30/09/2021 - The Release Of Hollowhood

The Release Of Hollowhood

September 30th 2021

Dear friends,

I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts and experiences with you.

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with telling stories. Before I could really write I would draw comic books and tell stories with my toys. When I learned how to write I spent hours and hours writing down my ideas. Stories that were never finished, stories that never got beyond a paragraph, and stories that I finished, and then forced my parents to read whilst staring at them with the kind of nervous energy those who know me will be all too familiar with.

When I was 21, I started writing a book that would eventually turn into Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit. It was another 10 years before that would come out, but I knew that was my story. That was my character, that was my dream. That was the story I needed to tell, and I told it. I cried when I first held that book in my hands. It was perfect. Magic Rabbit coming out changed my life in so many ways.

Tomorrow, October 1st, my first film, Hollowhood, comes out. And there’s a funny thing you should know about

Hollowhood. Hollowhood was never a story I dreamed of telling.

When I was a young girl, I had shelves covered in books about film and TV shows. I would obsess over them, reading all about the actors, the directors, the creative process that went into making them. I would watch the Top 20 countdown shows about famous films and TV. I would scrawl film quotes all over my schoolbooks, and I would listen to TV and film soundtracks obsessively.

In a similar vein as Magic Rabbit, the film I dreamed of making was about witches. Heavily influenced by Charmed, Buffy The Vampires Slayer, The Craft and Practical Magic, I wanted to tell a story about girls with magical powers doing awesome things. That was my story. I dreamed that one day I would get a chance to tell it on screen. And I dreamed I would get a chance to tell it with my dream cast, including, of course, Sandra Bullock and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

With Hollowhood the process was different. Jon and I wanted to make a film and we decided that if we didn’t do it now, we never would. But with no money to do it, and no kit to do it with, we had to work around what we had.

To build the story we had to build the cast. To build the cast we had to find out who was willing to act for us. Once we had our willing troop of performers, we worked out where we would be able to film. When we worked out where would be able to film, we constructed a story that would suit those actors and those locations.

Hollowhood was never the story I dreamed of telling. And the actors were never the people I dreamed of telling it with.

But then something changed. We started filming. We met people, some of whom were total strangers to not just us, but to one another. Hollowhood went from being a story of convenience that would allow us to make a movie, and it became a story we are passionate about, made with actors we are completely in love with. I know it’s cliched, but those people are now our family (even though several of them were literally our family to begin with). And they are truly incredible performers.

We started on the soundtrack, thinking about those wonderful CDs we would spend hours cruising for in HMV, and remembering how a good soundtrack can become part of your identity. We took a chance and we reached out to some artists we know. Musicians so incredibly talented that they should be on those film soundtracks I obsessed over as a child. And, somehow, we got lucky enough to have them on ours. Bands that wrote and recorded tracks specifically for us, or gave us tracks they were already finding success with. Then, high on the love of creativity, we wrote and produced songs ourselves. Songs performed by members of our cast who proved that not only is their star quality on screen, but they are phenomenal singers too.

Through the creative process, Hollowhood became the dream story. Our actors became the dream cast. So much so that whenever we dream of making films in the future, Sandy B and Sarah Michelle have been replaced in our heads with the cast of Hollowhood.

If I could go back in time and tell fifteen-year-old me, surrounded by filmmaking books, and daydreaming about holding a video camera, that it is going to happen for her… Well. I think she would cry like I cried when I held my first book. Like I think I will cry tomorrow night at 7pm when, finally, people will be able to watch our movie. The film we made. Against all the odds. Despite a pandemic delaying finishing, despite having what is referred to as a “micro budget”, and despite having never made a film before. We did it.

In 2016 I got to hold the book I had always dreamed of writing. In 2021 I will watch a film I always dreamed of making. It doesn’t look how I expected, but, in truth, it looks better. It’s not a big budget production made by experts. This is a film made with love, passion, and bravery. A film where shy people found their star quality. A film where people who dreamed of performing got to live the life they never thought they could. A film where I truly fell in love with everything about this glorious business of show. And I did it all with my best friend. My Jon.

Sometimes stuff gets hard. I get down about the struggles we have, the problems we face. But tomorrow night at 7pm, when a little collection of people, spread around the world, will sit down to watch Hollowhood, all will be right in our little house, in our little town, filled with our little family.

Whether you were involved in the making of, or you will be involved in the watching of, thank you. Thank you from fifteen-year-old me with her pile of books and her head full of dreams. Thank you from me and from Jon. Because without you, this would never have happened.

And trust me, this isn’t the last time it’s going to happen either.

J xx