By Jerry Del Priore
Director Dom Lenoir’s passion for filmmaking took flight as a preteen, making skate films while piecing together the final product with his friend.
“I began making skate films when I was around 10 on a good friend’s camera and we edited it in the evenings,” Lenoir said. “That was the start and then I went from that to making thrillers at University.”
Now 31, Lenior said he’s been at the art professionally for approximately 12 years.
The present takes him to his latest feature film, Winter Ridge, set for the mid-day screening slot on Sunday, February 17 at 3:45 pm – 6:15 pm at the 2019 Winter Film Awards at Cinema Village Theater at East 12 Street in Manhattan.
Winter Ridge is a thrilling whodunit flick about promising, young detective Ryan Barnes (Matt Hookings), who’s struggling to come to terms with his wife’s condition after a car accident on their anniversary places her in a coma.
Six months removed from the crash and still in a coma, Barnes buries himself in a case that involves a serial killer who’s targeting elderly, medically fragile victims.
I had the pleasure of conducting a question and answer session with Lenior.
Who are some of your movie influences?
Blockbusters like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, as well as Westerns and film noir. I had some great all-around films, too, like The Natural and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Rainman, too.
How old are you? Where were you born, reside now?
31 years young and living in the UK. The aim is to move to the USA after my next film which is largely set there. That’s always been the dream because of the mentality and the style of cinema.
What other projects have you worked on?
I’ve done a lot of shorts and two smaller features which were very much learning exercises but I am, in a way, still proud of. I like to produce as well and I think building teams and creative development are my strengths.
The writer Ross Owen William’s lived in the USA and wrote it partly out of his experiences with degenerative diseases and his living out there, and the rest is fiction. Then, we adapted it for the UK and kept that American detective feel. In my mind, I was always out to make another Prisoners or Insomnia, not a UK style thriller.
The location had to feel like it wasn’t like every other British countryside town. I wanted somewhere that was raw, moody, atmospheric and remote. The location in Lynton and Lynmouth was actually very much like Scandinavia or Canada, so it was perfect for a fictional town.
We cast Michael Mckell (John Faulkner), as we had worked with him on a short film together first. He then brought Hannah Waddingham (Dr. Joanne Hill) from Game of Thrones, and we then pushed for Alan Ford (Dale Jacobs) from Snatch who is with Michaels agent, too. Olwen was with Matt’s agent and had just done Autopsy of Jane Doe. Ian Pirie from Netflix’s Calibre was a friend of Matt’s, Noeleen, we had both wanted to work with due to her acting ability and Justin came up through a recommendation.
We adapted the script in October, were shooting by April and post was finished by October the next year. It was a very fast turnaround and all hands were on deck to hit deadlines.
It’s difficult on the one hand because you have to worry about problems, but at the same time, it empowers you to make decisions and things happen that get you bigger results as a Director.
Example: Getting the town to help out with the production with deals on locations and accommodation which made shooting in somewhere that looked amazing logistically possible. When it came to the shoot, thankfully, the other producers took over more of the day-to-day worries and managed the set so I could focus. But there was very little time to prep as a Director.
You have won 13 awards for Winter Ridge, right? How proud of you of that, and the movie itself?
It’s actually 16 now, as we won three at our last festival! We never intended to have a festival run but we started the festival run in America because that’s the style of cinema we were going for and it won several awards there.
From that, it just snowballed and kept winning and we picked up a lot in the states, so that’s been our main focus. I think the movie is something we can all be proud of. I like to think of it as a mini blockbuster, as its budget is actually a lot lower than you might expect, but it feels like something a bit bigger. We did a lot with what we had and with only 17 days to shoot, too.
Something that is really nice, actually, is how welcoming and helpful our USA friends have been, people we barely know have traveled to festivals to support us, represent us when we couldn’t fly over in time and someone even brought an award across eight countries for when they stopped in London!