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Springboard: These Brothers Were Rejected by Sundance 18 Times, But Made a Feature You Need to See

Springboard: These Brothers Were Rejected by Sundance 18 Times, But Made a Feature You Need to See

Friday’s Indiewire Springboard column profiles up-and-comers who made a mark in the indie film world and are deserving of your attention.

Brothers and co-directors Zeke and Simon Hawkins began working together when Simon (four years younger than Zeke) was a freshman in high school. Their parents, though not in the film industry, shared their passion for the medium by taking Zeke and Simon to movies “all the time.” First just a hobby, Zeke and Simon’s love for movies progressed into an eagerness to begin creating their own short films.  

Their debut feature, set against the desolate town of Corpus Christi, Texas is a thriller that pays homage to the swarming danger and latent sexuality of a classic noir. “Bad Turn Worse,” which played festivals last year under the title “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” is stylish, filled with twists and carried through by its enigmatic characters. Their film centers around a teenage love triangle that quickly turns into a story of betrayal, murder and inescapable odds. You may find yourself laughing unexpectedly but not because it’s funny.

READ MORE: Fantastic Fest Review: ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ An Emotionally Resonant Crime Thriller

Indiewire spoke with the brothers to discuss their debut and ask them about their experiences on the festival circuit. “Bad Turn Worse” opens in select theaters on November 14.

Movies meant so much to us growing up and it’s really cool to think that we could make movies for people who have that same kind of meaning associated with movies that it did for us at some point.

Our number one fear by far is making a bad movie. 
Our number two fear that hopefully we can let go of is that during the process you want everyone to think you’re doing a good job, but that’s not in unison with actually doing a good job. The only thing that really matters is making a really good movie. Sometimes you have to pursue those decisions that don’t look like great decisions upfront.
We had some friends that worked on “Tree of Life” and we heard stories that on the set when [Terrence] Malick and [Emmanuelle] Lubezki are working together, they’re willing to do things that a lesser experienced filmmaker would be embarrassed to do. Hopefully as we progress, we can embrace the fact that we’re not worried about what people are thinking we’re doing. We’re just going to go after what we think is going to make a good movie.
Our approach is to get the actors to bring as much to the role as possible — and to create a setting that allows them to bring as much as they can and not micromanage anything. The job of a director is to create boundaries so that all your people are working on the same film and within those boundaries to allow the actors to be as creative as they possibly can.

When we were shooting in Texas, it ended up being dark and overcast all the time, which is something we weren’t expecting. So in the editing room we really decided to use those scenes that were exclusively dark, gloomy shots. Any establishing shot that had the sun in it was removed. With indie films you don’t have the time and money to wait for the weather so we had this idea to dictate that experience. Once in the editing room we were able to create that universe a little bit more.
We learned that the post production process is a really a marathon. We were so ambitious and working so hard to edit that at times we were burning ourselves out a bit. For the future, we learned to pace ourselves a bit better. At the end of the day it’s important to take your time figure out what you want to do because this film that you’re making will be around for a very long time.
We had made short films for so long. If you find a way to make that first feature, things can really change. And just as a word of encouragement to other young filmmakers, we’ve been rejected from Sundance 18 times.
Jokingly, we’ve talked about doing “Twin Peaks” the musical, on Broadway and then on film. 

READ MORE: Exclusive: Gorgeous Hand Painted Poster For TIFF Entry ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’

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