Samm Haillay founded independent production company 'Third' with Duane Hopkins in 2001. He produced Hopkins’ multi-award winning short films and his feature debut 'Better Things', which premiered to critical acclaim at International Critics Week, Cannes in 2008.
Samm also produced Hopkins’ multi-channel film installations series 'Sunday', which played at Baltic Centre of Contemporary Arts and as part of Abandon Normal Devices, before travelling to Yokohama for exhibition there. In 2011 one of these pieces screened at Director’s Fortnight in Cannes.
As well as producing all of Hopkins’ film and galley work, Samm produces a number of other talented directors' work through 'Third', including the BAFTA nominated, Silver Bear-winning 'Jade' by Daniel Elliott. Samm’s short film productions have won over 45 awards, including some at Berlin, Venice, Edinburgh, and Chicago. In 2010 he co-produced Gillian Wearing’s feature debut 'Self Made'. A member of EAVE and ACE, Samm sat on the short film jury for the 2010 Berlinale (Berline Film Festival).
Your connection to the British Council?
The British Council took an interest in our early short films helping promote them and us to festivals around the world. For this I am eternally thankful. The British Council also nominated me to represent the UK at the Producers on the Move initiative in 2011. This was a brilliant networking opportunity and spotlight for myself and the projects I’m working on.
Your current projects?
I am currently financing the next feature project of Duane Hopkins; a morality tale of society’s feared and forsaken called 'Bypass'. There are some gallery-based projects that we are developing that will be created from the process of making this film as well. I’m also developing the first feature of Daniel Elliott, but I’m constantly looking for new talent and projects to work with.
What/who originally turned you on to film?
My Dad, when I was an early teen, showed me the films he had loved as a young man: 'The Third Man', 'Last year in Marionbad', 'Wild Strawberries', 'The Seven Samurai', 'Duck Soup' and the like. It was during this short education that I realised that the human condition could be studied and questioned by juxtaposing sound and image as well as in painting, sculpture and literature...and from then on I wanted to make films.
Career high so far?
The premiere of 'Better Things' in Cannes and seeing the queue around the block.
Your first job in the film industry?
Producing our first short film 'Field'.
If I knew then what I know now…
Too much to mention but you never stop learning. Really, the answer is the importance of co-production. The UK should be in Eurimage and this would lend to more co-productions happening and more UK producers making better films with talent from the rest of the continent.
Favourite British film?
I love the Powell and Pressburger films such as 'Black Narcissus', 'A Matter of Life and Death' and 'The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp'. Alan Clark's stuff also has a place in my heart; films such as 'Christine' and 'Elephant' were profoundly influential on me.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be?
Anything by Kubrick.
First film you remember seeing?
The first film I went to see at the cinema was 'The Wilderness Family'. My Mum took me the summer before I started primary school and I remember being upset that the little girl was so ill.
Favourite scene from a film?
Impossible to answer as there have been so many scenes and sequences that have moved me but here are a couple off the top of my head: The country dance in 'Barry Lyndon' (Kubrick), the breakfast sequence in the 'Seventh Continent'. (Haneke), the first execution in 'Elephant', selling a house in 'The Firm' (both Clarke), the hot water bottle in 'Rosetta' (Dardennes), the opening: running in 'L’Humanite' (Dumont)…too many already I could go on and on…
Favourite screen kiss?
Godfrey Quigley (Captain Grogan) and Ryan O’Neal (Barry Lyndon) in 'Barry Lyndon'. Lyndon finds old family friend Grogan as he lies dying on the edge of the battlefield. Grogan pulls him close, gives over his purse and utters his last words, 'Kiss me my boy, for we’ll not meet again'.
Favourite screen hero and/or villain?
I never really enjoy goodies and baddies in films as I prefer films that reflect real life and there is good and bad in each of us. Often villains are the better characters or you only realise they are a villain of sorts after then end of the film, like Pharaon in 'L’humanite'.
Who would play you in the film about your life?
I don’t think there will be a film about my life, but if there were to be it would have to be Gene Wilder circa 'Bonnie & Clyde'.