Patrick Hughes is one of our most assured and commercially successful directors working today. While he has carved out a prolific career making distinctive commercials and short films, Hughes really made himself known in 2010 with the low-budget genre film Red Hill, starring Ryan Kwanten.
On the back of Red Hill, in 2014, he directed The Expendables 3, which subsequently led to the blockbuster hit The Hitman’s Bodyguard and its sequel, which is yet to be released.
Tell us a little about your film at SBS On Demand.
The genesis for my first feature film Red Hill was several years earlier when I went brumby chasing in the Victorian high country. On horseback we passed through a small town in East Gippsland, Omeo, and its hauntingly western-style main street. I distinctly remember being struck by how cinematic this arcadian town felt and knew I wanted to film a movie set in that milieu.
Watch Red Hill now at SBS On Demand.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently in post-production on the sequel to my last film The Hitman’s Bodyguard, remotely overseeing and signing off on the visual effects. I’m also working with the composer in Iceland on the score. Concurrently I’m working on a script for a survival thriller which is in development. I also remain in pre-production on the Sony film The Man of Toronto, an action comedy starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, which was about to commence shooting in Atlanta prior to COVID-19 halting production. I’m now working remotely on pre-visualisation: pre-rendering a scene prior to filming for several of the critical action sequences.
How are you coping with self-isolation?
Two months ago I was 10 days out from shooting The Man from Toronto in Atlanta. Suddenly, I was to walk away from sets, and all the work the team had put in up to that moment. I flew home to Melbourne. As with many others in the industry, I’ve been attempting to work remotely. I intersperse calls, emails, writing and home-schooling with jogging the park opposite my house. It clears my head and galvanises my creative brain. I also recently rediscovered the joys of bike riding and love cruising the neighbourhood with my kids and partner. I like to pretend I’m in BMX Bandits. Besides all that, every night is movie night!
What are your 5 favourite films at SBS On Demand?
1. Das Boot
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Jurgen Prochnow, Klaus Wennemann, Herbert Gronemeyer
In my opinion the greatest masterpiece ever made. I have an original 1981 cinematic-release poster framed in my living room. I own the score on vinyl. I recall watching it for the first time at the Astor Theatre in St Kilda, Melbourne and being absolutely enthralled with the mastery of Wolfgang Peterson. Originally it was filmed for television as a mini-series, but it became clear it needed to be a feature so they stitched it together and released it on film as a 4 hour and 53 minute epic. Quite simply the perfect claustrophobic thriller.
Watch Das Boot now at SBS On Demand.
2. Paper Moon
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Cast: Ryan O’neal, Tatum O’neal, Madeline Kahn
A beautiful love letter to fatherhood. Being a father myself this movie genuinely hits me in the feels every time. Beautifully crafted and poetic. It’s an ingenious play on the con-caper form.
Watch Paper Moon now at SBS On Demand.
3. The Fisher King
Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl
A phenomenal redemption plot. I read the screenplay before I watched the film. I found it at a second-hand book store, a forward by the screenwriter written inside inspired me to tell stories. The film brings me to tears and laughter in equal measures upon every viewing. Terry Gilliam’s greatest piece. A classic.
Watch The Fisher King now at SBS On Demand.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Cast: Ray Liotta, Jason Patric, Chi McBride, Busta Rhymes
One of the greatest first films I can recall. When I decided to make Red Hill I researched Joe Carnahan and how he crafted such a film on a meagre budget. The opening chase sequence is utterly nail-biting. Marred by limited budget he was still able to craft a complicated and cinematically elevated scene. Due to the lack of time in their schedule they shot with one camera with minimum fuss. An example of how serious limitations in time and budget can haphazardly produce something great. Coincidentally now we are good mates.
Watch Narc now at SBS On Demand.
5. Leon: The Professional
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman
A film that made me fall in love with Gary Oldman, who I later got to work with on the set of The Hitman’s Bodyguard. True story, I refused to roll camera with Gary until he convincingly quoted his line: “Everyone!!!” from Leon and rolled his neck. Thematically an excellent example of love and sacrifice. Similar to Man on Fire in its representation of sacrifice being inextricably linked with love. The dynamic between Léon and Natalie Portman’s character is precious, and a lesson on how love can give you roots and meaning in a seemingly meaningless and chaotic world.
Watch Leon: The Professional now at SBS On Demand.