Interview with director James Hartley (TWISTED)

James Hartley’s short film TWISTED won Best Cinematography at the FEEDBACK Film Festival in November 2015.

Watch the Short Film TWISTED:

Get to know director James Hartley:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

James Hartley: I was motivated by the truth of the character in particular. The character resonated with me as someone who as a teenager had stupid impossible dreams like being the lead singer in a band at 16 and performing at the huge mall that me and my friends frequented. The overwhelming love Michael has for Kayley that leads him to do stupid things is absolutely something I related to and that combination of naivety and wild ambition was something I hadn’t really seen in contemporary cinema. It really encompasses the agony and ecstasy of pubescence.

Matthew: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

James: It took us quite a while to make the film. I was approached in November 2012 to direct the piece and it wasn’t until around eight or so months later that we began principal photography, mainly because of location scouting and the actual logistics of what we wanted to accomplish in regards to the scene transitions. Then a few months of post and we released it in the beginning of 2014.

Matthew: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

James: Dark. Cerebral.

Matthew: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

James: The biggest obstacle we had was juggling the very technical aspects of the transitions with the more subjective nature of the acting. There is one shot in particular that involved coordinating camera movement, focus, lighting, actors, and several elements of the set all in one movement that required us to shout and queue each element while trying to provide an atmosphere for the actors to concentrate and stay in the moment and truth of the scene.

Matthew: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

James: It was very gratifying to watch other people from the other side of the world react positively to our film and especially enjoy the performance of Michael. The film really relied heavily on Claudio Trovato’s shoulders and it was very rewarding to see the hard work and rehearsal we put in pay off. In a sense it was also encouraging to hear how little people noticed the transitions, which we put a lot of work into. It’s essentially a compliment that they were so natural and fluid that they became unnoticed.

Matthew: How was the process working with another director on the film?

James: “Twisted” was the third collaboration I had with James Shepherd so it was quite intuitive. I had far less experience on set and dealing with the hierarchy and channels of them so James was invaluable to have. As he was also a co-producer much of his job revolved around executing the vision I had in mind. The day we had on set for the interior of Michael’s house was one of the most fluid and productive days I’ve worked on film and that came down to the communication and clear vision we shared.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

James: The Dark Knight. Or Dumbo. According to my parents and relatives I watched it obsessively when I was a kid.

Matthew: What is next for you? A new film?

James: I will be looking to direct some independent theatre here in Sydney as well as polish off a full length screenplay and hopefully shoot that this year.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video for TWISTED:



By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: