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The Making of 'Hocknord,' KIFF's 2022 Best Short Screenplay Winner

At the end of May this year, we had the pleasure of helping Hattie Cooke bring her award-winning script to life over the course of two full days.

Last year's winner of 'Best Short Screenplay' at the Kingston International Film Festival (KIFF), 'Hocknord' was turned into a film funded and produced by KIFF in association with Blue Elephant Films.

Following the story of a reclusive protagonist - played by professional actor Joseph Millson - 'Hocknord' displays the effects of grief and how a seemingly oddball character can be widely misunderstood.

"It's really overwhelming seeing my story come to life and being surrounded by so many people dedicated to my script," said writer Hattie Cooke. "It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I was totally unprepared for how emotional and incredible the whole thing was!"

Over 30 cast and crew were heavily involved in creating the vision, and even a real cat starred in many of the shots. Hattie expressed how humbling and beautiful seeing so many people - and an animal - dedicated to her story was. Cooke remarked, "not only that, but they were all so nice!"

Director Mark Brennan's positive work ethic, assisted by the efforts of the camera crew, lighting team, sound team, producers and art directors, created a productive and enjoyable environment for producing 'Hocknord' in which every member of the team came away feeling as though they had learned something in the creative process.

Director Mark Brennan positioning the papier-mâché head 'Hocknord' created by the art department

One particularly heavy moment of the script - the climax of the film - finished with an eruption of applause by the crew, and many tears were shed watching Hattie's words take form on the screen. The hard work of the team was encapsulated by this moment, and the sense of achievement and pride was palpable on set.

The hair and make-up team and the costume department also thoroughly valued their experience on set with the team, and worked incredibly well to achieve authenticity in their looks. A haircut was even done on the main actor halfway through filming to portray the passing of time.

Filming in a house in Isleworth, the art department did an amazing job of re-designing the home to make it true to the story - such as creating a young child's bedroom - and then placing it all back again for the homeowner. Additionally, the art department - led by Kate Macrae - was able to make Hattie's vision of a papier-mâché head come to life, creating seven different versions for the director to use at different stages of the filming process.

Our DoP, Kris Brady, filming exterior shots

Several Kingston University Film students were also involved alongside the professional crew, offering their time to gain further experience on set and help assist in the smoothness of the production. Their dedication was admirable, and friendships blossomed in this creative environment enabled by all the members of the crew.

Everybody was so grateful for each other during this beautiful process, and we can't wait to see all the hard work pay off when the film is showcased.

Be sure to keep an eye on our socials to stay updated with the process of producing 'Hocknord' to display at a future KIFF festival.

Additionally, if you fancy watching your story come to life, submit your short screenplays to KIFF to be in the chance of winning, and your story could be made into a film just like Hattie's did!

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