Filmmaker, Joe Hitchcock talks to IndieReign about his animated film The North Pole Deception, his experiences as a filmmaker and also his upcoming independent film, Penny Black.
You may recognize Joe from his quirky, short film The North Pole Deception on IndieReign. Joe has some great advice to share with other filmmakers from his experiences and also wants to fill us in on his upcoming film Penny Black. Have a read of what Joe had to say, especially you filmmakers out there! You may learn a thing or two…
I volunteered with Aotearoa Human Rights Film Festival back in 2005 and watched a lot of interesting / depressing documentaries. None of my friends were interested in the festival and attendance was low. I wondered if the same messages would translate to a mainstream audience if the subject matter was told in a fun environment. Sweatshops were my focus, stop-motion my style.. Santa’s elves just seemed to fit.
Is there anything about The North Pole Deception which makes it unique?
A lot of the dialogue is taken from real sweatshop documentaries (with permission from the directors), and some of the dialogue was improvised around real sweatshop statistics put into an elf environment. For example: In the documentary Mardi Gras: Made in China, the factory owner says “We like to make everyone wear hats because it’s easier to see where they are”, in The North Pole Deception, actor Mark Boone Jr quotes it exactly, but adds the word “green” to suit the elve’s green hats. You can see more references here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1609971/movieconnections
What was it that fed your passion for film?
I used to be a musician and loved entertaining crowds but didn’t like being in front of big audiences. I think that’s what initially drew my attention to pre-recorded entertainment. I don’t believe in capitalism so my view of the world is pretty different to other filmmakers. I try to create projects that entertain but also challenge an audience in their way of thinking about a given theme or topic.
Based on your experience, what are three bits of advice you would give to new filmmakers wanting to make their own movies?
- Pre-production is everything: If you just have an idea in your head, write it down so it exists in the real world, then start developing it. Your story will thank you for it (kind of).
- Don’t be a dick: Be positive to your cast/crew and finish what you start. Everyone involved wants to see it, regardless of how bad your continuity is (Maybe it’s actually good!).
- Excuses are for pussies: If you want to make a film, make one. If you only want to make sci-fi, fantasy or period drama, simplify your concepts to set them in the real world (studios and funding agencies don’t owe you anything – show them what you can do without them).
Do you have any other films you are currently working on?
Last year I directed a feature film called Penny Black which is currently in post-production! It’s a super-model meets anarchist story set on country roads of New Zealand, with some superheroes in the mix for good times. You could describe it as a drama with elements of absurdity. You can check out our website or Facebook page to find out more.
How are you going to leverage off your previous films to get new films off the ground?
I think the trick is to develop a film while you are shooting one. Otherwise you finish a project and start again from scratch. If you wanna be prolific it’s important to keep your artistic momentum going.
Bonus Question! If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
Musician Ian Mackaye. I like his music, our politics align and we’re both vegetarian.
Thank you Joe for sharing such helpful info about filmmaking with us, I for one can’t wait to see Penny Black once it is made! In the mean time I will leave you film buffs to take a look at Joe’s hilarious short, animation The North Pole Deception. Watch the full film on IndieReign for just $1.00!