Spotlight: An interview with Luke Marley ("Henry VIII: The Shagger of History")
In the vibrant realm where digital creativity converges with the magic of cinema, Luke Marley, once the luminary YouTuber LM 2000, has orchestrated a remarkable journey. From the inception of his own production company, 03 Studios, to co-creating the humor-filled haven of The 04 Clan on YouTube, Marley's evolution has been nothing short of extraordinary. Amidst the challenges of the 2020 lockdown, he found inspiration to pen his maiden feature film, currently in the throes of production.
Marley also conjured a comedic gem, 'Henry VIII: The Shagger of History,' a short film that offers a satirical twist to the historical persona of Henry VIII. Recently, Marley clinched the Best Comedy award and an Honorable Mention for Director at LAFA for his work on this very film.
As we prepare to explore the intricacies of his creative odyssey, Marley shares, "This is a project that I am very passionate about." Reflecting on the six to seven months of tireless production, he expresses confidence in a collaborative endeavor where every contributor poured in 100% effort and passion. The result, Marley declares, is something truly pride-worthy.
Join us as we delve into the fascinating narrative of Luke Marley, a storyteller who seamlessly traverses the realms of YouTube humor, feature film aspirations, and historical satire with an unyielding passion for his craft.
Luke, congratulations on winning Best Comedy for Henry VIII: The Shagger of History. Before we dive into your filmmaking process, we'd love to know a bit more about you. Growing up in various locations around the UK (as you moved around a lot) -what made you interested in visual storytelling?Yeah, thanks so much. So it never really felt different because it's just what I knew and I spent a lot of time at boarding schools which I think impacted that quite a bit. I mean, I have always had that thought process of creating something whether it be a story or creating just something that was mine you know? But I have always been really into computers and originally that was what I was going to do but when I was studying computing in college I ended up doing an animation project that made me transfer to media the following year. So I kind of just fall into it really. Early in your career, you were making a lot of sketches and videos for YouTube - most notably for 'The 04 Clan'- how did you get involved with this project? Yeah so originally I started my own channel where I would do gaming and eventually me and Taylor [Taberner] spoke about working on something together where we would write and act in the sketches and honestly that is all probably the highlight of my career because I was making content that I loved to make with my best bro and I really hope to do more soon. Tell us about your time at Gloucestershire College and the Computing and media program you enrolled in - in what ways did it help you in your career? So, when I started college, my first year was in computing then I transferred to Media for my second and third years. which honestly helped me a lot because the skills I would learn helped even with my individual YouTube at the time and one of the classes that I took was in sound so it helped me learn more about recording voices and foley and all that. It even helped push me more towards voice acting. In general, what inspires you to write? I don't think, there's an inspiration to write in itself, I think I just come up with ideas at the wrong times you know? Like i will wake up at 4 AM and come up with something and run straight to my laptop to type it. In your opinion, what makes a great comedy? I think that the most important thing is the story and that you need to make the comedy work along with it but having said that I think you just can't have any limits. You need to be free to say whatever you want and if it's funny then put it in. Tell us a bit about 03 Studios Ltd - as the studio's founder, what are your responsibilities? So really my main role at the company is to figure out which projects we wanna do and when we do them. Along with guiding a future for the company. Like, we need to figure out how to guide us more into features. How do you choose the people on your team? For example, what characteristics and/or experience are you looking for when hiring a cinematographer, an editor, or a co-producer? Really, I just want people around me that, One: is good at their job. and Two: fun to be around. Like if I'm going to bring someone on I just don't want them to piss me off. I don't need that stress. But that's why I like to work with people I know and keep it as in-house as possible. What do you like most about being on set? Most of our projects have been animation, so we haven't done a lot on set, but for the times I have, I enjoy hanging out and having a good time between takes. But still very stressful.
“Henry VIII: The Shagger of History” proves that to create an interesting story, even in animation, you don't always need a big budget. Passion and precise writing can bring a result that is simply fun to see! Can you tell us about the process of writing the script? Could you see the end result in your imagination? So, the final film is even really different from the final script. because I like to change stuff and altar stuff to make it either funnier or just to make it flow better. But when I wrote it and then started production, I was terrified going forward because I didn't know if it was going to work. But honestly, I think even though the style of animation is very crude and simplistic I think that adds to the comedy of it too. While you were writing, did you already know you were going to direct the short, and if so, did this influence your choices in any way? Oh Yeah, for sure. I like to maintain as much creative control as possible. So when I write I usually intend to direct too. But the way I write, I write very vaguely because I like to account for when I change things. So in that way, it can accommodate my style of writing and directing. Already at the beginning of the story, King Henry VIII is revealed to be a superficial person, all he cares about is getting laid. He does not listen to his advisors and is determined to achieve his goal. Were there moments when you thought the character was too extreme or might hurt any of the viewers? Describe for us the process of building the character of Henry VIII. No, so that actually never occurred to me. When I write I never intend to offend anyone, it just ends up there. and especially in comedy, I don't really think there is a 'too extreme' because the minute you say that one thing isn't okay then everything isn't, You know? Since it was released I've had family members say that it was offensive and I just go 'Oh really?'. But it is known that Henry was a good king at first and over time he became really what we see in the short. But it is what I think he would have been like.
The stop motion is wonderfully done! We especially liked the work on the moving lips when each character speaks. The style you chose contributes so much to the smirk of the character. How did you create this world technically? Did you combine drawings on a page with After Effects work? Actually no, so we had our character designer draw the outlines of the characters then they would send them to me and we would print them out onto white card and would use coloring pencils and the same for the backgrounds. Then we literally clamped a camera to my dining room table and would point it down then do frame by frame. Then just in and editing software. The aim was to make the short look old and retro, to look like it was made in the 80s or 90s.
The song about King Henry is hilarious! The interruption of the song by Henry himself, after having sex, is surprising and amusing. Can you talk about the process of making music for the film- what was the starting point, and what was it like? So, I messaged our music producer Andrew who I'm working with for music on another project as well. So, we spoke about a few ideas just over Zoom to get a rough idea of the lyrics. We really wanted the song to be a medieval-style thing. and we're very proud of what we did. But the whole process was just enjoyable and when I got the first demo of it I thought that was incredible. then we brought Tim on board to perform the song which he did an incredible job. We were absolutely blown away.
One of the elements that contribute to the film the most is the voice-over of the characters. Sounds like the work process was particularly enjoyable! Can you tell us about the recordings with the talented actors who contributed their voices? Yeah, so the funny thing is that none of the actors has ever met or even been in the same room or even spoken. Everything was done by message. So, for me playing Henry was tough because it was just finding the right voice and honestly it took quite a toll on me to perform. But now I can pretty much do it without thinking. The rest of the cast was absolutely incredible Lachlan and Kaitlyn I'm starring with in my upcoming movie Badass Incorporated. most actors had a wide range of characters to play which can always be challenging and I'm so proud of what we achieved together. After King Henry orders his men to kill anyone who criticizes him, an interesting encounter comes between him and... Jesus. So let's talk about the message of the story, beyond all the laughter and madness. What were you hoping to convey to audiences? I'm so glad you mentioned this, I really wanted to convey that despite who someone is, they can always change but, it won't take a lot for them to revert to who they always were.
Let's talk a bit about the technicalities. How long was the shoot, and what were some of the challenges you encountered on set? Yeah, so it took seven months to animate this project, there were almost constant issues including my printer breaking down a few times and the camera battery would die or the worst thing was that during the Jesus scene, I accidentally tripped and bumped the table having to restart the whole scene. What are you most proud of about the project? Probably of what it has achieved, the screenings that we have had in LA were amazing. From one of them, we came out with a 'Best International Short Animation' at the Silicon Beach Film Festival and of course the 'Best Comedy' from you which we are very honored with. We have the trophy on display at the production office. Do you have plans to distribute it or release it to a wide viewership soon? We are still hoping to get into a final few festivals, but due to the obvious subjects of the film we have had a bit of a hard time with it (especially in the UK). But after that, we will be making it available to watch online, we will also be releasing the song 'The Ballad of King Henry' on major music platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, etc.
What's next for you? Are you in development/production for new projects? Well, I'm writing a few movies and a few Pilots. We are currently in Pre-Production of a live-action comedy-western short that we are planning to shoot in early 2024. We are also planning to make a few more animated shorts using the same animation style as Henry VIII. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Hopefully, to have moved to LA and my main goal is to create a TV Show. Is there anything you'd like to add or someone you wish to thank? I want to thank my Family, The entire cast and crew of this film. But most of all my amazing girlfriend Olivia and my best bro Taylor. Where can our readers follow more of your work? They can check out my Instagram @lm20001 and The 03 Studios Instagram @03StudiosUK