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An Interview with Lukas Hassel, Director and Star of Into the Dark

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2014

Lukas Hassel on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Into the Dark - in a few words, what is it about?


It's about the importance of the human connection. The world may try to alienate us from each other, but we have to remember first and foremost, we are (and I hate to quote Barbra Streisand here, I really do, but...) people who need people.


What were your inspirations when writing Into the Dark, and how did the project come into being in the first place?


The short film came about because I finally managed to write a couple a really great feature scripts that won some awards etc. and I realized I wanted to direct them. However, in order for my producers to be able to pitch me as such, I had to first direct something. Makes sense, I suppose. So I wanted to create a short film. I have seen a ton of shorts over the years, and most are simply not my thing. I wanted to create a short that I'd like to see up on the screen. Something unusual. And the idea of a sci fi short came up.

As a kid I loved the sci fi short stories of Ray Bradbury, and always remembered one about astronauts floating through space. The story always lingered in my mind. And I managed to pay homage and create an unusual, and I think successful, script from there.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your subject at hand?


Well, it was a big help that I was also the writer, because over the months it took me to whittle the script down and hone it, I knew EXACTLY what the film should look and feel like. Similarly, casting myself seemed to be easier too, as I knew what I needed out from the main character. I shot chronologically (a luxury), and was always aware of the arc of the story, where it needed to move, and where it needed to breathe. I like to collaborate with my DP (cinematographer), and so we would discuss each set up briefly before i would get strapped in and get into character. The balancing act between acting and directing was not easy.


Into the Dark features quite a few impressive special effects - so do talk about the effects work on your movie!


One of the reason sci fi shorts (I discovered this) are not done often is that special effects are expensive! Thankfully I knew of a great post production special FX office in Mexico. They loved the script, and we worked via Skype and emails on 85 % of the effects. It was tough not being able to be in the same office and go over things, so it took a bit longer than necessary probably, but I'm thrilled with the work they did. The two shots I really wanted in the end, the exterior space shots, had to be done by a NY expert (who did Beast of the Southern Wild). Those were pricey...


You spend the most part of Into the Dark strapped to the floor and yet play the only on-screen character - so what kind of a challenge was it to bring your role across, and what did you draw upon to bring him to life?


I am primarily an actor, so getting into the head of this character was the easy part. I love being put into extreme roles and enjoying the embodiment of someone completely different to myself. it was not hard to find the claustrophobia, fear, hatred, humor etc. It was all right there, in the script.


Do talk about your collaborators on Into the Dark for a bit, and why exactly these people?


My main collaborator was my DP, Henry B. Lee. He and I had worked together before, and I love his work. So that trust was key. The other main help was my writing group, where I had brought my script in a few times for hard core feedback. That was invaluable. These are all people I know have the best intentions. They know what I'd like to achieve and so the discussion were not about the film THEY wanted to make from my script, but about the movie I wanted to make, and those are the notes that would be helpful.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-screen atmosphere?


Because we built the set in my 5th floor walkup in NY (trust me, it was a lot of schlepping!), I had the luxury of time. There's was no studio cost, no one telling me to rush. So we took our time. However, the apartment looked like a futuristic world war III, with wires, fake smoke, lights, over turned furniture (to block sound, make room) etc. I had organized a few helping hands on set every day, apart from my DP and myself, and so the set was never crazy packed or stressful. If we didn't get the shot one day, I knew we would get it the next.


In general, you're mostly known as an actor - so what made you choose the directorial chair as well for Into the Dark? And what can you tell us about your previous experiences as a director?


As I mentioned earlier, I had some good feature length scripts I wrote that wanted to direct. Le Mécano (a drama set in Northern Africa and Paris), and Galapagos (post apocalyptic suspense). I needed to show producers I could direct with a vision. The only film directing before that really, was a little 5 minute short, Dinner with Peter, which actually did well in some festivals back in 2006!


The $64-question of course, when and where will Into the Dark be released onto the general public?


That is hard to say. The film has only just started its festival run, and as long as its on that circuit it can not be available to the public. Happy to report it is picking of some great awards so far, so hopefully someone wants to stick it on a compilation of Best Shorts or something for the public.


Any future projects beyond Into the Dark you'd like to share?


I'll be starring in Jeremiah Kipp's The Minions [Jeremiah Kipp and Joe Fiorillo talk The Minions - click here], out later this summer, a great suspense short film, as well as a couple of other projects. Then it's about getting my feature scripts made!


What got you into acting in the first place, and what can you tell us about your education on the subject?


Hard to pinpoint when I decided to become an actor. I always played the lead in school plays, mostly because no one else cared to, and I was good at it. When praise comes one's way, it tends to encourage rather than dissuade, so... I went to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland for acting, loved the strong acting traditions there. Did mostly theater, but moved to NY in '96 to pursue more film. Now it's almost exclusively indie film projects I act in.


What can you tell us about your first time in front of a movie or TV camera, and what was that experience like?


Borstal Boy directed by Peter Sheridan was the first big set, big film I was in. It was super intimidating. I had a couple of great one-on-one scenes, as well a massive rugby scene with multiple cameras, crowds, extras etc... I remember just trying to appear calm and not fall on my face. To this day, I regret not risking a particular move in a scene because I was afraid of doing something wrong. Lesson learned: go for it, trust your gut.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Into the Dark?


I have worked in TV, on indie film sets and few times on big film sets. On American TV, the pressure is insane. On European TV, it's not as bad. I shot a lovely feature a few years back with director Kim Cummings, In Montauk and I rmemeber thinking, "that's a lovely director. Patient, and present." I will try to emulate that. Jeremiah Kipp (The Days God Slept, The Minions) is also a great director, and I have worked a couple of times with him now. I'd follow him into the jaws of Hell, such a talented filmmaker. We'll work together for a long time I think.


How would you describe yourself as an actor and as a director?


As an actor, I'd say fearless. There's no corner of my mind or body that I don't feel comfortable exploring.

As a director, I'd say deliberate. I know what I want, and I'm detail-oriented.


Actors, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?


Danny Boyle's Sunshine blew my mind. The story has a few holes and lacks, but the style and the assuredness of his directing is stunning, It also has one of the most beautiful jobs of a cinematographer I have ever seen. Some of Terence Mallick's early work, some Kubrick. I have to say though, that mainly it is all the bad films that inspire and influence me the most. I get angry at certain films because the director got lazy or whatever, and that gets my fire going to make a better movie...


Your favourite movies?


An ecclectic mix: Waiting for Guffman, Falling in Love, Sunshine, Cabaret, Dancer in the Dark, Long Kiss Goodnight, Drive, The Shining.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Lukas Hassel
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Lukas Hassel here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Lukas Hassel at

Blue Jasmine (actually all Woody Allen films since Husband and Wives), Prometheus, any of the Marvel comics movies bar the first couple, any Ron Howard film (minus Apollo 13, which I enjoyed), most of Spielberg's work since Jurassic Park.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else? 

Facebook: Into the Dark

Facebook: Lukas Hassel - actor, director


Anything else you are dying to mention and I've merely forgotten to ask?


So Lukas, if a filmmaker reads this and wants to cast you in his his interesting movie, would you be interested?

Sure, send me the script and let's talk!



Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD