PoV: the Fantasy, the Reality 

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David Wheeler, Director and Writer of PoV

Interview with David Wheeler
[ including some supplemental remarks by PoV producer Rob Landeros (RL) and myself (AL) ]

Warning:  This interview contains spoilers!

See also:  Alternative interview with David Wheeler and my Vancouver Resident Interview

What are your opening remarks?

DW - Before I begin to answer your questions directly, Iíll give you a brief history on how and why PoV was made:

Rob and I opened up Digital Circus in Vancouver to produce a trivia/crossword based ďgame showĒ called Letís Do Diddley which was inspired by a game Rob designed back in the 80ís called Lexicross.  It has no live video but there is a great deal of extensive sound work which creates a feel of playing a game with a ďliveĒ host and his computer/robot assistant, something like the experience of playing You Donít Know Jack.  I contracted with an audio production company named SuperSonic to do the sound recording and editing on Diddley and they suggested that if I were to make another DVD based interactive movie like Tender Loving Care (TLC), they would like to be involved.  They offered to provide all of the post production for the project including video editing, sound editing, music, sound mixing and DVD authoring for a percentage of the profits.  We were having some programming difficulties with Diddley which created some time to do something else. 

I was living and working in a loft in Railtown which looked across at an empty loft on the other side of the street which brought to mind the situation in a script of mine called The Watcher.  I suggested to Rob that we should look at the possibilities of making it an interactive movie.  The Watcher had been very close to production several times (one time I was just a few days away from shooting with Sharon Stone in the lead when the financing fell apart) and I had always wanted to make it into a film.  I put together a budget which would allow us to make a professional quality film for the least amount of money, a budget that would ensure that everyone was paid at least a semblance of industry standard (except for Rob and I, we spent 14 months on the project without pay).  Our distributor, DVD International, advanced us $85,000 and we shot the movie on digital betacam in 12 days, compared to TLC which was shot on film in 31 days for about $700,000.  We needed to change the title to Point of View in order to avoid confusion with the Keanu Reeves film The Watcher which came out during our post production phase.

About half way through post, SuperSonic kind of imploded and went out of business which put us in very deep trouble.  Their parent company, Stratford Internet Technologies was seriously staggering and they tried to support the completion of the project but they crashed and burned and we had to finish the project ourselves which just about bankrupted us.  We were several months late delivering and by the time it was released our distributor was also staggering financially and they have put zero dollars into marketing (they were expecting us to share the marketing costs but we were unable to do that because we were financially exhausted by having to finish the product ourselves, so they decided to put no further money into it).  They are refusing to pay us royalties though they have sold thousands of copies.

You made PoV on $85,000?  Why do some online articles about it say that the price tag was in the vicinity of $1 million?  What could account for this discrepancy?  Also, are your figures in Canadian or US dollars?

RL -  That million dollar figure for the budget is so out of line.  Perhaps some people believe in pumping up the facts, but David and I generally tell it like it is.  The $85,000 figure was the shooting budget.  We figure the total to be about $250,000 with post production costs.  David knows those figures exactly.  I didn't deal with the budget at all this time round.  In my mind the $250,000 would be in US dollars. 

I can say that our publisher certainly didn't add any more to that budget to bring it anywhere near a million.  In fact, DVD International has spent very little in way of advertising and promotion.  They are not even offering royalty statements, so we don't know the exact sales figures.  Needless to say, we are in dispute with them.

One general rule of business that you can always count on - if things are going well and a product is a big success and money is rolling in, then there are no disputes and everybody is friends.  If things are not going so well, all parties ends up arguing, bickering and pointing fingers.

[In contrast] we figure roughly $1.5 million for TLC.  It was a much longer shoot, we had a well-paid actor, an orchestral musical score and it was shot on 35 millimeter film.  It was also authored for CD-ROM and DVD-ROM and localized for Germany and the Netherlands.


A).  Direction:

What methods did you use to audition actresses for the lead role? 

