With a bright Midwest kid smile and a mop of curly hair (at times adorned by retro striped sweatband), Andre Hyland is a man of many titles. Writer, director, actor and comedian to name a few.
I was first introduced to Hyland’s work at the Sundance Film Festival last year. I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see independent films from across the globe in exchange for volunteering in the festival’s special events department. (I worked parties chock full of celebs until the wee hours of the night. Tough gig, I know).
As I walked out of the ornate Egyptian Theater into the freezing Utah snow, I knew I had found my favorite film of the fest. And it was only Day 4.
Photo by Shane Johnston
His first feature film The 4th focuses on protagonist Jamie, a down on his luck illustrator who just wants to have a nice 4th of July cookout. The universe does everything in its power to of course stop this from happening. There was just something about Hyland’s simplistic, narrative style that I found extremely refreshing.
His use of long shots gives the film a more intimate viewing than normal. It invokes “stalker-hiding-in-the-bushes” vibes, sans the creep factor. The unique camera angles add character to the film as a whole.
Even more genius is Hyland’s manipulation of dialogue. He showcases the art of the pause beautifully, letting jokes heighten by allowing space and silence between character interactions.
Hyland spoke to me about the struggles of being an indie filmmaker and the infamous “truck nuts” from the film. And in the fitting month of July no less!
SP: However much you’re willing to share, I’d love to know more about your creative process. Like if you get ideas and then write or write to get ideas, etc.
AH: I definitely get ideas then write…but as soon as I begin to write more ideas start flowing out.
SP: What are some challenges you faced making a feature film (in general or vs. your short film Funnel) as an independent artist?
AH: Trying to make sure everyone that is helping me make the film is happy and excited to be a part of it, and let them know I appreciate them while I’m also steering the ship. Creating and sustaining a fun and comfortable atmosphere with almost zero money.
SP: Were you happiest being the writer, director or star of The 4th?
AH: Directing and acting are the funnest part but I’m always “writing” via improvised lines or creating new situations in the edit, etc. But shooting is where the adventure is and that’s what I love.
SP: What was the reasoning of using the 4th of July holiday as a backdrop? Any special significance to you?
AH: I had a grill and a yard, so I wrote the movie about a cookout…then I made it the 4th of July because I thought it’d give the cookout more significance. Plus, I knew we could shoot loads of fireworks going off on the 4th which would give it better production value.
SP: “Truck nuts” are a pretty significant object to The 4th’s plot. Did something specific spark using this interesting car decoration as a focus in the film?
AH: They are just a good example of a stupid thing that to me symbolizes how dumb things are these days.
SP: Eliza Coupe is one star of the film who is pretty well known for her roles on Scrubs and more recently Quantico. How did working together come about?
AH: I met Eliza briefly at LA Film Fest in 2014, we met for like two seconds. Then coincidentally my agent said I should meet her and we kept in touch. About a week before we shot I texted her to see if she’d be down to be in the movie and she came over for an afternoon, was super funny and crushed it.
SP: How do you feel about the climate of indie art right now? Do you think there is enough support (like from festivals like Sundance) or no?
AH: Hmmm, probably more support than ever before, but maybe less money and notice. It’s hard to say, the landscape is such a mess. The internet changed everything. More opportunities, but less impact since everything is kind of dumped into the same huge ocean. Festivals like Sundance I think are super important, they are one of the few credible platforms where new work can be seen and rise above the ocean of noise and be given a serious look with a focused audience.
SP: What are you working on now? Any upcoming projects?
AH: I just wrapped on a movie that I acted in that I’m really excited about… but it’s still in that goofy Hollywood version of Top Secret so I can’t describe it, but it’ll be a thing that’s fun and cool and avail in theaters next year. Right now, I’m in New York writing on a new Adult Swim show that Derrick Beckles is doing.
SP: Who are some of your favorite independent artists right now?
AH: I like 2 Wet Crew a lot, The Daniels, TV Carnage, Noel Wells, Joel Poltrykus, Jay Giampietro, Tom Cruise, The Rolling Stones, Google, McDonalds, CBS, Vin Diesel, Batman, Mountain Dew, Star Wars, Nike, Viacom… too many to name.
As you can see, Hyland is so much more than a goof with an extensive archive of low-budget bits on YouTube. He is the master of the mundane, able to take objects and events we don’t think twice about and shed a critical yet hilarious light on them.
Please support some great independent art and pre-order his film The 4th on iTunes now. It’s released to the world on July 21st!
Hyland went to Sundance with a short in 2014 called “Funnel.” It’s a great free taste of what to expect from The 4th.
One of Hyland’s original characters Jesse Miller heads to Hollywood for St. Patrick’s Day. Just watch, trust me.