The Lonely Road won Best Director Award in the 7th Season of MP Film Award Darren K Hawkins Director, Writer & Producer of the Film The Lonely Road agree to interview with us.
Darren K Hawkins has been in the entertainment industry since he was in my teens, initially playing in rock bands, playing in venues all across the state, achieving some success with radio play.
Since 2001, he shifted focus to the film and television industry, initially as an actor before eventually transitioning to working behind the lens as a writer, director and producer.
Darren has written, co written, co-directed and directed several independent feature films, all have not only screen internationally, but have made distribution, cinematically, dvd and video on demand.
After years of being partners in several production companies over the past decade abd a half, last year saw the long planned official formation of his own production company, “Lonely Hill Films”, which has many productions in development, not only Darren’s own, but with other film makers.
About the Film: Synopsis: The Lonely Road Film Synopsis:
Paranormal Investigator Phoebe Jones is finally biting the bullet and leaving home, making the choice to move to the town of Vinegar Hill, where not only a new job awaits, but a town with a rich history in hauntings, legends and ghost stories. On the eve of her move she visits her cousin, Leanne Summerfield.
Leanne is a psychic who has a warning for her . The very things that Phoebe has been searching for, hunting, have turned their attention back. Leanne has a bad feeling.
Will Phoebe take this advice or will she travel head long towards the inevitable encounter, a trip that will take her along a long, lonely road?
What was your drive behind making this film?
Darren K Hawkins: “The Lonely Road” was designed to be a prequel teaser and a proof of concept for the feature film “Vinegar Hill”. A lot of collegues have made proof of concept films that, to be frank are exercises in cinematography only. I wanted to make something would ALSO stand alone as a short film, offering an open ended conclusion and showing the world and tone that that feature intends on creating.
How you feel when you are awarded with the MP FILM AWARD Award?
Darren K Hawkins: Humbled and grateful. There are a LOT of great films that get submitted to film festivals, so to be awarded, regardless of the category, if it’s a “best actor”, “writing” , “directing” or even “best film” … it’s humbling … and to be frank, pretty dang awesome too!!
I also feel so thankful for the amazing cast and crew that I had with me on this, that they not only gave so much for this, but , when this film wins awards, they’re a vital part of it. Without any of them, the project would never have happened.
Can you tell us about the greatest moment during shooting this film?
Darren K Hawkins: Shooting the final scene sequence. When I wrote the script I had a VERY specific look in mind and I had a very specific way I wanted it shot. I saw it as one take, one long, moving shot. My DOP wasn’t happy me asking for it . She joked with me BEFORE the shoot in our meetings, often telling me “Darren, before the shoot is over, I AM going to hate you for wanting those shots”! … my reply would always be “and you’ll include it in your showreel when we’re done” … which she would grudgingly reply “yeah I know!.
But that final sequence … watching what I had written months before hand, the vision I had when I wrote it come to life … as complex as the shot was … jib on a track, dolly back , jibbing up , focus pull, dolly back more while jibbing up and finding a new focus … it was REALLY satisfying seeing that come to life!
How rigorously did you stick to the script while shooting?
Darren K Hawkins: Reasonably tight. My two leads (Gianna and Mel) and I tweaked with the script a bit for their main scene on the night we shot it and there was a shot, which became a favourite of mine, that my trusty 1st AD suggested when we were running ahead of time that we get (I tend to try and run an open, creative set, while keeping to a schedule) … but for the most part, what was in the script was what we shot.
Where there any onset problems During the filming of the film & how did you deal with it?
Darren K Hawkins: Ha! The only real issue we had was with the full sclera contact lens for one of the actors who said that it wouldn’t be a problem ….. that actor may have underestimated how difficult full eye contact lenses are!
What I did before the shoot was to buy as much eye care product as I could for them to have and gave extra time for the contacts to be applied!
Do you have any advice for young filmmaker out there? Or like yourself?
Darren K Hawkins: Just a few things from not only my own films, but films I’ve been on .
1) Pre production. You can never have too much! It’s a lesson I learned early on and I see a lot of film makers make is they don’t do enough prep. I know it may sound preachy or like a broken record, but if you want your shoot to run smoothly, you can never have too much pre-production . I think that’s the most important.
