Director David Mackenzie Discusses Shooting & Editing the Western ‘Hell or High Water’

     August 20, 2016


David Mackenzie (Starred Up), a Scotland borne and bred filmmaker, has somehow made the quintessential American film of our times. Hell or High Water, on the surface, may seem like your run-of-the-mill ‘bank-robbers vs. cops’ Western; but just underneath, the film ably touches upon today’s political vitriol towards banks, towards government, towards political-correctness, towards [insert subject of ire here]. Yet the film itself isn’t so much angry as it is reflective – which is to say Hell or High Water isn’t necessarily about whether this anger is justified or not; but why it exists in the first place. What are the conditions that have led to today’s animosity and is there any way back?

hell-or-high-water-imageMackenzie working with longtime cinematographer Giles Nuttgens perfectly captures the sun-soaked despair of the dying ‘West’ – images of boarded up homes, a cattle rancher moving his herd away from an encroaching fire, uncut grass slowly withering into grey heaps… One could almost be mistaken to think Mackenzie a native Texan himself.

In the following interview with the filmmaker, he discusses perfecting ‘the look’ of Hell or High Water, his ten-plus year working relationship with Nuttgens and the editing process on the film.

David Mackenzie:

  • David Mackenzie on perfecting the look of Hell or High Water
  • On referencing other films/shots during production
  • On his relationship with cinematographer Giles Nuttgens
  • On how Hell or High Water shifted during the editing process
  • On his process of showing the movie to the cast

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