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Drake Doremus Reflects on Toronto Fest Drama ‘Endings, Beginnings’

Writer/director Drake Doremus (“Douchebag,” “Like Crazy,” “Breathe In,” “Equals,” “Newness,” “Zoe”) debuts his latest picture, “Endings, Beginnings,” at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival. The film centers on a young woman (Shailene Woodley) navigating love and heartbreak over the course of one year while confronting the pain of a recent traumatic experience, and finding hope in the most surprising of places.

Your films are driven by the intimacy of the characters. Where did this story derive from?

I want to make stuff that I want to see, and I’m interested in relationships and momentary feelings that people experience. This is my most personal film since “Like Crazy” as I’d just gotten out of a six- year relationship before I started to work on the script. Life very much informs your own work, and you have to be ready to take an introspective look at the truth of your current situation, which can be cathartic.

What will surprise people about this film?

It’s an extremely current story about female empowerment, and it was important that I surrounded myself with many talented women behind the camera.  I needed that flavor and authenticity, and I wanted to very much be in the moment of our current zeitgeist. The level of collaboration I felt on this project was special.

Shailene Woodley is one of the best actresses of her generation. What was it like working with her?

She’s the best. She’s always willing to be pushed and she has no fear, which is inspiring to witness. It’s a treat working with her because she was always coming up with new ideas. She’s so raw in this film, and I really try and pride myself on working with non-actorly actors. It’s always about the work and if you’re in it for the right reasons and Shailene certainly is.

You’re an auteur in the truest sense in that recurring thematic and aesthetic patterns can be traced throughout your entire body of work. Do you see yourself as one?

I’m always searching for a level of honest emotional truth no matter the surroundings of the narrative. I don’t think of my work as cousins or siblings as I’m still learning and growing, but it’s wonderful that you’ve picked up on things. My films are like diary entries, and they have their own unique identities while existing in the same space.

Has Marvel ever given you the call?

Not yet but I want to try and do new things as a filmmaker. I’m comfortable making these particular kinds of films because it’s what really drives me. Some people use movies as an escape, but I don’t want to escape when I’m watching a film. I want it to be a reflection of the world we inhabit, and because fewer and fewer of these “middle films” are getting made, I’m more inspired to stay the course and keep doing what I love.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a film called “Aurora,” which is planning on shooting next year in Iceland. I’m working again with CJ Entertainment, which is a Korean production company who I’m really enjoying working with. This will be a departure for me, as it’s something that involves lots of mysterious elements. It’s still a personal story about human beings who are figuring out life, but it’s a new concept. I’m still writing it.

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