Hellhound Productions Inc was formed in 2003 in London , England as a platform for Alison Murray’s own productions in both documentary and fiction .
In 2004 HELLHOUND expanded beyond film to become a co-producer of Carnesky’s Ghost Train - a real ghost train ride featuring live performers and magic illusion . This phantasmagorical journey started up in London’s Brick Lane August 2004 , and played at the Brit Awards and Glastonbury Festival in 2005 to rave reviews . Carnesky’s Ghost Train is now permanently installed on the mythic Blackpool seafront .
The company then relocated to Toronto , bringing on board Kathleen Smith as producer. Kathleen is now showcasing her work as a director through Hellhound .
The company is currently developing Alison Murray’s new fictional feature film , Jumbos Clown Room, a coproduction with Buffalo Gal Pictures , as well as several other projects .
Alison Murray was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. She studied dance and theatre at Dartington College of Art ( U.K.) and completed a B.A. ( Hons ) in Visual and Performing Arts at Brighton University, before receiving an M.A. in Film Direction at London’s Royal College of Art. She now splits her time between Toronto and Buenos Aires.
Currently Alison is developing a new fictional feature film Jumbos Clown Room in collaboration with Buffalo Gal Pictures.
Her latest feature documentary Caprichosos de San Telmo , which she shot on location in Buenos Aires, premiered in the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 , and also played in the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Film.
In 2007 Alison’s feature documentary Carny , following the secret life of fairground workers , broadcast on the Sundance Channel , Channel 4 UK and TVO . It premiered in the Hot Docs Festival , Toronto , and won best documentary in the Brooklyn International Film Festival.
2004 saw completion of Mouth to Mouth, Alison’s first fictional feature film as writer and director . Hellhound is associate producer of the project , executive produced by Atom Egoyan . Starring Oscar Nominee Ellen Page , the film features Alison’s signature choreographic style , woven into a powerful narrative about a search for belonging . The film premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival and went on to win Best Feature Prizes at the Brooklyn International FIlm Festival , Berlin’s Britspotting Festival , and Festival D’ Annonay , France. Mouth to Mouth was released theatrically in the USA, UK, Canada, and France.
In 2003 Alison worked on an exciting micro budget collaboration with London based rapper Jonzi D. Aeroplane Man is a film adaptation of Jonzi D’s hit theatre show of the same name. It aired on Channel 4 UK. Aeroplane Man was the first production through HELLHOUND, marking the company’s inception.
In 2000 Alison completed Train on the Brain , an hour long documentary for Channel 4 UK and TV Ontario, in which she rode the rails across North America armed with a DV and a Super 8 Camera, following the lives of young hobos . The film won the audience prize at the Hot Springs Film Festival , and also screened at the Seattle Underground Film Festival and the Sheffield International Documentary Festival . In June 2004 Train on the Brain screened to a huge audience at Glastonbury Festival . A DVD of the film was released in 2007.
In 1999 Alison collaborated with theatre maker Marisa Carnesky on her controversial stage show, Jewess Tattooess , creating the film elements of the show and working as a consultant director . (Previously Alison made cameo appearances in Carnesky’s Grotesque Burlesque Revue!) In 20o5 Alison’s company Hellhound became co-producer of the award-winning theatrical Carnesky’s Ghost Train.
Alison’s short films have been receiving critical acclaim since Kissy Suzuki Suck in 1992 . Challenging conceptions of female behaviour , it televised on Channel 4 UK and later in Europe , winning awards at international festivals . This was followed by Wank Stallions , also a festival prizewinner. Pantyhead in 1994 completed this trilogy vivisecting contemporary social attitudes . Pantyhead televised on Channel 4 UK and in Germany, and toured internationally in a program compiled by the Centre Georges Pompidou , Paris . In 1995 Alison made Sleazeburger, shot on location at Coney Island, NYC . The same year she made Horseplay for BBC 2 which explored female friendship through dance.
