Special Jury Award for Best Director:  How to be a Villain, Helen O’Hanlon

“An ambitious short that playfully combines a complex aesthetic style with a tight narrative, excellent performance and impressive technical skill, to make an original, entertaining film.”

Chloe Roddick

Head of Jury, The Bermuda International Film Festival 2016

The Jury Prize for Directing was scooped by Helen O’Hanlon for her marvellous guide to unleashing your dark side – and this correspondent’s favourite film of BIFF 2016 –How To Be a Villain

Earlier in the week, Villain also won awards for Best Short and Best Actor (the great Terence Harvey) at the Silver Scream Film & Comic Festival in Santa Rosa, California. It also took home the prestigious Forry Ackerman award for Best in Fest.

Simon Braund

Film Critic, Hammer to Nail

Review of SILVER SCREAM FEST, where Villain won Best Short, Best Actor and The Forry Ackermann Imagi-Movie Award:

This short was a fantastic deconstruction of villains. Terence Harvey, an infamous “that one guy” in films plays the supervillain that leads you through his lair, detailing the potential villain you could be, and ends it with dire consequences. This was Helen O’Hanlon’s first short, and she knocked it out of the park.

Tony Southcotte

Film Critic, Human Echoes

Bermuda Film Festival 2016:

“At the heart of the festival – and not simply because it presents an opportunity for a lame joke – is the Global Shorts competition. An Oscar-qualifying event, it attracts hundreds of entries from around the world and, since only fifteen are selected, the quality is exemplary.

Rounding out the program was Helen O’Hanlon’s wonderful, visually imaginative How To Be A Villain, a gothicky black-and-white adaptation of Neil Zawacki’s 2003 guide to becoming your evil alter ego and a loving tribute to the classic Universal horrors of the 30s.”

Simon Braund

Film Critic, Hammer to Nail


This is absolutely my favorite of the 5 shorts. It combines shadow puppetry/animation, haunting yet familiar music, black and white cinematography, and creates a feast for the eyes and ears. It is beyond endearing and should be shown at every Halloween Party everywhere. This fantastic 16 minute film takes every horror cliche and makes them beautiful. It’s a choose your own adventure/ first person shooter thoughtfully crafted for fans of the genre. LOVED IT.

Liz Whittemore

Film Critic, Alliance of Women Film Journalists


“…I am not a fan of horror films and find that I watch cult classics with my fingers clenched over my eyes…. until recently, when I opened both eyes and watched, “How To Be A Villain,” by director Helen O’Hanlon and learned a thing or two about ghoulish style.

Cinematically speaking Ms. Hanlon got it right and I strongly encourage film lovers and filmmakers to find and join Ms. O’Hanlon’s cyber space community.

Take a moment and read this Q & A with Helen O’Hanlon, the director of “How To Be A Villian:  Harlem Focus Interview  “

Lapacazo Sandova

Film Reviewer, Harlem Focus

Helen O’Hanlon’s fabulous funhouse of horror film tropes that features a Supervillain (Terence Harvey) narrating lessons on being evil. He describes costumes and careers, to choices of housing and henchmen. This inventive short, an homage to James Whale and Boris Karloff, includes shadowy clips that reference classic films along with a cheeky commentary. Gary M Kramer

Film Critic, Film International

I couldn’t be happier with the film. It’s a fantastic piece of cinema that manages to capture the dark humor and spooky style from the book. Terence Harvey is superb in the lead role. If you’ve ever thought of becoming a villain, now’s your chance to see if you have what it takes. Neil Zawacki

Author, How To Be A Villain

’Being evil is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle’ – is an opening line by Neil Zawacki from his book with the same name. The short by Helen O’Hanlon is an exquisite film loosely based on the book. It is a suiting introduction for anyone looking for a career opportunity in Evil. Guided by the Supervillain, fabulously portrayed by Terence Harvey, you will be feeling good about your dark side within minutes.

The introduction in vivid colour connects with Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet and after a bumpy opening you land in a familiar black and white horror milieu with wonderful production design and a believable aura of … evil.

Visually the film is a treat. Beautiful cinematography combined with animations and artistic shadow puppeteering, interweaves the narrative with eerie clips reminding me of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. On the whole the look and style of the film is in line with other expressionist classics like Nosferatu and Frankenstein. While the careers in Evil in the book are mostly comical, the film adds a welcomed subtext of social criticism. With some vile hints of dentistry, ophthalmology and the odd hungry gravedigger servant, the end result is just graphic enough to make it a convincing member of the genre without putting off sensitive aspirants. The film reminds us of the necessary attributes for an antagonist in the genre, you learn about clothing and looks, choice of henchmen and finding a suitable lair from which to rule the underworld.

In all, the story works very well and with the added dimensional twist you will be relieved to leave the theater. The stage setting, scenery and ambience are top notch and the same goes for the camerawork, editing and grading. It is evident that O’Hanlon has chosen her architects well. The clever sound-design combined with a large and well-written symphonic background ties everything together into a smooth and well functioning experience.

Now go practice you evil laugh in front of your mirror. Find your inner Moriarty or Warlock get ready to learn the certain ways necessary to start the metamorphosis that will have you thwarting the forces of good. A fine film, I do recommend you experience it from the inside out!

John Grönvall

Head of Film & Television , Arcada University of Applied Sciences

I am covering the 2015 NYFF and seen many, many, many great things! I’ve fallen in love with few (“The Walk” ) but it’s the short HOW TO BE A VILLAIN that’s given me great hope for the future voices in film. @lapacazo

Lapacazo Sandoval

Film Reviewer

Technically this is an excellent piece of filmmaking. The special effects, camera work etc are all really top notch. It looks terrific, especially the various “classic” horror shots. I love the many references to so many well-loved horror classics, and the music is also strong. Another major strength is the actor playing the lead. He is a real talent. I love the concept of teaching people to be Villains – 101. By having a number of criteria that go to make up a villain  Helen manages to incorporate so many of the classic horror tropes and this is really clever. The color segment looks good – great crisp cinematography.  I loved the use of the binoculars to view this rag tag collection of cinema-goers, (and their costumes look splendid). This is really great stuff and I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to more from this talented filmmaker. Sharon Hurst

Film Reviewer, Cinephilia

Made me laugh out loud.  Really great look, sets, shooting, lighting. Terence Harvey as the villain spokesman was indeed fabulous, no doubt Helen O’Hanlon’s direction brought out his best too. Jeanne D. Corcoran

Director, Film Sarasota