The veteran editor talks about moving into the director’s chair with his story set in London’s East End.
Un Certain Regard entry Snow In Paradise, Andrew Hulme’s directorial debut, is a British film made without any support from British broadcasters or public funders.
“None of them were interested, if they even took a meeting,” Hulme notes of the indifference with which the project was treated on home ground.
Hulme and his producer Christine Alderson of Ipso Facto turned to European backers instead, presenting Snow In Paradise in Rotterdam’s coproduction market CineMart in 2012.
Hulme and Alderson eventually attracted a prestigious German sales agent (The Match Factory), a French distributor (Wild Side), a German partner in Millbrook Pictures and support from financiers Backup Media. The team was also a Kickstarter campaign.
The film is loosely inspired by the experiences of its co-writer Martin Askew. It is about Dave — played by newcomer Fred Schmidt — a young petty criminal from London’s East End who turns to Islam after the violent death of his best friend. Becoming a Muslim helps him to control and channel his anger.
Hulme comes to directing having established himself as one of the UK’s top film editors. His credits include Control, The Girl, Red Riding, The American and Lucky Number Slevin.
“I guess I’ve seen a lot of dirty washing,” Hulme jokes of how his experience as an editor prepared him for directing. “I’ve seen a lot of mistakes made and have been thinking about what I would do in that situation. I’ve also seen, and helped to make, successful films.”
Hulme cites working on Anton Corbijn’s feature directorial debut Control as an inspirational experience. “You’ve got a very raw, fresh talent in Sam Riley (who played Joy Division’s troubled singer Ian Curtis) and there’s something about this that obviously clicked in my mind…it is an interesting route to take, casting someone who has never done it before.”
From his experience editing Red Riding 1974, featuring a young Andrew Garfield, Hulme also felt he had an instinct for faces audiences like to watch. “I’ve watched a lot of rushes when I can tell when I want to watch somebody for a long time.”
Hulme saw Fred Schmidt as an actor in similar mould to Garfield. Schmidt certainly won the lead role in Snow In Paradise in unlikely circumstances. By chance, Schmidt — then working as an art technician — was spotted having a cigarette on the street in Hoxton, London. He had just had an argument with his boss and was in a terrible mood - but agreed to come along for the open audition. Hulme immediately realised “he had the right face, the right attitude” and the emotional range needed for the part.
After winning the role, and before beginning production, Schmidt also landed a small part in David Mackenzie’s prison drama Starred Up. “We were quite pleased that he went away on location for four weeks just to get an idea of what a film set is like.”
Snow In Paradise premieres in Un Certain Regard on Wednesday.