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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 Isolated and withdrawn from those closest to her, she’s left with only a few options: keep on fighting, alone?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/

By midlandsmovies, Jan 15 2017 09:30AM

Midlands Spotlight - The Collector


Coming up later in the year is The Collector, a new indie horror film from Stuart Wheeldon which combines dread and survival in brand new project from two established Midlands filmmakers.


With In Limbo and The Telephone already released, The Collector is the new film that has emerged from the mind of the award-winning production company NineLadiesFilm and AnonMotionPictures.


Billed as an abstract horror, the film follows Elliot who awakes one day in a crowded street begging for food before heading to a derelict house trying to survive his new primal existence. Casting a shadow over Elliot is a mysterious stranger who calls himself the “Collector” who, by rolls of dice, alters the path of our unlucky hero with every intention of sending him to his doom.



Written by Midlanders Nick John Whittle and Stuart Wheeldon, the film will be shot on location in Spain and has already lined up an impressive group of actors for production to start. Playing The Collector himself will be Nigel Barber (above) who has appeared in ‘Spectre’ as well as ‘Rogue Nation’ ‘M:I5’. Also on his CV is ‘Roboshark’ for BUFO/Sony Pictures and Bollywood feature ‘Welcome to Karachi’.





As Elliot, the filmmakers have cast Daniel Booroff who was the winner of the Southern Shorts Award for Excellence in Acting as the character Terry in ‘Evil’s Evil Cousin’. In the role of Lucy is actress Sophie Ablett who has studied drama at Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Her first job was in Taboo starring Tom Hardy for Scott Free Productions on BBC1/FX. And her later work has included ‘The Railway Children’ in the West End where starred in the lead role of Bobbie before being named as ‘ONE TO WATCH’ by The Independent in March 2016.





Another coup for the filmmakers is the inclusion of indie band Frank who will be supplying a new song for the soundtrack entitled ‘Way We End’. The group have gone from strength to strength with support slots for Manchester’s Proud Mary , Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays and the band recently played their biggest gig to date at the local Derby Arena.





With production well underway, the filmmakers hope to collect many more fans so please support this fantastic new project by following the film’s updates and news at the official website and social media sites:


www.thecollectorfilm.co.uk

www.facebook.com/thecollectorfilm2017


By midlandsmovies, Jan 2 2017 09:53AM




Midlands Movies finds out about a new sci-fi film from the region called Rogue which is set to land in the Midlands in 2017.


Rogue is the story of an under-siege Earth after the catastrophic results of a rogue planet passing by. Without its own star, the planet is left to roam in space and although most of the world celebrates its passing without collision, one professor may be the only man with the knowledge to truly save life as we know it.


Envisaged by Lincolnshire writer-director Hannah Smith, the film is a student project aiming for high professional standards of production and a passion project for the entire crew who are giant fans of science fiction. The pre-apocalyptic narrative asks question about what people would do if a catastrophe strikes and what to do if you were given a second chance.


After an intense and well supported crowd funding campaign, the filmmakers have raised over £1000 to help cover their production costs


For many years, this film has been in the back of the director’s mind with Hannah explaining that “now is the perfect time to create Rogue and let people into the mind of Quinn, our odd yet compellingly relatable protagonist”.


“Our crew is made up of four hard working and successful students who have created a variety of projects in the past, spanning from the documentary form to a fictional world such as the world of Rogue”, explains Hannah.


“With this experience, we hope to bring an entertaining story forward with Rogue, something that you, as our backers will be proud to have helped us achieve”.


As well as Hannah, her close team is made up of Natasha Cooke as producer and VFX artist, William Gee as director of photography and film editor, and Lois Carr as the sound recordist.


With the fundraising total surpassing expectations at £1,220, Hannah and her team enter 2017 with their plans afoot and with a step into space that they hope we can all relate to.


Follow Hannah on Twitter on her accounts below:


https://twitter.com/rogue_film


https://twitter.com/ReelHannah


By midlandsmovies, Nov 11 2016 05:18PM



‘A Girl in Words’ is the debut short film written and directed by young filmmaker Daisy Nicholson. It stars up and coming actors Hannah Dunlop and Elliot Woodward and the exciting production is already well underway with the team re-drafting scripts, completing full casting and rehearsing hard.


With storyboarding, shot lists and now shooting finalised Daisy Nicholson is looking to premiere the film at The Phoenix Cinema in Leicester to promote the short to a Midlands audience. Daisy believes this will be a great opportunity to share the film with others, thank all the cast and crew before she undertakes the next stage of entering the film into festivals.


Daisy explains that, “all the money raised will go towards hiring Screen 2 at the Phoenix Cinema”, and adds any further funds raised after the target will be used for a Digital Cinema Package enabling the team to show the film in the best possible quality, as well as entering the film into festivals all around the world.


After an enjoyable shoot, the film's final edit is being completed along with a fun blooper reel to showcase the great attitude felt on the set.


To assist this exciting new project, please head on over to the Kickstarter campaign here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1215425330/a-girl-in-words-0?ref=project_tweet

Please also check out Daisy and her production company One of Four over on Twitter


https://twitter.com/OneofFourProd

https://twitter.com/daisycate_

By midlandsmovies, Nov 8 2016 10:42PM

Midlands Movies writer Kira Comerford recently caught up with filmmaker Joey Lever to talk about his short film Paper Plane. After watching his film, she asked the writer and director a few questions about the ideas for the short and filmmaking in general.


Kira: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?


Joey: Since I was a child, I've always been interested in creation. Whether it be art or stories, I've always had the drive to create something. Getting older, I got more and more interested in how films work and the idea of letting my stories come to life in the form of film. Since the age of 10 I've strived to become a better filmmaker - every day after school I either had to write a story or plan a shoot with my friends. In school I had to excel in all art based projects as I wasn't very good at anything else. Now, 23 years later, I've won various awards; racked up 20 million views on YouTube and over 50k subscribers and I'm incredibly proud of how far I've got.


Kira: Where did the idea for Paper Plane come from?


Joey: The idea of Paper Planes came from the concept of having a horrible atmosphere told in such an innocent way. I've always loved the idea of trying to make something evil not look so bad though the eyes of children. The whole concept of the war came form my great-grandfather who recently passed. I've been told thousands of war stories from his past every time I saw him, so I guess my interest in WWII came from him, which just stuck with me during my first film.


Kira: What made you decide to end the film in the way you did?


Joey: I feel like there is only a few ways I could have ended the film, so I took the realistic approach. 32,000 civilians were killed and 87,000 were seriously injured during The Blitz. Two million houses (60 per cent of which were in London) were destroyed so I felt like this is what needed to happen to the main protagonist to show how evil those times were.


See the full film on the embedded Vimeo link and read Kira's review of the short below:




Paper Plane (2016)

Directed by Joey Lever.


Paper Plane is a short story about the thoughts of two children during the London Blitz in 1940. Timmy's brother is leaving to fight in the war while 50 miles away in London, Evan is trapped in the midst of the London blitz. We see them both communicating in their final moments before everything soon changes.


Paper Plane is the latest short film from writer and director Joey Lever, and I have had the privilege of watching it. I started off thinking it was a lovely period piece charting a snapshot of the story of the war, however by the time the film had finished, lovely wasn't really the most appropriate way to describe it...


I really enjoyed the performances by the two young leads. Alexander Hemley as Timmy and Oliver Ross as Evan were both tremendous as the young boys whose lives were both affected by the war in different ways. There is always something deeply affecting when child actors are used in the right way, and Lever got it bang on here when he cast these two in the main parts.


The story is why I feel it is perhaps wrong to describe Paper Plane as a lovely short film, because it did in fact turn very morbid by the end. I quite liked that about it, however. Sometimes I find, especially with some short films, that the writers are kind of too keen to keep their audiences happy by providing a nice ending, and so, whilst being slightly dark, it was oddly refreshing to have this film end in the way that it did.


On the whole, Paper Plane is a short that doesn't shy away from showing how WW2 affected people here on British soil; more importantly, it showed how children were affected both directly and indirectly by the war.


The direction taken by the film is good to see as it presents to us a filmmaker who is not afraid to take grittier route with his films. I would recommend that anyone thinking of delving into filmmaking themselves take a look at this short as it will provide some ideas on the sorts of stories you can tell, but also ways in which you can tell them to make them stand out from the works of others.


Kira Comerford

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