TIFF 2013 Interview: Bruce Sweeney, Gabrielle Rose, and Tom Scholte on The Dick Knost Show

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Editor’s Notes: The following interview is part of our coverage of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. For more information on the festival visit http://tiff.net and follow TIFF on Twitter at @TIFF_NET.

After making films such as the controversial Dirty and the underrated The Last Wedding, director Bruce Sweeney brings audiences the story of The Dick Knost Show. Dick Knost, played by Tom Scholte, is a mouthy sports talk show host. He dismisses a guest for his opinions on hockey concussions and ironically, suffers one himself after a game of squash with his co-host. Much of the film is around this crisis, and the people that work/live around him, including his Svengali-like producer, played by Gabrielle Rose.

I sat down with Bruce, Gabrielle, and Tom to discuss the film, its characters, and the state of Canadian film.

Jacqueline: In the film, we see most of the characters continually engaging in social media, which is reflective or our habits now: half of our workday is spent online.

Bruce Sweeney: It’s a lived experience. Remember when everyone first had a cellphone? For the fabric of the movie it’s so easy to tell someone to just check their messages. It seems more life like, more lived in. It gives the actors something different to do.

Jacqueline: What inspired you to write The Dick Knost Show?


Bruce Sweeney: I was looking through my scripts and old discarded scripts, particularly three older scripts. What struck me is what they had in common: a middle-aged man in crisis. And I thought, “That’s odd. Why would I have these scripts?”


The script that was the best was the sports talk host having a crisis. It seemed lighter, irreverent, and kind of satirical. You could turn the page on it. Sometimes a lot of the scripts you pull out and groan. But with this one, it just seemed to work because that whole landscape, of sports talk, is quite specific, in the notion of a show that is primarily radio, although they simulcast on television. It’s interesting because they’re not trying to entertain you, but just being present in the moment.

Jacqueline: I’m wondering about what happens on screen, is that improvisation for the actors or a combination with the script?

Tom Scholte: It was definitely scripted with a little bit of improv here and there. It was a really strong script.

Gabrielle Rose: It’s about eighty-five to ninety percent scripted…

Tom Scholte: Sometimes an idea hits you during the take, but the script was such a strong script that we didn’t feel like we needed to try to go outside of it.

Jacqueline: What did you love or hate about your characters, or love-hate about them?

Tom Scholte (pointing to Gabrielle): Well, what I hate about YOUR character…


Gabrielle Rose (referring to the Dick Knost character): He’s so irresponsible! He doesn’t listen to any advice!

Tom Scholte: There’s nothing I hated about the character. First of all, you know as an actor, it’s always important not to judge your character. And second, what I like about Dick is that although he’s kind of an asshole, he does know his job. He does know what he’s talking about. So he’s not just a blowhard. For those of us who like to watch sports coverage on television that’s what we find refreshing about these people. Even though it’s a shtick, it’s a bit of a put-on, but it was fun to do that.

Like Bruce, I spent hours watching sports talk shows. I’m obsessed with sports and media coverage of sports. It was just like being in a playground. I haven’t had this much fun in years.

Jacqueline (to Gabrielle): How about your Lady Macbeth-type character?


Jacqueline: Just sayin’!

Gabrielle Rose: She is a scary lady. I love playing women who have serious flaws It’s really fun to revel around in them. I get to indulge a side of my nature which I never get to. She’s a hard-ass, opinionated, driven, ambitious, and she’s a person who takes no prisoners; I then to figure out why she is that way.

Bruce Sweeney: I think all of the actors have their super objective and through line. Gabrielle’s character’s through line is the status quo.

Gabrielle Rose: She’s hanging by her fingernails. She’s near retirement age and doesn’t have the money to retire. If she’s out, she’s out. She lives in a young world with the whole social media aspect, which is way beyond her. She carries around a pen and a piece of paper! But her fingernails are growing by the second.

Bruce Sweeney: I liked that you just didn’t want to mess with her. You knew there’d be trouble. If you had to go ask her for something, you had to make sure you knew what you asking her for or could get a whoopin’.

Tom Scholte: It’s show business. Whether you’re a sports talk show host or a professional athlete, it’s all show business. People who desire the spotlight are wired and driven a certain way. It’s always fun to explore that in our nature.

Anyone in this business has the Dick Knost disease to one degree or another.

