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By midlandsmovies, Sep 10 2017 08:27PM



The Limehouse Golem (2017) Dir. Juan Carlos Medina


Bill Nighy stars as an 1880s Inspector named John Kildaire who inherits an East London multiple murder case in this period chiller adapted from Peter Ackroyd's 1994 novel ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’. In a parallel story, a court case ensues as a fantastic Olivia Cooke (as put upon wife Elizabeth Cree) is accused of poisoning her husband and thus begins a mystery of two entwining cases.


Framed with multiple flashbacks, the initial set up is superbly done as characters arrive in the middle of their own circumstances throwing us straight into the plot. The lighting of the film is of particular high quality and worthy of mention on its own. The dark blacks, stark lighting, cold eerie streets and warm theatrical interiors echo David Fincher’s Se7en. And it’s not the only Se7en comparison to be made. Early on we get an old Inspector teamed with a young policeman (Daniel Mays) who then head directly to a library and find a book turned into a killer’s hand-written diary using an inky ‘stream-of-consciousness’ writing style. But not a bad film to be influenced by that's for sure.


The horror it doesn’t show leaves the audience in a delightfully edgy position as the murders are mostly left to the imagination and the grotty streets contrast the bawdy theatre scenes nicely. The film’s reliance on flashbacks started well – encapsulating the old filmmaking adage “show-don’t-tell” – but they turn from fleshing out the story to becoming the story. Whilst the two narratives eventually joined up, the intriguing opening detective story makes way for the background of Elizabeth Cree who moves from street urchin to stage star. Unfortunately I was ready and involved in the first part and the film took me down a dark alley as it moved from a mystery to a dramatic fictional biopic of Cree.


That said, the film does use theatre and the notion of “acting” brilliantly. The behind-the-curtain chaos shows the passions and frustrations of artists whilst the stage allows the creation of alternative personas. The great make-up of the film extends from the camp comedy of the boards to the grisly murders in the alleys. Also, multiple layers and repeated sequences translate the novel well by showing each suspect committing crimes as they are recounted – allowing us to “imagine” the different scenarios along with the detective.


On a personal note, the songs and performances within the theatre could have been cut down as full-length musical renditions slowed the immediacy of the “catch-the-killer” set up. Also, and I concede this is in the novel, the mix of real life people (e.g. Karl Marx) in fictional dramas has always felt slightly anachronistic to me. This flight of fantasy was a leap too far out of the film’s world – and into our own.

Its closest relative is the similar fact/fiction mash-up From Hell (2001) and in many ways there is one great film if you combined the two. From Hell’s central narrative thread is stronger but the themes and performances were far superior in this film. With an ending I saw coming for days – from simply one very specific shot I may add – it didn’t ruin the film but the joy only came from seeing how it played out instead of a final plot “surprise”.


Despite my reservations however, there is a lot to recommend in The Limehouse Golem. The technical side is sublime and the actors are having fun with their performances in the film and subsequently their characters’ performances within the film as well. Mixing the gruesome reality of life with the gruesome fictionality of art, the so-so murder mystery plot is kept from the gallows by great actors in superbly dressed and lit locations which show the nasty side of the streets and the stage.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2017 08:04AM



Director Sophie Black is a Nottingham based filmmaker with many shorts to her name and in the latest of our ‘Professional’ series, she passes on her experience and advice about directing behind the camera. Want to get into directing yourself or learn more about the profession? Sophie, take it away...


To start with? Well, go for a walk, people-watch, whatever it is that inspires you. Collaborate with your friends if you need to bounce ideas around. Even if you don't have a camera yet, write stuff down, sketch things. I didn't have a camera until I was fifteen years old, so a lot of my early inspiration came from writing novels and physically making things with my hands. But to be honest, everyone has access to a camera these days (unlike when I was young!), because they come as standard with phones, so there's nothing to stop you just shooting something to find out what you like, and who you might be as a filmmaker. You're not going to find inspiration unless you go out and experience the world, decide what it means to you personally, and really get to know how you see the world as an individual.


But if you are the type that needs to research, then read books on filmmaking, or just watch films and make notes about certain stylistic decisions that inspire you. I first realised people could make a career out of films - and decided that was the career I wanted - when I read Peter Jackson's interviews in the Lord of the Rings visual companions, but there's lots of great articles out there to give you an early buzz if you need it.


This is different depending on the filmmaker - which is why it's good to spend some time experimenting first, to discover what kind of director you are. Definitely shoot something by any means necessary, even if it's just trying to recreate shots that inspired you, or even if that means directing your friends in amateur roles.


I've always been more of an actors' director than anything else, and if that's the same for you then I really recommend joining local drama or theatre groups, to practice working with actors in a focussed, technology-free environment. That's how I got my start. But either way, you will need to learn the language of cinema eventually, so studying technical filmmaking in some form - be it personal study or a structured course - is necessary at some point early on in your career.



