Holly Hardman entered the field as a researcher and worked for Rolling Stone, PBS, and Twentieth Century Fox in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, Hardman began writing, directing, and producing short films. Her shorts were regulars on the decade’s underground film circuit and were distributed by New Day, insound, and M/W/F Video. Her first narrative feature, Besotted, was released theatrically by Artistic License Films. Hardman directed and produced her first documentary feature Good People Go to Hell, Saved People Go to Heaven (IDFA 2012) after the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. Her current project, As Prescribed, began production in 2014 after her personal encounter with the perils of a prescribed benzodiazepine. Hardman lives in western Massachusetts.
Her film, As Prescribed, is part of BIFF 2022.
What was your first experience on a film set?
This might be of interest to the BIFF community. In 1978 or 1979, while living in Boston, I was asked to work as an extra and stand-in on a film titled A Small Circle of Friends. My first day on the set called for a street scene near the corner of Arlington and Newbury. One of the lead actors, Jameson Parker, was directed to ride a bicycle past me and a few other Boston types by what was then the Ritz-Carlton. Lo and behold, who does the actor’s character run into, or better said, crash into, but an old college (girl)friend, played by none other than Berkshire County’s beloved Karen Allen, then an up-and-coming Hollywood actress, in one of her first starring roles. Both Jameson and Karen were particularly nice to our little extras group. I recall Karen playing a mean harmonica.
What was the first film you directed/wrote?
After having worked in the mainstream media and Hollywood studio system in Los Angeles for the better part of the 1980s, I savored the free expression I enjoyed in the New York underground art and film world after leaving Los Angeles behind. The first film I wrote was a 1/2 hour video short titled White Trash at Heart, a satire that used the films of David Lynch as a means to comment on the glamorization of American trash culture. It was distributed by M/W/F Video, which was pretty dreamy at the time. My first full directing credit was on an 8-minute B&W short film titled Pray Tell, Damozel. I took the maiden course at the New York Film Academy in 1992 and shot a bunch of cool footage with a couple of classmates that I finished it as an indie short the following year. The film screened at the IFFM market in New York in 1993 and had its festival premiere at the Hamburg Kurzfilm Festival the following year. Pray Tell Damozel was distributed by both M/W/F Video and New Day Films. And then I came down with CFS/ME, which kind of put a damper on things for a while.
Who is your favorite filmmaker?
Favorite? Oh, so many! For narrative fiction, I’ll go with Luis Bunuel, Eric Rohmer, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Jane Campion. Favorite documentary filmmaker? You are asking the impossible. There are so, so many brilliant documentary filmmakers. A few I am happy to mention: Frederick Wiseman, Barbara Kopple, Joshua Oppenheimer, the Maysles Brothers, Kirsten Johnson…that’s a start.
What are you working on that no one knows about?
I am hoping to further develop a brain-injury-focused nonprofit I started called Invisible Together. Finishing my current film, As Prescribed, necessitated stepping away from that effort. I am hoping to partner As Prescribed’s outreach with Invisible Together’s social action mission once As Prescribed has had a chance to find its way in the world.