Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Lee Madsen, Director of Hated Talks About the Meaning Behind His Film

 

By Gwen Valentine

Hated is currently touring film festivals and winning a few awards along the way. I, recently, had a chance to ask Lee Madsen, the director, about his film, the meaning behind it, and what was next for him.

Question> I know you told the story of how you came up with Hated at the New York screening but could you maybe retell it?

Lee> Well, the writer, Maria Lorenzo, had worked very closely with musicians, rock bands, music industry people and the media, so she had a lot of insane stories and personal experiences which she would often retell to me. I encouraged her to put them down on paper for years. Eventually she did and Hated was the result. We met in NYC over 10 years ago I was there showing "Becoming Irish" a short film I made she came with some friends came to the screening. We all hung out afterwards at a bar in the lower east side. Talked about making this movie someday. I walked her and her friends to the World Trade Center where they took the train to Jersey and I walked to my hotel in SoHo. It was early morning 9/11/01. Just a hours later the towers were attacked.

Question> I've heard the suggestion going around but is the fictional band in Hated based off any non-fictional band? If so, which one?

Lee> Our story is Veronica’s experience with this band as the focal issue and in the larger scheme her experience of the music industry overall. It's about her struggle.

Hated isn’t based on any one band in particular, but it is based on the true experiences of a girl that worked in the music industry and is a combination of those personalities and characters as a whole that she encountered. Everyone that has seen the film that is in the music industry says that it is the most real story they have ever seen depicting what happens to a band on the rise and the people surrounding them.

Question> If it was based on an actual band did that make shooting this film easier or harder for you to do? If it was you must have wanted to do the story justice on screen.

Lee> Directors serve the story. Doing the story justice is it. That's the job, plus, a million other things. But, it wasn't based on an actual band. Although a lot of people think so because of an article in a magazine a year ago. It's always good to have some gossip. A rumor. Anyway, Maria had introduced me to a lot of her friends through the years so I could definitely see the influence through the characters. Meeting the bands, hanging out with them, and seeing them in action definitely helped with shooting the film and bringing the feeling to the screen.

Question> I know you also said you had 'people from all over' in the cast but how did you go about casting them? And I'd imagine each one had their own take on the characters so what stood out to you about each actor that you ended up casting in the film?

Lee> Good question. Typical process. You have a list of actors that would be awesome for each role. Hire a casting director. Check out head-shots, reels, video auditions. Once we got down to my favorites we started looking at how we felt as them together as a band. You meet actors for coffee. The writer, Maria, set up a meeting with myself and Matthew Hutchinson in a bar in LA and I knew right away we had our Peter. We found Auggie (Augustus Prew) through a friend and he did a video audition he sent from England. John Doe had been in my first feature “Players” and he came back for this role in “Hated” so it was great to get to work together again. He's a rock star! It's always cool to have a certified punk rock legend in a punk rock movie. Ari Up played herself in the movie. That's two rock stars. I met Gen for coffee and knew she was Veronica straight away. She's just won best actress at two different festivals and was nominated at a third film fest. We been in a string of cool indie film festivals.

Question> When you cast the film a lot of the actors had musical background or experience. Did they actually get a chance to showcase some of that on film or not?

Lee> Matt Hutchinson, who plays Peter, the lead singer, is in the band Our Mountain from Australia. They are beginning to gain a wide audience and have been touring the world since we finished filming. I just talked with Matthew and he finished a new album that he's psyched about so that's rad. We used one of his songs as the main song the band showcases throughout the film. John Doe, founding member of X, and a multi-talented singer/musician acts in the film, Ari-Up plays herself in the film and does go onstage and performs a bit with the band but also contributed to the soundtrack writing and singing the Hated theme. Ryan Donowho is also a singer/musician and contributed to the soundtrack… Ryan and Chris Riggi were drumming outside of Joey’s apt in Brooklyn on upside down plastic buckets and they did this again outside of Fontana’s in Chinatown, there was a rock n roll indie underground vibe that permeated the entire production… Chris took lessons for a month before we went into production so he obsessed with drumming and Ryan plays multiple instruments so looking cool playing the bass for easy for him. Shooting in all the actual NY clubs…

Question> The film has some very interesting layers to it First, there's the outer layer which is what we see happening in the film to all of these characters as the film progresses then there's the inner turmoil that a lot of the characters don't react upon till very late in the film. Was that a conscious choice to present the film that way to the viewers? Or just something that was given a lot of thought? I almost feel as if the intention was for the audience to feel like an outsider witnessing the ups and downs of this bands musical struggle am I over thinking and just looking for meaning that isn't there?

Lee> Yes, there are a lot of layers. Fame or the experience in the music industry affects different people differently. A lot of time the turmoil goes on for years before an individual reacts upon it. Of course, when you are in it, you can go on for years because you are living some sort of dream that everyone has... fame, fortune, VIP.... sometimes it takes years to realize that it's not what you expected or you have been sacrificing yourself, your friendships and your integrity. To just film the movie from Veronica's point of view would be lacking the complete experience and it wouldn't have been a complete representation of the story.

Question> There were some very interesting shots in this film, including, the pool scene. How did you achieve them? And, what, was the most difficult one for you?

