Oli Joy

Plymouth comedy Hawk(e) trailer released. D&CFilm speaks to director Phil Baker

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Fittingly for a comedy, Hawk(e) was borne out of a silly idea with a couple of mates. The realisation is a feature-length film with a nod to The Office, Naked Gun, and the Inbetweeners, which has visual style all of its own. The movie was shot in Plymouth by first-time director – and music scene grandee of Plymouth band Lemanis – Phil Baker. D&CFilm spoke to him about what it was to take on such a large project

Hawk(e) is your first film, and a feature film a feature at that. Were there any times when you thought you’d bitten off a bit much? How would you describe your experience of making the film?
Writing it was a lot of fun and quite leisurely, I didn’t do it in any rush. Pre-production was a lot of fun too, travelling up and down meeting lots of people. The shoot was pretty much the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s always good to bite off a bit more than you can chew though, as long as you don’t go too far and not be able to do it. The shoot was scheduled for five weeks which isn’t that long really, so the end was always in sight however hard it seemed at the time. The key really was to get the right people at the start, and have a plan B for everything. And plan Cs, and Plan Ds… If you’ve got good people and reserve plans for everything, you need a pretty big disaster to derail you.

What’s the story?
It’s about a guy called Mike Hawk who’s written a film and is getting it made. He also plays the main guy, who he’s named Mike Hawke after himself, only adding an extra ‘e’ on the end to distinguish the two. It’s basically about watching this bumbling idiot taking on a task he’s completely unequipped to do, and somehow managing to pull it off.

Your background is in music, what are the similarities and differences, if any, with getting a band together and conducting a film crew?
There’s not much similarity at all really. A band is the same people week in week out, practicing at the same place, playing the same songs, for as long as you want to. On a shoot no two days are the same and it’s far more hectic, but only for a limited time. Where the music thing came in really useful was contacts – I met all the key people through music in one way or another. Without the contacts I made through music I don’t think the film would have happened. It’s made sorting out a good soundtrack far easier too.

You say the humour is a mix of The Office, Naked Gun, the Inbetweeners, Austin Powers and Extras, but judging from the trailer they didn’t inspire the visual style – where does that come from?
That was easy – I didn’t think about it at all. I just asked a DoP whose showreel I liked. Between him (Mikey Parkinson) and Tom Turner from Paramore Productions, they dealt with most of the visuals. Almost all of it really, while I concentrated on cast performance and sound.

You’ve earmarked the movie for DVD release this year. How are you going to approach distributing your film, and will you be going down the festival route?
We may well be going to a few fests. The other producer is Pete from Genepool Records. He distributes music via Universal and can do the same for us. That means if we don’t manage to sell the film and have to do a self release, we’ll get DVD distribution through Universal as a last resort. That’s a pretty good last resort.

What projects have you got coming up?
My band Lemanis are looking to record our third album soon, so that’s on the way. Also another feature film, but I can’t give any details on that one quite yet. The script is in development in London at the moment and it’s looking very promising. I’d get in trouble for saying any more though.

And what were the biggest challenges, rewards or lessons you’ve learned by making Hawk(e)
I learned how to make a film. I’d never done it before and pretty much learned on the job. I think that’s the quickest and best way to learn things. I think my work ethic has changed now, and that will be applied to making the next album. It’s easy to be slack with a band, miss a practice or two or put things off. With a film you just can’t do that or it falls apart. So applying that to the next album could mean good things, I’m hoping.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d just like to say thank you to everyone involved really. They’ve all been brilliant. It just started out as a silly idea to do with a couple of mates and just grew and grew into what it is now, and that’s because everyone wanted it to be that good, and they did what they could to make it happen.

Check out the Hawk(e)’s official Facebook page

(image: Still from Hawke(e), Weepole courtesy of Oli Joy)