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By midlandsmovies, Sep 21 2017 02:31PM

Mother! (2017) Dir. Darren Aronofsky


The history of haunting, or haunted, “mother” horror movies is a long one ranging from Mama (2013) to Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Exorcist (Regan’s bed-bouncing screams of “mother” still linger from 1973) but the eclectic Aronofsky was never going to provide an audience with the expected. In his horror house, he places Jennifer Lawrence squarely as Mother Nature herself as his story develops from a chilling but calculated cliché to a surprise sermon in just 2 hours.


Lawrence plays the put-upon partner of Javier Bardem’s author who is ridden with writer’s block as she attempts to build a house from the ashes in order to create their own personal Eden together. The first hour contains many horror tropes – a new couple, a mysterious house, a scary cellar, the strange phenomenon in the walls etc – and sets up a film where Lawrence’s mother tries increasingly futile attempts to maintain her paradise, lost as it is to many unwarranted guests. A brilliant Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer arrive (in the script as “Man” and “Woman”) to disturb the sanctuary in their utter rudeness and contempt of Lawrence.


Here we begin to see Aronofsky’s allegory as we soon witness their children arrive (*obvious klaxon* ‘Cain and Abel’) whose Old Testament fights sees blood spattering as mother’s “guests” continue on a downward spiral of debauchery, violence and carnage.


Personally, it felt a film of two halves and I enjoyed the themes the director brings attention to but in fairness to viewers, I do think Hollywood needs to work on their trailers. Knowing Aronofsky I was surprised to see what was advertised as a haunted house chiller in the film’s promotional material which has since prompted film company Paramount to issue a statement about taking creative risks. If only the advertising was more honest about its intentions I think audiences would respect them and the film a lot more. There’s nothing in the heady themes of the film that a mainstream crowd would not “get” yet hiding it under a mask of Blumhouse-esque trailer scares does it more than a disservice.


That said, with a few dark moments of comedy in the first half, Lawrence’s patience is pushed to the limit and I was laughing along with the movie a fair bit. However, once her character became pregnant the director launches into a mother-metaphor so blatant I began laughing sporadically AT it. More of a dissertation – an unwanted lecture at times – the film’s focus shift to the dangers or war, religion, false idols and even the birth of a sacrificial “chosen one” was a bit too on the nose.


However, Mother is brilliantly filmed in grainy greys and browns and the bursts of red colour and the surrounding green nature are fleeting but all the more powerful. The lack of score maintains the stark and unsettling mood whilst the final anarchy and chaos in the house towards the film’s conclusion is a striking example of the director’s technical vision.


But was it enjoyable? Well, it’s certainly a class product and although audiences have been polarised with its efforts (part of which I maintain is a ‘marketing’ issue) the film itself contains a full-house of interesting scriptural and environmental themes which I was still picking apart way after the film had finished.


My own initial interpretation was one that the film was simply “time” itself. The “big bang” fiery opening was followed by a period of cooling earth tones before (metaphorical) dinosaurs Harris and Pfeiffer arrived. A frog jumping from the ooze onto land appeared an evolutionary nod whilst a directorial ‘god-shot’ high above the house seemed celestial in its nature with Earth (the house) at its centre. And it wasn’t until the arrival of Bardem’s “fan-fiction” (Bible) did we see the ultimate destruction of “mother” (nature).


However, it is very open to interpretation and it is that which is far and away the best thing about it but at times I was hoping to get the beginning of a film that the ending hadn’t set up or even find an ending for the more traditional horror film promised initially. But like the Bible, it is ultimately a film of two halves (Testaments) which combine into an intricate whole. This will satisfy some but others will find the bait-and-switch as awful as the violent fundamentalism that manifests in the finale. Your ultimate decision may be swayed by whether you feel humans are already a bunch of selfish shits – or want to be told that is the case just one more time but in a slightly pretentious way.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2017 10:07AM



Midlands Professional - Birmingham actor Andre Pierre


Our Professional series continues as Midlands Movies chats to Andre Pierre – an actor form the region who shares his background and experience in the industry.


