I love hearing about filmmakers and how they got their start in filmmaking. Each has their own unique story, but one I haven’t heard until today was a filmmaker whose first movie was sold to Lionsgate. Walker Haynes’ most recent film, Hamlet’s Ghost, premiered at Cannes Marché du Film and then screened at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival.
Tell us, Walker, when did you first develop an interest in filmmaking?
In 2005, I began writing a script (Gunfight At La Mesa), with the intention of taking a concept through every step of the filmmaking process as an exercise in producing a film. I co-wrote the script with my friend Chris Fickley, who directed the project. We broke down the script and took it through pre-production and production. Once the project was in the can, I went through the post-production phase, and edited the film myself. Finally, after completing the project, It was sold to LIONSGATE which then took us through delivery and distribution.
What is your filmmaking education/background?
My training is in acting; I received a B.A. from Bryan College with an acting emphasis. In the summer of 2001, I was accepted into a competitive acting program in London at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). As an actor, living and working in Los Angeles, my experiences in front of the camera along with the time spent editing Gunfight At La Mesa and other projects, has given me a well rounded approach to the filmmaking process. I’ve now produced multiple feature films, all with some form of distribution attached. I’ve been an actor and stuntman, and I have worked with cameras, sound, post-production and visual effects. I’ve co-written two scripts which have both been produced and sold. My intention is to master the craft of acting as well as deepen my experience and understanding of the filmmaking process.
Tell us about your latest film, Hamlet’s Ghost.
Hamlet’s Ghost is a time-travel film about a modern Shakespearean actor who must travel back in time to confront enigmatic forces from the past and future. My co-writer, Cleve Nettles and I wanted to make a film that engaged the viewer and asked questions about existence and the “what if” of time-travel. Sprinkle in a little Shakespeare and history, and there is something there for everyone. Also, a major objective of mine was to make a film that was appropriate for kids and adults alike, so getting the DOVE foundation seal of approval was significant. Another goal in making Hamlet’s Ghost was to bring a level of excellence within the art form itself. Too often, due to time and budgetary constraints, we filmmakers have to sacrifice and make choices that affect the story or quality of the visual image. Hamlet’s Ghost has flaws, as all films do, but there is a quality there that I am happy with, especially given the obstacles we had to overcome; the talent of the cast and crew shines through in Hamlet’s Ghost and that impression is impactful on the viewer and evident onscreen.
What has been the response to Hamlet’s Ghost?
Hamlet’s Ghost was originally submitted to the Festival de Cannes, and while it was not an official selection to the festival, the film was granted a World Premiere screening at the Cannes Marché du Film. The reviews have been very good, and the Q & A after the screening at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival led to a discussion of existence, worldview and the nature and destiny of man. These are all questions that we must all address, and if Hamlet’s Ghost is a catalyst for this conversation, then it is already a great success.
What is your goal as a Christian filmmaker?
I am interested in making films that ask questions of the viewer. Too often, people watch a movie and check out, just want to be entertained, or be spoonfed a worldview. While there is value in that, it is not of an eternal nature. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the significance of life? These are the big questions that every individual must answer, and if I can contribute to that and point people to the hope that is offered in Jesus, then that is the true nature of my calling.
What are you doing to make a difference for Christ in Hollywood?
Working in Hollywood is very difficult; there is a rivalry of worldviews competing for your attention every day. Being salt and light means loving people because God is love. That gets reflected in daily work and conversation on set and after wrap. The opportunities to encourage, uplift and pray for co-workers are there every day, and I try to be faithful to that calling. If you want to make a difference for God in Hollywood, it requires not being afraid to roll your sleeves up and get a little dirty. It is exciting to see a growing community of believers in Hollywood striving to make a difference in our industry and reflect the love of Jesus. Finally, Christians should be making art that is excellent in form and execution, inspired, and of a quality that brings glory to God; I aspire to this as an actor, director and filmmaker.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview. May God continue to bless you and your work; please head to the sites below if there is an interest in connecting via social media. I would love to hear from people who view your site: