NICK HOLLAND INTERVIEW
NH: I was always the kid on the playground playing out "stories" with certain friends, stories that would continue each day every recess and I would occasionally bring in other kids to fulfill certain required roles in the story. They were mostly mimicry of things I'd seen, but there was even at that most basic level, a desire to create and experience. I received my first camera in seventh grade as a Christmas gift from my parents who knew I had been using one at a friend's house that belonged to his parents. Once I received that, I made short movies with my brothers, friends and neighborhood kids. I found excuses to make short movies for school projects as well. They all ranged from shorts about zombies to reenactments of Civil War battles. Beyond that, I just always assumed I would one day make my own films on a budgeted level.
GRVD: Specifically with Hunger Unholy, you seem to have a real love and nostalgic passion for older waves of horror cinema. What period of time would you consider your favorite era, or perhaps the most influential to yourself?
NH: My dad instilled a passion for film at a young age by teaching me what should be at it's core, the thing anyone involved in film should feel: a love for watching movies. I was raised on everything from innocent Disney films like Sword In the Stone or The Dark Crystal to (when mom wasn't home) Terminator 2, Monster Squad, and Predator. As I got older, my dad shared with me more under the radar films he loved that he saw in his youth while working at a drive in, films that prior to the internet, were much harder to find without a wide distribution. These films mostly were horror films like George Romero's Dawn of the Dead and eventually Evil Dead, but there were other foreign films like Zombie, Blood Eaters, and the like. I think his love for both watching horror films and telling scary stories is where my love for the genre began.
GRVD: Explain how you got into making practical effects for your films. I know that in Hunger Unholy you designed the Werewolf yourself. Tell us about that process.
NH: Simply, I had no one else to help me when I started as a kid with my shorts. As one would expect, it started with me just spraying my brothers with ketchup or food coloring, but I started to get a lot of ideas from the commentary tracks on my Evil Dead DVD and a feature on Tom Savini and his effects which was a bonus feature on the Night of the Living Dead 1990 remake DVD. I learned about techniques they used and in return, tried out more primitive versions myself. It is always a learning process. I really got to try out a ton of stuff in this forty minute short I made called A Way Out, which was my first attempt at a serious project that I shot with a few friends in 2010. That really taught me a lot about what I could and could not do. It's always been a learning process for me, and Wronged, my second feature film, is the first project I've worked on where I've had a makeup and effects department handle the bulk of the effects, though I have jumped in on a few of the practicals as well. The werewolf suit was interesting because I, in my foolish youth and bull headed early twenties, believed I could make a decent suit for cheap instead of paying a lot for a high quality suit. It had its short comings in the end and is one of my biggest complaints about HU, but it served its purpose and again, served as a lesson.
GRVD: Tell us about your new film Wronged. How does it differ from your past work?
NH: Wronged differs immensely from anything I've done on almost all levels. It is the first project I have had a budget for, though it is about as shoestring as they come even so. Also, having a camera, makeup, production and sound crew is something I had never attempted before as well as hiring real actors and not solely relying on friends or friends of friends to fill certain roles. In a sense, this is the first "real" production I've ever taken on.
It also differs both stylistically and in terms of story from anything I've ever written as it goes much deeper than what is simply on the surface emotionally and metaphorically.
GRVD: What are some long-term ambitions you have as a director? Do you ever wish to try to break into the mainstream, or are you more committed to remaining in the D.I.Y. underground?
NH: I always wanted to write and act. Directing happened just because I never knew anyone who was willing to do it when I was tackling shorts. It happened so often, that I eventually phased myself out of focusing on acting and shifted to learning how to write (well) and direct, which is how I also picked up on learning how to edit as well. Of course the goal is to make money doing it and a career, but realistically, if I could at the least make enough money each film to break even and cover my losses to justify doing another, then I have no reason to stop and will continue to pump out projects until the stress kills me, I'm sure. Haha
GRVD: Which films specifically have had the most profound effect on you both as a director and a human being?
NH: I would like to believe there are some that have done both, but really, they are two different schools of thought for me. Films that made me want to direct were the original Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead because I watched those films and documentaries about them and thought "I can do that" (naively haha). But as I got older, fascination with the art direction of films like Kubrick's, specifically The Shining, and the production of Michael Mann's Heat are really what drew in my fascination and made me want to experience that level of creativity. A film that captures both my love of story telling and film has always been The Last of the Mohicans. It is absolutely my favorite film and I have always wanted to make a period piece because of it. Perhaps some day.
GRVD: Let's talk about Sunlight's Bane. You guys have a new record coming out! What can you tell us about that?
NH: The record is a far step further from what we have always done, as our black metal, grind, and death metal influences are much more prevalent and refined as compared to our older more hardcore influenced material. The record is eleven songs, ten brand new tracks written for the record and one re-recording of a much older song we put out digitally as a demo when we first began. It is going to receive a release this year on CD and 12", and we hope to have a date for that very soon.
GRVD: You've had quite a progression and evolution as a musician. What keeps you going and keeps you inspired to make music?
NH: Both listening to music constantly, and the fact that I always have something to say are often what drives me as a musician. I have always needed an outlet for the things I feel I cannot just simply express through day to day living and conversation and coupling that with my natural desire to perform, I have just always been drawn towards music and the writing of it. The inspiration, often negative, is drawn from both the outside world and how I experience/see it and from whatever I may be reading, watching, or listening to at any given time.
GRVD: I think one of the things I've always loved so much about Sunlight's Bane has been the lyrics. They're so poetic and exceptionally structured - almost seeming to have a "cinematic" quality to them. How serious do you take crafting lyrics, and do you approach them in the same way you'd approach writing a script for a film?
NH: I greatly appreciate that, especially knowing people read them at all after the great effort I often put into my lyrics. It sometimes feels like an era of music where people have moved beyond lyrics and it is comforting to know that is not the case. I tool my craft very seriously for years and unfortunately abandoned it for a few releases of SB while still called Traitor out of both laziness and a desire to draw people in with lyrics that were influenced by a more contemporary level of poetry. With this album and our upcoming split though, I feel I have returned to form with the material, having spent years working on the record's lyrics. I approach them more so as an encapsulated instance or emotion, so it takes much longer than I take drafting out a plotline for a film or short oddly enough because every word, every line is a critical piece that risks straying from the intended emotion meant to be conveyed.
GRVD: What can we expect from you in the future, both in film and music?
NH: Much more consistent and larger amounts of output is all I can say at this time.
GRVD: Any last shout-outs for us?
NH: Support Bricktop Recording in Chicago, Moonbend Studios and Oneder Studios in Michigan, and support local bands and filmmakers. They are the reason the art will continue and grow.