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By midlandsmovies, Jun 15 2017 10:16AM

Summer Nights outdoor film screenings head to the Midlands

Seven years in and the Summer Nights Film Festival is back at thirteen locations across Derbyshire and the UK. Presented by QUAD on an inflatable twelve metre screen, Summer Nights Festival screenings offer the chance to enjoy the great outdoors for a unique cinematic experience.

New venues for 2017 include Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire and additional nights have been added to some Midlands venues, including Wollaton Hall in Nottingham and Baddesley Clinton, in Warwickshire. Derbyshire venues are Kedleston Hall, Calke Abbey and Hardwick Hall.

The full list of Midlands dates, venues and films for the summer are below:

Kedleston Hall, in Derbyshire is showing Bridget Jones’ Baby (15) on Friday 21st July and The Legend Of Tarzan (12A) on Saturday 22nd July.

Baddesley Clinton, in Warwickshire is showing Dirty Dancing (12A) on Thursday 27th July, Fantastic Beasts (12A) on Friday 28th July and Pretty Woman (15) on Saturday 29th July.

Calke Abbey, in Derbyshire is showing Mamma Mia (PG) on Thursday 3rd August, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12A with subtitles) on Friday 4th August and Footloose (12A) on Saturday 5th August.

Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire is showing Dirty Dancing (12A) on Friday 4th August and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (12A) on Saturday 5th August.

Hardwick Hall, in Derbyshire is showing La La Land (12A) on Friday 18th August and Top Gun (12A) on Saturday 19th August.

Wollaton Hall, in Nottingham is showing Moulin Rouge (12A) on Thursday 24th August, Pretty Woman (15) on Friday 25th August, Jurassic Park (PG) on Saturday 26th August, The Dark Knight Rises (12A subtitled) on Sunday 27th August and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12A) on Monday 28th August.

Belton House, in Lincolnshire is showing Pretty Woman (15) on Friday 8th and Top Gun (12A) on Saturday 9th September.

Standard tickets cost £13 for adults or £9 for under 12s, tickets for children aged under five years are free.

For more information on films, venues or to book tickets, please call QUAD Box Office on 01332 290606 or go to www.summernightsfilm.co.uk

Summer Nights Film Festival has also teamed up with award winning artisan food specialist Hackwood Farm, based in Radbourne, Derby, who are offering pre-ordered traditional wicker picnic hampers for two people packed with tasty traditional picnic fare and including a blanket, glasses, plates and cutlery. You can pre-order their hamper when purchasing their Summer Nights tickets. There will also be drinks and desserts available on the night at selected venues from Bobby’s Bar and Flow Catering. Please see the Summer Nights website for full details.

By midlandsmovies, May 23 2017 09:59PM

Derby QUAD announce new Patron

A new festival Patron have been announced following the fourth Derby Film Festival, which ran at QUAD Derby from 28th April to 7th May. The ten-day festival included sell-out events, special guests and film previews from well know, lesser known, local and international film-makers.

DFF Film Previews included Oscar nominated animation My Life As A Courgette, war epic Fires On The Plain, vibrant teen-drama Spaceship, sumptuous animation The Red Turtle, family drama After The Storm, Finnish deadpan comedy The Other Side Of Hope, the new documentary David Lynch: The Art Life and Mindhorn a surreal comedy starring The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt and featuring Steve Coogan, Simon Callow and Kenneth Branagh.

DFF Special events included The Phantom Of The Opera screening with live organ accompaniment at Derby Cathedral as well as Special Guests Michael Jayston, Alan J.W. Bell, Norman J. Warren, David McGillivray, Lesley Megahey and M. R Carey.

One of the sell-out events, which closed the festival on Sunday 7th May, was A Tribute To Sir John Hurt. Derbyshire actor Sir John Hurt was a Patron of QUAD since it opened in 2008 and Sir John’s widow Anwen Hurt came to QUAD and took part in a moving Q & A with Tony Earnshaw, discussing the actor’s extensive career and links to Derbyshire.

A film-reel of highlights of Sir John’s film career was followed by a premiere screening of The Journey (12A), which featured one of Sir John’s final performances.

QUAD’s Cinema One was renamed Sir John Hurt Cinema at the event and Anwen Hurt has announced she is to become Derby Film Festival’s Patron.

