Interviews round about "Lost And Delirious"

click on Interview or scroll down

PIPER PERABO - Radio Free Entertainment

Pool for love

No Mourning-Plants

Léa Pool's latest film leaves her Lost and Delirious

Lost Girls

And the Genie Goes To. . .

Judith Thompson interviewed by Marc Glassman

click on Interview or scroll down



PIPER PERABO Radio Free Entertainment
Interview by Michael J. Lee, March 22, 2007

Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment quoted from: Radio Free Entertainment

Over the past decade, actress Piper Perabo has quietly put together an impressive run of movies, working on over 20 features in that timespan. From fun popcorn flicks like Coyote Ugly and The Cave to family fare like Cheaper by the Dozen, from dramatic thrillers like The Prestige and First Snow to intense character pieces like Lost and Delirious, she has compiled a truly diversified resume.

In this exclusive interview, Piper graciously took the time to speak with us about many of her past projects. She is a remarkably friendly, forthright, and personable storyteller, and has an adorably animated way of speaking, with the tone of her voice constantly changing to fit the mood of her words. She also has an obvious enthusiasm and a refreshing truthfulness in talking about her work. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview her, and we wish her continued success in the coming years.

Piper's latest film, the dramatic thriller First Snow, is now playing in theaters. As a high school student, you were editor of your school's literary magazine. How did you come to that position?

PIPER: Well, my father's a poetry professor, and so I'm really into reading, and poetry especially, which this ended up being a lot of. [laughs] And also, when I was a student, my father would edit my writing. And so from the time I was quite little, after I'd write something, he would edit it, and then I would correct it, and then he would edit it. [laughs] So I had a certain sort of experience from very young of editing of writing. So when it came up, it was kind of a natural step for me. I had been writing for the magazine. It comes to me really easily. I don't know why I don't do that anymore.

I'll put you on the spot for a second: Pretend you're an editor again and pitch me an angle for a Piper Perabo story...

I'm not sure I know what the angle would be. I have a friend who writes for a magazine in New York, and she's an editor now, but when she first started out, she was like an assistant to stylists who would pull clothes. And she would have to pack up all the clothes, and send them out to shoots, and get them back all like, you know, f*cked up. And there was one story that she told me about where this woman that they were shooting--it was some big model--had just started shooting photography herself, and they had ordered all these clothes, and she and her friend had gotten a car and gone off and taken cameras and like driven for days, and just sort of photographed and talked and did this sort of journey. And I thought that would be such a fun way to do a story. You know, it's always so formal when you do interviews. And I think because of the timeframe and the sort of structure that's set up, it's a little hard to kind of get to know someone. And it was funny, because when she told [the story] to me, she hated it, because she had got the clothes back in a box and they were full of burs and dirt, and they were sweat-covered, and like they'd been in the car and all of this stuff. So it was annoying to her. But I think it'd be a fun way to do a story. [jokes] As long as you'd have to clean my clothes afterwards.

Looking back, do you have certain films you're particularly fond of just because of the positive experiences and relationships on set?

Yeah. It's funny, I was talking about this with Guy [Pearce] the other night. We were saying, "People ask you, 'What's your favorite film that you've done?'" And the question is interesting because, he was saying, there's two different things: the end product and the experience you had making the film. And a lot of times--or almost all the time, in my experience--those two things are never the same film. Either because you're working so hard that you weren't social and meeting people, but the result is good...Which was sort of how it was with Lost and Delirious. Although I really like the people that I worked with, I was so focused on the sort of end result of the picture, and I really liked how it came out. Whereas doing a movie like, say, Because I Said So... [laughs] It's sort of funny and sweet and cute, but it's nothing compared to getting to know Diane Keaton. It's insanely interesting. And this is like a complicated, intelligent, neurotic, sexy, beautiful woman. Obviously, films have been trying to capture how incredible she is for her whole life. But I think she's so amazing, no film has yet to capture how fantastic she is. And so in a movie like that, the relationships far exceed anything you could ever show someone in two hours.

Speaking of Lost and Delirious, do you feel that it's unfairly categorized as simply "a gay movie"? It seems to be far more about one character's deep, unrequited love than a commentary on social issues...

Yeah. This is another conversation I was having recently. It's funny how all things are kind of in the same zeitgeist. I think what makes a good movie is not trying to make a "message movie," but sort of following one character's vision of the world, and then you can apply that vision in a sort of larger sense as an audience member. But I think what makes Lost and Delirious a good film is that it's not a "gay movie." We're not trying to talk about gay relationships or lesbian relationships, or what's difficult about being in a lesbian relationship or great about it. We're not trying to give any kind of message. It's like one person's journey through a relationship. And I understand that when you go to the video store, you have the comedies in one section and the dramas in the other, and people feel the need commercially, I think, to label things so that they can sell them. But to me, it's a sort of tragic love story, and the fact the characters are gay sort of just happens to be the case.

If I remember correctly, Mischa Barton's character asks, "Aren't you gay?" and your character acts as though her sexual orientation isn't even remotely the issue...

Yeah, totally! And I think it's such a weird question to ask. I mean, when someone is like, "But wait a minute, aren't you [insert label here]?", the reason you're asking is because you're not sure. And I think it's not so simple, especially when you're young. These characters are all 17 years old, and nothing is simple then...I mean, I think we question who we are for our whole lives, but especially at that time in your life when so much is changing, I think questions like that don't make sense. When you say to a teenager, "Aren't you going to go to college?", most of the time, they look at you like, "You're a f*cking idiot." Like they don't know...They're still processing all this stuff. I've gotten that look a lot of times saying to teenagers, "Well, you want to be a football player, right?" or "Don't you want to be a writer?" And they look at you like you're so dumb. [laughs] Because they're wrestling with it, and they certainly don't have an answer.

Well, Lost and Delirious was our 2001 Editor's Choice pick for best underrated film...

Thank you!

It wasn't seen by as many people in theaters as we would have liked...

You know, it was made by a foreign director, and at the time, maybe you could say that the subject matter was less mainstream. But I liked it.

On a lighter note, it was also nominated for our Best Kiss category...

Thanks! Yeah, she's cute, Jessica Pare.

Was that scene a tough one for you?

Uh...The kiss? No. She's, you know, quite good looking. [jokes] She brushes her teeth.

You've tackled different accents in movies like Slap Her...She's French and Imagine Me and You. You've previously said that certain words give you trouble, but do you find it pretty easy to take on an alternate voice, for the most part?

It's different for different accents. Like I can't do Australian. I don't know why, but I can't. But I can do English with sort of no problem. And I think it has to do with people I've known. Like a lot of times when I'm doing an accent, I'm doing a voice that's already in my head from someone I've known. And maybe I've never heard them say the word that I have problems with. Slap Her...She's French is sort of different, because I was a fake--you know, she's forging her identity.

And it's supposed to be exaggerated...

It's supposed to be exaggerated and she's a phony. And that can be sort of weird, because it can't be too on and it can't be too off. I remember I talked with Ryan Phillippe once about it years later, because he does that sort of phony forgery in Gosford Park. And I was saying, "God, you're one of the only people I know who had to do a serious character with a phony accent." And he's like, "It's such a bitch, right?" Just how messy you get it is important. It's tricky.

You starred in both The Cave and Imagine Me and You with your friend Lena Headey. What was it like making that transition from grueling underwater cave shoots to blissfully happy wedding scenes together?

It's much better to be in a wedding dress in Primrose Hill in London. It's much more comfortable than SCUBA gear and monster shots. You know, we did The Cave first, and it's all boys except for us, and we're in Romania, and it's very grueling, and we're underground, and the guy who plays the monster is like sort of annoying. [laughs] And it was just exhausting. And when you make friends with an actor like that, and then the movie gets to be very grueling, you cling to each other like the buddy system, you know? And so when Imagine Me and You came up and she and I had become friends doing Cave, it was great because we had such an intense friendship built during that movie, and had sort of stayed friends. And this picture came along and it made so much sense for both of us. And talk about being three steps ahead by the time you start. Like I borrow her clothes, you know what I mean? Like we're really, really close. And so you can kind of jump to a much higher level quicker because you have a lot of the groundwork done.

So she's one of the friends you've picked up along the way in this whole wacky business...


I think she has a very cool sense of humor. Have you gotten the chance to see her in 300 yet?

I've only seen pieces of 300. I'm kind of dying to see it. She's so cool. She was just out here doing press for it, and I was sorry that I missed her.

I have a quote about you from another of your co-stars. When we spoke to Mandy Moore for Because I Said So, she talked about the underwear scene with the gals, saying, "Piper was fine. She was the one, I think right off the bat, that was like, 'Yeah, that's all right, I'll be in a thong, I don't care.' And Lauren [Graham] and I were petrified." Were you really that comfortable, or is your brazenness slightly exaggerated?

I'm really comfortable with that. I mean, like, I have a great butt, and I'm totally not afraid of that.

[Editor's note: I love how she can tell it like it is without coming across as conceited.]

Right on.

I was living in a canyon and running in the morning. And I sort of teased Mandy about this, because I was like, "Babe, you've known we're doing a butt shot for a month!" I mean, she's got a slammingly beautiful body. It's soooo gorgeous. And if you sort of don't like something about yourself, like your butt, you can just like run some stairs...You know what I mean? So I sort of teased her about that. And she does have kind of a great ass. So does Diane. Well, they all do, frankly, but Mandy's is particularly...nice.

[brain freezes, stammers] Sorry. Everyone seemed to have great off-camera chemistry on that film. Was it a lot of just hanging out in the downtime?

There was a lot of hanging out. The three of them live here [in Los Angeles], and I was renting a house here at the time. But the four of us got on really well. For some reason, it was just like that from the start. You know, some people you just click with. And we all sort of idolized Diane, and we all sort of like the same music and the same movies and know a lot of the same people, and those people were coming to visit. And it was all so sort of gabby gabby and gossipy girlie stuff. It just kind of started that way.

With all the traveling you've done over the years, do you have a favorite destination to visit?

Well, really, because I travel so much, my favorite sort of place is being at home in New York. I have done a couple of small things there. We shot some of Coyote there. But mostly I don't get to be there. And my brothers live there, and I live there because it's my favorite city. Everybody else, when they get vacation, they go somewhere. When I get vacation, I go home.

Singing is part of your whole arsenal of skills, and yet all your character's singing in Coyote Ugly was done by LeAnn Rimes. Why didn't they use your own voice?

Well, there's a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons is I'm an alto, and I have sort of a lower voice. My real singing voice is low. And LeAnn has this kind of big, belter, soprano voice. And for a character like this whose sort of like a dreamer who breaks out of her shell and kind of knocks the world sideways, when they finished the film, they felt like my voice isn't really the right type of voice for the character. And so they started going around and looking. And LeAnn has this kind of hopefulness, and a sort of like bright young quality, and very strong voice. And she said she would do it. And it makes more sense in the film, I think.

In that movie, you played a young woman who was following her dream of performing at a time when your own career was taking off. Did you find yourself relating to that character in a big way because of the parallel?

In some ways in that time, I was the character. It's a movie about a girl who moves from New Jersey and cocktail waitresses until she gets her dream. And when I went in to meet [director David McNally] for the first time--I had scenes to do and a song to sing and a guitar--I was like, "Before we start, let me just tell you who I am. I just got here from New Jersey, I cocktail waitressed around Union Square, and I can sing and play the guitar. You ready to go?" You know what I mean? Like it was sort of like I had all the arsenal. I was playing a lot of things that were really familiar.

Having been so busy shooting films for the last few years, have you had any time for stage theatre?

I haven't recently. But I sort of started looking at it again. Because I live in New York, I meet more playwrights and things like that than I meet out here [in Los Angeles]. And I just did a reading of a new play with this playwright that I love, and we're talking about maybe putting that up. But the right thing hasn't sort of come along. Or when it has, then somebody got a movie, or got to write a movie, and had to bugger off.

Is stage something you might pursue more actively now that you've finished shooting your current projects, Ashes and Carriers?

I might...We'll see. You know, as a film actor, if you sort of step on the New York stage and you misstep, they'll crucify you. So you better be sure that you can knock it out of the park. I mean, it's the same in London. I think it's a little easier if you step slightly off the coast a little bit--the Atlantic coast, anyway. But yeah, I'll be real careful before I get on the stage in New York.

Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you very much...Nice to meet you!


Pool for love
On Screen / Mistress of the deep end

Story by Rachel Giese - quoted from: Xtra Jul 26 2001

""I’m just a lucky person."

This is Quebec filmmaker Léa Pool’s explanation for all the good things in her life: her chosen country, her widely acclaimed career as one of Canada’s master directors and her much adored young daughter.

She says it with an elegant shrug and a half-apologetic smile, as if too much boastfulness might somehow jinx her good fortune.
"Honestly, I’ve never pushed for anything consciously," says Pool. "I’ve just been very, very open to the signals I’ve been sent.

