Wash Westmoreland: “My dad started me making films”

The director of ‘Still Alice’ Wash Westmoreland presented his latest feature film Colette at the Toronto International Film Festival starring Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin and Kate Bosworth, which saw Moore win nearly every acting award including a BAFTA and her first Oscar. Ikon London Magazine spoke to Wash Westmoreland about British Film Institute ‘diversity targets’ and about his father.

Hailing from Leeds, England, Westmoreland earned his college degree in Politics at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and soon after moved to America to pursue filmmaking.

This new flick has a good chance of getting recognition this coming Awards Season. Co-written by Wash Westmoreland and the late Richard Glatzer back in 2001, the film follows Colette (Keira Knightley) from her teenage years to being an adult.

We meet Colette (Keira Knightley) as a teenage girl in the Burgundian countryside, infatuated with Willy (Dominic West), a charming but much older Parisian publisher. When she joins him in the city as his bride, Colette begins to turn heads. Ripe for adventure and unafraid of her desires, Colette ‘challenges’ the social and gender conventions, and sexual taboos, of Belle Époque Paris. Willy is all in – at first. He even encourages Colette to write as one of his “factory” authors – or ghostwriters, as we call them now – and the fruits of her labour, the Claudine books, quickly become a literary sensation. There’s only one problem: though Claudine is Colette, she also belongs to Willy.

BFI ‘diversity targets’

The film Colette is part-produced by Number 9 Films, Killer Films, Bold Films, Pixoloid Studios and BFI Film Fund. We previously reported in Ikon London Magazine the BFI diversity targets and spoke to Wash Westmoreland about his ‘diversity achievements’.

“We have so many LGBTQ representatives who took part, plus we have one black actor playing a character who historically was white and an Asian person who is also playing a white character,” admitted director at the press conference.

“One of the things I admire about Colette is that she was born in the country and she went with what felt natural to her. A lot of her books are about nature and that was her attitude to the sexuality as well. She went with what felt natural. She didn’t feel guilty, didn’t feel shame. And that’s what we wanted to explore first of all.”

He further elaborated during the star-studded premiere: “I didn’t hear specifically about the BFI targets but I think diversity is something that is part of the creative world. And when we speak about the period dramas, there were people of different sexual orientation in these societies and of different colours. So, in Colette, we tried to break some of the conventional rules for period pieces so it’s shaking things up.”

“One of the things I admire about Colette is that she was born in the country and she went with what felt natural to her. A lot of her books are about nature and that was her attitude to the sexuality as well. She went with what felt natural. She didn’t feel guilty, didn’t feel shame. And that’s what we wanted to explore first of all.”

Wash Westmoreland: “My dad started me making films”

The London premiere of Colette will take place at the BFI London Film Festival and we learned that Wash’s dad will travel from Leeds to support him.

“My dad started making films. He worked at the power stations all his life, and he was very invested in cinema. He would always show me and my brother films when we were kids and explain. This is a master shot. This is a tracking shot. This is a close-up. And when I was nine, I started making films with our home movie camera with him. So, it means everything to me to have him come down to London and see Colette play in Leicester Square.”

Our parents can play a big role in forming our future. Like with Emilio Estevez, whose father bought film camera when he was eleven, so with Wash Westmoreland who started making films age nine, it’s the ‘invested parents’ who lay the basics for kids. To all film lovers out there who want to encourage their kids – give them a camera and let them experiment with filming beyond the ‘Instagram Story.’ Maybe one day you too will be walking down the red carpet at the Leicester Square.

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Wash Westmoreland at the premiere of Colette at Tornoto Film Festival © Joe Alvarez

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