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Q&A: 'Belvedere' director A.J. Ogilvie discusses award-winning film


BEST SCORE WINNER, December 2022
BEST SCORE WINNER, December 2022

Belvedere

Written and Directed by A.J. Ogilvie

Composed by Steve Zink


Overview:


Cal reveals a hidden truth from his past to his older sister Katherine and her husband Murray when they help him move into his new place in a new town.

 







Q&A with A.J. Ogilvie

A.J. Ogilvie, Writer and Director of 'Belvedere'
A.J. Ogilvie, Writer and Director of 'Belvedere'

Q1: Tell us a little about Belvedere, Winner of Best Score in the festival.


Belvedere is a film about sharing past trauma and finding solidarity, as well as a story about the bonds between siblings.


Q2: Where did the idea for this film come from?


I wanted to tell a story about two people who had faced a similar situation, but on opposite ends of that situation. I also wanted to dive into the earnestness of siblings who have relied on one another and what might happen should one forge out on their own, away from the other.


Q3: What were some key challenges when making this film? How did you overcome them?

The original iteration of the script was written around 2019, and we went into pre-production on that draft right when the pandemic hit. Our production was delayed several times. When we finally had the wind in our sails, we were forced to abandon the project three days before shooting when a member close to the production became exposed to COVID-19. At the time, testing was not available. If we had to push our production again, we would lose one of our actors and lose the seasonality of the story, in terms of location. So we made the decision to abandon the project. This was extremely difficult. Over a year later, after making two other films, I was inspired to rewrite the script, recast the new roles, and finally make the film. It all came together in such a beautiful way with a more nuanced story. I’m so proud it came back around the way it did.


Q4: Tell us a funny anecdote or a memorable moment from making this film.


We shot the film on my 29th birthday and our unit production manager, Isaac March, conspired with the rest of the cast and crew to throw me a party when we wrapped filming on the day. When we finished shooting, they brought out three cakes and we all celebrated. It was really special.


Q5: How did you get into the film industry?


I started out as a writer and was encouraged to make my own films, so I jumped in head first. My passion emboldened me and made me unafraid to make mistakes, which was freeing. Of course, now having made several small films, I’m much more full of fear because I know how hard it is to actually make a film. But, I’ve made an effort to work with people who do what they do for the love of it rather than money. That’s been the through-line.


Q6: What films or filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?


Films by Lisa Cholodenko, Sean Baker, Paul Thomas Anderson, Todd Haynes, Kelly Reichardt, and So Yong Kim inspired me greatly when I was setting out to make films. I wanted to tell stories about people and how they communicate and how that affects them and their worlds. And those filmmakers are brilliant with that.

'Belvedere' / Photo courtesy of A.J. Oglivie. All Rights Reserved.
'Belvedere' / Photo courtesy of A.J. Oglivie. All Rights Reserved.

Q7: Do you have a favorite film project that you have done? Why?


Belvedere is my favorite film I’ve made. A lot the character of Cal is based on myself and his situation in the film mirrored my own at the time. Just as he moves into a new place, on his own, I moved into the house we shot the film in, immediately after shooting.


Q8: What advice would you share with a new filmmaker about filmmaking or the industry?


Surround yourself with people making films for what you believe to be the right reasons. Treat everybody, no matter their job or role on set, as if they are you and you’re doing that job. Value your department heads. Trust your instincts as a filmmaker and stick by them, but listen to those around you and let them know you hear them, even if you’re going in a different direction.


Q9: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?


I have another short film coming out in the first quarter of 2023. It’s called Half. And we’re in pre-production on a large ensemble short film called Rest Period, shooting in the spring of this year.

Q10: Where can people find out more about your work?


You can visit my website to learn more and to watch my other films. The site is www.ajogilvie.com. You can also follow me on Instagram @ogilvie.aj.




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