My Week: Gillies MacKinnon, Director of `Hideous Kinky'

Sunday

Arrived back in England late this evening, jet-lagged and flu-ridden.

I have just been to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah - a festival co- founded by Robert Redford which celebrates independent films. I am delighted with the positive response Hideous Kinky received there. I was a bit worried about how it would go down with an American audience because the rhythm of the film is deliberately meandering - not fulfilling the fast-paced, action-packed conditions of so many Hollywood blockbusters. Another anxiety was that the hippie aspirations of Kate Winslet's character might not be received with much sympathy by the more puritanical elements of American culture, particularly as Utah is very much Mormon territory.

I'm happy to say that all my fears were dispelled - they loved it.

Monday

I got a pleasant surprise today. The editor of my last film, Regeneration, called; she said she was on her way to the Canadian Geni awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars) as the film has been nominated for 11 awards - nice to be told! Everyone presumes you already know because you're the director... but not necessarily.

I've been looking at story-boards and illustrations for a new project all afternoon. It's going to be called The Water Horse and will be set in my home country - Scotland. Like HK, it's going to be low budget and independent. I have tried working on mainstream big-budget films; I once directed a film starring Steve Martin called A Simple Twist of Fate and I really felt restricted by the Hollywood studio that was funding it. I think the advantages of artistic and directorial freedom offered by independent films far outweigh the financial disadvantages of having less commercial backing.

Tuesday

My brother Billy rang from Australia this morning. He wrote the screenplay for HK so he was over the moon when I told him about the Sundance Festival and said that Australian critics seemed to like it too. He's cutting one of the films in Tube Tales at the moment, which is a collection of short films set on the London Underground - God knows why he's doing it in Sydney.

A writer has come over here from New York to work on another project which is currently in the pipeline. It is an historical film based on the story of Alfred the Great. We spent hours discussing ideas and putting a plot together. I love this stage of development, because there are just no limits - you can be as creative as you like.

Wednesday

I had the difficult task of being on the jury for the Bafta short-film awards. We watched 20 films and selected a short-list. It was a real privilege to do, but excruciatingly difficult.

Later on, I wrote a letter to Kate. I think she feels quite exposed at the moment - after her massive success in Titanic, everyone is waiting with bated breath to see whether she'll sink or swim in her next film. I wanted her to know how much people had appreciated her in the States - strangers were stopping me in the streets to give me messages of congratulation to pass on to her.

Went to Soho House with friends tonight to have a drink and wind down. Slightly apprehensive about how the British reviews are going to be tomorrow, but so far so good...

Thursday

Did an interview for GLR today. Most of the publicity and promotions for HK have already been done, but there is a last-minute push as the film is on general release from tomorrow.

I am so pleased with the brilliant press reviews today. In general, I think they pick up and appreciate the mood and subtleties of Hideous Kinky. There was only one poor review - it suggested that the film came to nothing more substantial than a collection of holiday snaps. I thought it was the most mean-spirited little review, totally missing the point of the film. Ironically, it was The Independent's.

Friday

7.30am start. Spoke to the producer Ann Scott about yesterday's reviews; she was in a good mood. I'm thinking of slipping in to a showing of HK tonight. I like observing reactions incognito from the general public. It's often more brutal, but always more honest than the glitz and glamour of celebrity premieres.

Interview by Jane Bowers

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