Adam Buss QUAD CEO and Derby Film Festival Director said “Once again we were delighted by the reactions of audiences to some of the key events and film screenings at Derby Film Festival. The brilliant Derby Cathedral played host to the incredibly atmospheric live musical accompaniment to Phantom of the Opera".

"Our tribute event to Sir John Hurt which included contributions by his widow Anwen, was on one of the most touching we have ever hosted. Anwen Hurt has agreed to be joint patron of Derby Film Festival with our existing patron David Morrissey, both of whom are committed supporters of helping us bring the best in cinema and events to Derby.”

The festival will return in 2018, full details will be found on http://derbyfilmfestival.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, May 21 2017 09:05AM

Derby Film Festival 2017

By Guy Russell

A little under two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the 4th annual Derby Film Festival. Hosted by QUAD the festival kicked off on the 28th April followed by ten days’ worth of screenings, talks, short films and competitions.

Each year the festival has a different theme and the films listed in the programme reflect that theme in some way. Last year’s festival had the theme of “Journey”, this year’s however was “Habitat” and as the festival organisers describe it, “the environment that films take place in can vary hugely and create a massive impact on the narrative and the characters”.

Mindhorn (2017)

On the opening night of the festival the audience was treated to a preview of the upcoming comedy Mindhorn starring Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh fame. Directed by Sean Foley and written by Barratt and Boosh collaborator Simon Farnaby this plays a lot differently than what we’re used to seeing Barratt do.

Instead of eccentric and odd humour however we’re treated to the sad, self-deprecating comedy which Will Ferrell and Steve Coogan have excelled at for years. Barratt plays it just as brilliantly as Richard Thorncroft, a former 80s television detective who longs for a comeback on the screen but instead finds himself being asked to assist the police in apprehending a real life murderer.

Mindhorn will draw obvious comparisons to Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa that was released in 2013 as Partridge found himself thrust into real action as a hostage negotiator. Coogan actually stars in Mindhorn also as Thorncroft’s former co-star Pete Eastman who is now a star in his own right. Accomplished actors Kenneth Branagh and Andrea Riseborough also feature.

It was a pleasure to know the film was shot on location in the Isle of Man, the sleepy location played a part in the film and looked glorious on the screen. I really enjoyed Mindhorn and I am fairly confident the rest of the audience did too as the screening was filled with laughter. This British comedy delivers plenty of laughs wgich is sadly something that isn’t too common in British cinemas right now. It was also refreshing that the film is completely original and not only commissioned because of its ties to an already established television show (Alan Partridge, The Inbetweeners). I hope to see more Mindhorn films from Barratt in the future.

You can still catch Mindhorn showing at the QUAD in May.

David Lynch: The Art Life (2017)

This documentary about David Lynch’s life and work as a filmmaker was an advance preview as part of the Fantastiq element of the festival.

Directed by Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes this intimate look inside Lynch’s youth, his persona and his “art life” couldn’t come at a more relevant time. Twin Peaks, arguably Lynch’s most recognisable title in his resume is weeks away from being revived, so an expose into the mind of one of the most enigmatic directors around today is satisfying to watch. Narrated by Lynch through a vintage microphone speaker he guides the audience through his awkward life affirming adolescence right through into his adulthood giving the viewer an idea about how his mind works and why he is such a vivid and eccentric director.

Last year’s Derby Film Festival screened Wild at Heart (1990) and whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film I understood why Lynch has a massive legion of fans. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this documentary as much as I did but with a sleek running time of only 90 minutes I found myself wanting to hear Lynch talk more about any subject! Nguyen and Barnes do a great job in keeping the films pace light and swift, never letting the film sag or outstay its welcome.

Whilst I’m a firm believer of “less is more” when it comes to knowing a film or filmmakers secrets I am guilty of seeing filmmakers quizzed on their films or their career, making sense of the subtleties they have placed in their films. This documentary is a must see for any David Lynch fan or film fan.

Whilst this was an advance preview as part of the Derby Film Festival, viewers can catch this documentary when it hits cinemas in July 2017.

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Directed by legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder, this long unappreciated noir film was a new watch for me and was screened during the festival and fitting perfectly with the theme of habitat.

