After spending 20 years living among a group of men and women searching for meaning in Hollywood, now director Will Allen has put it all into film — ‘Holy Hell’ just premiered at Sundance Film Festival.
When Holy Hell was announced, it was without a director — something that Will Allen wanted to stay secret until the film was finished. This is his first feature film, and for him, it was all about putting together a movie about everything he and his friends had gone through, no matter how heartbreaking it may be.
“I think you’ll come into his film and come out with a 20 year experience of what we went though — getting into a cult and getting out of it,” he explained at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. With that, he remembers.
“At that age, when you’re 22, you’re pretty open to trusting authorities that you’re looking for answers with. The film kind of tried to explain why one stays in something like that for so long — like you’re getting some sort of value, you’re giving something away, and you’re also gaining something. At 22, you’ll say yes to everything. [Your leader] was always talking that he could lead you to that place, because he’s been there.”
However, Will also explained that this isn’t for others as much as it’s a lesson for himself. This is his first feature film and will include interviews with fellow cult members. It runs 100 minutes.
“The footage was never shot with the intention of making a movie,” he said. “I felt like it was a way for me to make sense of what happened because I spent 20 years shooting this. It was my life, and when it ended it was very confusing — it was a long term relationship. My focus wasn’t about revenge; my focus wasn’t about helping those people as much as I would love to. It’s really about telling my story, what happened to me, and a group of my fiends. It’s our story. I think that will help anyone just because we’re being very honest and intimate.”