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By midlandsmovies, Aug 16 2019 10:36AM



Midlands Spotlight - Hokum


Hokum is a new movie from Lee Charlish that is currently in pre-production and scheduled for a late 2019 release.


An ambitious project which is being entirely self-funded by Lee himself (who will also produce and direct his original screenplay), Hokum follows his previous projects where a great emphasis placed on creating ‘a world in which things seem out of place; awkward or decidedly unfamiliar’.


Leading to a distinctly unsettling feel, the movie’s subject matter involves the spiritual world, mysticism, tarot and demons - both real and imaginary.


Despite the confines of a non-existent budget, Lee says, “It has steadily evolved into something even bigger than the original premise which was larger than life already”.


“Thankfully, despite having no discernible budget or funding, it has been written with an appreciation of what’s realistically achievable without compromising its unique style and premise”.


With the possibility of the film being developed into a feature, the filmmaker still thinks the short packs a sufficient punch in its anticipated 18-minute run time.


Hokum itself tells the tale of Ash, who is tormented by demons and tries to obtain redemption from an angered spirit world. Donnie, his violent and thuggish accomplice, is desperate to lay his hands on illicit cash and will stop at nothing to obtain it, even if he must sell his own soul.


Described as a ‘fantasy chiller with elements of the real, the ethereal and surreal’, Lee adds, “It’s a big project with lots to go at and there’s plenty which could go wrong. However, there’s been a real buzz and lots of engagement with local, exciting talent who have volunteered their services since seeing early promotional material or have answered casting calls”.


Attached early on were Korky Films stalwarts Adrian Annis and Jim Low, who are described by Lee as the “superlative dream team”. “These guys are immense and really carry a scene. What’s important is that they completely get my style and the vibe I try to create and immerse themselves wholeheartedly into the mouth of madness! They are also both great fun without ego, which is important”.


Adrian Annis has an impressive CV in feature films and shorts and will play Shepherd, the Shaman and Jim Low has been cast as the movie’s important ‘baddie’ - Donnie. And recruited via Facebook casting calls are Elaine Ward, from Birmingham but now residing in Warwickshire, who will assume the role of The Clairvoyant and Peter James from Leicester who will take the role of the ‘troubled’ Ash. Elaine has also been in her own short film, Tea for Two which premiered at the Birmingham Film Festival in 2018.


Completing the cast are Alex Kapila from Stratford-Upon-Avon as Fortune, the drug-addled acolyte of Shepherd and Hannah Hargraves from Leamington Spa, as The Hostage.


To fulfil the movie’s ambitions, Lee’s vision will incorporate extensive production design elements and wardrobe to adorn the unique characters contained within the story.


And he finishes by saying, “Whether we can successfully pull it off is yet to be seen, but I’m excited and confident with all attached so far. There will be a powerhouse effort to get his made and in a way which does the story and script justice.”


Check out the poster above and more news on the official Hokum movie website here - https://leecharlish.wixsite.com/hokum



By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2019 02:50PM



David and Goliath


2019


Produced by Nisaro Karim and directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz


Five Pence Productions


“You have to, brother. You’ve been chosen to defeat the giant Goliath”.


Five Pence Productions are a new West Midlands company and David and Goliath is its first ever production and one which recounts the famous Biblical tale from yore.


We open in the woods where a reluctant David (Sam Malley, The Chase) is given a slingshot by his mother and tells him to have faith in a planned fight with Goliath - whilst his younger brother optimistically offers to help him on his quest.


A stirring soundtrack sees David then walk into the distance to begin his journey before meeting a girl (Return of the Ring's Rhi Hardman as Abigail) who chides him for his use of a slingshot to best the “crusher of skulls”. But she too offers to join him and his brother on their expedition.


However, just moments later Goliath (Nisaro Karim from Reversal) arrives at their feet – literally – as he pratfalls down a hill but warns them of an even bigger danger in their midst – a colossal Titan!


Some nifty scripted word-play and a splattering of dead-pan delivery of the dialogue gives the short some pep and liveliness that is certainly refreshing to see in a world of regional shorts that are often dramatic and serious in nature.


And filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz uses a bit of Lord of the Rings-style forced perspective and woodland locations to echo the tropes of cinematic fantasy – albeit on a small budget.


From coy flirting to embarrassing slip-ups, the short undermines mythical legends but does so with enthusiasm and its tongue firmly in its cheek. Visual gags add to the humour and each jokey sequence shows an affection for the classics – but one the production is happy to poke fun at.


It is also great to see the director again jump genres by trying out various filmmaking styles and tones in their body of creative work. And this has clearly helped them develop an excellent grasp of different aspects of cinema – including a bloody and frantic fight between David, Goliath and the “lofty” Titan towards the end of the short.


A pleasing parody, David and Goliath therefore ends up being as an amusing and silly spoof with a lot of warmth generated by the terrific cast - who are effective at delivering both punch-ups and punchlines.


Michael Sales


Watche the full short below:




By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2019 08:25AM



Midlands Spotlight - The Pocket Film of Superstitions


Midlands Movies Mike uncovers a dark new feature film currently in production from Tom Lee Rutter, the writer/director of regional flick Bella in the Wych Elm.


THE POCKET FILM OF SUPERSTITIONS is a planned creepy docu-fantasy almanac and will explore a wide range of superstitions both well-known and not so well-known through the ages.


Produced under the director’s Carnie Features production company, Rutter promises a more “polished, feature-length progression” after his short film Bella In The Wych Elm (our review here) was released in 2017 to acclaim despite a low budget.


Director Rutter tells us that with this new film audiences should expect “dreamscapes, Victorian gothic, practical effects and nods to the haunted screen of the silent-era through to the seventies”.


“I am half-way through production now and up till now have completely self-funded but due to the ambitious jumps through time with period set-pieces and the SFX I have had to start up a Gofundme campaign”, he adds.


This will help “to raise a little money for us to achieve some exciting sequences on the horizon”.



He goes on to explain, “My films have always been proudly self-funded and are very independent in nature. Despite the limitations brought about by very little in terms of finance it has always given me the freedom to explore styles and create projects that I feel don't get explored enough in indie circles today”.


Hoping to be a one of a kind West Midlands movie you can find out more information and donate to their crowd-funding campaign here: GoFundMe LINK


You can also follow further updates from the official Facebook page here which includes some exciting behind-the-scenes photographs and lobby-card stills - click here for Facebook page




By midlandsmovies, Apr 14 2019 08:47AM



Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers and local college announce new film The Wand


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers and Sutton Coldfield College are collaborating to make a new fiction film at the College located on the Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield. The initiative to make the film was taken by Emma Buet, lecturer, to give her students work experience.


Filming has just wrapped on “The Wand”, a short fantasy film based on a script written by Julian Austwick who is a member of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers.


And work is now being done on editing and post production with the finished planned for screening at the British International Amateur Film Festival in Birmingham on 25th April 2019. Further afield, the team hope to enter the Birmingham Film Festival in November as well.


The locations for filming were all on site at Sutton Coldfield College and included using a studio with a blue screen for special effects. Students on the design course made props and costumes and students on the drama course were the cast. The props included a giant toadstool and a wand, whilst make-up and prosthetics included a witch, a lion’s head, a horse’s head, a dreadful rash and webbed hands.


The film crew was drawn from Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers: Julian Austwick, Jill Lampert, Gordon Hunt and Debbie Daniels.


And for the students it was a chance to get valuable experience working for an outside project as well as useful work to add to CVs and personal statements in applications for university.


For Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers this was a great opportunity to engage with enthusiastic and talented young actors, and to have access to the wonderful creations the design team produced.


Debbie Daniels (Member of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers) added, “For us at Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers, it’s been a joy to have the students’ expertise and creativity, giving us an opportunity to experiment and play, to make a really unique film. It’s one of the most stimulating things we’ve done!”


Student Tilly went on to explain: “I just enjoyed doing the hair and stage make-up because it was very fun and a new experience for me to do make-up for a movie”.


“Plus, I felt really welcomed and felt like my work was really appreciated. I also feel very proud to be part of The Wand because it has helped me socialise more and perfect my prosthetic making skills.”


Finally, lecturer Emma Buet added, “I have been delighted by my students’ engagement with the collaboration and enjoyed seeing their work develop and personal confidence grow. I really hope we can continue to work with Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers on a regular basis and look forward to seeing the finished film.”


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers meets at Wylde Green Community Centre, Emscote Drive, B73 5NE on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 7.45pm for an 8pm start. It is a lively, friendly club for people who enjoy making films for fun. Visitors and new members are always welcome.


For more information check their website at www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk





By midlandsmovies, Mar 16 2019 04:41PM



Border (2019) Dir. Ali Abbasi


Iranian-Swedish director Ali Abbasi directs this new dark drama based on the short story of the same name by Ajvide Lindqvist. The film was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 91st Academy Awards and stars Eva Melander as Tina who has a Neanderthal appearance and works in customs where she has the ability to smell guilt.


Melander gives an amazingly sensitive performance of a lady with severe facial disfigurement who lives in a secluded house with her partner Roland.


As she catches people with contraband at the border, one man is caught with child pornography which leads to a police investigation where Tina’s abilities may be able to assist. Alongside this, a man with a similar facial disfigurement (Eero Milonoff as Vore) comes through customs and Tina is intrigued into his past and strange demeanour.


The film builds slowly, allowing us to invest our time with Tina and her sorry life. Shot in a very realistic manner which makes Tina’s strange abilities seem entirely believable, Border sets up a series of mysteries – Tina’s skills, the awful detected crime, Vore’s backstory – which maintains the film’s forward momentum throughout.


As Vore is caught incubating, and then eating, maggots the mixture of nature and fairy tale imagery adds huge doses of surrealism to the documentary-like cinematography. Vore and Tina frolic naked in a lake and in the woods, and as their relationship develops Tina's reserved character is slowly revealed. And much more besides.


There are many, many revelations in the film which I really don’t want to spoil here however. The less you know the more you will get from this film as it twists and turns and even jumps genres to amazing effect. A shocking liaison in the the forest alongside some haunting imagery linking the various narrative threads were some of the most striking sequences I’ve seen in cinema in a long time.


Abassi uses themes of family and genetics to tackle the problems of being an outsider as he injects realism and history into his tall tale. And whilst Tina’s deformity sets her apart from those around her, the film explores not just her place in our society, but in other societies too, which creates a clash of identities.


A cracking drama with added fantasy elements, Border is both compassionate and shocking and comes hugely recommended as it combines amazing performances that go beyond the prosthetics with a host of disturbing images you simply won't forget.


★★★★½


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Mar 11 2019 06:55PM



Midlands Review - Shining Tor


Directed by Andrew David Barker


When you Google Shining Tor, there are numerous things that pop up. Shining Tor is a hill in the Peak District; it’s also the name of Andrew David Barker’s short film. With its synopsis stated simply as “two hikers discover a doorway to another world”; even I was intrigued and tempted in by these 8 little words.


Set in the Peak District, with the elements of vast land, open air and rolling hills to set the scene, it was a perfectly remote location for two parallel storylines to mix.


A couple are hiking, with Amber, played by Laura Rollins, trying to take in the fresh countryside air and Dylan, played by Ashley Rice, the compliant but fed up boyfriend. You can tell there’s tension and both aren’t really enjoying the brisk hill climbing for different reasons. Dylan didn’t realise how much he had to walk and got himself a blister. Amber accuses Dylan of not listening and wants a change from the rut in her life – all relatable might I add.


The chemistry between the actors is natural from the very start and therefore their characters are highly believable. Laura Rollins and Ashley Rice both act on the daytime TV drama Doctors, where director Andrew David Barker is a researcher for the show. Knowing the cast very well had certainly paid off and the talent on and off screen is apparent in every aspect of Shining Tor.


As the story continues, Amber walks off after a heated discussion with Dylan and comes across something out of place. Their curiosity gets them digging a little deeper to unveil a window into another dimension. A third interesting character is revealed to be a bloodied up Barbarian.


This scene is what won Mick Walker, the creative director of Shining Tor the Midlands Movie Award for best visual effects. Without giving away too much, what were used to create the window were card, a blue cloth, a green cloth and a light stand. My one and only suggestion would have been to add bruises and scrapes to the Barbarian to add that extra ingredient of realism that blended so well within each reality. He was a little too clean for a murderous wild man.


Mick and Andrew have known each other for years and they were the only crew on set when they made Two Old Boys. It is a delightful film about two gentlemen talking of the days gone by. Shot in a single day at a pub in Derbyshire, these lads require minuscule components to produce that spark they’re so good at showing through their work.


Mick Walker owns a production company; Boxset Media based in Nottingham. Specialising in corporate films, their reputation and expertise in filmmaking is phenomenal.


In Andrew David Barker’s other short films, he uses few actors but boosts the story to its full potential; this is a huge strength of Andrew’s and common throughout his work. It’s the simplicity that I love, there is no overreaching the mark on the special effects of Shining Tor, they knew what worked and completely played with it. I’m a sucker for these types of effects - using very little to create the absolute maximum.


So far, the story has drama, action and fantasy. It’s no surprise really that Shining Tor had won the Best Fantasy Short at the Independent Short Awards in LA last year too. Andrew said he had the urge to shoot bigger with a fantasy element in his next story, especially after making Two Old Boys with Mick got him back in the filmmaking game, and so became Shining Tor.


I hope that it continues to get as much recognition as it deserves and maintains a huge following, and that Andrew keeps surprising us with his incredible stories.


Sammy S

Twitter @IsoElegant



By midlandsmovies, Jan 1 2019 12:18PM

Aurora (2018)


Directed by Louis Brough & Natalie Martins


Scarlett Light Media


This new Midlands short uses the region to re-imagine Sleeping Beauty in the Woods taking elements of both fantasy and drama in its new take on the established fairy tale.


We open on an ominous spinning wheel before waking up, funnily enough, with our lead Rose (Amelia Gabbard) heading downstairs on her birthday to a fate unknown.


In a kitchen we see an older lady, Aunt Fleur discuss a family secret with her own sister but unbeknownst to them both, Rose is within ear shot to this shocking truth. Here we find that Rose was taken from her parents who are both still alive and before they know it, they see Rose run off into the forest.


The directors use well-tailored fantasy costumes to evoke a world of wickedly wonder whilst the forest and woods are filmed in glorious green hues given the film an air of animation with their vivid and contrasting colours.


As Rose gathers her thoughts near a small brook, a stranger (David Wayman) arrives on a white horse. Again, the filmmaker takes us from the Midlands to a fantasy land complimented by a great sound mix and a fantastical string score.


The stranger expresses his fondness for her singing before the two embark on a walk around the woods and lakes. Gorgeous cinematography helps sells this wonderland and the acting is solid if a little melodramatic at times. Good location work is helped with the use of an historic building that could be almost gingerbread with its chocolate brown beams and flowery sweet garden.


One of her aunts eventually catches up with Rose to explain that Rose’s parents live in a nearby castle but she was hidden as a young child to avoid “something evil”. And then shares some of her own magical secrets with a wand literally up her sleeve.


The two directors have maintained and delivered on a special vision that takes a very different tact to many of the films from the region. It’s great to see this, and the Lord of the Rings influenced The Return of the Ring, focus on the fantasy genre. Especially when Tolkien’s real Middle-Earth was better known as the West Midlands.


In conclusion, the film is a well-executed and fun slice of folklore with its own spin. A magical tale with a real visual flair, you should check out Aurora for all its enchanting delights.


Mike Sales


Find out more about Aurora at the film’s official Facebook page here



By midlandsmovies, Dec 3 2018 10:22AM



Midlands Spotlight - Off Grid release new trailer to coincide with crowdfunding campaign


Off Grid is the upcoming production from Dark Matter Films and Bewdley-based Director Carl Timms who shot the short film on location in Worcestershire earlier this summer with a completion date pencilled in for early 2019.


The crowdfunding campaign will raise money for the film’s special effects and final post-production for this post-apocalyptic, supernatural thriller which boasts a stellar cast including James Cosmo, MBE (Game of Thrones, Braveheart, The Outlaw King) as force of nature John Tanner; Alison Steadman (Pride and Prejudice, Gavin & Stacey) as his frail wife, Grace and Marc Baylis (Redcon-1, Coronation Street) as the enigmatic Stranger


Rising British horror actress Kate Davies-Speak (Horizon, Dead Air) as Cailtin Rourke is also involved and the trailer, which can be viewed above, offers a glimpse of the other-worldly threat, ‘The Shining Ones’, who are plaguing humanity.



Off Grid is directed by Carl Timms (click here to read our review of his earlier Midlands film STILL) and written by Mark Brendan through their production company Dark Matter Films and was shot over the summer of 2018. It tells the story of elderly couple, John and Grace Tanner, who have fled deep into the forest following an apocalyptic event. There John fights to protect his frail wife, and his own sanity, from a supernatural threat. The arrival of another survivor forces John to assess if he is an ally or a threat, leading to revelations that could shatter the sanctuary he has built for them.


Bewdley-based director Carl Timms says, "We are delighted with how the filming turned out. We feel honoured to have worked with such a talented cast who brought these characters to life exactly as we hoped. Off Grid is a hard-hitting, intense drama that tells an ambitious, character-driven story in just 20min. To make it work we needed actors with real gravitas and they delivered beyond our hopes. But credit must also go to our amazing crew who all worked so hard to make this the best it could be".




The Indiegogo campaign with a target of £5,000 for Off Grid launched 25th November and can be found by clicking here. All funds raised are being put into post-production of the film, including CGI effects work, grading, sound design and final mastering.


The ‘perks’ on offer include an Associate / Executive Producer credit including tickets to a premiere screening, sponsorship opportunities for local businesses, digital and DVD copies of the finished film, limited edition artwork and behind the scenes photography, and a thank you in the credits for making the film happen. If the campaign is a success, Dark Matter Films are planning an early 2019 completion date and high-end festival run.


Keep up to date at https://www.darkmatterfilms.co.uk


Photos courtesy of Gary Moore, strongarmphotography


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