Hokum, a new movie from Lee Charlish is currently in pre-production and scheduled for a late 2019 release.
The movie is an ambitious project which is being entirely self-funded by Lee, who will produce and direct his original screenplay. As with most other Lee Charlish projects, the setting and time is deliberately ambiguous, with great emphasis placed on creating ‘a world in which things seem out of place; awkward or decidedly unfamiliar’, leading to an oneiric and distinctly unsettling feel. This will be helped by the movie’s subject matter which involves the spiritual world, mysticism, tarot and demons; both real and imaginary.
The story has developed significantly and quickly since the early drafts, with new characters and situations organically presenting themselves; all in the confines of a non-existent budget. Lee says, “It has steadily evolved into something even bigger than the original premise which was larger than life already. Thankfully, despite having no discernible budget or funding, it has been written with an appreciation of what’s realistically achievable without compromising its unique style and premise.”
There is a possibility of the movie being developed into a feature, as it has the scope, although as a short it is tight and packs a sufficient punch in its anticipated 18-minute run time.
When you sell your soul for money, there’s always hell to pay.
Ash is tormented by demons and believes he must rid himself of the ‘blood money’, acquired through treachery and violence, to obtain redemption from the angered spirit world. Donnie, his violent and thuggish accomplice, is desperate to lay hands on the illicit cash and will stop at nothing to obtain it, even if he must sell his own soul.
Described as a - ‘Fantasy chiller with elements of the real, the ethereal and surreal’, it will start like a ‘haphazard howitzer and ratchet up to an unflinching end’.
Lee says, “It’s a big project with lots to go at and there’s plenty which could go wrong. However, there’s been a real buzz and lots of engagement with local, exciting talent who have volunteered their services since seeing early promotional material or have answered casting calls.”
This increased involvement and ‘help’ will address the failures of earlier efforts by lightening the load somewhat and creating less restrictive timescales. I’m thankful that everyone attached to the project has fully embraced the need to take our time and film over several, carefully planned days, including the actors. I’m also appreciative of the offers of help and that the cast and crew are working for free and/or for significantly reduced rates because of their excitement and dedication and to the project.
Attached early on were Korky Films stalwarts Adrian Annis and Jim Low, who are described by Lee as the “superlative dream team”. “These guys are immense and really carry a scene. What’s important is that they completely get my style and the vibe I try to create and immerse themselves wholeheartedly into the mouth of madness! They are also both great fun without ego, which is important.”
Adrian Annis, a Cambridge/London based actor, has an impressive CV in both film (feature and shorts) and TV. He will play Shepherd, the Shaman. Full of intrigue, mysticism and danger, the enigmatic Shepherd is enlisted to offer counsel and a helping-hand to Donnie when he encounters a difficult situation.
Jim Low, a diminutive Scot known as ‘little big man’ by Lee, is a commanding presence on the screen, which is important as the movie’s ‘baddie’ - Donnie. Although there’s a few to choose from in this story, as most are blighted or afflicted in some way or another. Jim describes the script as, ‘Great, creepy and ultra-violent.’
Recruited via Facebook casting calls are Elaine Ward, from Birmingham but now residing in Warwickshire, who will assume the role of The Clairvoyant and Peter James from Leicester who will take the role of the ‘troubled’ Ash. Elaine has been in her own short film, Tea for Two which premiered at the Birmingham Film Festival in 2018. She has appeared in other short films and many stage productions. Peter started his acting journey with the Blaby Drama Group starring in a number of plays; before he went on to join Whetstone Drama Group. He has been actively involved with the Leicester based filmmaking group, Seven Five Productions, and has been in several productions. One of his own films was screened at The Short Cinema Film Festival. Elaine says of her part in Hokum: “I’m so excited to be playing The Clairvoyant and I can’t wait to get my teeth into creating her character. Mysterious, intriguing, otherworldly and slightly sinister, what’s not to love?”
Completing the cast are Alex Kapila from Stratford-Upon-Avon as Fortune, the drug-addled acolyte of Shepherd and Hannah Hargraves from Leamington Spa, as The Hostage. She appears at the start of the movie in a frenetic and explosive start and in later scenes with Ash.
Crew members attached include Damien Trent as the Director of Photography. A filmmaker in his own right, he has worked with Lee on the short films – Scarecrow, The Cold Caller, A Sort of Burial and Switch. He will be assisted by Mark Hancock on camera. Mark has completed his first experimental short this year and he too has been involved on previous Korky Films movies – The Cold Caller, A Sort of Burial and Switch. Ryan Clarke will be the movie’s sound recordist. All are Midlands based and all come from Coventry.
Chris Pemberton returns to score the movie. A role which Lee describes as being “pivotal to accent the whole movie.” Lee is a long-time admirer of Chris’s compositions after he has provided the music to each of Lee’s last four live-action films. Chris is an accomplished keyboard player who has toured and worked as a session player for many, well-known performers.
Joining Korky Films’ crew will be Lewis Clements of Elsy Pictures who will assist Lee as First AD. Lewis lives in Solihull and is a graduate of the BA (Hons) Creative Arts degree at Oxford Brookes University. He has written several films and has also directed and even acted in local films. Benjamin Clarke, from Coventry, is currently a filmmaking student at Solent Southampton University, studying film and he will be a Production Assistant.
The movie will benefit from local Make-Up Artists. The MUAs will create a lot of the movie’s “nastiness” and will assist with the practical effects utilised throughout.
To fulfil the movie’s ambitions, Lee’s vision will incorporate extensive production design elements and wardrobe to adorn the unique characters contained within the story. This will take time but will be a fun experience. It is likely that individual ‘sets’ will be purposefully built for each interior scene and ‘striked’ before another set (and scene) is built and filmed.
Lee says, “The visuals will be lavish and extensive, and in some cases, extreme, vibrant and yet grungy. It will be uncompromising and visceral. There are violent elements which will probably make audiences uncomfortable, but they are completely beholden to the story nonetheless and never gratuitous.”
“Whether we can successfully pull it off is yet to be seen, but I’m excited and confident with all attached so far. There will be a powerhouse effort to get his made and in a way which does the story and script justice.”
The movie will be ‘art heavy’ and incorporate lots of interesting artistic flourishes which will accent the quirky and unique feel. It will include an abundance of mystical symbolism and draws upon myths and folklore to weave a compelling narrative.
The official Hokum movie website is here - https://leecharlish.wixsite.com/hokum It is a work in progress and will be updated with new content as the movie develops.