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An Interview with Chad Hamilton, Director of Bad Romance

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2023

Films directed by Chad Hamilton on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Bad Romance - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Bad Romance is a comedic neo-noir about a socially awkward lonely guy, Rob, who attempts to track down the man who killed his wife Ė but not for revenge, just to make friends and find love along the way.

 

With Bad Romance being a film noir of sorts, is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites?

 

I absolutely love the noir genre! And while I like both, I actually prefer neo-noir to classic film noir. Some of my favorite neo-noir films are Memento, Shutter Island and Nightcrawler. As for the classic noirs Iíd have to say Stanley Kubrickís The Killing, Odd Man Out, White Heat, and The Third Man all come to mind. Then of course thereís the classic neo-noir films like Chinatown and Blade Runner (the original cut with the noir voiceover is the best!), which I love too.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Bad Romance?

 

The main inspirations were Memento and Shutter Island. Thereís a shared idea in both of those about a flawed protagonist forced to live in a false reality in order to survive that I really liked. It was really taking that core structure and combining it with this idea for the character of Rob that I had Ė this socially awkward and lonely guy. When I combined those it turned into this really interesting idea about love and how Ďis love a false reality we delude ourselves into believing in order to get by?í, which really resonated with me. Some of the other films I looked at were Fincherís Gone Girl and Hitchockís Vertigo, so you can definitely see shades of those in Bad Romance as well. Finally, Iím a huge fan of filmmakersí first films, especially microbudget DIY efforts. In particular, I was inspired by Peter Jacksonís Bad Taste, Christopher Nolanís Following and Kevin Smithís Clerks. There wasnít anything super specific from those films but I wanted to capture that same first-time filmmaker DIY energy from films like those.

 


To what extent could you actually identify with Bad Romance's protagonist Rob?

 

Well the character of Rob is actually inspired by an amalgam of characters from a lot of different movies, TV shows and books that I like. Though, he ultimately did come from my own psyche so thereís probably something I identify with deep down. I would say heís probably an extremely exaggerated and heightened version of some aspects of my own personality. And some of the lessons Rob learns along his journey about embracing oneís flaws and uniqueness and learning to love yourself before you can find true love certainly resonates with me. But Iím not delusional or creepy I swear!

 

Do talk about Bad Romance's brand of humour for a bit?

 

Comedy is the genre that comes the most natural to me, so itís kind of like my natural filter on things. For Bad Romance it was a blast to find the comedy working within the noir genre, finding humor in certain tropes and archetypes and such. Edgar Wright is one of my favorite filmmakers and heís a genius at working comedically within a genre. Iím particularly inspired by his collaborations with Simon Pegg like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I learned from watching their movies that the comedy also has to be character-driven. You canít have a joke for the sake of having a joke. The humor has to be in-character and make sense from their point of view, which actually elevates the humor and makes it more resonant. That being said, you also donít want to over-analyze humor. I never think about this kind of stuff when Iím writing.

 

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

 

This was my first time directing a feature film so it was all a big learning experience. Iíve listened to a million interviews with other filmmakers though so I knew a big part of directing is just casting the right actors, so I put a lot of effort into that. Iím also a big believer in meticulously planning everything out in pre-production. I storyboarded and shot-listed the entire film, though it was actually kind of useless because we didnít have the budget or resources or time to do about 80% of the shots I wanted. However, it did help me wrap my head around everything and so when we got to set I knew what was important and what could be sacrificed, which was good. As Bad Romance was such a low budget film with such limited resources, my directing approach for this one was really all about just making sure we got the necessary shots and performances down. We definitely had to sacrifice some of the style unfortunately.

 

You also appear in front of the camera in Bad Romance - so do talk about your character, what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and have you written him with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

I loved playing Antonio! I had never acted before and actually never planned on being in the film myself. I auditioned quite a lot of actors for the role but nobody really felt right. Antonio actually wasnít even in the first draft of the script. After I write a first draft of any script, usually my process is to take a few weeks off of writing and just watch as many movies as I can to build up ideas and get reinspired for the second draft. I got the idea for Antonio from a few different things: rewatching Kevin Smithís Clerks, where the character Randall plays a snobby video store clerk as well as the (totally epic) British TV show Spaced where Simon Peggís character plays a comic book store clerk. Those characters were the initial inspiration for Antonio but I wanted Antonio to be a really ďbadĒ and delusional version of that pop culture junkie archetype. And he fit in perfectly to the story as a mentor figure to Robís crazy murder mystery plot. Oh, and I also really like how Taika Waititi gives himself these great little hilarious roles in his films, so after I couldnít find anyone to play the part I was just like ďahh what the hellÖ Iíll just do itĒ. Iím really glad I did because I had a blast and found out I really like acting!

 

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

 

Oh I hit the jackpot with the cast. When I was casting Bad Romance, I was looking for actors who could not only nail the performance as well as the comedy aspect but also actually elevate what I had written, and all the key cast did just that. Sanjay was absolutely incredible and really elevated what was on the page for sure. I mean he totally carries the film. Rob was intentionally written as a very awkward and strange character but somehow Sanjay brought a real empathy and likeability to the character and Iím still not quite sure how he pulled off that balancing act. It really sells the romance between Rob and Hannah. And Emily who plays Hannah was great too. She could really hit the comedy beats, which is actually really hard for some actors to do. She could also hold her own when Sanjay would go off script and improvise (which he's a genius at). I intentionally cast actors who had the ability to improv but I didnít realize how good Sanjay and Emily would be at it until we started shooting. The film is actually really tightly scripted but they were so good at improving that I let them go off script quite a lot and thatís honestly where we captured some of the funniest moments. Also, Jeff Riberdy was amazing as well. He was, by far, the best actor who auditioned for the character of Frank but he could also really nail the comedy beats and he really understood the tone that I was going for. He also has a perfect Ďdeceptively good but actually bad guyí look for a noir film (heís actually the nicest person in the world, so no offense Jeff).