Formal Eductation vs. Hands On Experience


You definitely need to know how to make films, but the way you learn is up to you. If you have family members or other peers who already know the language of cinema, and you grow up learning everything from those people, then it could be that you don't need to go to film school. The best way to learn things is by doing them, so nothing beats practical experience - plus, these days, you can learn a lot through YouTube tutorials. A lot of the best filmmakers I know are completely self-taught.


But if you've never learnt the basics of film production - e.g. 'this is how a camera works', 'this is how to light the average interview' - and if you learn better in an academic environment, then definitely take a course. It gives you a great foundation (not to mention the all-important life skills you get with any level of further education!). You also meet a lot of people on your course that you could end up working with in the future.


Motivating a Team


It's all about creating the right environment for people to work in. Morale always needs to be up, particularly if people aren't receiving payment. I think it's important to mix solid grafting on set with a sense of fun as well, whenever appropriate - so don't always take yourself too seriously. This film may be the most important thing in the world to you at that moment - but your crew needs other reasons to feel inspired. Listen to your crew when they're unhappy; join in with a joke or even a hug when they're in need of a break from the hard work. Good food helps as well, particularly if there's no money to give people - you won't believe what a bacon butty on a cold morning can do to lift the spirits!



General Skills


Leadership skills, confidence and belief in your vision are all important factors; if people don't respect you, they'll start listening to the next loudest voice in the room. But confidence doesn't come straight away. You need to build up your craft first; practice and learn every day, and start with small, independent crews before building up to full teams.


As I've said before, it's important to have a technical knowledge of film production - but you also need to admit which areas aren't your strong point. In the past I've given wrong information in this area; I've said that directors need to learn every aspect of filmmaking before they can direct their team - but do you really think that James Cameron knows which make-up to use to make a face look rounder, for instance? The truth is that everyone has some things that they're stronger at than others, and if you're focussing on every little area of a production, your skills will get stretched too thin, and your work will suffer because of it.


The trick is to make sure your weaknesses are covered; if there's something you're not so good at, make sure there's someone better at it to handle that area for you. (To give an example, I learnt that whilst I'm confident directing dialogue and small physical interactions, I'm not as good with scenes that involve more detailed choreography, such as stunts. So in the future I'll always hire a stunt co-ordinator when the scene requires.) It's not a sign of a weak director to admit you're not great at something, as filmmaking is a collaborative process after all; what is weak, however, is if someone ignores their failures and lets them show in the finished film when it could've been avoided. That makes the director look bad.


One of my favourite things about film production is the fact that you're surrounded by brilliantly talented people, all experts in their field, all brought together to make your vision a reality. You need to learn how to get the best out of these people, and how to keep them at their best - but you also need to learn to listen to their ideas and let them have an input into the film. It will help give them a sense of ownership over it too, which will encourage more loyalty to the project. And trust me, you definitively need loyalty - particularly in the long slog of post-production, when the work feels less structured, and you need to find other ways to keep your crew engaged.


It's also important that a director rehearses everything with their actors. Absolutely everything. It's tempting to think that you only need to rehearse dialogue, or complicated action, like fight scenes. Even wordless moments need to be polished by the time the cameras roll, otherwise it will cause delays on set and your actors might feel uncomfortable. I've made this mistake in the past, thinking "this is a basic movement - we can just put a camera on the actor now and let them go for it". I was very young and arrogant back then!


Director Advice


Firstly, don't be a director until you've been a crewmember. I've said this a lot. Too many people think they can go out into the world as a 'director' without hands-on experience behind them. Those people often don't get work. But being a member of the crew - starting low down the ladder, and building your way up - will help you to learn more about the practicalities of film production, so that you understand exactly what you'll be asking your crew to go through when you direct them. It's also the best way to meet people, to create a list of future collaborators for when you move onto your own projects. That's what worked for me.


Secondly, make sure you really, really love a project before you go into production. People don't realise how much commitment goes into a successful short film. There can be a year between writing a script and shooting a film, particularly if you need to raise money, and you can spend months in post-production too. On top of that, the average festival run lasts for two years - after a festival finally accepts you. So you're realistically looking at four years' worth of work on a project, and if you don't care for it or believe in it, those four years can feel even longer. Can you guarantee that you won't abandon your film when something shiny and new comes along? If the answer is no, then don't start it in the first place.


And finally, don't ask people, cast or crew, to do something you aren't willing to do yourself. You need to be a leader - not a dictator! If you expect people to work long hours, or stay later than expected, be there with them. If they need to be in a scenario where they are cold or uncomfortable, show that you would willingly do the same for them. It's for this reason I starred in a music video, playing a prostitute, shortly before I directed my actors in some sexual scenes on the set of Ashes - I needed to understand how awkward or uncomfortable they would be feeling on the day.




Finance


Commercial and corporate work is great, when you can get it. You need something to fill the gaps in between your short film projects, and it's really satisfying to have a job that utilises your filmmaking skills. Plus there's nothing like working with clients to prepare you for the amount of say commissioners and executive producers will have, should you approach them with feature film ideas.


Leaving your day job for film production is hard. You certainly shouldn't do it unless you know you'll have money coming in - or unless you have contacts and a strong business plan in place. Do it when you're young; fresh out of university is the best age to try things. The older you get, the more responsibility you have, and the more chance you have of becoming homeless, should it all go wrong!


I can't tell you exactly how to make it work. Some people take a leap of faith, and it works out for them; others take a long time to build up their contacts and personal clients before becoming self-employed. If you need a bit more confidence and structure before you take the plunge, there's nothing wrong with taking business classes - it can all be applied to freelance filmmakers. All I will say is, only you will know the minimum level of success you are comfortable with - and whatever happens, you need to have a plan B.


I get asked about crowdfunding a lot, and although I've had some success with it, I'm not the biggest fan. It's a necessary evil - but people can rely on it too much. What people don't understand is that the moment you receive crowdfunded donations, unless it's going through a business, an accountant will see you as self employed. You need to be prepared for the implications of receiving this money. If you don't declare £1,000, you might get away with it - but I don't recommend you risk it. If you don't declare £10,000, that's a completely different kettle of fish. Crowdfunding has been very popular for the last few years, so of course the HMRC are aware of it, and they do have their eyes on the filmmaking community. So definitely declare your earnings, but if you can, get an accountant or a financial adviser who can help you declare it properly. Because you don't usually get to keep the crowdfunding money for yourself, you really don't want to end up out of pocket through tax implications.


Inspiration


I've used "film is temporary, film is forever" a few times. Who hasn't? I first heard Peter Jackson say it to Miranda Otto, in a making-of-documentary, during a long, difficult scene in The Return of the King - but I know he wasn't the first person to say it.


I also loved it when, on the set of Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann declared "I challenge you all to make me say 'you've gone too far'!" That's a bit mad, but it's braver than I can be, so I applaud that. Incidentally Baz's company motto is "a life lived in fear is a life half-lived", and I think of that whenever I face the next, daunting project.


I have a plaque in my office that says "keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground". I don't know who said that, but it always reminds me to stay humble and remember the little things in life that matter the most.


Sophie Black


Check out Sophie Black's Production company Triskelle Pictures here:

https://www.triskellepictures.co.uk




By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2017 07:48AM

BIRMINGHAM ON FILM II

9 - 17 SEPTEMBER 2017

 


Birmingham on Film returns this week with a celebration of the city’s waterways.

 

Last year Flatpack: Assemble launched a month-long season of Birmingham-related archive film, screening the best (and worst) films made in and about the city. Birmingham on Film II takes place from 9-17 September, with a focus on Birmingham’s 35 miles of canals.

 

Expect retro kids TV, Cliff Richard, Midlands alien sightings and everyone’s favourite disc jockey Alan Partridge….




STARMAN

Saturday 9 September, 7.45-10.00pm, Stirchley Baths, FREE

The John Carpenter classic, Starman (cert: PG) stars Jeff Bridges as an alien visitor to Earth who is knocked off course and must take an interstate road trip to rendezvous with a mothership from his home planet. 

 



DIY DRIVE IN CINEMA

Saturday 16 September, 2.00-4.30pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, £3

The chance to build your own mini-car out of scrap material and then park up for some Birmingham-based kids TV including Brum and Tiswas.

 

TAKE ME HIGH

Saturday 16 September, 6.00-7.30pm, Gas Street Basin, £10

Take Me High stars Cliff Richard as a self-absorbed banker who moves to Birmingham, buys himself a narrowboat and invents the Brumburger. This neglected musical oddity aboard a canal boat and a Brumburger is included in the ticket price. 

 

WATERWAY TO HAVE A GOOD TIME

Saturday 16 September, 4.30-5.30pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

Sunday 17 September, 2.00-3.00pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

A selection of canal related archive shorts curated by the Media Archive for Central England followed by a special screening of I’m Alan Partridge.



MADE IN BRUM

Sunday 17 September, 12.00-5.00pm, Gas Street Basin, FREE

Hop aboard the floating cinema and catch a wonderful selection of family-friendly shorts made in Brum.

 

COLOUR BOX SHORTS: NATURE’S TALES

Sunday 17 September, 12.00-2.00pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

An assortment of Flatpack family favourites from our Colour Box short film programme.

 

THE BARGEE

Sunday 17 September, 3.30-5.00pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

Harry H Corbett – better known as Steptoe the younger – is a bargee who ferries boats and goods up and down the Grand Union canal, wooing various women while his mate Ronnie Barker keeps an eye on the tiller.


Birmingham on Film II is part of Birmingham Heritage Week, which runs from 7-17 September.


For ticket information go to http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/2017/08/birmingham-on-film-2/


By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2017 07:31AM

Wow! In September 2017 we ran 2 competitions for our lovely readers. WIth over 200 entrants in each we had a great response but there can sadly be only one winner which we drew at random on 9th September.


First up, to win Robert McKee's book "Story" about screenwriting is Twitter user....


