Dec 12, 2007

Daryl Hannah's DH LoveLife

The star of Blade Runner, Roxanne and nearly forty other motion pictures, Daryl Hannah is also a filmmaker in her own right. Increasingly interested in cinematography (her uncle is legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler), she enrolled in NYU summer filmmaking intensive several years ago; the resulting narrative short "The Last Supper", played the Telluride and Berlin Film Festivals, winning a prize at the latter. Hannah is also a devoted environmentalist. She's started a website in which she's married her two passions, making short documentary pieces on various individuals and groups who try to effect positive environmental change that she posts weekly on her vlog, dhlovelife. I caught up with her while at the Bahamas Film Festival this week, where she was given a career achievement award.

BH: How do you find your subjects. How much research do you do?

DH: I always bring my camera with me, like yesterday I got out of the red eye, I was exhausted, I wanted to recouperate, so I went into the ocean, and there was a guy who was a traffic officer here, a Bahamian traffic officer, he started chatting with me, he’s the one who told me about the school in Eleuthera, and I started telling him things I was interested in and stuff and he told me more about the school and it turns out Leslie, who runs the festival, knows the guy in Eleuthera, next thing you know I’m on the phone with him and I’m going there to film. They always sort of…

BH: Just pop up.

DH: Yeah. It’s sort of exciting you know. There are a lot of people doing amazing things and it inevitably turns out that they’re always the brightest, beamiest,, most beautiful, glowing, shiny people too, they’re just on a mission and excited , alive and engaged and also those people will turn me on tomorrow to other things that’s are going on and I wish I could stay here another week to shoot…. So there’s always, you know… it just happens (laughs). There’s more stuff to shoot than I have time to do. In other words, if I wasn’t just doing this out of my pocket and in my free time, if I could do it full on, full time, all the time, there are so many stories I wish I could do.

BH: Would you ever think about expanding it?

DH: I would love to. I do think about expanding it. I would love to do that. I need to find a way to do that without compromising it’s integrity. I don’t want to take ads. I don’t want to plaster people with all sorts of images, try to sell them stuff they don’t need and so I’m not really sure, I’m not very good at figuring out economic models and structures of how to do that, but that is definitely my goal.

BH: What’s been your favorite subject so far?

DH: Um… I don’t know. I’ve got so many, Paul Stamitz, Sylvia Earl, there’s so many heroes that I’ve got to talk to, who I’m in love with.

BH: What do you like about working in a very artisanal mode? You apparently do your own sound, you shoot the interviews yourself and also conduct them…

DH: I don’t like it actually cause I’m not very good at it. The camera shakes all over the place and I don’t always get the best frame. Half the time I forget to turn the mike on. But I do find that it gives people a sense of intimacy that they don’t have when there’s a crew their. So if it’s just me, it’s just my camera, people are very open and accessible and willing to show me whatever they’ve got going on and it makes people a lot more comfortable so that’s a great benefit, I get let into things that no other press will get let into, you know, even when I was a Clinton Global Initiative, even though I did forget to turn on my mic (laughs) the entire time and I missed everything that I shot, I was allowed access to things that nobody else got access to so that’s fantastic. I’ve had that happen again and again because it’s just me and the camera, but if I had a crew with me it’d be a different story, I’d have to get permits, releases, I don’t know, there’d be a lot more to go through.

BH: Have you ever though about narrative filmmaking, is that something that interests you?

DH: I’ve done some narrative filmmaking, I did it at my NYU class, that’s the one that won the Berlin Film Festival and I’ve been writing something for, oh gosh, a long time now that I’d like to do as a narrative film, but I’m a very slow writer, I procrastinate like there’s no tomorrow (laughs), but it is something that I would like to do, it just like I said I’m a very slow writer.

BH: What’s it about?

DH: All the stories that I tend to write are sort of corrective fairy tales, so it’s an old Irish folk tale that I’m adapting from Yates.

BH: What drew you to it?

DH: It’s about a crisis of conscience. It’s about someone who comes up against a challenge and he has to decide if he’s going to make the morally right choice even though no one will ever know and he will never know weather it had a positive ramifications or if he’s going to decide to ignore everything.

BH: Out of all the films that you’ve worked on as an actress, which experience taught you the most about filmmaking?

DH: I’d have to say it was a combination of working with Altman and working on [Dancing at The]Blue Iguana.

BH: The Micharl Radford film…

DH: Yeah, it was all improvised, so you had to create everything from scratch. It was more learning about the whole process of creating the character, story, dialogue, all my stuff, where as, with Altman, it was really learning about how to think about filmmaking in a way that nobody really thinks about it (laughs), you know, those two experiences we’re the most profound.