RT talks to Hallam Foe helmer David Mackenzie

The Brit director introduces us to his "teen gothic fairytale."

by | August 27, 2007 | Comments

David MackenzieDavid Mackenzie‘s two previous films, Young Adam and Asylum may have split the critics – they respectively sway fresh and rotten – but early indications are that his latest, Hallam Foe, the tale of a very strange boy and his rather odd life, may well find him plenty of friends in criticdom. Starring Jamie Bell and Sophia Myles, it’s certainly one of our favourite films to come out of this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival and we were pleased to get a chance to sit down with the Brit director to find out more about the film.

When did you first read the book and how did you come to adapt it?

David Mackenzie: Well my friend, Pete Jinks, wrote the book, and so I knew of its existence before it was even written. Pete said, “Well, OK, it’s set on the rooftops of Edinburgh and it has a sort-of imaginary quality to it,” and that was enough to attract me. As soon as I read the book I realised it had the potential to be a teen gothic fairytale and that was something I was very interested in doing.

Was it always going to be Jamie Bell for Hallam?

DM: From before I finished the script. I met him and discussed it and he said, “Send me the script.”

He seems like a very committed young actor.

DM: He’s a super-talented guy and he’s totally dedicated. And without him being that dedicated our six-week shoot in the spring in Edinburgh would have been an absolute nightmare! He was my friend all the way through the shoot and we very-much went on the journey together.

Jamie Bell as Hallam in David Mackenzie's Hallam Foe

It’s a very untraditional British film; is it difficult to get a film like this off the ground?

DM: Well it’s always difficult to get a film off the ground but actually I think when a lot of people read the script they didn’t really get it. They didn’t see the warmth and the humour and the sympathy and that it was a real journey. But it’s always difficult; on paper it’s a very anodyne thing to explain to financiers what your intentions are. It’s always a struggle really!

But, you know, it’s got to be done, and hopefully the end result will placate those who weren’t sure when they read the script.

Is there a part of the process you prefer?

DM: The bit that’s most stressful, most agonising, most full-on, is always shooting. Everyday you’d have to fight for something. Gary Oldman described it as having to rescue your favourite objects from a burning house, and it is. You’re watching the grand plan collapse.

Of course you get through it one way or another and that part of it is always the most exciting in the end because you’re always thinking on your feet and every day is a voyage of discovery.

I love editing because I’m creative in my edit but it’s very long and it becomes a plod. After the energy of the shoot you calm down and it’s not quite a nine-to-five but you almost have normal hours. So it sort-of slows down but creatively it’s still a big part for me.

And then, on the odd moment when you’re sitting in front of a computer, script-writing, and suddenly an idea comes, that’s fun too. But most of the time you’re just staring into space feeling like shit.

Jamie Bell as Hallam in David Mackenzie's Hallam Foe

Filmmaking is effectively, then, doing the same thing three times – script, shoot and edit…

DM: What you’re doing is; for the script you’re drawing a map, for the shoot you’re sailing across the stormy ocean and then for the edit you’re tidying up your cargo and trying to put it all together.

When you’re involved with something for so long do you ever think to yourself, “I need a bit of perspective on this,”?

DM: I think that if I have a choice – and I already did this with Hallam – I’ll make the cutting process as long as possible so I can build in gaps within which I can go away and take a break so that you can come back and look at it, as best as you can, as an audience might. Because I think you lose your objectivity otherwise.

In future if I have any power in the matter – and of course the financiers want the thing finished as soon as possible so that they can get it all tied up – I would like to elongate that process even further so the objectivity can sort-of semi-return.

