Written and Directed by the creators of SHANK , Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin, RELEASE is a love story with signature twists and turns. Thematically exploring the the hypocrisy that society thrives on and that fuels prejudice and hatred. Emotionally rich and varied the story seeks to touch upon the honesty of true love and the deception of ideology, theology and morality.
Father Jack Gillie (Daniel Brocklebank) enters prison a guilty man, convicted for a crime that sees the Church abandon him, his congregation desert him and his faith challenged. His fellow inmates believe he's been convicted of paedophilia and begin to plant the seed of doubt into the mind of his teenage cellmate, Rook (Wayne Virgo). After rescuing Rook from a beating Jack now becomes the inmates prey. Protection comes in the unlikely form of a prison officer, Martin (Garry Summers) with whom Jack falls in love and together they embark on a dangerous and illicit affair behind cell doors. As trust forms between the two men so Jack feels enabled to confess the truth behind the crime for which he has been imprisoned. Emboldened by Jack's honesty the two men plan their lives together post Jack's release.
Prison gang leader Max (Bernie Hodges) , however has ulterior objections and sets about ruining this relationship and manipulates the Governess, Heather (Dymphna Skehill), into suspending Martin for misconduct after disclosing the affair. Alone and vulnerable Jack is now tormented and hunted by Max who takes revenge on him for his crime.
Waking from the near fatal actions of Max, Jack keeps his head down and bides his time comforted by letters of love and support from Martin - delivered with disgust and loathing by one of Martin's colleagues. With the end of his sentence in sight Jack readies himself for a new life and a new beginning with Martin. The only obstacle to this tabula rasa remains Max and Father Elliott (Dave Jones) the Church's messenger sent to establish what Jack's intentions are once free…
Originally RELEASE was conceived of as a short film that simply explored the final days of a prisoner about to be released. The final reveal was to show that throughout his sentence he had been conducting an affair with a Prison Guard.
As the short story developed we became more intrigued with the notion that in an expanded story we could explore the hypocrisy of religion and the societal misrepresentation and misjudgement of actions unseen. Such judgements leading to reactions that can result in brutal victimisation and physical retribution that fuelled by prejudice leaves a damaging scar on the oft championed proclamation and misplaced belief that we live in a tolerant and caring society in the Western world.
When a Pope declares that homosexuality is worse than global warming he lends legitimacy to this prejudice and gives homophobia an authority that will perpetuate such violence from lesser mortals whose ignorance doesn't equip them to challenge the ludicrousness of such statements. When Church representatives suggest that paedophile priests are all homosexuals it reinforces the fear that grants the ignorant with a justification for their actions and attacks on gay men. That most religions condemn gay people stands as a testament to how far all societies still need to mature before we can truly all be released from the insecurities of fear and hatred and mistrust that we collectively subconsciously share.
And so our short grew up and we asked where did our prisoner come from, what was his story and seizing on the contemporary fears of euthanasia, paedophilia and homosexuality we crafted a character through whom we could examine our frustrations and fears as gay men.
RELEASE is a deliberately stylised film that draws on our love of a broad number of different films. We have set out to try and capture atmospherically from some of the films of the 60's and 70's, the psychological sense of fear of the unknown that crept into these which has skilfully been augmented and complimented by the atonal score from our Composer and enhanced by the sound design of our sound recordist. It would be shameful to compare our ambitions for the film with the work of Polanski, Cassevetes, Hitchcock, Powell and Pressburger or even Brian de Palma but their influence was either intentionally or indirectly referenced between ourselves throughout the process of making the film. Doubtless this will be seized on as pretentious by some or as we hope refreshing by others. We sought to make a film that was set in a prison of our own minds and was an expression of the world that we all inhabit on the outside, to play with the light that falls through the windows of the prison which illuminates our own prejudices and intolerance when it should in an ideal world light a path that guides us all to freedom from hatred and fear.
Budget constraints make for lofty innovations and compromise and so it was with our main location (the prison) that we found ourselves able to exploit these influences in our choice of shots, our fantasy sequences and the look and feel of the film. This location, once dressed, helpfully presented to us an atmosphere that we attempted to optimise on camera. Switching between hand-held and the more controlled use of grip equipment we chose angles that brought us into the world of the prison or presented the view from above that the inmates were being monitored from (in the much the same way as CCTV as used by the authorities now look down on us all - allegedly for our greater protection). Hand held we hope realises a sense of confinement and claustrophobia that everyone would want to escape from - we never look in on the prison we are always in the prison looking out at the sky or the barbed wire or through the bars to freedom. Juxtaposing our fantasy, nightmare sequences with the openness of space and sunlit pastures we were aiming to emphasise the desire for release within us all.
Intentionally RELEASE is about sexual release, physical release, emotional release and psychological release. It is about the bond between brothers that is of love that is unconditional that leads to a release so sacrificial in compassion that it should challenge everyone's emotions. It is about love, it is a love story and it is about fear and prejudice, ignorance and innocence.