Hunting Daze

Hunting Daze is a psychological thriller about an independent outsider who must win over a hunting group before everything goes downhill. 

It was screened in Austin for the 2024 South By SouthWest (SXSW) festival.

We subsequently had a chance to sit down with Director Annick Blanc at SXSW.

HNMAG:  Have you been to SXSW before?

Annick Blanc: First time. It’s fun already, it’s a good festival.


HNMAG:  Where was Hunting Daze shot?

Annick Blanc: It was in the Laurentians but we had to do a lot of location scouting because I really wanted it to look remote. We didn’t have the budget to fly all the way to Northern Quebec. We wanted a place that had easy access for our crew and gear. We eventually found a location two hours from Montreal with colourful soft moss and comb trees in a town called Lac-Supérieur. It was a long and difficult challenge for our location department but they really came through. 


HNMAG:  When was it filmed?

Annick Blanc: It was shot in Autumn 2022.


HNMAG:  When was the film complete?

Annick Blanc: Last week (lol). The edit was done last Spring but the FX took a while. 


HNMAG:  Was the wolf symbolic of the pack?

Annick Blanc: It was Nina’s moment to connect to nature. One of the theme’s behind the film is nature testing man. It was also a call to her individuality because it’s a lone wolf as is Nina. Nature is telling her to follow her instinct. Connect back to the lone wolf in herself. 


HNMAG:  The deer walks slowly up to them. You never really see that. 

Annick Blanc: The deer is drawn to them and it’s a very magical moment. It was tough and that effect took a really long time. It’s easy to imagine but with the deer walking that slow, it gives too much time to the viewer to see that it’s not real. 


HNMAG:  We thought the deer was with them in that shot.

Annick Blanc: Yes, we made it! That effect took about a year to make. We tried to get a real deer. There was one deer wrangler that worked on X-Men but the stable burned down. Deer are very aggressive and if you get too close, they’ll charge. We couldn’t even get the crew to film any deer. There are no more domesticated deer around Montreal. 


HNMAG: What did you do about the wolf?

Annick Blanc: That’s a real wolf. Her name is Maia. Wolves are closer to dogs, so they are easier to train. Maia was an orphan, a lone wolf and was bought by a wrangler to work in film. When we told Nahéma Ricci (Nina) that she would be working with a real wolf, she said “What do you mean a real wolf?” because she had to play so close to it. The wolf came on set the day of because we were remote. Maia is in love with this one dog. Whichever way we need Maia to look, the wrangler would bring the dog to that spot in the eyeline. Nahéma asked if she could bring her dog, she wanted it to meet the wolf. We asked her if her dog was female and she said yes. The wrangler told us that the wolf would tear it apart. 


HNMAG:  It’s fun how Claude would scream out like Tom Brady, “Let’s Go!”

Annick Blanc: It’s a real jock, bro thing. That was also not in the script. The actors liked to capitalize on running gags. They would all find the one tag line that worked for their character.


HNMAG:  How did Max, the dog get injured?

Annick Blanc: You don’t know, right because it all happened in this dream sequence. It was important to leave that ambiguous so the audience would question it. Was it the stranger? Was it the wolf? We recorded actors making wolf sounds. I didn’t want to give it away. Maybe the hunters are the wolf pack and did it themselves?


HNMAG:  Was this your first feature film? 

Annick Blanc: Yes.


HNMAG:  Terrific, great job. Was it difficult to get it to SXSW?

Annick Blanc: It’s very competitive. You can only submit it and cross your fingers. When an international sales agent pushes it, it can help but in the end, what really counts is the movie itself. 


HNMAG:  What are your aspirations as a filmmaker? 

Annick Blanc: The stories themselves dictate how they should be done. I am excited to develop auteur films as a blockbuster if the story calls for it.


 HNMAG:  Could you tell us about a movie you have in development?

Annick Blanc: It’s really early in the process but I do have a children’s film that I’m working on with witches. I just signed on to adapt a book that is set in Guadeloupe. The author’s mother is from there but she lives in Quebec. I also have a true horror film that could be a bigger-budget Hollywood movie. 


HNMAG:  Have you been to Austin before?

Annick Blanc: I have never been to Austin before. SXSW is such an overwhelming festival. There is so much going on. We also just got back from Berlin. That was intense too. I want to get the stress of the premiere over with and then celebrate with the crew. 

Hunting Daze is a smart and entertaining movie set in Quebec and in French with English subtitles. It’s another strong example of how we can make great movies in Canada from a Canadian perspective. We recommend you look for it when it comes to your local theatre. Annick Blanc is a talented writer and director who should have a terrific career.

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