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'Hunter Hunter' Writer-Director Shawn Linden on the Horror of Battling Nature

December 18, 2020
2 min read time

Final Draft spoke with writer-director Shawn Linden on his survival-horror film, "Hunter Hunter" starring Devon Sawa and Nick Stahl. A fur-trapping family in the remote wilderness finds themselves in a battle with nature: a hungry and dangerous wolf.

The film's simple premise, along with a well-written, fast-moving script and a general claustrophobia created by Linden's direction ensures a chillingly realistic atmosphere of fear and danger. Leaning into the themes of trust, paranoia, and isolation, the environment itself becomes a character in this story of live-or-die-trying. 

Linden's concept stemmed from his own experiences and his views on eating meat. "I love animals... and meat... and those two parts of me I can’t reconcile. I tried to imagine, what does it mean to be a wild animal and live off of meat?; from there it became a story where it becomes human beings being treated as animals."
"Horror is my wheelhouse, and where I would like to stay for a long time," says Linden, who never felt at conflict moving between his writer, director and producer roles. "I first focused on the story and once the story was done - which took many drafts and many years..." (the script was written in 2007), "...I was able to move into my next role, executing an idea that I'd fully formed. On the producing-side, I worked alongside some great producers who handled the details when I couldn't." 
The film, shot in the remote Canadian wilderness, on the provincial border of Manitoba and Ontario, "For much of the shoot we were far removed from running water and electricity. There was an element of 26 people camping out in the middle of nowhere for 21 shooting days," which left little room for surprises.
Linden discussed his script-to-screen process, "It is a very different film twelve years later. While it still has the same heart and spine, everything around it changed, even through the edits," Linden said. "The post-production took place during quarantine, which was challenging. I missed being in the room, especially with scoring."

Like many filmmakers, Linden has spent time in different facets on sets, including an extensive resume within the art department. "It's a more practical use behind the camera because I'm aware of the nuts and bolts of how a film day works and how budgets work; I've been hardwired this way since my early twenties. That kind of awareness is always around when you're a writer-director: you have to maintain your vision despite the changes. The knowledge gives me a better idea of  what I am able to do on any given day."

When comparing television to film, Linden shares, "Television is about getting your day. That’s where successful TV directors live or die, whereas in independent film, the film is created out of love. There’s a sense of 'it takes what it takes'... filmmaking is not necessarily trying to get your day - yes, you have to get it - but that’s not at the forefront of your mind. You need to make a good film and you'll have to change your day if what you're getting is not up to a standard you want or need."

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