On ‘The Canal’


Director Ivan Kavanagh tells Film Ireland how he wanted to make a frightening, highly visceral, cinematic experience. The result, The Canal, is screening at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

With The Canal I wanted to make a frightening, highly visceral, cinematic experience, where the sound and picture were of equal importance.  I also wanted to make the type of film that would linger in the mind of the audience long after they have seen it.

I also wanted to make a film that is almost 100% from one character’s point of view (David, played by Rupert Evans) and therefore what you are seeing is coloured by his interpretation of events. But the trouble is, he may be losing his mind and therefore what we are seeing may not be all that reliable, or else he’s telling the truth and what he’s experiencing may actually be supernatural after all. Which is why it’s very hard to talk about the film without giving anything away.

I have heard many different interpretations of what actually happens in this film, and as far as I’m concerned all of them are equally valid. My favourite type of films are those that leave room for the audience to dream, that don’t necessarily give us all the answers, and therefore these films can be watched and re-watched and each time you will get something new from them. This is what I was after with The Canal.

The look of the film was something that I had thought about for a long time. I wanted a very filmic look, with heightened primary colors that might be a throwback to films from the 1970s, like Don’t Look Now or Carrie and DOP Piers McGrail and I used Roeg’s film especially as a visual reference.

In all of my previous films, the sound design has played a huge part, and The Canal is no different. In fact, we spent as much time on the sound editing as we did on the picture editing, which is very unusual in film (or so I’m told). Aza Hand (the sound designer) and all the sound guys at EGG Post Production helped me achieve the highly complex multilayered soundtrack that I was after, which should hopefully rattle the nerves and live in the nightmares of people long after the screening at the Galway Film Fleadh.


The Canal screens on Saturday, 12th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 22.00 as part of the 26th Galway Film Fleadh (8 – 13 July, 2014)


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