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Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #30: Henry Hobson Makes the Zombie Virus Personal in ‘Maggie’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #30: Henry Hobson Makes the Zombie Virus Personal in 'Maggie'

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

There’s a deadly zombie epidemic threatening humanity, but Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a small-town farmer and family man, refuses to accept defeat even when his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) becomes infected. As Maggie’s condition worsens and the authorities seek to eradicate those with the virus, Wade is pushed to the limits in an effort to protect her. [Synopsis Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival]

READ MORE: Arnold Schwarzenegger Fights to Save Zombie Daughter in ‘Maggie’ Trailer

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

In the aftermath of a deadly epidemic that has decimated humanity, we follow a small town fathers’ refusal to accept defeat, even after his daughter becomes infected.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

I’m loathed to say humanity, but with a slowly evolving virus (rather than the insta-change zombie) that will make your loved one deadly, it is questioning at what point do you draw the line between them being human and being/becoming a monster. Putting yourself in their place, in a fragmented society after a cataclysmic event, it makes it personal, bringing the zombie virus to a small anytown America and a small family.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

Born near Stonehenge in England, I was raised in both the North and South of England, then transplanted to Los Angeles in 2007. I split my mind between filmmaking and graphic design. (I have designed the Oscars for the past few years, an odd, completely curveball fact.) I moved to Los Angeles to direct more long form projects. Directing commercials allowed me to have a creative space to have “Maggie” emerge over the last 4 years.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

We had a few… One big one was locations – the film is set in one location, but we struggled in New Orleans to find a farmhouse anywhere in the filming zone. In the end, we shot in four houses to make that one location. And we needed the locations to be right as the art department had under $10k (another huge challenge, skillfully navigated by Gabor Norman). Another challenge was losing the tremendous cinematographer Lukas Ettlin the week before we wrapped, but Brett Pawluk and Michael Bonvillain stepped up to the plate. Also, we had nowhere near enough money for VFX. So, I ended up doing some myself, and Cinesite in London saved the day with their help on nearly every one of the 250 shots.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Ideally, a question. I would love if the audience asked themselves what they would do. As a counter balance to the hyperbolic news stories of global contagion and sweeping news cycles of threats that frequently terrify, the aim with “Maggie” is to ask what would you do; to try and make it more personal.

Any films inspire you?

For “Maggie,” it was “Days of Heaven” and “28 Days Later,” but in general anything by Powell and Pressburger, any “Ealing Comedy,” the work of Steve McQueen, Tacita Dean, and Jamie Thraves short films.

What’s next?

Usually both sides of my work is heavily NDA’d up, so I cannot talk about what I’m working on, except to say there zombies, medieval knights, football hooligans, gangsters, robots, aliens and conmen… not all together though.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Arri Alexa for 99.3% with some Blackmagic cinema camera and Red Epic. 

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

“Maggie” didn’t crowdfund, Though it did have some enormously generous favors, without which the film would never have happened. First and foremost is The Mill LA, whose colorist Adam Scott graded the film as a supremely generous favor, Cinesite in London bent over backwards to help with the Visual Effects and were supported by free work from A52, Hill LakeVFX, Elefant and a few other amazing individuals. Angus Wall helped with the trailer too. Every favor that could be pulled was pulled.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

I went to the Royal College of Art in London for my Masters and studied graphic design, they had closed their film department five years before I arrived (they were fed up with people making costume dramas). I was told that graphic design is a secret backdoor into filmmaking. Instead, I was incredibly fortunate to have learnt everything from working with a long list of directors, from Ridley Scott and Gore Verbinski through to Terrence Malick.

READ MORE: 5 Observations About the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Lineup

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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