Hudson Hughes has been making weird funny animations since he was 9 years old but he only realised he could make a career out of this when he got to the University.
“I met a lot of brilliant comedians and filmmakers while I studied engineering and produced several short films as well as plays and musicals. My work as a film director is hugely influenced by the comedy shows I helped bring to life on stage. With my films, I always aim for ‘laugh-out-loud’ humour, not a clap or subdued chuckle. It can be scary to throw something out there and say “I think this is funny” but after your stand-up has bombed in a room full of strangers there’s nothing that scares you any more.”” says Hudson Hughes
indieactivity : How do you choose a project to direct?
Hudson Hughes : I tend to write as well as direct so I probably don’t have any deep insights into analysing screenplays. I usually try to find a concept that isn’t funny in itself but has the potential for a million jokes. For Wednesday in Space it was “no-budget space movie set in a cramped diner with weird TV ads”. From there I hash out a rough plot and then write dialogue as fast as possible, as though I’m performing an improv scene. If I don’t genuinely believe a theatre audience would laugh at a joke, it doesn’t go in. I try not to write characters with certain actors in mind but it’s hard.
indieactivity : How can a filmmaker, if she so chooses, distribute her film? How do you get it in front of an audience?
Hudson Hughes : I’m probably not the best person to ask this but I tend to believe in building your own house, so to speak. A bit of DIY never hurt anyone. In the next few weeks we will be launching a Kickstarter to help fund the distribution of Wednesday in Space. Given the no-budget aesthetic of Wednesday in Space, we’re not waiting to be picked up by a distributor, we’re taking the film to cinemas ourselves. Perhaps we’ll find a good deal along the way but I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. I guess my advice would be to be tenacious – submit to festivals but don’t wait for some ‘higher’ validation to pursue an audience you know will enjoy your film.
indieactivity : Is there anything about the making of independent film business you still struggle with?
Hudson Hughes : Everything. I’m a complete greenhorn. I love learning though so as long as I can still find projects I’m passionate about then it’s worth it.
indieactivity : Talk to us about your concept on collaboration?
Hudson Hughes : There’s a common myth about the ‘lone genius’ in a lot of art forms, I guess. I enjoy feature filmmaking because of the collaborative nature. You can paint a painting alone, you can record a song alone but you cannot make a feature film alone (I’m sure someone has but I bet you it’s naff). I always try to work with friends, it’s rare to find an asshole so talented that it’s worth working with them. Sure, I’ve worked on horrible projects with great people but I’ve never worked on great projects with horrible people.
indieactivity : What uniqueness do female directors/filmmakers bring to film/tv/cinema?
Hudson Hughes : Often I forget the difference between male and female filmmakers until it comes to approaching a problem, whether it’s on set or in the story. I’ve worked with some brilliant female filmmakers who have without a doubt improved my own directing by offering a different angle of attack to a problem. I hate to stereotype but the female ADs I’ve worked with tended to be better at multitasking.
indieactivity : Why would you choose an actor, writer or producer? What do you look for?
Hudson Hughes : Given that all of my projects are comedic and often absurdist or over-the-top, I find that actors with backgrounds in theatre and improv fit the roles that I write. People with an innate sense of comedic timing and delivery always stand out. For Wednesday in Space I knew the project would be hands-on – every actor would at some point need to construct sets, jump on a piece of equipment for one scene or cook dinner. I chose actors who I trusted to get their hands dirty without complaining. I asked Benedict to help produce, not so much for his film knowledge but for his ‘me’ knowledge. We’ve known each other a long time, some would say too long, and he built the set with me. As such he understood, from a very early point, how the characters would operate in that tight space, and how the crew would need to adapt.
indieactivity : At what period in the filmmaking process, do you need to start planning for distribution?
Hudson Hughes : As soon as the project starts! We started much too late and could have benefitted massively from generating interest in the pre-production phase.
indieactivity : Indie filmmaking is a model of zero or small budget. How do you get a film to the audience with such a budget?
Hudson Hughes : That’s the question I’m still asking myself! In practice it’s a lot of man hours , an active and preferably audio-visual presence on social media, and a lot of unread emails. I’ve recruited four people, three of whom were cast and crew on the original production, to market the film and make connections with distributors for the future. If you are unlike myself and you don’t wish to hold a physical premiere, virtual screenings are a wonderful thing, especially given present lockdown measures make online living/working something of a requirement these days.
indieactivity : How do you think filmmakers can finance their projects?
