Interview: Director Hank Orion

Despair Director Hank Orion

Despair is a new independent drama/thriller is written and directed by Hank Orion, entirely shot in Scotland.  The film revolves around a woman who is being rescued from the freezing cold in the middle of Scottish mountains.  Hank has demonstrated how a successful film can be made with no budget.

I threw some questions at him.

When did you know for sure you wanted to direct?

When I was eleven, I went to the cinema for the first time in my life. I will never forget it. It was truly magical. And that was the time when I fell in love with cinema. Then a few years later I moved to London and started to get as many hands-on experiences as I can. Fist starting as a camera assistant, then I fell in London with cinematography and spent few years working as a cinematographer in Los Angeles. And in 2015 I wanted to try to direct a film, and eventually directed my first feature Outsiders and fell in love with it.

When and where was the idea for Despair first conceived?

It was written originally in Los Angeles, I was looking for a script to shoot and couldn’t find anything for almost a year. And then I thought why don’t I write it. So I wrote the first draft and it was called Heaven’s Light. It was very different from what Despair has become. It was sci-fi and I really loved it. But then I realized that I can’t shoot it and started to rewrite it to accommodate my budget.

How do you describe the film?

For me, it’s a story about a family, that have secrets and insecurities. But I realized that audiences see it a little different. We’re all human and perceive the world differently, and to me when the same film can be viewed and understood different ways is a great achievement. Because I feel like films have to make you ask questions.

Is there an underlying message in Despair?

Yes. But I can’t tell you what is it. I want you to discover it. What I can say is that sometimes what you see is not what it is. And you have to stay put and have an open mind in life.

What lessons do you want people to take from the film?

To love, respect and support your families. Because family is the most important what we have, and some people ignore it, until they don’t have it anymore. And then they start to realize it. But sometimes it can be too late.

Who do you most admire in the drama/thriller genres?

It’s hard to tell. Alfred Hitchcock is one of my idols. But there are many others. I think the artist, and especial visual artist has to be open to good and bad art, because then you start to become open and understand what’s good and what is bad. And that creates you, and you create art.

While making Despair, what was the biggest learning curve you hadn’t expected?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from shooting Despair is that your crew, and cast are there to help you. And that they too want to make a good movie. Many filmmakers ignore this, and tend to be very self-centered. I think it’s wrong.

How important a part would you say Scotland played when writing and directing?

Enormous. I chose Scotland, and Raasay in particular when I was location scouting because when I saw the image of the island I knew then and there straight away that it has to be filmed there. It’s not just visually beautiful, but also becomes part of the story, a character in a way.

Talk a little about your relationship with your actors, Michael Wouters, Jodyanne Richardson and Jagoda Kamov.

Well, I tried to be as professional to them as I could and get the most out of our shooting schedule. Of course, there were ups and downs, but that’s part of the game I think. In overall, I think my cast and crew on Despair were amazing, and we did a great job.

What advice would you have for both up-and-coming filmmakers?

The best advice I can give to up and coming filmmakers is to stay in a moment. That means to be patient, open-minded, and adventurous. Filmmakers, and especially the new ones, need to realize that if they don’t make their movie, somebody else will, sooner or later. And they will miss the moment. And that they should never procrastinate, it’s a bad habit to have in life.

What’s next for you Hank?

Currently I’m working on another thriller The Boy With A Knife. It’s hard to tell but for some reason, I feel like it will be my best film so far. It’s a thriller about a young traveler Sebastian who comes to visit London and stays with a young, successful and happy couple Zoe and Ian. But little did they know that Sebastian has a darker secret that he’s not keen to share with the world. Among my biggest inspirations for this film were films such as Misery (1990) by William Goldman , Dolores Claiborne (1995) by Tony Gilroy, Carrie (1976) by Lawrence D. Cohen, Scream (1996) by Kevin Williamson, and Psycho (1960) by Joseph Stefano. The Boy With A Knife will be filmed in London in March. I have a fundraising campaign going on right now and if you’re interested in supporting this film visit my website or facebook.

Anything else you want to get off your chest?

Just that it’s really hard at times really, being an independent filmmaker means you have to do it all yourself. And it’s not easy. If anyone is in position to support my film, please do.



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Alton started BRWC as a bit of fun, and has grown into what you see today, and he can only apologise. Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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