"I came to Canada because my boyfriend at the time was moving here. I adopted my daughter after a friend told me that she had successfully adopted a child as a single woman — something I thought was not possible. I became a filmmaker because I happened to take an editing class when I was studying communications. See, my life is full of happy accidents."

The latest happy accident is Pool’s seventh film and her first English-language feature, Lost And Delirious. Based on the novel The Wives Of Bath by author Susan Swan (Stupid Boys Are Good To Relax With) and adapted for the screen by playwright Judith Thompson (White Biting Dog), it boasts a stunning provenance of Canadian female talent.

The romantic coming-of-age story chronicles the friendship of three teenage girls at an all-female boarding school. It premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim and opens in Toronto on Fri, Jul 27.

Pool read Swan’s novel six years ago at the request of a producer who had optioned the book and was searching for a director. "I admired the novel, but I wasn’t ready yet to work in English and I was afraid of the ending. I had no idea of how to film it."

Then came the great success of Pool’s 1999 film Emporte-Moi (Set Me Free), which picked up an armful of film fest awards from Berlin to New York, including being named the best Canadian film of 1999 by the Toronto Film Critics Association. Swan saw the film and felt that Pool would be the perfect fit; the filmmaker was approached again. This time Pool felt ready.

"I never set out to work in English, I never felt it was important or necessary. But this time it felt right. I could feel that it was a good time, after the success of Emporte-Moi. And I liked the script, which was important, because even if a book is a great book, a book is not a film."

(The ending of film is different than the novel, but in the interest of not spoiling either, I won’t reveal how. Pool simply says that the film’s conclusion is a little less "sensational" than the book’s.)

Lost and Delirious stars Mischa Barton (The Sixth Sense) as Mary, or Mouse as she prefers, who is dumped off at the chi-chi Perkins Girls’ College by her cold stepmother and her increasingly distant father. She winds up sharing a room with the beautiful and privileged Tory (Stardom’s Jessica Paré) and the free-spirited rebel Paulie (Piper Perabo of Coyote Ugly).

The three become close friends, bonding over their feelings of despair — Mouse’s grief for her dead mother, Tory’s frustration with her exacting parents and Paulie’s search for her birth mother.

After discovering them in a couple of late-night trysts, Mouse realizes that Tory and Paulie are secret lovers. She matter-of-factly accepts the situation and, for a time, the three settle into an adolescent idyll. Then Tory’s prissy younger sister catches Tory and Paulie in bed together. Torn between her conservative parents and her love for Paulie, Tory pulls away, denying the relationship. Unwilling to give her up, Paulie sets out a mission to win Tory back.

Beautifully shot and directed and aided by Thompson’s dead-on script, Pool exacts great performances from the three young actors, brilliantly capturing the emotional intensity of female adolescence. The delightful surprise is Perabo, who steals the film with her dynamic reckless energy and her tomboy swagger.

An uncompromising, passionate and doomed heroine in the spirit of Antigone, her Paulie has tragedy written all over her.
"It’s a very scary time of life," says Pool. "I wanted to be very careful to have these girls speak from an adolescent point of view. I didn’t want to have this adult voice running the show and putting them in a kind of zoo for display.

"These three girls do not have the love they need, but they also can’t accept it when they are given it. That’s the problem with love, isn’t it? It’s either too much, or too little. I wanted the film to explore that through Paulie, who loses her great love, but also can’t accept the love of Mouse or the love of her teacher Miss Vaughn — who both want to help her. And that ultimately leads her to her tragedy. I want the audience right there with her. I want the audience to be able to go as far as Paulie goes."

One place that Paulie won’t go is accepting the label "gay." When Mouse attempts to comfort her by explaining that Tory probably isn’t a lesbian, Paulie says that she isn’t one, either. Pool says she felt the line is essential to understanding the character. "It would be wrong to see it as a denial. After all, Paulie announces her love for Tory very publicly.

"For her, their love is almost mythical, it’s greater than any label that could be given to it. Her feelings are so great that she cannot reduce them to a simple name or category. It’s Tory who denies their love and she is also torn apart by that betrayal, but in a very different way."

With its English script, telegenic cast, big budget (by Canadian standards) and publicity push, Lost And Delirious is not only Pool’s most commercial film, but her most accessible. Her earlier works, while beautiful and haunting, are much more psychological and intellectual — and often more difficult.

Emporte-Moi marked a different, warmer and more emotional approach to filmmaking that Lost And Delirious builds upon.
The adoption of her daughter Giulia a few years ago accounts for some of that opening up, says Pool, as does her increasing confidence. "My films are so personal. I’ve gone from being a very shy, interior person interested in exploring internal pains to someone interested in exploring them more out in the open.

"When I began to work as a filmmaker, my need to express myself was so strong that I felt that I was choking on my words and feelings as they rushed out. As I’ve gotten older and matured, my ability to communicate is better. "

Aside from some maternal gushing about Giulia, however, Pool is a little bit reticent about her own life, preferring to let her work communicate for her.

Pool, now 47, was raised in Switzerland. Her paternal Jewish grandfather was killed in the Holocaust and her mother struggled with depression. She came to Canada on a whim, in her twenties, following a boyfriend to Montreal, and she took up filmmaking, on another whim, in her early 30s.

She does acknowledge that the frequently recurring themes of her films — troubled childhoods, the search for mother love, same-sex desire, female empowerment — are autobiographical, in particular 1999’s Emporte-Moi (Set Me Free), a coming of age tale set in Quebec in the 1960s. It stars Karine Vanasse as 13-year-old Hanna, the daughter of a Jewish Holocaust survivor father and a beaten-down, depressed Catholic mother. The mothers finds solace swooning over French actress Anna Karina and her sprightly portrayal of Nana in the Jean-Luc Godard film Vivre sa Vie, and in a romantic friendship with a young girl named Laura.

Pool adds that her arty 1986 lesbian-themed Anne Trister was also "an important film for me and, I think, a groundbreaking one for many women. It was very significant for its time." In it, a grieving artist named Anne leaves Switzerland after the death of her father to move to Quebec with her boyfriend. In Montreal, she connects with an old acquaintance, a child psychologist named Alix, and the two women fall in love.

Pool says that she has no favourites among her work. "Of course there are moments and periods and achievements that stand out, but there are none that I think are better than the others. I hate the analogy, but my films are like my children. How can I love one more than another? I put my soul into all of them.""