@abeeken


For the infamous Star Wars Force Friday we got our hands on a Porg FunkoPop and the winner of that cool prize is Twitter user...


@mthennessy82


Thanks to all the entrants and a big congratulations to the winners.


Follow Midlands Movies on Twitter at @midlandsmovies for more prizes and giveaways in future.


Join our previous winners below



By midlandsmovies, Sep 3 2017 05:55PM



Midlands Professional – Camera operator Mbili Munthali


In a brand new series of articles Midlands Movies is talking to a range of regional experts who are sharing advice and hints and tips from their particular field in film. Second up to pass on their knowledge and experience is cameraman Mbili Munthali who currently works on a range of projects across the Midlands.


Midlands Movies Mike: Hi Mbili. How’s things?

Mbili Munthali: Great cheers. I’m very busy as always [laughs].


MMM: We can tell from your IMDB! Ha ha. If we can start at the beginning, your background is first and foremost in camera operating. How did you get into your current role?

MM: Well it was a mix of education and hands on experience. I studied at De Montfort University and not knocking the academic route but being on set has helped me develop a lot faster and a lot more instinctively than the formal education part. However, both have great merits though and the combination of each works extremely well.


MMM: And what happened after that?

MM: I graduated in Media Production in 2009 but photography was my first foray into using professional visual equipment. We developed 35mm film and I tell my friends there’s still nothing like a tactile experience and understanding the medium at its most basic. There’s a kind of disconnect with digital and the old way just gives you a good grounding for moving forward – especially as photography is the basis of how you use a film camera. Photos are just individual sequential frames. You naturally progress from the still image to moving pictures and if you learn the basic rules, it translates from one to the other.


MMM: And where did that lead you to?

MM: After the photography I used DV tapes and believe it or not I edited and structured my first films using Windows Movie Maker. Before long I got DSLRs and would take them out every day. I recorded test footage at different frame rates and in slow-motion and the like, which allowed me to experiment without any consequence. With my original course being more on post-production I learnt camera work in order to get the best out of the images I would end up using for visual effects.


MMM: So the two link well together?

MM: Yes, having the foresight to shoot in the correct fashion to give you the best possible outcome later on in the production is the approach I like to take.


MMM: What were the first projects you worked on?

MM: I started worked on Doug Cubin’s The Fort as a runner whilst at the same time Kenton Hall was preparing A Dozen Summers and asked me to join that production too. I did a Steadicam shot on that film actually – they’re not too heavy but it’s quite restrictive with the counterweights so you need to be quite physically flexible. I also helped on other projects and it all snowballed from there!


MMM: Were there any memorable moments from these varied shoots?

MM: After a while, Doug asked me to be more extensively involved in his movie and we ended up at a real fort in Dover. There were times where we filmed in a spiral staircase in the complete darkness and one time I was walking backwards with a ‘fly-cam’ and trying not to fall down and break my neck! On another shot we placed the camera down lower to create a certain feel but there were steps and features that were half my body size which I had to get up and over whilst keeping the camera steady.



MMM: Sounds exciting! We’ve talked about the physical side of things but what other kind of skills in general would you say are needed?

MM: You will need a lot of patience! Things can get frustrating but sometimes the magic happens on the first take which I’ve had several times. Also, ask plenty of questions and be curious. And I don’t just mean camera operating but everything else. You have to work with so many people and anticipate movement and all that will influence how you work. Obviously don’t ask questions whilst ‘doing’ a take [laughs] but during the downtime have conversations with others so you can use their information to get better at your own role.


MMM: Outside of a working set can people learn more elsewhere?

MM: Yes, as you are one link in a long chain I recommend budding camera operators shoot, plan and edit their own footage to go through the whole process. You then have an understanding of each step and the easier you make everyone else’s life, the smoother the production. You are there to provide the footage in the best possible way. And, oh yeah, don’t get precious if they don’t end up using your favourite shot. I would however recommend you ask for the footage for your own show-reel. Seriously though, I want to be able to provide what serves a story best.


MMM: Do you mind straying from storyboards or planned shooting?

MM: Not at all, you have to understand that all plans can change too. In fact it actually pushes you to be very versatile in your camerawork. I advise that if there’s a suggestion to do the shot another way then just do it! Some of the best times are when you are on the limit of what you think you can do. It may take a bit of practice and time but all the while you are learning along the way. Some will naturally find their best, or favourite, way to shoot but personally I like to be on as many different kinds of shoots as I can to expand my knowledge.


MMM: And what about low/no-budget short films – are there different challenges?

MM: With shorts there’s so much to do in so little time. And often with no money! I worked on Capricious by Jordan Handford and we got a very complicated shot completed at 2.30am but it’s about perseverance and patience but I advise others to stick with it through the frustrations.



MMM: As well as camera work, you’re also adept at turning your hand to sound and special effects?

MM: There’s a big crossover and although I am no sound expert I try to understand at least parts of other roles on set and will try my hand at them when required.


MMM: Is that because the nature of low budget filmmaking i.e. less crew available?

MM: Yes. Although I wouldn’t take, or advise people to take, roles they didn’t think they could fulfil. Rather than one good job you could end up doing two jobs poorly. That said, sometimes you have to find creative solutions to logistical issues that come up.


MMM: In the case, what pitfalls do people need to look out for when approaching low budget filmmaking?

MM: Well, the technical aspects can sometimes be an issue. As I said earlier, if you can get your hands on equipment then you can practice in your own time. Also, an appreciation of technical speak is needed so people can understand the basics of terms like aperture, f-stop, shooting modes and the like. To help though, people shouldn’t underestimate the power of the internet, especially YouTube, where you can view and learn about different cameras. And I do mean literally the button and menu placement which vary on different cameras on low-budget shoots. The manuals are also online and if you can’t practice with the camera you’ll end up using it’s the next best way to learn.


MMM: That’s a fantastic tip! Moving on though, you also work with young people at the Pauline Quirke Academy. Do you enjoy passing on these skills as well?

MM: Yes, when I was asked about helping out at PQA, I never really thought about teaching but it became appealing as you find out a lot about how much you know when you teach. So I started and it was a very positive experience. The children have a great idea what a camera is, it’s on all our phones, but not the best idea about what it can do. The things I’ve learnt to do automatically had to be explained in a way they would understand. The kids came back with photos they never knew they could take – they looked like magazine covers!


MMM: And what’s next for you?

MM: I’m working on Rhys Davies’ Acid Daemons as well as starting a new venture in special effects. I have recently built my own render farm and production space to work on CGI and visual f/x which I hope to get going very soon.


MMM: Huge thanks for meeting and chatting today, Mbili. Any final thoughts?

MM: Thank you. It’s been great and I hope it can inspire more people to get involved in a role I find so fulfilling.


FInd out more about Mbili and his projects below:


Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mbilimunthali

Follow on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5946474/


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2017 03:44PM

2017 Movie Catch-Up Blog Part 3




24x36: A Movie about Movie Posters (2017) Dir. Kevin Burke

This documentary concerns the lost (and now maybe regained) art of the illustrated movie poster. With conversations from key artists over the last 40 years, the film shines a nostalgic light to the changes within the industry from the iconic (and painted) nature of the past to the resistance of the homogenised digital ‘Photoshop-ing’ of the present. It also follows the resurgence of the MONDO brand who, in the absence of Hollywood’s calling, filled the gap for creative, limited edition, screen-printed posters which has grown into an underground (but maybe no more) phenomenon. The doc is structured with the usual voice-overs and interviews yet despite its average structure, if you’re a fan of the subject then it does a great deal to explain the industry’s avoidance of creative risks with the increase use of focus groups. Similar to “Drew: The Man Behind the Poster” (2013) – a doc focused on the most famous poster-creator of them all Drew Struzan – the passion of the collectors just pulls it over the line – as was a surprise appearance from Leicester’s own Thomas Hodge whose 80s-flavoured posters are part of the scene’s rebirth. As a fan of alternative poster art (see our blogs here & here) I enjoyed the documentary, but for the passing fan however, it may be a bit too bland in style to grab you like well-designed placard. 6.5/10




Prevenge (2017) Dir. Alice Lowe

A pregnant woman who commits murder owing to voices she believes come from her unborn foetus is the dark narrative from this new British comedy horror. I had high hopes for this film after a spate of fine reviews yet right off the bat, the film is neither shocking nor comedic enough to warrant such regard. The movie’s positives include a terrific turn by writer/director/actor Alice Lowe who brings some depth to the troubled character but it delivered a poor script that thought it was far cleverer than it was. The overall feel was a few “skits” tied together with an over-arching and confusingly delivered narrative. The themes of female passions are surface level at best and an (almost) hand-held filming style meant I couldn’t get beyond the mix of its low budget technical style combined with the self-important themes and 6th Form-level wit. Apparently it was filmed in 2 weeks and boy can you tell. No laughs and no scares make Prevenge a dull girl. 4/10




Opening Night (2017) Dir. Isaac Rentz

A low budget frolic into the world of the musical stage sees Topher Grace playing a backstage producer of a new show that is as haphazard as it is a giant mess. Mixing the front of house musical numbers with the chaotic backstage antics of divas and dead-headed actors, the film is a light-hearted and enthusiastic tribute to the stresses of putting on a professional performance for the first time. Grace brings his inoffensive but warm persona from That 70s Show and a great comedic support cast delivers a stock love-story that, like the show within the film, wins the audience over despite its amateurism. Even though I’ve toured in a rock band myself, I have but a passing interest in film musicals as bursting into song in the middle of a scene has never really connected with me away from the stage. However, Opening Night is itself a meta-musical with the actors at times singing and dancing ‘outside’ of their own show. In many ways it works much more naturally than the artificial construct of most musicals. Like Moulin Rouge, well known pop songs are mixed with a handful of originals (which helps) and overall the movie avoids blandness as it harmlessly pokes fun at the crazy dramas of the theatrical world. 6.5/10




