Interview with Filmmaker Hazel O’Brien (HOPE)

HOPE was awarded BEST COMEDY at the June 2022 FEMALE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was lucky enough to take part in a stop motion course with Aardman back in 2021 and ‘Hope’ is my final piece to showcase the skills we’d learnt.

My motivation around the story was to use fantasy and humour to make light of what is actually a very sad societal issue. Loneliness is something many people suffer with and I think it’s cruel for certain dating platforms to exploit that and act with greed over compassion. Hope is an emotion of joy and positivity, without hope we would sit and wallow, so I wanted to give the audience a glimmer of it before the sad but relatable ending.

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

This film was completed in my spare time whilst working full time. It was 3.5 weeks from conception to execution, including all props and puppet making. It was an incredible amount of work in a short time, with some shots taking 8 solid hours without breaks but the result was very rewarding.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Silly & Sad

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was extremely time and labour intensive. Stop motion can be so easily ruined if even the slightest nudge to the camera or light occurs, so you have to commit to a shot until it’s complete. The shot where he’s stepping over the glass took me 8 hours, whilst knelt on the ground without a break to eat. Safe to say I couldn’t feel my legs that night. However, people don’t do stop motion because it’s easy, they do it because it’s magical when it comes alive.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It actually felt very surreal. I was completely overwhelmed at the kind words and that they seemed to have picked up on all my intentions for the film. It is a sad film, but it’s silly also and I’m so glad they could have a laugh with it.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I was studying Graphic Design at uni and I got bored with layouts. I asked to transform a book illustration brief into a stop motion animation and the magic started there for me.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I think this would be ‘The Notebook’, I’m a sucker for a love story.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I am very new to the film festival world, so tips on who to submit to, what judges look for and how to elevate your reputation after the festival will always be helpful.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I think it’s fantastic and easy.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Pizza, forever.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am taking a break from my full time job to focus on some new films. With stop motion being so labour intensive, I wanted to really give it my all and make some films that truly showcase my style and personality. I’m very excited to dive straight in to my imaginary worlds.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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