Mike finds out more about his past projects as well as his new major 2018 film “15 Minutes of War” directed by Fred Grivois.


The Midlands

Andre Pierre is a professional actor from Birmingham (West Midlands) and is represented by IPM (Imperial Personal Management). With over 7 years of acting experience, including workshops at The Crescent Theatre and Millennium Point, he took his experience to the Birmingham Theatre School before moving into short and feature films, TV and theatre.


“I have a variety of upcoming films coming up including sci-Fi drama “Graycon” directed by Duaine Carma Roberts, superhero TV pilot “Lucid The Dreamwalker”, an action thriller feature film “TONY” and an urban drama feature film called “Blitz In The Bitz” which are all premiering in October”.



Acting beginnings

“My foundation for acting in general started when I was 13. My first role into films was an educational short film called “My Life My Choice” and it was the first time I auditioned for any kind of film project. At the time I had no clue to how big and how much attention this film was going to receive”.


The trailer to the film went viral which was closely followed by a premiere at Star City in Birmingham. Andre Pierre continues, “Being part of this made me realise the power a film can have on people and was the turning point for me to become a professional actor. Since then I’ve had numerous leading and supporting roles”.


Exclusive Shot From Short Film “Last Night In Freedom” Directed By Click Jones Coming Soon
Exclusive Shot From Short Film “Last Night In Freedom” Directed By Click Jones Coming Soon

Overcoming Hurdles

“Staying committed regardless of how many no’s you receive sounds like a cliché but it’s very true in this industry. You have to have thick skin because part of your job is dealing with criticism from your audience, critics, directors, casting directors etc. You are going to judged by everyone and it’s something you cannot get past so you have to whole heartedly believe in yourself, believe in your talent and believe in your work ethic to reach the goals you set out for yourself”.




Superhero TV Pilot "Lucid The Dreamwalker" Directed By The Johnson Bros Coming Soon


Acting methods

“I always analyse the script and talk with the director first and foremost to make sure what direction they want the character to go in. But I always bring honesty and authenticity to my performances so want to make sure that you see the truth in the characters I’m playing. This needs to be related to the story so you are invested in them along their journey. I always try to see how my character moves and talks, how does he react in various situations etc so a lot of research in one or another. I always want my characters to be relatable, interesting and as grounded as possible to give the best performances”.


Challenges faced by actors on local films

“There are so many challenges it varies but it could be from noise being too loud on the location, actors dropping out at the last minute and filming days going on longer than expected. I would say, for actors, just prepare yourself for anything on an independent or short film because it’s all training grounds for the bigger platforms and it only helps you to get better at your craft when you go through these experiences”.

Andre Pierre Playing James From Feature Film “TONY” Directed By Jack Veasey
Andre Pierre Playing James From Feature Film “TONY” Directed By Jack Veasey

Acting experiences

“I think my best acting experience was filming in Morocco for the feature film “15 Minutes Of War” (15 Minutes De Guerre). It has been my first role filming abroad but also my first big role on a film on this scale with so much action, working with a Hollywood actress and rising movie stars as well as a critically acclaimed director. It’s been like nothing I’ve ever done before. I was developing the character, learning the language and filming the first week in Casablanca before shooting the rest of the film in Marrakech in the desert which was challenging within itself but also a pure joy I will never forget. The worst experience was not being fully prepared for an audition when I was starting out. It was so horrible [laughs] but it was also a learning curve for me to always to be ready and give yourself enough time to prepare for auditions in the future. I made sure that never happened again”.


Advice for beginners

“The best advice I can pass on is to try and get some form of training whether it’s in drama or theatre school, performing arts courses or acting workshops. This training gives you the foundation and tools to become the best performer possible. Using Star Now or Mandy (Casting Call Pro) are good for getting started to find some form of work as well. Another alternative route is to find friends that are making films and get involved - or even just create your own films”.


