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An Interview with John Law, Director of The Hatred

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2017

John Law on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie The Hatred - in a few words, what is it about?

 

On the surface, The Hatred is the story of a young orphan girl who conjures an executed soldier back from the dead and together they deliver hell in the northern frontier of the 1800’s. Underneath it is a metaphor for the hatred Americans seem to be passing to their children.

 

Basic question, why choose the Western genre as a backdrop for what I'd call an almost biblical horror story? And do talk about your approach to both the Western and the horror genre for a bit!

 

I chose the western backdrop for this biblical tale of horror because I feel that people were more in touch and under the influence of the “magic” and supernatural qualities of their beliefs back then. Recently I had driven from Montana to Alaska and during the trip was intrigued by the regional stories of the interaction of the pioneers with the First Nations and how much the pioneers believed in their own divine providence. The diaries of the early settlers are filled with fundamental religious scripture. Also, the brutality of the northern pioneers and soldiers is well documented. Not just against the First Nations but also against each other. With all this in mind I believed it would be a perfect setting for a tale of brutality and horror all driven by an angelic young girl that could also serve as a fun representation of young America.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when dreaming up The Hatred?

 

I definitely loved Spaghetti westerns growing up. Most of all I liked the long stillness of many of the scenes accented with bursts of violence. High Plains Drifter is one of my favorites. The Hatred is definitely influenced by this movie but with a different conclusion on the truth of vengeance. On the horror front I really dig The Omen! The religious references, the child antagonist and the unrelenting dark beauty of the devil.  The dark, sad majesty of the fallen one is definitely intriguing to me and a fun theme to explore. Another film that influenced The Hatred is The Proposition, written by Nick Cave. What thrilled me about that movie was how dirty and gritty it was. The viewer could smell the dirt and taste the blood in that one and for me the acting was understated and perfect. I definitely emulated that inglorious ethic when shooting The Hatred.

 

On a personal level, to what extent could you identify with your main character's path of vengeance?

 

Vengeance and Hatred have both been things I’ve struggled with in my life. Both are like drugs and are viciously addicting.  The more you do the more you want, they feed on themselves through us. Just like drugs, quitting Vengeance and Hatred has been a fervent goal of mine and this movie is definitely a tribute to my feelings on both.

 

Most of The Hatred was filmed on exterior locations in the snow - so do talk about your locations for a bit, and what were the advantages and challenges of filming there under those conditions?

 

I was warned repeatedly not to shoot in the snow for a variety of reasons. The first was the difficulty of dealing with the light but also the effect the cold had on the cameras. I did not listen to that advice and am glad. In fact, I found the light in the snow to be wonderful to work with and it really helped the visual contrast I was looking for. As for the cold, the cameras were not happy but it was so cold that the actors also couldn’t last too long either. So we shot in short bursts and then retreated to warm cars or my house. The entire film was shot in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York where I’m from. The dream sequence where I’m covered in blood was a cold day with a fresh snow. I was naked in the snow and had to walk for about 100 yards barefoot. Within 5 minutes I couldn’t feel my hands or feet and was so frozen I couldn’t get my shoes or clothes on. Luckily I was close to home but I honestly thought I wasn’t gonna make it. It took me quite a while to thaw out. I won’t do that again.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

As a director the most important part of my job was to encourage all the actors to not act. Just to be as simple as possible. Especially because we were doing a period piece it was imperative that we didn’t act or speak “old timey”. I think all the actors did an amazing job of playing everything in a wonderfully understated fashion. In the end I find this more menacing than going big.

 

You also play the avenging "angel" (?) in The Hatred - so how do you even approach such a role, and did you write him with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

I play the role of Vengeance. I cast myself because I am the cheapest actor I know. Free. Also, I love working with my daughter Zelda. We had a ton of fun making this film together. Since she was homeschooled the year we filmed, we were able to shoot all of our scenes whenever we wanted and that gave us time to do things right. It also made reshoots especially easy. For my character, I wanted him to be merciless. Not just to his victims but also in his lack of caring for the goodness of the young girl. There is one scene in particular that is there only to show a flicker of guilt in the realization of what he is ultimately doing to this child.

