Terry and Brenda: Interview with Writer/Director Jamie Hooper

Jamie Hooper shooting Terry and Brenda

Read my first interview with Jamie about his short movie Plastic Love!

The Squeerelist - It's great to have you back with another movie and witness the evolution of your work. Actors Tim Blackwell and Debra Baker starred in Plastic Love and are now Terry and Brenda. In both films you've challenged them to play unusual kinky characters. In Terry and Brenda your characters are much more twisted. How challenging is it for you to get your actors to fill those kinky and messed-up shoes?
Jamie Hooper - Finding actors who are so open and willing to do weird things on camera is very difficult. Luckily for me, Tim and Debra are both actors that enjoy pushing themselves and exploring strange characters. Obviously it also helps that I've worked with them before and they trust me as a director. I had such a fun time making Plastic Love that I wrote Terry and Brenda with Tim and Debra in mind, thankfully they got the dark humour in the script and were excited to be part of the film. To be honest, if they hadn't wanted to do it I probably wouldn't have made it as I don't think it would've worked as well with anyone else. From my experience the darker and weirder the script the more fun it is for everyone on set. It's important to me that everyone involved is having fun and enjoying the work, otherwise what's the point? I think Tim and Debra know by now that they'll at least have fun working on my films.

Do Debra and Tim bring more to the characters you created or do they stay true to your screenplay?
The film is 100% faithful to the script. By that I mean every scene and line of dialogue that was in the script is in the film, that doesn't mean the actors don't contribute anything though. The interpretation of the characters is completely down to Tim and Debra, and I'm constantly surprised and amazed at the choices they make with my material. I usually have a very distinct idea of what I want from a scene or how a particular line of dialogue should be delivered but I'm more than happy to go in the opposite direction if an actor does something that's more interesting, which Tim and Debra regularly do.

Where do you find inspiration for characters and stories like these?
I find inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. With Terry and Brenda it came from reading a lot about serial killers, but more specifically couple serial killers, which I find fascinating. How do two people meet each other and at some point begin killing people? I think the most interesting thing to me is the dynamic of power within a relationship and how it can change a person. I like to explore the innate weirdness in people.

Your movies focus on sexuality, fantasies and kinks. In your next projects will you still draw from that bottomless well of inspiration or will you take another direction?
I'm not sure what my next project will be. I'm currently writing several scripts, some much weirder than others, so who knows? My overriding constant is a desire to tell different stories about strange but very human characters, usually with a dark and twisted sense of humour. I'm a big fan of things like Julia Davis' Nighty Night and Christopher Morris' Brass Eye, which are perfect examples of my sense of humour and the tone I try to achieve with each film.

Can we expect to see more of Tim, Debra or even Lucy Hutchinson (who plays the daughter of Terry and Brenda) in your next films?
It entirely depends on what my next film is and whether they are appropriate to the characters and story. I'd certainly love to work with all three of them again at some point. It's tremendously exciting to collaborate with talented people in all aspects of filmmaking.

Plastic Love was selected for the Cannes festival. Any expectations or idea on the fate of Terry and Brenda?
It's always really difficult to know how a film will be received. I'm hoping Terry and Brenda will play at certain festivals and that audiences will enjoy it. More than anything I'm just happy to have made the film exactly how I wanted it, which is quite rare with low/no budget filmmaking.

You've only directed short films so far. Do you have any plans on making a feature film?
The only reason I've stuck to short films so far is that all my films are entirely self-funded, and I can't afford to fund an entire feature. That being said I never say never and hopefully at some point I'll make a feature film. I'm currently developing Terry and Brenda into a feature script so you might see more of their adventures in the future.

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