Ace in the Hole stars Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum, a cynical, libellous, cruel adulterer who has been caught on previous occasions creating fake news to further his career as a reporter. We find out early on that Tatum has been fired from every newspaper from New York to Chicago and has now found his way in Albuquerque, New Mexico offering his services to small town paper The Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin.

Tatum is a classic noir protagonist, a flawed, greedy individual who only looks out for himself, a familiar trait in a lot of people in the modern world today. Frustrated at the lack of “big news” in his small town, Tatum is sent to a nearby rattlesnake hunt to report on when he stumbles upon local man Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) who has been tragically caved in whilst scavenging in an old Indian cave. Tatum virtually rubs his hands as he sees the tragedy as a way to write “big news” again, instead of getting Minosa out as quickly as possible Tatum slyly delays the rescue effort so his story can grow.

What follows is a massive media circus surrounding the cave, tourists from different states camp out, hot dog vendors at every turn, carnival rides and even a band performing and selling a song they have written for Leo. Tatum, along with Leo’s estranged wife make a huge windfall whilst Minosa is trapped.

Wilder through the characters and brilliant cinematography by Charles Lang, scathingly attacks the American people’s obsession over tragedy, no surprise then when Ace in the Hole flopped at the box office only finding its appreciation in the last two decades. Wilder famously spoke of the poor box office performance saying “Americans expected a cocktail and felt I was giving them a shot of vinegar instead”.

Ace in the Hole fits ideally within the theme of habitat as the location creates a massive impact on its central characters. Without the Indian cave trapping Leo there would be no circus, no story. As I mentioned earlier this was a first watch for myself, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, I can see this becoming a favourite on my shelf for years to come.

To find that it didn’t find an audience when first released is disappointing, the film was definitely before its time and I would gladly recommend this film to anyone!

The Truman Show (1998)

Moving on from Ace in the Holes attack of the public’s desire for tragedy is The Truman Show, a film attacking the publics obsession for drama. Directed by Peter Weir, The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank who since birth has been the subject of a reality television show about his life. Adopted by Christof (Ed Harris) who serves as the show’s creator and executive producer Truman is unaware that his whole life has been scripted, materialized just for ratings.

Unlike Ace in the Hole, The Truman Show was a huge commercial and critical success even though both films criticise human natures worst aspects. Originally The Truman Show was written as a thriller set in New York City however when Weir approached the project the film was developed as a comedy, attaching the world’s biggest comedy star Jim Carrey as the lead. I believe this is one the reasons the audience accepted a filmmaker’s critique of them as Weir masks his attack with comedy.

Truman’s entire life has taken place inside a giant production dome in Hollywood, designed to create the image of the beautiful, fictional Seahaven Island. When films stay in our mind long after the film has finished sometimes it’s not the plot or the characters that makes our minds revisit the movie but because visually we can’t get the films “look” out of our head.

The matching cottages, porches and white picket fences seem too perfect to be real, some of the shots by cinematographer Peter Biziou almost resemble some fantasy films like Brazil (1985). Similar to Mindhorn, The Truman Show was shot on location in the aptly named Seaside, Florida, a fact not many people can believe, many believing the look was achieved on a soundstage in Hollywood.

I’m sure most people had already seen The Truman Show when it was screened on the penultimate day of the festival, however like myself I’m sure they enjoyed seeing it on the big screen with an audience laughing with them. If you’ve not already seen Truman, then I would highly recommend this film!

Guy Russell

A big thank you to Kathy Frain at Derby QUAD

By midlandsmovies, Jan 9 2017 04:00PM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2017):

• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 23rd – 26th 2017

• NOTTINGHAM FILM FESTIVAL - Hothouse Theatre’s Nottingham Film Festival. October 6th – 8th 2017 For details visit http://www.nottinghamfilmfestival.com

• ANON FILM FEST - No 2017 dates yet. Screened at Northern Light Cinema, Wirksworth, Derbys. https://filmfreeway.com/festival/anonfilmfestival

• INDIE-LINCS - March 16th – 18th 2017 Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln http://www.indie-lincs.com

• BRINDLEY PLACE OUTDOOR FEST - 2017 dates TBC. http://www.brindleyplace.com/event/brindleyplace-outdoor-film-festival-2

• WORCESTERSHIRE FILM FESTIVAL 2017 dates TBC www.worcestershirefilmfestival.co.uk Contact Lawrence Donello‏ on Twitter @Razorpost https://twitter.com/worcesterfilm

• LEICESTER DOCFILM FEST http://www.citizenseye.org Contact John Coster 2017 dates TBC

• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY TO SUNDAY 12 MARCH 2017

• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - November 18th – 26th 2017 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival

• BIFF FEST (Black International Film Fest) http://www.vtelevision.co.uk/biff/event.html

• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL http://www.shockandgore.co.uk The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, July. Contact david@theelectric.co.uk or https://twitter.com/shockgore July 2017

• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 12th – 14th May 2017.

• LEICESTER ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL - 16th - 19th March www.leicesterasianfilmfestival.com

• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham Dates soon for 2017

• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 28th APRIL - 7th MAY 2017

• FANTASTIQ FEST http://fantastiq.co.uk Fantasy and Horror Fest at Quad in Derby

• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem 12th - 15th October 2017

• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 4th - 9th April 2017

• EAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://www.eastwindsfilmfest.com 2017 Dates Coming Soon

• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL http://www.beestonfilm.com 9th - 12th March 2017

• CAN DO FEST – Nottingham http://www.can-do-fest.com Biennial Fest currently fundraising to run a new Can- Do Film festival in 2017

• ZZUB - http://www.zzubfest.co.uk Wolverhampton - 2017 Festival TBC

• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone 6th - 8th October 2017

• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - 2017 date TBC www.grindhouseplanet.com

Other useful Film Festival information can be find at these links:




By midlandsmovies, Sep 17 2016 03:24PM

Midlands Movies discovers a new documentary from These City Lights which chronicles the football career of former Derby County captain Shaun Barker.

With a release date in December 2016, this new Midlands documentary has been made by writer and director Ashley Carter from Nottingham. Having trained at the prestigious National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield this new film “Shaun Barker: 1,065 Days” is his second film after short documentary Eudaimonia.

The film follows Shaun Barker’s life which culminated with a horrific knee injury suffered whilst playing against local rivals Nottingham Forest in 2012. The documentary continues with Barker’s subsequent four-and-a-half year rehabilitation and Ashley Carter has ensured that all proceeds from the film will be going to the Shaun Barker Foundation.

The Shaun Barker Foundation was set up in 2015 with the aim to help underprivileged children in Derby that will help raise money and awareness for three key areas Shaun had chosen; Arts and Culture, Social Care and Sports in the Community.

After becoming a fans’ favourite for his commanding defensive performances, Barker’s time at Derby began in 2009 but was overshadowed by his spells out injured. Often playing through the pain, Barker developed a reputation as a player that put his body on the line for the club and sacrificing his own personal wellbeing.

Despite being told he would never play again, Barker spent years in gruelling rehabilitation sessions, before miraculously making a comeback for the Derby County Under 21s in 2015. Despite declaring himself fit for a return, new Derby County manager Steve McClaren didn’t give him the chance to play for the first team again.

The director, a lifelong Derby County fan himself, is keen to show all sides of Shaun Barker’s personality and shed light on a period of his career that football fans might not know all the facts about.

“Since meeting Shaun in 2015, it’s clear that he isn’t like other footballers and the players we’ve interviewed so far constantly talk about how influential and inspirational he is off the pitch as well as on it”, explains Ashley. “What he went through on a personal and professional level is astounding and to still be looking to play professional football again is remarkable”.

Filming has included interviews with teammates at previous clubs Rotherham and Blackpool, as well as current and past players at Derby County. “Derby have been great in allowing us to film at Shaun’s recent Testimonial, which was an amazing night”, says Ahsley. “And they’ve also given us access to interview some of the players from Shaun’s time at the club”.

Shaun Barker: 1,065 Days will continue filming through the year before holding a premiere at QUAD in Derby, as well as being released online. All proceeds from these screenings and sales will also be going to the Shaun Barker Foundation.

The project is currently running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign until October 2nd, where backers will get the chance to get some exclusive signed merchandise, including signed 2016/17 Derby County shirts, signed photos of the 1971/72 Derby County title winning team, signed footballs, tickets to the premiere and the chance to be on set for a day of filming.

For more information please check out the movie's Facebook pages:



By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2016 01:28PM

Star Wars warms the heart under the stars

The Summer Nights Festival has been a staple of the Midlands movie scene for the past few summers as Derby Quad arrange a selection of brilliant film shows at unique venues across the region.

These outdoor film screenings began with just a handful of stately homes showing mainstream movies in picturesque surroundings amongst neo-classical mansions and exotic gardens and parklands.

2016’s season was no different in this respect but has seen both the number of screenings AND the areas in which they are shown grow in size dramatically. Now no longer so Midlands-centric, this summer’s events have spread as far as RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, Blickling Estate in Norfolk and Dunham Massey in Cheshire.

These new events compliment the established shows of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Wollaton Hall in Nottingham where that home’s Elizabethan mansion stood in for Wayne Manor in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

And it is at Wollaton Hall where my experience began a few years ago – they showed the aforementioned Batman movie – whilst this year also saw a more-than-appropriate screening of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. A suitable Nottingham film for a Nottingham location

The final film at Wollaton over the August Bank Holiday was the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A friend and I headed down Sunday with the sun shining brightly before parking in the grounds of the mansion. A short walk up the hill in the evening sunlight fully encapsulated the impressive beauty of the building which sits atop a small rise. It must be said that these events are prone to the whim of the British weather but the outlook for tonight’s screening looked pretty good.

Heading to the side of the building we entered the grounds which sloped back down towards the screen. Over 1500 people would eventually fill this space with a selection of portable chairs, picnics and food and drink for a completely sold out show.

Although I wore a Bane outfit for the Batman showing, I toned it down (a bit) this time by only bringing my Kylo Ren helmet which was a leftover from our own themed Star Wars night back in June. I need not have worried as there were plenty of fully dressed Stormtroopers as well as pilots, Ewoks and a Darth Vader who ended up posing for photos with children and MANY adults throughout the build up.

As the night drew in, the film began with the classic opening crawl and the John Williams fanfare which boomed across the field. The sound was good and the picture clear and a magical evening was had as the sun (just the one mind) disappeared from view, and was replaced by a vast array of stars in the clear night sky above.

I’ve seen the film many times (6 times on the big screen yet none so far on home release) and the family adventure between the light and the dark side was enjoyed by all those in attendance. One slight flaw was the food stall, who packed away using a huge floodlight to move their equipment into a van during the show. Trying to be whisked to a galaxy far far away in the dark was difficult when the movement of 60ft silhouettes were jostling about on the side of a building for 30 minutes.

That small criticism aside, the night was a fun screening and the addition of people in suitably galactic costumes helped the evening’s atmosphere.

With ten more events still to come in 2016 (including Midlands shows in Lincolnshire and Shropshire) I encourage film fans to experience these fantastic evenings in special backdrops that can turn a regular movie-going trip into a sparkling show at a beautiful location.

Midlands Movies Mike

For more information, show times and to purchase tickets then please go to www.summernightsfilm.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Jun 7 2016 08:26AM

Midlands Movies writer Guy Russell interviews local Nottingham director Liam Banks, owner of SuperFreak Media – a an independent production company creating short films packed with a nostalgic punch and specialising in horror…

Congratulations on finishing 3rd at the 24hour Film Challenge at the Derby Film Festival, are you happy with the reception Wreckage received?

Hello, thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of the site! Myself and the team attended the screening and were blown away by everyone’s comments and kind words. It was great to place and the other finalists were incredible so it was an honour to be up there with them. We set ourselves the challenge of creating a zombie film with a difference, knowing full well it was almost frowned upon to create a zombie short in the competition. In the previous years there had been quite a few, so it was great to place and generate a reaction like we had with the audience.

What is your experience making films in the Derby area? Do you think this is a good city to make films in?

Well I studied at the University of Derby for 3 years and have since moved back to Nottingham. In my time at University it was a great place to explore and find new locations in. I think that’s where Derby’s strength lies, it has some great locations and a lot of great people who are open to helping you out. I think similarly to Nottingham there is a growing network of creatives in Derby with QUAD at the centre. Nottingham is a lot more prolific I think when it comes to filmmaking, the majority of filmmakers I know are from Nottingham. With that being said in the last couple of years I have found myself heading back to Derby to direct funded projects with the help/guidance of people involved with QUAD. I think all over the midlands, filmmaking and the creative arts are really being bought to peoples attention, in the last few years especially the support from all over has been incredible. Both Derby and Nottingham have monthly/bi monthly screening nights whether it be Five Lamps in Derby or Short Stack in Nottingham. These events are vital for filmmakers like me, there is a real encouragement from the community to be generating fresh content all the time.

Where do you draw your stories from? Personal experiences, people you know or do you come up with them completely on your own?

The stories I like to tell vary, and where they come from varies. It’s not often I will collaborate with someone on a script or a story I want to tell, but this is something I am looking to change. I like to be open to inspiration however I can, I have a journal by my bed in case something comes to me before bed or after a dream (cliché I know) or I have a small notepad in my bag I carry with me.

The majority of your short films have a horror element, is this your favourite genre to work with?

Horror is my favourite genre, to work within, to watch, everything! I think it is often a genre that is overlooked, the performances and the creativity behind them are often so different to any other kind of film. Working on set I always have the most fun making a horror, the energy from everyone is just amazing. When a film is complete I always love when I am lucky enough to go along, to check out an audience’s reaction to my work. Horror is one of the only genres with a key intention – to scare people. Just like a comedy if you don’t get the right ingredients together it could fall short, so it is always rewarding to see a scare land or hear an audience scream.

Which director(s) career do you look at and wish to emulate one day?

There are plenty of directors I look up to, particularly those that have a strong visual flare. I think anyone can tell a story but a great director to me is one that really puts their own stamp on their work, watching it you immediately know whose work it is. Being a great fan of horror, a lot of the directors I love are strong genre players. I do apologise as I anticipate my answer being quite lengthy to this question.

John Carpenter is a huge influence who I could only hope to be compared to one day. His body of work is so diverse yet he retains such a unique style. The 80’s are a great era for me to look at and draw from and I think he is the most quintessential director of that decade. The likes of James Wan and Ti West are contemporary directors I really look up to as modern masters of horror. Wan has done so well to bring horror back into the forefront of popular cinema with the likes of ‘Insidious’ and ‘The Conjuring’.

Have you ever envisioned any of your shorts as features first?

I haven’t ever seen any of my shorts as a feature, to be honest it has only been recently that I have thought of taking on my first feature. It is of course something I have always wanted to do, but not something I have yet felt ready to take on. I haven’t up until now really written something I felt needed to be told at features length. Now the other way around, that has happened. There are plenty of my shorts that I feel could be moments of a much larger tale upon reflection.

Do you aim to make a feature within the next five years?

Yes. After getting Mr Creak screened on BBC Three last October, it was important for me to not lose that momentum and let the story evolve. As I said, some of the shorts I have created feel like moments from a larger story. Since releasing Mr Creak and hearing great feedback I decided that this was to be my first feature. The short itself is now a scene within a much longer, expanded story.

What excites you most about filmmaking? Which is your favourite period of making a film?

To be honest I truly love all aspects of filmmaking. I think one of the most exciting times of making a film is at the conception of an idea. Right at the start when you’re not worrying about shots, camera set ups or fixing things in post, when you have that fire with the initial idea and you feel like it could go anywhere – I wish I could bottle that, it’s so exciting. With that being said I must say that being alongside an audience and seeing them react to your work in the way you could only dream of completely eclipses that. Knowing that all your hardwork has paid off and you have entertained an audience and made them feel something is magic.

When you are making films, what is the one aspect you have to get right and make sure is perfect?

Performance. Performance is key when you want to tell a story. It can undo everything you have worked so hard to create, with all the budget, props, costuming, everything. If a performance is not convincing and you can’t feel that spark on set, it won’t come across on camera and resonate with your audience. I think this is something that I have really come to understand as a director. I of course have a long way to go and will always be learning when it comes to directing, but I have made sure my focus remains on performance, no matter what genre, to ensure the film will be the best it can be.

Are you a Fincher/Kubrick type of perfectionist who will get 100 takes to get it just right? Or more of a Clint Eastwood cut it and move on type? Why is this?

I am a perfectionist and Fincher is someone I really look up to. Both him and Kubrick have really elevated cinema to an art form. If I have the time to go a few times on one scene I will, the more you have to play with in the edit the better, even a subtle change to a performance can change the tone of a scene entirely, so I always like to give myself options in post.

What would you say is the hardest part of independent filmmaking?

I think there are many challenges when it comes Indie Filmmaking. One of the main problems lies in the word ‘indie’. It’s key to network and try to bring as many people on board who can help out when you want to bring something to life. A lot of the challenges I come across are ambition sometimes outweighing capability, some things simply can’t be done on a shoe string budget, an alien invasion for example. But this is where things get creative, instead of showing it in full Hollywood glory, allude to it and it opens up a whole new viewpoint on something quite familiar. Budget is often something that bothers me, I can’t always afford to pay everyone involved in my projects and I really wish I could. I am lucky as a lot of people involved in my work, donate so much time and energy, it would be great to give back.

What would you say has been a highlight for you so far?

I have been incredibly lucky, with the body of my work so far, it has toured the world and made it to national television. I couldn’t really ask for more. Something that will always be a proud moment for me would my short ‘Mr Creak’ opening up ‘THE FEAR’ on BBC Three last Halloween. I entered the competition on the off chance we would get in or at least it’d be a step in the right direction. I got a phone call the same day we submitted the film to say the producers loved it. After a few months of waiting I got a phone call to say we made it to the show out of over 850 entries. That alone was incredible.

Leaving University myself and the production team behind ‘The Copy-Writer’ pushed our film out to festivals all over the world. We were blown away by the response and to know it was being screened in countries I hadn’t even visited yet. The big one really came when we found out our little short would be shown on the big screen of the Chinese Theatre in LA. When I got the email I nearly fainted, like this is the place where Star Wars had its premiere!

What kind of career would you ultimately want?

It would be great to experience both. I would love to one day work to a similar degree to Del Toro and have a big studio budget genre film on my hands, at the same time though I find some of my best work comes from times I have had to use my initiative and get creative. I think the more you have at your disposal the easier it is to use that use of creativity. It would be great to one day work with the backing of a studio like Blumhouse or James Wan’s new production company Atomic Monster that specialise in low budget horror. I would love to create something that is released world wide and hits the masses, fundamentally as a filmmaker we just use film as a way to tell our stories.

What one piece of advice would you share with fellow twenty-something filmmakers?

This is the time to push as hard as you can.It’s not as glamorous as I guess everyone would expect but it’s a start, supporting myself fully from my film work is great. Before life gets in the way its great to push harder with my career and build a foundation for myself. To other people my age I would just say try it! Never give up, so many people I have known along the way so far have given up and it really upsets me. I live and breathe film so I couldn’t imagine not having that in my life.

Have you had a chance to think about your next project?

Which one? I always have plenty in the pipeline, I sat down the other day actually and planned the next year out month by month. For too long I have let plenty of ideas go by the wayside and not come to fruition. I of course always have a horror short planned for this coming Halloween, for the last 6/7 years now I have been putting out a fresh horror short online, it’s kind of become a tradition. The Mr Creak feature is still being written and developed, and no doubt will take plenty of time so will keep me busy. I have some other shorts planned that sit a little out of my comfort zone which I am really looking forward to shooting in the coming months, this year especially I have tried to push myself in some new directions.

Website: http://www.superfreakmedia.com

Channel: http://www.youtube.com/superfreakmedia

Midlands Movies Guy Russell

By midlandsmovies, May 18 2016 03:20PM

Derby Film Festival 2016 by Guy Russell

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Derby Film Festival in its third and most rousing year yet, taking place over ten days kicking off on the 29th April with a networking hour for other reviewers, filmmakers and film fans followed by a preview screening of Florence Foster Jenkins. The festival came to a conclusion on the 8th May with the Five Lamps 24hr Film Challenge Screening and awards ceremony, further putting its unique stamp on Festivals around the Midlands as one that not only celebrates established films and stars but also supporting independent films and encouraging new local talent.

In only its third year the DFF has managed to make quite a name of itself, this year naming its DFF patron as David Morrissey whilst its base at QUAD can boast of its varied patrons in John Hurt, Jack O’Connell and Paddy Considine to name a few. Also announcing a special guest in Sir Ben Kingsley who gave from what I understand an entertaining talk on his career.

Every year the DFF has a theme. This year the theme was selected as ‘Journeys’, both physical and emotional and what better film to embody the nature of this theme than David Lynch’s 1990 film Wild at Heart. Whilst not the biggest fan of Lynch I can respect his work as a director, someone who isn’t afraid to project his wildest dreams and visions onto the screen regardless of the subject. Here he does just this waving excessive sex and violence right in front of the audience’s eyes.

Using his actors Laura Dern (Lula) and Nicolas Cage (Sailor) as instruments in making the viewer follow their story and possibly relating to their youthful and exuberant lust, a heavy task with a story as wild as this one. Lynch later revisited the ‘road trip’ theme again in The Straight Story, a film in my opinion completely different to Wild at Heart. Here Lynch plays it ‘straight’ having his protagonist cross North America on his lawn-mower, a premise as simple as they come.

Wild at Heart however takes a simple story of two lovebirds on the run throws in organised crime, jilted mother-in-law’s, hitmen, car crash victims, prostitutes, bank robbers and several Elvis Presley sing along’s. Madness. Brilliant madness. One can argue that Wild at Heart isn’t a film that concentrates so much on story as it does acting as a springboard for Lynch’s distinctive visions and ideals. This film boasts an excellent ensemble performance particularly from Willem Defoe and Harry Dean Stanton who is one of those character actors you always love to watch.

Keeping up with DFF tradition the second weekend of the festival kicked off the Fantastiq theme, celebrating all things Horror, Sci-fi and Fantasy. Within this weekend I was fortunate enough to catch a preview of the much anticipated horror/thriller Green Room directed by Jeremy Saulnier. I won’t give too much away for the majority of people who are just watching it on release this week but I can say it is worth a watch, a worthy successor to Saulnier’s 2013 thriller film Blue Ruin.

Green Room follows a punk band forced to retreat to their backstage dressing room after witnessing a murder at the hands of a neo-Nazi gang led by Patrick Stewart (Darcy Banker). Saulnier successfully captures the tension and mood of being cornered by merciless killers in a remote Pacific Northwest town perfectly, showing us why exactly he is one of the most exciting young directors working.

After leaving Green Room I felt memories of watching John Boorman’s Deliverance or John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Saulnier brings back that feeling of taut, thrilling cinema that was so well done in late 70s American cinema. If you manage to get to a cinema to watch Green Room do it, especially if you’re a fan of Patrick Stewart and want to relish the fact that he’s on the silver screen in a role that’s not Professor X.

Last but definitely not least came the closing event of the festival, the Five Lamps 24hr Film Challenge. A fitting conclusion to a festival that promotes and encourages local talent, some of them first time filmmakers taking on the hefty challenge of planning, writing, filming and editing a three-minute short film in 24 hours. The ceremony hosted by Five Lamps Films very own Sam and Carl lasted a cool 90 minutes, a healthy number of entrants entered but the night never seemed to sag, helped much by the hilarious introduction of Sam and Carl who both need knighthoods or stars on the Hollywood walk of fame for keeping alive the independent short film circuit in Derby. Without such the city wouldn’t be able to boast that it’s a growing hub for all things filmmaking. Go to the bi-monthly Five Lamps short film night at QUAD and see for yourself the amazing talent Derby has to offer.

When someone can create a meaningful, entertaining short in 24 hours it’s something to write home about, and if that doesn’t happen (my effort in 2012) then it serves as great practice as well as being bags of fun and an experience I’ll never forget. Congratulations to all who had taken part in this year’s challenge, whilst it’s impossible to mention all the short films on the night I will mention my favourites.

Enigmatic Productions The Sitter was a personal favourite of mine, it was well shot and smoothly edited allowing the director to create a good pace and sense of normality to then rip the carpet under the audiences feet.

Superfreak Media’s Wreckage took 3rd place on the night and you can see why. What at first seemed like another play by play zombie film ends up being something completely different, possessing production value and an impressive amount of extras. One worth watching.

James Pyle’s Finding His Voice kicked off the screening with a more light-hearted approach, managing to get laughs with no words spoken. Brilliant.

Alex Gilbert Films Heads of Tails which took 2nd place on the night resonated with the audience, you could feel all eyes were on this film. A film most of us can relate to in some way, not many dry eyes when the credits rolled.

Congratulations to all the participants again and to everyone that helped organise the 3rd Derby Film Festival, I hope It was a successful one for you too.

Guy Russell

Thank you to Mike Sales, Kathy Frain and Peter Radford.

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