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

It was a really fun, collaborative and creative atmosphere. You want to have a great on-set energy for magic to happen, especially for comedy. That being said, it was also pretty chaotic. Everyone was wearing multiple hats. I had locations and crew back out, sometimes the night before the next dayís shoot, which had me pulling all-nighters trying to figure out solutions. A lot of actors I cast for some of the smaller roles just literally didnít show up to set, so all my crew ended up having to play multiple little roles in the film, which I actually think they really liked haha. On the positive side, our crew was so small and nimble that we could hop around from location to location really easily and shoot in places without permits. One of the biggest lessons I learned on Bad Romance was to make sure you have your script totally locked before you go into production. I had to re-write a lot of scenes in a total braindead state when we were in production and it was the most stressful and miserable thing in the world. Never again.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Bad Romance?

 

Iím thrilled that the film seems to be resonating with people! I really hope Bad Romance continues to click with audiences and critics and more people hear about it. However, itís not a film that got into Sundance or Cannes or TIFF or anything like that so itís a lot harder to get the word out about small little indies like this. Iím a believer in the idea that a film will find its audience when itís meant to find its audience, which sometimes isnít necessarily right when it comes out. So if people find Bad Romance months or even years from now thatís cool with me, but hopefully more people hear about it now too. Iíd certainly love for it to help springboard my next feature film off the ground!

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Iím almost done writing the second feature film I plan to direct. I donít want to say too much about it but itís another comedic genre film and Iím really, really excited about it. I actually started writing it when I began editing Bad Romance, and so itís been a few years now that Iíve been working on it. Itís definitely really polished!

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I was a late bloomer to filmmaking. I found my passion for film in college. It was my sophomore year and I had no clue what to major in at the time. I was having a bit of a crisis and I remember Iíd get home from class at like noon and have nothing to do the rest of the day (I mean who actually does homework?) so I just started watching movies. Like 3 a day. And up to that point I hadnít really seen any of the classics yet. Imagine watching a triple feature of ďthe greatsĒ like Rear Window, One Flew Over The Cuckooís Nest and Die Hard Ė having never seen them before Ė all in one day. It broke my brain. Specifically, it was The Lord of the Rings trilogy and those making of behind the scenes documentaries in the extended editions (if you know you know!) that really sealed it for me. I knew what I had to do after seeing those; it was literally like I was given The One Ring and a mission to Mordor haha. However, I originally thought I only wanted to produce, so I ended up getting my undergrad degree in business but eventually found my way into writing and directing.

 

I never went to film school as far as going through an entire filmmaking program but in between my junior and senior year in college I did a summer semester at USCís School of Cinematic Arts where I took a film production class. It was actually the most valuable thing I could have done. The entire class was only like 6 or 7 weeks but we had to make 5 shorts films in that timespan, which was crazy. Itís really the only technical training I have but it was the best as we had to do literally everything ourselves; we had to write, direct, shoot, and edit all of our films Ė it was like a 3 year film program crammed into 2 months.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Bad Romance?

 

To be honest it was a lot of failed attempts leading up to Bad Romance. Iíve made quite a few microbudget short films but not very many people saw them. I attempted to produce a feature film that didnít work out. And then there was my first script that I wrote for myself to direct before Bad Romance. I spent years writing it (and itís actually an awesome script and I still want to make it one day) and another year trying to raise money and put it all together - but it ultimately just didnít come together. The good thing though is that I got so depressed that I couldnít get it made that it led me to just say ďscrew itĒ and write a microbudget feature that I could make DIY-style with the resources I already had, which ended up being Bad Romance.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

My approach to directing is to just try to get the best out of everyone and shine a light on their work. As the director, you have to have the grand vision but you donít have to have every great idea to get there. I try to just be open to other peopleís creative input and inspire them to bring great ideas to the table and then itís just about filtering things out at that point. So I would say a collaborative director.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

The most inspiring filmmakers to me are Edgar Wright, Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Martin Scorsess, Spike Jonze, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton [Buster Keaton bio - click here]. Also, Matthew Vaughn and his ability to allow his directing to shine through because of his great and creative producing, which is really inspiring to me as I also really like the producing aspect of filmmaking and plan to produce films that I write and direct.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Itís always changing but the ones that I always come back to are: Shaun of the Dead, The Lord of The Rings, Hot Fuzz, Fight Club, City Lights, The Departed, Being John Malcovich, Rear Window and The Shining.

 

And of course, films you really deplore?

 

This isnít a cop out but I really donít deplore any movie! Every movie is a miracle, even the bad ones (clichť but true!!)!

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

You can follow me on Instagram @chad_d_hamilton. I also just started a Twitter with the same handle that you can follow as well. Bad Romance is currently available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, and Tubi (and coming soon to Google TV and Apple TV). You can find out more about the film by visiting www.BadRomanceFilm.com

 

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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

These were great questions and I had a lot of fun answering them. Thank you so much for the opportunity and everyone please check out Bad Romance!

 

Follow @ChadHamiltonFilms everywhere!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

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