‘Penguin Bloom’ Director Glendyn Ivin on Casting Andrew Lincoln and Filming with Real Birds

     September 23, 2020

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One of the many films to world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was director Glendyn Ivin’s Penguin Bloom. Based on the book Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive, the film tells the true story of what happened to an Australian family while vacationing in Thailand in 2013. While there, Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts) fell off a roof due to faulty railing, which left the lower two-thirds of her body paralyzed. As a lifelong surfer, traveler, outdoors-woman, and active mother to three young sons, with her just as active husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), she spent many months dealing with depression and trying to figure out who she now was. One day, her children brought home a wounded baby magpie, which they named Penguin, and over time Sam bonded with the bird, which began a process of emotional healing that surprised her husband and sons. Also starring Jacki Weaver, Rachel House, Leeanna Walsman, Lisa Hensley, Griffin Murray-Johnston, Felix Cameron, and Abe Clifford-Barr, Penguin Bloom is an inspiring and heartwarming movie that will remind you how lucky we are to be alive. For more on the film you can read Perri Nemiroff’s review or watch my interview with Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln.

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Image via TIFF

Shortly after seeing the film I spoke to Glendyn Ivin. He talked about what it was like filming in the Blooms actual house and having them on set, if he was nervous about being able to make the movie because they needed a magpie to be able to do very specific things on set, how they cast Lincoln and how he kept using his Australian accent even when they weren’t filming, how the story depicted in the film could happen to anyone, why he decided to shoot the film from Naomi Watts’ characters POV, and so much more.

Check out what he had to say in the player below and further down the page is exactly what we talked about.

Glendyn Ivin:

  • What Penguin Bloom is about.
  • Were they nervous about being able to make the movie because they needed a magpie to be able to do very specific things on set?
  • Do they use more cameras on set because of the bird?
  • How much did he think about the first and last shots of the film?
  • When did he decide to shoot the film from Naomi Watts’ characters POV?
  • How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
  • What did he learn from early screenings?
  • How they filed in the actual house and the on-set photographer was the person Andrew Lincoln was playing.
  • How the story depicted in the film could happen to anyone.
  • How they wanted to tell what really happened but they’re also making a movie.
  • How they cast Lincoln and how this was his first project after wrapping on The Walking Dead.
  • How Lincoln kept his accent all the time even when off set.

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