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An Interview with Andre Hyland

As the 4th of July approaches, there's only one movie appropriate for the occasion: Andre Hyland's The 4th. The film follows protagonist Jamie through his seemingly unambitious quest to have a cookout in LA on, as the title implies, the 4th of July. It is in the same vein as his Sundance nominated short film "Funnel," which essentially consists of the protagonist delivering an intriguingly mundane rant whilst he searches for (you guessed it) a funnel after his car breaks down.

"Funnel" and The Fourth describe the complexities of the human experience through hilariously specific, workaday anecdotes, whereas Hyland's earlier projects employ an almost antithetical technique, veering more into the surreal and non sequitur. However, the ideology behind them has remained much the same. In addition to being a mostly self-taught filmmaker, Hyland is also a graffiti artist and performance artist; these disciplines intersect at their boldness, and have helped Hyland develop his go-for-it philosophy/approach that has also earned him success in filmmaking.

Although it's not the visual stunning spectacles that inspire most youngsters to get into film, there was something about Hyland's work that touched me to my core. The idea of capturing the less picturesque/heroic sides of the human experience helped me to see filmmaking as an organic extension of storytelling, and I made an effort to educate myself further on video production and filmmaking. Although its not something that I would pursue as a career, the experience of interviewing one of my biggest influences was certainly one I will not be forgetting anytime soon.





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Do you have a hotmail email account ironically?

No, it was my first email...I figure why bother changing it.

Funnel is essentially a monologue. What was the inspiration behind it? Are you usually on the receiving end of rants or are you usually the one ranting? Can you describe the most one-sided conversation you've ever had?

I take long walks often, and its typically a good time to fit in non work related calls, so it's not uncommon for me to be strolling around being a chatty cathy.

I had a former landlord that I would be stuck in awful one sided conversations with... she'd always be going on about the hedges or the medicine she needs for her cat, etc. I'm fairly polite so I'm not the best at escaping that kind of thing...anyway she was the worst, when I'd try to interject or respond she'd just raise her voice and continue with whatever she was on about...never a conversation shorter than a legit 20/25 minutes.

Do you consider comedy an art form?

Of course.

Why did you choose the moniker Blond Chili?

I was blond when I was born until it started turning brown when I was about 12-14. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, a couple of blocks behind Skyline Chili (a popular Cincy chili restaurant). Then I just liked the combination of words and how it looked.

I read in LA Weekly that you were a graffiti artist. How has that shaped your work (if at all)?

Yeah, that was a big part of my life/creative diet for a long time. In a general sense, it very much helped inform my do it yourself/don't wait for permission approach to creating my work. I was already making videos before I got into street art/graffiti...but the mentality was the perfect match to keep me pushing myself.

In a more literal way, graffiti helped me get better at shooting hidden camera bits on the street and operating in a more stealth fashion of sorts.

What artists (of any kind) inspire you?

Filmmakers mostly...but all kinds really. Music helps get ideas flowing in my head a lot...but artists in particular... Keith Haring, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Cohen brothers, Jody Hill, Leon Reid IV, Swoon, Spike Jonze, Eric Lowenstein, Spielberg, Nirvana, Beck... I dunno, I mostly find inspiration just people watching.

What comedians inspire you?

Doug Lussenhop, Ben Stiller, April Richardson, Tim Heidecker, Lonely Island, Danny McBride, Noel Wells, Good Neighbor, Tom Green, Seth Rogen, Bob Odenkirk, there's lots more. What inspires me varies greatly from person to person.

I've noticed that your work, unlike other offbeat comedy skits etc, doesn't rely heavily on violence (not that there's anything wrong with that). How do you feel about gore in comedy? Do you think it's funny?

I'm fine with gore and violence in comedy (I LOVE Pineapple Express)...but my work in particular doesn't call for it due to most of it being based on typical, everyday, grounded human moments/interactions.

But I will say I've noticed a trend in comedies the past 5 - 10 years of characters losing fingers that I find kind of annoying and it's becoming kind of a new cliche.

I noticed on Instagram that you're connected with Chris Fleming. How did you guys meet?

My friend Matty Cardarople is buddies with Chris and introduced us like 6 years ago around a time when we would often be on live shows together.

I read on My First Shoot that you put on a religious public access channel and posed as a church band in college. What kind of songs did your fake church band play? What were the reactions from people who thought it was real?

Yeah, we put a fake church show on a real church channel in Cincinnati. "Tracy, Dean, and Jesus."
Viewers either thought we were real and were offended by what we were saying, or they thought we were fake and were offended because we weren't real.

Then there was a small group of viewers that figured out it was a parody and enjoyed it.

What inspired you to make the shift from creating characters that are sort of caricatures of personalities you find ridiculous to characters that more closely resemble yourself (like in Funnel and The Fourth)?

At first, when I did Funnel, it was just a challenge to myself to sort of hide behind a character and do something that's more similar to myself just to be able to do it... I didn't do it for a long time because I thought it was presumptuous to assume people would be entertained by a fictional character that was pretty much like me. Not because I think of myself as boring, I just always thought I, as a viewer, would want to see something with a bigger punch.

I used to portray characters I thought were ridiculous, but now I can play the straight man and bounce around in a world I create where I get to cross paths with a variety of characters that I think are ridiculous (that I would have played in the past).

In short, it gives me the option to tell loads more stories and work with more people.

If you had to reduce yourself to a stereotype or caricature, what would you be?

A cat lady.

Why are you drawn to the idea of a pathetic quest, a pointless adventure?

Because I seem to find myself on them all the time...the other day my car was impounded...that could have easily been the sequel to The 4th. I also think most people can relate to those situations. I also find the more grounded I keep the tone of the film, the more it allows me to highlight the ridiculousness of everyday life.

Have you always gravitated towards that sort of thing?

Yes and no...it's been both...I see to make way more absurdist videos and work in general... watch Presto Majesto or Ebony on YouTube... those are good examples.

I've always enjoyed tales of the mundane (I loved After Hours and Entertainment and comics like Ghost World) but I've learned this is not the popular opinion. How do you feel about the idea of film as escapism?

I love movies in general, I saw Solo last night and really enjoyed it. Tonight, I'm going to Action Point. But I typically gravitate towards action adventure/comedy with strong characters. I love 70s character movies. I love Paul Thomas Anderson films. I loved The Big Lebowski, Good Time, Point Break, Hell or High Water... I like seeing idiots in over their heads...people that shouldn't be on an adventure on a big one... or something way more subtle and a lame adventure like in Nebraska or the British Office or Curb.

I also love movies that take place in short amounts of time like After Hours, Go, or Superbad.

I'll be graduating high school soon. If you had to give a graduation speech, what would be the jest of it?

Don't wait for permission or approval from "creative authorities"... make the work you wanna make by making the work you wanna make.

Either way time is gonna pass, fill it by doing what you care about.

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