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By midlandsmovies, Nov 26 2019 11:54AM


Steve Green with Alan Birch and Al Smith
Steve Green with Alan Birch and Al Smith

Midlands Spotlight - New online show focuses on Midlands filmmakers


Midlands filmmakers will find themselves in front of the camera when local telly legends Des Tong and Gary James launch their new online show Birmingham Now on Monday 25th November.


Birmingham Now is a new monthly YouTube series will feature interviews with personalities from the world of movies, music, theatre and art, as well as profiles of business and sports figures.


Des Tong is a Birmingham-based musician, presenter and video director, best known for his work with Sad Cafe and singer Cissy Stone. Gary James is a Birmingham-based sports journalist, presenter and branding consultant with wide experience in corporate entertainment.



Birmingham Now hosts Gary James and Des Tong
Birmingham Now hosts Gary James and Des Tong

And Steve Green and Chrissie Harper run Solihull-based Vamporama Films, producing news packages for regional television and documentary material for a variety of online and media platforms.


In the first edition, co-producer Steve Green will be talking to actor Alan Birch and writer Al Smith about their collaborations on film and stage, as well as the first Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival.


Running in Kinver in January 2020, the Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival includes judges include Adam Nevill, whose novel The Ritual was adapted for the screen in 2017.



There's also the first of Des Tong's "featured artist" profiles in which he chats with Wolverhampton-born singer-songwriter Rebecca Downes.


The show is a co-production between Des & Gary and Solihull-based Vamporama Films.


Previews and free subscriptions are available now via the show’s website http://brum-now.uk


YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIjVpJqCyNK_BymjT-fnTdQ

Festival link: https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk



By midlandsmovies, Nov 14 2019 12:35PM



Independent sci-fi Invasion Planet Earth Cast and Crew to appear at MCM Comic Con Birmingham


Originally titled Kaleidoscope Man, much of Invasion Planet Earth was shot in the Birmingham area over the 2000s and now the cast and crew will be leading a panel and a workshop on 17th November at MCM Comic Con Birmingham ahead of the film’s release.


It took two years and seven campaigns for filmmaker Simon Cox and his team to raise a significant amount of money which enabled them to shoot around a third of the movie.


Including some spectacular scenes in central Birmingham where nine hundred extras turned up to be blasted by aliens in an epic, War of the Worlds style battle scene.


Taking place as a special panel on the MCM main stage, the gang will be taking the audience behind the scenes of Invasion Planet Earth. And following this, Simon Cox (director, co-writer, editor, as well as supervisor and producer of the vfx) and Chris Jones (guerilla filmmaker) will be leading a free workshop on Creating Special Effects on a Budget.




Invasion Planet Earth tells the story of Tom Dunn who after the death of his daughter is a broken man. When his wife falls pregnant again, he cannot believe their luck. However, his joy is short lived, as on the very same day, the people of Earth become plagued with terrifying visions of the end of the world.


When a gigantic, all-consuming alien mothership appears in the sky and launches a ruthless attack on Earth’s cities, chaos and destruction follow.


Tom must find the strength and wisdom to save his wife and unborn child. However, first he must confront a shocking truth. A truth which threatens the key to the survival of the human race.


The story of the production of the film is a remarkable one. A true passion project, Invasion Planet Earth has taken twenty years to make from inception to release.


After years of pitching to the UK film industry and private investors, a small amount of money was raised which Simon used to produce a pilot and for concept art to be created. However, it soon became apparent that funding this movie in what was then, the traditional way, was not going to happen. In 2012, Simon took the bold decision to crowdfund the film using social media.




Simon then found some investors who financed the rest of the movie. However, this took time and once the live action scenes were finally shot, the special effects took another two and a half years to complete. In total, the movie was in production for seven years with ten years before that in development. Such was the multitude of generous donors and patrons of this project; the film lists over 100 producers on IMDb.


A theatrical release date of 5th December has been set and the film will be released on Digital Download on 16th December, shortly followed by the DVD release on 30th December.


For more info check out https://www.invasionplanetearth.com


By midlandsmovies, Oct 26 2019 07:15AM



BIRMINGHAM FILM FESTIVAL IN ASSOCIATION WITH TREVOR BEATTIE FILMS RETURNS FOR ITS 4th ANNUAL FESTIVAL


The fourth annual Birmingham Film Festival, an international festival of screenings, events and awards for talented filmmakers from around the world, returns to the city from 1st - 10th November.


