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Meet Xavier Hamel of After Hours Studios in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xavier Hamel.

Xavier, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Longueuil, a suburban town on the south shore of Montreal, Canada. I was always passionate by cinema since I can’t remember and at the age of 13, I gave birth to my first full-length feature film, a tacky horror movie pastiche. Not surprisingly, I’ve always been fascinated by the macabre, the avant-garde, the surreal and villainous. This was my first step towards developing an aesthetic based on the things I love, and one that was distinctly my own.

I then studied photography in college and then earned a BFA in Film Productions at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema of Concordia University. I worked in video stores most of my early adult life, hanging in the horror section while directing music videos for local artists and few short films that travels through festivals.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Unfortunately, my plans were temporarily stifled when I developed a strange syndrome called Guillain-Barré. I guess you could say I had an Uma Thurman Kill Bill moment, trying to move my big toe with little success. For eight months, I was left disabled, paralyzed, a prisoner of my own body where my wheelchair became my partner in crime. It was during this period that I had a lot of time to reflect, dream, and plan. I also came to realize how truly fragile we all are. This reality check changed my life’s perspective, my viewpoint on body image and also allowed me to step out of my comfort zone.

In the aftermath, I decided to move to Los Angeles, a six-month whirlwind that swept me up into the arms of the city – an instant love. I went on to complete my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Montreal before escaping the states altogether and finally relocating to Berlin, where I explored creatively and spiritually, met the most inspiring people and then apply to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the MFA Film Directing program. CalArts was the logical continuation of my education and personal journey – a natural fit.

Please tell us about After Hours Studios.
I founded After Hours Studios with CalArts alumni and producer extraordinaire Sarah El Khawand. We’ve been collaborating together since day one producing each other’s projects, wearing all the hats and it’s been a learning and rewarding journey. For now, our focus is on music videos. It’s an exercise that challenges teamwork where both the artist and the director have to be on the same page in order to pave a creative path in unison.

One video that I am particularly proud is our newest, Materialistic by Jove Jupiter, directed by me and produced by Sarah El Khawand. It was completed this month where it has been selected for six film festivals. With this project, we wanted to challenge the roles of innocence and submission while exploring themes of greed and validation in a male sex work context. As the singer’s appetite for men and money grows, he transforms into a man-eating monster.

Here’s the link here:

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Nothing – my past made me who I am. Every day is a personal victory in today’s world and a new opportunity to master your craft and be a better version of yourself which is what I am currently working on. A grand shero of the 21st century named Buffy Summers once said: “Life is short…seize the moment, ‘cause tomorrow you might be dead” and I intend to honor her words.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Matt Ayotte, Sasha Douglas, Melanie May, Kelly Nyland

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