India Donaldson: “We had 12 days to make the film and not one more.”

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Monday, July 1st 2024

The 13th edition of the Champs-Elysées Film Festival was held from 18 to 25 June and Good One is one of the winners! Directed by India Donaldson, the film won the Grand Jury Prize for Best American Independent Feature. We have met her on a Parisian rooftop. She talks about the issues of the film and its shooting.

Can you introduce yourself ?

Sure. My name is India Donaldson. I wrote and directed this film, Good One. It's my first feature film.

Tell us about “Good One” in a few words…

It’s a very intimate story about a teenager on a backpacking trip with her father and her father’s old friend. The two men have this competitive dynamic, and Sam, the big character, is left in the middle. She tried to navigate between these two men.

You took inspiration from your personal life for this film. Do you find yourself inside the character of Sam?

I think. I wrote the character from memories and feelings of being that age myself. Often times, I had to be easy-going and not cause conflict. In the movie, I am reflecting on how sometimes conflict can actually be a very healthy way to approach a relationship, yet it is something that the character has to learn.

This film captures an intimate moment, a simple weekend trip through the woods. Is it difficult to convey such simplicity on camera?

I think it comes down to the actors and their performances. I think they squiz so much out of the material! Through their work, they added so many layers and depth to the story while still maintaining intimacy. So really I credit the actors!

“We had 12 days to make the film and not one more.”

Did you encounter any challenges on set?

Well, we filmed the majority of the movie outdoors, and we had a very tight schedule. We had 12 days to make the film and not one more. There was no room or money to extend it. When we had weather coming, we had to adapt and change our plan or even incorporate those events into the film. You know, when it’s raining in the movie, it was because it was raining in real life. But I would say that for the most part we were very lucky, and everyone was very good at adapting when we needed it.

Lily Collias is the main actress in this feature film. How did you choose her?

I had been looking for the right actor for many months and had a hard time finding her. I actually met Lilly through my younger sister. When I met Lilly, we had an immediate connection, and I just fell instinctually. When she auditioned, it was remarkable so authentic, grounded and simple. We immediately stopped looking!

Good One

There are moments without dialogue which are carried by the images and the music. How did you choose the sound elements for the film?

The Music is really a collaboration between Celia Hollander, who is the composer and Taylor Rowley, who is the music supervisor. Sylvia’s music is more electronic, while the music that Taylor sourced is more sort of instrumental, and I think the two sort of came together to bring us along in this journey but also to bring us into Sam’s interior world.

What moment stood out to you during the making of this film?

On the final day after we finished filming, I went to one of the sights where we had filmed. There, we had built all those rock towers, and we had to take them down to leave the place as we had found it, so James LeGros, who plays the father in the film, came with me and Diane Irvine, one of the producers, and the three of us dismantled all of these towers. I even went swimming in the water where the characters had gone swimming. It was just a really lovely moment, like saying farewell to this property where we had spent so much time. I don’t think I will be able to go back there, so it was our goodbye.

“I think I am always drowned to film where I can feel the personal expression of the filmmaker's point of view.”

Our website is called S-quive (like escape) which could be translate in English as “avoiding something”. So what is there to avoid in cinema?

Clichés maybe? I think I am always drowned to film where I can feel the personal expression of the filmmaker's point of view. If you make personal work then it can never be clichés as it comes through within.  

Would you like this film to resonate with any particular people?

I hope that young people see it. You know I am twenty years older than the character that I wrote, but it is drawn from my experience as a young person. Even if I am a generation older now, I hope the film and the experience still feel true and resonate with young people. That’s my hope, but I will see!

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