I recently had the opportunity to ask Nathan Hill a series of questions about himself, why he went into the entertainment industry, where he draws his inspiration from and other things people may want to know about him. He is an actor, writer, producer and director, having gained success with his films “The Strange Game of Hyde and Seek,” “Tomboys,” and “Model Behaviour.” With the release of his film “Revenge of the Gweilo” coming some time in the future, I thought it time to get a look into Nathan himself and what makes him so special to the entertainment industry. There aren’t many as dedicated to their career as he is and you can ‘see’ that from his answers to my questions.
What made you decide to go into the entertainment industry?
I was kind of born into it. My grandfather was a projectionist for soldiers during WW2 and at my very early birthday parties I remember him playing 8mm black and white horror films that he would use at his work. He was also a pianist and would score for me live during these screenings which was a thrilling experience for a young lad. My Godfather, who is also my uncle on the other side of the family, was a sales rep for Thorn EMI (formerly Village Roadshow) and owned one of the very first video library’s in Melbourne back in the very early 80’s. As a result he gave me my first job in a movie warehouse and from that point I became completely obsessed with all aspects of the entertainment world. I have another uncle who was a chief carpenter for film in Australia and was responsible for huge set pieces like Moby Dick and Noah’s Ark, who employed me for work experience when I was a teenager and certainly pushed me further into the film world. It was a delight when we both finally were hired on the same job years later, being “Queen of the Damned.” He had built most of the sets including the famous four leaf clover bath tub for Lestat and designed the band stage. It was my first professional acting job and we felt blessed to be on it together. So with those early roots and influences and my love of film, was a definite cementing of my path.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from watching literally thousands upon thousands of films. There are some video library’s in (the) suburbs I grew up in where I have literally seen every movie in the shop. Because I had worked in video stores when I was young and when I was studying at film school, I had access to free movies and would sometimes watch up to 3 per day. There was one year in my life where I calculated that I had sat in front of a television watching films for 1/3 of that year. It was a ridiculous amount of time. So with all of those genres floating around in your head, and being a creative artist, one feels compelled to tell stories. The big screen or the small screen is one outlet for being able to tell them. I think I chose film because it is audible and visual. If I was a painter I could only see the work, but not hear, so to speak. For me that would probably not be as exciting.
If you had to choose just one path to take – writing, directing, producing, or acting – which would you choose? And why?
It would definitely be directing. Apart from the fact that everyone I’ve ever worked with constantly tells me this is where my true strength lies, this is also my desire. I have an incredible ability to communicate well with people from all colours, all ages and and all social classes and I believe this makes me a good director as I can not only relate to all these types of people but I can communicate stories and messages to all of them too. This is like a Priest in the end, I believe, gathering a group of people to share an experience together for and hour and a half, and then reflect on the experience together. It’s exhilarating. Also because I’ve acted quite a lot in my life this makes me a stronger director and able to communicate with cast very well. I know the language on set.
Who are some of your influences?
I’ve been very fortunate in my time to meet and in some cases work with incredibly talented and well known artists on a global level. There are artists that inspire me to make films and others that have upon a time inspired me to act in front of the camera. Lately my influences have been Ryan Gosling and Nicholas Winding Refn. As an actor I love Daniel Craig. I can’t go past Peter Jackson. Quentin Tarantino is one of my Gods. One of my all time favourite films is “The Lost Boys.” I grew up with movies like “The Exorcist” and idolized villains like Freddy Krueger. Bruce Lee had a huge impact on me as a teenager growing up when I was surrounded by drugs and alcohol in a very middle class neighbourhood and secondary school, and the only outlet I had to try and beat the trend was to train in the martial arts. Along my journey I have become friends with William Katt who played ‘The Greatest American Hero’ and was runner up to play Luke Skywalker. I had Corey Haim attached to a script of mine but he died right before we were going to make it. I’ve had some freakish coincidences with well known talent that has made me come to believe I’m still on the right path however. As Coppola once said you try to catch the ones you can and the others you just have to let go and move on from.
You have worked with some incredible talent already. If you could choose your dream cast and money was no object, who would you choose and why?
Sometimes, like most directors, you want to cast the A-listers. For example, right now Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch are hot and if I had the chance to work with them I would. But I also like the idea of resurrecting old stars, like Tarantino does, and I have a script that would be perfect to do so. But basically I think it’s all about serving your script in the best way possible and that means finding the ‘right’ talent for the job and that can be any number of actors for certain parts in a script. Hollywood will naturally attach some large talent to draw in mass crowds and recoup their budgets and that is natural. I like the idea of making a really good ‘film’ first and then double taking at who’s actually in it. I do tend to like the more left field cult types of actors and the up and comers, in general. I know Harvey Keitel works with a lot of first time directors for the same reason as that’s often when they are at their most passionate.
I love how you keep primarily Australian talent in your films, is there a reason why you choose to do this?
To be honest it’s because I’m from Australia. I do believe there is a lot of talent here and I’ve tried to showcase a lot of them as best I can and have built a representation here for my multi-cultural casting abilities. The industry is very tough here and the government still doesn’t quite understand genre filmmaking. We can be very hypocritical, as we all grow up on American films yet I’ve been frowned upon for trying to make those types of films myself. I’ve worked in video stores and I know what customers actually want and believe me the highest percentage of them want sex and violence I’m afraid. I’ve been pushing and pushing the envelope hoping that someone in power might start to recognize what I’m doing. I’m relentless and am trying to prove that I can be a successful filmmaker in my own country and I truly think if you can’t make it in your own country then you’ll never be realized fully in another country.
In 5 years from now, I see myself reaching 100 IMDB credits! I’m well on the way and it is a personal goal of mine. At the moment, I’m up to 75 approx. I would also like to hit the big screen in the next five years on an International level. As all of my product now has only been released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. My ideas and my dreams are much bigger than my reality at present and with proper budgets I know I could do amazing things. I really believe I’ve already earned my stripes and my street credit. I’ve struggled for years, if not decades, and it feels like it’s time to go to the next level or bust.
What else can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? (If I can ask lol)
I’m currently in post production on a full-length documentary (a secret project of mine), in post production on “Revenge of the Gweilo,” and I’m developing a new horror script to direct. I’m also in the middle of writing my first novel. I’ve always got a pile of scripts on my desktop that I’m chipping away at or someone has submitted to me for review also. To make a living, I have also recently got into the casting side of things and have been involved in casting talent for local television and feature films. My most recent was “The Moon and the Sun” with Pierce Brosnan and I’m now working on “The Secret River.”
It was a pleasure asking these questions and learning more about Nathan. He is a true talent, one genuinely dedicated to giving the fans the most for their money. Watch for more to come from him. It’s only a matter of time before Nathan Hill becomes a household name in the entertainment industry.