 

What can you tell us about the rest of The Hatred's key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

The entire cast of the film were great to work with. The working phrase for the direction was “give it to me low and slow” and they delivered perfectly. Each was cast for their look. I wanted a real ramshackle mismatched crew of heathens and I love they way they all come together as an ensemble. I could not have asked for an easier troupe. When they weren’t acting, they were cooking food or carrying equipment or applying bloody make up. Each of them was not just committed as an actor, they were also committed as crew members.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Hatred yet?

 

The Hatred is just about to have its world premiere so we have only reached out to a few press outlets but so far the response has been excellent. Like any piece of art, it’s on its own now and I wish it the best because I enjoyed every moment of creating this little demon!

 

From what I know, a sequel to The Hatred is already in the works - so do talk about that project for a bit!

 

Speaking of creating! Blu de Golyer [Blu de Golyer interview - click here] is now dipping his pen in a pool of blood and cranking out the prequel! Soon we’ll find out where this vicious curse came from and dive a little deeper into the river of pain and sadness that it flows from. I CANNOT WAIT TO FILM PART 2!!!

 

What got you into making movies in the first place? And what can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Hatred?

 

I originally got into filmmaking because I enjoyed making dramas. Celebrating real people and how they fought through their challenges. My wife Toby and I joined forces with our two daughters and made four feature films together. Rumblestrips, Knuckle Jack, The Shoot and Halfway to Zen. Working together as a family is amazing and we’ve got a solid operation now. On The Hatred, Toby was working hard writing another script and my oldest daughter, Lulu, had left for college. So Zelda and I made The Hatred together. When we all work together we are WonderWheel Productions. When it is Z and I we are Kid Kalifornia Productions, which takes its name from the band Zelda and I have - https://youtu.be/U7_mP0aXkYg

As the two of us made videos together we realized we liked the darker visuals and figured making an an entire dark feature would be fun.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

As a director I believe the most important job is to get people to be as close to themselves as possible. For me making sure everyone is relaxed is tatamount, if there is tension on set it rarely helps for what I’m trying to achieve. I always let the actor go through a scene the way they like, when they are satisfied I ask them to do it the way I like. Generally my advice to them is “keep it low and slow” and “don’t act”. I like what each actor brings to the projects and often find between their ideas and mine something great is found.

 

Besides making movies, you're also a musician, right? So what can you tell us about that aspect of your career? And what kind of music do you play, preferably?

 

Punk rock changed my life. I grew up on hardcore. It kept me out of the mainstream of everything and I am thankful for that. I played in a lot of bands growing up but my favorite was Banana Fish Zero which turned into Statues of Liberty. We were a regional party punk outfit that toured up and down the east coast - https://youtu.be/z9pR72V_paE. In fact, the first movie I ever made was a documentary about my bass player, Prince Hal. I am now mostly focused on hanging with my kid musically and having fun both doing live shows and as I said before... making videos - https://youtu.be/rLGvleXxfpo

 

Filmmakers, musicians, actors, writers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

The artists that inspire me are the ones that beat the system. Greg Ginn from Black Flag is an example I continually return to for inspiration. Jello Biafra too. Both of them created their own record companies and powerful network systems in an age before the internet. Through cleverness and hard work their music and vision got to millions of punks like me and I believe ultimately helped topple a bloated and boring music industry and change the music landscape forever.

 

Your favourite movies? And of course, films you really deplore?

 

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My favorite movies are Bad News Bears and The Proposition. My least favorite movies are those done by Hollywood committee. I think it’s good that the Industry elite is getting their ass kicked for being fools. I think it will make room for new talent and new ideas.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

The Hatred is available exclusively on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B077Z84JVX

Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/The-Hatred-155834991601307/

On Twitter we can be found at @TheHatredFilm

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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