EXCLUSIVE – Dom Hemingway Writer & Director Richard Shepard “Jude Law Was Fully Invested”

    Dom Hemingway will screen at the Florida Film Festival in early April. Shepard dishes on the story behind Dom Hemingway and working with Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke.

    By Jacob Engels

    Last week, local filmmaker Jason Jack Underwood and I attended the preview party for the the Florida Film Festival – which will be running from April 4th to 13th at the Enzian Theater in Maitland.


    Dom Hemingway – Richard Shepard’s latest project starring Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke, and Demian Bichir was a crowd favorite in the packed theater as members of the press & festival sponsors were allowed to indulge in over 80 trailers of films selected to play at the festival.


    We tweeted about the reaction and Richard Shepard was nice enough to favorite our tweet and agree to the interview. Mr. Underwood developed the questions and his Q&A with Shepard is below.

    So who is Dom Hemingway and what is his story? 


    RS: Dom Hemingway is an unlikely anti-hero, a man who shoots off his mouth and shoots himself in the foot at very turn. He’s sort of hard to like, and impossible not to care for. Dom is just out of prison, trying to get his life in order and failing spectacularly. 


    What in your life inspired this story?


    RS : I wrote Dom with abandon, just letting him take me where he wanted to go.  It was fun to write and even more fun to film. 


    How long did it take from concept to completion with Dom Hemingway? Tell us about the writing process, casting, location scouting and your directing philosophy. 


    RS: We shot in London, the Isle of Man and the south of France. It was a quick shoot, but we were lucky enough to have a long rehearsal period with Jude, so we were prepared and ready to go. Jude was fully invested, going so far as to come to casting sessions and read opposite the actors trying out for roles. It was a great collaboration. We both knew that Jude needed to really let himself go in order for Dom to work, and he did. Seriously, I had more fun making this movie than anything I’ve ever done before.


    What are the most important things you look for in people when assembling a team for your projects?


    RS: You want a group of people who are passionate, caring and smart. Making a movie is like summer camp. It’s stressful but it’s also fun. Enjoying the process is vitally important, so collecting a great group of people to push you and improve what you’re doing, while also being fun to hangout with it is vitally important. You have to cast your crew with as much care as you cast your actors. 


    What was it about Jude Law that made him the best choice for the role of Dom Hemingway?


    RS: I was a big fan of Jude’s and thought he was ready to try something different and really let go. Sometimes it’s just luck that the actor you want is looking for a challenge. The timing worked out on this. Jude responded to the script and was ready to take a chance. We had a blast making this. We both loved Dom, flaws and all, deeply.


    What was it like working with Demian Bichir (Weeds) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)? 


    RS : Emilia auditioned with Jude and after her audition we were both like “it’s her!” We actually went out after her, so that we could tell her in person she got the part. That was really fun, Emilia plays Dom’s daughter Evelyn. Jude called Evelyn “Dom’s kryptonite.” She was great. And she sings in the movie too. Demian is just a spectacular actor. I was lucky to get him. We assembled a great cast. Richard E. Grant, star of what I consider the best comedy ever made “Withnail and I” is also in the film. I wrote the part for him. 


    Tell us one thing that happened during filming that no one else knows about.


    RS: If I told you, I’d have to kill you. 


    If you’re able to share, what would you say was your greatest obstacle throughout this endeavor?


    RS: Getting any movie made is a miracle. Especially dark comedies that aren’t cookie cutter. Dom is an original, and that makes it hard to get it financed. Luckily we did, by the skin of our teeth. But once the money was in the bank the process was actually pretty easy. It helps that our producer Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor, Sexy Beast) is the last of the old school Brit producers – wily and tenacious. 


    Will you or anyone from the film be attending the Florida Film Festival screening of Dom Hemingway?


    RS: Still working that out.


    Don Hemingway certainly has an adventure ahead of itself – what’s next for you? Have you had things on the back-burner while you were focusing on Dom Hemingway that you will be able to focus on once more now that it is complete? 


    RS. I direct a lot of television pilots. I did the first episodes of Ugly Betty, Criminal Minds, and Ringer. A new one I directed, Salem premieres on April 20 on WGNAmerica.


    To learn more about how you can attend the Florida Film Festival, click here.


    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at info@eastorlandopost.com