SLAMDANCE: The Toronto husband-and wife team talk about their movie I Put A Hit On You.
The reach and power of the internet is explored to darkly comic and poignant effect in I Put A Hit On You, Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart’s anticipated Slamdance premiere.
The Toronto pair turned to Indiegogo for funding and lucked out with two familiar faces from TV as their leads. Sara Canning from The Vampire Diaries stars as a spurned fiancée who tries to undo a reckless act after she drunkenly hires an online hitman to eliminate her boyfriend. Smallville’s Aaron Ashmore also stars. The film premiered on January 18.
How did you two meet?
Dane Clark: We met in 2008 at the Canadian Film Centre in the screenwriting programme. We liked each other’s style and sensibilities and collaborated on a short and enjoyed it and we kind of started dating. We decided to keep work and love separate and were each working on our own things and were in development hell so we directed together a short called Long Branch and it did fairly well and played a bunch of Canadian festivals and found its life on Vimeo. It opened up a lot of doors.
Tell us about writing the script
Clark: We wanted to make a feature version of Long Branch but it was going to be too expensive so we set ourselves a micro-budget challenge and made this instead. We probably wrote the script in a week or two. The way it works is one of us does the first pass then the other does the next one and so on.
What kind of story were you aiming for?Clark: When we came up with the idea we thought it would be like Date Night [starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell] and then we realised we couldn’t do a super lo-fi version of that.
Linsey Stewart: We felt like we were doing a trilogy of relationships after Long Beach and our second short. If we pulled it off this one is about a dysfunctional relationship where communication is not as open as it needs to be and [the story explores] the
consequences of that. We got interested in a scenario-based movie where everyone is driven by the fact that something might be real, but the heart of the story is the relationship between Harper [Canning] and Ray [Ashmore] and will they survive the night. In a way it’s the best thing that could happen to them.
When and where did you shoot?
Clark: We shot this in Toronto over 12 days in November . For not a lot of money. The cast and crew had to be game and we lucked out with them.
Stewart: Twelve days, 16-hour shoots, so it was pretty intense. It’s a short script – 80 pages. The scariest part was filming it. We didn’t want it to become too earnest and the actors hit it a little harder then we intended, but when we got into the editing room we were really pleased with what we saw.
How would you describe the tone of the movie?
Clark: It was challenging. We don’t even know what this is: it’s like a thriller, romance and drama.
Your two leads are great
Clark: Sara kind of got a bit of a following from The Vampire Diaries. It was pretty challenging to cast someone who would come off as charming and who you believe would do this.
Stewart: She’s only 26 and has a bit of maturity about her. She is one of Canada’s rising stars now. Aaron’s claim to fame is Smallville. Dane used to work in casting in Toronto so he has a good grasp.
Have people tried to hire a hitman on the internet?
Clark: There have been cases on Craigslist. There all these super-weird instances of people who have tried to do this and been busted by undercover cops.
What does it say about the internet?
Stewart: It’s so indicative of where we are now. There’s no such thing as being anonymous and to put something into the webosphere and for someone to not see it – all of our actions have consequences. It wasn’t a vindictive move on her part. She was venting.