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By midlandsmovies, Aug 18 2017 06:29PM



Interview with Lincoln Filmmaker Lewis Coates


Midlands Movies meets Lewis Coates, a filmmaker currently based in Lincoln who has just completed his most recent short film 'When Voices Unite' for Channel 4's 'Random Acts'.


Being filmed and edited in the Midlands, the short film has just been shortlisted for Danny Boyle's Shuffle Film Festival in London and editor Mike Sales chats to this rising filmmaking star.


Midlands Movies Mike: Hi Lewis. Hope you are well. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Lewis Coates: Well, I’m a 24 year old filmmaker and graduate of The University of Lincoln and I moved to the Midlands from down South a few years ago for University. I’ve been based here throughout my degree and for 3 more years working as a videographer and editor. I’ve written and directed a number of short films and creative projects whilst being here, but When Voices Unite is my first professionally funded and distributed film for this year’s season of Channel 4’s 'Random Acts’.


MMM: Great stuff. Did you get into filmmaking at all before University?

LC: I remember picking up my mum’s digital camera when I was very young and just started making videos with my friends. Stupid stuff - horror movies with fake blood, Jackass-stunts - the normal stuff kids do, I’d just want to film it all. By the time I’d finished education and got into Uni, I’d watched hundreds of great independent & foreign cinema, and really found my love for making it too!


MMM: And how did you get involved in Random Acts?

LC: I sent a script to Channel 4 back in January and they got back to me pretty quickly, asking if I’d like to direct it. The only problem, they wanted it complete by April ready for the next season of ‘Random Acts’ - so we actually went from first draft script to screen in less than a month! We filmed and edited in one weekend. The production team were very helpful getting most of the leg-work done, which allowed me to concentrate on perfecting the final script and assembling everything else for the shoot!


MMM: Wow! That timescale is very tight. Were there any more issues with the filmmaking process given that issue?

LC: There's quite a funny story actually - we found a great location, these big underground tunnels that used to be a disused nuclear bunker. We paid the owner to use them for the evening, but we’d been double-booked with a Ghost Tour. So at about 8pm we were interrupted by 50 ghost-hunters with torches and hiking gear, walking round doing seances. There were times where we were filming and we’d hear footsteps and “Hello…. Is anyone there…?” and we’d all freeze and wait for them to pass by. They probably all claimed they'd seen an undead film crew on multiple occasions! But this pushed our filmming back through the night and we ended up finishing around 4am!



MMM: The film covers a whole host of topical issues. How did this subject matter come to be of interest to you?

LC: The film includes social media, government surveillance, fake news - and with the current social climate being very volatile, there’s a lot of fear and emotion to play on; and technology & fears of the future are a good starting point that gives a lot of creative scope. Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ does a similar thing where technology and social unrest plays a large factor in the narrative. I think if the audience can relate to the character or understand the emotions conveyed in the piece, they usually enjoy it more.


MMM: And have you made many films before this one?

LC: I’ve made a few self-funded student short films before, but When Voices Unite was my first professional short. My first was called ‘Pin’ about a crime scene cleaner that gets caught up in the criminal world, the second was ‘Synoptica’, a slight-futuristic drama about a couple that get interactive contact lenses, starring Nathalie Cox (Jumper, Kingdom of Heaven), which first ignited my interests in the ‘negative technology’ theme. Both films were for University, so had to be between 20-30mins, where I found that shorts for consumption online usually have more chance of success the shorter they are.


MMM: Coming back to your latest film, what are your plans for this project?

LC: ‘When Voices Unite’ is currently being distributed online via ‘Random Acts’ channels - there’s a chance it will be broadcast on Channel 4, but nothing confirmed just yet. It’s also doing a festival run from now until March; currently shortlisted at Danny Boyle’s ‘Shuffle Film Festival’ in London and hopefully more to be announced soon.


MMM: You mentioned Charlie Brooker earlier. Are there any other films or filmmakers whose work interests you?

LC: I watch a lot of foreign and independent cinema to really get a variety of filmmaking and storytelling techniques. I enjoy the work of Park Chan-Wook, Michael Haneke, Denis Villeneuve - but it’s hard to say which filmmakers directly influence my work, as it’s probably an organic culmination of many. I’m proud to represent the UK film industry, I love the work of Ben Wheatley, Charlie Brooker, Edgar Wright, but my favourite films of the last few years would be Victoria (Sebastian Schipper’s tense one-shot masterpiece), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins beautiful LGBT Oscar-winner) and Whiplash (Damian Chazelle’s enigmatic musical drama).


MMM: Thanks Lewis. And finally, do you have any films/filmmakers from the Midlands region our readers should check out?

LC: There's definitely not enough Midlands filmmakers out there! A few Ben Wheatley & Shane Meadows films are set here, but we really need to encourage the film industry to utilise this region of the UK more.


We couldn't agree more! Thanks to Lewis for his time and check out the film via YouTube below.







By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 09:36PM

The Belko Experiment (2017) Dir. Greg McLean


From the director of Wolf Creek 1 and 2 comes this horror-drama where a group of office workers in South America are pitted against each other in a social experiment fight to the death.


Each worker has a voluntary tracking device in their head (owing to possible kidnappings) yet when their high rise building is suddenly locked down, a mysterious intercom voice instructs them to kill each other or face having their in-head trackers blown up.


A ridiculous premise for sure, I found the characters boring and not even a broad turn from the likable John C. McGinley (Office Space) could help with the repetitive killing spree.


Uninspiring “deaths” and a lack of tension unfortunately didn’t help proceedings and the film was crying out for the genre-bending and satirical style of similar structural kill-fest ‘Cabin in the Woods’. In a world where realism is often missing from modern movies, it was clear that what The Belko Experiment actually needed was a big pinch of hyper-reality or dark comedy to compensate for the ludicrous set-up.


Despite being written by James Gunn, the film contains little of his wit and clever character arcs (as seen in his ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ films) and was ultimately just like a long unfulfilling 9-5 shift at the office.


5/10


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 09:36PM



Time, and Again (2017) Dir. Kel Webster and Steve Lawson


Produced and directed by local filmmakers Kel Webster and Steve Lawson this new sci-fi short Time, and Again was independently made in Leicester and Nottingham and stars former Dr. Who Colin Baker alongside local actress Helen Crevel.


Baker has supported Midlands filmmakers before with a voiceover in Kenton Hall’s A Dozen Summers and in Rhys Davies’ historical Finding Richard so has a great track record here in the region. Crevel too has starred in a number of films for Leicester’s Creativ Studios including horror-drama Survival Instinct.


“Is the future in our hands?” asks Baker’s Professor Theo at the start as he address a small audience of students. After the class finishes, theoretical physicist and ex-student, Maggie, takes him to a clock-filled room akin to Doc Brown’s laboratory in Back to the Future.


After calibrating the professor’s watch with a wooden grandfather clock, she drops it into an electrical blue ‘nest’ only for it to appear later during another time and space. However, not only physical objects are affected as Maggie explains that “time shifts” will disrupt one’s memory as well.


The ticking of clocks and shots of timepieces are littered throughout, with sound effects coming from the chiming of bells with the film’s slight musical track sometimes drowned out in the background. The science lab set is well dressed and doesn’t overpower the actors – who are the film’s sole focus.


The props are a mix of past and present which highlight the fluid nature of time and before long, a discussion is had about the scientific and moral decisions in an ambiguous effort to erase/replace their pasts – along with their recollection of these.


With the risks (briefly) talked over, the theme of changing the past – for the better or worse – leads the film to a final leap into the unknown. Without going into spoilers, influences range from the circular nature of Looper to the dark scientific repercussions of Shane Carruth’s head-spinning Primer.


The short is well filmed with the performances of the duo are fantastic. The stoic academic Theo is given humanity through Baker’s accepting glances whilst Crevel is the wide-eyed inventor with dreams of changing their histories. Both display a sorrowfulness when recalling a past tragedy which is wisely left mostly open to interpretation.


A haunting little film, which leaves the audience with many more questions to think about than answers, Time and Again is an assured debut from Webster who started out as a camera assistant alongside the more experienced Steve Lawson. It is to the credit of the two arresting main actors who infuse an engaging uncertainty into what could have been your standard “fixing-the-past” plot, that the film owes much of its success. Overall, the future looks bright for Webster and Lawson as the story is a timely reminder that a good short can use the genre conventions of the past yet challenge expectations to deliver its fresh new ideas in a contemporary way.


Mike Sales, Midlands Movies


View the film's trailer here:




Find out more about the film on the links below:


IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5770448/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_2

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TimeAgainFilm

By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 10:21AM



Five Lamps Films presents: July 2017 Screening


With the regular monthly screenings of the Five Lamps Films being moved to bi-monthly comes the added anticipation when the night finally arrives, showcasing what the local filmmaking community have to offer.


