By Samuel Orazem EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
BOZEMAN — As Bozeman has grown, so too has the local film scene, and while many features and shorts produced by locals focus on life in Montana or the plethora of outdoor activities the region has to offer, Steve Drake of Single Six Media has chosen to tread a new path; his debut feature length production, “Hocked,” is a dark comedy inspired by his family’s experience as pawn-shop owners in Bozeman.
“Hocked” tells the story of a struggling musician who comes into possession of, and promptly sells, a mysterious item to two pawn shop brokers. This implicates all three characters in a deal-gone-bad between dirty police officers and drug enforcers, and for the remainder of the film, the protagonists struggle to survive the wrath of enemies they accidentally made.
To form the backbone of the story, Drake drew directly from his own life—as any good piece of writing does.
“I was pretty much raised in a pawn shop and so I would hear all these crazy stories about odd items that would come in and even odder people, sometimes,” Drake said. “With that background I was trying to think of something I could write that would be interesting and my mind would just keep going to that.”
Drake cites Kevin Smith, the director of witty comedies like “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” as his most notable influence for the film. His goal was to write humor that was “real, everyday, two-guys sitting in a pawn-shop humor. It’s not set-up jokes, it’s real life.” He also drew from Guy Ritchie’s early films, like “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” which feature multiple subplots that ultimately converge at the climax, for inspiration on the film’s plot progression.
“I love how somehow you have about sixteen characters, you like all of them and they weave through a mess of a movie before everything ultimately comes together,” Drake said.
“Hocked” was produced on a budget of around $1,000, an ultra-low budget that was only achievable because his video production company already had all the necessary equipment and the family pawn-shop provided a perfect set for the film at no cost, but Drake is convinced that this will not be apparent to viewer.
Just because Drake already had the perfect set did not mean that production went off without a hitch.
“I started writing the script early in December of last year and in the middle of December my step-dad and my mom told me they were going to shut it down in April … I was only six pages into it [the script] at that point, but luckily it served as a kick in the butt to actually put this thing into motion. I think that was the biggest hurdle we could have ever faced”
“Hocked” is a passion project through and through, the product of a young filmmaker who aspires to contribute to the bourgeoning indie film scene in Bozeman, clawing for space in the industry as every great household name director has done before him. With a tentative 2020 screening, be sure to keep an eye on developments less you miss this one-of-a-kind piece of local cinema history.
Visit www.hockedthemovie.com for updates on the theatrical screening.