Geoff Hall is a novelist, a film maker, an arts mentor and a Christian and he is working on a new film project that you could help bring to life. We caught up with him to find out more.
Hi Geoff. Please introduce yourself…
For 15 years I was an arts mentor in Bristol with a thing we called The Group. It started when I was approached to help a student at the local arts university, when she was told that her faith was “inappropriate for a student at the college!” From one to many as it turned out, as it was the experience of quite a few art students.
We held monthly meetings to discuss spirituality and art. We’d have an artist present their work and we looked at artistic practice and discussed any problems they were having. This developed into something we called ‘The Tree House’. We started meeting in a café, eating free tapas, listening to bands, hear artists of diverse media talk about their work.
At this time I met Chris Lorensson of Upptacka Press, who decided he’d like to publish me if I’d write about mentoring work. This became a series called Spiritual Direction in a Postmodern Landscape and included juicy titles like ‘The Wilderness and the Desert of the Real’ and ‘Translating the Invisible Wind’. In future we’ll publish my new novel – a supernatural political horror story called Owl:Believe about a group of artists and hackers who take on the Corporate State.
You have a new project in development. Could you talk us through it?
Seeing Rachel came out of a dream I had. I’m told you can’t mention this to investors as they freak out about it… allegedly! I then started to develop a story about human trafficking. It took a year to write and research and the research was pretty disturbing.
Now when most people think about this genre of film, they see sensationalised violence or a kind of linear docu-drama narrative, so I decided to buck expectations and look at the psychology of the characters and their inner world. The lead roles are two female characters, by the way.
It will be shot in Bristol, a city with historical roots in slavery, but also sadly nowadays it’s a distribution hub for trafficking. People like to think it’s someone else’s problem; in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Thailand and Cambodia, but what I want to bring to people’s hearts is that it’s our problem. It happens in our cities. With Seeing Rachel the world of trafficking is squeezed into one location, to reveal what lies beneath the surface of even a beautiful city like Bristol.
What are your hopes and goals for the project?
We always start with raising awareness and then hope that people will become activists with the aim of eradicating modern slavery. With this in mind we’re looking for an international theatrical and digital release.
What I want to bring to people’s hearts is that trafficking isn’t someone else’s problem; it’s our problem.
We’re planning a campaign to work with NGO’s and charities, devoted to the abolition of slavery in all its forms: sexual, narcotic, indentured slavery and domestic servitude. There are great networks out there, like the worldwide community of Freedom Collaborative and the Jam Network based in London, who we’ll be looking to work with as the film moves in to production. We’re also planning on supporting a local charity in their work amongst the victims of sex trafficking.
How can people help in bringing Seeing Rachel to life?
At the moment we’re seeking development finance, so that we can start ‘packaging’ the film with a name in front of the camera. This will help attract the interests of a distribution company. Our target is £30k for this phase.
We need patrons/investors and also partners who’ll help spread the word, as we move into more interesting phases of production. We wish to find people who’ve a passion for social justice and understand that investing in a film is part of this battle and not just a bit of cultural tinsel-making.
A writer works in a lonely place. As artists we’re used to this isolation, but making the film can only be achieved through a community. Then some of the things I carry can be offloaded and shared with others. I’m looking forward to that day!
It’s been a spiritual and physical battle so far, a quite bruising affair, but you’ve got to be persistent, you have to complete the course otherwise all you’re left with is debt and you’re stuck with no place left to go! Perseverance is the key to any artistic endeavour and in particular I think with film, because it takes a lot of people to get the thing off the ground.