Breaking News:

Close

Online Poll

Is the world getting more violent or more peaceful?

Sponsored By:

Tlaquepaque Village

Writer and director Philippe Caland relies on improvisation in his films.

It’s an unorthodox approach, he said, and it’s one that requires a lot of trust from his actors.

It’s also one of the reasons he chooses to star in his films, he said — to be certain his ideas and intentions are getting through.

“Ripple Effect,” Caland’s latest film, which will screen twice during this year’s Sedona International Film Festival, stars Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Academy Award nominees Virginia Madsen and Minnie Driver, and Caland in the leading role.

By Tyler Midkiff

Larson Newspapers

Writer and director Philippe Caland relies on improvisation in his films.

It’s an unorthodox approach, he said, and it’s one that requires a lot of trust from his actors.

It’s also one of the reasons he chooses to star in his films, he said — to be certain his ideas and intentions are getting through.

“Ripple Effect,” Caland’s latest film, which will screen twice during this year’s Sedona International Film Festival, stars Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Academy Award nominees Virginia Madsen and Minnie Driver, and Caland in the leading role.

It will screen first on Friday, Feb. 29, at 4:20 p.m., and again on Saturday, March 1, at 7:15 p.m. Harkins Theater will host both screenings and Caland will attend to answer questions.

In “Ripple Effect,” Caland plays Amer Atrash, a Lebanese-born clothing designer who believes his streak of bad luck may be related to a hit-and-run accident 15 years prior, which left Phillip Blackman — played by Whitaker — in a wheelchair.

To maintain the film’s improvisational feel, Caland claims he didn’t even give scripts to his actors. Scene by scene, they learned much of the story as they went along, but it wasn’t an untested methodology, Caland said.

He tried it 2003 in his first film, “Hollywood Buddha,” and the approach attracted “Ripple Effect’s” exceptional cast.

Whitaker was in Africa finishing up his role as real-life dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor, when Caland contacted him to pitch the role of Blackman.

Just moments into their conversation, an electrical blackout left Whitaker in the dark, forcing him to drop everything he was doing, Caland said.

In those moments of silence, he and Whitaker established a connection — a connection that caused Whitaker to make an almost on-the-spot commitment to the project.

To guarantee Whitaker’s part in the film, Caland said he postponed production. Madsen and Driver joined the project shortly thereafter.

Working with the three was incredible, Caland said. Their experience afforded them a level of confidence enabling them to handle anything Caland threw at them, and what he was offering was something none of them were used to.

A journey begins at “point A” without knowing where “point B” is, Caland said. Otherwise, it’s just a trip.

Though Caland knew where to find “point B,” serving as both the director and the lead actor presented its own challenges.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed, Caland said he forced himself to sort of disconnect from the reality of what he was doing.

“Ripple Effect” is an intimate, personal film, Caland said, and elements of his own life are even written into it. Like Atrash, Caland is also a first generation American born in Lebanon.

Americans don’t generally embrace Middle Eastern culture, Caland said, and a name like Amer Atrash would certainly alienate his character even more.

“Ripple Effect’s” story reverberates on several levels. It has depth, Caland said. But to avoid allowing it to become preachy or corny, he proceeded carefully — relying on his actors and his own abilities as a director to temper the effect.

Whitaker seemed like the perfect actor to handle the philosophical weight of the film, Caland said, because he lives in that headspace all the time. He studies concepts like manifestation, enlightenment and forgiveness. 

“Forest [Whitaker] was a gift for this movie,” Caland said, “because he lives intensely in that state of mind.”

The film’s spiritual, yet secular, elements will not be lost on Sedona audiences, Caland believes.

Sedona seems to be one of the few places that allows people to define themselves as spiritual while still having minds of their own, he said. It’s a sort of under-defined, cosmic spirituality.

Making a feature film is an intensive process, Caland said. “Ripple Effect” has dominated more than two years of his life, but to see people finally respond to it, and respond positively, makes it worthwhile.

It’s an honor to screen “Ripple Effect” at the Sedona International Film Festival, Caland said, and he couldn’t think of a better place to show it.

For more information about “Ripple Effect,” including director and cast biographies and a trailer, visit www.rippleeffectthemovie.com.

 

Tyler Midkiff can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 122, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Leave your comments

0
terms and condition.
  • No comments found

Sedona Weather

Partly cloudy

82°F

Sedona, AZ

Humidity: 31%
Wind: S at 8 mph
Tuesday
Sunny
58°F / 87°F
Wednesday
Sunny
62°F / 89°F
Thursday
Sunny
63°F / 88°F

Trending Articles

Sedona Gas Prices

Lowest Gas Prices in Sedona
Sedona Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com