»No Mourning-Plants«

Interview by Kirsten Liese

Comedy dominated the “spellbound” festivals over the last years. After September 11th, and the all-sided proclaimed end of the amusement-society, offerings concerning entertainment got rare. For sure, it’s no coincidence that this time some movie-productions took part, which were already an insiders tip in the panorama of the Berlinale film festival in Germany. For example, “Lost and Delirious” by Lea Pool.

The Swiss stage director, who has lived in Canada for a long time, succeeded in more than making another movie about boarding schools, in which there have been many before. “Lost and Delirious”, based on the novel “The Wives of Bath”, is a drama about betrayal, and unforgivable disappointment, which must end as a tragedy. “Lost and Delirious” shows the nearby an amok-run endeavours of a young woman, jolting her girlfriend back to a once comfortable intimateness.

Léa Pool is not an unknown person in the scene: Léa had her break through as a director with the lesbian love story “Anne Trister” (1986), and for “Emporte-moi” (1998) she got the Swiss movie-award.

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick]: “Mrs. Pool, none of your lesbian heroes has luck in love. Why don’t you grant them a chance?”

[Léa Pool]: “The break-down of love is a core-theme in all my movies. Of course, love is the most beautiful thing in the world, but we are not prepared for love. We can enjoy the luck only for a short time, because everyone takes her burden in the new relationship. Further, the enormous pressure by society encumbers us: intolerance and violence. I simply can’t suppress this.”

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick]: “According to this, the main message is about discrimination of homosexual people?”

[Léa Pool]: “Of course, but not only that. Not only lesbian and gay people are under the pressure of the society. The same problem young men have in certain society circles, if they are in love with an elderly woman. Like “Harold and Maude”. Or white people, who fall in love with black people. I affirm the freedom of love and the tolerance towards all sides.”

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick]: “Thus you address “Lost and Delirious” not exclusive towards a lesbian audience?”

[Léa Pool]: “If “Lost and Delirious” appeals a lot of lesbians, I am very happy about it, but as a basic principle I never produce movies for special clientele. I know that I am an exception. It bothers me a bit; lesbians often blame me for not telling an optimistic coming-out story. But I see myself not as a pedagogue or a missionary either. Didactic plays don’t interest me. “Lost and Delirious” is a very emotional movie like “Romeo and Juliet”. It is about love, which concerns everyone. After all, I did not take-up the profession of a movie director just to convince other people that it could be nicer or better to live one way or another. "

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick]: “But even Shakespeare, who you admire as a great paradigm, wrote comedies.”

[Léa Pool]: “I’m more into Shakespeare’s tragic dramas and the Greek tragedies. Pauline is a great hero like Antigone or Jean d’Arc. She doesn’t reach her aim, but she is stronger than the others, because she fights for something she believes in. I’m way more impressed; if someone dies for her ideals than if she agrees to wrong compromises. Even though Victoria will go on after Pauline’s death, there will be the question if she ever will be happy again. I’m far away from a thought about a happy-end, and let’s be honest: In every Hollywood tearjerker we feel it as sob-stuff.

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick] “Nevertheless lesbians are looking for paradigms outside the hetero-world for their own identity. In the last 10 years, we have seen a couple of productions, in which two women or girls fell in love. Think only of “When the night falls”, “Two girls in love” or “Better than chocolate”.”

[Léa Pool]: “If Patricia Rozema stages romantic love under the circus dome, it’s all right with me. Only, that is not my call. I’m not interested in fairytales and I don’t see myself in the moral duty of creating positive paradigms, who suffered a lot in their own life. This isn’t possible to do, by the way. Actually love is one of the most complicated things in the world. My movies are very autobiographical, everything I got to know in grievous pain, mirrors in it. This might be a kind of autotherapie or survival-strategy.

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick]: “That unites you with Ingmar Bergmann, who looked back in “Fanny and Alexander” at his parents' house in a kind of psychoanalytic way. Still the part of the father remains in your films in the background. You get your head totally down on the relationship between mother and daughter.”

[Léa Pool]: “Because the relationship is extraordinary. I’ve got to know this from both points of view. Mothers and daughters share a very complicated, ambivalent relationship. From your birth on, you feel so close to your mother, but with the adolescence, the making of independence is difficult and painful. I showed this in my movie “Emporte-moi”. Because mothers are the most important psychological parent for their daughters, it hurts so much when a girl like Pauline totally misses her mother in “Lost and Delirious”, and has to grow up with her adoptive parents. Actually Victoria gave her almost the first and only deep affection in her life. Without the care of her mother, Pauline has a very low self-esteem. Looking at this aspect she is shocked, when Victoria suddenly turns away from her and lashes out.”

[Kirsten Liese, Weibblick]: “When Pauline declares her love, she denies her sexual identity. She says: “I’m Paulie in love with Tori ... and neither of us are lesbians!” Why?”

[Léa Pool]: “She doesn’t want to define her love. All that matters are her feelings, not an ideological confession. In the end it doesn’t matter at all which gender you desire. You don’t need to give any feeling a name.”

Léa Pool's latest film leaves her Lost and Delirious

Canadian Independent Film & Television Publishing Association, Gale Group - quoted from LookSmart:

"It feels unwise, perhaps even treacherous, to speak of a feminine cinema when exploring the work of Quebec filmmaker Léa Pool. Pool has made an art of dismantling boundaries, exploring prejudice and turning societal expectations on their head throughout her career, which makes pigeonholing her into a gendered cliché particularly precarious. But it's a term I can't seem to avoid. The questions her cinema poses regarding social mores are rooted in an empathy still rare on screen, an empathy that remains, I believe, ultimately female. Just as our mothers are our greatest comforters, our sisters our greatest sympathizers, or the Virgin Mary, to whom we attribute divine capacities of sympathy and understanding, so, too, is Lea Pool the caregiver in Quebec film, unparalleled is her capacity to gaze into the human soul.

Sitting across from her in a downtown Montreal hotel earlier this summer to discuss Lost and Delirious, her latest film and first English project, was a distinct treat. She is an auteur of impressive stature. Since Strass Cafe in 1979, she has infused Quebec's cinema with a unique, subtle voice, making the terrain of affairs of the heart all her own, thriving on the complex chemistry of attraction, identity and the play between mind and body, loneliness and longing. Her camera is kind and careful, benevolent even. In films like La Femme de l'hotel (1984), A corps perdu (1988), Movements du desir (1994) and Emporte-moi (1999) her characters are ennobled by its presence, examined at close, intimate distance, but explored only with their seeming accord, at their pace, and with respect. Pool's rhythm, unctuous and enveloping, also, feels viscerally real and plunges viewers into her characters' psychology with abandon. Her characterization is indeed her strength, often the focal point of her plot development; the narrative journey she leads us on is one of inspection and discovery in which her characters growth toward self-revelation - the discovery of love and greater wisdom - are put in the forefront. It is the lushness and languid nature of her aesthetic that has allowed Pool to explore such taboo themes as homosexuality, bisexual menage a trois and incest without alienating viewers, critics or peers.

