Brief interview with the director of Low Tide Ian Hunt-Duffy (Ireland, 2018, Russian Premier) to SPIFF World Cup of Genre Cinema.

Low Tide won the awards for the Best DOP, Sound design and a Special mention in the competition of Horrors SPIFF World Cup of Genre Cinema 2020.

SPIFF: What is your most vivid movie memory? Why and when have you decided to become filmmaker?

IHD: My most vivid movie memory was back in 1999 and going to see ‘The Matrix’. I knew nothing about the film, I hadn’t seen any trailers, and the marketing campaign was genius- “Nobody can be told what The Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself’. So I went into the cinema completely clean, not knowing what to expect, and I remember just being absolutely stunned by it. I couldn’t believe my eyes at times, and we staggered out of the cinema exhilarated and giddy afterwards, knowing we had just seen something new and groundbreaking. It was a great experience.As for when I decided to become a filmmaker- I was fascinated with film from a very young age. Cinema has the power to completely transport you to another world and immerse you in all these different stories, and for a few hours make you forget about everything else going on in your own life. As a child, myself and my brother would spend countless hours filming short clips and videos with an old camcorder, or attempt to recreate scenes from our favourite movies. So I always had a passion for filmmaking, and once I found out that people actually did this as a job, that was all I wanted to do!

SPIFF: At SPIFF, movies are divided by genre. What is your favorite and why?

IHD: It would be either Action or Thrillers. I just love suspenseful and gripping movies. Stories that can create great amounts of tension and keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

SPIFF: How did you come up with the idea for your film “Low Tide”?

IHD: I love horror films and really wanted to tell an old fashioned campfire tale, a chiller. My favourite kind of horror films are allegorical, combining the jump scares with an interesting subtext or theme. I had worked with writer Darach McGarrigle previously on my last film ‘Gridlock’, which was a whodunnit thriller that has been very successful, so we were eager to collaborate again. We spoke about doing a film on childhood and loss of innocence, and from that came the theme of ‘toxic masculinity’, which is what ‘Low Tide’ is all about. The script really attacks the traditional macho mentality often found in the countryside- that you have to be tough and violent to be considered a man. I also nearly drowned as a child, so I wanted to visualise that fear and experience in this film when our character Jack has to go down into the ocean.

SPIFF: Can you please list advantages and disadvantages of working on short films?

IHD: I suppose the biggest disadvantage is time and money—you will never have enough of either, so you just have to be creative. Short films are unique because they are typically only ever viewed among a program of other short films, so you have to grab the audience’s attention with a good story or hook that will make your short film stand out from all the others. I think the main advantage of working on short films is that they are opportunities to learn and grow as a filmmaker- to develop your own voice and style and try new things. It challenges you to tell an impactful and engaging story in a limited amount of time, and so the short film format really forces you to be creative and distil your story down to its bare necessities, which is an invaluable skill to learn.

SPIFF: Please, list your favourite directors and films. Why do you prefer them?

IHD: There are many directors that would be big influences for me personally. I grew up watching John Carpenter and James Cameron movies, and my all time favourite film is Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It’s just a stunning and iconic movie, one that I saw when I was far too young and has left an indelible impression on me ever since. I’m also a huge fan of David Fincher, ‘Fight Club’ being another favourite of mine. Fincher is a master at creating atmosphere and has such a meticulous approach to performance and composition, so that is very inspiring and something I will strive for going forward. But inspiration comes from all manner of films and directors, of every genre. I also watch lots of different TV series as some of the best and most exciting drama is now happening on television.

SPIFF: What would you like to tell the audience of your film in Russia at SPIFF?

IHD: I’m delighted and excited to have our Russian Premiere at SPIFF, and I’m really interested to see how the audience responds to our film. I hope that it creates a tense and unnerving atmosphere for them when they’re watching it, that they feel a sense of dread or foreboding hanging over the film throughout. The nature of the story in ‘Low Tide’ also leaves just enough room for debate and interpretation, so I hope it sparks some discussion after the credits roll.