Brenda Blethyn award for Passing Through

Back in the summer of 2023, my film Passing Through won the Brenda Blethyn First Feature Award at the Ramsgate International Film and TV Festival. Brenda is a twice Oscar-nominated acting legend, and has worked with some of my heroes, not least Mike Leigh, whom I consider a huge influence, so it was heartwarming if nothing else to hear her very kind words as she gave out the awards remotely. I got a copy of the video here:

“Passing Through by David Walter Hall is beautifully shot. The setting is the South of France: carefree, happy, sunny but with the unexpected arrival of an estranged son, we’re suddenly plunged into the mysteries and conflicts of the past. Why did he turn up out of the blue and with a girlfriend with as many secrets of her own? I cared about each character with varying degrees of sympathy. I even forgave the annoying visitor from Australia. The performances, led by Mark Little, are faultless and the beautifully nuanced direction from David Walter Hall, who also wrote the screenplay, is really impressive. There’s a great soundtrack too from Jonny Phillips.”

Festival News – Ramsgate and Brighton

Super excited to announce that my film Passing Through will have its English premiere at the Ramsgate Film Festival in June. It will be in competition for the First Feature Prize judged by the legendary Brenda Blethyn.

I am likewise vibing to say that it’s also received an Honourable Mention at Brighton Rocks, the same week, meaning it will be included in the festival hoo-hah and – tantalisingly – may or may not be screened. Watch this space!

Passing Through to premiere at the Belfast Film Festival

I don’t post news updates around here much these days. I remember, about three years ago, I was about to post one. The title was going to be, “We Did It!” and I started writing it, but could barely think it out through a stupor of exhaustion. The “it” in question was the intense three-week filming period of my debut feature film Passing Through. The “we” was, a compact, and at that point equally exhausted team of two producers, a crew, me the director and an awesome cast. It wasn’t that I thought the next steps would be quick or easy. I just thought, the hard part was over.

The hard part had kind of just begun I discovered. Making a film is hard. Finishing a film is harder. It takes money, and where there isn’t money, it takes hard graft. It’s really ideal if there are no pandemics. It’s ideal if the world doesn’t shut down as it did.

Time to cut a long story short. We persevered. We busted guts left right and centre, and today I’m pleased to annnounce we’re in the programme for the 22nd Belfast Film Festival.

Take a look at the trailer right here:

The film screens on Wednesday 9th November at 8pm, at the Strand Arts Centre, Belfast. Buy your tickets here.

Showreels for actors in London

Hi, and apologies for what may be a somewhat keyword-heavy blog post. Needs must I’m afraid. I’m really excited to be launching a new side hustle making actors’ showreels. It’s called Showreels from Scratch, with a view to doing what it says on the tin: showreels made from scratch, as opposed to just edited from existing material, a way for emerging actors to get a foot in the door before they have real screen credits.

I had the great privilege of shooting my first feature film as a writer-director just before Covid happened. At the time of writing, we’re still putting the finishing touches on post-production. It’s been a journey, and along the way I have learned more about filmmaking than I would have done on a degree, grown as a person and found my calling. I’m working hard on the next project(s) while playing midwife to the first one.

And while that’s happening, shooting actors’ showreels is a way to keep my film brain busy until the next big feature, to keep learning and exploring the possibilities of filmmaking and getting the best from actors. And of course it’s a business. The priorities of a showreel aren’t the same as a short film. If you have to make a choice, you want the actor to look good above all else. The plot or scenario is irrelevant to the viewer, it is only there to give the actor something substantial to chew on, some real sense of drama or conflict, and an arc in those two or three minutes to move between a few different emotional registers. It doesn’t have to be a great film to be a great showreel, but I kind of feel like it helps.

So I’ll be writing and directing, working with some great people, and enjoying this new adventure. If you’d like to have a showreel made, please do drop me an email via info@showreelsfromscratch.com.

Scene ideas

The site includes a fun and potentially useful showreel scene ideas generator. This started life as a spreadsheet for my own purposes, listing prompts for character types, relationships, situations people might find themselves in and very generic obstactles which with a bit of imagination might apply to any of the situations. So it randomly spits out the idea of a divorced couple assembling furniture together, maybe in a gesture of reconciliation as one of them settles into their new and unfamiliar home, while one of them annoyingly finds the other’s foibles a bit too amusing and the relationship starts playing itself out all over again. You have to use your imagination sometimes…

Samples

Here are some samples of showreels I’ve shot so far, including a few old ones from a couple of years ago.