DW -  I was new in Vancouver and not at all familiar with the talent pool so I requested the help of Bette Chadwick, a casting director I had worked with several years ago on a television show called Hollywood Babylon.  She put out a ďbreakdownĒ which goes to all the talent agencies and we received a lot of demo reels from actors.  Those actors without extensive demo reels read some scenes (ďsidesĒ) from the script which their agents put on tape and sent to me.  My final choice was one of the latter and her audition tape was really good.  I met with her to discuss the part and decided that she was the one.  We auditioned several choices for each of the other roles by having those people read with my final choice and built our cast that way. 

I strongly suspect some hallway scenes (especially near the elevator/stairs) were filmed on the floor just below the roof level of Railtown Studios.  But I also suspect you mainly used an apartment one or two floors lower than that.  Please indicate the exact apartment you used for Jane.

DW -  [unanswered]

AL -  One or more of four apartments at the northwest corner of Railtown Studios.  The hallway of level 4 was certainly used in the chase scenes of chapters 5 and 12.  The hallway just outside apartment #5 on the first floor was used in chapter 6.  It is unclear if the first floor is on the same floor as the building's entry room (i.e. it is not clear if Railtown Studios has what is known as a "ground floor").

I managed to identify, visit, and photograph all but three of the locations of exterior shots in PoV.  Where exactly were the following scenes filmed?

* Jane photocopies her pictures of Frank at night in chapter 3?
DW -  The photocopy scene was at Kinkoís on Georgia Street in the Downtown area.

* Frank speaks to the audience while driving his car in his chapter 4 Encounter?
DW -  Frankís encounters were shot in and around Gastown and the area just east of there.  We got in the car with a camera between scenes at the newspaper coin box and just drove around the neighborhood doing several takes of a couple of scenes.

* Peter makes his first telephone call to Jane in chapter 5?
DW -  We had a phone booth on the grip truck and plunked it down on a corner near the location for Pís apartment which was by the intersection of Jervis and Barclay in the West End of Vancouver, not far from Stanley Park. 

Where were the following interior only scenes filmed?

* the police station?
DW -  Sean Penn was filming The Pledge at the same time and we used part of the set they had built as a police station for our police station.  It was in a place called the Koret Building near the Alibi Room.

* Jane and Mary's workplace?
DW -  Jane and Maryís workplace was in the offices of SuperSonicís parent company, Stratford Internet Technologies (which no longer exists) at 1168 Hamilton Street in Yaletown.

* Jane's struggle with the New York photographer?
DW -  The New York photographerís studio was actually Frankís apartment redressed.

Please give some indication as to where these scenes were filmed:
* Mary's home?
* Peter's home?
* Mr. Barnes' home?

DW -  All three scenes were shot in the apartment of our line producer, Kelsey Haynal, a three story, Spanish style building on Jervis St. near Barclay St.

I mentioned elsewhere on this site that your obvious admiration of Vancouver was the #1 factor for my trip there.  Did you in any way intend to increase tourism to your city via PoV?  If not, why have those wide angled shots and have the story firmly set in Vancouver (in your other PoV Internet interview [see Links page], it seems as if you were prepared to set it in any one of several other cities)?

DW -  [unanswered]

RL -  I thought it [Anthony Larme's fascination with PoV] was a unique excuse to visit Vancouver.

How did you go about choosing the musicians to provide the vocal and instrumental soundtrack for the movie?  What factors made you select Payton Rule and jefreejon?

DW -  I was introduced to Payton and Jefreejon by our production designers Andrew Bell and Stacey Malysh.  The script called for Frank to play in a small band.  I loved their music and they are really nice people.  We contracted with them to write and perform the two songs in which they appear in the film.  The rest of the score was supposed to be provided by SuperSonicís Brian McConkey (who wrote the title sequence piece) but when they fell apart I contracted Payton and Jefreejon to do the entire score.  They were great to work with.  It was the first time they had done anything like this but it was like working with seasoned professionals.  They are very creative, talented, flexible and hard working.  And they wrote some killer tunes. 

AL - Plus their work is contemporary and passionate - two qualities that complement PoV's characters and plot perfectly.

