Interview : Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger


"Lawless Heart", opening February 21, is Set in Essex, England, where the funeral of a mutual friend or relative, Stuart, sparks the telling of three different romantic stories.CLINT MORRIS talks to the film’s directors, Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger about how the film came about.

Hi Guys, can you tell me a bit about the film

We always talked about it as three stories about people who fall in love with the wrong people. Which was something most people seemed to have memories of, or worse. It’s a funny-sad film (people tell me) – there is a fair amount of comedy, but you can’t be sure it’s going to end up funny. And the things that happen and are decided in one story might have an effect on the things in the other two stories – all three stories take place in the same time frame.

We shot it in Essex, which is where I grew up. It’s seen as something of a joke place in the UK – something like New Jersey in the US. But the remoter bits of Essex aren’t known at all, and the landscape came as a bit of a surprise to audiences (and the actors).

For some reason, critics in the UK really liked the film – perhaps because it arrived a bit unannounced, out of nowhere, and they were allowed to discover it for themselves. It came out in the summer, around the time of
Spiderman and Minority Report, but audiences still managed to find it.

How did it come about?

Tom and I had done a film called Boyfriends on a miniscule budget, so the BBC’s film-making arm gave us some money to fool around with a bunch of actors we happened to like and develop some stories that might amuse. Four years after those improvisation sessions, we had different funders, different actors, but a script which enough people thought might work. From then on, everything went weirdly smoothly – and everyone who told us that the script was too this or too that have, since the film’s UK release, gone satisfyingly quiet.

Are you confident it’ll do well elsewhere, outside of Europe and the UK?

We’re never confident; in this business only scoundrels are confident. But I did notice that Boyfriends did much better in the US than it did in the UK, and the reaction so far on Lawless Heart has been encouraging. We’ve generally found at festivals around the world that audiences, once they see the film, tend to like it – so as long as we can hang on in there for long enough, I think it stands a chance.

Neil, what’s the "Alexander the Great" script are you working on? Have anyone in mind for the lead role?

The thing I need to say about our Alexander the Great is that it’s a contemporary comedy, and has nothing to do with the Macedonian guy. So if Lurhmann or Stone get their films off the ground any time soon, a change of title (for us) strikes me as a distinct possibility.

We do have someone in mind, but we haven’t told him yet. I don’t think this is a good way for him to find out.

Tom, anymore acting for you coming up, movie-wise?

Nothing in the pipeline, but they tend to come at short notice.

Any date yet on when Lawless Heart will open in Australia?

No confirmation on a date yet. Apparently, the materials, as they say, are on their way over.

What’s next for you guys – would you like to do another film together?

We’ve just started fooling around with some actors we happen to like again; again thanks to a cheque from the BBC’s film arm. The idea is to finish a script in a couple of months’ time – everyone seems to be in more of a hurry this time round. At the moment it’s called Sparkle – which might suggest another name-change in the pipeline.

LAWLESS HEART Commences at Cinemas in NYC Feb 21