Shawn Hainsworth AKA Darin S. Cape is the founder of SHP Comics. He writes and publishes comic books, writes short stories and screenplays, and produces and directs independent film. SHP Comics is an independent publisher focused on delivering genre-bending storytelling melding horror, sci-fi, and adventure into daring and intelligent stories. Founded by Shawn Hainsworth, SHP is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of storytelling in the medium and subverting reader's expectations in the process. SHP stories ditch the capes and tights in favor of dark, gritty, and fun storytelling.
Your project has been entered into our festival. What is your project about? Technical Support is about a lonely middle-aged man who falls in love with his new sex robot. But when she glitches, he's forced to make a painful and awkward call to customer service. On the surface, the film is a comedy about a man struggling with technology, something we can all relate to, especially the experience of being frustrated with, or in this case, threatened by technology. On a deeper level, the film is about love and sex and the implications of bringing technology into the bedroom.
What are your ambitions with your project? Technical Support is a proof of concept for a series entitled EroTech. EroTech is the name of the fictional company which makes and sells a line of advanced sex robots. Through SHP Comics, I have been writing and publishing the series, which can be described as a combination of The Office or Silicon Valley with Westworld, minus the cowboys. It is character driven and dramatic but extremely funny as you can imagine the awkward situations which arise while trying to develop, debug and test a working sex robot.
Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you? The shoot was a day and half at two locations in Brooklyn, NY. We were fortunate to have a very experienced crew, and everything went smoothly. The most pleasant surprise was the incredible work of the actors. It was such a pleasure to see Courtney, Davey and Aparna develop the characters, bringing out the humor and pathos in subtle ways which added so much to the finished film.
For what group of spectators is your film targeted? I think this film will appeal to a broad, mature audience. It is short, funny, and universal in the awkward struggles we all have with the increasing use of technology in our lives.
Why should distributors buy your film? Unfortunately, this film is not for sale. It was made as an experimental film under an agreement with the Directors Guild of America which precludes sales. However, we do hope to develop the idea as a series or feature as soon as possible.
How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film? My writing, in both screenplays and comic books, aims to be daring and intelligent. I seek to create original, fun, genre-bending stories which subvert viewers' expectations.
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker? I have always wanted to be a storyteller and have loved movies since I was a child. I studied film at Harvard in the mid-1980s with Ross McElwee, Robert Gardner, Robb Moss and Alfred Guzzetti. The focus of the department was on ethnography, personal documentary and cinéma verité. It was at this time that I was inspired to become a filmmaker. It has been a long road since my days as an undergraduate, but I am thrilled to be finally working to tell my own stories as a filmmaker.
Who is your role model? There are so many filmmakers that I admire, but whenever I imagine the ideal producer/director for my stories, I always think of the Cohen brothers for their originality, complex characters, and unique sense of comedy. I admire their ability to write original screenplays and to structure and adapt novels such as True Grit and No Country For Old Men which are both faithful to the source material and extraordinary films.
Which movies are your favorites? Why? I have too many favorite movies from different countries and time periods to attempt a list. However, I always return to Japanese cinema, particularly from the post-war period. From the impeccably constructed family dramas of Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse to the more experimental works of Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) and Kaneto Shindō (Onibaba), to samurai classics from Masaki Kobayashi and Akira Kurosawa.
Where do you look for inspiration for your films? As a comic book publisher, I am always inspired by the sophisticated visual storytelling in comics. As a filmmaker, I spend most of my viewing hours watching the films in the Criterion Collection or on the Criterion Channel. Which topics interest you the most? I enjoy exploring topics related to core aspects of human nature, the irrational and emotional, such as our sexual drives and capacity for religious experience, packaging these ideas in genre-bending stories with a healthy dose of satire and fun. EroTech attempts to pose fundamental questions about the conflicts between our sexual desires and social responsibilities in a story that is funny and original. Through SHP Comics I am developing a horror-comedy mashup entitled Woodstake about a vampire who descends on the Woodstock music festival in 1969, wrapping the social change of the hippie generation in a story that is dark, funny, and scary. Finally, I am developing an epic science fiction series entitled The Hand of God, about religious experience and origin of life in the universe, also published through SHP Comics.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career? I consider starting SHP Comics my greatest achievement. I have been able to produce and publish my stories, connect directly with readers and fans, and to develop my intellectual property for film and television.
What do you consider most important about filming? I am a huge advocate of pre-production and planning. Filming is a complex, expensive and time-pressured endeavor. Proper pre-production allows for more creativity on the set, as well as more time to allow the director, actors and crew to find those connections, shots and performance moments which can make all of the difference in the editing suite.
Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best? I don't consider film technique to exist in a vacuum. The best technique at any given moment is the technique which best tells the story visually, develops a character, or reinforces a theme within a unified whole.
How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking? I think we are in a golden age of global filmmaking. With access to see (and learn from) almost any film ever made as well as inexpensive, high-quality equipment available around the world, it is more possible now for anyone to make a film than at any point in history.
What can disappoint you in a movie? Most often what disappoints me in a movie is the script. It is extremely difficult to write a script that is original and well structured, as well as emotionally and intellectually satisfying. I have always admired Jean-Claude Carrière, who wrote so many extraordinary scripts for different directors (Pierre Étaix, Luis Buñuel, Volker Schlöndorff) over a long and varied career. Who supports you in your film career? My family, my friends, and my community.