With Lost and Delirious, the theme of social taboos and femininity are particularly relevant. The story is one of passion, in this case between two adolescent schoolgirls, roommates at an all-girl boarding school. The tale is told through the sensitive, innocent eyes of Mouse, played by a subtle Mischa Barton (Notting Hill, The Sixth Sense), who is a newly arrived boarder. The love affair between Paulie (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) and Tory (Jessica Pare, Stardom) is found by the slightly shell-shocked Mouse to be tender and natural, but one that, once discovered by Tory's sister, is doomed to dramatic, disastrous destruction.

Pool's characters' tribulations have always previously been more internally than externally motivated. Seldom are her characters victimized or in any way swayed by what strangers may think; seldom either are viewers called to question the validity or reason for her character's emotions, compelled instead to accept them for the simple reason that they are. But for Tory and Paulie, society is a cruel force that cannot easily be overcome. Upon exposure, Tory capitulates to social prejudice and breaks it off with the explosive Paulie, who spins out of control. Heartbroken, and with Shakespearean tendencies toward grand declarations, an affinity for fencing, and a peculiar relationship with a falcon she nurses back to health, Paulie attempts through increasingly desperate means to regain Tory's love, but to no avail. Her downward spiral is unstoppable.

Though, at first glance, this sort of narrative would seem custom-made for Pool's caring sensibilities, something along the way in the making of Lost and Delirious went awry. The film, though solid in so many ways - the performances are, on occasion, viscerally moving, the aesthetic is rich, the plot compelling - the end result is striking and at times captivating, but ultimately unfocused. Hardly lacking in terms of talent - it was adapted by acclaimed Toronto playwright Judith Thompson from the award-winning novel, The Wives of Bath, by Susan Swan - the film suffers rather from a case of too many cooks, pulling in too many directions, resulting in a disjointed work. The rhythm, one of Pool's usual fortes, is off, stopping and starting, repeating itself, never achieving the poise of her earlier films. The duelling scenes and recurring theme of the falcon give ace cinematographer Pierre Gill the opportunity to shine, but pull the director out of the psychological territory she masters.

Lost and Delirious is a disappointment, but one that may sting long-time Pool fans more sharply than newcomers to her oeuvre. It has received numerous good reviews in the United States and was very well received at Sundance (influential critic Roger Ebert called it "one of the best crafted, most professional films at the festival"). To write it off would be cowardly and unjust because the very nature of the project destined it to be complicated and an ambitious coup to pull off. And no one could better explain it than Pool herself.

Why did you adapt The Wives of Bath?

This is a project that was suggested to me a few years ago. I was given the screenplay to read -- an adaptation by Judith Thompson of Susan Swan's novel -- but I was busy with another film at the time. Then a year or two ago, just around the time Emporte-moi was released, through a series of coincidences, the project found its way back to me after six years of wandering, homeless. A couple of other directors had begun work on it, but had quit. Greg Dummett, who is now associated with Cite-Amerique, was in charge of its production and he suggested it to Lorraine Richard, who read it and said to herself, "Oh, this is for Lea." She made me read it. I found the subject very interesting. I thought it was touching and original, and I liked the way it was adapted.

By the time the project reached you, the adaptation was already complete?

Nearly. Six years of work had been put into the screenplay by then. It had gone through all sorts of phases. I think Judith was quite perturbed at a certain point because each new phase brought with it a slew of changes. It really was a project that took a long time to roost for her, whereas for me, it was relatively easy. I started on it maybe six months before shooting. There were certain things that did disturbed me about the screenplay, particularly at the beginning of the story, which was already different from the book but still not what I believed it should be. It was during the shooting stage that I simplified certain things. My job was to streamline and illustrate rather than reinvent. I never returned to the original version. The project was already so advanced, and for Judith, to keep going backwards on a project she'd already invested six years in would be hell.

The novel is written in a first-person narrative by Mouse, is that right?

Yes, it's Mouse who speaks and it starts with a trial. In fact, it begins chronologically later than the action we see in the film, when the whole ordeal at the boarding school is dragged through court. The book involves more dramatic events than we included in the film, which we left aside for various reasons. Mostly because when you're dealing with a subject like homosexuality, you have to be very careful. It's a theme that isn't easy to swallow for the general public, and to include scenes of violence and drama that would alienate people...we wouldn't be serving the gay community, we wouldn't be serving anyone. I wanted, rather, to push the story as a love story, and in love we are taken to extremes. I thought it was important to create empathy for the characters. When Susan saw the film at Sundance, she saw that it didn't betray the sense of her book. The project was really built in three stages -- Swan, Thompson and me, three very, very different people each bringing her vision.

So it wasn't, in fact, a classical collaboration.

Not at all. I had hardly even spoken to Susan before Sundance. I was rather nervous, in fact, about talking to her because I knew the film was moving further and further away from the original and I thought she might object to certain cuts. This kind of process is always hard for the author. Whereas I, as long as I accepted the project, accepted it pretty much as is. This was interesting, because I'd never worked this way before.

Did you enjoy it?

Yes. I found it the start very funny, because usually I know my material extremely well, I know my dialogue by heart, I know what I want and when I want it. But here I was very respectful, at the start, of the text, of the dialogue, and I didn't dare change anything. Then I'd hear the girls speak among themselves between takes, and they'd brandish "cools" here and "cools" there, so I tried to include the occasional turn of phrase, a language that was more real. There is a highly theatrical aspect to this film and its dialogue, because the original is very theatrical, and I liked it and found it interesting, but I tried to balance it with a relaxed, natural vernacular to give the character's authenticity.

Excluding the wonderful Karine Vanasse in Emporte-moi, This was the youngest selection of actresses you'd ever worked with. How did this affect you?

I loved it. They have a kind of courage and determination that fascinates me. They take responsibility for their characters; they're practically kamikaze! They dedicate themselves to body and soul. They had so much to say about the nature of passion, of love, of that awakening to life, to sexuality. Adolescence is so fragile. I try to imagine my daughter at that stage sometimes, and it moves me.

Did the ready-made aspect of the script modify your work with the actors?

