Movie Maker: How We Shot ‘Edge of the World’ Amid Jungle, Floods and Crocodiles by Michael Haussman

Michael Haussman is a writer, director and artist living in Rome, Italy. His movies have premiered in Cannes, Sundance, Venice, and Berlin film festivals. He has directed music videos for artists including Madonna, Justin Timberlake, winning six MTV Video Music Awards and the Museum of Modern Art award. In this piece, he writes about the “truly hard” experience of making Edge of The World, the story of James Brooke (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an Englishman who arrived in Borneo in 1843 as a conservationist and became a defender of the people against corrupt princes, pirates, and his own country — eventually becoming the Rajah (King) of Borneo. He is the inspiration behind The Man Who Would be KingHeart of Darkness and Lord Jim.  

A good friend and fellow adventurer, Chris Leoni, once asked me, “Have you ever done anything ‘truly hard’ in your life?” He and I had taken extreme risks most our lives, but before giving a knee-jerk reply, I asked him to qualify what he meant, and he said, “I mean truly — life threatening, sheer willpower, survival — hard.” After a moment of contemplation, I did not answer. Three years later, I went to Borneo to direct Edge of The World.

It seems most films that dive deep into the jungle to capture a certain authenticity or unexplained truth, from Fitzcarraldo to Apocalypse Now, come back with equally epic, nail-biting, “making of” stories. Edge of The World is no different. I set out to film a personal, gritty real account of how James Brooke became Rajah of Borneo. I drew a parallel between his life and that of Che Guevara. Where Che set down his doctor’s bag to free a foreign country, Brooke set aside his role as conservationist to fight for a foreign country against his own country, Great Britain.

But it was how Brooke adapted to the Borneo jungle as a visitor, not an intruder, that influenced my philosophy on making the film. We would set out, like Brooke, to adapt to this majestic jungle and go with its customs, flows and ways, not force our Western habits and ideals on the filmmaking process. What I came back with was a dirty, sweaty, slightly insane period piece.

Movies are not shot in Borneo, so everything, down to the smallest scale, must be imported and created in the jungle. It is hard enough just to survive in this constantly growing and strangling environment, let alone make a movie, complete with 1840’s costumes, sets, towns and forts — erected along crocodile-filled rivers. We were in deep, and had brought in many Iban tribe members from Kalimantan — where headhunting still exists — to act as extras in the film. 

The jungle is a living creature. Its arteries and veins are the rivers and inlets. The only boats in Sarawak jungle are thin canoes, carved from tree trunks for river travel. They are too flimsy for filming or equipment, so we constructed all of our boats.

In order to save the confusion of translating to a boat driver, who had never seen a film camera, where to place our camera boat in relationship to the actors’ boat, I decided to drive the camera boat myself, thereby becoming the grip. I developed a boat with a camera mounted in front, on a makeshift crane, and a monitor mounted in front of me, so I could watch the performances while driving the outboard engine. Our unflappable, gifted director of photography, Jamie Fleurs, decided that to avoid communication errors, the grip (me) should be called by my middle name, Richard, and that the director (me) should be called by my first name, Michael. It was truly a single, focused job for Richard to navigate the camera boat, and another job for Michael to direct the actors. 

Read more at Movie MakerWritten by Michael Haussman


Slash Dynamic Adds Director Michael Haussman, Partners With His Person Films

Director Michael Haussman has joined the Slash Dynamic roster for U.S. commercials. Additionally Slash Dynamic has entered into a partnership with Haussman’s European company, Person Films, which is headed by Cecile Leroy Beaulieu. 

The launch of the partnership coincides with the premiere of Haussman’s latest feature film, Edge of the World, which was released this week and is now #1 new movie on Apple iTunes. The epic adventure starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers tells the true story of Sir James Brooke, the English adventurer who inspired Rudyard Kipling’s story “The Man Who Would Be King” and Joseph Conrad’s novel “Lord Jim & Heart of Darkness.” Brooke fought pirates and slavery to rule a kingdom larger than England in the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo where the movie was filmed, one of the most remote and challenging locations in the world.

Haussman’s body of work includes high-profile ad campaigns for BMW, Levi’s, United, Absolut, Yves Saint Laurent, Budweiser and Nissan as well as music videos featuring the likes of Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Chemical Brothers, Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, which have garnered numerous honors including six MTV Video Music Awards and a Museum of Modern Art Award.

Do Not Disturb, the anthology series he created, wrote, directed, and produced with Jude Law, was officially selected for the Cannes Series Festival in 2019. His most recent art exhibition, “Gravity,” premiered at Los Angeles Pacific Design Center and was presented at Berlin Art Week and Cannes In Out Exhibition. 

With the release of his latest film underway, Haussman is making an aggressive push on the commercial and music video front, which is his focus and passion. Under the Slash Dynamic banner, Person Films will also be curating an international roster of filmmakers that speaks to the global vision of the company, within the U.S. market. 

Tanya Cohen, managing director of Slash Dynamic, said, “Michael is a powerful filmmaker and brilliant storyteller who has achieved great success across multiple platforms. The Slash team is highly motivated to be a part of this next phase with him. This alliance will bring inspiring opportunities for Michael in commercials and amp up the process, while simultaneously building the Person Films brand in the U.S.”

Haussman shared, “I have always felt it is important for a filmmaker, artist or storyteller to create in all mediums – long form, commercials, art, music – so each time we embark on a project, we are bringing something new, alternative and fresh to the table, learned from our past project. Now after coming off a film and series, I am excited to jump back into the rich, distilled storytelling world of advertising with Tanya and Slash, who we have formed a close, creative collaboration and trust.”

Person’s Leroy Beaulieu added, “It was an idea many years in our heads, and now after the film, the series, and all that has changed in our industry in these last two years, we have finally made our decision to bring Person films into the great hands of Tanya and Slash Dynamic. A lot of thought and experience went behind this decision, so we could not be more excited to enter 2021 in this relationship.

Slash Dynamic is represented by Ann McKallagat of PI Representation on the East Coast. Jeanie Dimaggio of Dimaggio Reps on the West Coast, and Tracy Bernard and Robin Stevens of Ideal Partners in the Midwest.

Read more at Shot Online


The Hollywood News: ‘Edge of the World’ review

Jonathan Rhys Meyers steps into the shoes of Sir James Brooke in the latest historical epic, Edge of the World. The real-life version of Sir James Brooke is thought to have been one of the inspirations for Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. Brooke was an adventurer who fought against pirates and slavery and became a ruler of his own kingdom in Borneo as King of Sarawak. Edge of the World joins Brooke as he arrives onto Borneo’s sandy shores and recounts his story across the years from explorer to leader to his eventual end. 

Director Michael Haussman has spent most of the last thirty years working in the medium of music videos. He’s responsible for Madonna’s Take a Bow, and Justin Timberlake’s Sexyback to name just two from his catalogue. A lot of film directors make the jump from music videos to features, but where many try to maintain that same edgy and frenetic energy found within them, Haussman has gone a different route. Edge of the World is a thoughtfully-paced drama that lavishly takes its time telling the story, allowing the audience to marinate in the era. By spending so much time focused on the feeling of the time, Haussman manages to capture the spirit, beauty, and underlying danger of the film’s jungle setting wonderfully. The job is so thorough that you can almost feel the oppressive heat and mugginess pouring off the screen.

Read more at The Hollywood News


Boston Herald: ‘Edge of the World’ noteworthy period adventure

The period adventure film “Edge of the World” tells the fact-based tale of Captain James Brooke, a 19th century adventurer who becomes the Rajah of Sarawak in the Asian island country Borneo, which is almost twice the size of England. Great Britain is Brooke’s homeland. But he was born and raised in India, and he has a uniquely critical view for his time of British colonialism. In 1839, the film’s setting, Britain ruled over half the world.

