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In Interview with Chaz Thorne

Starring Gregory Smith of Everwood-fame, Whirligig is the latest film from producer-director Chaz Thorne. In his first director’s gig since his debut feature Just Buried, starring Canadian darling Jay Baruchel, Thorne signed on to co-produce and direct after reading the original screenplay from Gemini-Award winning writer Michael Amo (CTV’s The Listener).

Whirligig follows Nicholas and Nina as they begin a friendship that, ultimately, will define them both.

Telefilm Canada: Whirligig seems to be a story of outsiders; those who simultaneously live in this world yet feel outside of it. Is this a feeling you recognized?

Chaz Thorne: There is a feeling that Whirligig is about a group of people who are displaced – no one is where they belong in this story, no one quite fits. There is also a certain humour in the tension this causes between the characters, their environment, and their interactions with others. We certainly play with this idea in the film’s cinematography and are looking at taking this idea even further with the use of “gypsy” music in the film’s soundtrack – the music of a classically displaced people.


TFC: As someone who has left and came back home, is the character Nicholas someone you recognized?

CT: I am quite different from this character in terms of focus and ambition. That being said, I think we can all relate to the tension that is caused by a return to the nest – even if it is brief, as it was in my case when I returned home.  This is a phenomenon that is unique to our generation (the “boomerang kid” who keeps returning home) and I was curious to explore it in a film.


TFC: What drew you to this story? Why did you want to tell it?

CT: Simply put – the writing. Michael Amo is a fabulous screenwriter. He created a humorous yet heart-felt world with fully fleshed-out characters that I was dying to see actors bring to life.  As soon as I read the screenplay, I felt as if I could have written it myself – Michael’s sense of humour and drama is so close to my own. I called him the day after I read it and told him I wanted to make it with him.


TFC: How was shooting in Halifax?

CT: Fabulous as always.  It is great to get to work with the same people again. We now have a method of working that allows us to do unbelievable things with limited resources and time.


TFC: Have you found inspiration in your hometown?

CT:This is my third feature film that is both set and shot in Nova Scotia. I think it is fair to say that this province serves as my main source of artistic inspiration.


TFC: I’ve read that the sea will play a central figure in the film. What does it symbolize to you?

CT:Visually the world of the film is one close to my heart and I loved the idea of doing a movie on the edge of the sea. In the decade that I studied and worked in Central Canada and abroad I would normally visit home twice a year. After the hugs and hellos with my parents and siblings were finished the first place I would head off to alone was the ocean.  I would sit on the boardwalk at Crystal Crescent beach and stare out at the water for an hour or so – reflecting back on what had happened in my life in the months following my last visit and what I wished to happen before my next. Both the look and the sound of the waves helped me reground and find my equilibrium once again. There is something thematically potent about the use of the sea and fog in a story about self-realization and renewal.


TFC: What does the whirligig symbolize to you?

CT: The repetitive nature of Nicholas’ journey – legs spinning but getting nowhere…