Lee> The cool shots in the pool were done with the camera in a waterproof case. Just so you know, there is no waterproof case built for a RED camera with anamorphic lenses. They don’t exist. So, what we did was take measurements of the camera with the lens and Kirsten my producer went and had found a fish aquarium manufacturing company and bought the right size fish tank. It had to be a specific length and width and we couldn’t put a lid on it because we still had to operate the focus and camera so there had to be enough room for Eric to operate. She spent 3 days looking for this aquarium and she finally found it, of course, and then they bought shower handles with suction cups on it and attached those to the sides of the aquarium so we could move the aquarium/camera around in the water so that it would look like it was below the water surface enough but really wasn’t because we had no lid. And that only cost us about $175 and change and it was raffled off, the tank, afterwards, and an electrician won it for his pet snake.

The most difficult shot was on a cold and windy rooftop in NYC. The camera starts over the ledge of the building on a wide shot of the city, and then rises up over the ledge and spins around to reveal Veronica (the publicist) walking toward the band on the rooftop in the middle of a interview and photo shoot. We had 10 actors on the rooftop. The choreography of the actors with the timing of the camera move proved difficult that day. The freezing wind didn't help. But the shot looks great. You're the best, Peter Z. The way Peter operated and moved the camera was crazy because it was ENTIRELY suspended over and off the building by a thin wire that Peter used to maneuver the camera until they got it back onto/over the roof.

Question> Music is a big component in this film. When no dialogue is said sometimes the song choices add to the feel of the characters and their emotions. I liked that it added to the darkness of the film as it progressed and, in a way, became its own character. How did you go about making music choices? Was Ari-Up an influence?

Lee> Maria, the writer, gave me a bunch of music selections, from friends around the world or people that she had worked with, and I picked the ones I liked and added them in where I thought they fit. Of course Ari was an influence in the sense that she was very close to Maria and the music that she made, along with the music from her peers has been an influence to all of the bands on the soundtrack. Ari loved the story/film and was inspired to write/record 3 songs for us for the soundtrack.

 

Question> Did anything get left on the cutting room floor that you wish you could've included in the film? And if so, any plans for including it on DVD extras, if there are any?

Lee> I cut a couple scenes from the script during rehearsals and during the shoot. In the editing room a couple more scenes hit the cutting room floor, all for various reasons, so to speak. There's a Veronica scene when she trashes her room I was really on the fence about the scene when she smashes everything but I felt it was too much anger for that moment in the story I felt that her anger right then didn’t work… And it wouldn't work anywhere we tried to squeeze it in because it was powerful scene.

Question> Hated's very different than a lot of the typical music bio-pics. Was that your intention and do you think you've told the story you wanted to tell or do you wish you could have changed anything about it along the way?

Lee> I'm happy you felt it was different than the typical. I told the story I wanted to tell. There's always things you wish you could change or add to your project as you're wrapping it up. I think that's the way it always is, you just have to say, "I'm done!" Or you'll fiddle around with it forever. I'm sure it's the same for musicians and other artists. There's always another project. I hope the story we told is informative and entertaining because I believe it’s a story that should be told, and now you can see for yourselves, based on the actual experiences of someone from within the music industry.

Question> You mentioned an alternate take on the film and several different endings that were originally thought of. Without revealing too much could you elaborate on the different versions of the film and why you picked the ending you did?

Lee> I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that hasn’t seen the film yet, but my alternate ending would have had Veronica and Freddie meeting back up and getting together and raising 3 kids and I'm totally kidding…or whatever it is you would think. We haven’t ruled out including the alternate ending in the dvd extra’s.

Question> What's next for Hated? Any film festivals or other showings? What's next for you?

Lee> We did a bunch of festivals since the big wins at the Williamsburg festival. We just won Best film at the Offshoot Film festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Genevieve won best actress at the Phenom Fest in Louisiana. We were nominated for best director, Ellen Woglom was nominated for best supporting actress and Gen was nominated for best actress at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza in Washington DC last weekend. We got the Women's Independent fest coming up in LA soon. Then, Mississippi music and film fest, and Newport Wales fest in November. So, "Like" our Facebook page and we'll keep you updated. What's next for me? I shot two films back to back. The other film is called, "Happy In The Valley." It stars William Forsythe (Boardwalk Empire, The Mob Doctor and about 150 other films and TV shows), Dee Wallace (E.T.) and Shaun Sipos (Melrose Place). That's been picked up for distribution by Indican Films and will be coming out at the end of 2012 or very beginning of 2013. I'll be busy promoting both films and trying to get a distribution company to take HATED to a few theaters. Hated is being distributed in Australia Keeping our fingers crossed it'll be on the big screen. But, we're still looking for a cool US distro company to pick us up and give Hated some love. Also, I'm developing a few new projects. I've recently completed a comedy script called, "Becoming Irish". I'm currently writing a sci-fi script, I'm totally digging it, the name of it is... well, let's just keep that a secret for now. You'll be the first to know when it's complete. I think the science fiction adventure is going to be my next project, it's really cool. Great talking with you. Cheers!   Hated’s Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/themoviehated