Thursday, 4 October 2018

Interview with Sean Devlin, Director of When the Storm Fades

By: Jordyn Rochwerg

There are so many amazing films this year including a selection of Must See BC films all created by local artists – it’s nearly impossible to choose! We were excited to get the opportunity to chat with Sean Devlin, the writer and director of one of the Must See BC films, When the Storm Fades.

When the Storm Fades follows the story of the Pablo family living in Tacloban City, Philippines during their day-to-day lives as they recover from Typhoon Haiyan. Their experiences are intertwined with the arrival of a couple of bumbling Canadian foreign aid workers who try to help rebuild the community.

Jordyn Rochwerg: What first drew you towards this project?

Sean Devlin: My mother was born and raised on the Island of Tacloban City, where the storm landed, so I’ve had a deep relationship with this place since I was a child. After Typhoon Haiyan initially occurred, I produced a short documentary there, which was when I met the Pablo family. I immediately fell in love with them and was inspired to help share their story with others.

JR: What was it like recreating such a traumatic experiences with the Pablo family?

SD: The scenes that involved much of the trauma were handled very carefully. There were really only three of us behind the camera, which is an extremely small crew. But, it helped to handle the sensitivity of some of these scenes with delicate subject matter.

JR: How did you go about recreating the events that occurred?

SD: The Filipino folk in the film were mostly engaged in reenactments. This is because there is a traditional protocol around storytelling in parts of the Philippines, which encourages people to think of a story with the same respect you would think of the remains of a person who has passed away. There is a hierarchy of who is able to tell a person’s story. I didn’t feel comfortable putting words in their mouths by writing dialogue for them in the script. So, the scenes were based around their experiences, but the dialogue was all improvised. Similarly, our Canadian actors, Aaron Read and Kayla Lorette, are two incredible, award-winning comedians who were also improvising.

JR: You had comedians act in your film and you are a practiced comedian yourself. How would you say that comedy affected the way you made a film with such serious subject matter?

SD: I really love the process of working with improvisers. I think it’s dynamic and fun, which definitely gave the production of the film a certain positive energy. Cracking jokes and finding a way to look at the lighter side of the situation was something that the Pablo family really needed and was able to lean on to get through such a tremendous grief.

JR: Lastly, what advice do you have for young filmmakers who are looking to tell their stories?

SD: I think that understanding who you are is a great place to start. When the Storm Fades was a journey that I went through while trying to understand my connections to the Philippines and my responsibility to the people there. I think that type of self-understanding can open up stories you might not have imagined telling.

When the Storm Fades

When: October 4, 2018 at 6:30pm and October 7, 2018 at 2:00pm

Where: SFU Goldcorp – 149 West Hastings St, Vancouver BC

Cost: $10-$15



Read more from Vancouver International Film Festivalhttps://blog.viff.org/2018/10/04/interview-with-sean-devlin-director-of-when-the-storm-fades/

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