Among those gracing the star-studded red carpet premiere of EchoLight Studio’s world-premiere film, “Hoovey,” on Saturday, January 24, 2015, at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, California, was talented Irish-American director, Sean Patrick McNamara.
This latest film from McNamara, who also directed “Soul Surfer,” the stirring surfing story of teenager Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm in a shark attack, something that should have destroyed her life and career in riding the waves. But, upon seeing the devastation in Thailand caused by the 2004 tsunami, Bethany discovers a greater purpose: to make a difference in the lives of others.
“Hoovey” shares the inspirational story based on real-life events of Eric “Hoovey” Elliott, son of retired firefighter, Jeff Elliott and is an inspirational film based on the real life story of how one family overcame the darkest of times.
It was the winner of the 2014 Best Feature Film at L.A. Sunscreen Film Festival and awarded 5 out of 5 Doves from the Dove Foundation for Family Movies.
I began my red carpet interview with this Loyola Marymount Film School graduate, by asking him how “Hoovey” differed from “Soul Surfer,” and with a huge smile, he replied, “Well this one didn’t have a shark in it.” After he had recovered, he then added, “This was just an amazing story about the Elliott family and Eric’s life and just what happened to him. Just like ‘Soul Surfer,’ it is a story of triumphing over adversity — that’s the main thing.”
I then asked him how prepared for a film like this, and he said, “I get the best team that I can possibly get — the best of the best — and then I just read and re-read the story, come up with the right script and then we just got the right actors. I mean everything is about getting great actors.”
Is the writing absolutely vital?
“Writing is everything but it has to be a good story; not too preachy and not a story that hits you over the head,” he stated.
I then asked McNamara, how this movie compared with others he had done, including “Spare Parts,” which now out, and stars George Lopez. This one tells the story of how four Hispanic students form a robotics club, in which the students learn not only how to build a robot, but something far more important: how to forge bonds that will last a lifetime. (This busy man also directed “The Moon And The Sun,” which comes out in April.)
McNamara said, “I’ve enjoyed this just as much, if not more, by hanging with the Elliott family which has been amazing and that’s what you do when you make a film like ‘Hoovey.’”
Back to “Soul Surfer,” I then asked him how on earth he was able to shoot actress AnnaSophia Robb who played Bethany Hamilton, but had both her arms intact? Again, he laughed and said, “She put her arm around her back and we put a green sock on it. So, that’s how we pulled it off.”
I then changed the subject and told McNamara that some critics say that Christian films are not very professional. What were his thoughts on that?
“I say a while ago they were right, but now we’re getting the best writers, actors, directors and making Christian films that stand up to any other films. So now it becomes the best story wins,” he said.
What would you say to a Christian who wants to get into movies as a writer or an actor? What were the steps they needed to take?
Sean McNamara replied, “You’ve got to follow your passion. Right now, it’s never been an easier time to make movies. You can’t see this, but I’m holding up an iPhone and you can actually shoot anything and edit on it one of these. You can put your vision down into something that people can see. Before, if you were a writer, you could write something and people could read it. If you’re a painter you could paint something. But for a filmmaker, it took millions of dollars to make a movie. Now you can do it for next to nothing. So your voice can come out there and I think that’s what is wonderful about film today.”