A young man with a brilliant career ahead of him, Director Justin Donnelly, at just 24 years old, seems to be making a name for himself… or several, really, as Donnelly not only directed the locally filmed ‘Pressed’, he also wrote and produced the film, which is quite the undertaking if you think about the amount of people it usually takes to pull a film together!
After a quick chat with the up and coming director (who I noticed in a simple phone chat was very professional, charming and personable), I forwarded some questions along to him to find out what drives him to succeed in such a gruelling industry and how it felt to shoot the film in Kelowna:
KG: “You seem to have quite an ambitious nature for 24 and seem to be quite the entrepreneur; genetics?“
JD: “Haha, I don’t know… possibly. My mom and dad are both pretty intelligent people and have taught me most of what I know today. For the most part, I think it’s just about being passionate about what you do and about life in general. I’ve always had the attitude that age shouldn’t reflect on when your goals are met… I constantly want to keep climbing the ladder and create new goals for myself to accomplish. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it.”
KG: “I read somewhere that you got the idea for the film after hearing about some kids that discovered a huge amount of dough in an East Van Park. How long after that did it take to write the screenplay and your vision to come together?”
JD: “Yes, it happened a number of years ago and got me thinking… I actually battled with this script for some time. It was something I put down for a while and then picked back up again after I wrote another feature. It wasn’t an easy concept to put to paper with the two storylines and how they collide. I needed to make sure all the character motivations were in line and that the story had a good pace. Finally it all came to life and worked out just the way I wanted it to. All in all, it took me about two years to get it right.”
KG: “You scored quite the talent landing Luke Goss - how did that come about?”
JD: “Luke’s management team actually found the script through our LA casting and immediately loved the role for him. They thought it was a great script and when Luke read it for himself he thought it was just perfect. We finally got in touch over the phone and talked about the character… he had so many great ideas and I just sat back and listened to him talk so passionately about the role and his thoughts on the story. It wasn’t a tough choice for me after that. It was a pleasure working with him.”
KG: “How did it feel to shoot at home? I know quite a few in the industry that live here in the Okanagan and trek back and forth between here and Vancouver to work. Did it feel good to know that you were making a difference in the local industry scene?”
JD: “I’m actually from Vancouver and moved up to Kelowna when I was 19… I planned on shooting a movie here the moment I set foot on Okanagan soil. It felt great to shoot in Kelowna… The locations were amazing and just look great on camera. Every one of my colleagues in LA ask me, ‘Where in California did you shoot?’ I’m always so proud when I tell them where it actually is!... I don’t know if I’m making a difference, but I’m definitely trying! Kelowna deserves an industry and like you said, so many film people are from here but have to go to Vancouver and Calgary to work. The film industry would only help to create more jobs and would also help fuel our two other main industries; tourism and wine… astronomically!”
KG: “I hear your next gig involves possibly Rachel McAdams, Ryan Reynolds, Casey Affleck and Evangeline Lilly and will shoot in Alaska. Are you able to give us any details about your upcoming project?”
JD: “I can’t give you too much about the new project since we're still in negotiations at the moment. I’ll release more once I can. I will tell you that I have plans to do another feature here (a little bigger in budget) in the very near future. Also, completing a movie for Nu image/millennium films studio in Los Angeles that I plan to direct next year.”
Luke Goss plays the role of Brian in the film; a man who is looking to make some quick dough after being let go from his high powered job, getting mixed up with the wrong crowd and a drug deal gone awry.
Here is a short synopsis of the Kelowna filmed flick:
“The story tells of two joyriders Jesse and Sam who discover something hidden in the back seat of the car that could change their lives forever.
Brian, unknown to Jesse and Sam, is desperately trying to seek a "quick fix" business deal that will put him back on top financially after being let go from his executive position at one of the top investment firms. Brian decides to go "all in", investing the rest of his savings into a short-term drug deal. After Jesse and Sam intercept the illicit drug money, they soon learn that they've stolen from the wrong people. A twisted tale of greed, deceit, murder and wealth, PRESSED is an action-drama feature where three relationships collide. It changes lives, some of them for good.”
If you would like to attend the screening at the Paramount Theatre this evening, tickets are $10 at the box office with the showing being at 8:00 p.m tonight. However, if you would like to see some of the cast and crew arrive in style, the Red Carpet event will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Mr. Goss is unfortunately unable to attend tonight’s screening as he is on location, but you can catch a live interview with him on Q103 at 7:15 p.m.; other cast interviews begin at 6:30 p.m.
To check out the trailer for ‘Pressed’, see below! You can see shots of some very familiar “landmark” buildings (I know, terrible pun), as well as a few recognizable street scenes including Lawrence Ave and a certain downtown strip club.