Directed by the expatriate American artist and filmmaker Michael Haussman, who has an impressive eye for visuals, “Edge of the World” captures the idea of belonging nowhere. In many ways, Brooke is searching for a homeland. 

Read more at Boston Herald


Official US Trailer for ‘Edge of the World’ with Jonathan Rhys Meyers

“Might I be allowed to go up river?” Samuel Goldwyn Films has released an official US trailer for a colonial historic thriller titled Edge of the World, a jungle crusade movie from director Michael Haussman. We already posted the epic UK trailer one month ago. The film takes us on the true “adventures” of Sir James Brooke, who defied the British Empire to rule a jungle kingdom in 1840s Borneo, embarked on a lifelong crusade to end piracy, slavery and head-hunting, and partly inspired both the Rudyard Kipling story “The Man Who Would Be King” and Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim”. To save his people, he must shed Englishness and embrace the jungle: “All of it, the beauty and the blood.” The film stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brooke, along with Dominic MonaghanRalph InesonHannah NewJosie Ho, & Bront Palarae. This looks like a very powerful story of defiant men. As grand as The New World or Hearts of Darkness. I’m not sure why it’s going direct-to-VOD this summer, but maybe we should all be keeping an eye on this one.

You can also watch the first official UK trailer for Haussman’s Edge of the World here, to see more footage.

The movie charts the true story of Sir James Brooke, the English adventurer who partly inspired Rudyard Kipling story The Man Who Would Be King and Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim. Brooke fought pirates and slavery to rule a kingdom larger than England in the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo, where the movie was filmed with support from the Sarawak Tourism Board and Malaysia’s Federal FIMI film rebate. Edge of the World is directed by American artist / writer / filmmaker Michael Haussman, director of the films Rhinoceros Hunting in BudapestBlind Horizon, and A Study in Gravity previously, and a bunch of music videos as well. The screenplay is written by Rob Allyn. Produced by Josie Ho, Conroy Chi-Chung Chan, and Rob Allyn. The project was once known as White Rajah. The film arrives in the UK this June. And Goldwyn Films will release Haussman’s Edge of the World in the US direct-to-VOD starting on June 4thIntrigued?

Read more: Firstshowing.net


Flickering Myth: New trailer for Edge of the World starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Dominic Monaghan

Samuel Goldwyn Films has released a poster and trailer for director Michael Haussman’s adventure drama Edge of the World which stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Dominic Monaghan, and Josie Ho; take a look here…

move poster edge of the world michael

In 1839, Brooke flees Victorian England to explore Borneo. After a pirate attack, Brooke allies with rival princes to seize a rebel fort. To save prisoners from beheading, Brooke agrees to be crowned Rajah. James begs the Royal Navy for a steamship to fight pirates, but the British want his kingdom as a colony. Makota’s pirates massacre Brooke’s capital, leaving James half-dead. To save his people, he must shed Englishness and embrace the jungle: “All of it, the beauty and the blood.”

Edge of the World is set for release on June 4th.

Read more: Flickeringmyth.com


Jonathan Rhys Meyers Into the Jungle in ‘Edge of the World’ Trailer

“Now matter how far you run, you can never escape yourself…” Whoa, this trailer! Signature has released an official trailer for an epic new colonial historic thriller titled Edge of the World, a jungle crusade movie from filmmaker Michael Haussman. The film takes us on the true “adventures” of Sir James Brooke, who defied the British Empire to rule a jungle kingdom in 1840s Borneo, embarked on a lifelong crusade to end piracy, slavery and head-hunting, and partly inspired both the Rudyard Kipling story “The Man Who Would Be King” and Joseph Conrad’s novel “Lord Jim”. The film stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brooke, along with Dominic MonaghanRalph InesonHannah NewJosie Ho, & Bront Palarae. Wow this looks incredible! Reminds me of something as grand as The New World or The Lost City of Z in terms of taking us on this magnificent journey deep into the jungle to explore humanity. It’s an impressive must watch trailer.

