Upcoming Innovative Take on Historic Morris Men

Despite the ingenious ideas that hold the industry together, the film scene has perhaps been lacking something for a while… It makes sense if you’re now questioning what on Earth that could be! Keep asking, we can almost guarantee you won’t have guessed it. But Producer, writer, and all-round film fanatic D.B Morgan has got the answer: Morris dancing.

Take a deep delve into DB Morgan’s latest film in this article By Innovationly.

The massive array of awards DB Morgan has accumulated.

Sounds weird? You’re not alone in thinking so. However wild the premise behind this upcoming movie may seem, this is not actually a first for the independent film industry. Morris: A Life with Bells On(2009) is one such movie, written by Charles Thomas Oldham, that infused the tradition with comedic scenes and parodical influences. As its name suggests, the film focuses entirely on Morris dancing and its cultural rituals, though with a ‘spoof’ like take. Morgan, on the other hand, aims to embed his next cinematic release with a much more ‘grounding’ take on Morris dancing that truly infuses the film with respectful interpretations of the cultural escapades (amongst others) that are still widely respected today.

While upholding the utmost respect for Morris dancing at every corner, that’s not to say the upcoming Morris Men movie is designed to be at all somber or formal in any sense of the word. Even film critics have been equally as enthused by DB Morgan’s take on the British tradition, with The MetaMag announcing: “Morris dancing, kick-ass ninja assassins. What’s not to love. We’re all over this!

DB Morgan himself states:

It may sound utterly bonkers, and in many ways, it is, in the same way as Kick-Ass, Kingsman or many other Marvel or DC studio productions.

He’s certainly got a point. Many action-packed films today are simply that: action-packed. Without a semblance of a mention of culture, tradition, or true meaning behind them. This is part of why independent filmmakers have the potential to release such intriguing films as Morris Men. The world is their oyster. Unhindered by big movie bosses and the ever-looming dread of box office revenue outcomes and their consequences, indie films retain the ability to encapsulate the producers’ intentions without the need for multi-level interference.

So we know this isn’t the first time Morris dancing has appeared on screens, albeit having been over a decade ago. But this isn’t Morgan’s first rodeo either.

DB Morgan’s ‘Faith’ Movie – 2020

Having won a multitude of accolades with his debut movie Faith’ (2020), DB Morgan has amassed the support of prominent film awards organisations and film buffs. After noticing his aptitude for engaging storylines despite only just having introduced his work to the silver screen, these fans may be the reason behind why the Morris Men crowdfunding has managed to raise such a hefty contribution in support of his ideas.

His well-decorated awards collection includes commendations as semi-finalist, finalist, and winner from such names as the Florence Film Awards, Golden Bridge Istanbul, the ARFF Amsterdam // International Awards, and the Los Angeles Film Awards. With backing from such celebrated organisations as they await his next release, DB Morgan set out to do something an entirely new level up from his debut film. His initial production, Faith, led us through a remarkable journey in itself. The concept behind the initial movie debut by Morgan – as well as its goals – started out modestly. ‘Faith’ was first envisioned as a short, based on true events, that simply encapsulated the emotional, gripping, and entirely dark twists that could be involved in a nightmare car crash scenario. If you can call that simple at all. However, having developed into a fully-fledged feature-length film due to its original potential for expansion, the movie went on to win the aforementioned awards (amongst others), and also inspired the mindset for further releases that are expected to similarly shake the indie film industry.

On to the Morris Men…

Set for release in 2022, the Morris Dancing film is steeped in British heritage and tinged with an unavoidable sense of otherworldliness. The official movie tag line explains, “​​When a seaside town is gripped in a vice of drug fuelled corruption, sometimes the only solution is to book a dance with the Morris Men.”

Despite their relatively low budget of £150,000 in comparison to similarly ‘out there’ productions from studios such as Marvel, the Morris Men movie is yet set to shake the silver screen with an array of action-packed escapades.

A pure embodiment of British culture, this is an upcoming foray into the wonderful world of Morris dancing, intertwined with an entirely unpredictable combination of drugs, ninjas, and let’s not forget – Filipino martial arts, also known as Cali. It may sound bizarre, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most fiercely creative concepts we’ve heard of thus far as 2021 draws to a close. But it’s one that’s full of potential, and we can’t wait to see what unfolds as the realisation of Morgan’s sincerely well thought out ideas come to fruition.

Imagine an underworld bound by secrecy, drugs, hidden meanings, and the ancient forerunners of secret societies. This is what brings the markers of British heritage to our modern-day understanding of what it truly means to be a part of this weird and wonderful island we inhabit. It’s all too easy to forget what it means to be British. Morris Men is here to change that.

Of course, DB Morgan isn’t alone in making his boundless conceptions a reality. Helping to orchestrate the unorthodox concepts behind Morgan’s movies is experienced director Gregg Masuak. He’s worked with everyone from Courteney Cox and Penelope Cruz, to brands including Barclays Bank, EasyJet and Levi’s. It’s with these vast experiences concerning universally-recognised clients and celebrities under his belt, that he manages to bring Morgan’s visions to life.

