Interview - Davo Hardy

Interview: Davo Hardy - May 2016

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Davo Hardy. I am a storyteller. Film making is the best outlet to both express my creativity and to harness that which I have experienced. It's a perfect exchange where I can express and leave an impression, about things that have left an impression on me. It is nice when people find education, insight and entertainment in what I do.

What themes do you pursue?

Interpersonal relationships and the human condition, the way people treat themselves and each other under a variety of stimuli. I especially take interest when this triggers somebody to find courage they did not know they had. Or to come of age when their journey has not gone to plan. Humanity is very emotionally driven, even in areas where we shouldn't be.

What inspires you?

Experiences that I have had or the stories people have told me. I believe everybody has a fascinating life story, even if they don't know it. Sometimes that's the paradox. Sometimes they are not the hero in their own story. I am inspired by good people in bad situations, because they always have the best hearts and that's what audiences respond to best.

Why did you choose directing as a career?

I am a visual person and I am always buzzing with energy. My mind and my creativity just never stop. I enjoy leading teams of creative people. Artists are such vivid and stubborn people that to manage a group of them can be such a challenge, but I only aim to harness their energy and direct it into a particular channel. As an artist myself, I know we cannot be contained or controlled. This mix of empathy, leadership and creativity has been a part of my personality for as long as I can remember. So, I don't know if I chose directing or if it chose me.

How did you get started?

I produced a short film when I was eight years old. It was at the height of the Titanic craze and that was the first time I remember seeing a movie that dazzled and fascinated me beyond the content. Even then, anything behind-the-scenes was equally arresting. So I replicated a model and grabbed my parents' video camera. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before I did an underwater shot and the video camera my parents had received as a wedding present was effectively buried at sea. To this day, I think my career would still give them anxiety.

How is the artistic life? What do you do to balance it?

Film making is a team sport and the nature of it is very collaborative. Though it can be exceedingly overwhelming at times, I absolutely live for it. Even when I collapse at the end of a shooting day, utterly exhausted, it is always the most fulfilling exhausting I've ever earned. Even when I complain, I celebrate in equal measure. I balance this lifestyle, between projects, with contributing to the arts as a life model, unwinding in nature and spending quality time with my loved ones. That does include the couch. Name something you love, and why? >> The feeling of accomplishment. It needn't even be my accomplishment. Just seeing somebody succeed can very contagious. I think a lot of people in this industry are motivated simply to prove their critics wrong. We all have our haters and sometimes that can drive us to try just that little bit harder; making our eventual success all the more sweet.

Name three directors you’d like to be compared to?

As far back as 2008, when I started at film school, I have always mentioned Rolf De Heer, Ana Kokkinos and Larry Clark as some of my influences. I like to be edgy, controversial and thought-provoking. I don't like to censor myself or my work, but I'd rather turn heads than turn stomachs. These directors all focus on subcultures and present vivid, entertaining portraits of layered characters, often just coming to terms with being themselves. When a film-maker can express themselves and push boundaries without hesitation, that can be a very potent thing. For them and for their audience.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Live as though everything you do will someday be known and do everything that you would dare, if given the guarantee you could not fail. Because even if you do, a kick in the arse is a step forward.

What have you learned from your career so far?

Money, education and popularity does not a successful person make. I've never known wealth, I went to film school on a scholarship and I rarely beg people to 'like and share' my online links. Nobody likes to 'like' things under duress. I have learned that standing out from the crowd is an asset. That independent, individual and inquisitive people, like me, can make the competition very uneasy. And that's why we meet with so much hostility. The process of overcoming these obstacles is something I continue to learn in new and interesting ways.

What advice do you offer to people wanting to get into the business?

From the very beginning, I have been quintessentially myself. Not many people know how to take me at first. And that self-assured honesty, leaving myself open to be mocked, sneered at – and even blatantly disliked – has been incredibly freeing. Being true to thine own self won't make you a lot of friends, but it will make you the right ones.

What are you currently working on?

My second feature film, Hunting for Shadows. It follows the harrowing journey of a young girl, lost in the wilderness, surviving a campground massacre, only to be pursued by the Indigenous mythological nightmares that are behind it all. It is a challenge to me because it is a new genre format, an adventure/horror. I have mainly done dramas or dramatic comedies (AKA dramedies). This is also my first time directing an established name; I have been fortunate enough to sign Paul Mercurio onto the project, so everybody is very excited. This is all a confident stride from where I was at the start of my film making journey.