Best advice from others

“I was told to ‘risk everything’ and what I take from that is you have to risk looking like an idiot at times to bring out the best performance. There’s been many times where either the director or I had to push myself even further to bring out my full potential and sometimes you might think that’s not normal or you might be self conscious. That is the very thing what pushes it from good to great so I would always say push past your comfort zone. Now, when I’m usually fearful of something I haven’t done before, it only encourages me to do better and discover new skills about myself I thought I didn’t have”.


A Shot From Short Film “The Glove Game: Beginning” Directed By Josh Bliss
A Shot From Short Film “The Glove Game: Beginning” Directed By Josh Bliss

Future plans

“The future is looking very bright for next year and beyond. I’ll be in a lot more feature films and TV shows. My work is already opening up more opportunities than I ever imagined so I will be in fewer short films than before. The journey has been full of many surprises and I feel very blessed and thankful to be in this position right now”.


Final words

“I would say that you have to believe in yourself first and foremost and love the craft because this journey won’t be easy. It’s not going to happen overnight so enjoy the process, enjoy the journey and learn as much as you can from other creatives. Don’t wait on that big opportunity to come to you work towards it now whether it’s being part of theatre or short and independent films but get yourself out there and make your career happen!”.


Check out more from Andre Pierre on his Spotlight page here: https://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/0811-3493-3372


A Shot From Horror Short Film “Bless You” Directed By Daryl Grizzle



Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2017 07:16AM



IT (2017) Dir. Andrés Muschietti


A group of bullied school kids spend their summer investigating the disappearances of a series of local children.


In October 1988, Ben’s (Jaeden Lieberher) littler brother went missing, and was never found. The following summer, a number of other kids start to go missing, and Ben is not able to ignore It (Bill Skarsgård) . He and his friends (all played by some cracking performers) join together to see what’s been going on, only It has his eyes on them first.


What. A. Film. I am a very happy person right now. It was brilliant! I’m finally able to say that I like horror films when they’re done right, and this thing didn’t put a foot wrong. I would honestly have not problem paying to see the film again this week.


The kids in this film were all brilliant. I loved all the characters, and the way each actor captured their own was really great to see. There was none of that cheesy, over-egged acting that can sometimes happen with younger performers, and that had been one of my main concerns after deciding to see the film. They each really understood the eccentricities and oddities of their roles, for example, Jaeden Lieberher nailed Ben’s stutter, and Finn Wolfhard got Richie’s ballsiness down to a T. I was also a huge fan of Sophia Lillis as Beverly. She fitted right in with the lads and wasn’t afraid to be different, and I really liked that. There was, of course, Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise too. He was excellent, getting the two elements of his character just right - the childlike side of him was hugely contrasted by the less friendlier moments, and both complimented each other really, really well.


As I said at the start, this is a film that I’d happily pay to see again at the cinema. I think the atmosphere helped me to get into the film, but the other thing that worked well was the fact that I thought that It was actually scary. There’s a lot of shockers that happen - I’ve not read the book and I avoided trailers like the plague so had no idea what to expect. People who’ve been reading my stuff for a while will know I’m a jumper, and this film well and truly got me… many times. As always, it was a mix of the moments Stevie Wonder could see coming and those that were not as expected that had me on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It was very effective at building tension, but also at counteracting it with some massive anticlimaxes that persuaded you to let your guard down for a second.


Alongside the horror though, there was plenty of humour, but not in the way that turned it into a comedy horror (I’d have felt quite let down had that have been the case). It was a style of humour that I can’t put a word to to describe, but I can say that it properly fitted the coming-of-age nature of the story and cast.


Again, it helped to break the tension at points so you got a nice change in pace and it kept the film feeling fresh.


On the whole, I can’t recommend It enough. This is a film that has given be greater confidence in horrors, and has me very excited for a sequel that we better get sooner rather than later. I loved the characters, and thought the overall style of the film was spot on. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say this could be the best film I’ve seen so far this year, which is saying something.


10/10


Kira Comerford

Twitter @FilmAndTV101

By midlandsmovies, Sep 17 2017 10:54PM



Midlands Professional - Film Event Organiser John Currie


Midlands Movies speaks to event manager and festival organiser John Currie as part of our Midlands ‘Professional’ series. In this latest feature John talks to us about his experience and career arranging one of the best festivals in the Midlands film calendar - the Beeston Film Festival.


