Hinterland: An interview with actor and director Harry Macqueen
Hinterland is a picturesque, emotive debut from young British actor and filmmaker Harry Macqueen. Its undertones of a post-recession fallout will resonate with young audiences trying to make sense of their own reality. Lauded in independent film circles, this film is receiving the critical reception it deserves. The Upcoming caught up with Harry Macqueen as he tackles the aftermath of his first feature-length film.
What inspired you to create this story?
Harry Macqueen: Oh, loads of things really. I’ve always been an actor and always written things for myself, but I was in a period between jobs and flats and had the freedom so do it, so thought I’d give it a go. It’s a story about two lost souls in their 20s, and I wanted to capture that before it got too far away from me. I knew my two characters incisively, and I wanted to create something that sucks you in.
What is it about relatable human stories that appeals to you from a filmmakers’ perspective?
HM: I wanted to make something that resonated with my peers; I wanted to make an intimate character story about change and nostalgia. You have a duty as a filmmaker to inspire and engage, and if you can wrap your audience up in your world, then everything else becomes clear. A person’s 20s is a very exciting decade: there are political questions, everything’s interesting, but it’s also troubling. It can be very lonely working things out – there’s a lot of pressure, which you certainly don’t feel before and less so after you turn 30.
What freedoms and constraints did your £10,000 budget and your 13 days’ filming throw up?
HM: There’s a lot of freedom to be had in not having any, if that makes sense. It took things off the table, so they couldn’t really be issues. When you’re shooting on the fly, there’s only so much control you can have. You’ve got to be honest with yourself about the project; we were just focused on making something beautiful with what we had – cobbling it together essentially. So much planning went into it, and it was a challenge on every level, regardless of budget.
You’ve been lauded in indie film circles – how does that impact on you as a creative?
HM: Hopefully not at all! I’m taking it all with a pinch of salt; people’s opinions are important, but it’s useful to be aware that you should be proud of your own work. What we – and it is totally a collaboration – have achieved is great, and some brilliant people have said some lovely things, which we appreciate.
Where do you think Hinterland fits in the British film space?
HM: That’s a good question. I hope it’s tackling issues in a new way, that I’m part of a wave of filmmakers interested in human interaction. In my experience of low-budget, independent indie films, it’s very much a genre game, which just isn’t my cup of tea as a writer or director. The most important thing is that it resonates with viewers, that they find innate truths in it. I hope it stands as a unique piece of work.
The silence and the score in this film make it incredibly affecting. Is music important to you as an actor and director?
HM: I’m not hugely musical, though I love music. I knew that Lola had to be a musician, that the different between Harvey and Lola had to be innate. At the beginning it didn’t seem important, but as we went along it came clear that we needed to be inspired by Lori [Campbell]’s sound. It became crucial to the kind of film I wanted to make. The other voice in Hinterland is the music.
Was it fun?
HM: You’re the only interviewer to ask me that! We did have a lot of fun, honestly. One of the things I said at the start was that if I got these lovely people together on this journey, I couldn’t promise the film would go anywhere, so it had to be fun. There were six of us down in Cornwall, just having a great laugh. There’s a reason I’m not wearing a suit – I’m in pursuit of something I love, something inherently fun. Hinterland was incredible fun, though the most hideous and stressful experience of my life at the same time.
Hinterland is released nationwide on 27th February 2015.
Watch the trailer for Hinterland here: