Filmmaker Greg Hall is the award winning independent Director behind six low budget feature films, four short films and one feature length documentary. His work often deals with themes of poverty, class, anti-authority, mental health, drugs, violence, racism and society. He has taught in film education for over fifteen years, his latest film Baby Boy (2021) world premiered at the Iris Prize LGBT Film Festival and screened on Channel 4. He also works as a screenwriter and his latest script Villain (2020) was Number 1 in films when released on Netflix UK.
Hall’s micro-budget debut feature THE PLAGUE (2004) launched his career, made with non-actors on a shoestring budget of £3,500 aged 23, it received the inaugural Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Scholarship at the 10th Sarajevo Film Festival from Director Mike Leigh, who described it as “Serious, funny, witty, real, surreal and totally anarchic. Very exciting 21st century cinema”.
It was an Official Selection at the 48th BFI London Film Festival 2004 and also part of the BFI Sutherland Trophy Tour 2005. The film gained strong critical reviews screening at festivals across the globe, it received the Best Director Award (Portobello Film Festival 2004) and the Audience Award Best Film (Raindance East Film Festival 2005). In 2005 it was one of the earliest features to experiment with internet distribution, in 2006 the film had a UK cinematic and DVD release, the television rights were also acquired by the BBC who screened it a number of times. During this period Hall spoke at events for the Director's Guild of Great Britain, Film London, Film4, Screen International, London Film Makers Convention and Skillset. He was invited to the Young European Filmmakers Forum (YEFF) 2005 in Berlin to lead a workshop with filmmakers from across Europe who devised, shot, cut and aired on local television a short film in three days.
Follow up feature KAPITAL (2007) was an original commission by Alexander Poots for the Manchester International Festival, a unique collaboration between Director Hall and renowned composer Steve Martland as a film-to-music project, where Martland scored the music without seeing the film and Hall cut the film to the score. The film was devised with actors over a three month period, re-working old fairytales into an experimental contemporary setting under a secretive process that continued into a chronological five week shoot. It screened for five sell out nights at the Cornerhouse Cinema in manchester as part of the festival, Hall wrote guest posts for The Guardian Film Blog chronicling the experience and a featured interview with BBC Film Network.
Between 2003 till 2005 Greg was part of ‘Collective Vision’, producing a variety of short content while also hosting sporadic Free Cinema screenings across London. Of note they had a selection of 1 minute films screen as part of 'Raw Britannia' on Channel 4 which included episodes of the 'Hood Newz' directed by Hall. From 2004 till 2008 he made music videos under the pseudonym ‘The Beta Brothers’ alongside filmmaker Paco Sweetman, pre-dominantly producing UK Hip Hop videos for broadcast, they also made four videos for Benjamin Zephaniah’s album ‘Naked’.
His third feature film SSDD: SAME SHIT DIFFERENT DAY (2010) was devised around a seven page outline working with actors from his previous two films and set pre-dominantly in one location of an east London pub. A highly politicised slice of social realism shot on a no-budget, it also featured a unique score produced by hip hop artist Jehst. It received the Best Script Award at the Portobello Film Festival 2010 and Best Film (No Budget) Award at the London Independent Film Festival 2011. The film was the first to be produced and self released under Hall’s own imprint Broke But Making Films (BBMF).
BBMF originated as a blog but soon morphed into a production & distribution company when Hall began bootlegging his own DVD’s of THE PLAGUE in 2008. The brand embodied D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) ethos and gained a Patron in the form of Director Barney Platts-Mills: “Thank God for BBMF treading the path of genuine independence”. In October 2011 thematic film festival Cinema Global in Mexico City hosted a retrospective of Hall’s first three features under the banner of ‘Anarchism & Cinema’, where he also led a workshop with local filmmakers who produced a collective short film together in five days.
With the close collaboration of actor / writer Paul Marlon and the continuing support of producer & sister Becky Finlay-Hall, the BBMF brand grew over 2012/13 building an independent audience behind their work. 2012 saw Hall complete his first professional short film BRUISED (2012), a no-budget mockumentary devised with it’s lead performers, it was launched at three independent film events in Toronto, Edinburgh and London before being released online and creating a strong impact with views and responses. The film picked up two awards at the Bootleg Film Festival Toronto for the lead performers.
This momentum continued into the successful crowd sourcing campaign for fourth feature film COMMUNION (2013), the revenge thriller road movie was fully funded by pre-sales of DVD’s. The film had a two week London run when the BBMF team managed the Pop-Up Cinema in Ladbroke Grove followed by a small scale UK tour organised with independent venues, US screening at the Tribeca Film Centre and released online via Vimeo V.O.D. Hall’s self distribution model from funding to cinema release was recorded with guest posts on Chris Jones (Guerrilla Film Makers Handbook) Blog and the Raindance Film Festival website, plus interviews on Shooting People (Ben Blaine's Blog) and in print with the Digital Film Makers Magazine.
Hall's fifth and sixth features saw him move away from the BBMF imprint as a director-for-hire with commercial vehicles THIS IS A ROBBERY (2014), a direct to DVD production funded by its distribution in the UK under the title DANGEROUS MIND OF A HOOLIGAN and European release in its original name, plus true crime sequel BONDED BY BLOOD 2 (2017). Both home entertainment productions that allowed Hall to work with bigger budgets and crews, which had successful domestic releases and screen regularly on UK television.
Alongside these endeavours into commercially led films, Hall went back to his grass roots directing full length documentary CHESTER P FOR MAYOR: Hip Hop, Homelessness & the Housing Crisis (2015) with veteran UK rapper Chester P and featuring activist groups Focus E15 Mums, New Era Estate Residents, London Black Revs and the Love Activists. An unapologetically political, hard hitting documentary that chronicled the rappers recovery from drug abuse while also shining a light on the housing crisis in London. The project was used to raise money directly for the homeless during winter and was a very popular online release to a dedicated fanbase.
In May 2018 on the 425th anniversary of poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe's death it was announced that Hall was attached as director to feature film CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE being produced by Gary Kurtz. Exploring the idea that Marlowe was a spy in the early English secret service the film was set for production in 2019 but Hall departed from the project upon the death of producer Kurtz. Greg formed MEDIUM KOOL FILMS (MKF) with actor / writer George Russo in 2018 as a home for their own films and screenwriting. Their crime thriller script VILLAIN (2020) was produced by Ascendant Films starring Craig Fairbrass, directed by BIFA & BAFTA Nominee Philip Barantini, executive produced by MKF, distributed in the UK by Vertigo Releasing and the USA by Saban. It received strong reviews including four stars in Time Out London and the New York Times Critics Pick, with notable mentions on the strength of the writing, and when released on UK Netflix it went to Number 1 in films.
The first production under MKF was short film SMACK EDD (2019) directed by Hall, co-written with lead actor George Russo, following a father in the grips of addiction who uninvitedly crashes his son’s eighth birthday. The short screened at a number of regional filmmaker led festivals across the UK, receiving five awards and two special jury mentions including Best Short Film at the British Urban Film Festival. It also showed at a number of US festivals including the REEL Recovery Film Festival in New York and Los Angeles and the Netherlands SHIFT Film Festival that champions shifts in culture and new voices in cinema from across Europe. MKF also run irregular networking event the Medium Kool Social at Vout-O-Reenee’s, where Hall has also hosted two nights of curated shorts known as ‘F***ed Up Love’ in 2016 & ‘F***ked Up Love 2’ in 2019.
During lockdown of 2020 Hall shot and edited RIP AUDREY (2020) with his nine year old daughter Rosabella on an i-phone 11. The short film premiered at the Portobello Film Festival in September 2020 and was released via vimeo soon after. The film had its broadcast premiere on London Live when it screened in November 2020.
The second production under MKF was short film BABY BOY (2021), an adrenaline fuelled fever dream dark drama, produced by Jamie-Louise Davis and her company House 38. Written by Russo and Hall, starring George Russo, Dior Clarke, Kellie Shirley and Tomboy Sexy. The film had its World Premiere at the Tier A Bafta qualifying Iris Prize LGBT Film Festival 2021 then as part of the festival had its Broadcast premiere on Channel 4 and streamed on the All4 online service for twelve months. Baby Boy had its International Premiere at the 31st Melbourne Queer Film Festival and its London Premiere at the Bafta / BIFA qualifying British Urban Film Festival 2021 where George Russo received the award for Best Actor.
Alongside filmmaking Greg Hall has worked in film education for over fifteen years. He has delivered masterclasses at the University of the Creative Arts (UCA), Goldsmiths University, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and Ravensbourne University. He has taught film across a wide spectrum of education with a keen interest of working with at risk young people. Greg has worked around the UK on numerous projects using film education to engage young offenders on court orders, young people in care, excluded from education and within pupil referral units. He has a passion for teaching and using cinema as a tool to engage. Hall has worked as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Winchester and at Solent University with a focus on teaching screenwriting and directing. He is currently working as an Associate Lecturer at the London College of Communication (LCC) which is part of UAL University of the Arts London.