At age 53 and the father of 5, Beeston Film Festival director John Currie is originally from Liverpool but has lived in Beeston now for the best part of 20 years and (in his words) now very much regards it as his home. Firstly, alongside raising his children, John explains that far from being solely local, his festival is now both local AND global with entries from 37 different countries.


“At our last event we ended up screening films from 22 countries and we have an award panel from America, Africa, Asia and Europe! The point of the festival is to connect, to reach out and bring global stories to Beeston and in return celebrate filmmakers and honour them with B’Oscars”.


Inspired to set up the BFF when he attended the Dublin International Short Film and Music Festival, John was there for the screening of the first film he produced called ‘Go with God’.


“And guess what? It was an international short film festival held upstairs in a pub! A model we’ve replicated at the White Lion thanks to our awesome host Sergio”.


And what has been the most difficult hurdle John’s overcome as the organiser?


“We have overcome so many problems but the biggest problem was finding a venue. Unsurprisingly Beeston doesn’t have a cinema of the scale of Showcase, Cineworld or even Broadway (in Nottingham City centre). Luckily one of our friends mentioned that Sergio at The White Lion was interested on setting up a cinema in his upstairs function room. The room has a wonderful retro feel with lush red velvet chairs and benches surrounding the room. Getting the projector and sound to good standard was challenging on a low budget but proved to be successful. Not only has the festival been hosted their but many other events adding to the joy of Beeston”.



In the past John has hosted a number of other film events such as showcase nights, taking part in the D H Lawrence festival and Scarlarama as well but is more than happy to pass on his experiences with others.


“Clarity of vision and determination to succeed [are skills needed] plus the help of loads of talented filmmakers otherwise there would lots of people staring at a blank screen”.


“We are also blessed by finding some great partners such as the B’Oscar sponsors, who are local Beeston businesses; the fabulous review team of Beestonians who review entries and make selections; our awesome global award panel who decide B’Oscar winners; Sergio at The White Lion and of course the students from New College Nottingham who volunteer their hard work enthusiastically to make audience and filmmakers as welcome as possible. So appreciation of those who share your vision is vital”.


John goes on to explain that there are two keys challenges faced by film festival organisers:


“You need to appeal to filmmakers and appeal to the audience, without these people excited by what we are doing there would be no festival. For filmmakers we offer a platform, an audience to industry judges, and of course the chance to win a coveted B’Oscar. For the audience we need to provide an exciting programme, in a convivial atmosphere rubbing shoulders with as many filmmakers as we can attract”.


And how does John balance the financial aspects with the creative side?


“Well, we are self-funding, and get great support from local businesses, so each year to grow the scope of the festival to ensure that we are sustainable. We are also aware that festival audiences are looking for surprises! Short film festivals are the platform for filmmakers to take risks, develop their skills and surprise the audience! So far we have had plenty of surprises and that’s why our audience numbers keep on increasing year on year”.


And what advice would John give to like-minded people thinking of setting up their own festivals?


“Ensure you clarify your vision, be certain sort your festival should be, so once that is honed, work incredibly hard to make it happen because it is an amazingly rewarding process”.


“For us, in 2018 we are expanding by adding a section dedicated to Women’s Voices. This is a very open definition: films made by men but tell a woman's story in a good way, with a great leading female actor, can still be considered; as long as the film has a good mix of women and men working on the crew, and as long as they tell a good woman's story, it can be submitted”.


In the festival’s first year they screened 70 films over two days and in 2018 John plans to run the event over 4 days with hopes to screen 130 films making it the biggest international short film festival in the Midlands.


Finally, we ask John if he has any final words to give to fans/organisers of regional film festivals. “Well, a short film festival offers 2 hour programs that are constructed from a mosaic of cinematic genius rather than a single overarching storyline. This provides a platform to emerging filmmakers from Beeston to Bangkok and enriches the lives of everyone involved”.


