Josh Hardt is an up-and-coming filmmaker in independent horror from Chicago. He kindly agreed to sit down with us for a chat about his career and latest work.
IFP: Tell us about your current project. What is it about?
JH: The current project is called Daniel. It is a short film (approximately 15 minutes) about a guy who is dealing with a lot of problems, from his job to his girlfriend, and he finally hits his breaking point. It is a very low-no-budget horror film. I will be shooting it locally here in Chicago.
IFP: What was the inspiration for your project?
JH: I wouldn’t say there is so much an inspiration for this project. The writer (Dana Timmerman) and myself sat down and decided we wanted to do a short film, and I wanted to do something monster-based. While brainstorming, we decided zombies were unoriginal, and vampires, 1. by the time the film is released will be old news because of the Twilight franchise, and 2. neither of us really wanted to do anything with vampires. So, we started brainstorming werewolves, and here we are today, with a script, and ready to shoot late August, early September.
IFP: What do you want to tell the audience in your story?
JH: I think the point of the story is to show people that the way people act when enraged, or under a lot of pressure, is not much different from an animal.
IFP: How do you feel your project fits into its genre? What new things does “Daniel” tell us about werewolves?
JH: Daniel won’t really be groundbreaking in the werewolf genre. The movie was never meant to break any barriers. We were really just trying to tell the story of a man, and his struggles in life, and how a man who loses all sense of control, in fact, is really animal-like.
IFP: What other projects have you done?
JH: This film is actually my debut project. I attended a school back in Michigan for broadcasting, decided I wasn’t really into the news that much, and moved to Chicago to go to film school. Now that I’m here and in school, I feel comfortable enough to take my first stab at directing film. I think I have a great cast and support team to help make this all work.
IFP: Where do you see independent horror cinema going in the future?
JH: I think indie horror is doing what horror was meant to be: raw, real, cheesy. Horror was never meant to be big-budget Hollywood. It was meant to be a simpler form of movies, something for the “kids” to watch. I think a lot of horror is losing the art that was low-budget horror.
IFP: Tell us about some of the challenges you have encountered as a filmmaker.
JH: The biggest challenge I have found thus far is casting. It is really hard to find good actors that are willing to help you for cheap-to-free. You can always use your friends, but that’s never ideal. Craigslist so far has been a huge help, but still I’m not 100% casted. I have also found that living in a big city (Chicago, it’s a lot harder to find places to shoot, or people who are willing to let you shoot on their property.
IFP: Name your favourite film and why.
JH: My favourite film would have to be the original Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. There is something about silent films that is just so right. It is what cinema was meant to be. Without words you have to show so much more, and it just shows the work and the art of filmmaking. Plus, the plot twist at the end was great!
IFP: Name your favourite filmmaker and why.
JH: Favorite filmmaker. . .that’s a hard one. I’d have to say Wes Craven. I think what he did with the original (and the remake) of Last House on the Left was perfect horror. It was, in my mind, the peak of modern (70’s +) horror.
IFP: What film accomplishment are you the most proud of in your career so far?
JH: Well, since this is my first film, I’d have to say that I’m really proud that I’m making this movie, period. Not many people from my small town ever leave home, so I’m proud that I moved, and am living on my own, and pursuing my dreams.
IFP: Do you have a favourite Lovecraft/Mythos story?
JH: Now, I’m going to be honest here – and I hope people don’t look down upon me for this – but I have never been a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan. I think what the man did for horror was great, but growing up, I just didn’t get it. And now, I’ve still to read a full story. So, I don’t think I can properly answer that question.
IFP: Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
JH: As of now, I do not have anything lined up for sure. I am working on writing/storyboarding my own black-and-white silent movie, that I’d like to put out in podcast form. I have also been in talks with Dana Timmerman, who is the writer of Daniel, to do some Edgar Allen Poe short movies. Other than that, I’m always looking to take on new scripts, or even just help out on the set of any movies that I can get on.
IFP: What Poe stories are you thinking about filming?
JH: Working on some Poe stuff is just an idea as of now. I have been writing down some things here and there, but for the most part nothing is official yet. I would really like to work on “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar“. This is one of my favorite stories, and I think that it could be made into an amazing movie.
IFP: Do you have a favourite story by Edgar Allen Poe? If so, which one?
JH: It’s very cliché of me to say this, but my favourite work of Poe’s is “The Tell-Tale Heart“. This story was one of the first works that I was ever introduced to early in grade school. It was one of the points when I realized my fascination for horror.
IFP: What is your dream project?
JH: Dream project is a big-budget, Hollywood, silent black-and-white film. I think that, if marketed correctly, this could work. I’d also like to work with J.J. Abrams one day. He is a huge inspiration.
IFP: Many thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Josh. Good luck with the film and your future projects!
Josh Hardt’s Bio: I’m a film student at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. I have lived here for about a year, with my lovely girlfriend. I grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. I am currently 22 years old. I am a huge fan of horror and comics. I currently work at Macy’s in Security. I am really into technology. I one day hope to change the face of horror cinema; I just haven’t exactly figured out how yet.
Filmmaker Josh Hardt