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By midlandsmovies, May 11 2018 07:30PM



Midlands Interview - Birmingham actress and filmmaker Hayley Davis


Midlands Movies Mike speaks to West Midlands creative Hayley Davis about her film work and new web series Random where the talented actress has created a series of exciting monologues to flex her acting work into new media.


Midlands Movies: Hiya Hayley. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Hayley Davis: Hello! I'm a Birmingham based actor and writer. I'm Birmingham born and raised but moved away to study and after university I moved to London for a few years before realising that I couldn't balance being a creative with being able to rent and buy food in one of the most expensive cities in the world! So I came back to Birmingham and really started concentrating on making my own work.


MM: And what attracted you to working in the film industry?

HD: It's strange to think of myself as being "in the film industry" as I'm still in the very early stages of my career. I actually started writing film purely because I wanted to be in a short film! I was trying to get acting work with only a little experience and everyone was telling me that unpaid work was the way forward. I just thought, well if I'm not getting paid anyway, I've got ideas so I may as well write something, get the crew together myself and then I can schedule it all around my paid work.


MM: That's great. So, what hurdles did that entail and how did you overcome them?

HD: Apart from the logistics of producing a film and getting a project up and on its feet, the biggest hurdle was to stop waiting for permission to create something. I waited for so long to start making my own work because, to be honest, I was scared shitless. Am I good enough? Can I do this? Am I "worthy"? Will people think it's shit? Once I thought, you know what, no-one is going to hand you a job so you either get over your anxiety or nothing will ever happen. I just got on with it. Even if people don't like my work, I'm not going to die.


MM: You also have a new series called Random on your site. Can you tell our readers a bit about that?

HD: I've been doing a lot of corporate roleplay acting over the last year, which isn't very creative and can get a bit boring. I wanted to make sure that I was keeping my creativity going. I ALWAYS feel like I should be making more work and I wanted to create something that was fairly quick to produce but also allowed me to challenge myself.


Random is a set of monologues that I write by going on Snopes.com which is a website that debunks or confirms various stories, urban legends, news articles etc. Some of the stuff on there is crazy. So, I select a random story and then write and perform a monologue based on the story. So far there's been a UFO fanatic, a murderous wife and a teacher who has a momentary loss of control. The idea was to post every two weeks or so, but my work schedule has been busy, so I try to do them as and when I can.



MM: The Get Out Clause brought you a lot of attention including a win at BFF. How did that project come about?

HD: That was so crazy. As I mentioned it was really something I did because I wanted some short film footage to help with acting work. I had already made a very small film / monologue called Would Like to Meet but wanted to do something a bit bigger. I wrote, produced and starred in the film and then it languished on my laptop for a year or two. I didn't do anything with it. Then last year on a whim, I entered it into the BFF and then forgot about it. When I was told it was nominated for Best Local Film, I thought, that's nice. It won't win, but I'll have a night out at the awards and that will be something. So, when it did win I nearly fell out of my chair. It was such a lovely feeling to have this thing that I had made from nothing, with no expectations, receive some recognition.




MM: You also both act and write. Do you have a preference of one over the other? What do you bring to each discipline?

HD: A few years ago I would have said that I wanted to be recognised as an actor more than anything. But now for me they go hand in hand. I find both challenging and rewarding in lots of ways and they inform each other. Writing makes me a better actor and vice versa.


MM: Can you give any advice can you give to other actors out there to get noticed?

HD: Please let me know if you find this out because I'd love to know! It's hard. I'm very much trying to be "noticed" myself. I'm working on the theory that if I do everything I can, make work, try to get that recognised, supported, enjoyed then the profile will come.


MM: And what has been your greatest achievement so far?

HD: I think one of the things that makes me most proud is changing from working in jobs I hated and made me unhappy (office, corporate) to be able to make money from acting and/or creative jobs. I think back to a couple of years ago when I was sat on my lunch break, in a badly fitting blouse crying because I hated what I was doing and I'm thankful that I haven't had to do that for a good while now. It could all change tomorrow but I still think that's an achievement.


MM: And who has inspired you in your work?

HD: Of course I'm in awe of brilliance like Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. But I am also really inspired by women who have had success with creating their own work. Michaela Cole, Phoebe Waller-Bridges, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, Lena Dunham and Ava Duvernay. I look to them for inspiration.


MM: Who are you favourite Midlands creatives out there you’d recommend our readers checking out?

HD: Elinor Coleman is a wonderful writer/performer who wrote a show called Baby Daddy which was on at the Birmingham Rep. Not film, but a lovely Birmingham based performer. [Editor: check it out at this link - click here].


MM: And finally, what’s next on the horizon for you?

HD: I'll be continuing to create Random so keep an eye out for those. I'm also in the process of writing my next short film which I'm really excited about and will hopefully be a bigger project than The Get Out Clause. I'm also involved in a pilot which I am also co-writing and is being filmed in the Autumn which I'm hoping will lead to bigger things. Just keep an eye on my website. It will all be on there!


Check out Hayley Davis’s new blog series ‘Random’ on her website at www.mshayleydavis.com


And follow for her latest news on Twitter @mshayleydavis






By midlandsmovies, May 5 2018 01:29PM



Interview - Director and Writer Andy Collier


by Guy Russell


Charismata is the new film from directors Andy Collier and Toor Mian, which has been selected to play at this year’s Derby Film Festival in May2018. Our roving reporter Guy Russell got a chance to ask Andy about Charismata, his experiences making the film and what’s in store for him next.


The lead character Rebecca Farraway has to work within a culture of sexism and bullying in the department. With the current popularity of the MeToo movement, Charismata seems to have arrived at an important time. Was there a specific moment that made you start writing and if so what was it?

We wrote the film in 2014/15 so any current topicality is entirely accidental. Actually I think these issues have been around forever, and we aren’t being particularly original in exploring them. Rebecca’s character was pretty much completely inspired by (or, “ripped off from”!) Mia Farrow’s role in Rosemary’s Baby and, especially, Catherine Deneuve’s in Repulsion. So what’s topical now was apparently topical 40 years ago too. Hopefully things are changing now though so in future people will be ripping off some other aspect of horror movies from several decades earlier.


Your 2014 short The Seventeenth Kind, Charismata and your upcoming horror Perpetual have quite original premises, where do you draw your stories from? Personal experiences, people you know etc?

I think I just painted myself into a corner. Charismata was basically a mash up featuring the plot of Alan Parker’s Angel Heart with the story of the three central characters from the Apartment Trilogy. So on one level entirely unoriginal! However, by taking things in original directions and confounding audience expectations we can, hopefully, do something at least vaguely interesting.


The Seventeenth Kind and Perpetual are both adaptations. The first of a short story of the same name, which was extremely funny and very original. I thought it would either translate to a great short film or an absolutely terrible one. Luckily it came out ok I think. We were talking with a US studio for a long time about making that into a TV show, but that fizzled out as these things usually do.


Perpetual is based on a novel called “The German” which I read when it was released in 2011 and loved. We barely changed it... except by moving it from 1944 to 2019 and changing the protagonist from a German refugee in Texas who had fled the Nazis to an Iraqi refugee in Texas who had fled ISIS. Of course, the local Trumper Joes don’t like him much.



You also act in Charismata, is this something you’d like to do more often?

Haha no it’s more of a recurring cameo that crops up 3 or 4 times. I wasn’t allowed any lines because I sound like an idiot. I only slipped my name into the acting credits list to annoy Tor (Co-Director of Charismata). It worked.


I think I might also get to appear as Norwegian Cthulhu Cultist #6 in The Colour of Madness and Angry Ginger Redneck #4 in Perpetual though, if I play my cards right. Fingers crossed…


Charismata has been praised by critics for not relying on typical horror tropes, would you agree it’s an exciting time to work within the genre?

Absolutely, yes. There is so much great stuff being made now and so much of it is breaking moulds. I actually love attending festivals and watching the selected films as you get to see a curated sample of the most original stuff that’s coming out before anybody else does. Obviously you get to see some utter crap too, but that’s part of the fun.


With this being your first Feature film, how did this differ apart from the obvious length to making a short film? With Perpetual being another feature, would you explore shorts again?

That’s a good question. Actually I think I’m pretty rubbish at shorts because I tend to make them work like long-form stories anyway, rather than either “slice of life” or “set up - punchline” that good shorts tend to have. Also, sadly, shorts have pretty much zero commercial value so it would be unlikely that we’ll do any more.


Unless I’m mistaken this is the first time sharing you both share directing duties? Did this take some time to adapt? Did working closely together previously help?

It worked very well. We did a huge amount of prep work and argued for at least a year, so by the time we got to shooting we were 100% aligned. That worked out especially well on a micro budget shoot which was very ambitious in terms of number of cast and number of locations. Something was always exploding, catching fire or flooding, so while one of us was off set sorting out the ambulances the other could go on directing without interruption.


Social media plays a huge part in a lot of independent productions, was this the case for you? If so how did this help Charismata?

In our case we only really got the social media going after the film was finished. We didn’t crowd fund the film and we didn’t self-distribute - which are two areas where micro budget films like Charismata often need to connect with horror fans directly. Social media actually worked best in our case for connecting with news outlets/magazines/blogs/reviewers - we managed to get quite a bit of great coverage by connecting there. It’s hard work though!



Have you had any experience with the Midlands before, either shooting or festival wise?

Charismata screened in Leicester at a genre fest called Grindhouse Planet which was great fun. I’m from Sheffield originally but one of the bits that is (or at least was back in the day) technically Derbyshire. Does that count?


I can see your next feature has a filming location in the USA? As a producer does this take a lot more preparation?

Interesting question. I don’t think it takes more prep but it’s definitely much harder logistically, as it’s miles away! Some local help is an absolute must. For Perpetual we have a local line producer helping and the Utah Film Commission have been amazing. It’s still hard though.


What excites you most about the filmmaking experience? Pre-Production? Writing? Directing? Editing etc?

Unlike most people I find editing to be a total chore. That’s definitely the worst part. I think the reason is that we don’t shoot like most people: get plenty of coverage with different angles, wide-mid-close and then edit the film from what you have. We plan every shot and, essentially, edit it in the storyboards so the editing bit is just assembling the shots with a pleasing rhythm. The corollary to that: preproduction is the best bit. From location scouting to preparing storyboards and shot lists detailed enough to make editing a total chore. Great fun because that’s where the rather abstract script starts to turn into an actual film.




What is the single best piece advice that young filmmakers need to hear in 2018?

Don’t listen to me, probably. But other than that, make something that you you’ll love. Don’t try to make some generic paint by numbers thing that you think tick’s boxes. If you’re going to put so much time and effort into something with no guarantee that anybody will ever see it, at least aim for something that you find genuinely exciting. And then - other people probably will too!


Lastly, are there any future projects you can talk about?

The next thing we shoot, most likely before Perpetual, will be a VERY Lovecraftian folk horror provisionally called The Colour of Madness. It has the least original basic premise imaginable, which has been used in 5,873 horror films in the past, but we believe that we treat the story in such an unusual way that people will be excited enough by it to think it’s somehow “original”. It’s set in Norway for one thing haha!


Charismata is playing at the QUAD as part of the Derby Film Festival on the following dates;


Friday, May 04, 2018 18:00


Bank Holiday Monday, May 07, 2018 15:35


You can book your tickets below:

https://www.derbyquad.co.uk/idfest/dff/dff-pc--charismata--adv-18-.aspx


Guy Russell

Twitter @budguyer


By midlandsmovies, Apr 17 2018 08:53PM


Daisy (furthest right) at You Me & Him premiere (courtesy of BabyLifeLine)
Daisy (furthest right) at You Me & Him premiere (courtesy of BabyLifeLine)


Scripts, Films and Me - An Interview with Daisy Aitkens


After a successful local charity premiere in Birmingham of her new film 'You, Me and Him' at the end of March, we catch up with the movie's director Daisy Aitkens.


With a host of celebrities on the red carpet (click here to see our photos) You, Me and Him was brilliantly received during its Midlands premiere at an event that helped raise money for local charity Baby Lifeline.


In a film that also deals with issues of relationships, pregnancy and support, we talk to Daisy about her latest production as well as the connections she, and the movie, has with the Midlands.


Hi Daisy! If we start at the beginning, was there an event in your life when you recognised that filmmaking was not just going to be a hobby, but that it would in fact be your living?

I was really pleased with how my first short film, 96 Ways to Say I Love You, turned out. I think it was sitting watching an edit on my laptop with my producer and great friend, Georgia Tennant, when we both looked at each other somewhat amazed that our no-budget, random little mini rom-com was half decent. That’s when I thought, could I do this for real?


