Adam Hamdy is a producer, director and author and, among other accomplishments, his PULP film just became the very first feature-length movie to debut on a gaming platform, premiering earlier this month on the XBOX LIVE and already breaking sales records. A hard-working and ingenuous sort, Adam was kind enough to talk a bit about his past, present and future.
You studied Philosophy in school, which I think can benefit any creative spirit tremendously, but you also studied Law. Was that in the “know thy enemy” vein, or has the experience helped to ready you for discerning and surviving the oxymoron of creative-industry?
LA Law has a lot to answer for- it made law seem very exciting. Unfortunately after three years of study, I realized it wouldn’t suit me. I did philosophy because I’ve always been fascinated by the big questions. Law has been very useful in the creative industry. I work with some very talented lawyers but it’s always useful to be able to speak their language and have an understanding of agreements.
Were you the creative sort growing up? And was writing something you always wanted to pursue, or did the bug come following some years in the “grown-up” world?
I have always been creative. My high school English teacher called my parents in for a conference because he was worried that my stories were too fantastical, even for a kid. My parents encouraged me to get a formal qualification and not to pursue a creative career. Having experienced how tough it is in the creative world, I can understand why they tried to gently discourage me from going down this path– but despite all the challenges I’d never do anything else.
You’ve accomplished some non-fiction writing though, with relatively high-profile gigs for the Guardian and Huffingtion Post UK. Lots of writers would use such opportunities to plug the holy hell out of their other projects, but you’ve generously found other things to talk about, namely, sharing information in general. Is journalism a subsidiary thing for you, like to maintain momentum, or does that platform hold a deeper passion in you?
I would never call myself a journalist. The Guardian diary column was a way of sharing out experiences of building an Internet company at a time when it was a hot topic for a lot of people. Huffington Post were kind enough to invite me to write for them and give me free reign. I thought it would be an interesting way of sharing my experiences. I’ve learned a lot working with some really great people. Sometimes understanding or inspiration can come from unexpected places. I figure if I write about film for the Huffington Post it will either help the next generation of filmmakers or at the very least help me, by forcing me to order my thoughts.
Lots of indie comic book startups could benefit from more orderly thoughts, but your Dare label has been off to a solid start. How long have those properties been with you?
We started work on The Hunter in 2007. Starmaker in 2009. What a lot of people don’t understand is that if you’re doing a long run series of graphic novels, like The Hunter, which ran to 280 pages in total, the production process can be longer than it takes to make a feature film.
And what about your debut novel, Battalion? I think there’s actually a small renaissance for the material of those action-oriented pulp novels right now, with popular 1970s/1980s characters like Remo Williams and Mack Bolan finding modernized incarnations in the forms of Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne. Battalion really stands out though, for going the Aesopian route where regards social and political commentary coming hand in hand with all of the explosions and gunfire. Was that a one-time only experiment, or is the premise something you’d care to explore further, either by more books or even taking it to film?
Writing Battalion was a lot of fun. I have a sequel planned in outline, it’s just a question of finding the time to write it. I’d love to adapt Battalion for film, but that’s something for further down the line. I’m currently working on my second novel, Phase, which is a dark thriller.
Just days ago, you set a new standard, in having your film Pulp premiere on the X-box Live, making it the first feature film to debut on a gaming platform. The much warranted idea of exploring alternative distribution models aside, the film is actually of the sort to greatly appeal to many gamers in particular, dealing with comics culture and related media. As funny as the premise is, with comkickers attempting to bring their Sodomizer character to the big screen, is it true that aspects of the movie are based on real experiences?
We did consider putting the classic ‘inspired by true events’ tag at the start of the film, but after what happened to the Japanese lady who went looking for the Fargo money, we decided against it. We didn’t want hordes of people roaming Newcastle Under Lyme looking for the swinger’s house. The film is based on real life experiences which have then been filtered through a warped mind and emerged more fantastical and funnier than ever. Myself and legendary comic book artist David Golding have been attending comic conventions together for years, and always talked about what a great backdrop a convention would make for a film. San Diego Comic Con 2010 sealed the deal, we had one of the strangest weeks ever– even by comic convention standards- and that trip inspired Pulp.
Pulp has sealed the deal as far as your being a legitimate filmmaker now, I think. And now you’ve just announced your next project, Anomaly, with Rick Alexander, whose name has been attached to several comic book-related properties. I know it’s way too early to reveal much about the movie (unless you really want to- haha), but how did you and Rick join forces? Are you birds of a feather?
Yes. Rick and I were introduced a few years ago and bonded over our similar tastes.
The website for Dare is one of the most hypnotic sites I have ever seen. I gather the designer also constructs motion comix. Is that still something you are looking to pursue as well- and would he be working with that excellent graphic artist who first brought the story to life?
Thanks. I wanted to do something different with the Dare site. Most people use websites to advertise. I wanted the site to be more an experience. Something nice to look at with a bit of a puzzle. I wasn’t aware that Damian does motion comics, but it doesn’t surprise me, he’s an extremely talented designer. I think he enjoyed working on the Dare site because whenever I was given a choice between advertising, or making it beautiful but obscure, I always chose the beautifully obscure option. We might explore motion comics in the future– we’re planning to do something pretty innovative to support the release of Anomaly.
I know it’s early in the game, but with Pulp’s reception being what it is, would Anomaly likely follow in those tracks in terms of left of the norm distribution? I’m familiar with a Finnish movie house who were the first to premiere films online, and now netflix is even offering exclusive and original TV programming available nowhere else (hello, Kevin Spacey!) for subscribers. Is it difficult staying cutting edge in a landscape that is dramatically evolving, almost from one month to the next?
The film distribution landscape is evolving very rapidly, but I’ve been watching it for years and think I have a fairly good read on where it’s going. That said, even when you can anticipate changes, it’s difficult to put yourself in a position where you can do something about it. We’ve been fortunate to be in a position to actually be able to innovate with Pulp, and now we’ve proven that doing something different can work, I hope we’ll have more opportunity to innovate in the future. I don’t want to say what’s going to happen with Anomaly, but I like to think we’re going to be able to do something cutting edge.
With book, comic, and film projects all going full-speed, how do you unwind? Are you the sort to unplug from the world to refuel?
I spend time with my family and friends, run, go to the gym, watch movies– typical stuff. But I’m rarely ever truly unplugged. Even on a long run I’ll be thinking about a business, creative or technical problem or germinating a new idea.
Well Adam, thank you so much for chatting up the LP. We look forward to anything and everything you have cooking!
Thanks, it’s been a real pleasure. I look forward to coming back to The Lottery Party again in the near future!