Interview with Dan Hodgson, the dark clown of Cannes
There are more than a few aspiring filmmakers out there to say the least, and we’re not talking about the super8 variety. We’re talking about the ones fighting to break through. And there is perhaps no bigger break for directors on the rise than getting their short film into the official selection at Cannes Film Festival. Director Dan Hodgson is one of the rare few who made it, and in a big way. And it’s no wonder why, because after seeing his first short I Am Albert, it was clear why this hilarious british lad’s quirky dark comedic style and knack for punch-line dialogue made him stand out.
We met up with Dan at Cannes on the rooftop of the Palais–and had one of the most spectacular views of the red carpet and all the action–to talk about his Cannes debut and the secret recipe to getting chosen for the official selection at one of the biggest film festivals in the world.
Love Is Blind - Teaser
LOVE IS BLIND is a fresh take on the familiar love triangle.
Written and directed by DAN HODGSON, it was produced by LIZZIE BROWN and BIRD FLIGHT FILMS. It stars SOPHIE ALLEN, WILL BEST and ACE MAHBAZ.
LOVE IS BLIND is in the running for the 2015 SHORT FILM PALME D'OR, and has been selected by PALM SPRINGS and EMDEN-NORDERNEY.
"Ultimately it has got to be a good story first and foremost, and then it's just the way of putting that story across the most entertaining fashion.” Dan Hodgson
CM: When did you first realise you wanted to make movies?
I wanted to make movies as long as I can remember, and because I wanted to make people feel the way I do when I see a good film. So I always think back to being 14 and watching Trainspotting for the first time–which is one of my favourite movies–and it was that start where it just clicks in, and with the music… he’s just hiking it down high street, and within the space of 10 and 20 seconds, you know exactly who this character is. He’s shoplifting and he gets hit by the car and he just gets up and laughs and gets pummelled. It's that, and that's like a real rush, so that's effectively what I want to try and deliver to the audience. I want to entertain.
CM: When you setting out to make a movie it's more your vision are you thinking in terms of what will make people laugh?
It depends on the idea, but ultimately it has got to be a good story first and foremost, and then it's just the way of putting that story across the most entertaining fashion. I think Danny Boyle is one of the best in terms of just combining narrative with music and really creative ways of doing things, and if I can get close emulating that that would be great.
CM: What made you want to make love is blind, the inspiration? The drive?
Love is Blind little bit more mainstream than I am Albert, which was dark and scary, so I can't really tell you too much about the storyline about giving it away, but it's just an idea that popped in my head, and I've had it for a while and just wrote it as short.
CM: What is the common thread in your work?
In all my work, I just want to get across the same thing that I felt while watching Trainspotting for the first time. I do you like other films of course. I am a massive Fincher fan so although my stuff is more comedy, I like the style of his work… I think it's incredible.
Are You Albert?
Are You Albert? is a short, black comedy and the first to be written and directed by Dan Hodgson.
Gary and Claire are a young couple whose relationship is in its death throes. On their way to a wedding reception they visit Claire's elderly grandma, who suffers with dementia. An incident during the trip is the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.
AYA? has shown at the Foyle Film Festival, 2013 and the London Short Film Festival, 2014.
“Start small and working bigger.” Dan Hodgson
CM: What was the biggest challenge while making the film?
With most short films, it all comes back to funding. We were lucky that we got shortlisted for short film fund in London called London Calling. We got down to the last 14, and they helped us develop the script, and then we didn't get the funding, but at that point Lizzie, my producer, was attached and she was just like ‘let's make this!’ She's great and got the money in place and raised some of the money on kick starter. Funding was the hardest thing about it, but I had a really good producer and luckily didn't have to think much about it.
CM: What advice would you give to aspiring directors hoping to get to where you are?
There are a lot of short film companies out there, in London do you have London Calling you also have Burroughs, you also have I shorts, and then Creative England does big-budget shorts that will lead to a feature. There is no excuse not to make films now, because all the technology is there, and also if it's your first one you just need to get it made.
CM: What’s next for you?
The reason for making Love is Blind is to have something that I can show which can represent me, I wanted to get an agent and get festivals… and now a world premiere at Cannes…. it doesn't get much better than that. I've got an agent now, and since I met Lizzy my producer here two years ago, I’ve been meaning write a feature and I've got lots of ideas and I'm in different stages of development but not at the finish script yet. So it's a case of writing a script that I could refer a feature, but essentially feature. Start small and working bigger.
Photos Courtesy of Dan Hodgson Productions