Big thanks to John Currie for his time and check out the Official Festival website here and also our coverage of 2017’s event.





By midlandsmovies, Sep 15 2017 02:03PM



Midlands Spotlight - Witchfinder General screening

 

The National Civil War Centre is screening Witchfinder General in the fantastic chilling atmosphere of its authentic Tudor Hall on Halloween night. With a great night promised the night has been arranged by the Palace Theatre and National Civil War Centre on 31st October in truly unique surroundings.


A horror evening awaits at the National Civil War Centre on Halloween night as the Tudor Hall plays host to one of cinema’s most horrifying cult classics, Witchfinder General.


Set during the anarchy and chaos of the Civil War, the 1968 film follows witch hunter Matthew Hopkins (horror icon Vincent Price at his malevolent best) as he conducts a vicious reign of terror in puritan East Anglia. But his persecution of an innocent village priest sets in motion a trail of revenge that escalates to a brutal, bloody denouement.


The sinister old world ambience of the Tudor Hall is the ideal setting for this 17th century fright night. Having stood through the turbulence of the Civil War when Newark was a melting pot of mayhem and violence the building is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of Lady Ossington and ‘the boy in the dorm’ and, during restoration work, a suspected witch bottle was unearthed from its foundations.


This unique and ominous atmosphere paired with the film’s unnerving horror is sure to be the perfect cocktail for a blood-curdling Halloween night. 


The screening begins at 8pm with the bar open from 7pm and will be introduced by Civil War historian and film aficionado Adam Nightingale. Tickets, costing only £5, are limited for this exclusive event so make sure to book early.


You can book online by clicking here or phone for tickets on 01636 655755.


Please note - This film is rated 15 so ID may be required and entry will be refused to any underage guests


By midlandsmovies, Sep 14 2017 11:14AM



Flickerama - A film festival, that's an actual festival!


Flickerama is taking film festivals to a whole new level, bringing the vibe of a summer outdoor festival and making it all about movies. Think a mini-Glastonbury that's all about film. 


Regional film fans will be able to enjoy films on a large outdoor Arena Screen or in the comfort of a specially designed indoor marquee with three fantastic film events taking place over one weekend.


Over 15th, 16th & 17th September you can head to Umberslade Farm Park, just 30 minutes from Birmingham and be "transported to a film paradise".


With three unique events over the three days, there are indoor and outdoor screenings (with rain protection!), 16 classic films, two Labyrinth Masquerade Balls, Harry Potter After Party with Alex Baker (Magic Radio/Kerrang), a Quidditch Tournament and more!


There will also be the Ghostbusters car, a Kids Make & Take Craft Tent, Kids & Adult Cosplay (win a private cinema screening!), a Back To The Future Exhibition, Film Poster Sale, Conjurer's Kitchen, Kids outdoor games.


And that's not all! Other attractions are the Big Grey circus performer, Film themed Mini-Golf, Forza 6 Hotlap Tournament, Minecraft Creative competition. Phew!

 

The organiser's claim there is "something for everyone" and boy are they right!


For further info please click here http://flickerama.co.uk and check the film screening listings below:


FLICKERAMA - LABYRINTH MASQUERADE BALL:

15th September - DOORS OPEN 7PM

7.30pm Themed cocktail reception

8.30pm Labyrinth (U)

10.30pm Labyrinth Masquerade Ball


FLICKERAMA - CULT AND COMIC DAY:

Saturday 16th September - DOORS OPEN 11.30AM

OUTDOOR SCREEN

12.15pm Guardians Of The Galaxy(12A)

2.45pm Edward Scissorhands (12A) 100 mins

5.15pm Ghostbusters (12A) 103 mins

8pm Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone (PG) 150 mins


INDOOR SCREEN

12.30 Adam West Tribute - Batman: The Movie 1966 (U) 103 mins

3pm Amaryllis (15) TBC mins

5:30pm Deadpool (15) 104 mins

7:15pm Adult cosplay competition

8:30pm The Room (18) 99 mins


FLICKERAMA - FAMILY FILM DAY:

Sunday 17th September - DOORS OPEN 11.30AM

OUTDOOR SCREEN

12.30pm Safety Last (U) 76 mins

2pm Frozen singalong (PG) 108 mins

4.15pm Kids cosplay competition

4.45pm The Goonies (12A) 113 mins

7pm Back to the Future (PG) 115 mins


INDOOR SCREEN

12.45pm The Lego Batman Movie (1h 45m)

3pm Matilda (PG) 94 mins

5pm Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (U) 96 mins

7.30pm Labyrinth (U) 98 mins

By midlandsmovies, Sep 13 2017 10:37AM



Caroline Spence is a producer and screenwriter based in the Midlands and as part of our 'Professional' series we ask Caroline about her roles, experience and advice for readers interested in developing their career in this interesting and varied job.


Background

I am a screenwriter and feature film producer. I came to this profession fairly late in life as compared with other people in the business. Previously, I worked in various administrative roles in so many different industries that I’ve lost count, from law to the defence industry, accounting, finance and the mental health sector. All sounds impressive, but I was predominantly sat in front of a screen typing - always restless, always dreaming of breaking out and doing something else. In a way, this has been an advantage in my current profession – I know business, I know accounts, and I’ve met many people from many different walks of life, and so I have a wealth of inspiration to draw on when scouting for locations or writing new characters.


How Caroline got into film producing

I came to film producing through a series of events. I've been a writer since childhood and went on to write published articles based around natural history, science, and ancient history. In 2004, I was invited to appear on a TV show about international property as a realtor, because the actual realtor didn't want to appear on television! Although I knew little about selling properties abroad (in this case, Spain), I thought it would be a great experience. Unfortunately, when it came to the shoot, I wasn't too impressed by the (unprofessional) behaviour of the film crew. Nevertheless, this odd experience inspired me to write and present my own documentaries.


So, James Smith (director) and I set up Raya Films and we won a number of awards for our documentaries as well as enjoying sell-out theatrical screenings and international broadcast. We moved into commercial work and then experimented with short film, but it wasn't until I started penning screenplays that I knew I'd found my forte: feature film.


Training

I didn’t go to film school or go on any courses relating to the film industry. I learned on the job. As I already had over twenty years’ experience in a variety of industries, communication skills became ingrained in me, and I have become almost OCD with regard to organisation. In my opinion, these are two of the most important attributes to have as a film producer. I studied screenwriting religiously. I read (and continue to read) dozens of Hollywood screenplays. In the early days, I gained many tips from a highly-regarded screenwriting book (sorry, I seriously can’t remember which one!), I studied the screenplay for Ronin (1998) and The Firm (1993) on screen. I’ve been working toward achieving the standard of those two masterpieces ever since.



Experience in the film industry

In terms of feature film, there have been many ups and downs – there are many rogues in this industry and I’ve experienced my fair share of them. One of my first screenplays came to the attention of a sales agent/producer in Hollywood. We had various phone conversations – he loved the screenplay and was interested in working with us on it. Unfortunately, when he learned we hadn’t produced a feature film before he pulled out. This has been a repeated theme. The movers and shakers in the industry liked my screenplays, but with a lack of track record they didn’t take the risk. But the tide slowly tips in your favour if you keep going and build up experience - at last, my work is being taken seriously by established companies.


We came very close a few years ago with a movie set in Spain. I won’t go into detail but I had attached a named actor, a sales agent was coming onboard as executive producer, I had financiers … we were so close. Unfortunately, I brought in a producer to help me on the project who disrupted everything and caused setbacks. The film had to be put on hold. Despite this, I am now back in the driving seat. As a result of this experience, however, I am now very particular who I work with. In hindsight, this ‘producer’ did me the biggest favour ever: made me aware of rogues and the value of due diligence.


The demands from a filmmaker

Through experience, I am very strict on communication and insist people working on my projects tell me what they are going to do and who they are going to talk to before they do it. I’m not super-bitchy about this, just quietly insistent. I feel it’s important for all filmmakers to know exactly what the production team are doing – you, as a filmmaker, have worked hard to build up a solid reputation and good body of work and you can’t afford to be misrepresented to financiers, sales agents, producers or even your potential audience. It could set you back months or years.



