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By midlandsmovies, Sep 10 2019 09:25AM



Midlands Review - Keep Breathing


Directed by Mark Corden


2019


Siska Media


Keep Breathing is a new independent short film exploring the consequences of a drunken night spent together between a man and a woman, highlighting the complications and emotional aftermath from a night of questionable sexual congress.


Director Mark Corden starts the film after the event, we see a man (Damien Molony) attempting to fix a broken lift inside an office building. Meanwhile we are also introduced to a woman (Emmeline Hartley) who is busy working away at her desk in the same building. As the man finally mends the lift to make his way down to the reception area, we see the woman finishing work rushing to catch the lift, which is kindly held so she can enter.


They glance up instantly recognising each other, and after a moment passes the lift breaks down again and with the power off they are now trapped together. The man radios his colleague for assistance but this will take a few minutes.


What follows in the short is an awkward, dry exchange which he mistakes for flirting. They discuss their first meet and how much of a fun time he had, however the woman balks - she is uncomfortable with both his advances and the claustrophobic setting.


To calm her down he tells her to “keep breathing” and goes to comfort her, his contact catapults the audience into her memory of the night they met.


The grey, airless setting is then replaced with a colourful, vibrant club atmosphere. Our protagonists meet at the bar, their eyes fixated on one another. A fun night of dancing, drinking and flirting ensues ending with a kiss and an exit to the nearest taxi. Corden and editor Drew Davis move skilfully within the film, briskly switching from their night out to the tense elevator where our main characters break down that evening’s events.

Stumbling out of the taxi and into her flat, the viewer can start to tragically see where this night is heading. The next few minutes make for an uneasy watch as Corden isn't afraid of showing those dark, tough moments as the woman is pressured into sleeping with this man. Molony and Hartley give great performances throughout Keep Breathing but it's here where they showcase their talent, turning their irresistible chemistry we had seen minutes before into something more alarming and daunting.


An impressive element within the film is its ability to ground itself within most of the audience’s experiences with life. The main characters are unnamed, they could represent all of us at any time. And not too many people can say they haven't had too much to drink in a club and clambered into a taxi with someone they've just met. Making Keep Breathing universally familiar will no doubt resonate massively with the audience, a huge achievement for the film.


Written by Corden, Hartley and Tommy Draper, their words manage to capture a real issue that has been ongoing for decades but seems more relevant now than ever. Bringing the world to life on screen is cinematographer Beatriz Delgado Mena who gives it that sought after cinematic shine, making it a film that looks at home on the big screen. I enjoyed noticing certain behaviours which were explored and magnified. The unnecessary contact with someone or invading one’s personal space – these small moments haven't been often captured on a short film I’ve seen before.


However, Corden, along with his collaborators, keeps the film in a neutral space. He seems to want to educate and listen rather than lecture and sermonize. Both characters’ reactions are up for discussion which will undoubtedly create much needed debate amongst the audience. Surprisingly Keep Breathing isn't a clear black and white, it is a grey, subtle study of consent in the modern world and how if ignored can have a vast, prolonged impact on the parties involved.


Breath-taking, tense, topical, Keep Breathing is the best short film I've seen for years, it sets a benchmark for how strong and culturally relevant modern filmmaking can be. Watch it, question it, watch it again with friends & family. This film demands to be seen.


Guy Russell


Twitter: @budguyer


Future screenings of Keep Breathing to look out for.


Underwire Festival ‘Boundaries’ programme:

Weds 18th September 6:45pm

The Castle Cinema (Tickets available on sale on their website)


BFI London Film Festival ‘In An Age of Consent’ programme:

4th Oct, 20:40 Odeon (Tottenham Court Road)

6th Oct, 12:20 Cine Lumiere

Tickets for London Film Festival go on sale on 12th September.


For more info, follow the official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages @kbshortfilm

By midlandsmovies, Mar 25 2019 09:02PM



Midlands Review - Clockworks


Directed by Mark Corden


2017


Directed by Mark Corden and written by and starring Emmeline Hartley, the 2017 film Clockworks is a time-shifting comedy-drama from the Midlands.


We open on a “In Loving Memory” memorial card for young girl Amber Clockwork before panning across a workshop where a blue-flamed blowtorch bursts across the screen. Here we see Emmeline Hartley (as Alana Clockwork) sitting pensively as her tools, including a solid-looking drill and mighty sledgehammer, surround her as she thinks.


As sparks fly during the grinding of an item the audience are initially kept from seeing, the film edits the tough brutal workmanship sequences with a more sombre tone. Midlands Movies Awards Best Actress nominee Emmeline is shown in quiet reflection, staring at a seemingly-significant watch.


The film excels with its sound as we hear (and see) a number of tools in full use and the short mixes this well with a stirring orchestral-tinged soundtrack. This is all to the credit of Alex Stroud who was deservedly picked by the Midlands Movies Awards panel for Best Sound in 2018. The classical-influenced score however soon become a crashing “stomp” soundtrack of metal on metal and mechanical and industrial melodies.


[Spoilers] However, we soon discover a rudimentary time-gauntlet has been created in this garage workshop and after quickly winding it up, our lead instantly disappears from her location. We cut to the past where our heroine grabs her sister Amber (Esmee Matthews) who is deep in a phone conversation. And as her sister pays little attention to the world around her, Alana pulls Amber out of the way from an imminent accident with an oncoming car.


The film quickly moves to a different future altogether, yet our lead may have had some doubts about her initial time-travelling, and life-saving, antics. We subsequently get an alternative timeline which does some clever re-setting of the plot points we’ve just been shown.


The film is clever and interesting from the outset and the two leads do well with their brief appearances whilst the technical proficiency is excellent with sound, image and performances all expertly coming together. Not content with all that, it even has some very effective visual effects work too. The production team also hasn’t underestimated the power of a good poster in its marketing either. Put your star faces front and centre, folks!


In summary then, the title and content obviously emphasises the concept of time, yet Clockworks’ own short runtime means it doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. And with its high quality concept and delightful execution, the film ends up being a time-travelling triumph.


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.



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