In Tender Loving Care, some movie scenes contain nudity.  In PoV, no movie scene contains nudity.  Why did you avoid the use of nudity in this case?  On a similar matter, what influence did censorship (including possible moral outrage and marketing difficulties) considerations have on your directing and/or writing in PoV? 

DW -  The script was more erotic than the final product.  This was one of the main topics I discussed in my first meeting with my final choice and she was very enthusiastic about that aspect of the script because it explored the sexual nature of the character with the same kind of approach as the other issues the character deals with in the story.  There was some nudity involved and she expressed that she was very comfortable with it.  But as we got closer to shooting she began to panic about it.  She saw Tender Loving Care and I think she freaked out about the scene where the Kathryn character, played by Beth Tegarden, presses up against the window.  (Iíve taken quite a bit of flak for that scene.  Beth was pretty freaked out herself about doing it but I really admire her for coming through, even though I seem to have offended some people with it).  I think the Jane Bole actress understood that Kathryn in TLC was a sexual predator and Jane was nothing like that, but she nevertheless got into an emotional state over the nudity aspect of the sexuality and threatened to bail right before shooting.  I was sympathetic towards her and understood how she felt but I was not at all happy that she didnít express her concerns earlier.  I considered replacing her but I knew she was otherwise perfect for the role so Rob and I talked it over and we decided to stay with her.  And her performance is great. 

Iím happy with the result, but I do miss the sexuality that was in the script.  One film distributor who had read the script and expressed interest in a theatrical release was disappointed that the unique approach to female sexuality in the script had been left out.  Some people felt the sexuality in TLC was too confrontational and others complain that the sexuality in PoV is too repressed.  Maybe one day Iíll get it right.

RL -  The nudity issue was a great annoyance.  It's not so much the fact of having nudity and it's being integral and highly relevant to the story, but that the actor, who had already agreed to it then single handedly forced a significant change to our creation.  It was not a collaborative decision amongst artists.  We were held hostage at the last second.

The PoV endings look like they were filmed in very chilly conditions for PoV's male and female leads.  How did they cope with the cold?  Also on the subject of the endings, a criticism I often read is that they are too similar.  Why not have more variety in the endings?

DW -  It was quite cold, being a night shoot in March in Vancouver.  The lead actors werenít wearing much but it was difficult for everyone.  Paul Jarrett who plays P had to lie on the cold cement for a close-up and, even though he was wearing an overcoat, it was difficult for him to stop shivering - not an appropriate behavior for a dead person.

I also think the endings are too similar.  In TLC, the endings were vastly different but the differences in the alternate scenes in the body of the film were so subtle that many viewers didnít notice them.  We tried to correct that with PoV and focused on very different alternate scenes leading to Jane ending up with three completely different characters, but, in hindsight, we should have gone further.  Remember that this is an evolving form of storytelling and weíre just about the only ones in the world that are doing it.  Iíve written the script for the next one and I think Iíve corrected these problems.

AL - The lead actress wears a white T-shirt under her larger blue shirt during her rooftop struggle with Edwards.

You're making another interactive movie?  Can you please reveal something about it - even if just to reveal that it's a thriller like PoV or TLC?  If all financing goes according to plan, when do you intend to release it?

RL -  Any future projects will be planned on a case by case basis.  If the story had a larger cast and needed special location shooting, I should think that a budget somewhere in the middle would be nice.  The use of name actors would have a major impact on the overall budget.   Any new interactive movie we are working on isn't close to being the pipeline at this point.

Had you already secured the rights to use "Jane and Frank's" apartments before you started writing the screenplay?  Also on the locations topic, was it hard to film in the Alibi Room?  Do you have any more comments on the locations?

DW -  Janeís apartment was actually the loft I was living in and Frankís apartment was the empty loft in the new building across the street.  I got permission from my fellow tenants in Railtown and I rented the place across the street for a month.  We also used Frankís apartment for the photographerís studio and equipment storage and a place to have our meals while we were shooting.

The Alibi Room is a restaurant and bar which is open 7 days a week so we had to be in there in off hours.  We shot for two days between 4 and 10 AM and got out in time for them to prepare for lunch.  It was a lot of work to do in a short time.  We did the Nimble Hippo music scenes in the cramped bar downstairs while it was dark both days and the meeting at the Alibi upstairs one morning and the romantic dinner the next.

