Interview with ‘The Myth of Hopelessness’ director – Shaun Robert Smith
Experienced filmmaker Shaun Robert Smith provided some insights into what has so gone into his latest short film project -‘The Myth of Hopelessness.’
After the tragic death of a client a young female carer is relocated to a tetraplegic. The job is emotionally and physically draining, long hours, low paid and he is excessively demanding. An explosive clash of personalities ensues.
Interview with ‘The Myth of Hopelessness’ director, Shaun Robert Smith
Q: Tell us about your up and coming Project ‘The Myth of Hopelessness’?
The inspiration for ‘The Myth of Hopelessness’ comes directly from my own personal experiences. About ten years ago, during hard times, I took a job as a ‘carer’ or ‘support worker’ – working for people with spinal cord injuries.
We were constantly subject to uncomfortable situations, some very serious. A few of these situations have found their way into the script and of course we have used artistic license to flesh out the script.
I couldn’t imagine what it is like to be paralysed, the pain, suffering and realisation an individual endures during rehabilitation must be soul destroying.
There is also the psychological aspect to their rehabilitation which takes people to the edge. Its the carers though who are out there working these shifts. The carers are the ones not protected by the agencies they work for. I was thrown in at the deep end with only basic training and I was expected to carry out all kinds of dangerous tasks, ultimately this put the clients at risk. It is important that we portray this message.
I remember one particular incident a client I worked with sent one of my colleagues into a very undesirable area of the city at 2am to purchase some ‘A-class’ drugs – she was seven months pregnant at the time. She could have refused, but we had to stay with the client in their house for long periods of time so our shifts would become very uncomfortable and we would be ‘punished’, not physically, but through the job.
The script has evolved over many years and now I’m ready to tell the story. The film will be an intense cinematic roller-coaster with a sinister atmosphere. I have loosely used my experiences and given the short a few twists. Coupled with a fantastic score, great locations and brilliant crew, this film will stand out as a strong piece of cinema.
We have a fantastic cast. Mhairi Calvey who plays Evie, is an up and coming actress. Mhari played ‘young Murron’ in ‘Braveheart’ and has since blossomed into a brilliant prolific actress, starring in films such as ‘Abduct, ‘The Secret of Bottecelli’ and ‘Five Pillars’.
Mel Raido has been around the block but is a very underrated actor, he is about to play alongside Tom Hardy in Brian Hegelund’s ‘Legend’ the Krays Biopic and in DJ Caruso’s ‘The Disappointments Room’ with Kate Beckinsale. Other notable works in his filmography are ‘Clubbed’, ‘The Informers’, and ‘In Our Name’.
Craig Conway has always been a favourite of mine ever since I saw his performance in ‘Romans 12:20’ a short film by the Shammasian brothers. If you have never seen this film it is an absolute must! Craig was also in ‘The Descent’, ‘Dog Soldier’s’ and Neil Marshall’s ‘Doomsday’ as the bad guy – Sol. If you need a solid performance, Craig is your man! He only has a small part in ‘TMofH’ but I wrote it for especially him and it’s the perfect role.
Q: How did you go about assembling a film crew and actors?
Through my feature ‘The 4th Reich’ I got to know a lot of actors and crew, we’re still in development for that film so I decided to use TMofH as a platform to test the team.
What I look for in a crew member is passion for the material, it’s all about the script. I’m not looking for crew who are just out for another job, I need them to be 100% passionate about the story.
My crew are a bunch of hardened film makers and most importantly – film fans. My sets are very open and problems are solved by everyone.
With the actors, I get them to audition by asking them to ‘self-tape’ any scene from the script firstly, without direction from me. After the first audition I short-list a few actors and give them direction notes so they can self-tape the scene again, this shows me commitment to the project and role. You’d be amazed by the amount of actors that push the boat out and produce a real polished audition with lighting and the full works!
Of course it’s only the audition piece that matters but it’s great to see. I hate the traditional audition process with a passion! How can you expect an actor to simply ‘act’on the spot when in reality it takes time to nail a character and performance, the whole process requires research and preparation? I’m not asking for an Oscar winning audition performance but I want them to feel as comfortable as possible.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of the project so far?
Financing is the biggest challenge – for any project, especially for short films. Usually I’m a pretty resourceful film maker but with ‘TMofH’ I wanted to do it justice so we needed some kind of budget. A great film starts with a great script – sure, but my firm belief is that if you place your actors in a great location, surround them with a great cinematic score and crew then you have the foundations for a great production.
The script has been a challenge too, trying to ground such a taboo subject and create a story that you want to tell and the audience wants to see. The great thing about being a writer/director is that you can make the film as you write the script, the images and scenes are imprinted in your head before you move on to the next step. I wrote the first draft back in 2007 and it has changed dramatically over time, almost nothing exists from the first draft but the premise.
Our Kickstarter campaign will start in the next few weeks to complete the financing and we have some great rewards on offer including actually being an extra in the film.
Q: Ultimately, what are your goals this project?
I want to produce something compelling and memorable, I would hope that the film completes a successful run on the festival circuit and gives us all something to be proud of.
Short films are a calling card for all involved. My short film from 2007 ‘The Soldier’ was produced for £500 and the entire film was shot in 48 hours – (for one of those 48 hour film challenges, we picked up a bunch of awards and put us on the map, this led to the feature ‘The 4th Reich’ and ultimately got my foot in the door.