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Interview with Paul Hyett director of Peripheral
By James Whittington, Friday 2nd November 2018 Paul Hyett is a firm FrightFest favourite. His work jumps from genre you genre with ease but still retains that "Hyett" feeling in each piece. His latest work, Peripheral is having its UK Premiere at the FrightFest Halloween 2018 event so we decided to chat to Paul about this and his view on technology.
HC: How did the project of Peripheral come together?
PH: Peripheral was bought to me by the original producer, he thought I'd be a good fit. Originally he had pitched me a one woman in a room, contained location about bad technology theme. It didn't feel appealing as after Howl, which was a big film in terms of cast, VFX, stunts etc and I was looking for a more challenging film logistically. Then I read Peripheral. And I fell in love with the script, it was such an important, pertinent movie, it really had something to say about dependance on technology, addiction in all its forms and how an artists soul can be slowly drained away, and it really is about art versus commerce, which we're seeing now with the current studio system and algorithms created by certain streaming services. We could literally be seeing the end of indie films, and here was this ferociously independent little film. I had to do it.
HC: The story focuses on an author having issues writing her second novel, did you ever have such problems making your second feature?
PH: Not so much my second one. But really in general, you can spend so many hours crafting away at a script, coming up with something that you think is really cool, only to show to potential financiers to be told,'yeah good script, but not commercial enough', 'can you change the protagonist to a an 18-year-old to appeal to that demographic', and 'yeah, gore isn't really in at the moment, can you make it a PG-13 horror', and it really breaks you down, I understand I'm a commercial artist, that you have to make profitable movies, but it can be tough because you're writing a story from a commercial angle rather then a story for story's sake, so I feel I've been through what Bobbi goes through in Peripheral.
HC: The technology on show looks amazing, how was that created?
PH: It was headed by Lindsay Comens, a very talented VFX artist, his company toomuchblackcoffee did over 350 VFX shots, they looked great, it was too important to get right. I had designed the computer with Paul Gerrard, an amazing concept artist, and we worked out the structure and what I wanted in terms how to shoot, I knew I need a huge screen with no borders, I didn't want it to ever be a girl hunched over a small computer, I wanted it large so I could shoot through the screen at any angle and also to give the feeling of this technology getting bigger and more sinister.
HC: What did the cast think of the themes of the movie?
PH: The cast loved the themes of the film, its what drew them to the script, whether it was the self harming, the addiction issues, the worry of overbearing technology, the creative process, the taking over of the corporate entities, replacing the purity of the artists vision. It touches on too many levels. And for Hannah it was as painful as giving birth. She really gave everything to this role, and she went through the mill. And her performance is phenomenal...
HC: The film looks at addiction in its many forms, would you say it has a lot to say about this issue?
PH: Oh yes, addiction comes in soo many forms. You can be addicted to anything for sooo many reasons. Whether it be alcohol, drugs, sex, sugar, technology, anything. When you see separation anxiety is a medically recognised condition it hammers home how addicted we are to technology. Addiction usually is filling a hole where there's something missing, and you always want to fill that hole, with something, with anything. You always want to chase highs that you've experienced, whether that's drugs, or success, or orgasms, or creative flourishes and endeavours. Our brain is anamazing thing, a piece of jelly with millions of neurological pathways, its amazing, its a computer highway, and anything can disrupt it, make the wiring go bad, whether physical or emotional, and that wiring can go wrong, cause us to crave the weirdest things, do the strangest things, its equally fantastic and self destructive...
HC: I feel it also has a lot to say about the creative process itself too, would you agree?
PH: Yes definitely, the whole film is a metaphor for writing a book. Its painful, like childbirth... You go through the whole gestation of the creating, you're protective of your little miracle, then you finally give birth to it, you show your close friends and family your creation, they all say how beautiful it is, then you give it to the world, in the cold light of day and then they tell you what they really think, in reviews, in social media, they can tear your creation apart, it can be soul crushing, you need to have a tough skin. In this day and age, where everyone is a critic, on IMDB etc, you need to just deal with it, some people will like what you did, others will hate it. You just got to hope that the ones that hate it will like the next one.
HC: The score is pretty cool, will we get a release of this?
PH: Yes there's definitely a plan to release it. its a very cool score by the very talented Si Begg...
HC: Are you a technophobe at all or do you embrace each new piece of technology?
PH: I get there eventually. I always say I'm not, but I do, it took me a while to get out of the stone age, on principle... But like most people it gets its claws into me, and I can't live without it... I'm defiantly now addicted to my tech.
HC: All of your movies are every different in tone, theme and content, is this deliberate?
PH: Yes, I like to tell different stories, I would never really want to just tell the same story or theme, I like to explore very different themes, character journeys etc... Although I think I'll give romantic comedies a miss.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a dark thriller at the moment. Hopefully going to announce what it is soon.
HC: Paul Hyett, thank you very much.
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