Hudson Hughes : Investors can be found in unexpected places, and in my small experience you don’t have to limit yourself to those rooted in film and television. If you can convince anyone that your project is worth their time and money that’s a start. We are choosing to crowdfund distribution funds for Wednesday in Space. I may use this method in the future to try and fund another feature. Crowdfunding doesn’t even need to be the main source of funding, just enough to get the ball rolling.
indieactivity : Describe your most recent work, or film, take us through pre, production and post production [Introduce the story, the film by title, the main cast and the crew?
Hudson Hughes : Wednesday in Space is a no-budget sci-fi comedy film. Written and directed by Hudson Hughes, cinematography is by Molly Ellis and Liam Beazley, it stars Bella Norris as Lucha Flax – an unfulfilled traffic cop, tired of being another cog in the corporate machine. Nick Ong as Mr Yim – the seedy owner of Mr Yim’s soup house. He’d only bother having a conscience if it was Tax deductible. Sam Rowley as Ezra Dip – the diner’s coffee boy – lovable but as dim as space itself. Natalia May as Connie Shank – the diner’s chain-smoking chef with a penchant for sharp knives.
Set in a futuristic vision of space where ‘The Pleasance Party’ acts as an intergalactic autocracy, Wednesday In Space follows traffic detective Lucha Flax as she is caught up in a battle between wet work operatives known as ‘the Boogeymen’, French-speaking rebels, a money-hungry diner owner and crazy aggressive telemarketing. Hounded by ‘The Boogeymen’, the cigarette-puffing rebels hole up in Mr. Yim’s rundown diner. When a boogeyman is killed in the cubicle whilst searching for them, the diner is quickly flooded with mysterious hazmat-clad figures who believe that a rival operative by the name of Solomon Pink is to blame. Enter stage left one lowly traffic cop named Lucha Flax (Bella Norris), intent on solving the mystery of the man whose brains are splattered all over said cubicle, in space, on a Wednesday.
Almost all of Wednesday in Space takes place inside a diner which we built inside my garage using chipboard donated by a set construction company and furnishings found on websites like Freecycle and GumTree. As this was a no-budget film, the cast and crew were working for nothing more than a hot meal. To secure the team we wanted, we shot in the minimum time possible: a week. It was an intense week with 15-20 sweaty people crammed into a small garage. Scenes involving the French rebels were shot in a separate small shed on the first day. This was a challenge for the whole team as the cast were smoking during each take and all windows and doors had to remain shut for shooting. The second day focussed on green screen footage for the TV commercials and TV battle of the bands that takes up 15 minutes of the films runtime. After this, everything was shot inside the diner with construction only finishing the day before. During the shoot, many members of the cast and crew had to take a day off to go to their university graduation ceremony. Most notably, the producer Benedict Evans was up until 5AM in a poorly constructed spaceship the night before receiving his bachelor’s degree.
It took two gruelling months to reach the first cut, VFX and all. I did all the editing and visual effects myself but wisely left the colouring to Leo Barton.
indieactivity : Did the tight shooting schedule make it harder or easier? How did it affect performances?
Hudson Hughes : It created a large number of challenges but given people’s schedules it was either “shoot it in a week” or no film at all.
indieactivity : How much did you go over budget? If you did, how did you manage it?
Hudson Hughes : £2000 was set aside and £1500 of that was spent. Beyond accomodation and food the biggest expense was the building of the set. A lot of searching on FreeCycle and a few generous loans of scrap material from Construct Scenery Ltd had us all set to piece together a Soup House in our reasonably-sized garage.
indieactivity : What other films have you written and made?
Hudson Hughes : I have two short comedy films currently online: The first is From Russia With Murder, (2017) : A surreal stop-motion noir and the second is December Heat (2019): A dark comedy documentary
From Russia With Murder, (2017)
The second is December Heat (2019)
indieactivity : What do you hope audiences will get from the presentation of your film?
Hudson Hughes : Enjoyment. I made this film to make people laugh. A small part of me has my fingers crossed that it develops something of a cult reputation, but mostly I just want to see people have a good time.
indieactivity : What are your future goals?
Hudson Hughes : To keep making people laugh, honestly. I plan to keep making comedy films, each bigger and better than the last.
indieactivity : Tell us about what you think indie filmmaker need in today’s world of filmmaking
Hudson Hughes : Joy. We are living in a time where indie filmmaking is easier and more accessible than ever.
indieactivity : What else have you got in the works?
Hudson Hughes : I’m always making new comedy skits that I upload to Hudson Hughes Films on all good social media. Other than that and a couple of short films, we’re currently preparing to shoot a proof-of-concept for another feature film. It’s a bit less bloody than Wednesday in Space but just as funny and even more action-packed.
Tell us what you think of the interview with “Hudson Hughes” What do you think of it? What ideas did you get? Do you have any suggestions? Or did it help you? Lets have your comments below and/or on Facebook or Instagram! Or join me on Twitter @oladapobamidele
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