By Sue Potter… An independent feature film shot in and around Folkestone and featuring local actors, writers and musicians, has been nominated for an award in this year’s respected National Film Awards in London.

“Dan Hawk Psychic Detective”, written by and starring Folkestone actor, Ben Shockley as Hawk, is a who-dunnit style thriller about an ex-detective turned writer, who, whilst on a book signing tour, a murderer decides to ‘don the guise’ of Hawk’s most famous creation, and kills someone in every town that the writer visits. After re-joining the local police force it’s a race against time for him, and his colleagues to capture the killer before they can claim another victim. It also takes a cynical but comical swipe at the film business.

Best Independent Feature Film

The film, which has been nominated for Best Independent Feature Film, developed out of a conversation Ben had in 2019 with fellow actor, musician and DJ, Clayton Thomson, who owns Butty’s Sandwich Bar, and his daughter, Sophie.

The idea was to make a full-length feature film based in Folkestone, using largely local talent and on a miniscule budget.

Ben said:

“The film came out of frustration really. I’d just had a good experience on another film called ‘The Blazing Cannons’ which I had recently co-written, co-directed, and co-starred in, and after chatting to Clayton we both agreed that many films and TV shows get filmed in the area, who on the most part bring their main cast and crews with them.

‘This was the reason I wrote Dan Hawk. We wanted to use professionals, and even some non-professionals, some of whom actually live in the area and were up for the challenge.’

Collaboration with Folkestone College film department

After writing the script and mentioning it on social media, Ben was contacted by Steve Thomas from the Folkestone College film department known as The Edge, who suggested a collaboration. This would not only help the film get made but also provide valuable experience for the students working on a live film set. 

A deal was done and “Dan Hawk” started production in September 2019. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing. The film was supposed to wrap in May 2020, just as Covid struck and the country went into lockdown. It was September 2021 before filming on “Dan Hawk” finally finished.

‘It was very frustrating of course for everybody’, says Ben, ‘but thankfully most people stuck with the project, and saw it through until the end. Maybe it was meant to be!

‘The title Dan Hawk is made up of two of actor Burt Reynolds’ early TV shows  – Dan August, and Hawk. Burt is a bit of a hero of mine, and the day the film eventually wrapped just happened to be the anniversary of Burt’s death.’

Local actors

Ben plays the title role of Dan Hawk, and as well as starring other local actors such as Lucille Ferguson, Colin O’Reilly, Paul Kavanagh, Rob McCrea, and Clayton and Sophie Thomson,  the film also features a number of cameos from the likes of Ken Colley (Star Wars, The Life of Brian), Steven Arnold (who played Ashley in Corrie), Joe Egan (who was also one of Mike Tyson’s sparring partners), and James Payton (Harry Potter), and Jerry Anderson.

‘I also asked some other acting colleagues down from London. One of the cameo’s is from an 80’s female British Pop icon who is still performing today. But I’m not allowed to say who it is‘, says Ben.

‘We have some exciting musicians involved. Paul Godfrey from Morcheeba has written the movie’s theme tune for us, and Dr Rock herself, Julia Jones has allowed us to use her aptly titled ‘Seaside Death’ for the end credits. Also, the singer Rachel Cuming appears, as well as Jaye Ella Ruth who use to sing with the music group The Brand New Heavies. 

On completion the film had a cast and crew screening at the Quarterhouse Theatre in Folkestone in 2023 and then was screened at The Horror on Sea Festival in Southend-on-Sea in early 2024. It was selected as Best Feature Film at the Aasha International Film Festival as well as for the Reel Social Film Festival. The trailer was selected to be shown at this years Folkestone Independent Film Festival and on May 25th the film will be screened at The Romford Film Festival. It also now has a distribution deal with My Spotlight Independent (thanks to a heads-up from Britflicks) and can now be seen on Amazon Prime UK, USA, Canada and Australia and is coming soon to Apple and Google Play.

The script has also recently been turned into a novel by Hythe author, Deborah Jones.

By Ed

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