Read more: IMDbFirstshowing.net


LBB: The Future Is Short

PULSE FILMS’ MICHAEL HAUSSMAN WRITES FROM THE CANNES TELEVISION FESTIVAL WHERE HIS STANDOUT SHORT-FORM SERIES DO NOT DISTURB HAS BEEN WINNING PLAUDITS

I’ve always been obsessed with short formats.

I like short stories, especially from Sam Shepard and Paul Bowles.

A collection makes up a bigger overall idea and theme, which can sometimes be more profound than a longer movie or book.

Making something short is an art, where every component counts.

Being meticulous with each frame.

The craft that commercial directing has taught me is how to tell gripping cinematic narratives in very short time frames.

I love long-form. I’m working on two features and a television project right now, but I will always have a deep love for short-form storytelling. In this attention economy, where there are more options and competition for eyeballs than ever, it strikes me that the future of entertainment is about diversity and variety. The best short-form series have contained character-led stories, propulsive narratives and surprise, which is its strongest attribute.

Last year I created a series with writer Larry Volpi called Do Not Disturb. As a director I have spent a lot of my time in hotel rooms around the world, hanging that little sign outside the door to afford some privacy, along with hundreds of thousands of others. Everyone hangs that sign for a different reason, because in a hotel room you have complete privacy, or at least the illusion of that. And so, every day a hundred thousand stories play out on private stages across the world, and that became the springboard for Do Not Disturb, a short hotel room anthology series.

We wanted to make it a true anthology. A mix of genres – horror, drama, comedy, thriller – every episode a space for an actor to come in and make the stage their own. It was intentionally designed to be a theatre for craft – a playground for production and sound design, acting, directing, editing… cinema. So in creating the series, we made space for this to be a love-letter to the craft of short storytelling, and worked with the most talented forces in the film and television industry, from the other directors I brought on – Jude Law (making his directorial debut), Zoe Cassavetes, Jake Chapman, Mounia Akl, Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace, and Matt Huston to the most brilliant actors Monica Bellucci, Jack Huston, Suki and Imogen Waterhouse, Daniel Mays, and Robert Emms. One of the great advantages of short-form is the space it allows for experimentation, both with talent and ideas.

With each episode confined to a hotel room that we never leave, the laws of space and time set hard boundaries within which we could play. We never wanted the audience to know where a story would take them – each character is never quite who they seem. There’s a human truth behind every door that, despite the best will in the world, we’re all this close to being exposed.

We were invited to premiere at Cannes Series this year, and I’m writing this from the balcony of my hotel room in the hills, after watching ten of the best international short-form series play. I was struck by the richness and craftsmanship at work in this new format for television – and how much diversity there is in approaches. It’s easy to make a glib statement that the future of television is in shorter lengths. And that would be a mistake. The industry is still learning what to do with short-form, though it’s clear the audience wants more. It’s exciting that the entertainment world has room for so many different ideas and expressions, and as someone who is passionate about the craft of storytelling, I’m proud to be one of the filmmakers translating those skills into the new frontier of short-form entertainment, creating a new breed of television.


Variety

CANNESERIES. WATCH PULSE FILMS’ STAR-STUDDED BUT UNSEEN ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ (EXCLUSIVE)

 
One of the favorites heading into this year’s Canneseries Short-Form Competition has to be the star-studded anthology series “Do Not Disturb,” spearheaded by the U.K.’s Pulse Films in association with Blackpills Studio.

Michael Haussman and Larry Volpi created the series, and its nine, 10-minute episodes were written by the two along with Olivia Poulet, Mike O’Leary, Nida Manzoor and Davey Spens.