Images from the Solstice scene of Morris Men, a DB Morgan film.

Cultural Awareness Meets Equality

It’s safe to say that Morris Men is set to be an awe-inspiring film interlaced with eye-opening cultural influences. These influences are both close to our hearts here at home in Britain, and from as far off as the Philippines. This sets the stage for a riveting exploration that invites us to indulge in topics such as cultural awareness, Not only that, but the film and its makers have identified some pretty commendable pledges regarding their aims in developing the film, too.

Making a strong, wholehearted commitment towards the objectives they intend to achieve throughout production and the promotion of the film itself, the #ALLEQUAL pledge they’ve outlined is one to be admired.

First up, there’s the way they possibly intend to address the reductionist attitude that often surrounds many discussions about British culture – the idea that we don’t have one. It’s fair to say that these kind of claims don’t often delve too far under the surface of what it means to be British in the first place. There are in fact a wide array of highly traditional customs, steeped in history and ultimately, undeniably British to their very core.

In cementing his stance on embracing the rich culture of the lands he grew up in, DB Morgan, alongside Masuak and co. have stated from the beginning that they want to create a “respectable film of British cultural meaning”. It’s hard to identify a single tradition that’s any more deeply rooted in British heritage than Morris dancing is, and so we think they’ve hit the mark exactly right there. The filmmakers have been unwaveringly committed to incorporating the symbolic layers of meaning that stand behind Morris dancing and the ones that partake in its traditions from the very start of Morris Men. If you weren’t too clued up on the phenomena in the first place, here’s where it all started.

The Origins of Morris Men

DB Morgan has previously explained his intrigue in how the world of ‘true events’ brings a new dimension of understanding to any film. In this case, his unique interpretations on Morris dancing is no exception.

Morris men are localised groups of dancers that regularly engage in foot stepping practice. With roots spanning back to 15th-century folklore in England, the dance is a lively outlet of culture that was engaged with by everyone from peasants to court entertainers.

Coming on in ‘leaps and bounds’, you might say, from its 15th-century frontiers, the Morris dancing hobby took the West Country by storm and by the 19th century, was widely adopted as both a pastime and a rich cultural engagement that many sought to adopt.

Styles of dance across the phenomena vary, as do many creative and societal outlets given the opportunity to thrive within secular groups. From the North West Morris dance with its military-style of movement and highly regimented processions, to the Border Morris dance more readily covered in the film. There’s a world of differentiation within the dance alone, and this leaves the precipice of the movie open to a variety of new influences from various cultures. That’s part of the filmmakers’ commitments to diversity in all its forms – while this is a British film at its very core, there’s much more to it than that; and it’s often eye-opening what creative minds can come up with.

That’s why an array of wider-reaching cultural influences have been embedded. Skilled performances are a huge part of Morris Men, and Morgan and co. take pride in supporting these often brushed aside societies that may otherwise not get a word in. It’s the Filipino Martial Arts, the infusion of modern parkour movements, and visceral cinematics that relate to the deeper semiotics beyond just culture. But they all work together to combine both culture and contemporary art forms, tradition and the trajectory of what else is to come.

Morris Men vs. the Future

It doesn’t sound all too threatening at its very core, but Morris Men takes us on a wild ride that embodies integrity and modernity. One enthusiastic melting pot of contemporary life and historic influences. That’s what you’re in for with this one.

Rarely do we see age-old traditions that have seamlessly spanned throughout the centuries… Particularly within such a digital age as the one we find ourselves so heavily engrossed in now. The fact is, that despite how you’re reading this on a website, it’s the coverage of movements like this and in such a future-ready, accessible format, that are bringing the rituals surrounding British heritage and culture back to the forefront of our collective identities.

The Morris Men film even highlights some of the destructivity of our modern world, as we’ve long forgotten plenty of traditions at our own expense. It’s not just based on action, as we already know many British traditions are so closely intertwined with emotion and the feeling of connectivity too. Romance is involved as a core plotline, as protagonist Tommy Feerman starts out at a loss as to how he can capture the heart of his childhood sweetheart. He unwittingly signs up for her Morris dancing club, not knowing this is about to be the turning point in what is about to become a whirlwind of encapsulating feuds, shadowy assassins, and perilous adventures that lead him deep into unforeseen circumstances he must then work his way through. With a vengeance.

It’s these traditional British foundations of Morris dancing, combined with alternative ESKRIMA Filipino Martial Arts, that bring a newfound ninja-esque style of dance-infused with parkour to the forefront of British independent cinema.

Whatever your understanding of Morris dancing is, it probably doesn’t come anywhere near to the ever-surprisingly innovative take on the tradition that DB Morgan has invented. Who else would have come up with such a combo?

You can find more information about the highly anticipated film on the Morris Men website. We don’t think this is one to be missed.

All photographs have been provided by Jamie Wright, Director of Cut-Connoisseur.

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