17th ÉCU
The European Independent Film Festival 2022 

8th - 10th April 2022 
Interview

Liam Hendrix Heath 
The Cathar 

Section: European Dramatic Short
ecufilmfestival.com

A fraying, washed-up musician meets a charismatic psychic and becomes convinced that he’s receiving messages from a past life, guiding him to long-lost treasure.

Hey Liam, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

It's been up, down, good, bad. Crazy times.

 

Congratulations on having The Cathar part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?

 

It's an honour to be here for a second time,  I’m excited for everyone to see the new film.

 

How did the experience making your debut short film Nation Down as well as your background as a Film Editor help prepare you for making The Cathar?

 

It's hard to know where to start with that; each project, in whatever capacity, builds on skills and experiences drawn from the last. My time working with Michael Winterbottom was perhaps the most exhilarating learning experience I've ever had, so that has definitely had a huge impact.

 

Can you tell me how The Cathar came about; what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?

 

It's based on a true story that occurred within my family, and one that I had been turning over in my mind for years before I actually started writing the script. 

 

How close were you able to keep to your screenplay when you started filming, did you allow yourself much flexibility with your script?

 

At first, my dad could barely remember his lines, so yes, allowing everyone to improvise a bit was imperative. Improvising is in my DNA, I think, with all the jazz stuff, so it was great to start working that into my film projects.

 

The Cathar marks the acting debut of Brix Smith and your father David Heath, did you have any apprehension working with Brix and your father on a project like this? 

 

Not at all, although I hadn't cast my father initially. I cast another guy but the first rehearsal nearly ended in a fist fight, three weeks from shooting. Not ideal! I called Dave Heath up on a whim; he's a musician and a performer so it wasn't a total recalibration. He really took to it, my siblings started calling him ‘Dad Pitt’ on set as he took it so seriously. Brix Smith was brilliant, she’s a total legend, and brought so much to the character of Gloria.

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"They should tell the stories that they feel most strongly about, even if the political aspect is not trendy, or the scenario not particularly enticing to anyone else."

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing The Cathar to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

 

Yes, there's plenty I would do differently, not least because we were shooting right in the middle of Covid, we thought we were going to go into lockdown at any point and have to abandon ship. So there were constraints there that changed some elements for us. The biggest challenge was trying to make people understand what it was that I was after, tonally. It only became clear to them, when they saw the cut.

 

On film scripts will you continue to draw from your own life and experiences in order to tell your stories?

 

I guess I'll always try to find something of myself in whatever project I direct; films are too much effort to do otherwise, in my opinion.

 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

 

Jazz was my first love; the film thing bloomed in my teens. Having said that, my parents were clearing out an old cupboard recently and found a load of action movies me and my brothers had made when we were kids, using the family camcorder, if you can imagine ‘The Terminator’ but made by six year olds, you’re on the right track. Maybe for ÉCU 2023?

 

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?

 

If you mean from a technical point of view, then sure, if that's what interests the filmmaker. If you mean from a social point of view, I think the only thing worth mentioning here is that filmmakers should be brave. They should tell the stories that they feel most strongly about, even if the political aspect is not trendy, or the scenario not particularly enticing to anyone else. Make what you care about. 

 

For anyone out there thinking about getting into filmmaking or going to film school do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

 

Don't compare yourselves to others, constantly. You'll tire yourself out, and it's a waste; focus on your own path, on your own projects. 

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The Cathar?

 

I want them to experience it and discover the answer for themselves!