Interview: Director Ben Young for HOUNDS OF LOVE

One of the most intense and powerful films to come out this year, HOUNDS OF LOVE, has been taking critics and fans by storm. For me, I had the chance to see it during SXSW and I was taken aback by how realistic and gut wrenching it was (click HERE to read my entire review) with the film quickly becoming one of my favorites of the year. For the release of the movie on VOD, we had the chance to speak with director Ben Young about his debut film, where his inspiration came from, and whats in store for him next. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Ben, thank you so much for speaking with me today! We are all such fans of your film HOUNDS OF LOVE and can see why it's been so critically acclaimed. For those who may not be familiar with your film, can you tell us a little bit about it? 

Ben Young: HOUNDS OF LOVE is a film that follows three people: Vickie, Evelyn, and John. Evelyn and John are a couple who abduct girls and do terrible things to them and Vickie finds herself in their clutches and must find a way to escape. 

NC: I had heard that the film is based off of a true story. Can you tell me a little bit about that and where your inspiration for the film came from? 

BY: It's actually not based on one specific true story. My mom is a crime writer, she writes crime fiction, and she wrote this book about female serial killer. I gave it a read and I found it really interesting because female serial killers kill for very different reasons than male serial killers kill. For them, it's kind of for a perverted virtue, they believe they are doing it to make the world a better place or they are doing it to please someone else - they aren't doing it for their own sexual motivation which is in most male serial killers. I found that to be very interesting and that's something that I think isn't explored a lot on film. I decided to research the subject even more and through that process found a bit of an unfortunate phenomenon of couples who kill. I found nine couples who had gone around and done similar things to what I explored in the movie. None of the events in the film are true. In my research it was mostly about the psychology of the people involved and I found a fairly constant situation in which there was a very controlling, dominating man, who takes a very vulnerable woman, builds her up and then tears her down to make her truly believe she is unable to live without him. He then goes into manipulating her so that they achieve his wildest and darkest fantasies. 

NC: What makes this film so powerful is the tremendous talent from each of the three leads. How did you go about casting for these roles? 

BY: I actually wrote the role of Evelyn for Emma Booth; I've known her for about 15-20 years. I wrote this role for her cause she's a good buddy of mine and a terrific actor and of course she said no (laughs). So I put it out there to every female actress I could find in Australia and found some really good ones and then Emma's agent turned around and said they had convinced Emma to do the film and she was in, so that was good because she was always the one that I wanted to play Evelyn. Stephen Curry, he is one of Australia's most beloved comedic actors. The casting director said that Stephen had been wanting to do something more dramatic and he had read my script. I though, oh wow, that would be interesting. One of the things that I had trouble believing in my own screenplay was why does this young girl get in the car with these two people? I thought to myself, anyone in Australia is going to get in the car with Stephen Curry, so the context that he brings to the role would probably be a good thing for the film. For Vickie, I actually had Ashleigh Cummings in mind when I was writing the role because of a television series she was in that's fantastic called "Puberty Blues." I thought she would be perfect but was concerned because the age of the character compared to Ashleigh's age with was closer to 20, 21 years old. I wasn't sure if she was going to be too old for the role but sure enough, she cam in and auditioned and I couldn't say no. She was just absolutely fantastic. 

NC: HOUNDS OF LOVE is your first feature film that you've directed. What was the process like? 

BY: My background is in, believe it or not, kid's television as well as television commercials and music videos. I decided to tear up the squeaky clean reputation with the feature film (laughs). The whole process was great but it was without a doubt the hardest thing that I've ever done. I'm from Perth and I've been a filmmaker, or at least trying to be a director, for 10 years and getting paid to be one for 7 years (laughs). All the crew that I had, the cinematographers, the grips, etc, are all people I've worked with a hundred million times before and I knew them all, so it wasn't as if I was stepping into completely unfamiliar territory, and that helped a lot. Having the relationship I have with Emma helped and her and Steve had done a mini-series together before so they had a friendship which I think helped him to trust me quicker than a lot of actors would. Breaking through to them wasn't as difficult of a task as a lot of people may have with the lead actors in their film. Overall, it was the hardest thing that I've ever done but it didn't feel like I was in completely unfamiliar territory. 

NC: Last but certainly not least, what can your fans look forward to from you in the future? 

BY: I'm in Serbia right now doing a movie called EXTINCTION with Mandeville Films, who just did BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and Universal Pictures. That film will be coming out sometime next year!

HOUNDS OF LOVE is now in select theaters and is available on VOD