Many of Alison’s films incorporate her unique approach to dance and in 1996 she received a Paul Hamlyn Award for Choreography . Horseplay won a Silver Key at the International Art Film Festival in Slovakia, and also televised in Holland, Germany and Belgium . Alison then made Bad Mood Woman, for Channel 4 UK, and Cat Food Woman, a sequel, for the opening of Hoxton’s Lux Cinema (London). In 1996 Alison directed Bloody Mess, in which violent screen fantasy meets real life responsibility, for BBC 2. Teenage Rampage, a look at ill-fated romance in South London, was for the 1996 Channel 4 series Midnight Underground . Bare Feet and Crazy Legs , exploring the African roots of jazz dance, was for the Arts Council of England.
Between 1996 and 2002 Alison directed close to twenty music videos for British pop acts such as The Sugababes , Busted , and B*Witched , and was nominated for a CAD award for Best New Director in 1997 , and for Best Pop Video in 2003.
Alison’s artistic activities have spanned from video installations for nightclubs to choreography for the Royal Opera House Garden Venture . She has staged two live theatre works – Decent Citizens and Blood , both in Belgium . The Institute of Contemporary Art in London presented a retrospective of her films in 1997 , and again in 2004 . Another retrospective of her work screened at the Tate Gallery London in 1998 , and at Toronto’s Royal Theatre in 2007 .
photo Hernán Brusa
Kathleen M. Smith is a Toronto-based writer, editor, curator and filmmaker.
She has written feature articles and columns for numerous publications including the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, eye weekly, Toronto Life, Fashion, House & Home, Chatelaine and Azure. She writes regularly about dance for Now magazine in Toronto. Currently, Smith is editor of The Dance Current, Canada’s national dance magazine.
In 1992, Smith co-founded the Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video, where she continued as Artistic Director until 2006. She has programmed film, video and installation work for Harbourfront Centre, Tangente Danse, Pleasure Dome and the Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal, the Images Festival, the Canada Dance Festival, High Performance Rodeo and many other organizations and venues across Canada and in Europe including the Cinématheque de la danse in Paris and regularly for the Brighton Festival in the UK.
Since 2006, Smith has been a Producer with Hellhound Productions where she collaborated with filmmaker Alison Murray on CARNY, an award-winning feature length documentary about traveling carnival workers. Smith also produced the 22 minute PSA Greenhouse for the Social Housing Services Corporation and Bits and Pieces for Domino Records, directed by Stephanie Comilang and featuring the Junior Boys and House of Monroe. Smith continues producing and developing long and short-form projects with Hellhound including Murray’s feature documentary Caprichosos de San Telmo, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011.
In 2007, Smith directed her own first documentary, the 20-minute short Arts in the Hood for the City of Toronto. In 2008, Smith won a Trinity Square Video themed commission for a short experimental film inspired by Werner Herzog called boil fire/stop fish. In 2009, she was commissioned to make a short film for the containR project in Vancouver. supermundane was broadcast on CTV and Bravo! as part of Olympic cultural programming in 2010. In 2011 she completed pop/lock, a short documentary portrait about Toronto street dance, co-funded by the City of Toronto, the Toronto Arts Council and the National Film Board; it premiered at the Regent Park Film Festival in 2011. In 2013 the RPFF commissioned Smith to make Roses, a short film about the South Side Swag dance group.
Smith performs and dramaturges for dance and film on occasion, most recently performing in Ame Henderson’s open field study for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche and Oliver Husain’s short film Purfled Promises (part of the Jack Smith Live! Symposium in Berlin) and acting as an “outside eye” during the creation of Christopher House’s Chiasmata for Toronto Dance Theatre and for Valerie Calam’s Parliament.
Smith has been a jury member for the Gemini Awards and the Dora Mavor Moore Awards and has served on the planning committees for Dancers for Life and Fashion Cares. She sits on the Board of Directors for Series 808 and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. She was a 2011 Yaddo Fellow for Film & Video.
A Hellhound coproduced theatrical spectacle comes to a close after a ten year run!
November 16 2013 – don’t miss it! Watch the trailer here!
“the mot important thing in life is community – not money”
At TIFF she premiered her Caprichosos, which is a documentary about the murga — what she calls “tango’s bastard cousin”.
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