10 July 2014 - TONY HOOPER - AUSSIE FILM MAKER


TONY HOOPER

- AUSSIE FILM MAKER -


G'day folks,

Today I interview another very talented Australian film maker - Tony Hooper. It seems that all creative people in Australia struggle to find recognition here; musicians, actors, writers, film makers and playwrights. Sadly, most have to go overseas to claim some fame and recognition. Anyway, ...

Welcome, Tony ...


TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR FILM-MAKING JOURNEY.

I suspect like a lot of other creatives, my journey has been unique and not what one would expect to shape the person I am today.Growing up as a kid, life was tough. Back in the 80’s Australia had “the recession we had to have,” and well, my family lost the house.Those times were horrible, as a family stressed to breaking point is family eating itself apart.

So as a kid I developed a drive to succeed on my own terms, eventually making it all the way to university (college) studying the polar opposites of Accounting and Marketing  at La Trobe. After that I worked in the commercial sector for over 10 years. From Auditor to Marketing Exec, that career was wildly varied. It also gave me the opportunity to study with Open Channel (a film school in Melbourne) as well as some time mentored by film director Colm O’Murchu.

Upon moving back to Melbourne my career began exploring my more creative side, producing short films, music videos and commercials, as well as writing a number of screenplays. At this point in time I’m currently exploring the intrigues of experimental film while preparing for my debut directing this feature film, The Devil’s Poker.





WERE YOU INTERESTED IN FILMS AS A KID?

Most definitely.  Film gives people the opportunity to explore strange new worlds, gain insights into others lives, and learn to appreciate things far and near.  As a kid, those flights of fancy were without a doubt, not just entertainment but an expression.


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Seeing the reaction of those that watch the finished project, the laughs when they are supposed to laugh, the tears when the scene is sad. Those times, I know I have struck true.


WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A CINEMATOGRAPHER?

Knowing when to call it a day. Sometimes we get so lost in perfection, that pulling back and saying “no one will notice that” becomes very hard to do.


DO YOU WORK FOR YOURSELF, OTHERS OR BOTH?

Both. Although my heart belongs to my film company - Thorium Films (well no, it belongs to my wife, but I suspect you guys know what I mean).


WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME INVOLVED IN MAKING FILMS?

A jack of all trades Financial Controller. And it is that skill set that is invaluable when producing film projects. Although film making is an art, we are in the Film BUSINESS, which we can’t lose sight of.


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?

Professionally that would be building a film company with my own resources.


WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

The Devils Poker, a feature film based in Melbourne. Its logline “Four desperate souls, playing a game of cards, have everything to gain, and only their souls to lose, when a fifth player offers them a chance of redemption – in a game called The Devil’s Poker.”

My current short film project, “Under the Bed,” has attracted interest from Byron J Brockmann (Angelina Jolie’s assistant director from Unbroken) as well as talent from Network TV drama’s.  It is a short film that highlights the impact that domestic violence has on the children raised in such environments. A subject I am all too familiar with.





WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECT?

Urban Fantasy.  I like the sense of realism this gives, and the unexpected incorporation of elements of fantasy.  As a genre, its relatable, and can use icons/symbols that don’t need explaining (a cop is a cop for instance), so the story can take shape without interruptions.


WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I would have to say the world around me. Current events to some extent too, however it is in the every day that I see inspiration.


WHAT DO YOU PREFER TO FILM?

Real moments. Even in a fictional story, those times where the actors have hit the zone and are bringing characters to life. It is in that moment that the audience appreciates the art (even when they don’t realize it), because it feels authentic. That’s


DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR EMERGING CINEMATOGRAPHERS?

Just go out and film.  Learn the camera and what looks good on screen. And watch movies. Lots of movies.


WHAT IS THE MOST EXOTIC DESTINATION IN WHICH YOU HAVE WORKED?

Mumbai, or as the locals call it Bombay.  For the record the food is divine there. If you ever have the chance to eat Pav bhaji, don’t hesitate.



DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE OR TIME TO FILM?

I love filming in the rain, or shortly after a downpour.  I think there is something mystical when light reflects of the ground creating an atmosphere that is both very much real, but at the same time surreal.




DO YOU PRODUCE DOCUMENTARIES, FEATURE FILMS OR ANYTHING THAT COMES ALONG?

My preference is feature work, but there is a Doco I have in the back of my mind begging to be made.


HAVE YOU MADE COMMERCIALS AND VIDEO CLIPS?

Yes and still do. When making low budget films, offering a location a commercial makes it a lot easier to seal the deal. (And since  your gear will be there anyway…)


HAVE YOU MADE UNDERWATER FILMS?

Not yet…


WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

When my wife read the screenplay “Under the Bed” she burst into tears. She later wrote:

"Over the years as a wife and mother, I have tried my best to make our home environment, pretty much, a sanctuary. That no matter how bad work was for Tony, or school for Alister (and in a few years Will), they could come home, shut all of that out, and feel safe, loved, relaxed, happy, and be themselves. Sadly, this is not the home environment that thousands of kids the world over come home to, and it was not the environment that Tony came home to as a child. When Tony showed me the first draft of the script for 'Under the Bed' I cried, because while I knew that Tony had had this childhood, I had never seen him express so emotionally what he went through. I find it entirely impossible to wrap my brain around how anyone could hurt a child the way he had been hurt, there are children still suffering this trauma and worse today, and it needs to be stopped. " 

Powerful writing should have a powerful impact. And to see that it had, I was very much complimented. Not by word, but by the very real actions it had initiated.

WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU AS A CINEMATOGRAPHER?

Without a doubt.  Being a story teller, I feel its my life journey that provides the means to interpret the world and give shape to the film.





HAVE YOU WON ANY PRIZES OR AWARDS?

No awards won yet, but have been selected for quite  a few film festivals. I was keeping fingers crossed with one film in the running for selection at Semaine de la Critique – CANNES 2014 (but missed out), another is showcased in the American Online Film Awards, and a third came second place at the Wasaga Film awards International Action category.


 
OTHER THAN MAKING FILMS, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?

Well there is my family. Outside that I love my suburb of Point Cook.  It is both a newly created suburb of Melbourne, and home to the oldest still in service military airport in the world (in fact Point Cook is referred to as the birthplace of the Australian Air Force).

Why I love it, despite being a suburb in the big city, it is a village in its culture. A house burns down, someone falls into bad times, a person feels lost, then someone in Point Cook will be there with goods, help, a soul to connect too. I have never lived in a place before where just about everyone will help anyone else. I describe it as more country than the country.


DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.

Any day I get to eat Tim Tams. If you have ever had one, you will know why.


WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

Thorium Studios.  A studio place for film makers and musicians to come together and create art.





IF YOU MADE A FILM FOR THE LEADERS OF THEWORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?

Humanity.








Clancy's comment: Thank you and good luck, Tony. Keep plugging on. You will crack it. I can feel the inspiration from here.

I'm ...









Think about this!