Interview with Andrew Hulme, Director of Drama Thriller Snow in Paradise

Andrew Hulme’s Snow in Paradise is out in UK cinemas this weekend. To celebrate its release, we speak to the filmmaker about his first feature film as a director. Beginning his career in the film industry as a highly-successful editor, Hulme is known for his work on Control, Red Riding 1974 and Lucky Number Slevin. His latest project is a hard hitting thriller based on a true story and is co-written by Martin Askew. Dave is a petty criminal who thrives on drugs and violence in London’s East End. When his actions kill his best friend Tariq he’s propelled into unknown feelings of shame and remorse.

ASFF: Snow in Paradise is your first feature film. Can you talk about your experience as a director?
AH: I loved it. I never realised what a lot of power it gives you. I’m lying, the only power I had was immediately prior to shouting “cut”. So I didn’t shout “cut” I just let the camera run and run. One of the key things about making low budget films is that time is essential and every time you shout “cut” someone runs into frame to do hair or make up or tweak a light, etc. It takes 10 minutes to get back to where you were. So I just gave the actor’s instruction on screen and kind of ‘rewound’ the take whilst we were filming.
Does that make sense? As an editor I have a well developed editing muscle and what I found was that I began to find other muscles that had never been used. It was very exciting and turned all my expectations upside down.

ASFF: The film is based on true events. How did you go about transforming this story into a thriller?
AH: With a lot of painstaking discussion and sifting through Martin’s personal memories. Originally the script was just a drama but it found another life when we injected thriller-type elements into it. I guess it just happened naturally. One thing I was very clear about was the idea that we experience everything front the main character’s point of view. Just like life: we never really know why things happen, we just see the end result. It would have been a lot easier to have made a pure thriller by watching the other characters weaving their nefarious schemes behind the back of the protagonist and of course give the audience more thrill for their money. But if we’d have done that I think they wouldn’t have felt anything for Dave (the film’s protagonist) at the end, and turning to Islam would have come across as just a plot device and not something you ‘felt’.

ASFF: What inspired you to make the move from editor to director?
AH: Seeing a lot of dirty laundry. I’ve worked on a lot of films and seen the inner workings of directors and the filmmaking process. It’s been a pleasure to learn but also sometimes very painful watching a director see their film torn to pieces in order to reconstruct it into something they never intended. I think editing is one of the best ways of learning filmmaking as it makes you confront your dreams and ideas, and realise that they don’t all work.
In hindsight I realise I was waiting for a story to be inspired by. I inadvertently stumbled across Martin’s story that just shone out to me as brilliant and fascinating and one that spoke volumes about the world we live in. Or maybe the story just found me?

ASFF: As a filmmaker, who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
AH: Anyone who has a creative mind that I can admire.

ASFF: In your opinion, how can film simultaneously entertain and challenge its viewers?
AH: By understanding the needs of both the mainstream (to entertain) and the art house world (to challenge) and to somehow incorporate both of these elements. My favourite films are the ones that do both. Ambiguity is also a good element. Let the audience do some work and reach for the meaning. Its a lot more rewarding that way.

Snow in Paradise, UK 2014, 108 mins, UK distribution Curzon Film World. Out now in UK cinemas.

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1. Still from Snow in Paradise. Courtesy of Curzon Film World.