Tag Cloud

Warner Bros. talk show BET DC Comics Epix YouTube Red streaming CW Seed vampires Awards Tour PaleyFest Lifetime Christmas movies The CW Sci-Fi Horror The Witch zero dark thirty name the review Lucasfilm Nominations Holidays Biopics Showtime green book Winter TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Spike Columbia Pictures GLAAD television cults Sundance President Amazon Interview Anna Paquin Opinion dceu Drama Cartoon Network 24 frames canceled teaser Trailer witnail Disney+ Disney Plus dramedy Reality CBS All Access sitcom FXX Pride Month Winners Marvel Television TCM Musicals Paramount CNN Mudbound halloween game show transformers New York Comic Con Esquire Ellie Kemper Watching Series IFC Films boxoffice Discovery Channel facebook cancelled anthology children's TV free movies disaster psychological thriller indie Walt Disney Pictures YA Emmy Nominations space Lionsgate TCA series Marathons Netflix spinoff Comic Book TCA Winter 2020 werewolf RT21 documentary tv talk TBS Crunchyroll Peacock romance comic jamie lee curtis 71st Emmy Awards TNT RT History discovery period drama miniseries joker cops spanish language Apple supernatural mockumentary slashers Family Vudu CMT sequel Rocky Character Guide Endgame Country Box Office Holiday toy story sag awards comiccon Netflix Christmas movies elevated horror Thanksgiving Arrowverse E3 Summer Acorn TV A&E cancelled TV shows Writers Guild of America theme song Hallmark Christmas movies serial killer comics MTV Extras canceled TV shows FX blaxploitation Ghostbusters crime finale TCA 2017 Academy Awards GoT Rom-Com movies adventure versus FOX award winner Nat Geo SXSW game of thrones reboot medical drama 21st Century Fox Schedule Polls and Games book diversity Emmys The Arrangement latino Paramount Network NYCC Trivia Captain marvel Comedy Central romantic comedy Shondaland Disney Channel 45 Kids & Family Grammys Bravo TV Land Superheroes unscripted Syfy Masterpiece TruTV GIFs 2017 christmas movies Elton John Film travel Britbox Hulu spider-man strong female leads Lifetime X-Men Shudder Tubi 20th Century Fox A24 Teen Spectrum Originals docudrama Tumblr composers zombies doctor who based on movie hispanic quibi science fiction Pet Sematary screen actors guild Pixar Toys Disney spy thriller Hallmark SundanceTV HBO Max DGA historical drama harry potter WGN south america rotten movies we love hist ITV Trophy Talk Valentine's Day Set visit ABC Heroines Infographic biography 2015 casting E! animated Tomatazos cars stand-up comedy Quiz Video Games Turner Classic Movies revenge VICE thriller Chilling Adventures of Sabrina independent YouTube VH1 cats Mary Tyler Moore Sundance TV TV Turner ghosts 2016 Sundance Now American Society of Cinematographers OneApp Musical Pirates zombie crime drama USA cancelled TV series PBS blockbuster Super Bowl MSNBC Universal Apple TV+ movie El Rey Western National Geographic Fox News AMC richard e. Grant Film Festival The Purge Song of Ice and Fire social media nature anime screenings 2018 Nickelodeon Music adaptation Countdown MCU TIFF Spring TV Best and Worst golden globes Television Academy Ovation political drama LGBTQ Fall TV Stephen King Star Trek Star Wars Mystery Superheroe DC streaming service Pop war directors OWN ABC Family BBC America video Adult Swim USA Network Sneak Peek Comedy DC Universe Animation Disney Plus justice league Oscars Starz robots spain breaking bad what to watch Freeform Creative Arts Emmys Chernobyl Awards 2020 Calendar Classic Film dc Martial Arts police drama Mindy Kaling Food Network 2019 Cosplay DirecTV Logo APB cinemax 007 ESPN Election Action Certified Fresh Red Carpet First Reviews Amazon Prime Video Amazon Studios CBS Rock ratings dragons Amazon Prime batman Tarantino Black Mirror TLC Fantasy Photos sports San Diego Comic-Con Mary poppins YouTube Premium SDCC Marvel cooking Podcast WarnerMedia festivals dogs NBC renewed TV shows aliens Binge Guide cancelled television singing competition politics psycho Mary Poppins Returns Avengers crime thriller Apple TV Plus true crime Sony Pictures Year in Review Women's History Month The Walking Dead Disney streaming service Marvel Studios Baby Yoda LGBT Comics on TV Brie Larson natural history IFC binge Crackle technology kids See It Skip It foreign BBC HBO Reality Competition History Rocketman TV renewals Dark Horse Comics Premiere Dates First Look Christmas crossover Cannes cartoon mutant