Yes, in the beginning, but after a week or two I let my instincts run free and realized it was impossible to please the screenwriter and author and still make a film that had soul. What I did at the start was film what I thought the author would want, but I quickly realized that it was to everyone's advantage that I do it as I felt it. What's funny is that even though this was the first time I worked in English, it wasn't the language that worried me, but rather the struggle of working on such a finished project and adopting it to make it my own.

Why did you do an international casting call?

We searched in Quebec in the fall, then in Toronto. We were interested in Sarah Polley, who couldn't do it because she was on another movie. I actually flew to Alberta to try to convince her, to no avail. We really searched to the best of our abilities in Quebec, but when we'd done the rounds without finding who we wanted, and since it's a film with a subject matter that concerns the whole of North America, there was no reason to limit ourselves. I didn't know the two actresses we finally chose, Mischa Barton and Piper Perabo, beforehand. All I'd seen of Piper's was a short audition tape she sent us, on which she sang a song [laughs] -- I thought that very charming. And for Mischa, all I'd seen was a photo. So it really wasn't the fact that they were American that interested me, but rather the way each fitted their character. I got lucky, because I knew Jessica Pare would be perfect to play Tory but Paulie was a difficult role to cast. Piper just had the energy for the part. I feared financial difficulties for us to get her because she'd already worked on a couple of big movies. Luckily she fell in love with the script and was determined to play the role. It was the film's cachet that allowed us to work with her.

Had you ever considered making a film in English before?

No. The funny thing is that I never planned to be a filmmaker, and here I am; I never planned to live in the country and I fell in love with an extraordinary country house; I never planned to become a mother at 45, and then I go and adopt a child. All the important things in my life have happened by chance. This film was also a stroke of life's luck, and the fact that it's in English never bothered me. If we were making a film set in Paris, let's say, with the Algerian war as a backdrop and we made it in English, that wouldn't make sense to me. I would feel cheap to culturally transpose it. Or a film like Emporte-moi, which was highly personal - that wouldn't have worked in English either. But here the language is justified by the universal nature of boarding schools. They are peppered all over the Western World; they exist in Portugal, in England... so it works.

Whose idea was it to contemporize the screenplay from the original 1960s setting?

It was Judith's decision, but we discussed it when I joined the project. My opinion was that a boarding school like the one depicted has no age; those institutions were the same 50 years ago as they are today. The students stuck in such schools are children practically preserved out of time. They're lucky if they even know what's going on in the outside world. Also, I'd read a startling article on the difficulty for gay youths to feel free to live with their homosexuality, full of alarming statistics concerning the suicide rate among young gay men. I don't think there was really an awareness of such things in the 1960s, so a more contemporary context was apropos. We take for granted in an artistic milieux that the world is okay with homosexuality, but this isn't the case. Even the reaction to the film has been entertaining to watch because in certain parts of the U.S., they're treating it like soft porn! Whereas in Berlin, on the contrary, they found it too soft,

In a sense, Lost and Delirious is more sexually explicit than your previous work, though sex is always in the background. Why is this?

It's true that it's more explicit in some ways, especially in contrast with other films like Boys Don't Cry. I watched that film many times to see how sexuality was dealt with - well, there isn't any. It's all suggested. For me, Lost and Delirious is a story of love and passion - too much passion - so much that it becomes disturbing. I couldn't avoid sexuality. It's such an intrinsic part of adolescence.

A point I found interesting in the film is that contrary to your previous work, in which the grey areas of sexual identity and the nature of attraction are taken for granted, here you have the character of Paulie actually voice your point, proclaiming in so many words, in answer to Mouse's labelling her a lesbian, "I'm not a lesbian, I'm just Paullie who's In love with a girl named Tory." Did you find the need to do this because the film was aimed at a wider audience?

No! It's just part of the character; she doesn't want to put a label on such a love. For her, a love like this is much more than just heterosexuality or homosexuality. I see it as a real turning point in the film. This is a point that has always been close to my heart; it has always annoyed me that people have such a need to reduce things, as if sticking a name onto something somehow simplifies its reality. And for the two actresses, Jessica and Piper, who are both heterosexual, it was a particularly important point. In fact, the story has little to do with the fact that they're gay and everything to do with the fact that they're simply in love, a love that flows over into feelings they can no longer control. That's something that everyone knows about, homosexual or heterosexual. Loving excessively, loving badly, is a universal, touching theme.

Do you see yourself as an advocate?

The motivation for making a film that dealt so explicitly with homosexuality was in an effort, to move beyond boundaries of description and to give a new angle to the exploration of the theme in cinema. I think that the more films deal with such subjects, the better the public will be educated. Filmmakers shy away from projects like this that are hybrids, that deal with so-called indie subjects but have a more commercial nature. I like that hybrid. It's important to work with unusual themes, because when I think of Boys Don't Cry or My Own Private Idaho, even Bagdad Cafe or Arizona Dreams, they're wonderful, mind-opening films. They are films I'm intent on mentioning in interviews, because I really believe it's important for auteur filmmakers to try to break from the ghetto either of the festival circuit, or the art-and-essay circuit, both of which have extremely limited audiences. It's important to risk bigger commercial projects for exactly the reason that these subjects need to be expanded outside of the art-cinema niche.

Are bigger projects, therefore, on the menu for your future?

I don't know [laughs]. I've been doing this for 20 years, and as much as I'm intent on continuing my personal, poetic approach to certain themes, I'm also intent on breaking my barriers. It's an odd situation. If with Lost and Delirious I were to have made another film like my previous ones, people would say I lack imagination if I make something different people wonder why I've changed."

Lost girls

Brief Article - Interview - Lori Kaye - quoted from michigan school select

"Straight actress Piper Perabo and lesbian director Lea Pool talk about coming of age, shooting love scenes, and the passionate boarding school romance of Lost and Delirious

With the rush of freshly brewed hormones pumping through our veins and the first potent feelings of love and desire oozing from every pore, we come of age. With such a universal experience, it is no wonder that stories of gay girls in boarding school have become such a time-honoured tradition. Lost and Delirious is one such tale.

"I was a little afraid that it was a subject that was already too much explored," admits director Lea Pool in a charming French accent via telephone from Canada. Why, then, would the accomplished Swiss-born writer-director of Set Me Free choose Lost and Delirious for her English-language directorial debut? "For me, adolescence is a period of life when everything is so intense, where we are so vulnerable and courageous at the same time," she says. "I thought if I could find good actresses, this really can be something very authentic and very powerful."

Fortunately, she found an ace in the hole. Captivating newcomer Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) embraced the opportunity to portray a strong female character with heroic undertones. "I had wanted to play Joan of Arc for so long, and they made two Joan of Arc films," says the passionate performer. "And I thought, Fuck, Ill never play Joan of Arc. And Paulie came along. And I thought, All right, here we go."

