Anne Hamilton is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She got her start in the business as an intern on Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” Hamilton was selected to be one of eight women in the class of 2014 American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. a highly competitive program designed to mentor emerging female directors. Hamilton studied philosophy at Stanford University and law at Yale University. She is proud to return to her Midwestern roots to direct her first feature film this year, “American Fable,” which she produced with Kishori Rajan. (Press materials)
“American Fable” will premiere at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival on March 13.
W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
AH: “American Fable” is a fairy tale thriller set during the 1980s rural Midwest farm crisis about a courageous girl living in a dark — and sometimes magical — world. When 11-year-old Gitty (Peyton Kennedy) discovers that her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man in her family’s silo in order to save their struggling farm, she is forced to choose between saving the man’s life or protecting her family from the consequences of their actions.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
AH: I’d had this image kicking around my brain of a girl field dressing a deer in her barn when a strange man from the city pulls up and they somehow know each other. That’s really where the heart of the story came from — so much was there. I also knew I wanted to direct my first film in the Midwest, where I’m from, so I reached out to friends and family for help.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
AH: The setting was really important and I spent a year scouting to find the right place — which happened to be three hours from the nearest airport with only gravel roads. It was perfect, but pretty challenging, too. From a logistical standpoint, the area we shot in was very remote and had extremely limited cell and internet reception, which made certain practical matters difficult.
That said, we had an amazing community of local farmers and people in the towns of Kent, Stockton and Pearl City, Illinois. These were people who let us borrow vehicles, condors and countless other items; people who gave us access to their homes, their pets and their families; people who cashed in personal favors in order to make sure we were taken care of. We simply couldn’t have made the movie without them and I’ll always be deeply grateful.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
AH: I really want them to be talking about the moral ambiguity in the story and the allegory about the United States that it presents, if that interests them! Plus, if they are filmmakers, I hope they talk about the way it was shot and the performances. I’m so proud.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
AH: Both women and men are going to be much, much harder on you because you’re female, and they are going to expect things from you that they would never want or expect if you were a man. There’s just no getting around that, and I’m sorry because it’s unfair and exhausting. Try to be both confident and self-aware, and please never, never, never give up. I’m rooting for you.
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
AH: I’m not sure.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
AH: We have a wonderful private investor.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
AH: “The Hurt Locker” by Kathryn Bigelow. It has so much tension, action and explosions, plus a really great story at the heart of it. I want to make something with that kind of scale very soon.