Oldenburg tribute to cult father-son directors Peter and John Hyams – The Hollywood Reporter

“I have a mantra,” says director Peter Hyams. “It was something that me and my cameraman, Steve Campanelli, had: every morning before we went to shoot, we would stick together, like football players, and say four things: 1. Go bigger or go home. you. 2. If it cannot be fixed with a hammer, it cannot be fixed. 3. If it won’t fit, force it. 4. Let’s blow the shit up.

When it comes to mantras, it’s hard to argue with the results. With a career that includes a prescient conspiracy thriller Capricorn One (1977), starring Elliott Gould and James Brolin; sci-fi western Outland (1981) with Sean Connery, actor Gene Hackman / Anne Archer narrow margin (1990) and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s time-traveling combat film timecop (1994), Hyams, secured his place in cult cinema history.

It’s also an approach to filmmaking that inspired the career of Hyams’ son John, who forged his own path through genre films, including two universal soldier movies (2009 Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Reckoning Day from 2012), horror mystery 2020 Only with Jules Willcox, and Sicka pandemic thriller starring Gideon Adlon and Jane Adams, which had its world premiere as a screening of Midnight Madness at the Toronto Film Festival this week.

The work of father and son, Peter and John Hyams, will be on display in a joint retrospective at this year’s Oldenburg Film Festival.

On the eve of the 29th Oldenburg Feast, the two Hyams joined The Hollywood Reporter for a joint video call to discuss their influences on each other, each other’s favorite movies, and how the business of “meat and potatoes” genre filmmaking has changed over the years.

‘Capricorn One’

Courtesy of Oldenburg Film Festival

“I was maybe 6 or 7 years old when Capricorn One was being made,” recalls John. “I have vivid memories of being on set in the Mojave Desert, watching my dad when they filmed that aerial chase scene. At the time, they literally strapped him into a chair mounted to outside of a helicopter, and he filmed the whole chase scene from there, with the camera in hand. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, a real heist thing. neck. It made a huge impression on me.”

Instead of going to film school, John Hyams took a page from his father’s book and studied fine art, later moving on, via documentary films, to directing feature films.

“When John first suggested going to film school, we had a bit of a review and I said, no, you’re not going to film school. Feed your gaze on art, learn literature and history. And you’ll learn more than most people in film schools,” says Father Peter. “He was a brilliant painter. In fact, he could have made a living as a painter… We ended up on a similar path, he started making documentaries, like I did at the beginning. The difference was that John was a phenomenal artist. I was one of those guys that people thought was good because I could draw.

John Hymas’ ‘Sick’ was a screening of Midnight Madness at TIFF 2022

Courtesy of TIFF

While he says he loves his son’s films – “my favorite is always the last one I saw” – Peter Hyams says he finds it “very painful” to see his own work again. “I watch a movie of mine 1,000 times when I make it, 1,000 more times when I’m previewing it, and once it’s done, and there’s nothing I can do to make it better, it becomes impossible to watch. All I see are all the things I did wrong.

But in his 50 years behind the camera, Hyams says he’s learned a few things, including the ability to get out of the way.

“When I started, I was making charts of where the camera was, what lens we were using, I was making diagrams, like a quarterback with his playbook,” he recalls. “Then you step onto the set with a group of human beings in front of you and the best-laid plans of mice and men, you know? I realized that this kind of planning is stupid. The best work comes when your actors feel absolutely free and come up with something you never thought of. It may be Gene Hackman who chooses the glasses [for Narrow Margin] That makes all the difference.”

“Narrow Margin”

Courtesy of Oldenburg Film Festival

“We make different films, of course, but I feel our approach, and in many ways our aesthetic is quite similar,” adds John. “If there’s one thing I’ve really learned [my dad] looking at him directly was the pride of the profession. Because I always thought my dad was an amazing craftsman. As a musician, you talk about having chops. And my dad, as a filmmaker, he always had some serious chops.

What has changed significantly since Peter Hyams started directing in the early 70s and since John’s first feature films in the mid-2000s is the market for mid-budget genre films.

“That’s what I call the $40 million movie,” says Peter, “by which I mean a movie without big movie stars where there’s no indemnity, no guarantees, it’s gonna work [but] this is where you get a star warsa Jawsa Extraterrestrial. Where there is no insurance policy and the studio just has to think the movie is good. You don’t have much these days.

“When I came into the business, at the end of the years, the DVD market was disappearing, and you could already see that the studios weren’t making these kinds of films anymore, these 40-50 million dollar thrillers. , as Irregular edge or one No Exit, which was once the bread and butter of the industry,” adds John. “Things looked a bit dire for a while. But I think streamers saved the industry. Now you can do a genre movie, the kind of movie that’s in my wheelhouse or my dad’s wheelhouse, with somebody like Netflix and do it with a lot of artistic freedom.

Alongside Peter Hyams Capricorn One, Outland and narrow marginOldenberg retrospective will include John Hyams universal soldier films, his first two feature films: a dog day (1997) and the documentary The breaking machine (2002) plus recent horror titles Only (2020) and Sick.

John Hyams will attend Oldenburg, which runs from September 14-18 and will participate in a live chat, with Fr Peter joining via video, during the event.

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