Irish Central online edition, Sept. 15th 2011,
The Queens Chronicle, Nov 17th 2011,
qchron.com online edition, Nov 17th 2011.
Originally from Dublin, Mel Hamill is a comedian and actor now based in New York City. He recently released his latest short film ‘Sour Milk’. Interviewed by Molly Muldoon.
Where are you from in Ireland and when/why did you move to the U.S.?
“I'm from Dublin, mighty mighty Dublin! I moved here more than 10 years ago to pursue my career in arts/entertainment. When I arrived I messed around for a little doing this, that and less of the other. Then I started my own business, a Celtic gift shop at 34th St. Now I'm actively working towards my main goal in life, performing.”
How did you get involved in film-making and acting?
“I started doing standup comedy in NY and people suggested I should be an actor what with my cute looks and funny bone. I've always had a passion for acting and a love of films from classics to modern and I am constantly writing down ideas. The time is here and I'm ready to take the acting bull by the horns.”
Who are your influences?
“There are so many but Richard Harris, John Hurt, Donald Pleasence, Paddy Considine are the boys and directors, Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan, John Boorman, Scorsese, Spielberg, De Palma, Michael Mann, John Carpenter, Danny Boyle, Farrelly brothers, Ridley Scott, Kim Ki-duk, Pang brothers to name but a few.”
Tell us about your latest film ‘Sour Milk’?
“It's a small NY story revolving around this foreign student, Soohee who lives on the fringe of society, a working class lonely outsider. While she struggles to make something out of her life, there comes a chance encounter with a pleasure seeking NY DJ whom she may have seen as a ticket to escape her not so promising life or just simply as to die for tiptoeing on the verge of crime of passion. It's for the viewers to decide. Regardless of her intention, it leads to disastrous consequences.”
Tell us about making the film.
“It's a long road from Ireland to here for me and for the director especially as she came from Korea. We made the film with all of our heart with less than a shoestring budget to tell a story from our point of view as immigrants. The film will be available through Amazon.com and a few online streaming sites early next year but you can pre-order and be on our mailing list as well.”
The director is Korean, how did you end up collaborating?
“We met in NYC when I just came over and found out we share a passion, similar taste in film and started writing together. Julie studied Graphic Design and Filmmaking here in New York. We collaborated on 5 completed feature length scripts to date.”
How does the film scene in New York compare to Ireland?
“It's more competitive over here as many more hopefuls come over and try their luck. But there's a lot more water in the acting well.”
Who is your favorite Irish actor/director?
“Gleeson and Jordan, Sheridan. I'd like to add on a few more actors if I could, Michael Fassbender, Ciaran Hinds, Fionnula Flanagan, Robert Sheehan.”
More more information check out "http://www.melhamill.weebly.com"
Queens is ready for its closeup
When Hollywood comes to New York City, the cameras often roll in Manhattan, where producers and directors can find the most iconic buildings and streets people associate with New York.
But while Hollywood isn’t taking advantage of the most diverse borough, independent filmmakers not constrained by a studio looking over their shoulder are. “Sour Milk,” a short film, and the feature length film “Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical,” are two recent films that were shot in Queens.
“Sour Milk” is a 20-minute film directed by Julie Yun, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Irish comedian and filmmaker Mel Hamill. The film is a sad, expertly written and directed story about a young Korean student who becomes obsessed with her one-night-stand. Queens played an important part in not only the locations but in the story as well, Hamill explained.
“When [we] wrote the story, we knew the lead character lived in Queens and we built the story around it,” he said.
“It was our only choice. Queens is where new beginnings of many lives from all over the world start in New York.” Hamill himself lived in Flushing and then Astoria.
In one of the most striking scenes, the main character, Soohee, visits a church, which was filmed in Long Island City’s New York Presbyterian Church. The church is very familiar to those who travel westbound on the LIRR, as the building is marked with the large, guilt-inducing quote “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” Hamill said the church helped add a cold tone to the pivotal scene.
“Many people recognized the big church which is modern and cold as opposed to warm and embracing,” he said. “It overpowers [the main character], making her even smaller and lonelier.”
Hamill says that Queens, as opposed to Manhattan, has a distinctiveness that adds something to the story, and that filmmakers should take note.
“Every street corner in Queens has a unique flare to it which adds lively, realistic, colorful depths to the story,” he said. “You can stop anyone in the street and it’s a movie.”
Another film that used Queens as its backlot is “Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical.” The film is a horror-musical directed by Travis Campbell. It’s a wild ride of violence, heavy metal and old-fashioned revenge in which an ex-con tries to find the whereabouts of his girlfriend. LIC-based film studio Troma is distributing the flick.
Some of the challenges guerrilla filmmakers have to overcome include police shutting down sets due to complaints and lack of permits. Campbell, who said he moved to Queens because of its friendliness to filmmakers, noted he didn’t have to deal with that when shooting in Queens.
“Even when the cops would drive by, they wouldn’t hassle us,” he said. “In Manhattan we get stopped all the time.”
He also said that while shooting in Manhattan, pedestrians would carelessly walk through shots, ruining them.
He shot the film mostly around LIC, and used the 39th Street Bridge, which crosses the Sunnyside Rail Yards, in the finale.
“I liked filming in Queens,” he said. “You can really fake some stuff. I think it’s a world of possibility for filmmakers.”
For any new time filmmakers who might not know where to start, Campbell had some simple advice.
“Get a good story together and get some money. Be prepared and go out and do it.”
To learn more about how to see “Sour Milk,” visit sourmilk-movie.com.
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