Five Questions with Shani Hinton
09 June 2021
Film Producer Shani Hinton is behind the sports documentary King Otto. Hinton has worked as a producer for 10 years – and behind some incredible films including Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (2019), Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2017), The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (2012) and many more.
1. How did you first come across King Otto and what made you want to come onboard?
I met Chris a few years ago and knew he was someone I wanted to work with. This story runs through the veins of all Greeks and hearing Chris’ vision for how to document this great event gave me goosebumps. He is a perfectionist which I love. Every detail is important to him and you can see his passion on the screen.
2. Are you a football fan and which team do you go for?
Liverpool fan – it seems I go for German coaches. I love the big tournaments and the way they catch a whole country and bring it together to support their team, however unlikely the win. I remember cycling through Amsterdam during the 2014 World Cup and when the Dutch scored the whole city seemed to lift off the ground. It was magical and sport is the perfect medium for spreading this feeling.
3. You have an extensive career working on documentaries. What do you believe sets documentaries apart from other forms of film?
I feel that documentary is the best form to tell a story and make a real impact. I love feature film for escapism but my passion is for bringing true stories to the screen. Docs such as The Cove, Game Changers, Black Fish, Seaspiracy – they all have the power to change lives and I am always looking for stories on subjects that are really important to me. As Stanley Matthews said, football is not a matter of life and death – it is more important than that. King Otto is in the face of it a football story but actually for me it is about empathy, about the power people have to change the course of their lives and the strength that collaboration brings. I must have seen the film over 20 times and every time it restores my faith in humanity.
4. When deciding to work on a film, what are some of the key things you look for in a script?
The director and the team and your response to the subject. It is such an intense experience where many things will not go to plan and it is how you deal with those issues, how you support each other when the challenges arise that is the key.
5. What do you believe to be the most important skill to have as a producer?
To facilitate the vision of the director and to protect the film they have created. The producer needs to see both the creative and the business aspect and align the two. Each film takes over your life for many years and you need to nurture it as you bring it into the world.
King Otto re-tells the incredible story of the Greek National Football Team, who went from never winning a single match or even scoring a goal in a major tournament, to taking down the giants of world football. King Otto is in Australian cinemas now.