Kieron Hawkes on his debut film Piggy
From the current issue of Clash.
“This is my first film, so every stage of the process is new to me,” begins director Kieron Hawkes by way of introduction to this, his first interview. And what stage are you at now? “I’m at the shitting myself stage.”
A few nerves are understandable. After a long journey which has extended from film school through to editing work on other people’s movies, Hawkes will see his debut movie Piggy hit the big screen this month. It follows the timid Joe (Martin Compston) after the senseless murder of his brother. His brother’s old friend Piggy (Paul Anderson) enters Joe’s life and twists his perspective on morality, leading him on an ominous road to revenge.
Despite its Camden setting, Piggy doesn’t fall into the sub-genre of dubious Cockney criminals. Infused with social commentary, an eye for an artfully-composed image and a foreboding score from The Coral’s former guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones, it blurs beauty and brutality.
“I’d like Piggy to be viewed as a companion piece to something like Funny Games or Irreversible,” states Hawkes, who counts Michael Haneke, Gaspar Noé and Paul Thomas Anderson among his influences. “The reason it’s so horrifically violent is because sometimes I feel films are quite irresponsible with violence, and they depict it in a way that doesn’t show the horror of the reality of it. I don’t want violence to be something that’s cool. It’s horrible, seeing someone get hit in the pub or in the street. Hopefully the film reflects the reality of how you feel when you see that, rather than a ‘movie’ perception of it.”
Hawkes focused on the concept of Piggy after struggling to secure funding for his previous scripts, which, he says, were more relationship-based and inspired by the art house scene. “This isn’t really the type of film that I envisaged myself making, at least not at first,” he admits. “But I wasn’t going to stop kicking at the doors of the industry. So I thought I’d attack it from a different angle and do something that’s much more about the things that people seem to want to see in British films.”
Piggy has already enabled Hawkes to move into other areas, including The Mimic, an upcoming Channel 4 comedy. “I’m pleased I got that because it’s very light and as far away from Piggy as I could possibly go”, he concludes. “I think that’s important because I don’t want to be Mr. Headstamp.”