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INTERVIEW: Ben Young, Writer/Director of Hounds of Love (2016)

INTERVIEW: Ben Young, Writer/Director of Hounds of Love (2016)

Following the huge international success of Australian writer and director Ben Young’s film Hounds of Love (2016), the House of Tortured Souls’ own Michelle MIDI Sayles had the opportunity to ask him some questions regarding his films, cast, changes in his life since the release of Hounds of Love, and the Australian Film Industry.
House of Tortured Souls: Recently you have gained a lot of success with your brilliant film Hounds of Love. How has that felt coming from such humble beginnings in Western Australia?
Ben Young: It’s truly is very surreal. At best I hoped perhaps the film would get in a festival or two. It was a real surprise and very humbling to have it premiere at Venice and receive the response it did. Less than a year after shooting, I was in Serbia making a US production with 20 times the budget and actors whose work is been admiring for years. Feels weird even to think about the crazy ride!
Hounds of Love (2016)

Emma Booth as Evelyn White and Stephen Curry as John White in Ben Young’s Hounds of Love (2016)

HoTS: The direction and plot of Hounds of Love echoes the infamous Birnie’s case and other profiles of killer couples, how much of an interest in the element of true crime do you have yourself?
BY: It’s not based on any particular crime/s. I read a book on woman serial murderers and found the psychology of female killers to be very different from that of males. In further research, I found 9 cases involving couples who killed together. It was a subject I hadn’t seen explored in film before so decided to give it a crack. I’m interested in realism on screen so for that reason and often drawn to true crime. For me, a story is all the more engaging if there is an element of truth to it.
HoTS: Your stars Stephen Curry, Emma Booth, and Ashleigh Cummings each have been very kind and praising towards your approach to them throughout the filming process, and it is very well reflected in their amazing performances. How did you find such phenomenal talent for Hounds of Love?
BY: I was lucky really. I wrote the film for Emma. We’ve been buds for 20 years and I truly believe her to be one of the greatest acting talents on the planet. She initially turned the role down but for one reason or another changed her mind at the last minute.
Steve was never [who] I thought of [for the part] but was suggested by our wonderful casting director Anousha. I right away loved the idea because he does not come across like your typical serial killer, which in reality most of them do not. He wanted to do the role and he and I had a long chat. He’s gracious and charming and agreed to audition. After his first take, it was pretty clear I was going to be lucky to have him.
Ashleigh was the last to come to the party. Strangely I’d used pictures of her from Puberty Blues (2012) in my pitch document but thought she was a little old for the character. When she came in and tested I was speechless. There’s something so artificial about the audition process, but somehow Ash was able to transform immediately and deliver a take worthy of the film in that bright little room in Sydney just minutes after meeting me. She was so good, I thought it worth changing the character a little for.
HoTS: Hounds of Love has received some impressive accolades so far already, especially for your leading ladies and yourself. Why do you think so far Stephen Curry (whose performance was equally beyond amazing) hasn’t received the same?
BY: All awards are a lottery! It depends on who you’re against, who’s judging and what kind of a mood they’re in. I think a film like this about women is not so common, so the female themes may have distracted from him. Also, it was a phenomenal year for Australian film with strong male performances in many bigger films that received much wider distribution. It’s hard for the little guy to be noticed!
Hounds of Love (2016)
HoTS: Do you plan to continue making films in Australia or will we see you moving to LA in the future?
BY: I’ve been in LA for the better half of a year working on the new film, BUT I’ll be back in Australia very soon to work on a film I’m very excited about.
HoTS: You’re currently working on your newest project Extinction, can you tell us a little bit about it?
BY: It’s a story about a dude who must reconnect with his family emotionally if he’s to save them from an otherworldly invasion. We shot in Serbia during the first half of 2017 and I’m just finishing it up now. I worked with Michael Pena, Lizzy Caplan, Emma Booth, Mike Colter, Israel Broussard and many other great actors on it. It was fun to try my hand at science fiction and together with the team, I’ve tried hard to make something a little different which I hope an audience appreciates.
Ben Young, writer/director, Hounds of Love (2016)

Ben Young, writer/director, Hounds of Love (2016)

