Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Simon Oakes CEO Hammer Interview

As The Woman In Black starring Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe is set to take the world by storm and have audiences leaping out of their seats with fright, Premiere Scene's Claire Bueno snatched an opportunity to speak to Hammer CEO Simon Oakes about the much loved brand and how it's been lovingly brought back to life!

CB: You've used some big names like Hilary Swank, Christopher Lee obviously and now Daniel Radcliffe; was that a conscious decision that as a brand you mean business?

SO: Well yes and no. As you know Let Me In with Chloe (Grace Moretz) who is beginning to become a huge star but she really wasn't really known then. Matthew Vaughan very kindly let me look at an assembly of kick Ass. That's when I saw Chloe and thought she'd be amazing to be our young vampire in Let Me In and so the answer is where ever the material fits the bill; you know you'd be crazy not to cast a marquee name in it. But for example we're announcing a project tonight (The Quiet Ones) which is a poltergeist movie based on a true story about a group of scientists who are basically taken off campus by a maverick professor and they create a poltergeist, create an ectoplasm poltergeist and it's an ensemble piece so it won't be star driven, because in a sense the star of the movie is the movie itself in that situation. The thing about The Woman In Black is that Arthur Kipps is pretty much on screen pretty much all the time and therefore you're going to need to have some one who can grab people’s imagination and attention which I think Daniel does very well.

CB: And be able to carry it as well?

SO: Yeah, Yeah of course

CB: Would you like to encourage new comer actors and try to help launch new names?

SO: Sure, I think there are so many new young actors and actresses around and I wish that we did live in a world where you had a repertory group like Hammer used to have in the '50's '60's and '70's where you saw the same actors reprising roles like Cushing (Peter) and Lee (Christopher) and all these people. It's very difficult to do that now, it was great to have Christopher come in and do one of our first Hammer films (The Resident) and yes we'd like to think that actors that we work with come back and do stuff with us again. I don't think any of the British young actors in America or England need encouragement; I think if you find the right material then you know we'll cast them. There's some amazing talent coming through, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, the young boy who was in Great Expectations; all these young women, phenomenal actress; yes, absolutely.

CB: What creative input do you have? Or do you want to have in the films that you are making?

SO: A lot, as much as possible and as much as I’m allowed. There's a great team we have who often don’t get mentioned. My colleague Tobin Armbrust whose the Head of production, very involved, very cinema literate, very savvy; Ben Holden, Development, Shira Rockowitz these are all names I would love you to mention everyone is really involved they give copious script notes, we get involved with all aspects of casting, we really are involved; absolutely. So then if things work you take the benefit and if they don't you take the downside, but you can't be involved in this business and say here's a cheque go off and make your movie, otherwise it's a disaster.

CB: One of the failings sadly of Hammer in the beginning was that it didn't embrace the future, what are you doing to future proof the brand of Hammer?

SO: Such a tough question, I don't think you can future proof anything, I think what you have to do is to keep on, stick to your guns, stick to your philosophy. You know the world has changed in terms of the amount of space there is for content you have to think very laterally. The thing about Hammer is that there is no question that they simply didn't see what was coming and remember it was basically a congregation of American movies, movies coming from different parts of the world and they were sort of in this little time warp, I think the fact is since we started we've made two movies in the US, we made a movie in Ireland and the UK, we're doing another picture soon possibly in South Africa that you know it's a global industry now. I think Hammer was very much the plucky Brit in the mid '70's and it wasn't seeing what was coming. So I don't know, we've just got to work hard and make successful movies I guess.

At the World Premiere of The Woman In Black see what Daniel Radcliffe, screenwriter Jane Goldman and not forgetting the phantomous femme fatale Liz White have to say about their contribution to film.

Premiere Scene's first encounter with Simon was at the UK Premiere of Let Me In.

Hammer is part of the Exclusive Media Group

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