Perabo's magnetic portrayal sets off sparks as she fully embodies the gallantry of the indomitable Paulie. "I try and prepare characters physically if I can," Perabo says. "Paulie is so great in that she's a fencer, which, for me, makes it an obvious place to start with how to build her, how she squares off her shoulders when she walks. So the way I started was to study fencing."

Based on the novel The Wives of Bath, which was inspired by the boarding school experiences of author Susan Swan, Lost and Delirious centers on the beautiful and popular Tory (Jessica Pare) and the spirited and brainy Paulie. Their new roommate, Mouse (Mischa Barton), soon becomes aware that Tory and Paulies pillow fights are a kind of innocent foreplay. The erotic kisses and beautifully sensual love scenes between Pare and Perabo expose the pure and idealistic love shared by the two schoolgirls - until they get caught in the act. Tory cannot handle the stigma of being branded a lesbian, and she begins to date a student from the nearby boys school. Grand romantic gestures follow as Paulie takes a stand - quite literally, while quoting Shakespeare atop a library table - when unbounded passion becomes unrequited love.

"I've never in my life loved like Paulie," Perabo admits. "I feel like Paulie loves and gives it all away. And its only in literature that I have read, like Romeo and Juliet, that they do that. They give everything they have, so when they lose each other, its just desolate. They don't even have themselves. They've given themselves away."

Perabo speaks of her role in terms of a love stow, ignoring the media attention that naturally follows when that love stow is between two women. "I remember [the two actresses] had some questions during the shooting," Pool says of Perabos and Parks early interviews with the press. "`How does it feel to play a lesbian or to make a love scene with another girl? They were yew surprised by the questions, because they are young. But I think they are beyond this. For them, this is a love stow. They cannot understand that we have such questions about such love. Its love."

Perabo talks candidly about the love scene. "First of ail, its so hot - I mean temperature - hot in there, because of the lights," she says. "Unless you're from the Sahara, you cant be comfortable in that amount of heat. And then there's this loud crew and setting up and the camera and yada, yada, yada." Her voice becomes animated as she continues. "And then its like, silence. And you're like, This is really intense."

How does Perabo feel about the possibility of becoming a lesbian love object? She pauses for a moment, then answers earnestly, "Its a little disconcerting, only for the fact that I personally believe that although you may find the character interesting and hopefully inspiring, its yourself that you should look at. You don't really know me."

While novelist Swan says she has left her schoolgirl crushes behind and considers herself an "armchair bisexual," Pool, who is gay, sees Paulie's painful awakening as an opportunity to raise awareness. "I think its important to open the minds of other people with this kind of subject," she says. "Even if its easier for a lot of people, its still difficult for a lot of people." "


And the Genie Goes To . . .
Pierre Gill csc for Lost and Delirious

Kodak presents Totem Award to Genie nominees - by Don Angus - quoted from: The Canadian Society of Cinematographers

"Pierre Gill csc is anything but Lost and Delirious. The talented Montreal-based director of photography is in top form and in high demand, and his stock keeps rising with the impressive list of awards and nominations he has been accumulating the last few years.

He picked up his first Genie Award last month for his work on the Canadian feature Lost and Delirious, crowning four years - three of them consecutive - of Genie nominations by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for achievement in cinematography. He won the CSC Award for best feature last year and earned the CSC's best feature and best TV drama honours in 2000.

Thom Best csc and David Greene csc were among the other four nominees for the 2002 cinematography Genie, presented during the televised 22nd annual gala at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Feb. 7. Greene was nominated for Century Hotel (see CSC News, April/2001), and Best for Ginger Snaps. Also nominated were Sebastian Edschmid for Deeply and André Turpin for Un crabe dans la tête.

The Genie for cinematography was presented by Kodak Canada Entertainment Imaging as part of its ongoing sponsorship of the Academy. Kodak Canada also continued the tradition of honouring each of the cinematography nominees with a special presentation of the Kodak Totem Award.

"The pursuit of excellence is a common goal we share with the cinematographer," said Diane Cappelletto, Kodak Canada EI sales and marketing manager. "It is an extreme honour to receive a nomination for a Genie, and the Kodak Totem Award was conceived to recognize the ongoing dedication and commitment to excellence that the cinematography nominees bring to their craft."

As an inaugural supporter of the Academy and a long-time sponsor of the Genie Awards, Kodak continues its behind-the-scenes support by sponsoring the Quebec soiree and the Toronto reception in honour of the Ontario and Western nominees, as well as providing both digital and silver photography services for Genie winners during the broadcast gala.

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), the first dramatic feature made by Inuit in their native tongue, won the Genie for best motion picture and also garnered awards for achievement in direction, best screenplay, editing and original score. Also nominated for best picture were Eisenstein, Treed Murray, The War Bride and Un crabe dans la tête.

The Claude Jutra Award for direction of a first feature film went to Zacharias Kunuk for Atanarjuat, bringing the total number of wins for this film up to six. This year's Golden Reel Award was presented to Nuit de Noces, a comedy that grossed over $2 million in Canada during the qualifying period of Oct. 21, 2000, through to Oct. 20, 2001. The award is presented each year to the Canadian film that earned the highest domestic revenue at the box office during the qualifying period. It was shot by Daniel Jobin csc.

For a full list of winners and nominees, visit the official website of the Genie Awards at

Pierre Gill started his collection of cinematography awards in school, winning seven prizes at Collège Jean de Brébeuf from 1982 to '84 and four more at Concordia University in Montreal between 1984 and '87. Out in the working world, he took home prizes for several advertising spots and broke through with a Genie nomination for Liste Noir in 1995 and a Prix Gémeaux - the Quebec equivalent of a Gemini Award - for the television drama Marguerite Volant in 1997.

'I think it's a sign of being more mature'

In 2000, he highlighted the CSC Awards gala by taking the trophies for both best feature cinematography (Souvenirs intimes) and television drama for his work on the Alliance Atlantis production of Joan of Arc. Souvenirs intimes also earned him a victory at Quebec's Prix Jutra and a Genie nomination that year, while Joan of Arc picked up a nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers.

Gill was back on the CSC podium last year to accept the best feature award for The Art of War, which also was nominated for a cinematography Genie and at Prix Jutra.

Lost and Delirious, the feature for which he was presented this year's Genie, is the story of three adolescent girls' discovery of love, sexual passion and emotional desperation. Set in a private boarding school, Lost and Delirious evolves from academic routine, homesickness and girlish silliness to the darker regions of lovers' intrigue.

