Hadi was always one of my most knowledgeable students, one of the few I actually remembered well from my short, six-year, teaching career. Back then, his big interests were Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese and Mickey Rourke. He was very good in class discussions, always trying to catch me out on my knowledge of movies. Definitely one of my best ever students, the last I heard of him, in the early 1990s, he was doing well at film school.

I stayed in part-time teaching until 1992, until, finally well established as a professional film critic, which was then the job I always wanted to do, I let the teaching go.

Hadi got in touch with me again in 2004 when he released his first film, The Late Twentieth. I used to work as a freelance film reviewer for the British Film Institute magazine Sight and Sound back in the 1990s and it was through them that he got my number and tracked me down. That was a very small movie, but he still managed to drum up a limited theatrical release. I was drafted in as the obligatory film critic talking head at a screening for a couple of local TV news journalists. The TV item never aired, but it gave me the first clue that Mr H was and is a truly formidable fixer. You have to be to write, direct, edit, produce and promote your own projects, which he has continued to do to this day. Just like Tony Comante in the original Scarface, he has a simple work ethic:

‘Do it first, do it yourself, and keep on doing it!’

We've stayed in touch intermittently ever since as film project has followed film project. Puritan in 2006 and Cleanskin in 2011

I wrote the press kits for both of these later movies--and, indeed, also the one for Blue Iguana.

My Informal Audition

One night in late 2012 my future director turned up at my favourite karaoke pub, The Birdcage in Shoreditch, east London (where, sadly, the music has since long died), to have his suspicions confirmed: I was a delusional idiot who couldn't carry a tune. I proved him wrong.

I sang a few old standards, among others: Sinatra's I've Got You Under My Skin and Bobby Darin's version of Mack the Knife. That must have been enough to secure me my little spot in Blue Iguana. If he hadn't seen me sing, he would never have written that bit-part for me. Although it was me who came up with the name:

Dino Laine.



How I Got the Part: the Reel Truth About Dino Laine

The little cartoon above immortalizes my Film Studies class of 1989-90, and was sketched by Hadi’s classmate and friend Richard Enahoro for the Blake College magazine of March 1990. Complete with paunch, I’m the earnest teacher ‘Turn Telly’ while, as ‘Heady’ at front right, Hadi H is taking a snooze in front of the ‘boring film’ I’m inflicting on him and the rest of the class. For the full cartoon, click here.

Film Studies 1990, TOM Tunney, Hadi Hajaig