“Do Not Disturb” takes the audience behind the little plastic placards we hang on hotel-room door handles when we need a nap, want to be left alone, or perhaps up to something a bit more adult, as is often the case in this show.

Some episodes are comedies, some terrifying and others sultry, but each explores the darker side of humanity that is often kept behind closed doors.

The series’ directors include Haussman, Jude Law, Jake Chapman, Mounia Akl, Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace, Zoe Casavettes and Matthew Huston. It’s produced by Pulse Films, Person Films & Riff Raff with Blackpills Studio.

Monica Bellucci highlights a cast of major film and TV stars featuring, among others: Ralph Ineson (“The Witch”) Jack Huston (“American Hustle”), Daniel Mays (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”), Sophie Cookson (“Kingsman”), Robert Emms (“War Horse”), Edward Holcroft (“Kingsman”), Suki Waterhouse (“The Girl Who Invented Kissing”), Imogen Waterhouse (“Nocturnal Ani
mals”) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (“Misfits”).

Creator-writer-director Michael Haussman answered questions from Variety ahead of the show’s CanneseriesShort Forms world premiere.

Anthology series seem an ideal format for short-form. Can you talk about some advantages of the format for “Do Not Disturb”?

Anthology is great for short form because you can create a season of different genres- comedy, horror to drama – which play to the strength of how short-form series are discovered and consumed, each bite offering something different. In our series the audience is dropped into several short, provocative setups in hotel rooms around the world, with the energy constantly moving, and the audience never quite knowing where they’ll go next or what they’ll find. Short format plays to its advantage, continuously ratcheting up the stakes and tension, keeping the characters and stories twisting until the end.

Was the series always intended to be short-form?

Our series was purpose-built for short-form, as hotel stories are best chronicled in short antidotes or crazy experiences which we all can relate to in our travels. It mirrors the thousands of dramas that play out in hotel rooms every day, everywhere, when the Do Not Disturb sign is left hanging.

Audiences just seem to be coming around to short-form TV, and will likely be impressed with the casting in “Do Not Disturb.” How did the big-name actors in the series come to be involved?

From the start we built a vehicle for talent with constantly twisting story lines motivated by the characters. Who you meet in the beginning is never who they are in the end.  This freedom to evolve and change in such a short time frame was unique and resonated with high-level talent both in front, and behind the camera.

The series is world premiering at Canneseries, which has become perhaps the most important showcase for this format. Can you talk about what it means to have your series as part of the official competition lineup there?

As the short-form format market has grown, a few festivals have turned a spotlight on this new breed of television, none more prestigious than Cannes. We were thrilled to be invited to join the Official Competition lineup.

Read the full article at Variety


Vogue Paris: Catherine Deneuve est l’invitée star d’un film de Noël signé Roger Vivier

À l’occasion des fêtes de fin d’année et du lancement de la ligne Très Vivier spécial Noël, Roger Vivier dévoile une réinterprétation du Duo des Chats de Gioachino Rossini, un air populaire et humoristique du XIXème siècle. Derrière la caméra de Michael Haussman, Nadia Tereszkiewicz incarne deux sœurs jumelles qui représentent la pièce devant leur famille, un soir de Noël. Au rythme effréné de la partition originale, le duo s’emballe, se déchaîne jusqu’à se battre sous le regard malicieux de la mère, jouée par Catherine Deneuve, qui a attisé leur rivalité. La cause de la querelle ? L’unique boîte de souliers Roger Vivier que tient la mère. Un court-métrage ironique et passionné qui a séduit Catherine Deneuve, muse de Roger Vivier. “Lorsque Gherardo [Gherardo Felloni, le nouveau directeur artistique de Roger Vivier] m’a expliqué le projet et l’ironie de l’intrigue, ma curiosité a tout de suite été piquée. Jouer un rôle en fonction du tempo d’une chanson est quelque chose que je n’avais encore jamais fait“.

Read the full article in Vogue Paris