icons-03 icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2018 06:49PM



Midlands Movies Mike finds out more about the Bottle Smoke 2018 Film Festival due to take place later this year.


Celebrating filmmakers from all budgets the upcoming Bottle Smoke Film Festival will be featuring two days of movie industry talks as well as a short film award ceremony.


Located in Staffordshire, the first day will end with a feature film with a follow up Q&A and day two ends with the award ceremony which will feature prizes for best cinematography, best director and best overall film.


Taking place on the weekend of 8th and 9th September the headline film will be Kaleidoscope Man from director Simon Cox and submissions to the film competition costs just £10.


The judges for Bottle Smoke 2018 include Peter Rudge who has more than 25 years experience in the film industry and was co-founder of Grand Independent – a film production and distribution company based in Staffordshire.


Another is Ray Johnson MBE, professor of film heritage and documentary at Staffordshire University. He is a Director of the Staffordshire Film Archive, the Mitchell Arts Centre Trust and the Media Archive for Central England as well as an independent film-maker, actor, and writer.





The final judge is Simon Cox who has worked in the UK TV and film industry for over 20 years for the BBC, Channel Four and Five as well as directing a feature film of his own.


Also of note is the festival’s charitable partner, Grand Order of Water Rats, who will receive 15% of the event’s profits. The organisation has helped with donations and supplied equipment to Guy's Hospital, Roy Castle's Cause for Hope, International Spinal Research, Macmillan Cancer Fund and Moorfields Eye Hospital amongst others.


For those interested, the event will be hosted at the prestigious Stoke Film Theatre and tickets can be bought via Eventbrite by clicking here


For submission application forms and much more information please visit the official website at: http://kemper5.wixsite.com/cm-productions/bottle-smoke






By midlandsmovies, Dec 2 2017 09:46AM



Random Acts and Rural Media - Part 2


We take another look at a selection of young filmmakers from across the East and West Midlands who have been involved in the Random Acts/Rural Media programme in the region. Please check out the talented filmmakers and their films below.


To read more about other filmmakers from the programme please check out Part 1 of our showcase here.





The Legend of Rawry (Herefordshire)

A fantasy drawing animation based on the Michael Bailon’s own drawings, this short focuses on dragons and more. Introduced by Michael himself who has autism, the filmmaker is a young artist who is from the ASD community. AT just 17 years old Michael’s inspiration includes Pixar, Manga, Marvel and of course himself.





Dancer of the Future (Herefordshire)

Made by Anna Campbell her film focuses on pole-dancing which only recently has become a fitness phenomenon which celebrates the aspects of women which have historically been repressed: strength and sexuality. Anna says that “Pole represents a shift in how women view their bodies: from the aesthetic to the functional. The extent to which women will cripple themselves in order to exaggerate feminine beauty can be seen in footwear. Pole dancers now are barefoot, as utility becomes more important than image; pole is about what the body can do, not how it looks”. Anna Campbell is a creative writing student with a passion for filmmaking and pole-dancing.



Impact (Worcestershire)

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most commonly associated with veterans of war, however, many diagnosed with PTSD are affected through other traumas. This short drama by Eleanor Smart explores the stigma surrounding PTSD. Elle is a graduate from University of Worcester and has a degree in Digital Film Production & Screen Writing.



Super Citrus Force (Leicestershire)

Filmmaker Laurence Maybury creates a crime-fighting duo who have to stop an evil villain from objectifying women... LITERALLY! The film is a combination of British surrealist comedy and Japanese special effects from the 24 year-old filmmaker who has a degree in media production and has been making short films since he was just 16.



Oblivion (Lincolnshire)

This animation from Sarah Worcester is a first person POV film that allows the viewer to feel like they are inside the trapped world of someone who is suffering with a mental illness. The young animator from Lincolnshire is influenced by Florence & the Machine and has found her Random Acts experience “artistically exciting and challenging”.












By midlandsmovies, Nov 27 2017 08:23PM



RANDOM ACTS & RURAL MEDIA (PART 1)


In a new 3-part series Midlands Movies will be showcasing a selection of films and filmmakers from the region who have been involved in the national Random Acts programme.


Random Acts is a collaboration between Arts Council England and Channel 4. The short films (from just 90 seconds to 3 minutes long) have been described as ‘bold expressions of creativity’ with each one being individually engaging, experimental and quirky.


For the last 3 years, local organisation Rural Media (click here) has been working with young artists and filmmakers right across the Midlands to create ‘First Acts’. And Midlands Movies will be focusing on a selection of these fantastic films created by local artists right here on the site.


This Movement is Silent (Birmingham)

This spoken word film is from Paul Stringer who has made a film covering the journey of an open mic performer from chair to stage through a crowded, passionate and engaged poetry audience. This is edited alongside a journey throughout Birmingham, past its great landmarks in a bid to show that the local poetry scene is not only the people performing the poetry, but the whole collective community as a whole. Watch his film below:





Re-Code (Birmingham)

Made by Sipho Dube, Re-Code is a dance film exploring themes of dyslexia and empowerment. Sipho is a spoken word artist and dancer and as someone who has both dyslexia and with a profound stutter, Sipho has overcome issues through the use of spoken word. Watch this thought-provoking film below:



One Rogue Santa (Kidderminster)

Another spoken word film, Steven Williams’ short is an account of a troubled home life that led to various stints in and out prison. Through stylised silhouetted sequences, Steve’s story explores the complexities of growing up without a support network and having to deal with the choices we make. Now aged 24, Steven has been homeless from the age of 18 and has been in out of prison 4 times. Yet now with two children he’s looking to become a better role model and is working towards becoming a social worker to help other young people avoid making the same mistakes. Watch Steven’s video here:



Meet Cute (Northamptonshire)

Chris Cosentino has created an animation/live-action crossover comedy where a conspiracy nut shares a "meet cute" with a nice girl but discovers he's actually a fictional character in a short film. View the short here:



Dirty Re-Birth (Derbyshire)

Joey Mottershead explores the part of the human condition where we are required to perpetually reinvent ourselves, to grow and evolve to new forms. “The reality is these moments happen in the darkest of places, where directions have no meaning and internal struggles amount to the psyche being ripped apart”. Joey is a live interdisciplinary performance artist based by in the East Midlands whose work explores gender politics, the human condition and the empowerment of the self. “I take inspiration from the beautiful aspects of the grotesque”, says Joey, “finding light in the shadows and portraying the particular strain of glory only found within sadness”. Watch the film here:









By midlandsmovies, Nov 27 2017 07:23PM



LEICESTER BASED FILMMAKERS ‘BANG AVERAGE FILMS’ ARE OUT OF THE GATE


‘Bang average’ is a term normally used in relation to something being pretty poor, but Leicester based filmmakers Lee Tomes and Daley Francis and decided to take the saying and give it a positive spin.


“I love the term ‘bang average’, especially in a Scouse accent,” says Francis, the screenwriter and producer of the group. “I can understand people might be scratching their heads when they hear that’s the name of our film group - especially when it’s a negative term - but there’s a reason for it".


The name Bang Average Films comes from the ethos of the filmmaking collective formed by Francis and Tomes - Low-to-no budget films that bring bang for their (lack of) buck.


“These days technology, information and guidance is easily accessible and you can reach millions of people in an instant,” said Lee, the man behind the camera and behind the editing desk. “There are no reasons - or excuses - for filmmakers to not be making films anymore. You can make a film on an iPhone. It might not be cinema ready, but if you’ve got talent it’ll shine through".


The term ‘bang average’ also applies to the ideal that not every film has to be on a level with Kubrick or Nolan. Filmmaking can (and should) be fun and achievable. If it’s not Hollywood standard, who really cares? At the end of the day it’s all about great ideas and great storytelling”.



Lee and Daley have made various short films together in the past, including the boxing mockumentary Rocky Road and the anti-bullying drama Common Ground.


Both films went to festivals and have been well-received, but then came a four year hiatus before Bang Average was formed, with Francis venturing into self-publishing and releasing four novels, and Tomes running Orange Fox Studios, a visual storytelling agency based in Leicester that specialises in making online ads and virals.


“We’ve both continued to tell stories, just in different forms,” Francis explains. “But we’ve always kept in touch and knocked ideas around. We work well together and that shows with our new film Careering".


After deciding that Bang Average Films will focus on 3-8 minute comedy and drama shorts, Francis scripted Careering, a tale about a crazed Careers Advisor who tries to convince college students to abandon their dreams. All in the name of (questionable) fun.


“Careering is a statement of intent, for sure,” said Tomes. “We want to be prolific, we want to have fun and keep the momentum going. But most of all, we want to move people: tears, anger and laughter are all welcome. I can’t wait to work on our next project!”


You can read our review of Careering as well as watch the trailer CLICK HERE


Bang Average official website https://bangaveragefilms.com/


Midlands Movies Mike




By midlandsmovies, Nov 6 2017 02:28PM



Forget Me Not – The inspiration behind a short-film on depression


Screenplay writer, Stacey Duah, gives an insight to Fahima Khatun on what inspired her short-film on depression and her fight on the stigma attached to depression.


Over a period of 12 months, ten film makers and 6 actors/actresses came together, starting May 2016- May 2017, to create a short-film ‘Forget Me Not’, which was shared on YouTube on 2nd October 2017 and had generated over 600 views in two weeks.


It tells the harrowing story of a teenage girl, Sephora, whose suffering from depression, while her best friend Cain – consumed by a life of his own, doesn’t spot the early signs of her depression. Fearful of the stigma attached to mental health, Sephora hides her condition. Isolated and withdrawn from those closest to her, she’s left with only a few options: keep on fighting, alone? Seek help or, find another way out?


The screenplay was written, co-produced and starred by Stacey Duah. Her passion from reading and writing her own stories from a young age grew when moving to study in Birmingham, mixed with the connections she made while at the BFI Academy in 2013 she started making independent films continuously working on and developing her craft.

The film was originally a story the 20-year-old had written at school, during her creative writing class, while googling different kinds of flowers. “I stumbled on the Forget Me Not flower and I was instantly intrigued by its significance and its meaning – it’s a flower of remembrance. I wrote a story about two star-crossed lovers almost like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet adaptation but in my story, only one of them dies – the girl.”


Five years later, after a conversation with her best friend and younger sister, she explored the idea of writing her own screenplay encapsulating depression and mental health, from her own personal experiences and from others she knows.


The screenplay writer who studies at University of Birmingham was facing her own mental health issues while studying. “My first year at university (in Birmingham) was one of the most challenging moments of my entire life. When you go to university you’re on your own – especially if it’s in a city completely different to where you were born and brought up in prior. I no longer had the distraction of family and friends (while at university) – I sort of came face to face with my “demons” and there weren’t really many people to talk to besides my best friend over the phone who studies in the opposite end of the country. Although, I faced many challenges during my first year of university, I also discovered myself.


Despite the film being set and filmed in London, it was a culmination of her Birmingham experiences that inspired and drove the film.


“Birmingham is one of the greenest cities I have been in, and whenever I felt like things were getting too much I’d take frequent walks in the parks nearby just to vent and clear my head. On one occasion, I was going through serious writers’ block for Forget Me Not and decided to take a walk in a nearby park (in Selly Oak). A few strides into the park I came across a patch of flowers – I’m not sure what they’re called but they were a bluish-purplish colour and they reminded me of Forget Me Nots and I was instantly filled with all these different ideas of where I could take the story. For that reason, I’d say that Birmingham – particularly my university experience, was definitely my muse.”

And the film had a main purpose to lessen the stigma attached to mental health. “The films’ purpose was to help tackle mental health amongst young people and try to decrease the stigma, as well as inform my peers about the issue as a whole."


With the help of her producer Tia Philips, production designer Conor Powell and director Riad Ahmed, she finished her script in three months, but it was The Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman that was the backbone of the portrayal of two protagonists in the film – Sephora and Cain. “Sephora (Stacey Duah) – the main character in Forget Me Not represents the plight of the voiceless in society and for those people who feel as though their voices don’t matter or that they’re all alone.


Cain (Ishmel Bridgeman) and Jenk (Janel Ince) – I talk of the two collectively because they’re sort of a microcosm for society’s ignorance and disbelief when it comes to matters regarding mental health, a lot of the time. We live in a fast-pace world and everyone is so busy doing things that we often miss vital signs, especially when it comes to people in need such as our loved ones. I definitely wanted Cain and Jenk to sort of represent and reflect society’s absent-mindedness regarding mental health and the stigma surrounding it.


Samantha (Molly Wilsher) – one of the nicer girls on Sephora’s doorstep (a later scene in the film), represents hope because there are actually people in society who are advocates for tackling the stigmatization of mental health. Some people do actually care, and I think that Samantha reflects this balance really well.”




With it being a small-scale production Duah took on three different roles, having to face challenges with each role. “Writer – essentially if there’s no writer then there’s no script, and if there’s no script then there’s really no film. So, I felt a huge lot of responsibility on my shoulders, people were counting on me to sit down and write the script and deliver the story in an authentic way".


"As an actress, well, the acting part for me wasn’t too stressful, as I use to act before I got into filmmaking. The most challenging part for me was probably trying to separate my own life and experiences from that of Sephora – the character I was playing. Although Forget Me Not was partly inspired by my own experiences, my goal was to make sure that it wasn’t a replica of my life – because it’s not my life, it is Sephora’s life and her story and she’s a character in her own right".

 

"And finally I’m quite an organised person, so I feel as though producing is something I’m quite good at. I mostly produced in pre-production and post-production (alongside my producer of course) but then I had to stop producing completely, as the director wanted me to focus on getting into character. One of the hardest things was being on set and acting in a scene, seeing something – technical wise and feeling the urge to say something as a “co-producer”, but then remembering that I’m now the actor and that I need to trust my producer and the rest of my team to handle the situation".


Currently in her final year of university, the young screenplay writer has more ideas developing but is now co-writing an extended short film/screenplay called “I’m Fine” with Sanchez Roberts. Another film on mental health but from a different angle and will be much longer – with more “fleshed out” characters and room for character development and exploration.


To see more of her upcoming work follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/dramastacee or on Instagram @staceyduah



Fahima Khatun

Twitter: @screen_shock


By midlandsmovies, Oct 6 2017 10:06AM



Lee Charlish is a filmmaker producing shorts under the Korky Films banner in Coventry and Midlands Movies uncovers more about his local take on all things animation.


From spending many a Saturday afternoon watching old VHS tapes of ‘video nasties’, Lee Charlish says that long forgotten B-Movies were his baptism into movies but got into animation because he became disillusioned with ‘live’ action filmmaking in the early noughties.


“I’d say I’m a bit of a frustrated director who just saw animation as more accessible way to produce the ‘vision’ I had for some projects”, explains Lee. “Animation appealed to me because I didn’t need to rely on anybody else. I was forever being let down on projects, which obviously happens when you’re creating films with no to low-budget and any wild and wonderful locations I required suddenly became possible by simply drawing it”.


Having such a wild imagination, Lee came to the conclusion his ideas couldn’t be fully realised with the limitations of budget and available resources and locations, so animation was the route he took to get his ideas onto the screen. However, despite his initial plans Lee says he was a bit naïve in his original thoughts. “It isn’t easier at all! It provides a whole different set of frustrations and headaches, but it’s strangely enjoyable and I’m still obsessed with filmmaking. If I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it and I love watching films, of all genres, from all over the world. I think I live by the Charles Bukowski quote, ‘Find something you love and let it kill you’”.


After switching from ‘live’ filmmaking in 2004, Lee returned to it in 2014 by producing the satirical animation Snow which won the inaugural Macoproject Online Film festival accolade of Best Animation.




Lee goes on to say, “I’ve had no formal animation training and, to be honest, it probably shows; I’m not a purist by any stretch and the rudimentary animation is hopefully saved by strong stories and style. I take a lot of time manipulating photographic elements in Photoshop, compositing in After Effects and working in various animation software packages”.


“I think it’s a steep learning curve and is quite literally visible with my latest offerings, such as Trigger Happy Birthday which has just been completed and is currently being touted to festivals and Mother which is in the final stages of production”.



Lee’s film Pig Dream did very well and was picked up by festivals as well as being awarded the British Special Mention Award at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol in 2016. And Lee feels it was a good springboard and is still very proud of his work.


However, ninetofive is Lee’s latest and is a 17-minute animation so fraught with problems that he nearly gave up on several times. “Thankfully, the hard work has paid off and I learnt so much during the production. My advice to any animator and/or filmmaker is to persevere and to ensure you improve and learn from mistakes and criticism. Most negatives can usually be turned into a positive if your approach and attitude is right. The film is now enjoying worldwide screenings and it had a great local premiere and Q and A in Leicester as part of The Short Cinema film festival".




"I doubt I’ll make another animation that long though. It’s also harder to programme at festivals because of the length too, so again, it’s reassuring to see it shown at so many when the curators could easily have shown two or three other films instead”.


Whilst training as an actor at drama college, Lee says a firm piece of advice he follows was ‘If it can happen, it will,’ which he says was dispensed more as a cautionary observation to live by, rather than some positive, motivational mantra. “I use it to ensure that all possible things which can go wrong are sorted or signposted before production starts, so the workflow is as seamless as possible”


“The plus side is that the ‘magic happens’ during any production, kind of organically and I think the advice is keep all the technical things tethered and tight, so the creativity can wield its wonderful tentacles and go anywhere it pleases”.


Lee says he’s influenced by music and as a child he enjoyed traditional cartoons like Scooby Doo, He-Man and Warner Bros stuff. Whilst being less interested in 3D he cites Spielberg, Lynch, Polanski, Wes Anderson and horror favourites like John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper as his film influences.


And with such a busy slate, past and present, Lee explains there’s much more to come from Korky Films. Lee plans to produce a ‘Making of’ for Mother so people can see the processes he goes through go and he hopes for the same with Return from the Moon - another high-concept piece.


“I am never short of ideas and often, while I’m working on a project I’ll get another idea and I’ll be making feverish notes and honing scripts or outlines. It’s not uncommon for me to work on more than one film at a time. I have just finished Trigger Happy Birthday, which was inspired from a Facebook meme I saw and I’m finishing Mother, which has a story which was devised and conceived in little more than an hour one Friday evening”


Check out further information from Lee Charlish and Korky Films on the official site below:


http://www.korkyfilms.com/







By midlandsmovies, May 2 2017 08:27AM



Editor Mike Sales spotlights the latest feature from Midlands filmmaker George McCluskey who discusses his new drama-horror project called Impious.


Hailing from Coventry, George McCluskey is a writer, director and actor and with his new feature Impious, he is taking on a horror idea he’s had brewing for some years. Based around the theme of possession, George has mixed both horror elements with a more real-life drama focused around Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


George has self-financed the project with a budget that has so far gone into five figures and he has a history in the horror genre where he also co-wrote, and was lead actor in, the British Independent comedy horror feature film "The Zombie King". This 2013 fright flick starred Hollywood actors Edward Furlong and Corey Feldman. He was also Executive Producer and acted in British Independent horror feature film "Jacobs Hammer" during in the same year.



This new story however is based around a suspected possession. George goes on to explain, “That it is suspected because a priest feels this to be the case whereas the psychiatrist in the film is having none of it”.


With both men friends of the family, the "possessed" man, Tim Baxter, is already suffering from PTSD which itself creates a difficulty as the audience does not know who to actually believe in the story.


George continues, “His long suffering wife Elaine, and step-daughter Mindy, have persevered with his behaviour for years, so when we join the story they are already a family in crisis, but this recent spate of erratic behaviour has taken their situation to a new level”.


“What we get then is a family in turmoil, a psychiatrist who refuses to see anything but what he is trained to see, and a priest who fears evil can be more powerful than good”, summarises George.


The project began on the very first day of 2016 with George saying that, “I wrote the script in January and had just over 16 days to shoot the film in Spring. And I hope to release the film in Summer 2017”.


As Tim refuses to eat, his health diminishing badly, and a spate of biazarre and horrific events happening in the house, all the protagonists end up in a race against time to banish whatever it is that has "gripped" Tim before the situation eventually destroys them all. "The theme for this story is demonic possession but the film is also a thriller and a drama. Inspirations for this film are definitely The Exorcist", Says George.


The film stars many great actors, most of whom are Midlands-based, including Greg Hobbs, Diane Ellis, Jade Callender, Nick Sheard, Ian Brooker and of course George McCluskey himself.


To find out more about the film, including its upcoming release date get following on their social media sites below:


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5626520/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1


https://www.facebook.com/ImpiousMovie/



By midlandsmovies, Mar 16 2017 02:49PM



Leicester film Ascension by local movie-maker Rajnish Sharma has been selected to be part of the prestigious Lift-Off Festival line up of true independent cinema. 2017's Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival takes place at Texture in the city's Northern Quarter and Mike finds out more about this impressive feat from Rajnish himself.


Rajnish Sharma's Ascension was selected out of 1000+ global entrants, to screen at Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival this Spring. At the event, all films will be judged and then scored by the attending audience, where winners are potentially screened at any of the ten proceeding Lift-Off global events. Their ultimate aim is to give filmmakers like Rajnish the best exposure possible as they embark on their continued artistic journey within the film industry.


Rajnish explains that, "Ascension focuses on a man who has barricaded himself from a broken, fractured world in order to survive. However, he eventually finds himself having to face the consequences of his actions and the people he has hurt".


"The intention of my debut short film was to create a project with minimal resources and money and still make a brilliant looking film with an engaging narrative", adds Rajnish.


Rajnish believes the screening at the Lift-Off Film Festival is important as it shows that a beginner's film can make huge waves, and that someone who is dedicated to the craft of filmmaking can see their work pay off and their give fuel to their passion.


The screening takes place on Wednesday 29th March 2017 at Texture, 67 Lever Street, Northern Quarter, M1 1FL.


In addition, Lift-Off currently has festivals in Manchester, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam, Seoul, Sydney, Tokyo, Los Angeles and London.


Ben Polhman Co-Director and Co-Founder of Lift-Off says…


"This years competition was extremely tough. It is clear to see that indie filmmaking in Manchester and the surrounding areas are quickly becoming some of the best in the world. Getting into this programme whether you are a local filmmaker or a filmmaker from elsewhere is a really great achievement. These artists are well on their way to becoming industry players!"


Midlands Movies wishes Rajnish all the best as he expands his screenings beyond the region and readers can find out more information about the film on Facebook here:


https://www.facebook.com/AscensionShortOfficial/

RSS Feed twitter