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Vanessa McMahon


Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)

 


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Deborah Hadfield on 'The Kindness of Strangers'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Hadfield is the proud debut director of her first feature film, the romantic road movie entitled, ‘The Kindness of Strangers' (2010). I spoke with Deborah recently about the making of her film and what it was like to shoot on location throughout three different countries in Europe. Here is our one-on-one in depth interview. 

 

 

ME: Can you speak about The Kindness of Strangers? What is it about and what inspired you to make this film? Also, how true does it reflect contemporary European life and relationships? 

 

 

DEBORAH: Making the movie started as a conversation with actor Toby Kebbell. We both wanted to make an iconic road movie based on intriguing characters and spectacular scenery which reflects the inner world of the story. Toby became busy with huge movies like Prince of Persia and The Sorcerer's Apprentice but gave me his blessings to go ahead to make the film. The story is about a couple, Grace and Danny, who meet in Rome because she is kind and offers to help him. In return he gets her home to England but when they start travelling together his past starts to catch up with him. Alistair, the brother of his dead girlfriend Christina, is pursuing him across Europe because Danny is suspected of killing her. Finally Alistair catches Danny and the truth of Christina's death is revealed.

 

 

ME: So, it's like a romantic road movie/murder mystery! Can you share any stories, anecdotes you might have about the process of making the film...how hard it was and complications from the script to the screen?

 

 

DEBORAH: Making the film was the most challenging but rewarding experience of my life. Filming across 3 countries in 9 days was a marathon task. We started in Amalfi in the South of Italy which was breathtaking but it was also so hot it was like working in a sauna. On the first day we only got one hour's sleep as we needed to be in the centre of Rome before six in the morning. But as walked into the square at the Pantheon it took our breath away it is so beautiful. Filming in the city was such a privilege. The tiny budget meant every moment was spent working, even travelling in the minibus we were rehearsing. The Kindness of Strangers isn't just the title but also describes how we made the movie, on one occasion people stopped to offer our actors a lift as they were hitching in a scene so I persuaded to them to appear in the movie. In Monte Carlo we stopped for coffee and I took the opportunity to ask a yacht captain to allow us to film on board. He agreed so we were able to include the £50 million yacht in the movie. I was determined to maximize any opportunity which passed our path s was constantly on the lookout for locations, characters or circumstances to make the movie spectacular.

 

 

ME: Can you tell us about what you want audiences to know about your film and what you really wanted to say with them?

 

 

DEBORAH: Making the movie is proof that if you follow your dreams and are prepared to work hard anything truly is possible. I hope the audiences will enjoy the journey the characters take and lose themselves in the beauty of the movie.

 

 

ME: How hard it is to make an independent UK film today with the falling of the UK Film Commission? How are they funded? Also, what is the filmmaking norm now? Is there one?

 

 

DEBORAH: It is incredibly hard to make a film of any budget. Changes in the financial landscape means you have to be even more inventive in finding ways to make films. There really isn't one route which will guarantee finding the resources to make a movie. Most producers utilize private investors and look for co-production deals which will make things possible.

 

 

ME: It's true about the shoestring low budget limitations. And yet you managed to have a great cast and pull off a beautifully shot film all on location. Huge congrats! What was it like working with the cast? Alessandro Parrello, Tim Seyfert, Gemma Deerfield and Dave Prowse?

 

 

DEBORAH: Tabatha Williams has just won an award for best actress at the International Film Festival of World Cinema. She is an incredible talent who shines on screen. I have worked with Tabatha on several films and each time is such a pleasure as she is professional, inventive and truly puts herself out there to capture the real emotions of each moment of the character she plays. Gemma Deerfield blew me away by her ability to get straight into her role the moment I shouted action. The tight time schedule meant we had no time to rehearse but Gemma didn't need it as she was so totally prepared. As a writer and producer herself she understood the demands of an independent film and her superb performance meant every frame we captured with her was superb. Dave Prowse, who is famous as the man behind the Star Wars mask in the first three Star Wars movies won best supporting actor and also picked up a lifetime achievement award at the International Filmmakers Festival. It was such a privilege to work with such an icon. He has worked with the all time greats like Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas so I learned so much from him. He is a generous actor who always makes time for everyone. I was thrilled for Jason Stevens who was also nominated for best actor in the movie at the International Filmmakers Festival.  We have worked together several times and what I admire about Jason is his ability to trust me and experiment with new last minute ideas. It was difficult for Tim Seyfert as it was his first feature film and probably the most challenging role of his career. He immersed himself into the role deeply and was probably relieved when we wrapped. Alessandro Parrello faced several barriers as English isn't his first language, he was riding a Ducatti, he was performing and also acting as an associate producer. Despite all this he pulled it all off with utter professionalism. His experience shone through and I think he learned a lot from the experience. 

 

 

ME: What got you into directing? And what was it like shooting your first feature film in Italy?

 

 

DEBORAH:  I adore Italy it is such a beautiful country filled with incredible locations and people. Although it was exhausting working 20 hours a day it was work it because of the breathtaking scenery we have captured for the film. Directing my first movie is a dream come true and hopefully a step towards realizing my ambition to be the first woman to direct a Bond movie.

 

 

ME: Wow! That would be something, the first woman to direct a Bond movie! I hope you would switch the cards and make Bond a woman hero with lots of male lovers. LOL! What will you be working on in the future? Can you speak about this yet?

 

 

DEBORAH: My next movie is the romantic thriller Sweetest Love which we will shoot in Italy and England. The logline is 3 lovers, 2 choices, 1 secret. The story is about a couple who were childhood sweethearts and meet just before a ceremony at picturesque English chapel. Michael and Angela share memories of the love they shared and the life they didn't. Even though they are still in love Michael knows a secret which could reunite or part them forever. I am working with many of the people who helped me make The Kindness of Strangers but also with new talent which is exhilarating. I have been working on this movie for most of this year and we will be filming early in the New Year. I am very blessed to have such an amazing team so I can take my filmmaking to the next level.

 

 

ME: Thanks so much for this Deborah. Is there anything else you would like to add about the film before it hits festivals worldwide?

 

 

DEBORAH: I am grateful to my talented cast and crew who made The Kindness of Strangers possible. Their hard work, dedication, determination and kindness inspired me and carried me through even though I was surviving on less than an hour sleep for 9 nine days. Picking up 4 awards is an honor but mostly I am proud because it makes all the effort and sacrifice worthwhile.

 

 

ME: Fantastic, Deborah. I wish you luck on The Kindness of Strangers and your upcoming film endeavors. We'll be looking for your films and their captivating titles, which sell themselves by the way! :-)

 

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon on November 27, 2010

 

Deborah Hadfield and cast of KOS

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