Overcoming challenges

Shooting a film is like fighting fires – especially a zero/micro-budget one. Making Do Something, Jake – my debut feature - was tough. We had no budget for this production, so I had to wear many hats. As well as producer/production manager, line producer and screenwriter, I was script supervisor, location manager, sound technician, caterer and part-time driver. Many of our crew willingly doubled up duties as well, and even some actors lent a helping hand, which means a lot in terms of moral support for everyone. So every day was beset with problems or obstacles to overcome.


One of our locations was in a derelict pre-Victorian primary school. James, the director, asked me to prepare what was once a pantry, to shoot one of those scenes, and that meant sweeping up piles and piles of dead wasps. Not often found in the job description for a film producer.


Skills and experience

You need to multi-task and be mentally and physically fit because the whole process of filmmaking can be gruelling – with or without a good budget behind you. You need to be slick on communication. This is imperative, and in this day and age there is no excuse. You need to be able to get out of bed in the morning – if you don’t ‘do’ early mornings, go work in another industry.


You need to be tenacious. You will be knocked back time and time again, but you must bounce right back and turn those knocks, rejections , and criticisms into motivators. As Frank Sinatra said, “The best revenge is massive success.” I also read plenty of advice from other successful directors and industry professionals and take that onboard.


Advice to others

If you’re new to the industry, read as much as you can. Go on YouTube and watch as many ‘how to’ videos as you can, and then get as many screenplays as you can and read those. Whether you’re an actor, producer, director, editor, or clapper loader, it’s important to know all facets of the industry. Watch movies. All genres, from all decades and all nations. Become a movie geek. Study them and learn how to ‘read’ a movie.


After all the reading, watching movies, writing and studying, the only way to get anywhere is to go out and make a film. Thanks to Sean Baker (Tangerine, 2015) it’s now considered cool to shoot a movie on an iPhone, so take whatever you have and go and film something, learn from it, then go do it all again.


I learned invaluable lessons when producing and shooting Do Something, Jake not least about scheduling. Looking back, I realise that the schedule I drew up was incredibly tight - it's amazing we didn't run over-schedule. Full credit to the cast and crew for taking my gruelling demands in their stride. But I only learned this by doing it for real – learning from experience is the only way to progress.


Read about Caroline's latest project Do Somthing, Jake on by clicking here and check out Raya Film's site at https://rayafilms.wordpress.com/


By midlandsmovies, Sep 11 2017 05:43PM

2017 Movie Catch-Up Blog Part 4




Unlocked (2017) Dir. Michael Apted

After the awful ‘Rupture’ and the fantastic ‘What Happened To Monday’, Noomi Rapace is one of my favourite actresses but boy does she need a decent film (and some consistency) for her to attach her multiple talents to. Sadly, this action thriller falls way short of quality entertainment as Rapace’s ex-CIA interrogator is tricked into getting involved in a suspected terrorist chemical attack in London. The film is not short of talent with support coming from a sleazy Michael Douglas, a phone-in/hammy performance from John Malkovich (which this film needed much more of) and Toni Collette’s MI5 head who has more in common with Annie Lennox with her blonde buzz cut, than James Bond’s M. “Hey, that large nameless goon looks like Orlando Bloom” I screech before realising it is Orlando Bloom yet whose ‘acting’ and accent is so bad I almost stopped watching. Rapace’s thoughtful dark performance in ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' shows she can bring depth to characters, whilst her turn in ‘What Happened to Monday’ shows she can handle the lead in an action flick. So her involvement in two of the worst films of 2017 is much like this film – a huge HUGE disappointment. Avoid this dull, stilted and ponderous thriller like the biological plague. 4/10



