‘Violent’: We Are The City’s film about life, death, and faith

An interview with the makers of Violent, a companion film to We Are The City’s 2012 album

Violent, the debut film from local British Columbian talent Andrew Huculiak, Cayne McKenzie, Joseph Schweers, and Josh Huculiak, was one of the highlights of the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). The film is a companion of sorts to the 2012 indie rock album of the same name by We Are The City (of which Andrew Huculiak and Cayne McKenzie are members). Violent, filmed in Norway, tells the story of Dagny, a young 20-something who moves from her home in the country to nearby Bergen, and watches her life unfold in ways she didn’t expect.

It recently won awards at VIFF not only for Best British Columbian film, but Best Canadian film as well. Violent’s filmmakers were kind enough to take some time out of their busy schedules to talk about the film.


Andrew Huculiak: Director/Writer

Joseph Schweers: Cinematographer/Editor/Writer

Josh Huculiak: Producer/Writer

Cayne McKenzie: Assistant Director/Writer

You’ve talked about how the album and film are connected. But at the same time, there is still a distance between them. Why did you make that decision?

Cayne: It’s not a conscious decision to keep them separate, not a lack of respect for conceptual ideas, or having a film go hand in hand with an album, like The Wall. We had a lot to say, both in the music and film. Josh and Joe are not in the band, but they have been involved the whole time; we’ve been coming up with concepts together, and living together, for six years. And before that we were all working together as well. But I think that we just had a lot of ideas of what we wanted to say, and we were all thinking of similar things to say.

Being in our early-20s, moving out of being a youth to an adult, we had a lot to say about that. But our community that we’ve surrounded ourselves with also encourages thinking and discussing philosophies like we do in the album and film. Ideas like being alone versus loneliness, dying versus death, living, and God. We have many conversations about these topics, and there ended up being too much to say for one project, and so it became two projects.

Josh: We originally talked a lot about making [the album and the film] very tied, but eventually they took on their own lives. The film was finished much later, and while we could have made them very closely connected or let each be its own thing, the latter was much more appealing to all of us.

Cayne: It was quite organic, I can’t remember the conversation where we decided to divorce them, it just happened.

Josh: Yeah, we let them grow apart. At no point did we think “We have to connect/disconnect this specific part.”

Joe: I can’t really imagine having the songs in it. Like a break in the storyline, inserting a music video randomly.

Cayne: There’s this one point at the party where a vocal from the album comes in, and even though it’s a remix and not pulled directly from the album, it’s highly comedic for me when I hear it now – and I can’t imagine a whole album where that happens. It’s not that the remix is comedic, but the idea of being a series of music videos doesn’t make sense.