped on board. She and I spent a lot of hours working on the script via Skype while she was in LA.
The Sublet (2015) | BuyBuy 2 |

EFF: How was the pitching process and the searching for producers interested in produce your film?

JA: The Sublet was unique experience in that it happened fairly quickly. I met with Cody of Black Fawn to pitch him a film that I’m still trying to make, but it was a more expensive film and didn’t make sense for what they were doing. So thankfully I had The Sublet in my back pocket and that fit everything Black Fawn wanted - low budget, one location and few acting roles.

EFF: This film explores a variety of interesting themes, let me ask you what angle or perspective did you want to express in this film to the audience?

JA: I mainly wanted to convey Joanna's sense of isolation from the world. It’s hard to describe, but if you’r a person and particularly a woman who’s had a baby you understand. Because your life is pretty much put on hold and the world continues without you. It’s a really emotional time and I felt that it was a great place to build a little psychological thriller around. The psychology of it was always more interesting than the paranormal to me because it’s real.

EFF: Any anecdote you want to tell us, something remarkable like to be remember?

JA: There's a few, but I was telling one the other day that I'm still laughing about. We didn't have ay PAs really and apparently one day the producers found one and sent him to set. It must have been his first time on a set because he brought a clipboard with him. The producers hadn't told us who he was or that we had a PA so because he had this clipboard and kept watching us and writing things down we all thought he was a building inspector and was going to shut down production so we were super friendly to him. We offered to get him coffee and never asked him to do any work. At the end of the day Chris Giroux, one of our producers asked me how the PA worked out - I said "What PA?".
The Sublet Scenes

EFF: When I see or glimpse to info details from your film, I see it was released at many festival, so I wanna ask you this; How it was the reception of the public?

JA: The premiere screening at Whistler Film Festival went over very well. People gasped and one man screamed as he jumped out of his seat. People looked pretty traumatized after the screening. I’ve had so many people tell me the film gave them nightmares for weeks after they saw it. Which I take as a compliment.
The Sublet Scenes

EFF: Why you decided make your first feature film on horror genre?

JA: How IT was worked alongside these such great actors crew? How was the casting process? 
I think horror is one of the better genres for a first time filmmaker. You can come at it from so many angles and bring whatever you want to it. We were very fortunate on The Sublet to have a solid crew who were committed to making the film as best it could be with what little resources we had. I was incredibly fortunate to have found Tianna Nori and Mark Matechuk. They both delivered such solid performances. Tianna really went above and beyond for the role and fully lived and breathed it for the month.

EFF: Are you a horror fan? What horror movies you like the most?

JA: I'm a fan of all films. I'll watch any genre. I'm a fan of older horrors for sure. Modern horror went through a period that didn't really excite me, but the past few years have really put out some exciting material and I feel like the next decade will produce some interesting stuff. Especially now that television is exploring the genre more. It's opening up a lot of possibilities.
John Ainslie

EFF: What directors has inspired you in your directing style?

JA: There are so many for so many different reasons. Strictly speaking of The Sublet obviously Polanski was a huge reference. But over the years I've watched so many films that have inspired my style like Claude Lelouche, Lynne Ramswy, Michael Haneke and William Friedkin come to mind and of course the obvious ones like Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick who have influenced everybody... I love Kubrick’s films. I try to watch them as often as I can.

EFF: What equipments, cameras you used for this film making?

JA: We shot on a Red Epic and we used Zeiss Super Speeds. It was my first time shooting with the Red and I can't say I'm eager to use it again. We had to jam the set up with so much haze, just to get some texture I could barely breath by the end of it. I also shoot long takes and the fan would come on and interrupt us or slow us down between takes waiting for it to cool down. You can read all about my cinematographer - Greg Biskup's work in the October issue of Canadian Cinematographer magazine.

EFF: What advice would you give for those want-to-be filmmakers who are undediced about how to shoot their first story?

JA: I would say wait. Wait until you decide the story you have to tell. Once you figure that out, the how gets easy. No two films are made the same, but what almost all of them do have is a screenplay that has been obsessed over. Work on the script. When it's ready there will be someone who wants to make your movie with you.
John Ainslie

EFF: And now if somebody gives you the chance to makes a horror remake, what would you choose and why?

JA: Tough question. Because I would like to dig into a film like "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" or "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane", but they're kind of perfect the way they are so why mess with them? I guess most people would probably assign me "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" based on The Sublet. I feel like that film could be updated. I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of remakes in general. 
She came knocking (2017)

EFF: What is new on your career, what do you have in mind?

JA: I have a couple projects I'm trying to move forward at the moment. One is in the horror genre and the other is more of an action/thriller. I'm in the process of working with a couple producers and trying to find the funds. I have a short film called "She came knocking" that is hitting the festivals in 2017. It's fun little short I made with Kimberly-Sue Murray of Scarehouse. It has a three minute "oner" in it which was a fun technical challenge to tackle.
John Ainslie

**John Ainslie's Twitter | Imdb | 


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