Most of the locations were within several blocks of my apartment.  I completely adapted the script to my current living situation at that time.  The Sunrise was my local market, the Alibi was my local bar, the street corners and alleyways inspired me as I explored the neighborhood walking my dog.

Please share some details of any funny or otherwise remarkable incidents that occurred during the filming of PoV.

DW -  Several people in the building complained that someone in the building cross the street had been shooting them (while they were doing intimate things, I guess) with a video camera for a couple of days.  The building manager explained that it was just us making a movie and the camera wasnít pointed at them at all and everyone was assuaged.  As it turned out, we were in a different location  on those days, and some neighbor actually was taping their private activities.

I couldnít afford a proper audition studio so we taped auditions at my loft and my dog was just a few months old then.  Heís an Australian Shepherd named Yankee and he seemed to get particularly excited by auditions.  I would be busy operating the camera and the poor actors had to struggle through their scenes with a very enthusiastic puppy molesting them.  Actually it was a good test for the actors trying to remember their lines and staying focused on their scenes while keeping the dog at bay.  I would use the technique in the future but Yankee is now, to the great relief of Vancouverís acting community, living with my mother on an island far from the city, which makes them both very happy. 

Brief filming questions:

* Between what dates in 2000 did you film PoV?
DW -  I canít remember the exact dates but we shot for 12 days, with one day off in between, in March.
AL -  A pink notice near the intercom system at the front door of Railtown Studios in PoV shows that at least some filming took place in the second half of that month.

* How many digital cameras did you use to film PoV?
DW -  Our primary camera was a Sony Widescreen Digital Betacam.  We used another digital camera for behind the scenes footage and only used it as a second camera during the Nimble Hippo scenes.

* What are some scenes that required traditional movie artificial lighting equipment rather than just daylight, moonlight, streetlight, or standard light bulbs?
DW -  [unanswered]
AL -  Jane and Carol in bed together and maybe more?


B).  Storyline:

What is your background in dealing with the world of fashion modelling?  In what ways are these experiences reflected in PoV, both in the plot and in the character of Jane? 

DW -  I used to direct and photograph television commercials and I specialized in fashion.  I worked with a lot of models and the character of Jane was partially inspired by several of them. 

AL -  For further information, please consult David Wheeler's profile on Aftermath Media's Website at www.aftermathmedia.com/

In the backstory you developed for Jane:

* Why does she work as a cleaning lady?
DW -  Jane works because, like most artists, she needs to earn money to support her art and sheís chosen to clean offices after hours because of the relative isolation.
RL -  I think it is also interesting that her job in the original script had her working amongst the stacks of the Vancouver public library.  Her reasons for working there would be the same, but I think we both liked the original library setting much more.  But we could not get clearance to shoot at a real library.  Or something like that.  Again, not being there for pre-production, a lot of my information is second hand.
AL -  Plus she needs regular friendly human contact.

* Where did she learn to be an artist and why?
DW -  She went to art college because she showed a lot of talent and got involved with modelling as a lark through some friends in the fashion design department.
AL -  But later, she used art as psychological therapy to come to terms with her experiences?

* What is her age?
DW -  She's 26.
AL -  Evidence in PoV's lead actress's interviews suggest that she was at least 23 years old at the time PoV was filmed.

What is the name of the artistic technique Jane uses to create the portraits of herself and Frank that she hangs on her bedroom wall? 

DW -  [unanswered]

AL - Lithography (or a close variation)?

One of the PoV questions asks whether or not the viewer thinks Jane is a victim.  To what extent, if any, do you consider Jane to be a victim? 

DW -  Jane is more troubled by her own actions than the actions taken against her.  PoV is not a story about a woman who was raped, itís a story about a woman who killed someone who was attacking her and the resulting guilt she feels and how that has affected her life.  Sheís suffering from something akin to soldierís remorse and the question the story poses is: if sheís faced with the same circumstances again, what will she decide to do?

