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Interview with Helen Lawson, director of award-winning film 'A Summer Hamlet'

On April 1, 2014, film director Helen Lawson shared about her background and experience as a filmmaker. Lawson, based in London, recently was in Fort Myers, Fla. where she won the "Audience Choice" award at the Fort Myers Film Festival (FMff) for "A Summer Hamlet.

Helen Lawson
Helen Lawson, Photo courtesy of Helen Lawson, used with permission
Helen Lawson and Chris McGill
Helen Lawson and Chris McGill, Photo by Tom Worth courtesy of Helen Lawson, used with permission

This was Lawson's first feature documentary, and it was screened at several festivals including the Isle of Wight Film Festival, Cornwall Film Festival and Fort Myers Film Festival.

"'A Summer Hamlet' follows a group of touring actors from Shakespeare's Globe in London, as they tour a production of Hamlet around the UK and Europe. The film offers a glimpse into the mayhem of rehearsals, the grueling nature of touring, and sees the actors' friendships develop as they battle the elements and a temperamental Ford Escort." - Film Synopsis

Helen, how did you begin in the entertainment industry?

"After university, I began directing and editing documentary films for musicians including Florence and the Machine, Jessie J, Kyla la Grange and Band of Skulls.

On a stint in Los Angeles I created tour and studio documentaries for Yoav and The Duke Spirit. My documentary work also includes behind-the-scenes pieces for theatre companies including Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company."

Did you begin working first as a filmmaker?

"No, I began working in music, and got into film when I began directing and editing behind-the-scenes documentaries for musicians on tour, in the studio and on video shoots. I then started doing similar work for theatre companies, with Dusthouse (the production company)."

Why "A Summer Hamlet?"

"We had suggested the idea of filming behind-the-scenes on a tour to the Globe the previous year. In the end they agreed to us making a film just a few days before the tour began the following year. We wanted to show what happens behind the curtain. Whenever I've been to the theatre I've always got half a mind on the play, and then there's always a little part of my brain wondering what is going on when they go offstage. This film shows that moment when an actor becomes a character. We're on the other side of the curtain, so the play they are doing remains fairly mysterious in the film. The film is more about the friendships and the actors' experiences of touring than it is about Shakespeare."

Where has your work been featured?

"My work has been featured on Channel 4, MTV2, Telegraph Online, Sun Online, Myspace Homepage and more."

What do you wish for the future of your film?

"I would love to see the film go to as many film festivals and have as many screenings as possible. It’s great to hear an audience laughing during the film, and it’s lovely when people tell you afterwards that it touched them, made them cry, or reminded them of an experience of their own."

Thank you Helen Lawson for sharing with us. Film fans everywhere wish you their best, and readers look forward to future articles on your upcoming films and successes!

Enjoy "'A Summer Hamlet' interview with director Helen Lawson."