It Comes at Night (2017) Dir. Trey Edward Shults

Another film coming with a raft of praise-worthy reviews, this minimalist horror-drama also sadly fails to live up to expectations with a story about an unknown contagious disease and two families’ attempts at secluding themselves in the forest away from its ravages. One unit is headed by Joel Edgerton delivering an intense rage-filled role we’ve come to expect from him. He tries to ensure the safety of his family with a firm-hand and strict set of rules until he crosses paths with Will (Christopher Abbott) and his wife and child. The two then come together for both company and the sharing of scarce resources. However, the slow build up creates an unsettling distrust and from ‘sleepwalking’ children to barking dogs, the filmmaker aims to increase both the character’s and audience’s paranoia throughout. With dream and nightmare sequences though, the film is very ambiguous in what it is presenting. This at times works owing to the fear of the unknown but unfortunately this ‘open-to-interpretation’ delivery is stretched to a point of confusion. As the water and supplies dwindled, so did my interest and the director delivered some stock Hollywood horrors (a tree rustle here, a locked red door there – ooh spooky) whilst the investigations and infections come to an unsatisfying conclusion. It’s therefore a big shame the film failed to grab me as there are a few glimpses of a more narratively coherent horror in here. Yet It Comes at Night is ultimately a well-filmed and beautifully lit chamber-piece that some viewers will find tense, ambiguous and atmospheric whilst I predict a majority will come away simply bored to death. 5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2017 11:07AM



Midlands Interview - Award winning director Andrew Rutter


Filmmaker Andrew Rutter recently won Leicester’s 2017 The Short Cinema Main Competition Award for Best Film which is the culmination of many years hard work for the local director. Mike Sales interviews Andrew who tells us more about his winning film and more.


Midlands Movies Mike: Hi Andrew, congratulations on your win! The Short Cinema is a great event for the region so are you from the area at all?

Andrew Rutter: Hi and thanks very much! Well it all started for me in the Black Country where I was born and raised. I grew up in a small area called Rowley Regis where my brother and I would rope our school mates in to making horror films with us using the family camcorder. We managed to produce all sorts of whacky stuff, a few zombie films and our own little homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre at one point. Aside from a brief stint in backyard wrestling we very much enjoyed making horror films. Fast forward to now, I’m a freelance filmmaker full time. Of course I work a lot in corporate video to pay the bills but I tend to turn my hand to all sorts of film production, continuously trying to carve some sort of career out of all this madness!


MMM : And when did that home-made filmmaking become more professional?

AR: Well, I guess I started working “Professionally” right out of the gate after my stint at Wolverhampton University in 2011. I landed a freelance editing job cutting toy adverts so that helped me financially and grow professionally. When not working I was continuously shooting Music Videos for next to nothing, fully realising that I kind of had to build a brand new portfolio since the DSLR movement had swept the filmmaking scene and the bar had been raised.


I found it quite hard to navigate to where I am now, and even still I find it difficult because freelance is such a life that is all about unpredictability, not fully knowing if a job is coming through or not. The key factors for me were making friends and making cool art. I always believed that if you strived hard to make the best possible thing you can, time and time again, then eventually it’d be hard for people to ignore you.


MMM: So do your films focus on any particular genres or themes?

AR: It’s weird really as I pretty much grew up on genre movies, but my work tends to blend a lot of stuff, or at least that’s what’s going on in my head during the process. As a kid I made horror movies, but I haven’t made a horror film since then. I’m a big fan of dark comedy, quite a few past Music Videos have gone down that route and I think I’m leaning more in to that for some future shorts I have in mind. I kind of fell into music videos because they had a formula that meant you could get your ideas funded but you’d just have to tailor them to some music. I’m at a point now though where I want to fully dive in to all sorts of genre filmmaking.



MMM: You just mentioned the problems of balancing the corporate and freelance work but what have been other difficult hurdles you have overcome?

AR: It’s very difficult to pin point as I can honestly say my whole ‘career’ has been a constant struggle. Building a network of people, establishing regular work, detecting untrustworthy people, the list goes on. Then there’s the difficult reality of trying to navigate the film industry, which is this insane beast; to ‘break in’ to something riddled with elitism and blind luck. I didn’t come from money or have an uncle in the biz, just an encouraging mother, a camcorder and loads of ideas. Early on I really struggled with the notion of working with other people for a long time, I hated that I needed other people to make my films. I couldn’t tell you how many times I was let down by people I thought were trustworthy, at the risk of sounding really negative, I grew to dislike the industry after meeting so many bull-shitters. The positives from this though is that I learnt a lot from these people, it’s been useful to be stung a few times because my bullshit radar is pretty strong now! The reality is that you need to find the right people, sometimes it’s just a small tight-nit group of friends that will fight to get your film made and as a result champion each other’s talents through success.


