Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hokum - Donnie

Hokum officially begins filming on 23rd, although the first major scene is due to be filmed on the 26th. A tricky scene which will involve a lot of creativity and strong sound design to successfully depict the unfurling chaos and establish the movie’s main characters. From this date we are filming in order, initially, and a lot of useful character exposition will be delivered entirely by their actions in this opening scene. A great weight is being placed on the actors and I am confident I have the right mix of talent to successfully deliver the script and really convey the story. However, the first scene was never the original opening, but the story was developed, quite significantly and has benefitted from a useful back story which will take us the original starting point. Now that was an opening! So, including this scene, whilst still impactful and stark, means it must step up and hit like a sledgehammer. There will be decisions and options, and many will be made at the edit. As it stands, I have a script and a movie which is powerful, linear and unrelenting in its use of symbolism, chaos and violence, but things may be switched around. I still have the option to use the original opener and all of this excites me.

On the 23rd, it’s all the fun of the fair, with a local fair coming to town for 10 days. The script originally had a fairground location, however, the reality of securing such a location and getting it to fit into everyone’s schedule was looking unlikely, until discussions with the council and an understanding of opportunities was properly realised. It’s detail like this which will elevate the story and imagery, as I’ve struggled with these elements in previous productions.

There is no doubt that this whole world and the characters who inhabit it could be used in a feature. The script is already long, probably too long for a short intended for festivals and will run for approximately 22 to 25 minutes. However, this is a time of risks and rising to the challenge.

I met with Jim Low (Donnie) last week and his enthusiasm for the movie and his character imbues a sense of safety and galvanises confidence. I am sure I have the right man for the job, despite some slight consternation from others. Jim, ‘little big man’; a Scot, hailing from Dundee, has a seen a lot and is aware of the personal trappings, frustrations and unrelenting anger that Donnie experiences. He will draw upon his own experiences; people he’s known and will fully inhabit the character. I have no doubt about his capabilities and Jim was my only Donnie, right from the get-go.

The movie focusses heavily on the Major Arcana (Tarot) as part of its mythical conceit, with ‘The Fool’s journey’ being a loose template for Donnie’s chaotic machinations. The Fool clearly being Donnie’s card. I am creating Major Arcana Tarot cards especially for the movie, all of which will be showcased as part of the final production. It really has become a useful and quite often a coincidental template. Each character will have his/her own ‘card’ and the Major Arcana serves as a useful thread to hang everything on. 

Essentially, although there could conceivably be two or three protagonists in this movie, the story is, in my opinion, effectively Donnie’s. An interesting character from which to base the whole premise, perhaps. He has no redeeming qualities and if he’s been coloured correctly, he will be despised by audiences.

I have wrestled with my mixture and potentially meddling combination of distinctive folklore. Tarot, Native American Indian beliefs, demons, shamanism and apparitions all feature. This is truly a creative risk, not least of all as the movie is ostensibly set in England and obviously, not all the imagery present is of Anglo origin.

Invariably, this could be confusing and, in many respects, I don’t fear the reaction. I make things which have an oneiric vibe and can feel slightly off kilter, so it serves. All of this is highly deliberate. This, if worked well, will convey a memorable and intriguing world, which has the capacity to make the viewer feel uneasy and slightly uncomfortable. Conventions are being displaced but in a distinctly atypical way. This is part of my own excitement with it all.

Donnie’s wardrobe is important. All wardrobe is important. Wardrobe and production design is important to me and I have taken great time and considerable expense (out of my own pocket – this movie has no external funding) to pull it together. Again, much of this will undoubtedly be subliminal; barely noticeable, but I’ll know it’s there and an audience would miss it if it wasn’t. This movie needs bold, but decidedly understated sets, and this is what it will have. I am creating all of this myself. It’s a big responsibility. The scenery and setting is an additional character and a major one. That sense of foreboding will be supplied by the walls around each character. We also have a lot of woods. That feeling of being lost in the forest; tangled branches; simulacra in trees. All perfect for Hokum.

Because I think a lot of this production might be taken for granted, despite the massive undertaking, I will attempt (along with everything else!) to document the process of Hokum. Everything created will be showcased on the official website as a kind of ‘Making of…’; a BTS.

It’s begun and it’s about to catch fire.

Here is Donnie’s promo, played by Jim Low.

I will also be updating the official website here

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