Matthew Hope is one of the brightest stars in the industry at the moment. His latest movie, The Vanguard has just been released onto DVD to great critical acclaim so we decided that we should talk to this talented chap and see what makes him tick.
Zone Horror: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be in the movie making business?
Matthew Hope: Yes, from about the age of 8, after seeing the first Rocky film. Originally I wanted to work in Special Make-up Effects, but when my parents bought a video camera and I started making films with it I decided to become a director instead.
ZH: Have you always been a big fan of horror movies?
MH: I’m probably a bigger fan of post-apocalyptic movies along the lines of Mad Max and The Omega Man because I always felt they presented a more frightening scenario. That said I love The Exorcist and The Shining, and have a soft spot for Friday 13th: The Final Chapter.
ZH: Can you tell us a bit about your first production, the short piece called In The Field?
MH: It was a short film about a group of army deserters attempting to flee an unknown war who are drawn back into the conflict through their own actions. I made it the year before The Vanguard. I thought I could write my way into directing and when this didn’t happen I decided to make a short film to teach myself how direct. Most of the cast and crew who worked on it came with me to make The Vanguard.
ZH: How much did you learn during that shoot?
MH: I learnt a lot making the film – everything from working with actors to camera angles and lenses; how to cover a scene in order for it to work. I learnt the whole process of filmmaking from beginning to end.
ZH: Where did the idea for The Vanguard come from?
MH: Originally it was just going to be a film about a young man from an industrialized society surviving as hunter/gatherer in a post-apocalyptic world. But some friends of mine were making a zombie movie and I thought this might work better with my original idea, but only if we could do something different with the genre.
ZH: The Vanguard is a pretty brutal movie, did you ever think you’d gone too for with the violence and blood letting?
MH: If I had more time and money then I would have made it more brutal and bloody. I also think this is a double-edged sword; yes I believe filmmakers have a responsibility in their portrayal of violence, but I also believe that if the story warrants it then you shouldn’t hold back. I wanted to show that Max had become a savage and behaved like one in order to survive.
ZH: Did a lot of the budget go on the effects?
MH: A fair amount went on the effects, both practical effects and visual effects like muzzle flashes and whiting out the eyes of the Biosyns.
ZH: Was it a hard movie to cast?
MH: Not really. Some of the actors from my short are in The Vanguard – Ray Bullock Jnr and Shiv Grewal. The other actors I know socially. We cast Emma Choy who plays Rachael and Bahi Ghubril who plays Hareem Jabbar.
ZH: Was there a point during production that you thought that you doubted your ability as a director?
MH: I never doubted I could do it, but there was an incident on the first day of shooting: After the first take I looked around at all these crew members and had a panic attack where the whole film – which had yet to be shot – flashed through my mind. One of the strangest experiences of my life. I remember telling myself, “This is it. Your whole life has been building to this one moment and now it’s time to step up to the plate.” After that moment I just got on with making the film and dealt with situations as and when they occurred.
ZH: How happy are you with the end result?
MH: To a certain extent I am. But there are always things you wish you had done differently. You have to make instant decisions some of which are not always right. Also, I was doing all manner of jobs on the film and wish I had a proper crew so I could just focus on directing. But saying that, one of things I’m most happy about is not only is the film going to be released but also, a company like Lionsgate is releasing it!
ZH: So what’s next for you?
MH: I hope to do a revenge film next.
ZH: Matthew Hope, thank you very much.