Make Good Art - Daniel Harding

While we share many short films here on ALSO THAT, we rarely get a chance to speak with the people behind this camera. Luckily, this month we managed to have a few words with Daniel Harding of 23 1/2 Films about his latest project, "Punch Bag".

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MT: How did you get your start filmmaking? 

DH: At 16 I made a very bad life decision which was to go and work at a power station as an apprentice. The money was good, and would be even better now, but I wasn't happy. So instead, I decided I must pursue something I enjoy rather than money, and that was film. It took several more years before I finally went to uni and studied media and film, which gave me access to a kit room. I then made the most of that equipment at every opportunity - documentaries, music videos, anything and everything. But I only began writing when I was 23. Since then, I've just tried to keep busy, and continue to make things I want to do.

MT: Who are some of your biggest influences as an artist?

DH: I'm currently watching Zodiac by David Fincher, so there's an obvious one. He was the first filmmaker I 'studied' and really thought about how he directed a scene and film. But in all honesty, I have too many to list. Musicians, writers, biologists! But specifically for film, I always think about the Coen's for tone, P.T. Anderson for artistry and Kubrick for pretty much everything.

MT: Punch Bag is your latest short film. What were some of the challenges that came with making this piece?

DH: I wouldn't say there were many challenges. I guess my DOP struggled with some technical issues - I decided to shoot in December so we didn't have much natural daylight, and the location has big open windows. But, for me, making Punch Bag was fun and easy. That's what I think short films should be. Ingvild, who plays Naomi, had the challenge of portraying a character who goes from vulnerable and weak, to someone willing to confront and possibly beat-up her neighbours in the space of 10 minutes. But she rose to it brilliantly. 

MT: Punch Bag has a very open-ended feel to it. What did you want audiences to take away from this film after the credits roll?

DH: I like to provoke some sort of response. If you tie everything up in a neat little bow, what is there to talk about afterwards? You do have to tell a story of sorts, but ultimately it needs to lead the audience to engaging with your idea. I hope that's what happens.

MT: In addition to shooting shorts, you also appear to be working on a feature called The Cult of Nigel. Can you give audiences a little background on this work-in-progress? 

DH: We are planning to launch a fundraising campaign very soon, so everyone who has watched and enjoyed my short films over the years will hopefully sign up to be part of the team. The script was completed a few weeks ago, and we are beginning to plan the production. It's a darkish-comedy about a guy who believes he has been abducted by aliens. Upon his return he has to tell the world, everyone thinks he's crazy. 

MT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists?

DH: Do it, and in the words of Neil Gaiman, make good art.