At the Sunscreen Film Festival, we had the pleasure of watching "Hush Hush" a story told entirely without dialogue relating sexual repression and isolation. The film was one of our favorite films at the festival, which prompted us to ask Byron Gatt, the film's writer/director to a few questions about his experience and inspirations for the project.
What was inspiration for the movie? Why a film with no dialogue?
I wanted to make a movie that was truly unique, something I have never seen before. I always found the taboos of our society to be very fascinating, especially when it comes to sex. When Internet pornography came about, it quickly had a huge impact on the accessibility of pornography, thus creating an entirely different avenue of potential sexual influence. I've always been curious how this influence effects relationships and the psyche in general.
The concept of not using dialogue followed the development of the main themes in the film. When I explored the idea further, I kept having a difficult time envisioning the movie with dialogue. Then I concluded that the film should be an exploration of great solitude, much like the act of masturbation and sexual discovery. I also fell in love with the idea that I have never seen a movie with such a unique concept, one that was able to tell a story through the natural moments between the words.
What drew you to this story about sexual repression and release?
I believe everyone has been through sexual repression and discovery to some extent. We have all experienced what it's like to discover sex for the first time, by ourselves and with others, and all the mixed emotions that go along with that. The story co-creator, Derek Lux, and I really gravitated toward this idea, partially because we grew up together through our young teenage years of sexual discovery. We met when we were freshman in High School, so sex was definitely on our minds. We also both come from more conservative/strict backgrounds, so sexual repression was a very real issue we both dealt with.
I know you have a good story regarding pre-pro and production in which the camera was stolen? Could you elaborate on the production process a bit? How big was your crew? On a budget of less than $10,000 what kind of equipment did you use? Any lights? How did you obtain your locations?
The main “crew” consisted of the cinematographer, Greg Checchi, and I. That’s it. Greg and I would discuss what we were about to shoot, both get the set put together, then he would set up lights and I would talk with the actors. It was an interesting process and we all wore many hats. Derek Lux, the lead actor, would help out off camera with continuity and other random tasks.
There were some benefits to having such a streamlined crew, but it definitely had its downsides, thus being how the camera got stolen. Simply put, we were doing a lot of things at once, running in and out of the house, and in a flash our camera and tripod were gone. The culprit must have been watching us for some time trying to find the right moment. It was a feeling of panic I've never experienced. Not only was our footage from the day gone but also was our borrowed HVX200, Bogen tripod, and rented P2 cards. To make a long story short, I sold my car and bought another camera.
This, on top of random post production issues, caused a financial crisis that easily delayed our movie for 2 years, which is why it was shot on an HVX200. We shot the summer right before DSLR’s came out, so that added insult to injury since those cameras are so amazing and inexpensive.
What was the most difficult part of making this film? What was your favorite part? Least favorite part?
Without question, the most difficult and least favorite part has been money, money, and money. Since the film’s budget was funded predominantly with my money/credit, it has been an exhausting and stressful process. Having to radically sacrifice my quality of life for 4 years has been an eye opening experience. With that said, I wouldn’t change any of it. My most favorite aspect of this experience, thus far, has been the education I gained. I always joke that I have a PhD from the University of Hush Hush. Through that educational experience, I feel that I have truly found myself as a filmmaker and the limits I am willing to go for my love of filmmaking. It’s something that will stay with me forever and I feel grateful for that. I look forward to many more projects with new sets of issues that will grant me an entirely new educational experience.
What is your next project? Will it have dialogue or is this a style you will continue to utilize in coming films?
My next project definitely has dialogue and is very different from Hush Hush. I wrote and directed Hush Hush when I was 24 years old, now being much older I have learned a lot about myself as a filmmaker. With that, my next project is a romantic dramedy called Avery. It is by far the most personal project I have ever delved into; it runs deep with my life and my family. I am currently developing it into a short film but ultimately plan to make it into a feature.
Here’s the logline:
Avery, an eccentric introspective woman with a close relationship with inanimate objects, faces the repercussions of her parents belated divorce and along the way discovers love.
You can watch the conceptual teaser and read more about it at www.averymovie.com