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SXSW Women Directors: Meet Hannah Fidell – ‘6 Years’

SXSW Women Directors: Meet Hannah Fidell - '6 Years'

Hannah Fidell
wrote and directed the feature film “A Teacher,” which premiered at Sundance 2013
and went on to play such festivals as SXSW, where she won the Chicken & Egg
Award. In 2012, her short film “The Gathering Squall,” which premiered at SXSW,
garnered her a spot on Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” list. (SXSW’s official site)

6 Years” will premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival on March 14.

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

HF: “6 Years” is about a young couple in college, Dan
and Mel, who have been together for — take a guess — 6 years. Seemingly a
perfect couple, the two must figure out what their future holds after Dan’s

W&H: What drew you to this story?

HF: Mark Duplass called me up and asked if I wanted
to do a film about a co-dependent, abusive relationship between a young couple.
I love fucked-up relationship dramas (see: “A Teacher”), so the challenge of
writing a film that was both relatable but also subversive was what initially
piqued my interest.

Of course, being able to work with the
incredible Mark Duplass, whom I’ve admired since I first saw “The Puffy Chair” (and who gave me essentially free reign to do as I pleased, and is thus the
best executive producer of all time) was a major bonus.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

HF: Shooting an improv-based film is incredibly
liberating, exhilarating, and fun, but editing that kind of movie can be
difficult for obvious continuity reasons. Big props to Sofi Marshall and Carlos
Marques Marcet, who worked their asses off editing “6 Years” and making it look so

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

HF: I want the young folks who see it to be able to relate to
it in real time, and older viewers to reminisce about that terrifying time
before college ends and true adulthood begins, when the world is yours and
everything and anything is a possibility.

Basically, I want people to feel
feelings. It’s too easy to go through this world being told to keep our emotions
in check, as if they inhibit us in some way or another. I hope that this film
can act as a sort of mirror, serve some cathartic purpose. I want to make those
85 minutes in the movie theater or in front of a TV worth it.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

HF: It’s been my experience that the indie/festival
world is very female-director friendly. It’s those higher-budgeted projects
where it seems to be harder to break through. Just keep making good shit — that’s all a person, male or female, can really do.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

HF: People are often surprised by the fact that I
laugh a lot, that I look like Lena Dunham, and that I don’t want to make
relationship dramas for the rest of my career.

I’m in the middle of writing a
comedy — two dudes on a road trip — that I co-wrote with my friend Carson
Mell. He wrote on “Eastbound and Down” and currently writes on “Silicon Valley,” so you know this film will be very different from anything I’ve done before, just
as the improv-heavy “6 Years” was vastly different from the meticulously planned
out and scripted “A Teacher.” I like a good challenge. And I like to feel that
I’m always learning something new.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

HF: The Duplass Brothers executive produced the film.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why. 

HF: I think it would be Ida Lupino’s “The Hitchhiker.” Lupino directed this very mainstream film noir in 1952(!). It
is widely considered to be a classic, not just because it was directed by a
woman, but because it is just so good. The subject matter is exceptionally dark: a serial killer who kidnaps two friends and holds them hostage on a pretty epic
life-or-death road trip into Mexico. How cool that one of the first Hollywood
films directed by a woman didn’t even have a woman in it!

Even though this will
come off sounding a little ridiculous since both “A Teacher” and “6 Years” are
relationship dramas, I wish more movies by women weren’t love stories. I look
to this film as an inspiration to try and get out of my storytelling comfort
zone. I’ve been working on a remake of “The Hitchhiker” for a while now, and
hopefully will get to make it one of these years. 

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