With that in mind here are some of the highlights from their July Summer showcase.


Showing first was the hosts (Carl and Sam) short featurette they filmed as they prepared to host the Five Lamps Films 24-hour Film Festival. Funny and entertaining as always, it was also nice to see what work actually goes into making sure one of the Derby Film Festivals closing events ticks along smoothly. I’m also a sucker for anything documentary based when it comes to making films, so I really enjoyed this!


The Smiling Man – Kronicle Films

This short, about a young girl who wanders the streets alone at night, impressed me in various ways. Based on a popular internet horror story, The Smiling Man starts with two young sisters who have evidently grown apart. As one sister stares at a static television, the other stares longingly into the dark street as she decides to take a walk. Whilst on the walk it’s there where she meets The Smiling Man, a creepy entity who seems to be everywhere she is.


I thought this film was shot brilliantly, as well as the performances being brilliant, especially that of The Smiling Man who was genuinely creepy! I would recommend this to any horror fan.


Some Lines – Serloin Films

My favourite of the night, Some Lines starts with two friends spending Friday night in with a few bottles of wine and pizzas. Both have been friends with each other for many years but both are holding something back.


The performances of the two girls were brilliant, they felt natural as if they were friends in real life which gave the film the punch it needed to satisfy the audience. I felt the screenplay was grounded in reality, the dialogue witty as if these were actual conversations. I also really enjoyed the score in Some Lines, it had a menacing, brooding vibe to it very similar to that of an 80’s film.


I can’t wait to see what Serloin Films have to offer in the future!


Bag of Money – Foyle River

Four people, an abandoned tunnel, an unclaimed bag of money. What could go wrong? Bag of Money intentionally starts off where most films normally end, a bag of money containing £350k has been found some time ago. Confident no one is coming to collect the bag; the film starts as the four characters pick up the bag to split the findings, unfortunately these scenarios never happen to plan and a fall out soon ensues.


Shooting on location near an abandoned tunnel in a tucked away wooded area gives this short an incredible look, not just visually but the habitat here adds to the atmosphere of the situation. This simple story has been done many times before but this time with fresh eyes. I look forward to seeing what Foyle River get up to next!


Lily Gulch – James Pyle

A veteran of Five Lamps Film Nights, James Pyle consistently puts forward films he has made himself, each film vastly different than the last. This screening he submitted Lily Gulch, an animated short about a gun slinging cowboy entering a new town ready to make a name for himself.


Short but sweet, Lily Gulch had the audience in fits of laughter throughout its run time, a common trend with Pyle’s films. I’ve now seen him tackle live action, animated and silent films so I can’t wait to see what James has got up his sleeve for the next screening.


The Last Drop (Der Letzte Tropfen) – Sascha Zimmermann

Last but not least is The Last Drop, a German short film written by the Midlands very own Tommy Draper. Premiering on a popular German TV channel, The Last Drop features a group of men and women who meet every week at in a local community centre to talk through their addiction, however this all changes when a new addition walks in.


Brilliantly directed by Sascha Zimmermann, The Last Drop is funny, dark and worth a watch!


Click here to find out more about Tommy's project here on Midlands Movies


Now back to waiting for the next screening and seeing again what brilliant project our talented filmmakers in the region have to offer.


You can catch the next show on September 26th 8:30pm at the QUAD.


Guy Russell

Twitter @Budguyer


By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 08:40AM



Midlands Spotlight - The Short Cinema 2017 in Leicester


Leicester's amazing The Short Cinema is now under a week away and they have a full programme of loca, national and international films to showcase over their 3-day festival line up.


Check out the full programme below:


THE SHORT CINEMA LAUNCH PARTY Wed 23 Aug, 6.30pm

To celebrate the eleventh edition of The Short Cinema, we’re launching the festival with a get-together, to give us a chance to highlight some of our partners and supporters and allow our makers to meet before their screening night. Join us for a drink from Langton Brewery and finger food from exciting, new, vegan caterers The Mystery Booth to celebrate another year of excellent short film. We will also have music from the talented Les Hayden and an outdoor screening in partnership with The British Silent Film Festival (weather dependent). This event is followed by our Opening Gala screening of our 2017 International Programme in Screen 2 from 8:45pm. Please note you will need a separate ticket for this event.

 

THE SHORT CINEMA OPENING GALA: INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME Wed 23 Aug, 8.45pm

Opening Gala: The International Programme has expanded! For the first time this will be showcased in one of our main screens following the launch party.

 

ARTIST MOVING IMAGE: THE LACEY RITUALS: FILMS BY BRUCE LACEY Thu 24 Aug, 6.45pm

This delightful programme showcases the playful, physical sense of humour and irreverent sensibility of great British artist and eccentric, Bruce Lacey.

 

THE BEST OF IRIS: QUEER FILM NETWORK SCREENING Thu 24 Aug, 7pm

A chance for audiences to watch the Best of Iris LGBTQ+ Film Festival Shorts. A post screening discussion will be hosted by Connor Winterton. [LIMITED AVALIABILITY]

 

THE SHORTISH CINEMA Fri 25 Aug, 8pm

Screening for its third year, the festival has expanded with The Shortish Cinema, a screening of Midlands-made films which need slightly longer than our usual 15 minute limit to tell their story.

 

FAMILY SHORTS: Sat 26 Aug, 10.30am

Presented in partnership with Flatpack Assemble: Join us for a morning of family friendly short stories told on the big screen.

 

THE SHORT CINEMA CLOSING: MAIN COMPETITION Sat 26 Aug, Doors 7.30pm – Screening 8pm

Now in its eleventh year, The Short Cinema is an annual short film festival showcasing established and emerging talent from across the world with a strong focus on Midlands makers.

 

More info can be found at http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk/




By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2017 07:56PM

Tony (2017) Dir. Jack Veasey


Tony is a new film from Coventry filmmaker Jack Veasey who throws blood, sweat and tears at the screen as we follow a violent week in the life of the eponymous “hero” of the movie.


The "hero" is Tony, a local boxer who has a variety of demons and family problems that bubble to the surface in the most destructive way possible. The director introduces us to Tony via Paul Greengrass-style handheld camera work as he protects a girl from further assault but in doing so gets on the wrong side of a known criminal family which we later find has links to his own past.


A dishevelled Tony then begins to realise his predicament and is shown drinking and drug-taking before heading to the gym to hit out his frustrations on a punch-bag.


Framing the narrative around a week we see each day ratchet up the stakes for the loner whose quiet demeanour is reflected in the cool washed out blue colour-grading of the film.


Although a scene looking at old photos and drinking from a decanter had an 80s clichéd burnt-out cop vibe, the filmmaker tries to avoid too many stereotypes. The film has more in common with Drive and Only God Forgives – especially the focus on hands and bloody knuckles – than it does with the meat-headed Cobra.


That said, as we uncover tales of an abusive family back-story the film does shuffle from quiet introspection to explosive violence with some great fight choreography. On a local level action can be very hard to do on a smaller budget but Tony is a film that goes further than most with well designed fights from a bare-knuckle boxing match to kidnap and torture through to domestic violence.


Not for the squeamish, there are plenty of ruthless head-butts, stabbings and punches thrown around the screen with the director showing a skill for filming fights. The movie doesn’t underestimate the need for getting the placing of characters correct in order for an audience to understand where they are in relation to one another. This can be somewhat lacking in modern blockbusters – I’m talking to you Michael Bay! Here though, the simplicity actually helps the film deliver a knock-out punch.


If there was one area for improvement, it would be the slower sections have slight pacing issues – a drug-taking scene took an age to deliver its inevitable “space out” – whilst I would have personally preferred a flashback to the family’s woes rather than the background story delivered in dialogue. It’s a fine line between measured and ‘plodding’ but I think the film just stays on the right side to deliver satisfying character moments.


But these are minor issues which are overcome by the weighty action. The filmmaker also shows the damage these battles can cause – both physically and mentally – as Tony’s doubts are contrasted with his explosive temper. Richard Summers Calvert gives a tormented performance as the protagonist who can deliver the requisite anguish as well as the volatile stunt work needed. Special mention too for a solid supporting cast including Marc Ozall, George Wills, Michael Muyunda, Andre Pierre, Therica Wilson-Read and Carey Thring as a variety of friends, foes and family.


In the end, mixing a dollop of internal angst with a big helping of brutality, Tony is a film that wants an audience to immerse themselves so deep into the character that they too have blood on their hands. And for genre fans and those wishing to experience a dark and bleak exploration, they will find many pleasures during their week with the terrorising Tony.


Mike Sales


Midlands Movies

By midlandsmovies, Aug 9 2017 03:15PM



Raw (2017) Dir. Julia Ducournau


What if you had a rash that didn’t stop itching? Well, that’s just one of the inescapable addictions in French-Belgian film Raw that looks at growing up in a world of school, sex, and illness.


