Interview with Filmmaker Patrick Jensen Hansted (TOPLESS)

TOPLESS, 19min., UK, Drama/Romance
Directed by Patrick Jensen Hansted
After a few years, being in his late 20s without experience building relationships, Anthony finds himself in a vicious cycle of heartbreak as he continues searching for true love.

Get to know the filmmaker:

What motivated you to make this film?

I had several motives on my agenda. Firstly, I wanted to break the stigma of student filmmaking as it is often perceived as amateurish acting/ writing bland production design/”stick-it-on-a-tripod-and-don’t-move” cinematography. So I reached out to some of the best peers in their own respective fields in filmmaking and begged them to join and make something bigger than all of us.

Secondly, I wanted to tell my experience of being in the LGBTQ+ community. Especially that hookup culture when all you are looking for is love. My mom being super respectful and caring meant that I always had her back and till this day she’s the person I call for advice and gossip.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I got the idea after moving to the UK in 2020. I started writing the script back then and finished it on draft 17 by January 2022. The 20 pager got passed around to multiple people for advice and as a pitch to producers alongside some production design pointers to get the feel. Started shooting in September of 2022, post production began in October and ended in February of 2023. So roughly 3 years.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Passion project OR Auteur film OR Friendship’s key
I feel as I have filled a lot of HoD roles in the film and this resulted in me crafting an auteur-ist film.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Probably the biggest obstacle for me was to multitask and pre-plan a lot of paperwork. Although it is a passion project, having to cast, direct, do production design and edit the film while still being at uni and working in a cafe as a supervisor meant I did not have much of a social life for a year. It did teach me a lot of useful skills for future projects and life in general.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was so excited to see different reactions/opinions from people I do not know, people without bias. This meant it was genuine and seeing the positive feedback made my whole day. I did laugh at one point as a viewer pointed out that we did not actually have the golden girls track in the film. After seeing the price tag for it we decided to use it for festivals and had to cut it.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
My family would have this tradition of always going to the cinema to watch the newest films, queue up and get the biggest buckets of popcorn and stuff our faces. It felt like I was observing someone else’s life, as if it was a retelling of some meet-cute or how someone robbed a bank. As a kid I would always be the one in the family that would exaggerate of what happened in school or something I overheard to make the story more interesting. So storytelling is something that I always loved to do and aspired to make films of my own, and here we are.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
La La Land, The grand Budapest Hotel, Love, Simon are quite high up there. But then because of my parents most Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston films are up there as well since those were played on and on again when I was a kid.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Potentially rather than a virtual festivals a real life event would be amazing. Unfortunately for me being in the UK that would mean traveling over seas, which is something I could consider for the sake of networking/meeting like minded people and seeing more films.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It was efficient, and just overall super easy and user friendly.

10. What is your favorite meal?
I am a sucker for Thai, could you guess it? My favorite meal is a green curry with duck or tofu and coconut rice. That meal used to be made by my friends in my favorite place called Thai Orchid in Falmouth, UK. Fun fact, to pay homage we shot the thai dinner scene with Anthony and Justin at that restaurant and the manager of it was the first person we see in that scene.

11. What is next for you? A new film?
Well I noticed how much I love directing and the art department, but decided to pick the art department (specifically PD-ing) for now. Will not let directing down, but there is just something about making props/graphics/set dressing and telling a story through design. There is a film that is currently on the back burner as I feel I need to mature more to make it, but it is an exciting project to say the least.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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