RL -  I think her confession to Frank (that the prosecution's allegations regarding her use of her sex to manipulate men and her enjoyment of it are true), is key to understanding Jane's sense of guilt.

AL - She was a victim of attempted rape, but does her best to recover on her own.  Jane is brave and determined and is thus making a gradual recovery.  The label "victim" to describe the entirety of her life as we see it in PoV is totally inappropriate.

As far as you are aware, does any Canadian or US newspaper actually carry regular romantic personal correspondence between two people as seen in PoV?  If so, which paper(s)?

RL -  The script was written years ago.  Way before Internet access became ubiquitous and before caller ID and answering machines were common.  This sort of dates it.  That's why one of the Exit Poll questions asks if Jane shouldn't have caller ID and an answering machine to screen her calls.

Not necessarily taking into account the newspaper article that sometimes appears at the very end of the movie, if you were to film a sequel or at least a few more scenes after the PoV ending where Jane and Frank hug on the rooftop of Railtown Studios, how would Jane's life/personality turn out?  What impact would her PoV experiences have had on her?

DW -  The ending is purposefully not all wrapped up in a tidy bundle.  There are still a lot of questions regarding what might happen to Jane, but I intended to leave the story with a feeling of hope that things would get better for her.

AL -  Agreed!  Hopefully, a bright future is ahead of her with Frank.

What are some examples of scenes you originally wrote in any version of the PoV screenplay that were never filmed or at least never placed on the final version of the DVD? 

DW -  The entire ending sequence, all versions, were shot on the last day (night) of shooting and I had to cut a lot of stuff because we were running out of time.  There was no possibility of shooting another day so I really had no choice but to eliminate scenes which I really would have liked to include. 

What other endings would you have liked to shoot, had you had the time and money?

RL -  Regarding the endings, we have since thought of other good alternatives, or have had them suggested by fans.  I wish I could remember them! 

AL - Jane gets arrested, hurt, or killed; Frank turns out to be the villain; one of the existing villains is subdued rather than killed.  Also, perhaps Jane is a lying, psychopathic killer?

In the "making of", you remark that Mr. Barnes was only a small role that expanded as the production progressed.  What did you intend his role to be originally?  Perhaps there were
just two suggested villains at the end of the story at that time?

RL -  The character of Barnes was originally just to show that Jane had an effect of some kind on just about every man that she encountered.  I think Barnes had the impulse to be Jane's protector, but as an unconscious excuse to be in a position to instigate a more intimate relationship.  In the original script, all the male characters posed a possible threat to Jane...at least in her mind.  We tried to bring out that sense of possible threat in the interactive.

What does Peter do for a living?

RL -  We don't know.  During exploration we come across some fantasy artwork by Barnes and P.  Barnes' work is very crude with Jane's face cut out and taped to nude models.  P was doing similar fantasy work but his was much more sophisticated and indicates that he is very intelligent and adept at new technology.  His fantasy composites were much more realistic [ AL - Having privately seen these computer files for myself, I fully agree with this statement! ].  So much so that we decided we should not include them as some people might mistake them for being actual nude photos of the lead actress, even though I went out of my way to visually convey the fact that they were in fact fake Photoshop composites.   It is interesting that P and Barnes were doing fantasy art with Jane similar to the way Jane was doing with Frank.

When Peter is being questioned by Edwards in chapter 6 and is asked why he chose Mary's personal column ad to reply to, he says "I guess her ad just seemed ??".  I can't understand the last two words in that sentence.  Please reveal what they are.  It may also be a two syllable single word.

DW -  [unanswered]

AL - Possibilities: "to suit me"?  "too easy"?  "too needy"?  "to speak to me"? 

How many days, weeks, or months elapse between the opening scene in PoV and the night chase at the end of chapter 6?  What about chapters 7 - 12 ... do they really take place over just 24 hours?

DW -  [unanswered]

AL -  1-6 = about one week.  7-12 = less than 24 hours?

You mention the "Nimble Hippo" in both TLC (as a pizza place) and in PoV.  Is this just an amusing name you invented, or is there some reality to the Nimble Hippo?

DW -  [unanswered]

AL -  It's just a fictitious amusing name?


C).  General PoV questions: 

In each group of questions between chapters, about how many have an actual impact upon future scenes (including Explore and Encounter objects/scenes)?  Also, why have a series of questions at the end of chapter 11 which can't impact upon the ending?  Finally on this topic matter, what exactly is meant by the "phantom demon"?

DW -  We consider the questions to be very much a part of the entertainment.  Our technology is such that any number of questions can impact the story.  The phantom demon is an example of Robís penchant for the supernatural in movies.  We had some of that sort of thing in TLC but I cut it out and he was disappointed.  In this case, itís based on the murky drawing of the photographer that Jane was using as the message sender before she met P and it represents the demons from her past. 

RL -  My scheme was to have several between the earlier chapters, then have the number taper down until there were only 2 or 3 near the end and none before the final chapter.  For some reason, it didn't quite turn out that way.  I was unfortunately not in close communication with the programmer and due to geographical distance, I didn't see stuff till it was already implemented.  It could be that David and the programmer, Rob Barrett, thought more questions were better.  But I should have paid more attention to that and must take most of the responsibility for any shortcomings in that area.

AL -  Perhaps 20 percent of all questions have an impact upon future scenes?  The questions in chapter 11 largely belong in earlier chapters and none of them have any clear influence upon the endings.  Thus, the chapter 11 questions should have been almost, if not entirely, non-existent. 

What was the contribution of Rob Landeros to PoV and how is this reflected in what the viewer sees and reads on screen?

DW -  Rob is the interactive designer and though we work closely on the development of the project, deciding what alternate scenes and paths to add, he is ultimately responsible for the interactivity.  He decides on and oversees the production of the supplemental elements, the menu designs and all art direction elements, even the packaging -  and he wrote all of the questions.  My job is to write the script and direct the movie, oversee post production and Iím more involved with the music.  But we are each the otherís sounding board and we more or less collaborate on almost all aspects of any project.

Where are you currently working?  Is Digital Circus finished?  Does only Aftermath Media remain? 

DW -  Digital Circus is about to release Letís Do Diddley, the gameshow/crossword/trivia game I originally came to Vancouver to produce.  Itís finally finished after 2 and ½ years.  We are also working on a CD-ROM version of PoV.  Currently, we are working on a major CD-ROM game with a Vancouver company called Lunny Communications (http://www.lunny.com/) which will be closer to our earlier 7th Guest and 11th Hour games in nature.  Iím ready to do the next interactive movie but I need to find a new distributor because of the bad business DVD International has given us.

What are some of the demographics and entertainment preferences of PoV buyers?  What demographic did you target PoV toward and what were your motivations for doing so?

DW -  We donít target anyone, we just make the films we want to see.

Do you have any intention of releasing PoV and/or TLC as a linear movie?

RL -  We have not really tried to push PoV as a linear release.  We already did that with TLC, and although we had a sales rep and some rights were negotiated for certain territories, not much came of it.  Most people say that TLC should have been picked up by at least some cable stations because its quality is superior to so many of the movies that are aired.  But we found that marketing a film has little to do with the quality of the product.  It has to do mostly with expensive name actors and a studio to
promote it.

What about the recent (April 2002) public screening?

RL -  The screening was for the Celluloid Film Club in Vancouver.  It is a very informal setting for film buffs, filmmakers, actors, etc.  Liquor was served.  There were about 250 people in attendance.  The interactive DVD was projected on the screen and an MC helped poll the audience's choices.

It took about 3 1/2 hours to finish.  I was surprised at how many people stuck it out.  It was a quite boisterous evening and the crowd was really involved.  Since PoV was not designed for this purpose, it was quite an interesting experiment.

Why was Federico's Supper Club chosen as the location of the PoV wrap party? 

DW -  [unanswered]

AL -  Live entertainment, great food at reasonable prices, friendly staff used to capably dealing with large parties, not too far from the PoV filming locations?


Thank-you very much, David Wheeler and Rob Landeros, for your informative answers!

My David Wheeler and Rob Landeros autographs

© Anthony Larme 2002
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Comments and questions are most welcome