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Movies & TV / Columns

Director Barry Hunt Talks w/411 About His New Film Anse and Bhule

February 18, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule in No-man’s Land

The 411 Interview: Barry Hunt

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Barry Hunt is an actor, producer, and director. He is the artistic director of Sowelu Theater in Portland, Oregon, a position he has held for twenty years. Hunt is also a movie director, making his feature film debut with The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule in No-man’s Land, an adaptation of a stage play by Tania Myren. In this interview, Hunt talks with this writer about Anse and Bhule and what it took to make one of the most unique post-apocalyptic movies of all time.

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Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved in directing Anse and Bhule?

Barry Hunt: I first produced Tania Myren’s play Anse and Bhule at Sowelu Theater in 1998. I did not direct it. I actually played Anse at the time. Gretchen Corbett directed it and it won several local awards including Best Director and Best Production. Later, when we decided to explore film, we chose Anse and Bhule as our first project.

BK: How did Anse and Bhule change from its original form, which I assume is a stage play (it certainly seems like it used to be a play), to its current movie form?

BH: Tania gave us free rein to adapt her play to the screen. We made no changes, other than some cuts, to her amazing and original dialogue. Her pigeon dialect/dialogue held the story, future world and all the imagery the film needed. We used that imagery as inspiration to get the “adventure” out onto natural landscapes and open up the visions of Bhule, a seer, to the screen. We spent our time imagining the manifestations of each culture, in rituals utilizing Afro-Caribbean inspired dance by Keith Goodman, visions inspired by the theatricality of Fellini and settings, artifacts and costumes created by a team of local artists.

BK: How did you cast Anse and Bhule?

BH: We have been operating as an ensemble company for 20 years. Lorraine Bahr and Kelly Tallent are reprising their roles from the original production. Garfield Wedderburn and Daniel Hill (Anse and Bhule) had just played opposite each other in something I directed and I knew they would be perfect for this film. The film has over 42 actors, from age 1 to 60. We have had a training ground for artists throughout our 20 years and every actor had trained at some point with someone from Sowelu. Several of the young kids in the film are siblings. Young Anse is Garfield’s son. My son is in the film as well. One big family!

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BK: How long did it take to make Anse and Bhule, from writing the script to finishing post-production? Was it a relatively long shoot or was it relatively quick?

BH: The film took two years to shoot and a year of post. With a year of pre-production, between 4 and 5 years. Our shooting ran over two seasons because we shot mostly at magic hour in late August/September, that transition into fall. When we didn’t complete as the light changed we had to wait another year to get that same light. Luckily we all work together over time and could make that happen.

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BK: The original language used by the brothers is fascinating and something you don’t see all that much in a non-science fiction movie. How did that language develop over the course of the movie’s production? Was it more or less set in stone when you started making the movie or did it change while you made it?

BH: The dialogue was fully from the original play. Tania has an amazing ear for languages and remarkable imagination. We are an organically creative, collaborative company and the way Tania writes offers a wealth of inspiration.

BK: Is there a version of Anse and Bhule without subtitles?

BH: Yes, Vimeo for sure and I believe Amazon if you stream from a computer. I did notice when I watched on Amazon from my TV the subtitles were imbedded and I could not turn them off. Most people prefer subtitles but I think the experience without is more true. The ear has to acclimate and then the fun begins.

BK: Where was Anse and Bhule filmed? Were there scenes you wanted to create that you just couldn’t for whatever reason, or did you basically get everything you wanted/needed?

BH: We filmed in Oregon and southern Washington. The grassy/rocky landscapes are southern Washington and the caves are in central Oregon. There are several exteriors that are actually built in Indent Studio. The dream sequences are either in Indent or the Oregon coast, as is the final scene. These high production values came from the generosity of many people and organizations that supported our efforts. We got most of what we wanted, even some scenes got cut. The one scene I wanted but just could not make happen was a scene of the men finding water, and unwittingly bathing in a tainted pond before Bhule gets sick. Making water a later reveal however is much better for the film.

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BK: Anse and Bhule is an ambitious movie for any director, first timer or established veteran. As a first time director, what was your greatest personal challenge making Anse and Bhule?

BH: Oh my, so many. I had directed theater for many years, but producing a film was like producing a new play every week. Our learning curve was high but we relished every new challenge. It is all about perseverance. Right before filming began, we faced the untimely death of Keith Goodman, our choreographer who was slated to play Chaunce and had worked closely with the children in the film. It was hard to go on after that but, another company member, Sean Skvarka stepped into the role after we took time to grieve. It feels good to have Keith’s last work preserved in film.

BK: The full title of the movie is The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule in No-man’s Land. What other adventures have Anse and Bhule had and will we ever get a chance to see more of them?

BH: Good question. We have imagined creating a web series with Tania. I am not sure we will get there but I do think the film leaves a very provocative set of potentials for the three left together, where they may go and what they may bring back to their cultures.

BK: Should people look at Anse and Bhule as strictly a post-apocalyptic movie? Is it appropriate to look at Anse and Bhule as a kind of fantasy movie?

BH: I think the film crosses genres. It is certainly apocalyptic. It is an art film and a drama. One of the first reviewers called it Sci-fi. More than anything, I like to think of it as heartfelt.

BK: Where can people see Anse and Bhule?

BH: It is currently streaming through our distributer Adler and Associates Entertainment, INC on Amazon and Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/anseandbhule

BK: What’s next for Barry Hunt?

BH: I will be directing Tania’s newest play in the fall. This summer I will be Associate Producer on the directorial debut of Daniel Hill (Bhule) for a feature he wrote. Our Anse and Bhule DP Michael Pritchard (winner of Best Cinematographer at SFFF 2015) will be his DP as well. My current feature currently seeking distribution, The Lower Rooms, won Best Drama at the Oregon Independent Film Festival 2016. Here is a peek at the trailer. https://vimeo.com/181975852

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A very special thanks to Barry Hunt for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for helping set it up.

You can check out the Anse and Bhule Facebook page here.

Check out the Sowelu official website here.

All images courtesy of Barry Hunt.