Jacqueline: There are scenes where Dick says things to his host that made me cringe. I’m referring to the scene where Dick is pushing “famous” soccer hero Rico’s (played by Zak Santiago), buttons…

Tom Scholte: The fact that he’s willing to take on someone like Rico who is a little inflated, I think it’s something we like about Dick to some degree as well. Obviously, he’s someone who is crossing some lines there.

Gabrielle Rose: He doesn’t pander.

Tom Scholte: Yeah! Dick’s not a comedian, but he uses a lot of humor. I think that comedians and people who use humor, they’re like the modern day equivalent of the court jester who had the license to bring the monarch back down to earth by puncturing them with things that were nasty, but they were true.

Jacqueline: What can Canada do to support small homegrown films like these, I mean, the festival doesn’t have a big Canadian headliner up there. Shouldn’t we?

Tom Scholte: The only thing that might be working for Canadian films right now are the movie channels. So it means that between 2am and 6am you get this window of great Canadian films! I just set my PVR up on Encore, Bravo, and whatever for those hours and see these films I don’t get exposed to and I’m in Canadian film!

Gabrielle Rose: There is an increase in making films with digital media. It’s so much easier to on a tiny camera…

Tom Scholte: But if we don’t create the audience to make a sustainable living…

Gabrielle Rose: Yeah, but we have to deserve that audience. But the big problem I think is that we’re hardwired to react to the star system. If it doesn’t have a name that they recognize, people are not going to want to see it. I think we’re going to have to really get behind promoting our own film system.

Quebec film has a huge film following and you can see it in their films. They’re getting better and better. In English Canada, it’s just so difficult. I really don’t quite know what the answer is.

Tom Scholte: There will always be Canadians who want to make movies. The trap is going to be that there’s another generation of twenty year olds who want to make movies until they need to make a living. And then another generation…and then they’re out. Bruce is a survivor…

Gabrielle Rose: Look at all of our ages…


Tom Scholte: We are grizzled veterans because honestly, most people only make one or two feature films in Canada and they’re done.

Gabrielle Rose: Or they work down in the States.

Tom Scholte: So we don’t like to whine about it too much, but you did open that can of worms.

Jacqueline: I like talking about this because it’s like the elephant in the room in Canadian film. We don’t talk or do enough about it…

Gabrielle Rose: I think we need to change the perception somehow, but I don’t know quite how.

Bruce Sweeney: It’s never been worse getting money for your films right now.

Tom Scholte: It’s true British Columbia is brutal for the arts in general right now.

Bruce Sweeney: B.C. is brutal.

Tom Scholte: It’s a bad climate for the arts there. We were already the lowest per capita in province for capital funding in the country. They’ve gotten rid of some of the gaming money that used to go to theatre companies. People are leaving B.C..

Gabrielle Rose: They closed the Playhouse theatre.

Tom Scholte: The Playhouse theatre closed. I talked to a friend of mine who said, “I feel like every week it’s another going away party I’m at because people are leaving.”

Gabrielle Rose: The biggest problem is that the industry comes back and that foundation that you had so beautifully six or seven years ago is gone. It will build up fast if it comes back. But it’s hard.

Tom Scholte: These things go in cycles and political ideas go in cycles, so who knows?

Jacqueline: What’s next for all of you? Tom, will you direct again?

Tom Scholte: Yes! Don’t ask me when! I have a couple of things I’m working on and eventually, I’d really like to. I’m going to be teaching at the University of British Columbia, which I usually do, training the next generation of Canadian film actors. (smiles) I love it. I love teaching. I love working at the university. I have the perfect balance. I teach, I do plays, and do Canadian film.

Bruce Sweeney: The grand scheme is that this can function as a pilot, then get some funding, and turn it into a series.

Gabrielle Rose: I’m in the middle of rehearsals for a play called Other Desert Cities at the Stanley Theatre in Vancouver in the middle of the month of September, so I have to fly back after this. It’s been hectic.

Bruce Sweeney: She works a lot!

Jacqueline: She was in Stargate and Battlestar Galactica!

Bruce Sweeney: Were you? I didn’t know that!

Gabrielle Rose (blushes): I had a fairly chunky role in Battlestar, but Stargate was about a minute and a half, maybe.

With my nerd trivia revealed I left the trio to their full festival day. You have to understand that, especially when referring to Canadian actors, you’re going to find a lot of our favorite science fiction shows or movies, have at least one or two of our own them. Just sayin’.








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Jacqueline Valencia

Sr. Staff Film Critic
I'm a published writer, illustrator, and film critic. Cinema has been a passion of mine since my first viewing of Milius' Conan the Barbarian and my film tastes go from experimental to modern blockbuster.