Five Questions With Filmmaker Peter Haig

Hollow-Victory---webPeter Haig is an aspiring filmmaker based in New York, New York. After spending time in law school Peter decided his passion resides in writing and storytelling. Through the vehicle film, Peter has found an outlet to capture unique personal experiences and share them with audiences. Peter received his B.A. from Rice University in Houston, TX. He also studied the New York Film Academy, completed a certificate program at The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking at The George Washington University, and most recently completed courses at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Peter plans to attend film school next Fall.

Peter’s Film Hollow Victory, will be playing at the 2015 GI Film Festival.

Where are you from and what is your film background?

I am originally from McLean, Virginia. Although I have always had an interest in filmmaking and storytelling, I would absolutely consider myself a late bloomer. Furthermore, I have taken a rather unconventional route to transition into the world of filmmaking. After undergrad, where I studied Political Science, I attended law school. Although I was satisfied with the legal education I had received up to that point, I left school after two years as I was unsatisfied with my life’s trajectory. Leaving law school was my first official step toward becoming a filmmaker.

I knew I wanted to pursue filmmaking but I had no idea how to achieve my ambition. It is tough to just wake up one day and say, “I am a writer or director”, especially when you have not written or directed anything – where do you begin? I decided my best approach was a slow transition. To achieve this I started taking classes that progressively increased in their level of commitment.

First, I took a short eight-week screenwriting workshop at the New York Film Academy. After that, I completed a six-month certificate program at The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking at The George Washington University. This is where I made my first official film, which I was honored to have selected for GIFF14. Fearing beginner’s luck and wanting to transition into narrative filmmaking, I most recently completed two summer courses at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts – where I made Hollow Victory.

All of these courses, as well as a few other writing and technical workshops, have allowed my to realize that I am absolutely certain that I want to tell stories through film. Next Fall I plan to attend USC’s School of Cinematic Arts to pursue an MFA in Film and Television Production.

Who are your biggest influences in film and why?

For the sake of brevity, I would say David Lynch, Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan. All of these filmmakers fall along the spectrum of films I ultimately want to make. They have all reshaped the boundaries of traditional cinema with distinctive and highly identifiable styles. They have found ways to journey into unchartered territory and take mainstream audiences with them. Above all, they are all prolific storytellers.

What was the hardest part about getting this film made?

Hollow Victory was my final project for the Summer Sight & Sound: Filmmaking course that I took at NYU. In just six short weeks the Sight & Sound course required every student to conceive, produce, direct and edit five short projects – all with varying technical constraints, no budget, and all while simultaneously learning the technical aspects of filmmaking. Students worked in crews of four and also helped their teammates create five short projects of their own. In about five weeks each student helped create nearly 20 films.

Outside of the traditional quarrels associated with any student film, it was extremely difficult to obtain a prop weapon. While it is amazing to have the support of an academic institution while creating a film, this support comes with necessary trade-offs. It took me nearly two weeks to get the appropriate paperwork approved to get the prop weapon – even then, I still barely got it in time for my short (ironically I would have had an easier time obtaining a real firearm in other states). Because of the use of a prop weapon, supervision increased on my project; I wasn’t allowed to shoot the film in my own apartment. As a result, the film was shot in less than three hours in a single location on campus.

I think the constraints of a no-budget student film force student filmmakers to make tighter and more simplistic stories. While this seemed like a major constraint at the time, it was ultimately a blessing in disguise.

What do you want viewers to take away with them after watching your film?

I want them to think.

What is a fun fact about you that would surprise people?

I have an identical twin brother that is in the Army. He was deployed in Afghanistan while I created Hollow Victory. The combat footage in Hollow Victory is pulled off his helmet cam as well as the helmet cams of other soldiers he was deployed with.

Hollow Victory, directed by Peter Haig, is playing at Angelika on May 24, 2015. Click here for tickets.