The international celebration of film craft is a platform for new filmmakers, helping them reach a wider audience and nurture their careers to the next level. The festival’s screenings and seminars are all free to attend, making the innovative festival accessible to all and allowing the filmmakers showcase their work to a huge audience.


Birmingham Film Festival, which takes place over the course of ten days at Millennium Point, featuring an array of shorts, features, documentaries, and music videos, aims to put Birmingham on the international map and will add to the rising popularity of the UK’s second city.


The festival’s home, Birmingham, has recently become a popular location choice for Hollywood filmmakers, most notably including Steven Speilberg’s Ready Player One and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.


Trevor Beattie Films is the 2019 headline sponsor for the upcoming event. Trevor Beattie, originally from Birmingham, is considered one of the leading figures in advertising in Britain and has been responsible for a number of high-profile advertising campaigns. He has since moved into the film industry, producing the BAFTA award-winning film Moon, directed by Duncan Jones in 2008.



“I am genuinely honoured and flattered to be associated with The Birmingham Film Festival. Birmingham is more than my home, it’s who I AM and film is most definitely my future. It’s a perfect fit for me. The Birmingham Film Festival is yet another example of how Birmingham is becoming the cultural heartbeat of the nation. Birmingham never rests. And now we’re punching our weight in film".


"It has not escaped my attention that Birmingham has a Hollywood district, and I’m sorely tempted to base the Birmingham branch of my film company in B47. I just think “TREVOR BEATTIE FILMS, HOLLYWOOD, B47” has a ring to it"


"I’m really looking forward to the festival week and seeing some of the extraordinary film making talent on display. I have a message for Birmingham from DUNCAN JONES (of that other Hollywood fame). Duncan promises that he will visit Birmingham when he next returns to the UK and create a little something for next year’s festival. Birmingham has ARRIVED in film! Birmingham Film Festival will ensure that news is shouted from the rooftops.” says Trevor Beattie.


Steven Knight, the Brummie creator of Peaky Blinders, who is planning on building a £100M state-of-the-art film and TV studio in the city, is the festival’s patron. Kevin McDonagh, President of Birmingham Film Festival said: “We are really excited for this year's festival. Our aim has always been to grow the event and reach larger audiences for the amazing work that we get to show and we've achieved that this year".



"Adding more seminars and workshops was also key as it not only brings more of the industry into the city but supports local talent and helps them to grow their own careers. Raising the profile of the festival also leads into that goal, bringing more focus onto the city and its talent. If we can create an exciting and respected platform for the films and filmmakers, then we hopefully we are contributing in a positive way to future of the regions industry".


"To be honest though, our growth and success is in no small part due to the amazing talent that generously allows us to showcase their efforts. Without the film makers, we are nothing.”


The festival will conclude with a fabulous Gala Awards Ceremony on 9th November at Macdonald Burlington Hotel, during which the Birmingham Film Festival Awards will be handed out to the winners of each of each category. Awards will be given out to everything from Best Feature Film to Best Young Actor, Best Local Film and Best Special Effects.


One of Birmingham’s most famous sons, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, has also been announced as a judge for the music video category. "I was thrilled to be at the Birmingham Film Festival last year and wish everybody involved with this year's event the best. Though I won't be there on the night, I will be judging the music video category." says Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran.


Celebrities and special guests will be out in force on Friday 1st November at the Millennium Point to kick-start the festival at the glamorous VIP Launch Party.


The film festival invites talented and independent film makers from all over the globe to participate. To learn more about Birmingham Film Festival visit www.birminghamfilmfestival.com



By midlandsmovies, Oct 17 2019 01:42PM



BAME female filmmaker sells out screening of debut short film Lost Identity


West Midlands filmmaker Ruth Holder is an ambitious, driven 19 year old who has written, directed and self financed her debut short and has now sold out the Mockingbird Cinema for the premiere. The screening, on Wednesday 23rd October, sold out in a week.


‘Lost Identity’ is a short, experimental dance film that explores how we change ourselves, altering our appearance and behaviour in order to please other people and the emotional and mental impact that has on us.


The film is deeply personal to Ruth who shares, “Lost Identity is a love letter to myself and was influenced by my experiences in secondary school. I was hardly ever paid any attention to, no one even batted an eye at me and I hated it, I hated feeling like I was invisible. So I changed who I was in order to get my classmates attention and yes I got the attention I hoped for, but not in the way that I expected".


She goes on to add, “I was called names, punched and hit repeatedly like it was okay to do so and used by people who I thought were my friends. Despite knowing that what was happening to me was wrong, I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay because I finally got the attention I wanted, despite it being negative".


“So I decided to make a film about what happened to me, not only to share my experience and inspire others to stand up for themselves but also to heal. Working on this film made me realise that I'm still hurting from my past experiences and to grow and move on, I knew I had to tell my story", says Ruth.



Credit: Jade Jones-Blackwood
Credit: Jade Jones-Blackwood

Ruth sourced a professional crew and choreographer and shot the film in the Old Print Works, Balsall Heath and is keen for the work to be seen by as many people as possible, hoping to be able to tour the film in schools and youth groups to discuss the issues in her film with others who may be experiencing similar issues.


This premiere event will be the first delivered by Birmingham Young FIlmmakers Network in partnership with the Mockingbird Cinema, which is working to create a collaborative community for underrepresented creatives.


BYFN founder Cassie Smyth says, “Ruth’s film is incredibly impressive and confident, much like Ruth herself, and really confirms our suspicion that there is a lot of amazing potential in Birmingham that just needs the space and support to shine and we’re thrilled to be able to facilitate that.".


Watch the trailer here:






By midlandsmovies, Sep 23 2019 12:11PM



LICHFIELD GARRICK OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES EVENT CINEMA WITH NEW DIGITAL PROJECTION AND DOLBY SOUND PLUS BRAND NEW SEATING


Lichfield’s famous Garrick Theatre is already well known for staging exceptional live theatre bringing star names, well known plays and musicals, events, comedy, one-night gigs and traditional pantomime to its stage.


This autumn the award-winning theatre will be adding to the entertainment offering by officially launching EVENT CINEMA in the theatre’s refurbished Studio Theatre.


Using state of the art digital projection and Dolby sound, EVENT CINEMA will offer an exciting programme of screenings this autumn/winter including the hit comedy ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ starring James Corden, in celebration of 10 years of National Theatre live on screen; The Royal Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ a special Christmas treat for all the family, and Royal Opera House favourite Bryn Terfell in a new production of ‘Don Pasquale’. The cinema will also screen blockbuster movies including ‘RAMBO: Last Blood’ starring Sylvester Stallone.



Lichfield Garrick Theatre’s Chief Executive, Karen Foster said: “For some time now residents of Lichfield and beyond have had to commute out of the city to attend a cinema. Here at the theatre we have listened to our local community, and as a registered charity, took the decision to invest money back into the building and create a cinema which will appeal to both theatre and cinemagoers alike.”


Further highlights include a Dementia Friendly screening of the musical film Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day; 42nd Street the Musical filmed live at London’s Drury Lane and PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE taking younger audiences on an epic comedy adventure.


EVENT CINEMA is situated in the existing Studio Theatre which has recently benefitted from the addition of brand-new seating. The 150-seater studio can be configured to host a variety of events including live theatre, conferences, seminars and outreach work.


EVENT CINEMA will officially launch on Thursday 3 October with a screening of WISE CHILDREN (live Recording) a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope, with a generous dash of Shakespeare, scandal and mischief, taking the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotion.


In 2020 audiences can look forward to further live screenings as well as new film releases.


Tickets for EVENT CINEMA are available online at https://www.lichfieldgarrick.com/whats-on/cinema/and in person at the box office (open Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm and until 9.30pm on performance days) or by phone on 01543 412121.




By midlandsmovies, Sep 13 2019 10:21AM



Midlands Spotlight - All That You Love Will Be Carried Away


The premiere of “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”, which is produced by Harms Way Studios, will be on Sunday 22nd September at the Odeon Worcester.


The film stars Jack Frank, Gabriella Leonardi, Christian Vaccaro, Leona Clarke, Christian Dapp, Carys Jones, Zoe Doughty and James Kay in the lead roles. Writer/Director Hendrik Harms adapted the popular Stephen King story in a unique way with pumping synth, neon hues and noir tones. And the film has a blistering score by Elliot Hardman and visuals from cinematographer Elliot Wallis.




Based on the short story by Stephen King. All That You Love Will Be Carried Away tells the story of Alfie Zimmer, a travelling salesman, who collects interesting graffiti. Every time he finds a new piece he writes it in his book. These scribblings are his “friends”. However, there are darker truths hidden in these words, and it will take all of Alfie’s strength to face what he’s been running from and keep his head above water as his life collapses around him.


Shot predominantly in Worcester at the Whitehouse Hotel and in Birmingham at the bar Subside, this is a film that is all about keeping it local.




Witer-director Hendrik Harms explains, “When making this film we were overwhelmed with the support from the community. We had catering provided by Ma Bakers, Boston Tea Party, Waitrose and Tesco, as well as some delicious home cooked meals. The Whitehouse Hotel could not have been more accommodating too. It really showed us how much Worcester has to offer for filmmakers and why it was so important to screen our premiere here in the city centre".


"This project is the culmination of so much generosity and passion from so many people that I can’t wait for them to see it on the big screen", adds Hendrik.



Director Hendrik Harms
Director Hendrik Harms

The film is part of Stephen King’s Dollar Baby scheme, which gives filmmakers the rights to adapt one of his short stories for just a single dollar. When it’s completed a DVD of the film will be sent to him, prior to its international tour of film festivals.


“We actually shot the film in 5 days, which is a massive undertaking for the script that we had, but thanks to every single person in the cast and crew being on top form, everything was incredibly smooth. It was an electric experience.”


For more information please check out the film's official pages below:


www.facebook.com/harmswaystudios

www.instagram.com/harmswaystudios

www.harmswaystudios.com



By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2019 07:25PM


Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood

Midlands Interview - Birmingham director Ruth Holder


Midlands Movies editor Mike Sales speaks to Birmingham based Ruth Holder about her latest film Lost Identity as well as her struggles as an independent director and her love of Guillermo del Toro.


Hi Ruth. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Are you from the Midlands?

My name is Ruth Holder, I’m 19 years old and I’m from Birmingham. Storytelling has been a passion and love of mine since I was very young but it wasn’t until I watched Pacific Rim in the cinema, that I dreamed of becoming a filmmaker and seeing my films on the silver screen. This dream is what motivates me everyday.


And how did you get into your current position in the local film community?

By taking a huge risk. I dreamt of making my own film whilst I was in university so I had two choices - keep dreaming or make it a reality. So I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and make the film despite having no prior experience in doing so, and it’s the best decision I ever made. Now I can finally say that I am a film director, that I have made my own film and to be able to say that still feels so surreal.


Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood

That's great. What’s the latest project you are working on?

I recently made my first short film called, ‘Lost Identity’, which I directed, wrote and funded myself. The film explores how we alter our appearance and the way we behave, in order to please other people. By doing so, we put on a fake identity, a ‘mask’ if you will, in order to fit someone else’s perfect image. I wanted to show how this can affect someone emotionally and mentally because I believe this is something a lot of young people can relate to.


And can you tell us a bit about how they came about?

Lost Identity was influenced by my experiences in secondary school. I was hardly ever paid any attention to when I first started, no one even batted an eye at me and I hated it, I hated feeling like I was invisible. So I changed who I was in order to get my classmates attention and yes I got the attention I hoped for, but not in the way that I expected.


I was called ‘bitch’, punched and hit repeated like it was a normality and used by those who I thought were my friends. I knew that what was happening to me was wrong and knew it was unacceptable but I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay because I was finally getting the attention that I wanted.

So I decided to make a film about what happened to me, not only to share my experience and inspire others to stand up for themselves but also to heal. Working on this film made me realise that I'm still hurting from my past experiences and to grow and move on, I knew I had to tell my story.


Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries
Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries

As well as the personal experiences, what were the other influences on your film?

In the film, I use coloured lighting to illustrate the different stages that May, the dancer and lead actress in my film, goes through. This idea was inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s use of colour and how he uses it has a medium for visual storytelling in his films. Pacific Rim, one of my favourite films from him, has such a vast colour scheme and you can’t help but be immersed in the film’s visuals because of it. This is something I wanted to achieve with Lost Identity and I believe I did.




Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries
Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries

Do you or projects you choose specialise in any genres?

Since I’m just starting out there’s not a particular genre that I want to stick to at the moment. Right now, I’m keeping my options open and experimenting with different genres to see what works for me.


What do you think are the challenges faced by local independent films?

Depending on your audience and goals for your film I think independent filmmaking has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if you wanted to reach a mainstream audience that could prove difficult because independent films aren't distributed the way mainstream films are. Most independent films either are seen in festivals or sent straight to DVD, whereas mainstream films are screened in various cinemas internationally.


Since I’m targeting young people I do want this film to go mainstream because I believe the message of the film can impact and change so many lives. So, even though on paper it sounds impossible, I’m going to work hard to make it possible.


And what has been the most difficult hurdle you have/had to overcome yourself?

The most difficult challenge that I’ve faced is doubting myself and my abilities to make a film. To jump into the role of director with no prior experience was daunting. But I had such a great support team, my family and my mentor, Campbell Ex, believed in me and helped and supported me every step of the way.


Do you have any heroes in the industry? Any favourite films?

Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro. I’ve always loved how Guillermo del Toro’s films use colour as a medium for visual storytelling and how Nolan can create such compelling stories on a large scale. It’s these two facets of storytelling that inspire my films. Also they're two of the biggest names in the film industry. This is a standing that I aspire to earn as I continue to make films. There are few young, female directors in the film industry whose names are known worldwide. I'm going to change that.



Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood

What has been your greatest achievement or success?

Making ‘Lost Identity’. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do it because of how impossible it seemed. But I had such an amazing cast and crew who worked hard and passionately to help me bring my vision to life and I can’t thank them enough.


Finally, what are your future plans?

At the moment, I’m working on getting my film, ‘Lost Identity’ screened to the public so that’s my number one priority as of right now.


My dream is to have it screened in the BFI IMAX, which is ambitious to say the least but I believe that it’s possible. God had brought me this far and I know he has so much more in store for me. The BFI IMAX is just the beginning and it will happen, I know it will. Just wait and see.


Another ambitious plan of mine is to work with Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro this year, which again sound unrealistic but I will make this dream of mine a reality.


Thank you, Ruth.


Ruth Holder - https://www.instagram.com/ravenblackstudios/

Brandon Humphries - https://www.instagram.com/b.humphriesphotos/

Jade Jones-Blackwood - https://www.instagram.com/wavy.jxde/

May - https://www.instagram.com/mxtb_/

Eduards Caklais - https://www.instagram.com/eduards_caklais/

George Allen - https://georgeallen.eu/

By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2019 07:24AM



Jungleland


Directed by Waheed Iqbal


2019


Dead in the City films


Written, directed and starring Waheed Iqbal, Jungleland is a new feature set amongst the seedy world of criminals in the West Midlands.


Waheed Iqbal stars as Tanha, a man with some seriously bad habits – drugs and gambling being just two of them – who gets in way over his head after a bet gone wrong. With just 5 days to pay off his debt, we get a countdown of days to a sports game that could help Tanha win a large amount of cash to resolve his situation.


He visits a number of criminal associates, prostitutes and shady dealers as he travels around the streets at night, trying to pull his wayward life together. The film also has an admirable support cast including Hannah-Lee Osborn, Magdalena Ziembla, Faraz Beg, Nav Iqbal and Haqi Ali who encapsulate the sordid aspects of their very unwholesome characters.


As the sparse story develops at an unrushed rate, the film seems to owe more than a debt to Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Iqbal has been inspired to chose a stark colour scheme with shots drenched in neon purples and reds. At the same time, the similarities continue as he focuses solely on a single character’s point of view as the director attempts to draw the audience into his depraved and shadowy psyche.


Although some parts have the vibe of Refn’s Drive (2011) with a downbeat individual entering an immoral world, Jungleland felt more of a nod to God Only Forgives (2013) as a man moonlights his way around a city dealing with threats and iniquitous behaviour.


Sadly, this is slightly unfortunate as this film has inherited the incredibly slow pace and somewhat meandering narrative of that film as well.


Regretfully, the minimalist dialogue and some extremely time-consuming sequences have the effect of making Jungleland feel a bit of a slog at times. An example straight away is the opening 2 minutes of static Birmingham shots that feel redundant - especially when the subsequent red titles, pumping music and a car swerving through a city at night is a much more intriguing and exciting opening.


And there is a LOT of walking too. Everything is dragged out and so measured I found myself switching off which was a disappointment given its mysterious narrative and impressive electro-infused soundtrack.


But it keeps coming back to its snail’s pace. At a whopping 1 hour and 40minutes, Jungleland ends up being an ambitious attempt to deliver an exploration of wickedness and sin but the repetitive script needs tightening, the film could do with a quicker edit and the length doesn’t justify the narrative content.


That said, Iqbal no doubt has an impressive variety of skills and throws them all at the screen during its runtime. Steadicam-style tracking shots, black and white scenes and some impressive and very atmospheric lighting are the film’s finest aspects. And all of this gives the movie an aura of sleazy racketeering and deadly corruption which comes across of screen.


So definitely check out Jungleland if you’re a fan of Refn’s work – especially Only God Forgives whose tone is splashed all over the film – but for others, prepare for a long-drawn-out endeavour that may leave you either immensely fascinated or slightly fatigued.


Michael Sales

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