I think the biggest challenges over time have not been the physical graft but my mental state. It’s hard to get anything done when your mind is rooting against you, filmmaking can be a lonely journey and when you do eventually meet these liars, they contribute to the gradual chipping away at your own mental stability, often causing doubt in your own ability. I’ve been fortunate to find strength in loved ones and other filmmakers who are also chasing this crazy dream. There’s a whole lot of inspiring stuff being produced all over the world so I think it just takes giving yourself that time to absorb some of it and recharge your batteries - a great cure for any negative thinking!



MMM: And how was the shoot for Ultrasound and how did you get involved in it?

AR: The shoot was very challenging as it was my most ambitious piece to date. The band were great, they literally gave me free reign over what the film could be and left me to it. I came to work with the band a few years ago, I was literally just a fan that sent them a tweet along the lines of “Let me do your next video”. They called my bluff and a few weeks later I was in Hastings doing the first video with them. A couple years later they had album three coming out, they invited me to the studio and that’s where I first heard ‘Kon-Tiki’. I knew from that moment that it was the one I’d do a film for.


A lot of things went wrong during the shoot, a producer dropped out at an awkward time and I became buried in multi-tasking alongside the DOP Christopher Hood. We shot for around 5 days, lead by location availability really, which was primarily Wolverhampton, Wales, Peterborough and an evening in Leicester. I was running on 3 hours sleep for most of it, barely eating and generally a silly mess. For all it’s hardships a lot did go right on the shoot, it had to or we’d have been well and truly…


This shoot also happened to be the last with my good friend Keith ‘Casablanca’ Whitehouse who sadly left this world not long after the film came out. I was so happy he got to see his work in it, that he really loved it and supported it massively. Whilst he plays a rather negative character in the film, I have a huge smile when his face pops up on the big cinema screens that it’s been playing across recently.


MMM: And which do you have any heroes or people who have influenced you from the film industry?

AR: My heroes of the industry have kinda changed as I’ve grown up. I managed to meet a few when I was in my early teens. At thirteen I attended a TROMA master class in London with my brother where we got to meet and talk with Lloyd Kaufman, a real champion of independent cinema. I got to briefly meet John Waters and George A. Romero many years ago too, both who’ve made extremely influential films. Seeing John Carpenter play his music live last year was also a beautiful treat.


There are so many great filmmakers out there now doing amazing things, I’m a frequent visitor of Vimeo, which is a great injection of inspiration when you need it. The filmmaking duo DANIELS I’ve followed for a few years on there, watching their journey from Music Videos to feature film Swiss Army Man is amazing. Nowadays though I find my heroes to be the people who are fighting to get their films made, the ones who are pushing on regardless of doubt and naysayers. I suppose it transcends film though, artists in general have a positive effect on me when I see what they’ve been through to get something made.



MMM: And what do you think has been your greatest achievement on your journey so far?

AR: I don’t have any defining moments of success to be honest; it’s been a series of little victories that have kept me going over the years. Last year I learnt to drive and bought myself a car, which I was pretty proud of, as it’d been something that tormented me for years! Every project I’ve completed has been a victory for me, knowing that something exists because I willed it to, whether it’s good or bad doesn’t matter. So many people don’t get past the ideas part of the process so to have something actually exist in the world is a win, to get accolades for it is a bonus.


MMM: And for the obligatory “impossible” question – what are your favourite films?

AR: I live and breathe all kinds of cinema and my top ten is forever changing. As a kid I was introduced to stuff like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dawn of the Dead, and John Carpenter’s The Fog. In early high school I saw Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, which was a massive influence; the behind the scenes of that film alone is a testament to him as a filmmaker. When I reached my teens I was discovering a bunch of stuff from David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Jan Svankmajer, Terry Gilliam, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Roman Polanski, Werner Herzog and so many more. I fell in to a deeper world of film and it all opened up for me during my teens. It was magical stumbling upon something that blew your mind; in college it was stuff like Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Boogie Nights, Todd Solondz’s Happiness. Even now I’m still catching stuff I missed out on, such as Tarkovsky’s Stalker and the work of Kenneth Anger.


MMM: With The Short Cinema win now in the bag what can we expect next from Andrew Rutter?

AR: I’m developing a few short narrative films at the moment; I’ve done a lot of Music Videos and Documentaries so I’m trying to push myself in to some narrative shorts that aren’t either of those. I’m not ruling out anything though as you just never know what may present itself at the right time.


MMM: And finally, what are your favourite Midlands films and is there anyone for our readers to look out for?

AR: I’ll use this moment to plug my brother’s new film which he’s just released as you couldn’t get any more Midlands than this. It’s called Bella in the Wych Elm and you should definitely check it out here


MMM: Wow! I didn’t know you were related and we reviewed his film earlier in the year. Huge thanks for speaking to us today Andrew.

AR: A pleasure.


