Nope not the truly awful 2005 Robert De Niro abomination (sorry Bob), this is the debut feature from the extremely talented Joanna Coates which had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Hide and Seek tells the story of four young Londoners who decide to leave the city and attempt to live in a house in the country while removing all societal barriers. This includes couple swapping, performance art, and running around in fields like a bunch of damn hippies. Its an extremely intimate piece with very brave performances from its small cast. Joanna Coates shoots the movie brilliantly in a playful style that makes you want to get the next bus to the country.
I got to sit down with Joanna and actor/screenwriter Daniel Metz (who happen to be a married couple) to talk about the life, love, sex, and Playstation. Its also the second time ever that ‘Pee Wee Herman’ and ‘masturbation’ are search keywords.
Me: Hi guys, so is this your first time at the Edinburgh Film Fest?
Daniel Metz: It is for me, Joanna can tell you more
Joanna Coates: Yes, I’ve been up before. I had a short film that was part of a special screening in 2010. I haven’t been back since
Me: Your new film is called Hide and Seek, and it explores getting away from it all. Do you think this is a symptom of modern society. Do people dream of running away
DM: Absolutely, I think as urbanisation has happened people have in some ways regretted it. I think right now there’s really strong pressure on young people to live in big cities and to achieve and be super ambitious and also at the same time for millennials..the promise of what big cities have to offer is not always delivering. Maybe it would be better to hang out with sheep and listen to records and play around with your friends.
Me: Do you feel that in an era of people expecting instant gratification that returning to a simplistic state is appealing?
JC: Yeah I do, i think the film plays with that idea. Its not a paradise because wherever you go you take yourself. So a lot of what the characters have to do is overcome what they bring into that situation and repressions, fears, anxieties, and loneliness that people have developed and take with them so its very much about how people make connections and overcome the impediments to making those connections. We wanted to make a film about using the countryside as a play space, its not a realist depiction of it.
DM: In the film the characters are without most technology, they have no television, no internet, no newspapers, they’re cut off. Instead they spend their time expressing themselves so they put on plays or they create fantasy worlds. We’re trying to say if we get rid of all the clutter that we use to entertain ourselves and instead get back to this very primal instinct of self-expression and performance, what that feels like and how that might be really enriching.
Me: Speaking of self-expression, in the film the characters put on little shows for eachother every night with dancing or roleplaying etc. Were those fun to film? Particularly the chat show the characters play out?
DM: (Laughs) The chat show was the least fun to do!
Me: But i thought you made a great chat show host!
DM: Actually its always been my lifelong dream to be a chatshow host. So I wrote this scene to make myself a chat show host in the movie so it would give me the chance to play that but in the end it was the last thing we shot after six straight days of shooting.
JC: Yeah we’d been shooting all day, we didn’t start shooting that scene intil 1am. We basically tossed a coin to decide whether to do it as everyone was so tired but we really had to get it done. So the perspiration that you see is all real! The tension between people is real!
DM: It was really fun to write the scene. Also the scene is meant to be a reference to Pee Wee Herman, as he had a secret word that if it was said you had to scream real loud.
Me: You guys are not only a writer/director team but you’re also married. Were you in a relationship during filming and how did this affect the making of the film?
JC: We were having an interesting interaction (laughs) at that point but we had no plans to get married before the film.
DM: We got married about 18 months after the film was made so we were not husband and wife at the time of the film being made.
Me: The film is quite sexy, do you think if it had been another type of movie like a horror would your relationship be different?
DM: Like we would have killed each other?
JC: We came close on the shoot! It was actually quite funny shoot in that it was quite chaste in general, it didn’t have the normal hi-jinks of a film set because everyone was so tired! Although it definitely explored things we were both interested in exploring.
Me: Do you guys know any other two people that you be ok living with for a long period of time?
DM: I’m constantly suggesting that we bring people in!
Me: When I went in to watch the film I thought it was going to be another young people trying to find a utopia and everything goes to hell but its a lot more complex than that.
DM: Yes we wanted to make this movie about ideals, about hope, and actually make it good and show that humanity is good and people can have love.
JC: But in an complicated way there is drama in what happens and it goes through different stages. Its about the idea that turning your back on the world might be viable. We didn’t want to punish the characters as they haven’t really done anything wrong.
DM: I’m so opposed to films that tell us we should be exactly what we are and never question anything. I have no patience for anything that just keeps things the same. The film comes from that place where you say ‘no, we’re not going to ppunish an
JC: Also i’ve seen a lot of films get rewarded for telling people what they already know and its almost like theres a sort of intelligensia status quo and they’ll reward a film that tells them what they want to hear. The last thing we wanted was to do that.
Me: Have you considered doing a sequel where the housemates get a Playstation? Four player FIFA is guaranteed to solve all their problems.
DM: I would love to do a sequel where they have children. They could do a real life version of FIFA where they have enough children that they control and make them play football!
Me: So what’s next for you guys. Are you planning to work together again?
JC: Yeah we’re writing two different feature ideas and also TV ideas so we’re going to be pitching and developing.
DM: Hopefully there’ll be something soon with a bigger budget.
JC: (Laughs) It couldn’t be any smaller!
Thanks again to the lovely Joanna Coates (who i would totally run away to a house in the country with) and the fascinating Daniel Metz (who i’d have to bury in the field out back). You can find out more about Hide and Seek on it’s website hideandseekthefilm.com and follow it on twitter @HideandSeekUK. The film is also nominated for Best British Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014. Here’s a trailer!