Wanted: film producer

I am seeking a film producer to help me realise my first film. It will be a feature-length low-budget drama filmed and set in France.

Cross Road Blues, which I directed at the Hackney Empire

While I have many years’ experience in writing plays for the stage, and have directed at theatres including the Hackney Empire, I’ve no experience in film outside making short inserts used as projections within stage productions. So, I’ve decided to openly advertising my search for a producer here as an adjunt to the usual informal networking. Maybe the perfect producer is out there somewhere. Maybe it’s you.

Qualities and qualifications

I’m looking for someone with a bit of experience under their belt or someone who is very hungry to learn: who has produced a few shorts perhaps, has worked alongside a producer on a feature, or has experience already in producing low-budget features. You will be responsible for raising funding (including your own fee), recruiting the production team and working with me to organise all aspects of the production.

You can be based anywhere, but London or southern France would be  convenient.

Speaking French would be a huge plus, but it’s by no means a deal-breaker if you don’t.

The film

The film will be a feature-length drama set in the south of France, in English with a mix of British, French and Australian characters: tense, funny, psychological, tragic and redemptive. It’s got a lot of darkness in it, with personal histories scarred by loss and abuse, but also a lot of light, and love and happiness prevail for some if not all of the protagonists.

The location and some cast members are in place, and I have a solid plan to shoot in September 2018. I expect to need to raise a budget in the tens of thousands (GBP).

The script

I have a script treatment (synopsis) at the moment. The full screenplay is a work in progress. Please email me on plays@davidwalterhall.com if you’d like to see either or apply for the role.

And please share this post with anyone you know who might be interested.

Thanks.


Update: This position has been filled!

New sites for Voltaire’s Meteor and Cross Road Blues

New sites have gone up recently for my plays Voltaire’s Meteor and Cross Road Blues. You can head over to www.voltairesmeteor.com for news about forthcoming productions of this latest wee creation of mine. And likewise you can go to www.crossroadblues.net for info about my venerable script about Robert Johnson and the devil, including a small gallery of cool Robert Johnson tattoos based on the play’s poster artwork.

Jean Meslier to ride again

I haven’t posted here at all this year, so in the interests of proving to the world that I’m not dead or critically infirm, I thought I’d write a quick update. So what have I been up to?

Well, for the first half of this year, I’ve been working on an almost complete rewrite of The Last Priest, my 2007 play about French priest Jean Meslier, who was a secret athiest, and whose posthumous Testament was an early spark of the French revolution. I finished a solid first draft mid-summer, and will soon be meeting with the original group of producers, a cast of new and old members, a new director and a team that is being assembled without my knowledge or input, but in whom I have a lot of trust.

There are no firm dates for a production yet, but there is a new title (still, perhaps, provisionally): Voltaire’s Meteor: The Midnight Zeal of Father Jean Meslier. (Voltaire described Meslier as “the most singular phenomenon ever seen among all the meteors fatal to the Christian religion.“)

I’m also currently thinking of writing a film, not about Meslier though.

Watch. This. Space.

Peter Darney to direct Horses in the Rain

Pleased to announce that Peter Darney will be directing the preview performances of Horses in the Rain at the Rag Factory this November.

Peter will be returning from New York where his production of Signal Failure is at the SoHo Playhouse from 8th October-16th November.

Horses in the Rain is at the Rag Factory on 7th, 8th and 9th November at 7.30pm. Tickets are available here, priced £10.

Horses in the Rain @ the Rag Factory

I’m very pleased to announce that my play, Horses in the Rain, is to be presented for a limited preview run at the Rag Factory off Brick Lane, London this November.

Show dates are 7th, 8th, 9th November at 7.30pm. It runs for about an hour and a half.

Tickets are available here, priced £10. Full details are on the Facebook event via the link below.

New website for Now is the Hour

Finishing touches and final licks of paint are being applied to the all new website for my play Now is the Hour. This is a site aimed at professional, amateur and student theatre companies, so they can find out a little more about the play, download the script, and hopefully make plans to put on a production of their own, following the great success we had at the Maddermarket last year. If you’re interested, please get in touch via production@nowisthehour.co.uk.

Here she is: www.nowisthehour.co.uk

Click to view the site