Director Chris Bouchard – the man behind sensational Lord of the Rings spin-off The Hunt for Gollum, which has raked in over 13 million views on Youtube – has turned his creative eye to Hackney for a first full-length feature, set to premiere at the East End Film Festival this month.
Hackney’s Finest is billed as an East London gangster flick that follows a troupe of hapless drug dealers as they clash with Russian thugs, Welsh-Jamaican rude boys and a pair of villainous coppers. Going by the trailer, it looks to be a mash-up of Guy Ritchie and John Mackenzie, with a squeeze of Tarantino to boot.
“It’s quite extreme,” says Bouchard. “It’s got lots of drug use, it doesn’t shy away from strong language and violence, and it’s trying to reflect what things might actually be like on the streets of East London. It’s real but it’s also having fun. It’s entertaining and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s not totally ridiculous. You could almost believe that these characters could be out there somewhere – Hackney Wick probably,” he laughs.
“There are definitely nods to those guys who’ve made these brilliant films and it’s a sense of humour that I really appreciate, but it’s got its own twist. We’ve got these characters that you haven’t seen before in the Guy Ritchie films.”
Bouchard came across the script soon after the success of Gollum, his debut short. He explains that his mother was attending a creative writing class in Gloucester when she met Thorin Seex, a burgeoning screenwriter. Foreseeing a fruitful collaboration, she put the two in touch.
“He’s an interesting guy. He’s an ex-squatter from Hackney and now he’s in insurance,” Bouchard says. “He’s willing to admit he’s had a very misspent youth, and he’s written all these crazy stories.”
The film has already courted some controversy, meeting with a mixed response from viewers at private test screenings. In addition to the violence and language, the director readily admits that Hackney’s Finest makes light of persistent and substantial drug use. He describes the decision to treat the material in this way as tough but correct.
“The drug use is pretty strong, it doesn’t hold back. It’s got quite a flippant tone to it and so some people were a bit horrified at this and then other people who were a bit more open-minded were like, ‘Wow, this is pushing it a bit beyond what we’ve seen before’. So yeah, there are some strong themes in there.”
“It’s just perfect isn’t it? We’re just really happy about that,” he says. “Hackney Picturehouse is a great cinema and the whole story happens just round the corner so it’s pretty cool. It’s the perfect place really.”
No matter what happens at the premiere on 14 June, Hackney’s Finest is sure to leave a mark.