Protege of respected horror mainstay Xavier Gens, director Mathieu Turi is now celebrating the success of his first feature. Hostile is a tale that pits Brittany Ashworth against the end of human civilisation (and cannibals!), telling the stories of her life pre and post-apocalypse side-by-side.
We caught up with Mathieu to talk about Hostile and the challenges that directors face at the helm of their first feature.
Tom: Post-apocalyptic settings seem to be an enduring fascination for filmmakers. What are the storytelling possibilities of that kind of backdrop?
Mathieu: What I love in post-apocalyptic stories is the human factor. When there is no more society, no more police, laws, rules, etc… what would you do? What would you be capable of to protect your family? To eat? To survive? So post-apocalyptic settings are, for me, a perfect way to explore that. That’s why my two inspirations for Hostile are the novel by Richard Matheson, I Am Legend, and the video game The Last of Us. Both are focused on the characters and their motivations to continue to live. They have to find a reason to survive in this new world. And also, it reminds us what we are by nature: a violent animal.
Tom: I understand that you completed the first draft of Hostile back in 2012. Can you describe the challenges that you faced in getting it made?
Mathieu: Like every indie movie, the hard part is to seek for producers crazy enough to believe in you, and when it’s a first feature, it’s even harder. So I wrote the script between 2012 and 2014, and I met Xavier Gens who loved the story I wanted to tell. He helped me finding the right producers and I met Full Time Films’ three musketeers (Thomas Lubeau, Eric Gendarme and Olivier Chateau) at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. Two years later, we screened the movie at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival market.
Tom: I also understand that the script underwent some rewrites. How much of that original draft can audiences expect to see on-screen?
Mathieu: The treatment I made first was without any flash-backs and with a male lead, but I really wanted to add flash-backs as a complete story, intertwined with the post-apocalyptic part. The basic idea was to keep it 50/50, and to mix two different movie genres (creature post-apo Horror with romantic drama). So very quickly I changed the lead for a woman and focused on telling her story in two different timeframes. But apart from one scene that we cut (a flash-back), everything is there in the movie.
Tom: What would you say is the biggest lesson that you learned directing your first feature?
Mathieu: The biggest lesson I learned? That the most important thing when you shoot a movie is to find the right person. Producers, actors, crew… If you find the people ready to embrace your vision, everything’s going to be alright. I was very lucky to work with such amazing people.
Tom: Do any scenes stand out in your mind as having been particularly challenging to shoot?
Mathieu: There is one scene with a cannibal that we had to shoot in 2 hours, because we were late and we couldn’t shoot more (it was the last day in Morroco). That was a challenge, and every shot of the scene has been edited. Also, in New York, we shot one scene in a crowdy street. Very complicated, intense, and luck was not with us that day. Then it rained, and we had to complete the scene in a different place for some close-up… And you know what? That is the scene we cut!
Tom: Can you describe the effect that your relationship with Xavier Gens has had on your career and work?
Mathieu: Xavier is a very good friend of mine, but also a mentor to me. I admire his carrer and his last movie Cold Skin is amazing! He helped me from the beginning, giving me advice when I was shooting short films, and then when I needed to devellop my first feature film. He also introduced me to Brittany Ashworth, the leading actress of Hostile, who was a lead in his movie The Crucifixion. He’s also credited as Executive producer on Hostile, and he helped on so many levels. I owe him a lot, and I’ll never forget it.
We’d like to say a big thank-you to Mathieu Turi for taking the time to talk to us! We’d also like to congratulate him on the success of Hostile and wish him all the best with his future projects. You can keep up to date with Mathieu and Hostile on Twitter.