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An Interview with Samuel Kay Forrest, Director and Star of HipBeat

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2021

Samuel Kay Forrest on (re)Search my Trash


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


Angy is an anarchist who fights the system by day and raves by night while searching for love in Berlin.


Is HipBeat in any way or form based on your personal experiences, and how much of Samuel Kay Forrest can we find in Angus?


I think everything you write comes from a personal experience or based on people in your life you meet. Some of the story is from my experiences but most is inspired by my siblings and friends.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing HipBeat?


Absorbing the world in Berlin and experiencing the nightlife and activist world through the writing and filming process was my biggest inspiration. But before I set out on the journey I was also re-watching films like Dog Day Afternoon, Midnight Cowboy, A Place in the Sun, Easy Rider, Shadows, Husbands, The Panic in Needle Park, Hunger, Shame, and In The Name of the Father to name a few.


Do talk about all your Berlin locations for a bit, and what was it like shooting in Berlin?


Itís a beautiful canvas to work with because it's filled with so much mystery and conflict due to it's past history but also the young people are reshaping the culture in Berlin, which has only been unified since 1989. We filmed in some of the most notorious and secretive clubs around Berlin as well as hidden places dating back to the early 20th century.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I come from a family of actors, so performance to me is paramount. Personally I feel itís the directors first responsibility to capture honest performances that serve the story. I focused mostly on capturing the realism and counterculture in the moment.


You also play the lead in HipBeat - so what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and have you written Angus with yourself in mind from the get-go?


I wasnít planning on playing the role but I had trouble finding actors who would want to play a gender fluid, non binary anarchist. As for the acting process, we all draw on our own experiences as actors in some extent, but my character was based on the amount of research I did on anarchy and queer history.


Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


I wanted to have the performances be as authentic as possible. So when casting the film, I cast actors who identify as queer when the role called for it. And most of the smaller roles and extras are people from the queer community. I follow my instincts when casting, so when it comes to filming the scenes the actors already embody the spirit of the character. The actors I cast I found in performances around Berlin. I like to cast actors that have theater experience.


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


The energy you bring to the set is vital. Creating a safe space for the actors is how I approach the shooting process. A place where the actors and team can play without judgment. I approach everything with encouragement and love. But I like to say there is no right or wrong way to shoot a film if it comes from an honest authentic place.


The $64-question of course, where can HipBeat be seen?


It's on Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube Rentals during the holidays. In Janurary it will be on Amazon Prime, Dekkoo (queer platform) and Tubi TV in the US and UK. Then Europe and the rest of the world in the spring of 2022.


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


The audience has responded very well to the film. The limited theatrical release in LA, Berlin, and London art cinemas were sold out but the release was cut short due to the pandemic. Itís an unpredictable time for everyone. As for the critics, it has been mixed reviews and split down the middle. Some critics love the film and praise it. Others hate it, and go out of their way to express it. In my opinion good films can be that subjective.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Yes I have a short film Invisible Borders about refugees on, a great new free or donation-based streaming service out of London. Some great shorts and features on there to check out. My next feature film is called Voices of My Ancestors out in fall 2022, which is about a brother and sister returning to West Africa to reconnect with their family. And if the pandemic gets better, I will be filming Godhead next year, which is about artists following their dreams in Los Angeles.


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


I come from a family of artists and actors, so it certainly runs through my veins you could say. My mother would always show me the classic films of Brando, Clift, Kazan, Coppola, Chaplin, Cassavetees, Newman, and Streep to name a few. She would also implore me to read Shakespeare if I was serious. When I was in my late teens I started performing in theater in London and then attended film school in LA - but I dropped out and started making films.


You seem to be as comfortable in front of the camera as behind it - so when it comes to making movies, what are some of your favourite jobs, which could you do without?


I love all of it and I am very comfortable doing both, but on my last couple of films I was just writing and directing, which I prefer to do on my projects. I also love acting in other peopleís projects and serving their vision. I hopefully can do that throughout my career.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to HipBeat, in whatever position?


As I said before,  I mostly did theater in the UK and Los Angeles but also acted in some indie films like Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash and Groove about musicians in New York. As a filmmaker before HipBeat I had made some short films and directed theater.


How would you describe yourself as a director, and how as an actor?


Constantly growing, learning, and following my curiosity as an actor or director. I am always striving to be the best version of myself in all aspects of my life, but as a filmmaker and artist I am never satisfied or fulfilled. There is always somewhere else you can go and a new experience you can be challenged by. I hope to inspire people the way that they inspire me.


Filmmakers, actors, whoever else who inspire you?


Well I have named some of the actors and filmmakers that inspired me already but there are definitely some writers like Thomas Woolfe, Jack Keroac, Hunter Thompson, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, John Donne, and George Orwell to name a few. Musicians would be Tom Waits, David Bowie, Howling Wolf, Lightning Hopkins, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Alex Scriban, Gaudi, Basquiat, and Banksy. I am inspired by artists of all mediums and it's an endless list, but I will leave it there. And of course my mother.


Your favourite movies?


From Here to Eternity, The Search, Chimes of Midnight, The Trial, Citizen Kane, In the Heat of the Night, Yankee Doodle Dandy, My Left Foot, Sophie's Choice, One True Thing, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, Hurricane, Cincinnati Kid, Malcom X, The Dictator, Modern Times, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Serpico, Network, On the Waterfront, A Gentleman's Agreement, Giant, East of Eden, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, A Women Under the Influence, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Somebody up There Likes Me, Elmer Gantry, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, All that Jazz, Wit, Kes, Songs My Brother Taught Me, Whale Rider, The Piano, Vagabond, Ratcatcher, Persona, Ikiru, Amores Perros, Biutiful, Selma, Small Axe, Ray, La Vie en Rose, Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Last Tango in Paris, Rain Man, Gandhi, Philadelphia, and Forrest Gump. These are all films worth checking out if you have any curiosity about being creative or in the film industry.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I try not to be negative or critical of films because all art is subjective and I understand the huge undertaking every project is. But I will say Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind, and Triumph of the Will I absolutely deplore. I think they are shameful.


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


Yes, stay safe, keep creating and be compassionate with one another. We only get through these tough times together.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD