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By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 09:36PM

Time, and Again (2017) Dir. Kel Webster and Steve Lawson

Produced and directed by local filmmakers Kel Webster and Steve Lawson this new sci-fi short Time, and Again was independently made in Leicester and Nottingham and stars former Dr. Who Colin Baker alongside local actress Helen Crevel.

Baker has supported Midlands filmmakers before with a voiceover in Kenton Hall’s A Dozen Summers and in Rhys Davies’ historical Finding Richard so has a great track record here in the region. Crevel too has starred in a number of films for Leicester’s Creativ Studios including horror-drama Survival Instinct.

“Is the future in our hands?” asks Baker’s Professor Theo at the start as he address a small audience of students. After the class finishes, theoretical physicist and ex-student, Maggie, takes him to a clock-filled room akin to Doc Brown’s laboratory in Back to the Future.

After calibrating the professor’s watch with a wooden grandfather clock, she drops it into an electrical blue ‘nest’ only for it to appear later during another time and space. However, not only physical objects are affected as Maggie explains that “time shifts” will disrupt one’s memory as well.

The ticking of clocks and shots of timepieces are littered throughout, with sound effects coming from the chiming of bells with the film’s slight musical track sometimes drowned out in the background. The science lab set is well dressed and doesn’t overpower the actors – who are the film’s sole focus.

The props are a mix of past and present which highlight the fluid nature of time and before long, a discussion is had about the scientific and moral decisions in an ambiguous effort to erase/replace their pasts – along with their recollection of these.

With the risks (briefly) talked over, the theme of changing the past – for the better or worse – leads the film to a final leap into the unknown. Without going into spoilers, influences range from the circular nature of Looper to the dark scientific repercussions of Shane Carruth’s head-spinning Primer.

The short is well filmed with the performances of the duo are fantastic. The stoic academic Theo is given humanity through Baker’s accepting glances whilst Crevel is the wide-eyed inventor with dreams of changing their histories. Both display a sorrowfulness when recalling a past tragedy which is wisely left mostly open to interpretation.

A haunting little film, which leaves the audience with many more questions to think about than answers, Time and Again is an assured debut from Webster who started out as a camera assistant alongside the more experienced Steve Lawson. It is to the credit of the two arresting main actors who infuse an engaging uncertainty into what could have been your standard “fixing-the-past” plot, that the film owes much of its success. Overall, the future looks bright for Webster and Lawson as the story is a timely reminder that a good short can use the genre conventions of the past yet challenge expectations to deliver its fresh new ideas in a contemporary way.

Mike Sales, Midlands Movies

View the film's trailer here:

Find out more about the film on the links below:

IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5770448/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_2

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TimeAgainFilm

By midlandsmovies, Aug 7 2017 03:40PM

Restroom (2017)

Directed by Scott Driver

4AM Films

A young man experiences a series of life changing events inside a public restroom only to find out all is not as it seems.

When a young man (Joseph Sean-Lyons) takes a trip to a public toilet whilst out with friends, the last thing he expected was to be trapped in a cubicle when a hammer-wielding madman shows up and attacks a couple in the next stall. In a series of events that quickly go from a bit strange to absolutely awful, the man is forced to make a split second decision, only to find expectations challenged.

Restroom is the latest short film from writer and director Scott Driver. Inspired by a series of online prank videos, he wanted to take this social media trend and turn it into something far uglier than anyone who has ever seen or even set up one of these videos would imagine it could become. It’s a pretty local project, with three of the four main actors coming from the Midlands and the entire film being shot at an abandoned school in Newark, so really showcases excellent local talent.

I think of all the short films I have seen over the last year, and bear in mind they have all been so different, this has probably been my favourite. It was very intense and an audience would never know what was coming next at any point. The film started out with a character sending a text message to his mate whilst on the toilet, and then very quickly went up a gear from there. Suddenly I didn’t know what to expect, and that was a fantastic feeling to get with such a compact storyline.

The setting really helped to build the tension in this short. It felt so claustrophobic and when the attacker set his sights on our protagonist, I kind of lost all hope for him. Combine this with the number of shots cut together during the initial attack and the audience could quickly became disorientated with it all. The film moved fast, causing some of the panic being felt by the main character to be transferred onto the viewer.

Of course, Restroom is a film that does have some heavier undertones. As pointed out by Driver, his inspiration for this short came from online prank videos. He wanted to show how they can soon go from a good laugh to something horrendous, and the twist he built into the film right at the end did just that.

The film ended so abruptly, and I think this was very effective in the way it kind of prompted you to think, well… what happens now? In all seriousness, this is something that could potentially happen when one of these pranks goes wrong in real life and the film just makes you stop and think a bit, which is a fantastic way to conclude.

All in all, Restroom is a really great short film that grabs viewers and shakes them into action. It forces you to think about seemingly harmless acts and the potential consequences for people if they go wrong - something that can be applied to other situations - not the just internet trend shown in this film. It lures you in with a friendly conversation between friends and then it pounces and that's when the fun really starts.

This is a film that you should see if you get the chance because there is so much to it. For me, it’s a real winner, and my only criticism would be that I didn't get to see more of the aftermath, even if it was only another 10 seconds or so on top of the rest of the short.

Kira Comerford


By midlandsmovies, Aug 6 2017 07:58AM

CONSENT (2017) Dir. Alex Hackett

Raven Pictures

A seemingly happy couple on a couch drinking tea and chatting away opens this new 11-minute short from Raven Pictures. Directed by Alex Hackett, the film tackles the difficult subject of sexual consent but is done in a way that is powerful yet sensitive to the subject matter.

From the jumping off point, the audience is thrown straight into the aftermath of a liaison as the woman from the intro states to the man she feels she has been raped. His response to try to understand may throw the viewer off guard but the director juxtaposes different shots and dialogue to portray the complexities of the issues.

Actors Catherine Chalk and Matthew Harrison-James bring a humanity to their roles, showing realistic performances as the two people involved in a sensitive discussion.

The focus on a lack of communication is at the forefront and the filmmaker mixes timelines to intercut the lead-up to the situation. These earlier scenes are filmed in a soft blue hue which further distances the short from a stereotypical aggressive standpoint. “Did I scare you?” he asks as she explains that it wasn’t a physical threat but an emotional one.

The expectation of raised voices is disposed in favour of a more mature conversation and it’s to the film’s credit that it takes a responsible tone that uses sensible discourse that can educate as well as be dramatic.

A few technical issues (one of a colour grading jump, a muffled sound edit and the general low quality of the image) didn’t distract from the topics revealed but a few tweaks here and there would have helped the film have a more professional appearance.

That said, Consent could have easily become a preachy short yet its subtlety, along with two strong lead performances, help it become a vivid reflection of the decision-making process. A great final shot into the camera summaries the film’s message and although the director mostly avoids veering towards a sermon, that doesn’t make its moral position any less right. In the end, Consent is a straight-to-the-point local drama that covers weighty themes and is as informative as it is insightful.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 29 2017 05:07PM

Bruised (2017) dir. Robert Ludlam

Underground Cinema presents Bruised, a short film about Danny (AJ Stevenson) an amateur boxer who saves a stranger from a mugger, then comes into contact with the stranger again and knows her as Chloe (Jessica Millott), a girl he will do anything to love and protect, at any cost.

Directed by Robert Ludlam, Bruised Is not your typical boxing drama nor is it your typical love story. The relationship between Danny and Chloe is not perfect and Danny himself is not your usual archetypal athlete. He is lonely, focused on the sport and getting the job done. His once simple life is changed when his eyes catch Chloe whilst on a morning run. SUbsequently Danny struggles to balance his feelings for her as he’s unable to forget her face.

Before making the big step in talking to her, Danny spends his nights on his laptop and his phone searching her social media. Ludlam brilliantly captures this aspect of modern love and life, where we can access someone’s entire public sphere within seconds, sometimes creating circumstances and manipulating encounters to meet a potential partner rather than it arriving naturally. The visuals here speak a thousand words with Ludlam using the image to ask if this is the healthiest way to start a relationship.

Another aspect of Bruised I really enjoyed was the director's take on violence. It’s refreshing to see a filmmaker have so much to say and so much focus on their themes. The camera lingers on the crowd as they watch Danny fight his opponent during an amateur boxing match, with the shot occupying itself on the audience’s hands as they clap and cheer on the violence. All this whilst Chloe holds back with worry plastered over her face.

Weaving in and out of the films timeline, Ludlam sensibly uses time to entertain the audience instead of confusing them. A film can sometimes lose meaning and its viewer when time is interfered with badly however it works perfectly here, leaving the audience anticipating every frame up until the final second. Assisting Ludlam in bringing Bruised to life is Lee Averne, credited as the cinematographer who is responsible for the shots that give the film its professional look complementing the director's vision. AJ Stevenson plays Danny brilliantly and is given the tough task of not having any dialogue for the first five minutes, relying instead on his face doing the talking.

Bruised is a short film that really impressed me and people who I have shown it to, I can easily place it as one of my favourite short films of 2017 and can’t wait to see what the cast and crew produce next.

Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Jul 29 2017 07:56AM

The Jock and The Chav (2017) Dir. Jon David Ellison

Filmed round the back of my flat (literally) in the Cultural Quarter of Leicester, this new comedy action film incorporates a fight involving two stock characters straight out of the stereotype play book.

However, what makes this film unique is a nod to 90s computer arcade fight games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat as filmmaker Jon Ellison tries to recreate the look and the sound of the era.

As the first combatant enters the fray, the crowd boo and jeer and cleverly, appear to repeat the same background motions like a programmed sprite from the Mega-Drive era.

With the Far East influences of Nintendo and others, a second (and much bulkier) fighter enters the fray and after a “have a fair fight” warning the competition begins. Here, the film adds video game power bars for each fighter and the side-on/locked-off shot is a great recreation of the layout of retro fighting games.

The film even includes some (basic) special effects as a lighter becomes a Ryu-style flame attack although the film did stray away at times from the video-game format. One such cutaway was to two cheerleaders which slightly distracted from the style already established. That said, the sequences are used for laughs and the home-made nature gave the film low-budget charm.

The voice-dubbing was a little off sync as well – although you could argue it fitted with badly-dubbed Asian Kung-Fu style it harked back to – so again, it may have been an intentional choice.

Director Ellison has made a number of shorts prior to this film, which have included a short featuring stop-motion balloons and straight-to-the-point title, “What F*@!er Said That”, which have all included a fast-paced style combined with dark humour and comedy.

A bit rough and ready, and definitely in need of some tighter editing, it’s clearly a low budget feature and some opening shots could have benefited from a tripod or tracking shot but the sketchy technical nature fits in with the humorous tone.

A little Scott Pilgrim here, a little Fast Show “Long Big Punch Up” there, The Jock and the Chav had me smiling with only the technical side letting it down. Its dollop of fun was a refreshing addition to the local comedy film-making community (see also Flip You in Leicester) and combined with his other films, Ellison has a Kentucky Fried Movie of sketches and skits to play with in future.

Midlands Movies Mike

Watch the full short here:

By midlandsmovies, Jul 27 2017 08:49AM

The Man Who Knows the Ropes (2017) LeftLion Films

This little 9-minute film comes from LeftLion in Nottingham who feature Stewart ‘Sir’ Coates, a local business owner who works making twine and rope. Stick with us here.

The gentle acoustic music compliments Stewart’s mild pace of life in his small business, W. Coates and Sons, who manufacture rope, twine and cord. Understandably, there has been a decline in such old-fashioned production but this documentary shows a man happy with his lot, and with a great deal of pride in his history.

Behind green door Number 10 we are introduced to Stewart who explains “Business has gone down...and it’s just me doing it now”. With no employees, the film contrasts this with the fact there were once 200 or so workers that helped the business in the past. Taking over the ‘ropes’ 55 years ago, Stewart explains how the company has passed from generation to generation and the sad reality is that he may be the last owner after 150 years of business.

The film is peaceful and respectful as Stewart shares his passion during interview segments as he explains how he enjoys solo work as he has “no one to fall out with”. However, in a tender moment Stewart recalls how he met his wife and how she in fact still works as an accountant – ensuring the company, for now, remains a truly family affair.

The talking heads are interspersed with shots of a trade slowly declining yet his simple workshop and black and white photos of flat cap workers from a bygone era is, again, a soothing reminder of his legacy. Stewart’s positivity shines through despite the challenging circumstances and the film is punctuated with moments of noise as the sound of machinery is portrayed as an example of the hands on nature of his craft. And hands on it is.

Yet from his small wooden lock-up Stewart doesn’t let his circumstances get him down and the film shows us a man who takes pleasure in the simple things of life. “Look at my new boiler”, he remarks to the filmmakers. And in a world of immediate and virtual social media, how refreshing this pace of life is.

There’s a touch of melancholic sadness in the film as Stewart’s positivity is juxtaposed with the inevitable reality that the business won’t be around for much longer given there is no family ties to practically continue with such an archaic trade.

However, the filmmakers leave on a note of optimism as Stewart is not blind to the upcoming truth but revels in his final days as he “slowly moves towards retirement”. The laughter of the interviewer during their conversations really brings home the personal nature of the documentary and there’s a compassionate truth to proceedings as Stewart notes that “nothing stays the same”.

With a final smiles and a jovial “goodbye” the documentary concludes and is a triumphant success, which although could be used as a short news-piece, transcends its “functional” construction to deliver a fitting portrait of a local legend. *Doffs cap*

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 18 2017 05:52PM

Arrivals - Prologue and Episode 1 - Rachel

Dir. John McCourt

April Just Gone Films

Local company April Just Gone Films took a brave step in releasing a 127 second prologue episode for their new sci-fi series Arrivals. The reason it is brave is because of the time they have allowed to set the tone and objectively speaking it is a mixed bag.

In this short time we, as a viewer, understand the basic idea that will underpin the series thanks to a series of opening interrogations wherein we meet our characters and the strangeness of their date of birth and from this viewpoint the episode no doubt meets its purpose.

However the episode is a little unappealing, not a fault of the film makers per se, who do the best through editing and camera angles to keep it visually stimulating but there is very little you can do with multiple character introductions.

To add to this - within meeting a couple of these persons of interest we quickly understand the point, meaning that the remaining introductions are somewhat superfluous, at least until the final one, Lilith. How many of these characters will be important going forwards I am unsure but each is given so little time that no connections can be made. It feels simply like your first day at work meeting everyone, a little overwhelming without the opportunity to build any real attachment.

Thankfully there is a superb short within the series that has also been completed called 'Rachel', which at just over ten minutes long does allow for not only more elaboration but also more narrative, one which focuses on just one of these 'arrivals' that we met in the earlier episode.

Incorporating just three actors, two interrogating male agents and the eponymous Rachel, the acting is of a good standard for this level of production but a special mention has to go to Lois Cowley for her portrayal of the mysterious woman.

Although the credit really belongs to the writer (and producer and director) John McCourt who displays genuine talent and his work on this later episode is to be commended. Especially as writing a ten minute three way conversation is no easy feat even for the most seasoned of writing professionals.

McCourt manages to lead us through the interrogative dance with ease working in moments of obtuse humour, literary reference and spy intrigue. As a result the ten minutes of this episode seem to fly by especially in comparison to the much shorter prologue.

Arrivals is clearly an intriguing concept, although one that seems familiar, with a potentially strong overriding story arc but its success will depend on the film makers ability to handle the pacing of what is certainly going to be a dialogue heavy but visually restricted journey.

Although the prologue didn't quite work for me it did get the key messages across leading into the second episode and I have no doubt was part of a wider story. So give Arrivals a watch once a couple more episodes are available as it has got me intrigued and I am sure you will be too.

McCourt shows that you do not need a big budget or fancy visuals to grab a viewers attention and I certainly hope he can maintain it.

Midlands Movies Marek


Find out more about Arrivals here www.facebook.com/ArrivalsWebSeries

By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2017 01:13PM

Anarchy in the UK – The New Underground Cinema (2016)

Directed by Fabrizio Federico

Filmmaker Fabrizio Federico (aka Jett Hollywood) was born and bred in the Midlands and his new documentary features artists from Nottingham/Derby along with various cinema groups based around the region. Our writer Robb Sheppard takes a look at his new unique free-wheeling documentary.

Hands up…who likes a good moan about reboots and remakes?

The Matrix, Goonies, Big Trouble in Little China: as soon as one’s announced, the internet breaks like there’s been a Kardashian bum-cheek sighting.

Whilst many take to Twitter to vent their collective spleens, some have taken to the streets; cameras and mobile phones in hand to create the movies that they want to see. Labelled the Misrule Cinema Movement, it is centred on a DIY ethic towards all aspects of film: acting, directing, even viewing, which is where this documentary film finds us.

Catalysed by the abolition of the UK Film Council, the student tuition fees riots and the Occupy movement, this documentary serves as a manifesto for independent, no, make that underground filmmaking. How underground? Exploding Cinema vetoes festival submissions and selections, instead putting on guerrilla shows without licences; the Raindance Festival itself, is free for all, shunning press and VIPs in the process; Director Tony Burke makes film stars of commuters, it’s just a shame they don’t know about it.

Introduced through talking head interviews with the key players and inter-spliced with exemplar footage, it’s certainly a divisive watch. Imagine the film equivalent of speed-scrolling through your Instagram feed whilst at an illegal warehouse rave and you’re in the vivinity. It will either suck you in and inspire you or send you running in the opposite direction. And I imagine that’s precisely the reaction they’re after.

The movement posits that mainstream cinema doesn’t have all the answers; starving due to a lack of creativity and freedom, and if this is a position with which you agree then this documentary will be your Bible.

Shedding any sense of elitism or entitlement, documentary director Fabrizio Federico claims; “I decided never to study filmmaking, just to do it.”

Words to live by right there. Now let’s go make a film.

Robb Sheppard


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