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Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, this hat walks into mine. Brandon Spearbecker as Fedora, filming at The House of Rock.

Whenever someone mentions film noir to me, a series of images rush through my mind. Gangsters engulfed in a cloud of cigarette smoke; black silhouettes on a cobblestone street; fine suits, fedoras, and pearls; you know, the elements that give noir a distinctive visual style. The name “film noir” even translates from French as “black film” – a perfect nutshell, you could say, for its visual and stylistic nature.

Although the golden age of the genre receded back to the 40s and 50s, Eau Claire native Blake Hamilton, a longtime fanatic of noir, decided to bring back "black" film (say that five times fast) to the Chippewa Valley. Shot locally and following the path of an aspiring hit man on the brink of madness, the recently finished caper – suitably titled Fedora – promises to be as unique as it is dark.

“Everyone has dreams,” Hamilton said, speaking of the film’s main character. “(Fedora) explores a bad person’s dreams … you know, the bad guy, the anti-hero. He’s just trying to accomplish his goal of working for the mafia.”

Conception of Fedora has been a long time in the making. Hamilton, who juggled roles as director, writer, producer, cameraman, and extra for the film, satiated the need to “get away” after high school by moving to the East Coast. While there, he immersed himself in all things film, shooting music videos and working as a production assistant on several movies. When he returned to Wisconsin in the winter of 2009, he met up with some old friends, and soon, like the spray of bullets fired from a Tommy gun, the idea for Fedora was born. 

“My friend Brandon would dress up in a classy film noir type outfit,” Hamilton says in a press release for the film. “The outfit brought out a different type of person inside him. … I got to thinking one day what would happen if you were to push such a transition to the limit.”