Check out Andrew’s showreel below and follow the filmmaker on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AJRutter



By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2017 05:55PM




Midlands Professional - Set-maker and Prop Designer David Hardcastle


In a brand new series of articles Midlands Movies will be talking to a range of regional experts who are sharing advice and hints and tips from their particular field in film. First up to pass on their knowledge and experience is set-designer and prop-maker David Hardware who currently works at Roasted Studios in Leicester.


David Hardware has been a creative force for many years yet there's none stranger tale than his background in cake decoration where he excelled before hitting the film industry later in his career. After joining the Army Catering Corps at just 17, David explained he “learnt how to pretty much cook everything”. The talented set designer would eventually went on to use the creative skills from that role in film where the elaborate gourmet buffets were displayed on stage or based around specific themes.


Unbelievably some of these food courses were interactive which David says “made them magical” but after redundancy in 1995, David moved on to work for Location Catering and here was his true crossover with the film industry. “Location Catering was owned and run by Phil Hobbs who was married to Stanley Kubrick’s daughter. That company catered for a number of productions including Linda LaPlant’s Trial & Retribution, Nike adverts and A League of Their Own”, explains David.


“Then came along Eyes Wide Shut and I was to be the chef on the craft vehicle, feeding cast and crew including Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman! We moved considerably as well – The Lainsborough Hotel in London and Pinewood of course. And it was there where I stood on the New York street film set in absolute awe! I saw many things behind the scenes and Kubrick being Kubrick extended filming to 18 months. Filming was pretty much always a closed set, so the craft vehicle was sadly axed early”.



He didn’t realise at the time but David had caught a bug, and not a man-flu bug, but “one that suggests you have found a passion” he remarks. So it was then when David opened his own catering company and inadvertently met with celebrities and enjoyed the magic of film sets.


But soon, after a desire to move from behind to in-front of the camera, David learnt many things by simply being on film sets. “I got the Lead role of Black in a very small independent number, zero budget, you know the score. This production had animatronics, many outfits and masks and a full head cast was needed for my character”.


Then after gaining a small role in the Hamill Brothers’ The Wrong Floor (aka Toxic Apocalypse) and subsequently practising face and body casting for masks, David the prop-maker was born. During the production of their following film, David was asked to create a prop of a special book to grab an audience’s attention.


“I also made other props too which created the need for film sets, so I offered, at no cost other than materials and I was of course allowed to play with ideas based on the script. And so the set-builder was born too. As the writer adapted the script he asked for a statue of Jesus, with an arm that moves like a fruit machine and a compartment that opens revealing something. I duly obliged, I just made it 5 foot tall!”


When Roasted studios moved to new premises, David realised what his passion was all along and David says the best prop-maker can make things out of stuff other folk may throw away - certainly advising to check out free-cycle and up-cycle sites.


“Freebie sites are a fabulous way of finding props for sets. Especially on a zero budget one. I am currently coming to the finishing touches to what I call our shopping alley. It will be very Victorian, Harry Potter-ish, if I dare, once it’s complete. It’s allowed me to play and build based on what free materials I could find”.



David also recommends getting the basics right in terms of asking the right questions of filmmakers as well as maintaining the standard of the set-maker’s own skills and ability.


“You must first consider the space that you have, and what is required in that space, followed by how are they going to film in this space? Ask yourself if it can be built, what is the budget, is it enough? Also consider when is it required for and for how long? If you are making a set, and especially if it’s a copy of something, then you will need a fundamental skill set – from basic DIY skills, to painting, decorating and awareness of how it will be lighted”, say David.


His most recent creation is a police station cell. Currently without a door (!) David says that it is sometimes about what the camera can’t see and getting the information from the filmmakers as early as possible even if the story boards have not been completed. David goes on, “I need to know how interactive the set is going to be and how many scenes the set will be used for”.


Durability, the use of moving parts and level of detail are also key to the success of the set-designer’s role so those looking for a future in the arena should get used to asking lots of questions. The build space will obviously dictate what angles are available, although moving walls and interchangeable doors is something David is trying to achieve at Roasted Studios, which will allow for the more discerning director to have more options.



“What we are offering at Roasted has not been readily available before. I aim to build sets that are not generally accessible to the independent film production company. The first one is of course the cell, and we have a fabulous stairwell to accompany it. Hopefully once the writers out there find out about what we’re offering, they can then write it into their stories”.


With future planned sets including a night club with working bar, a boxing gym and maybe an airport check in desk with conveyers and scanners, David encourages budding young filmmakers and creatives to get involved. “We have many opportunities for upcoming prop makers or set builders, where they can see their own handy work in future productions from the studio”.


David finishes, “I am also very keen to get media students aware of where we are and what we do and link with any colleges on a course opportunity level. I have no formal qualifications in set building but with the things I have built I have had an impact on the stories filmed here themselves. I always aim to ‘add the magic’”.


To find out more about the magic at Roasted Studios, or to take a tour round their sets, or to even chat to David and Marc about the opportunities please contact them at https://www.roastedstudios.co.uk


Also check out David's Prop-making Facebook Group page: https://www.facebook.com/FilmPropMakers

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