Risk (2017) Dir. Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras new documentary is a solid if slightly amateur looking exposé on Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange. What is interesting is how it reveals the inherent conflicts of Assange’s work (and more fascinatingly his character) as the film flips from a behind the scenes look at the machinations of the organisation to the complexities of his impending extradition. The film contrasts the support for making public potential war crimes and surveillance with a critique of Assange and the shady sexual abuse claims. Sadly the brief-ish 91 minutes drags owing to a mix of constant shaky cam (which is less “intentional choice” than simply the only option and bad camerawork) in addition to the constant presence of Assange whose arrogance is unpalatable to say the least. Director Poitras wisely changes tack when she claims Assange sent her a message calling certain scenes a "threat to his freedom", with Assange missing the irony completely with this censorship request. Although his real-life escape to the Peruvian Embassy has a certain excitement to it, the film is unable to construct itself to create a meaningful narrative that’s more engaging. Difficult questions are approached, multi-sides of the story are presented and the work of Wikileaks analysed from various perspectives which is testament to Poitras’ investigations. Yet all the people involved are so inherently unpleasant that the interesting political and moral ramifications of these revelations are lost amongst the obnoxious posturing from insufferable people. 5/10



Hidden Figures (2017) Dir. Theodore Melfi

“If we keep labelling something 'a black film,' or 'a white film'— basically it's modern day segregation. We're all humans. Any human can tell any human’s story”. Theodore Melfi, Director.


Based on the real life 1960s story of African American female mathematicians working at NASA, Hidden Figures is a powerful drama about an important part in not just the history of the USA but for the work which helped build towards that “giant leap for Mankind”. With Soviet space supremacy on the horizon the internal pressure rises and genius mathematician Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is headhunted to assist the lead space team during a time of demeaning segregation.


From resolving issues about heat shields to solving equations about trajectories, Katherine fights objections, prejudices and her own anonymity in the reports she creates and it’s this conflict which gives the film its engaging power. Henson’s stoic performance channels a humble woman attempting to fulfil her role against a tide of narrow-mindedness. And there is also great support from Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan who is being denied a supervisor role and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson who has to go to court to attend a white-only night school to train as an engineer. Kevin Costner plays the director of the Space Task Group and he brings back his 60s ‘JFK’ Jim Garrison with similarly framed glasses and a focus on the injustices of the world, whilst Jim Parsons is simply his ‘Bing Bang Theory’ Sheldon Cooper with an added ignorance.


The trio of put-upon lead women are outstanding and portray a proud magnificence – and some warm light-heartedness in their car journeys together – as they all attempt to become first-rate workers in a world full of social barriers. It reminded me somewhat of Race (our 2016 review here http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/tags/Race) which I enjoyed immensely but here the narrative momentum replaces a track race with the space race. The film takes some liberties with facts from the era but a 2 hour run time is going to need to use composite characters, conflated timelines and a more simplistic explanation of NASA management structures but the importance of these ladies – both in their small steps and giant leaps – should not be underestimated. Well photographed and with enough cinematic flourishes, Hidden Figures utilises the multiple talents of its terrific cast to portray the efforts and toil that moved the world towards a more “human”-kind. 8/10



Bloodrunners (2017) Dir. Dan Lantz

A 1930s b-movie prohibition flick with Ice-T as a gangster vampire has to be a lot of fun, right? Er, sadly no as this schlock horror fails to love up to its ridiculous description. Clearly low budget, my low expectations were not even fulfilled as we follow a corrupt middle-aged cop trying to make sense of the visitors and owners of a whore house and speakeasy in his town. The film takes a vampire’s life-time to get going as the film promises blood and guns (it’s a vampire gangster flick after all) but it takes nearly 2/3rds of the film to get any real action. The high concept-low budget set up cries out for silly action yet takes itself far too seriously with nods to spousal abuse, class conflict and a soppy story of love between two youngsters from opposite sides. Some cool swing music cannot hide the TV-show style sets, awful stock characters (the “crazy” priest who isn’t believed) and hackneyed writing. Again, the concept isn’t the worse idea in the world and with (a lot of) tinkering, there is an enjoyable thrill-ride in here somewhere but unfortunately Bloodrunners will make your blood run cold with its amateur delivery. Absolutely toothless. 4/10


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