Seeking the Great Stories with Liam Hooper
Great artists of any medium have one quality that sets apart from those who are also exceptionally talented; they have a keen ability to perceive the undiscovered greatness in their subject. Whether it be a song, a block of stone, or a great tale, those who possess the extraordinary recognize this same quality in their subject and work diligently to unearth it for all to enjoy. While still quite young, Liam Hooper earned the reputation as a director whose commitment to manifesting his vision of a film was nearly Herculean. As a teenager in the UK, he was persuasive enough to convince Oscar Winning Actor Steve Coogan to appear in one of his films. A steady stream of productions followed which all testified to audiences and industry professionals throughout the world that Liam wielded the skillful proficiency of a master with the perspective of a true artist.
Darkwood Manor, Hooper’s 2011 writing and directorial debut, is a tale based on a dare. When Dorothy Stringer High School announces it is to close, a mysterious offer comes through that offers a reward for anyone who can spend two nights in Darkwood Manor. If Stand By Mewere a dark horror film rather than a coming of age tale, it would be Darkwood Manor. While not many professionals are willing to take a sixteen-year-old director seriously, Steve Coogan is not among the disbelievers. Liam recalls, “I had reached out to him and new it was a longshot but I received a text one day which said, ‘Hi Liam it’s Steve. Would be happy to help you out however I can.’ About a year later we finally recorded his cameo in the film which was equal parts thrilling and terrifying but his involvement in the film garnered a ton of press attention and helped both the film, and myself, to be taken more seriously by my peers and put me on the map as a filmmaker. I will always be in his credit for that.” Darkwood Manor earned the British Horror Film Festival award and provided an amazing night for Liam’s first “showbiz” afterparty in London.
In the realm of feature films, Hooper has offered two horror films which have become cult classics. Rather than the trope big budget productions from major studios which reprise aging premises of “tried and true” horror films, Liam’s work is known for presenting the setting as central to the story. In 2015’s Strangers Within, a girl named Sam (Elena Di Troya) and her friends are terrorized by a group of men searching for something in her house. Best described as a home-invasion horror, Strangers Within begins with a shocking first scene and offers numerous twists. Liam capitalized on the most frightening psychological aspect of all, the occurrence of being attacked in one’s own home. Divulging his initial inspiration for the film he relates, “I wrote this film about a year before we shot it at my friend’s house party on the outskirts of a small village besides Brighton (Hooper’s home city) and, as I drunkenly stumbled towards my taxi, I looked back and fell in love with the design of the house. I then decided I was going to write a short film set in that one house and, after spending a few weeks writing, I knew there was potential for a full feature-length story. During the shoot, having the house dressed by our art designers and having the special FX smoke and fog outside to highlight the cold, I knew I had made the right decision as the house looked especially intimidating in a beautifully isolated way.”
The enthusiasm to create and explore led Liam to experiment with directing music videos. His work includes productions for Scouting for Girls “Home”,Minus Gravity’s “Your Friends”, Brixton Alley’s “Gold Dust” and “Weekend”, Hightown Parade’s “Silhouette”, and others. Rather than pursuing the opportunity to work with major label artists and the headaches that come with it (reduced salaries that often require the director to put their pay back into the overall budget to achieve their vision), Mr. Hooper has sought out working with promising artists who offer the freedom for a director to manifest their vision. He communicates, “I originally got into music videos as a means to keep creating short films but not having to pay for them myself or do exhausting online fundraisers, to ultimately help me showcase the full range of my work and, ultimately, bag me some industry representation from an agent and help me book my first proper feature film directing job. On the way I was side tracked, and my films became less about telling stories and showcasing my skills working with actors, and instead became about making good music videos with cool musicians. When I realised this, I’ve now decided that my future music videos must be beneficial to my career as a film director for me to want to take them on. This means a good story, good actors and a track that lends itself to the narrative form.”
Present day finds Liam working on yet another project that is unexpected. His latest role is as co-writer, co-creator, producer, director, and editor for Discovery Channel’s Dream 2 Drive. Hosted by Ant Anstead (Wheeler Dealers) and Chris Jacobs (Overhaulin’), the pilot for this reality car-show features a member of the car community who is surprised and the whisked away to Arizona where their car is test-driven by World Record holding Hollywood stunt driver, Tegan Hammond and assessed. The car is then given one day to be upgraded to its full potential, taking it from dream to drive. After having worked with Liam on the long running Discovery Channel series Wheeler Dealers, Ant Anstead approached Hooper to collaborate on this new production to be presented in 2022.
It’s evident when considering all of these different productions that Liam Hooper thrives on unlocking the story inside all walks of life. Music artists on the verge of stardom, Oscar winning actors, car enthusiasts, these are all people who have a passion. Liam’s talent is telling their stories in a way that allows the audience to have an emotional tactile experience with them. As his most recent film The Passion Protocol displays, connection is what we are all searching for; Liam Hooper understands how to cultivate this through the visual and auditory medium that is modern storytelling. Taking place in the near future but eerily resembling modern day,The Passion Protocol presents a post-bacterial attack world which has completely altered human interaction on a daily basis. Written years before the Covid 19 pandemic erupted, the film hints at how incredibly insightful Liam Hooper is as a filmmaker and student of humankind.