Luke Hagan, Exeter alumnus reflects on his film debut

Exeter alumnus Luke Hagan studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Exeter in History and Archaeology (2007) before completing a Masters degree in Film Studies (2008). Luke then went on to work as a freelance filmmaker. All in the Valley is Luke’s first feature film, in which he acted as writer, director, and editor.

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Photograph courtesy of Luke Hagan.

The film was shot between September and December 2012, along with several day’s reshoots and pickups in the summer of 2013. Luke and his team hope that All in the Valley will facilitate their move onto other projects; “All in the Valley was self-funded and the idea from the beginning was to make the best film we could with relatively little money, which we could then show to people and say “imagine what we could achieve with funding.”

Set in Cornwall in 1855, All in the Valley follows Joseph Ballam, a Crimean war veteran who returns home with no money, no job and no prospects. He meets Mr. Lincoln, a wealthy mine owner, who offers him the chance to emigrate to the colony of Van Dieman’s Land. However, in exchange for a new life, Ballam must explore deep into the Cornish landscape in order to hunt down the Tallack brothers, a dangerous gang of thieves, and return the money they have stolen from Lincoln’s company. All in the Valley is an exciting new take on the classic western genre. The film takes the common western themes of migration, wilderness and lawlessness and transports them to Victorian Cornwall – a frontier just as treacherous and wild as the old west.

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Photograph courtesy of Luke Hagan.

Luke was recognised for his work last year, receiving the Best Feature Film accolade at the Cornwall Film Festival. Luke, who is familiar with the Cornish landscape, says that All in the Valley was inspired by its setting; “When we were looking for ideas for a film it dawned on me that we had access to this beautiful and dramatic backdrop.”

He explained that his experiences studying at the University came into use preparing for the film, adding: “Once we had figured that out I called back on my days studying History at Exeter and started doing some research into the history of the Cornish moors, the mining industry and the large scale emigration that took place in the region. The parallels between what I learnt and the traditional narratives of the American western soon became apparent and the rest of the film fell into place.”

Speaking about his experience and future work, Luke said: “We have several ideas that we’re working on at the moment, including other feature films and web based projects. I think our next step will be a short film. Making All in the Valley was a fantastic experience but feature films take a long time to complete so we’d like to do something we can see finished on shorter timescale. We’re hoping to start work on our new project in 2015, and we’ll see where things go from there.”


 

For more information about Luke’s film All in the Valley, please visit his website.

Penryn Press Ltd

This month we focus on the new student-run publishing house based on our Penryn campus, Penryn Press Ltd. Digital Director and second year English Literature student, Alexandra Simon-Lewis explains the initiative and tells us about their plans for the next academic year…

Penryn Press Ltd was founded in September 2013, developed and run by students of the University of Exeter. We started off as a fairly small initiative, with five company directors and a number of volunteers dedicated to transforming the vision of a writer-orientated publishing house into a reality. We are supported by the University of Exeter’s Annual Fund and this helped us develop the resources we needed to reach out into the local community and engage with our prospective readers and writers. Our aim is to publish exciting new literature that represents the fresh authorial voices of the South West region. As a student run publishing house, we are a unique initiative, with an entirely different voice. The first year was a strenuous but highly worthwhile proce

Our aim is to expand both in terms of community engagement and also the diversity of our published work. The South West and Cornwall in particular are areas rich in natural beauty and mythology, perfect environments to inspire a wealth of imaginative stories. It’s an interesting place to live and work and as such we want to engage with local communities in the hopes of not only keeping a love of literature alive, but also a strong sense of heritage. One of the projects we’re putting together is a ‘Dragon Trail’, an interactive exploration of the environment, incorporating stories from our latest book. We are also very interested in expanding to digital platforms, so as to provide the opportunity to read these stories on a variety of devices.ss and it’s clear from the recent publication of our book ‘Did You Know There Are Dragons In Cornwall?’ that there are many talented new voices that encapsulate the unique environment and cultural history of the local area. Recently, leadership has been passed onto a new board of directors and we are very motivated to follow on from the outstanding work accomplished by our predecessors.

As the Digital Director for Penryn Press, I work to develop the company to showcase the new opportunities for literature in a digital age. My aims are to produce interactive eBooks that bring to life the stories our writers create and to produce media that connects with a new generation of readers. The development within the publishing industry to incorporate new technologies has been astounding in recent years and it is my belief this trend will continue. My hope is to create eBooks with multimedia integration, so that the stories we create have the potential to include music and animation to capture your attention on every level. We are dedicated to the work we produce and hope to publish work that the reader will enjoy as much, if not more than we do.

Next year we want to develop some of the ideas we’ve been brainstorming, working to help promote the voices of a new generation. It’s going to be very exciting and challenging, but I know that everyone involved is committed to developing Penryn Press into a sustainable, long-term business venture.