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2014, 60m, crime, drama, experimental
Families, friends and factions are set against each other when Jimmy Lee steals from the infamous crime family the Caldwell's. When they kill his girlfriend in retaliation, it sets off a string of events that cannot be undone.
Official Selection - Raindance Film Festival London 2013
Shot on Super 8MM and 35MM photo film. Featuring music by Jaill, Hello Death, Hot Coffin, and Altos.
Produced by: TJ Baade, Mary La Fosse, Frankie Latina, Kelly Cunningham, Ken Palme and Justin Schmidt
Cast: Frankie Latina (Director of Modus Operandi), Kelly Cunningham ( A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan lll), Kumar Pallana (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Terminal) and Mark Borchardt (American Movie, Cabin Fever 2)
10 questions with Heavy Hands director, Sean Williamson at the half-way mark.
Saturday, February 13th, 2016
1What was the initial seed that made you want to make Heavy Hands? I wrote a much longer, more complicated script called You're All Alone in This and had some friends read it. They had a lot of questions as to how I was going to pull it off. The main character was a bunch of different ages, there was a million characters and a zillion locations. So, that wasn't going to happen.
I basically took a small chunk of that script and built it out. It was still really complicated and took about four years to complete.
You know when you have a core group of people working on a project? It was like that but each core was really around for like a year and a half, because people had their own stuff to do, places to be.
2This feels like a homemade indie from the 70's. What made you decide to shoot a feature on 8mm, especially in a time where digital has gotten so good? I think it's debatable how good digital was when I started making Heavy Hands. Yes, there were really amazing digital cameras, that were expensive to rent and I would need a couple extra crew members to operate. Or I could have shot on DSLR or something and it would have been easy but it would have looked like other DSLR stuff. I wanted to shoot on Super 16mm but that was a whole other set of problems. Super 8mm made sense to me. I could set up the shots myself and roll them myself and I never needed more than like one or two other people around. Also Super 8mm gave me a look no digital camera/post program could replicate.
All that said, things have changed in the last four or so years since I wrapped on shooting. I hear a lot of young filmmakers are shooting Super 8mm and formatting 4:3, and I'll probably shoot my new movie on digital. Go figure.
3You've got some great indie legends in this film. How did you meet Mark Borchardt, and Kumar Pallana and what was it like working with them? Mark lives in Milwaukee, is generous with his time and just a great person. I met him because I was a producer on a film call Modus Operandi (which was before Heavy Hands, shot on Super 8mm and has been an inspiration for a lot of my work).
I had a small part for Mark in Heavy Hands because I didn't want to take up much of his time. I think I picked him up, shot his scene and had him home in less than two hours. It was great.
Mark also wrote and read the opening for a audio-book-novella I wrote called The Wild Introduction. I think (hope) we'll be working together in some capacity for some time.
Kumar is a pretty magical story I'll break down really quickly. Met in New York City at Modus Operandi after party (also in attendance, Danny Trejo and Sasha Grey), I drunkenly asked him to be in my film (that I had barely started shooting), he agreed for some reason, Frankie and I flew him to Milwaukee to act in our films and he ended up being in a handful of local Milwaukee movies. That's brief but I actually edited a short documentary about that titled KUMAR:MKE.
You can watch KUMAR:MKE and listen to The Wild Introduction at www.worldwidedirt.com
4You also acted in this film. How difficult is that for you and how are you able to gauge your performance? blech, blech, blech. Those were barfing noises.
It was tough. In a perfect world I would have cast Paul Dano or something for the lead part. But when you have no money there is really only one person you can depend on to show up, rain or shine, on a moment's notice and that's yourself. Much of the time I was getting my roommate or some other annoyed friend to sit in so I could set up the shot and lighting, then switch places and have them roll the camera.
End result: I thought I was pretty good. The character just drives around, walks places, looks at stuff, hangs out with girls and wears sunglasses, so there wasn't a ton to screw up.
The rest of the cast was spot on. The other leads (Kelly, Parker, Jim, Frankie and Phil) held it all together.
5What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? I couldn't tell you one specific film but there are films that have motivated me at different times. Mean streets, In the Mood for Love, The Last Picture Show, Paris Texas, Let the Right One In, Magnolia, Wild at Heart, All the Real Girls, Drive, The Godfather, Caddyshack, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Shotgun Stories, 25th Hour, Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead -- are all pretty big for me (just scraping the top of my head).
The music of Dave Bazan and writing of Denis Johnson are also pretty important.
6What was the toughest scene to shoot and how did you solve it? The only scene that stood out difficulty-wise was the scene with Kumar in the motel. We were shooting in some open loft space and had to really fake it.
Dialogue was just insane. What ended up happening was I memorized all the lines and for the most part told the actors a good way to deliver their lines, so I could match it up in post. Luckily there wasn't a ton of on screen dialogue and we relied mostly on mood.
7If you had an unlimited budget and had access to any actor or actress you wanted, what kind of film would you love to make? Basically the same type of movie. Simple story, great performances, moody camera work, unlimited music budget and superior craft services.
8What scene in this film turned out better than you ever imagined it would? The whole thing really. Ha! Heavy Hands started out as basically a student film (even though I wasn't a film student) and since has played in a handful of states, sold 300 seats at the theater in my hometown, took me to Europe for the first time, introduced me to some of my favorite people of all time (including Kumar R.I.P) and now here, to Fandependent.
I'm excited. I feel good.
9Which filmmaker has a career that you admire and why? I'm most excited right now by Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter). I feel like his movies were somehow made with me in mind. Much different style, same feeling -- Don Hertzfeldt (Rejected, It's Such a Beautiful Day, World of Tomorrow)
10What's next? I always have about ten projects going in different stages of development and enthusiasm. I wrote a novel and a record and am working on a new film. You can always keep tabs on me at www.worldwidedirt.com
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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