Sunday, September 8, 2013

WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE: Interview with Directors, The Hawkins Brothers

Last night Simon and Zeke Hawkins premiered their debut feature at the Toronto International Film Festival. With nods to the legendary pulp crime novelist Jim Thompson, We Gotta Get Out of This Place is a tense nouveau noir that follows three Texan teens who fall into debt with the wrong people.

We Gotta Get Out of This Place stars veteran character actor Mark Pellegrino (Supernatural, Lost, Being Human) and Mackenzie Davis, who is also in town this week with stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan for the premiere of the The F Word. Before the premiere of We Gotta Get Out of This Place on Saturday night, we were able to speak to the Hawkins brothers about Texas gangsters and The Godfather.
SJ: What is it like directing a film with your brother, especially given that this is both your feature film debut? 
Simon Hawkins, Zeke Hawkins: Making We Gotta Get Out of This Place together was very special. This is our first feature and we didn't write the original script. So, the hardest thing on this movie -- above all the intense practical struggles -- was just getting the team to consistently believe in us and, as an extension of that, to consistently believe in ourselves. Making this movie together -- with your brother, who would support you through anything -- was incredibly important and very special. 
SJ: How was it working with the elusive "Man in Black", Mark Pellegrino, who plays Giff? 
SH, ZH: Mark is an excellent actor. Zeke had worked with him on Capote. Even though Dick Hickock was a smaller part, it was clear on set that he was a special talent. So, when we started casting for Giff, Mark was always on our minds. And down in South Texas while filming, Mark blew us away -- even beyond our wildest expectations. We were so lucky to have him. He stayed in character pretty much all the time. He was terrifying and hilarious, but still able to bring this perverse humanity to Giff. Just the sheer amount of text he was memorizing on a daily basis was impressive. It was really our job just to get out of his way.  
SJ: I'm assuming you and your scriptwriter have read more than your fair share of Jim Thompson novels. Was he a major influence for your script? Any nods we should look out for? 
SH, ZH: Our writer, Dutch Southern, is a huge Jim Thompson fan. He has probably read all of Thompson's novels multiple times, and he's infused the script with many references. But we felt it was our job to separate the film from this a little bit. It was important to make sure we told a story that works on its own, and make a movie that works emotionally on its own, regardless of literary references. In the post-production process though, Simon has been reading a lot of Jim Thompson. "South of Heaven" is his favorite so far.  
SJ: What are your favourite film noirs? 
SH, ZH: We're not so good at thinking about genre. We mostly just love the movies we love. Fargo and Out of Sight are two of our favorites. We're not sure they'd classically be considered noirs, but we could make a case for it. 
SJ: Can you elaborate on how you met and worked with artist Sean Phillips for your poster campaign? 
SH, ZH: Sean Phillips lives in the UK, so, we've only talked with him over the phone and via email. We originally met him through Ed Brubaker, Sean's collaborator on the comic "Fatale." Ed is a close friend of our producer, Brian Udovich. We love our poster. We were lucky to work with Sean. 
SJ: I have to ask about The Godfather musical. Please share all for those who are not acquainted with this majesty. 
SH, ZH: Thank you for asking. "The Godfather Musical" is a series of comedic musical shorts that we've made over the years with our close friend Tom DiMenna. In each, we explore the final moments of a character's life from The Godfather through song. So far we've made three: "Ode to Fredo", "I'm Moe Greene!” and "Luca Brasi Sleeps with the Fishes”. In each one, our dad, Gator Hawkins, plays the assassin. You can find them on our Hawkins Brothers Funny or Die page. And if you watch We Gotta Get Out of This Place closely, you'll see that Tom DiMenna makes a brief cameo. 
SJ: What films are you looking forward to watching at the Festival this year? 
SH, ZH: Palo Alto; Shot by Autumn Durald. Movie looks amazing, and Autumn is a close friend of ours. She's also married to our cinematographer, Jeff Bierman. Joe; Co-produced by Alex Uhlmann. We're huge fans of David Gordon Green's movie All the Real Girls. We love Nicolas Cage, and Alex is a close friend of ours. He used to be Simon's roommate. The Green Inferno. We've seen their production still. Reasons for viewing are obvious.
Simon and Zeke Hawkins' We Gotta Get Out of This Place stars Mark Pellegrino and Mackenzie Davis, and premieres at this year's Toronto International Film Festival within the Vanguard programme. Further information about the film can be found on the TIFF website.
Sunday, Sept 8th, 4:00 PM SCOTIABANK 4
Sunday, Sept 15th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 10

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