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.
were your inspirations when writing Into
the Dark, and how did the project come into being in the first
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.
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?
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
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-screen atmosphere?
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.
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
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?
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
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
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?
ecclectic mix: Waiting for Guffman, Falling in Love, Sunshine,
Dancer in the Dark, Long Kiss Goodnight, Drive, The
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
(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
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Facebook: Into the Dark
Facebook: Lukas Hassel - actor, director
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!
for the interview!