2) Respect. Everyone deserves it and should have it …. Even when they sometimes don’t give it to you, as the film maker, be it producer, writer, director , YOU set the tone and example that every else follows.
3) Good food and coffee !! None of that bargain basement stuff, even if it’s instant coffee, get the good stuff!! (I laugh but in part jest!!) . But good food, especially HOT food is a must. IF your budget can’t afford to pay people for their time, make sure you love them by providing good food. There’s an old saying that “an army marches on it’s stomach” …. It’s never been truer than when it comes to us film makers! I’ll go MORE than an extra mile on a film if the food is good!
4) Just get out there and do it! Have fun, take chances and just do it!
Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?
Darren K Hawkins: It’s not essential, but going to a film school of any kind, whether you do short courses or you the long form will give you some of the technical skills.
make sure however you can back up any of those catch phrases and industry jargon with plain language explanations! Nothing worse that when someone asks you “yeah, but what do you mean” and you look like a gold fish gulping for air (and yes, I’ve done exactly that to some people that I have mentored. They’ve gone and used jargon in explaining something to me … I’ve sat and smiled than said “that’s awesome, now tell me, in your own words, what does that mean” … a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!!)
I think what’s IS essential is to have the passion and talent to get you there. Film school can help unleash that talent, but PRACTICE and DOING IT is what polishes, hones and grows that talent.
Which film has inspired you the most?
Darren K Hawkins: In general, I would have to say seeing “Star Wars” (the original) when I was younger. Yeah, I’m an old fart and I remember seeing it in the cinema (having my mum sit next to me and read the opening text scroll … I was REAL young), but that film blew me away. I still harboured dreams of becoming a full time musician, but film ..wow … it genuinely transported me to another place.
While there will probably never be another “Star Wars” in the way that it changed the landscape, I use a lot of what it did as references for film making. Not only in the story (at it’s core it’s a hero’s journey story), but what happened with it’s journey in post, how the edit and soundtrack REALLY elevated the final product.
Which particular film maker has influenced you the most?
Darren K Hawkins: Just one …. Hard to say !
Obviously Lucas . Spielberg. Miller. Bogdanovich. Ford Coppella . Peter Jackson. James Wan. Leigh Whannel.
Recent years I have loved James Wan’s style of flowing and moving shot. It’s a style that I LOVE and try to do as much as I can in my own and when I saw the first Conjuring Movie I KNEW that there was a guy with a similar aesthetic to film making and I would adore his films!
Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?
Darren K Hawkins: “A Booke of Days” by Stephen Reville .LOVED this novel. The story is epic, spanning eons and ..well …. Go and get the book and you’ll see what I mean!!!
There’s also a brilliant book that was done called “The Proteus Operation” by James P Hogan .awesome time travel piece that I think would be great to make and watch.
If you got the opportunity to go back in time & change something in any particular movie of yours, then which movie & what changes will you opt for?
Darren K Hawkins: Now that’s a hornets nest I’m NOT going to kick!! Hahahahaha!
If you were to shoot the film again, what would you do differently?
Darren K Hawkins: There were two shots I didn’t get because I was conscious of time . I had the shots I needed to make the edit work, but I chose to not get those shots in case it made things run late. One was on the first day (we finished 20 minutes early!!) and when I didn’t get that specific shot, I didn’t bother with the complimentary one on the second day.
What is your greatest achievement till date?
Darren K Hawkins: It’s not film related. It’s my daughter. I have an amazing daughter, who is a brilliant young person right now (at sixteen) and I am so proud of the amazing young woman that she is growing into. I could talk about how proud I am of her for DAYS! She is now and always will be my life’s greatest achievement.
How do you pick yourself up after a failed film?
Darren K Hawkins: Learn from what you did RIGHT to begin with. Everything is a learning experience. Cherry pick what you did right and then learn from what didn’t go to plan.
I don’t believe anything can REALLY be a failure if you learned something new and made positive steps from it.
Learn. Grow. Then get right back into that saddle and go again.
Where our viewers can catch you (share your social media)?
Darren K Hawkins: They can find the production company at www.lonelyhillfilms.com.au
There are social media links there as well as links for Email.
You can also find pages for the film on facebook and insagram “Lonely Hill Films” on Insta as well as “The Lonely Road Movie” on insta
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