We follow Garance Marillier as the wild-eyed and vegetarian Justine who follows in her parents and sister’s footsteps and heads to veterinary school. Here she is immediately thrown into the wild parties and the ritualistic and degrading hazing of new joiners at the college.


The director shows the horrors of hedonism in long tracking shots in nightclubs and the frightening freshers’ week ends in the new recruits covered in blood and guts in a Carrie-esque soaking. The final initiation sees Justine forcing down a raw rabbit kidney despite her veggie instincts.


An irritating body rash soon develops before more primal impulses start to form and the lifelong herbivore begins to enjoy the taste of meat-filled sandwiches. This soon progresses to raw chicken then even her own hair which is regurgitated in a shot of visual repulsion.


Her college life continues and the director gives us stark glimpses of the school with scenes of horses, breeding and animal corpses. From the limbs of a variety of beasts, the crossover between animal and human is an obvious parallel but works well as we see the two combine. Sometimes literally when Justine is shown elbow deep in a bovine’s bottom.


It is here when the director’s realism culminates in a horrific scene as her sister’s finger is accidentally cut off and Justine crosses a taboo line. Much like the cinematic authenticity of French film Martyrs, the slice-of-life direction focusing on drama make the shocks all the more terrifying. The amazing Ella Rumpf plays her sister Alexia and the film begins to suggest a sibling similarity between the relatives.


With an almost non-existent score (mostly a soundtrack of background music and sounds), the simple turn from biological functions – themselves depicted in their simple disgusting glory – to a craving for the forbidden fruit of human flesh is revoltingly good. With bullying and nappy punishments, the film is visually biological with a strong focus on the body. From things going in and coming out of orifices to waxing and washing, the film cuts between these haunting human images to animal autopsies and dissections.


A horse on a treadmill appears symbolic of Justine’s ever growing and onoging hunger for “bodies” and her cravings for the phallic finger leads to an awakening sexuality as she breeds and bleeds with her male mating partner.


I subsequently felt that Raw infects the audience with an orgy of limbs whilst Justine’s withdrawal is depicted in a painfully straight forward filming style. Like the recent US film Maggie, Raw takes the flesh-eating concept and attempts to normalise its presentation. Raw is a much greater triumph though, and far better movie, and becomes a biting, but maybe slightly on the nose, metaphor for growing up and its effects on the body. The film succeeds on many levels and after it had finished I found an obsession with its images and themes and longed for another taste of its delicious pleasures.


9/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 8 2017 09:41AM



Flatpack presents - Dudley Castle After Dark: An American Werewolf in Dudley


John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London brought packs of film fans out to a special screening of the highly influential horror-comedy.


Unlike last year's Bride of Frankenstein screening, the surrounding animals in Dudley Zoological Gardens were ominously quiet throughout. Perhaps with the werewolf in town, they were worried about their place on the food chain. Perhaps not. Although in recompense, there was a baby somewhere screaming with a mixture of terror and tiredness.


The evening opened with Howl, an eerie animated short detailing a true enfant terrible in the shape of a werewolf toddler. This was fittingly followed by the full length video for Michael Jackson's Thriller vanity project. Directed by John Landis after The King of Pop saw An American Werewolf in London, its balance of laughs, scares and nostalgia set the tone perfectly for the main feature.



After a personalised video greeting by the director himself ("On the way home, stay on the road"), we were straight onto the Moors. We join two American tourists as they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb, a pub which the residents of The Wicker Man’s Summerisle would probably regard as “a bit rough.” A swift exit sees them stranded in the back end of beyond, with something creepy closing in...


The film itself sees Rick Baker's 36 year old practical effects still looking surprisingly impressive on the big screen, no doubt holding up better than the many CGI efforts that have followed it. Besides the ground-breaking transformation of David (David Naughton), there's true horror to be found in the lycanthropic mauling and subsequent undead appearances of Jack (Griffin Dunne).


There are also genuine laughs to be had, as Jack’s incarnations become increasingly comical and gruesome throughout. The camaraderie between the male leads is infectious and the humour still stands up in front of a modern audience. Having said that the downbeat ending is still a shock to the system, but how could it all end happily?


After the moon rose and the darkness fell, projected pentagrams and candle flames crept along the castle walls, creating a sinister setting for the leaving audience. Such details, alongside Landis’ intro, thoughtful shorts and an inspired film selection, has seen Flatpack’s ‘Dudley Castle after Dark’ become an unmissable event in the Midlands' movie calendar.


Robb Sheppard


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