icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo FILM FREEWAY LOGO

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, May 9 2019 05:59PM



Kaleidoscope

Directed by Nicole Pott

2019


“Who’s in control now?”


Kaleidoscope is the new 10-minute short from Derbyshire director Nicole Pott showing the preparation of a child’s party by his parents that unwraps a far more sinister side to this suburban family’s life.


We open on a brightly lit day where a child in a dinosaur onesie plays in his room. The camera lightly dances around the boy, Conan, (played by an excellent Harry Tayler) and along with a suitably whimsical piano score brings us into a world of childhood imagination.


As his mum (Cressida Cooper) calls him down to breakfast, he stops playing with his gun and goggles and we see his father (a burley Ian Virgo) arrive with a toweringly big present.


Whilst mother busies herself with phone calls and food preparation, we get scenes of father-son bonding. Conan and his ‘Papa’ pretend to be karate masters before he teaches his son to put on a tie for school and they leave.


Here the film cuts to later in the day with a distinct shift in tone as well. Director Pott subtly moves us from a place of childhood wonder to a darker drama as mother and father begin arguing.


Barbs fly about the father’s drinking habits and Conan moves himself away and retreats into his own world, returning to his steampunk goggles that help him hide from the noisy quarrel downstairs.


However, unbeknownst to the disputing parents, their argument moves into the bedroom he’s hiding in and he witnesses the argument become far more serious.


A verbal assault becomes a physical confrontation between them as their son witnesses the worst of family situations. Musically the audio turns much more melancholic and the film shows some stark realities of domestic violence.


As lonely Conan blows out the candles on his cake, the ending is far darker yet poignant than the frilly beginning. Kaleidoscope therefore leads audiences down surprising yet satisfying narrative paths and the short works tremendously well by contrasting these two extreme elements.


As Conan sees through dark lenses, the film’s kaleidoscopic nature consists of different parts, constantly blurring and fracturing your expectations.


With three strong performances, the actors are very believable during their interactions which move from heart-warming to dark warnings – especially when we get glimpses of a controlling and abusive partner.


Showcasing how domestic violence can be lurking very much beneath the surface of a seemingly fun-loving family, Kaleidoscope exposes a wealth of distorted domestic secrets using a wonderful narrative structure. Skilfully playing with expectations, the short is a great drama showing the unpleasant patterns of cruel perpetrators.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Mar 28 2019 12:12PM



Midlands Review - Runaways


Directed by Louis Brough


2019


“The world’s leading cause of homelessness for women is domestic violence”.


This statement opens a new film from Midlands director Louis Brough who has just released a new short drama which tackles a number of serious and weighty themes.


Our central character is Lenora (played by Ciara Lyons) who we are introduced to on a train. But far from the comfort of an opulent carriage, she appears to be a stowaway in an old baggage cart. Scared and dishevelled she is approached by a suited man before we cut away to another man now holding her mouth shut set in the same location.


A strange edit, an audience may not be sure if this is the same time or place as the character is situated in the identical set and the lighting barely changes.


However, as we discover numbers on this new man’s overalls it is revealed that he is an escaped criminal hiding from the authorities. Although his attempt to silence the woman was to prevent her screams, he apologises for his actions by trading an apple for Lenora’s name which is hungrily devoured by the cowering woman.


Runaways has its leads playing their roles with American accents and gives admirable effort to move the Midlands across the Atlantic. Like the director’s last film (Aurora) which took a fairy tale flight of fancy to a faraway land, local directors are expanding their repertoire with a broad set of influences. And similar to Enemies (filmed in Derby but set during the American Civil War), it’s great to see the varied (Hollywood) influences filmmakers in the area have injected into their projects.


Back to the story we are informed by the con that he is travelling to see his daughter who he hasn’t seen in 11 years and is also understanding of Lenora’s plight. The con is played by the appropriately named Richard Comfort of all things. We are then told Lenora is on the run from her terrible husband and is dealing with the loss of her baby caused by his violent actions.


A few more varied camera angles would have helped maintain a more dynamic visual tone and the lighting, which captures the dark seedy nature of their hiding place, is sometimes a little too under-lit. That said, some well-edited and mixed sound effects help sell a convincing train location – and far better than a recent wide-release movie I watched in all honesty.


As we journey along the tracks of her story the film ends with a glimmer of hope and some beautiful singing. A well-performed double-act, the two leads give believable turns as lost souls leaving terribly afflicted lives behind. For me though, as honourable as the opening and closing statements on domestic violence were, they do seem a little at odds with the film’s historical style. Will people relate modern concerns with this traveller’s tale from the Deep South?


Well it didn’t quite link the metaphor as smooth as I thought it could, but you shouldn't worry about that insignificant structural set-up, asit won’t stop audiences from enjoying Runaways' high points as it respectfully shows how testimony from the past is still very much relevant today.


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Sep 4 2018 07:50PM



Midlands Interview - Emmeline Kellie


From Nottingham's Film and TV Tweet Up to acting in recent action film Outlawed, Emmeline Kellie is a force to be reckoned with after being involved in film in front of and behind the camera at every level of production.


With such a diverse cinematic background and with her new project Keep Breathing recently launched, Midlands Movies writer Guy Russell speaks to Emmeline about her short film which has been created in light of the #metoo movement.


Guy Russell: You’ve recently launched the funding campaign for Keep Breathing, is crowdfunding a format you have used before and if so were you successful?

Emmeline Kellie: Nope, this is the very first time! I still feel extremely nervous about it even though we’re already two weeks in! It’s been really hard because all of us have been working full time while running it so it hasn’t had the TLC it needs. I’ve come to realise that Crowdfunding really is a full-time job. I probably wouldn’t advise doing it unless you have a dedicated team to do shifts, or you can take four weeks off of work!


Please tell us more about Keep Breathing, I understand it tackles the importance of sexual consent?

Keep Breathing is a powerful and incisive look at attitudes towards consent, rape, and victim blaming. It has a tightly plotted script that challenges two characters that don’t conform to the typical depictions of victim and perpetrator. The situation we explore is extremely common and goes widely unreported, yet when it is reported, both parties often have very different perceptions about what they’ve encountered. Not every victim of rape says no, and not every perpetrator understands the boundaries of consent. This film will engage the audience, provoke thought, provide a voice and encourage discussion, which is the essential next step towards changing attitudes.


Whilst the message is extremely important to us, the script is actually something we’re very proud of as well. It has interesting characters and it’s gripping, pacey and emotional. The message is actually drawn out very subtly through it. Most of the dialogue is ambiguous and laced with deeper meaning, so it’s a drama on the surface, but an eye-opener underneath.


What has the reaction been so far?

Amazing. Of those who have been sent the script, we’ve had a few say it’s the best short film script they’ve read which is so encouraging. I think the last person to read it was a documentary filmmaker called Miguel Gaudencio who our writer Tommy Draper worked with about ten years ago. He said “I think this is Tommy’s best script. I LOVE it! It screwed my head, which is great, and I love the fact that characters are not stereotypical. It’s a very powerful drama and so well set up.” I was quite pleased with that reaction! Especially as Tommy’s other work is just incredible.


Since putting the campaign out there, we’ve also had a lot of people getting in touch saying much it resonates with them and how glad they are that we’re trying to do something about it. So overall, a really positive response!



Was there a specific moment which inspired you to start writing Keep Breathing, or was the idea brewing for a while?

I believe it was at 2:39am on Christmas morning just gone. I was in bed and couldn’t sleep. My head was swimming with #metoo stuff, and how even though everyone else had publicly nodded to their experiences of sexual assault and rape, I hadn’t felt I could because there were some incidents I just didn’t want to open myself up to talking about, and then there was one where I was still convinced that what had happened was my fault. I was drunk and had said no repeatedly, then after about half an hour of persistence while I was trying to sleep, I gave in because it was easier. I didn’t say the word ‘yes’ but my body gave in. Why didn’t I stagger out of there? Why wasn’t I firmer with him? Why did I even agree to staying there? But I was so drunk and verging on the edge of consciousness. He was sober. It really messed with my head afterwards for so long. But why? It seemed so trivial- just one of those things that happen when you get too drunk.


I then deliberately shifted my mind onto film because I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I said to myself “Right, come up with an idea for a film with two characters in one location so we can just crack on with it and make something decent in a month’s time”… and that’s when the idea just came to me. Checked the time. 2:39. Bam. Except it grew into something so much bigger that we wanted to put a lot more time and effort into, to do it justice.


You co-wrote Keep Breathing with Tommy Draper, what was Tommy like as a writing partner?

Amazing. The thing I’m really bad at is writing a first draft, but he did it quickly, threw some brilliant ideas into the pot and then we had a really solid foundation to work with. Mark, our director, was also involved every step of the way giving notes on every other draft. The first two drafts we did actually went in a completely different direction, and then we sat down to work out exactly what we wanted the piece to say which is what turned it into the compelling story we have now. Tommy and I took in turns to play with the script. He was fine-tuning the action and the drama while I was fine-tuning a lot of the dialogue. We had a good balance and I don’t think we had any disagreements. Having said that…. I’d love to see his response to this question! Probably quite different!


Your short film Cadence was quite the success, it has had over a million views and is currently being used as an education tool about driving awareness, is there something similar you’d like to achieve with Keep Breathing?

Definitely. We want to tour it around schools, colleges and universities with a workshop and presentation. The film will get students’ attention (we all liked watching videos in school!) and afterwards, we can kick off the conversation with a discussion about the story and characters. Getting people talking about it, thinking about it, and aware of it is the first step to solving it as it should mean that they are more mindful when in the moment. Once it’s done its educational tours and film festival circuit, we want to release it online with a campaign, containing some facts and statistics found in our on-going survey and research. Hopefully the festivals will help give it the buzz it needs for a strong online launch.


Keep Breathing and Cadence are quite similar in the sense that both short films have an important story to tell, they have narratives that will feel familiar to a lot of people but are not shown enough in the media. Is there a reason you’re attracted to telling stories like these?

I think the reason I found an interest in filmmaking was because of how movies made me feel, and the things I learned from them. For example, take the film The Butterfly Effect, this film realigned my thinking and outlook on life. I’m not even sure it intended to. I used to constantly be living in the past thinking “what if I’d done that differently, where would I be now?”.. I’d really dwell on my decisions after I made them, and it’d keep me awake at night wondering if I’ve done the right thing. Even when I was 6 I ran down to my mum crying at midnight because I regretted the choice I made about which sunglasses to buy three weeks previous. The Butterfly Effect made me realise that going back and trying to fix things would disrupt everything else, and that everything happens for a reason. Some other films that have influenced my thinking or taught me something valuable are Seven Pounds, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Detroit, The Day After Tomorrow and tonnes more. Filmmaking is such a powerful tool. It provides entertainment and escapism, but it can also change the world.



Alex Stroud & Emmeline Kellie at the Midlands Movies Awards 2018
Alex Stroud & Emmeline Kellie at the Midlands Movies Awards 2018

You’re an Actor, Producer and Writer, do you have a favourite and why?

I’d say my heart belongs to acting but I really do love it all.


Do you see a future where you actively undertake all three roles or is there one you would like to focus all your efforts on in the future?

I think acting is what I actually want to do for a career. I really, really want to go into TV and work on lots of amazing projects with talented and inspiring people. In an ideal world, acting is where I’d make my income, however, I think I’m always going to have a passion project on the go as well. If I can produce at least one really decent film every year, I’ll be happy - it’s such a fulfilling experience.


What is your experience filmmaking in the Midlands, is it a good region to make films in?

The East Midlands is fantastic. We have such a wonderful close-knit film community and everyone is so keen and supportive. I think everyone has worked with everyone at some point, and we have at least a handful of amazingly talented people to fill every single position in a film crew. Apart from a grip maybe- I’m not sure I know any grips.


Was there a specific moment in your life where you knew you wanted to embark on a career in the media/film?

Not that I can remember. I’ve always wanted to act since I was small. I loved school plays, loved going to the Valle Academy of Performing Arts and loved making my mum sit through many private performances that I’m sure she was a huge fan of. Film came about quite suddenly when I was presented with the brief for my GCSE art coursework. My teacher said “you can do whatever you like, whether it’s a painting, a sketch, pottery, a sculpture, a cross-stitch… hell you could even make a film if you’re crazy enough!” … I chose crazy and I loved it. Picked up a crappy digital camera from my mum’s drawer, flicked it into video mode and bribed my friends to act for me, and then started shooting. Never looked back.


What should the industry be doing that it currently isn’t for independent filmmakers such as yourself?

Funding. I just feel like the amount of hoops you have to jump through to get any kind of funding secured for a film, whether it’s a short or feature, is soul-destroying. Although I do understand that there’s sadly not much money in the pot anymore. Maybe there should be more peer-mentorship and shadowing opportunities set up with the people who are achieving the things we all want to be achieving. I don’t really know but it’s so hard to move forward.


Keep Breathing aside, have you any other projects in the pipeline?

There’s lots of ideas being thrown about at the minute - I think it’ll either be a fun, snappy short that we can do on a couple hundred quid, or our first feature!


If people would like to take part in the funding for Keep Breathing, how can they do so?

You can find all details on our campaign page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/kbshortfilm


Be sure to check out all the rewards! The campaign ends on 17th September at 10:00am.



By midlandsmovies, Aug 19 2018 07:30AM



Midlands Review - Bare


Recently released from prison is Steven Arnold’s Bill who in flashback is revealed to have been violent to his partner in a new drama film called BARE from Staffordshire director Ash Morris.


Bill initially seems withdrawn and somewhat forlorn as he makes his way back to his neighbourhood with his brother Ryan (Rob Haythorn of TV series Waterloo Road). Returning to his mum’s home, the narrative is interspersed with scenes of chaotic frenzy as we see Bob in his prison cell on the night of his arrest.


“A real man wouldn’t hit his woman", his mother screams at him at breakfast and the reality of his new position contrasts starkly with Ash Morris’ directorial use of flashbacks, which are a dreamy haze of blood and fierceness. A female victim, who is also pregnant, is seen drenched in blood staring at her reflection in a mirror seemingly contemplating the events that have just occurred.


Some smoky slow-motion shadow boxing and a Rocky-esque run in park with grey tracksuit shows Bill’s roots in violence before the film guides us to the shocking event itself.


Without scrimping on the graphic nature of the attack, we are then whisked back to present where William in joined by Bruce Jones (of Coronation Street) – an old friend who makes disturbingly light conversation of Will’s drink and violent past. And perhaps future.


Strangely, as although the violence isn’t condoned in Bare, the minor suggestion that alcohol or a woman’s taunting provokes the outrage is somewhat problematic. As someone who has been trained on the Freedom Programme, it is well established that whilst a lowering of inhibitions is without question through drink, the dominator shouldn’t be excused from choices made. Here in Bare, the character’s inherent violent nature could have been made more overt aside from the obvious boxing analogy.


That said, the film provides no easy answers and a great shot of blood-soaked water in a bath is a strikingly memorable image. Again, Bare doesn’t shy away from the harshness with a grotesque shot of his pregnant partner discharging blood shocking the audience in its deliberate portrayal.



Nottingham writer, and award-winning novelist, Nicola Monaghan says a lot with a little dialogue and the story’s non-linear structure gives us a glimpse into the past and future which was edited with great dexterity and form. Sound mixer Rick Smith, also from Nottingham, has worked on the This is England TV show and the brutal fist crunching, screaming matches and music are edited together brilliantly to give the film an aural jolt.


As we come to the film’s conclusion, a slide into the world of illegal underground fighting leaves hints, albeit small ones, of a touch of redemption and remorse as the reality of the consequences of the decisions he has made becoming hauntingly prescient.


A harsh uncompromising drama, Bare never lets up with its violence, darkness and serious tone which may be too much for sensitive viewers. However, it lays bare some horrible truths about domestic violence and the nature of its perpetrators, condemning and contemplating the various aspects of such situations. With technical flair and high production values, Bare is a fantastic Midlands film drama with strong performances from the whole cast and themes that will plague you long after watching.


Mike Sales




Watch the Bare teaser trailer below:






By midlandsmovies, May 17 2018 06:17AM



Midlands Review – Answer


Directed by Adam Palmer


“I didn’t mean it to end like this”.


Answer is a new Midlands short from filmmaker Adam Palmer which covers a difficult conversation about a young couple’s relationship that lies in tatters.


We begin with a shot of a man who wakes up in bed as the filmmaker dubs over the voice of his ex-girlfriend leaving a message on his answerphone.


The film was made in an afternoon and despite its off-the-cuff origins, the script is well written as our lead rolls out of bed whilst hearing a voice from a girl explaining her decisions to leave him.


Our lonesome lead is played well by Lawrence Walker who gives his almost-silent protagonist a sense of confinement and loneliness with just a few quiet movements and beats.


His introspective performance cuts a solitary figure as we see him undertake a serious of mundane tasks – getting a pet’s dinner ready, buying a frozen meal for one or even simply gripping the kitchen work surface in apparent frustration.


The (somewhat anonynous) voice is provided by Nathalie Codsi who gives an outstanding reading of what could have been just another local heartfelt drama. Her voice is infused with regret, sadness yet determination as she delivers information to her ex.


The audience can feel her pain and one begins to wonder what could have happened to get to this situation. The juxtaposition of this melancholy female voice tinged with hopeful sorrow and a man looking remorseful begins to create a certain sympathy. The voice explains how “rushed” their relationship and that they were “very young”. When it is clarified that they have a child as well, “Charlie”, even more compassion can be felt.


However, the filmmaker cleverly provides this information slowly but surely over the course of the message. Here, the dynamic changes quickly as the voice tells us that the man is not allowed to see his son for a while and we start to question why.


The female partner reveals how she “couldn’t see why you were so controlling” and our attention shifts to a more sinister underlying menace from the past.


Ending in tears she explains the domestic violence she suffered at his hands and her partner breaks down crying with exclamations of how sorry he is.


An impactful film, Answer uses its short runtime to create a fantastic story that uses relatively cheap production to get its powerful message across. This is no bad thing and shows how ingenious storytelling need not be too expensive and can be delivered in a way that’s affordable to local filmmakers on a budget.


Using the subject of domestic violence, which is quite common with local shorts, could have resulted in a stale familiarity but here the director Adam Palmer uses a unique conceit to show how conversation may be the key to salvage these most difficult of situations.


With two strong performances – especially from the mouth of the talented Codsi – Answer ironically provides no answers to the complexity of relationship breakdowns. But despite the dark subject matter leaves the viewer with a tinge of hope as we hear the surprising “ping” of another answerphone message before the story ends.


Midlands Movies Mike





By midlandsmovies, Jan 9 2017 02:05PM

Midlands Spotlight – Filmmaker Jess O Brien launches Kickstarter for Girl A


A sombre new film project has been launched by talented young Leicester filmmaker Jess O’ Brien which tackles the tough subject of domestic violence.


Jess' new film ‘Girl A’ hopes to show how domestic violence in the home can cause young people to also be violent or become a bully themselves. A passion project from the start, Jess plans to tell a story that reveals the reasons behind certain behaviours that can be sometimes seen in young people themselves.


Jess O'Brien made her screen debut in the short PQA film 'Urban Legends' in 2013 before starring in 'Flawless' a short film by filmmaker Keith Allott that has been screened across the world at twenty four film festivals Now aged 15, Jess has also staged two red carpet premieres and been named Into Film's 'One to Watch' 2016 amongst many other accolades.


But in 2017, not only is Jess planning to shoot an engaging piece of film fiction, she is aiming to help other young people who may be going through what the lead character of the film experiences too.




With the Kickstarter campaign in full swing, the film has already surpassed its £700 goal with 22 days still left to go but Jess and her team are encouraging more backers to contribute to make this film even more special.


With donations going to classifying the film with the British Board of Film Classification and a red carpet premiere as well as a digital cinema package, Jess hope that the support given can not only assist in getting the film made, but increase awareness of the issues raised.


Using some of the donations to enter the film into film festivals will also highlight the sensitive subject matter and reach audiences to whom the message has the most impact as well.


Currently in post-production, ‘Girl A’ has some audio recording to be finalised along with the film’s score which Jess and her team are confident will be completed well in advance of the film's premiere.


To find out more information about the film and to donate to the fundraising campaign click on the link below. You will also find a short film containing some behind the scenes footage and words from Jess herself about the project:.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1897259879/girl-a?ref=user_menu


RSS Feed twitter