"When I was shooting Lost and Delirious," Gill said in a telephone interview with CSC News, "I told my crew that I would never get an award for this movie. I just wanted to bring out the story of the girls and not do anything fussy or flashy about the lighting. My gaffer would ask me, 'Do you want a slash of light here, Pierre?' and I would say no because I wanted to keep it as realistic as possible while still keeping the mood in it.

"I was very happy with this approach because when the film came out people kept telling me how beautiful it looked. It was then I realized that the look probably suited the story very well and that I had made the right decision on the set - to make it look natural and not to try to impress with the lighting. I think it's a sign of being more mature."

He said another reason why he was pleased with the award-winning outcome for Lost and Delirious was that during the summer of 2000 shoot, in and around a girls' school in Lennoxville, Que., "the weather was crazy, a real roller-coaster ride from sun to clouds to storms. It was very difficult."

He was also thrilled with winning the best cinematography award for Lost and Delirious at the Festival Mar del Plata in Argentina because internationally renowned DOP Vilmos Zsigmond asc was the president of the jury.

Gill shot the feature on Kodak Vision 35mm film, mainly 250 inside and out, with 500 stock for the night shots. Film is the acquisition medium he prefers, he said in an earlier interview for Kodak's on-line On Film feature, although he did work with the first generation of Sony's high-definition cameras on the Montreal-made series The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne in 1998. He said he was happy to get on to the Jules Verne project, the first series shot in HD in Canada, "so I could learn about the new technologies. But I have to say that I am a film person. Film is better than ever.

"I look forward to working with a mix of media, where the strengths of each medium are exploited. The technology is there for a reason - to help us make great films."

Judith Thompson

Interviewed and with an introduction by Marc Glassman - quoted from:
Writers Guild of Canada ("Canadian Screenwriter")

"Judith Thompson has long been one of the country's most respected playwrights. Now with the release of the feature Lost & Delirious, Thompson is gaining recognition for her parallel career in film and television.

As a playwright, Thompson has done it all. She's won the Governor's General Award for Drama twice for The Other Side of the Dark in 1989 and White Biting Dog in 1985, and the Floyd S.Chalmers Canadian Play Award two times for Lion in the Streets in 1991 and I Am Yours in 1987. Numourous actors in her plays have won Doras and she has worked with such talents as Jackie Burroughs, Nancy Palk, Maggie Huculak, Tracy Wright, Graham Greene, and Lisa Repo-Martell over the years. The recipient of the 1988 Toronto Arts Award for Writing and Editing, Thompson has also won the Nelly for Best Radio Drama.

Since her first play The Crackwalker burst on the stage in 1980, Thompson has been recognized as one of the finest and most hard-hitting talents in contemporary theatre. A master of dialogue and character, she has never shied away for graphic content or violent imagery if it worked for the play. As John Bemrose once put it in Maclean's, Thompson has "used infanticide, sexual abuse, suicide, wife-beating and cancer to explore the secret inner life of individuals, but she explores the darkness with such exuberant intelligence, humour and empathy that her plays brim with the healing light of revelation."

For many years, Thompson has been writing scripts for television and cinema, most notably for the Gemini award winning movie of the week Life With Billy, which she co-wrote with John Frizzell. Now, as her script for Lost and Delirious is appearing on screens in North America and her adaptation of Perfect Pie, her most recent play, is poised to be shot by Rhombus Media's Barbara Willis Sweete, Thompson sat down with Canadian Screenwriter to talk about her writing career in film and television.


Your script for Lost and Delirious has recently been released as a feature film and Perfect Pie, a play which you've adapted for the screen, is currently in production with Rhombus Media. Both productions centre on the emotions of adolescent girls. What fascinates you about this period in life?
It's about the becoming of the self. It happens all your life, of course, perhaps more intensely in your thirties. When you are in your teens, you start to make decisions about what books to read and what gang you want to be allied with in high school.

Are you pleased with Lea Pool's treatment of Lost and Delirious?
On the whole. It's not exactly what I want, but it's really good. Léa's a beautiful filmmaker and she directed those girls wonderfully.

Some critics find the use of narration to be old-fashioned. Why did you use it in Lost and Delirious?
As a writer, you can use beautiful words and images and they don't sound hokey. Dialogue that would sound over-the-top lyrical is lovely when it's voiced by a narrator. Some reviewers criticized the dialogue as being too poetic but it's absolutely naturalistic. I just didn't dumb it down.

Lost and Delirious is based on The Wives of Bath, a novel by Susan Swan. The book was set in 1963, a very specific time that ended with the assassination of President Kennedy. Why did you change the period to the present?
Because you have to be historical, and those resonances have to be large and strong. There'd be a huge responsibility if it was in the 60s to bring everything in--Paulie would be going on about the Vietnam War. I wanted to poeticize the book, pare it right down to the interior world. And in a boarding school, things don't change that much. There's something timeless about that world. The girls still salute the Queen before lunch.


You've been described as a writer who thinks about characters as being in her blood. What happens to you when you're having a good day, writing in your office?
When I sit down to write it usually starts coming, sometimes in fits and starts. I think it's a miracle everytime it happens, that it comes out. I believe that writing is in the body, and I also say that it's in my fingers. My history is about my body and cultural history is in my body. I bring my craftsmanship to writing, but I'm lucky because there's a thin screen between my conscious and unconscious life. Maybe that's the result of the epilepsy I had in my youth.

You go to places where other writers refuse to go. Is that difficult for you?
I go into a trance. It's my belief that dreams are a disguised fulfillment of unconscious wishes. So somehow, in some form, you must need to dream the truth about your characters. It's gratifying in some way. I know it's what I have to do. And that's why I have to defend myself to producers and directors. I understand where they're coming from, and it's their film ultimately, but that's why it's so hard for all of us. Every screenwriter will know about this: characters behave in certain ways because they must. My husband (Professor Gregor Campbell of Guelph University) says you shouldn't ever have to explain or defend what you've written. I love that, but of course in film, that's all you do!

Do you think some producers and directors lack respect for writers?
Maybe sometimes yes, especially the ones who say, 'we love the writer. Nothing is more important than story, it all begins with story.' I would rather just have someone say, 'you're the hired hack and please turn out so many pages a day.' Movies suffer terribly due to this lack of respect. We learn as writers that the only way to have your vision respected is to direct the film as well. But I'm not interested in directing films.

The complete interview is available in the printed version of Canadian Screenwriter, Fall 2001"