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Fantasia/Frontières Exclusive: “LIGHT OF THE VOID” shines from filmmaking team including “MY BLOODY VALENTINE” director

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | Exclusives, Fantasia International Film Festival, Interviews


An up-and-coming genre director and a veteran fright filmmaker are part of the team behind LIGHT OF THE VOID, an ambitious project from Crafthaus Ltd. that was part of the Official Selection Pitch Session at the Frontières International Co-Production Market during this summer’s Fantasia festival in Montreal. At the fest, RUE MORGUE got some time with (below, left to right) executive producer Susan Curran, director Ashlea Wessel, producer Jeff Boulton and executive producer George Mihalka, the director of the original MY BLOODY VALENTINE and other fright features.

Wessel explains the premise of Terrance Odette’s screenplay: “LIGHT OF THE VOID follows Greta, a 20something photographer who’s kind of on the cusp of her big break, and she comes back to her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario for her first gallery showing. Greta’s style, and her m.o. as a photographer, is that she takes candid street portraits without the subjects’ consent. While she’s prepping for her show, she runs around town taking pictures, and she sees this old punk woman and takes her picture without her permission. This woman does not want her picture taken, there’s a scuffle and Greta gets away with her camera. That sets in motion a series of events wherein every single subject she takes a photograph of, for the rest of the film, dies in a gruesome and bloody way. And all the while, she’s being haunted by visions of this old punk woman.”

Wessel is a photographer herself, and created the above picture titled “The Death of Petrov” as a proof of concept for LIGHT OF THE VOID. She found a lot to respond to in Odette’s script: “It was like, here’s this 20something photographer who’s kind of failing left, right and center, but learning her lessons and finding her way in the world and finding her tribe. And I was like, OK, that’s me, I did that, I was that 20-year-old making those mistakes and trying to figure out my responsibilities. That’s something that I’ve always grappled with, and I found that pursuing photography the way Greta does is kind of terrifying, because I did feel that responsibility to those subjects. So I immediately knew how to build the story and the character by way of my own experiences and my own fears as someone who works with their vision. There are a lot of vision things that happen in my new draft, and my hopes and fears and mistakes are all in there, in a really personal way.

“It’s very much about consent, it’s about voyeurism, it’s about the ethical responsibilities that an artist has to their subject,” she continues. “And I like to think that it’s a little bit about turning the female gaze onto another woman, and what kind of consequences come out of that.”

For the role of the Old Punker who doesn’t appreciate Greta’s gaze turning on her, the filmmakers are hoping to cast a “legend” from that world, with the possibilities ranging from Siouxise Sioux to Lydia Lunch. “There’s not a lot of dialogue for that character,” Boulton notes, “so it really is about presence. And who could embody that more that someone who has actually lived that lifestyle?”

They already have a veteran on their team: Mihalka, a regular collaborator with Curran and Boulton who has known Wessel for years through Fantasia and the Hamilton filmmaking scene. “I just thought this was a great story,” he says, “and when Jeff and Susan suggested Ashlea as the director, I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like to get her involved.’ Her revision, and her experience as a photographer, have really brought a lot to this, and I thought it would be a great time to work together. I’ll give my suggestions and she can consider them, and we’ll see where it goes. I just love her vision for the film, and that’s what convinced me that I wanted to be seriously involved with this project.”

“How could you not want someone with George’s experience and vision on board, to be able to guide you?” Boulton asks. “And I can’t wait to get him into the editing room with him, because he does a little bit of magic there. He’ll say, ‘Hey, what if you did this?’ or ‘What if you did that?’ and it’s like, oh, he’s got something there. We’re very excited about that.”

Keep your eyes here for updates on LIGHT OF THE VOID as they arise!

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).