Interview : Stewart Hannah, Awesome Filmmaker

Interview : Stewart Hannah, Awesome Filmmaker

Photo : Stewart Hannah – Writer and director of Holding the Rain

Holding the Rain is a silent short-film which follows a mental health sufferer struggling to live with obsessive compulsive disorder. We chatted to the man behind the film, Scottish filmmaker Stewart Hannah, and discover more about the film, the inspiration behind making it, what makes a great film and what he loves about Scotland.

How would you describe yourself in five words?

Impatient, sarcastic, analytical, optimistic and a dreamer.

We’d love to know more about your new short-film ‘Holding the Rain’

My short film is a two minute silent drama that focuses on a man suffering from mental health issues – more specifically obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and suicidal tendencies. It was filmed in Brisbane, Australia, in February 2018 and was shot and edited using just my iPhone.

What inspired you want to make a film that focussed on the subject of mental health and OCD?

The subject of mental health was something I put a lot of thought into doing as I wanted to tell the story with taste, and also have a message to it. My goal was to create the film with a hopeful ending as I believe it is important that people watching who resonate with the character can come away with a sense of optimism and an “everything is going to be okay” attitude. I’ve never suffered with OCD myself, however I’ve had spells of anxiety throughout my life.

It’s estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. Do you think there are enough support networks, and wider accessible support, for people who need support?

I do think that mental health awareness and support has come so far – specifically in the UK. From my own experience I was given so much support, but the problem is the stigma attached to suffering from a mental illness. This has to change and it can only be changed from speaking out, being unashamed and to not be afraid to have a conversation about it.


A short film focusing on a mental health sufferer struggling to live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Starring Simon Hipkin and written and directed by Stewart Hannah.

“It all starts with the script.” Maybe not, but when do you know a script is ready to shoot?

As it’s a short film the script only took about two hours. I only begin to write when I have the whole story in my head and because this is a silent film with no dialogue it made writing a fairly easy process. I met the actor Simon Hipkin three months before we shot the film. He was a fellow backpacker that I met in Sydney as part of an introductory group. He told me he was an actor, so once we settled in Brisbane I shared the idea with him and it was all go from there.

What film has been the most inspiring or influential to you?

One of the most inspiring films I have ever seen was ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. I was just so impressed by how the filmmakers/author managed to convey a tragic event such as the Holocaust through the eyes of a child and marketed more specifically to educate a younger audience. The soundtrack is also very moving, the screenplay is exceptional and the performances are second-to-none! 

What makes a film great for you?

I don’t think there is an exact formula to making a great film. In my own opinion, an ending that leaves the audience with something to think about – whether it’s a personal connection, a shocking twist or a happily-ever-after – generally makes a film great. If the story is told without being predictable, it’s a good film in my eyes.

“This has to change and it can only be changed from speaking out, being unashamed and to not be afraid to have a conversation about it.”

When did you get interested in filmmaking?

For as long as I can remember I have always had a keen interest in storytelling and once I got my first camera I was off, creating numerous short films with my friends and twin sister. Scriptwriting and video editing is also my passion. I was lucky enough to attend the London Film Academy in 2011 where I learnt almost everything I needed to know to get my head in the game.

As a Scot, what are the Top3 things you love about Scotland?

As I think about this I’m currently traveling South Australia so I guess I look back at home much more fondly than I’d normally do. The people of Scotland are always an interesting bunch but what I like about them is their undying passion. In Australia I have seen so many remarkable scenes, from the Great Barrier Reef to the breathtaking Whitsunday Islands, but personally nothing comes close to the beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer. Of course, I love Scotland because all of my family are there!

What’s next for you?

I’m currently waiting impatiently to see if Holding the Rain will be selected for the international film festival I have entered it into. Fingers tightly crossed. I am also in the pre-production stages of another short film that is due to shoot in Scotland this summer – a very different story to Holding the Rain and much longer. So besides backpacking Australia, I am a very excited and busy man.


About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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