HoTS: What do you think of the Australian movie scene itself, and its rise in popular culture within the last decade through filmmakers like Greg McLean, Leigh Whannell and James Wan and even the likes of Joel and Nash Edgerton?
BY: I think it’s really hard to make films in Australia. It’s really great to see filmmakers like those you’ve mentioned really making a name for themselves internationally. I hope it continues that way. In Australia, you’re very unlikely to get rich from film, so I feel like the filmmakers we have a driven by passion which comes across in their work ethic.
HoTS: What advice can you give to any filmmaker around the globe working on projects right now, within the independent film market?
BY: Be bold. Make choices that are risky and be true to your own vision. No one wants to see another version of Hounds of Love or anything else so find your own story and tell it in a way that only you could. To break through your film must have an element that makes it stand out amongst others in its genre. This will come from bold choices.
It might sound obvious, but cast good actors and pay them. Even if you don’t pay yourself. One off performance and the whole world you are creating will come tumbling down.



Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The Rise of Australian Horror and How Hounds of Love Relates To It

The Rise of Australian Horror and How Hounds of Love Relates To It

In the last decade or so, we have seen a surge in Australian horror films (and the filmmakers themselves), gaining notoriety within the world of mainstream and independent horror.

So when throughout 2017 the film on many people’s lips was Australian filmmaker Ben Young’s Hounds of Love (2016), many were not surprised.

Hounds of Love (2016)With films like Wolf Creek (2005), Charlie’s Farm (2014), The Tunnel
(2011), Red Billabong (2016), Wyrmwood(2014), The Babadook (2014), The Loved Ones (2009), Rogue(2007), Dying Breed(2008), Black Water (2007), Lake Mungo (2008), Lemon Tree Passage (2014) , Storm Warning (2007) and much much more on people’s minds, it was no surprise as to how well received Hounds of Love would be.

We cannot forget the Australian equivalent of the video nasties of he by gone era, which are gaining a resurgence as cult status films since the releases to DVD and Blu-ray. In this genre, affectionately referred to down under as Ozploitation films, we see films like The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), Next of Kin (1982), Inn of the Damned (1975), Night of Fear (1972), Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000 – from 1982), Patrick (1978), and the most popularly known, Razorback (1984).

Australia has given the world filmmakers like Greg McLean, George Miller, Alex Proyas, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, and acting talents such as Ryan Kwanten, Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth, Eric Bana, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn, Anthony LaPaglia, Radha Mitchell, Costas Mandylor, Joel Edgerton, Rod Taylor, Portia De Rossi, Nathan Jones, Emily Browning, or even Richard Roxburgh.

However, it is “the little Aussie battler” (a colloquial term Australians use for the underdog) that Australia itself adores.

Hounds of Love (2016)

In Hounds of Love, Ben Young has cast the phenomenally underrated but familiar actor Stephen Curry in the lead as John White. Curry has always been known for his dramatic and comedic roles but has also appeared in more popular genre films such as the prior mentioned Rogue and hilariously oddball film Cut (2000) with Molly Ringwald. Curry delivers an amazingly brutal and sublime performance as the twisted John White. He demonstrates an unnatural cruelty and contempt for those around him and a need to feel superior, through simple vocal inflections and body language.

His co-star Emma Booth, who plays his wife Evelyn White in the film, is known for her role in the Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender film, directed by Joel Schumacher, Blood Creek (2009). Booth shows a kindness and fragility that is hidden behind a rougher, more brash exterior. At times we empathize with her characters, yet at others, you loathe her – especially when we see how cruel she truly can be.

The duo kidnap and hold Vicki Maloney, portrayed by actress Ashleigh Cummings, hostage. Cummings is known for her fleeting work on the popular Australian soap opera Home and Away and appearance in the apocalyptic young adult film Tomorrow When The War Began. In Hounds of Love, Cummings delivers a performance so wrought with emotions that you ultimately feel your heart sink for her plight on screen. We want to see Vicki escape her torturous captivity, but we want her to get justice for what the Whites have done to her. Cummings actually won the Fedeora Award for Best Actress in a Debut Film at the Venice Film Festival for her portrayal of Vicki Maloney.

Hounds of Love (2016)

Young’s direction of his three leads and the amazingly powerful script he had crafted for them creates an atmospheric thriller based loosely on the true story of Catherine and David Birnie (a couple from Western Australia who abducted, raped, tortured and murdered four women in 1986), with some startling likenesses. Hounds of Love relies on its three leads and will appeal anyone who has an interest in powerful thrillers.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in EDITORIALS, MOVIE REVIEWS, OPINION, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments