Your new movie Older
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a romantic drama about growing up, messy relationships and love. It's
how a rom-com might actually play out in real life, with none of the
sugarcoated Hollywood BS.
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Older,
and wis any of it based on personal experiences?
film is definitely semi-autobiographical, but there are more differences
than similarities to myself and Alex, the character I play. Absolutely this
represented a certain time and certain ideas I wanted to explore that I
was going through, but there are also many elements that aren't part of my
experience. Mainly I was motivated by the idea of creating a love story
that was actually true to real life, that felt authentic. Traditional
romantic comedies are so misleading and nonsensical, and I wanted to kind
of make the anti-rom-com rom-com. Richard Linklater and his Before Sunrise-trilogy and the Duplass
Brothers films were huge inspirations and I guess
I just wanted to explore love in a realistic way.
a little more personal for a moment, how do you deal with getting older in
are some things that are good about getting older (freedom, maturity,
perspective, wisdom, personal growth, relationships) and there are things
that are horrible (losing loved ones and being confronted with your own
mortality), and there are many parts of adulthood that are hard to
recommend and hard to honestly say 'it gets better with age' when the
truth is, it really doesn't. You kind of get sold a bill of goods in your
youth about what being a grown up is going to mean and when you get there
you realise actually this is not all it's cracked up to be. So I guess I
deal with it like a lot of people, I try and find a purpose, goals and
dreams to chase, and I take pleasure in working towards those things with a
group of great collaborators and friends, and as Jenny says in the film,
'For the most part, I'm happy.'
Back to Older:
What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at
I wanted things to feel very organic and natural, I encouraged actors to
improvise and bring their own ideas to the film, I tried to film in a way
that gave them freedom, freedom to move around in a scene, removing the
restrictions of specific camera movements and lighting choices, so they
could dictate the action as opposed to a camera confining them to a
certain set of choices. I wanted people to feel as relaxed and uninhibited
as possible and I wanted people to have a good time and enjoy being on
set. We can all put an extreme amount of pressure and expectation on
ourselves on set, and I hoped that the environment I created would feel a
lot less oppressive and more conducive to freedom and the entire team from
cast to crew being able to express themselves.
You also play the lead in
- so what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and have you
written Alex with yourself in mind from the get-go?
I'm a couple degrees away from Alex and I never made the choices he did,
but I could see how I would behave and understood his state of mind, and
how I could if I let myself fall into that rut. So I did have in mind that
I would play that character because of how well I understood him, and that
was part of my challenge for this film, to take that leap of faith and try
can you tell us about the rest of Older's
key cast, and why exactly these people?
Harley Neville who plays Henry is my producing partner and an
exceptionally talented actor in his own right, in fact he starred in my
first feature film I Survived A Zombie Holocaust. So he was always a no
brainer for me. Liesha Ward Knox who plays Jenny is one of my favorite
people in the world, as an actor she can do everything and she has such a
natural appeal because she is a very genuine person and you sense that
everytime she's on screen. I knew I could rely on her to do the heavy
lifting as an actor and make me look better in the process. It was our
chemistry together off screen that made me believe we would be great on
screen. Astra Mclaren who plays Stephanie is incredibly down to earth and
open to ideas, so yes she can play that role and of course is stunningly
beautiful, but there's much more to her in real life and she is completely
unpretentious, just loves to do the work, so all of that attracted me to
casting her. At the end of the day it's all about chemistry and how
you bounce off these people, and my choices were always made with that at
the forefront of my mind.
Do talk about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
as I said it was very relaxed, apart from a couple of the big days the
crew was normally about 5 or 6 people at most. We tried to keep everything
as stripped back and minimalistic as possible. If you have a small crew it
does create a more intimate atmosphere and allows for a lot of creative
freedom. So I think in some ways it didn't really feel like a traditional
movie set, and most of the time I consider that a good thing because it
allows people to feel like they can take risks and think outside of the
box. There was a lot of laughter on set and you always hope that
filmmaking can be fun as well as fulfilling, and I think that was very true
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Older?
had a great response to Older, we've gotten some lovely reviews and more
importantly I've had so many people reach out to me on social media to
tell me how much they enjoyed the film and how much it spoke to them. For
me that's been incredibly gratifying and surprising but I'm very humbled
by that. We all hope to make films that will make a mark on the audience,
but we never know if that's going to be the case. For Older
I think it's
probably been the most well received project I've created.
future projects you'd like to share?
currently working on a new horror film called The Family about a
disturbing cult, I've recently finished a short horror film called Stay
At Home which was shot during one of the Covid lockdowns here in New
Zealand, and finally I'm working on a documentary about MSA (multiple
system atrophy) which is a degenerative neurological condition that my
late uncle suffered from before he passed away.
What got you into
filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the
originally got into filmmaking because I love writing and storytelling, and
as an extension of that it seemed that movies were a way to make people
see these stories the way I imagined. My parents were big proponents of
reading and fiction and encouraged my creative side, and my dad loved films
and also the making of films the behind the scenes anecdotes of how they
came together. I also enjoyed performing, drawing and art, so those
influences all fit perfectly under the filmmaking umbrella.
did not go to film school, I learnt by doing, shooting films, skits, webseries etc and writing. I did of course try and read every book on writing
and filmmaking I could possibly get my hands on, and I'm a huge student of
film and filmmaking, but I am most definitely self-taught.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
I've made a lot of things over the years, but the biggest thing is my first
feature film I Survived A Zombie Holocaust which was released in 2015,
which is a horror zombie comedy very much in the vein of Braindead
as Dead Alive in the US) and Return Of the Living
Dead, it's very
different to Older but I'm very proud of it and I'd encourage people to
also check it out.
someone who appears in front of the camera as well as behind it, what do
you enjoy more, actually? And how easy do you find it to direct yourself?
much prefer directing. I understand my limitations as an actor and can
work within them comfortably but I don't feel I have those same
constraints as a director. It's very difficult to direct yourself although
I am quite used to it, if you were directing incredibly complex action
scenes etc I think it would be almost impossible to fit all of that plus
your acting work in your head at the same time. But if you have good
collaborators you can rely on your team to help and support you through
when you have to put on your acting hat, and I had great people to help me
actors, whoever else who inspire you?
Jackson, Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher, Terrence Malick, George Lucas,
Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Duplass Brothers just off the top of my
head for directors. Actors, some of my favorites are Eva Green, Jack
Nicholson, Humphrey Bogart, Natalie Portman, Johnny Depp. This list could
get really long to be honest.
this list could be one hundred films, but I'll try and just go off the top
of my head - The Shining,
The Thing, Back
to the Future, The Big
Lebowski, Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones, Fight
Club, Oldboy (the
original film), Shaun Of The
... and of course, films you really deplore?
you've made films you become a lot less critical of films, because you
come to realise that everyone sets out with the best of intentions to make
a great film, it's just so difficult to achieve that, from indie
films to the biggest Hollywood movies they all try and fail. But if I had
to pick a few I really didn't like the new Star Wars
and Rogue One. To be honest I really enjoy a lot of bad films, they
help you analyse what went wrong and how you might try and avoid the same
mistakes. I just remembered one, In The Tall Grass was pretty terrible.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
can find all details to watch the film at
you can find our YouTube channel
has a lot of side projects, series and short films.
also do a podcast called The Guy and Harley Podcast where myself and
best friend and filmmaking collaborator Harley Neville talk about what's
going on in our lives and what we are working on available on iTunes,
Spotify and YouTube. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @guypigden
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
for doing this interview, and I hope your fans take the time to check out
my film Older and hit me up on my socials if you want to talk about it!
for the interview!