As that swiftly moved into this film, where did the story for You, Me and Him come from? And how did you see it being translated onto film?

I had been writing in TV for years and I was really looking to write a romantic comedy film – but one that was less traditional and a little more real and offbeat.


At the same time, one of our producers had come across this true story that he thought would make a great film and what he pitched to me was so moving and sweet and hilarious, I knew that was the film I wanted to write. I saw it as having all the bright and hopeful trappings of a romantic comedy with an underlying truth to it all. The comedy, the drama, every moment, I wanted to be as honest as possible, which is not always what springs to mind when you think ‘rom com’.



And with regards to the Midlands - as a website dedicated to the “local”, we’d be very interested to learn what were the reasons for shooting the film in Stratford?

Well, I’ve always thought it was the most magical place. I used to visit actor friends when they were in the RSC and wish, pray, hope and dream of working there too one day. I never won a part at the RSC, so I thought I’d take matters into my own hands.


Ha ha. And you have! You’ve also got three strong central stars (and performances) in your film. What were the qualities they brought that made them the best choice for your material?

I had admired Lucy Punch for a long time and I haven’t been surprised that her career has gone from strength to strength. Lucy is a brilliant comedic actress, but I think this film really shows off her capacity for drama as well. I could tell she’d be able to open herself up to the more emotional elements of the story and she didn’t disappoint! Faye Marsay got the job about ten minutes into meeting me for a drink. She had such a relaxed and easy and innately cool air about her, I knew she’d bring all that and more to Alex.


David Tennant I’ve known for a few years now and am still constantly surprised by his ability. I was over the moon when he agreed to take the role because I knew he’d be able to completely dissolve into this character whilst remaining vulnerable and true, as he does in all his roles.


And it's not just those three either. You have a superb support cast too so I was wondering what made You, Me and Him a fruitful collaboration?

Yes, I was certainly not going to let all that great talent go to waste! I remained very collaborative on set, I encouraged the actors to improvise at the ends of scenes to see if there was more story to eke out. There were moments of comedy gold. Especially the scenes we shot with Sally Phillips, who just seems to be the master of improvisation. I always knew what I wanted from the scene and once I had that, I allowed time for moments of experimentation, new lines and, well, play.


It appeared on screen that some dialogue may have been improvised. Did you stray far from the original script? Were the actors encouraged to chip in with lines?

The script was fairly set but if a line wasn’t working, or coming out honestly, or there was a funnier way to say it, I encouraged the actors to use their own words.



Your film covers many funny situations but in contrast one of the most moving occurs in a heart-breaking sequence in the third act. Were those scenes difficult to film and how did you (and the cast/crew) approach them?

Due to a fantastic first AD and her scheduling, we shot all those scenes together and in order, so it made the emotional journey a lot easier for the actors. Dramatic scenes like that are hard to shoot because of the authenticity of feeling the actor must find, but comic scenes can be equally as demanding. You’re constantly searching for the ring of truth to the moment in both situations. I did feel a pressure to get the scenes right out of respect to the women who had endured a similar situation to what we depicted.


A recent study showed children raised in same-sex-parented families do as well as children raised by heterosexual couple parents and your film tackles these issues directly - but also with humour. How did you decide on the tone of your film given its varied and difficult topics?

My intention was to have an LGBT couple in a mainstream film and not have it be about their sexuality. The idea of them raising a child together is completely normal - as it should be - and not really focussed on. What they do focus on are the same worries that both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are concerned about when deciding to have a child - do we have enough money? Who will be the main childcare provider? What are we going to teach this child? So I wanted the tone to be an honest, witty look at the concerns many women have when babies become part of their story.


Were there any funny stories from the production or anything that didn’t go to plan you had to make provisions for?

This is probably not my story to tell but I’m going to anyway so apologies in advance to Simon Bird. The poor man was struck down by Noro Virus when we were shooting scenes on the lake. Really he should have taken the day off and been in bed but clearly he is a saint and knew that would have caused me endless amounts of re-write pain. It was a day when we had a lot of paparazzi and onlookers and all the actors had to be in boats. Poor Simon was just being sick on the jetty every ten minutes. Once he’d finish I would shout ‘action’ and we would get a great scene out of him, then I’d say ‘cut’ and he’d go back to emptying the contents of his stomach into the river.


We are a big supporter of independent, micro (and zero) budget films as well as first-time filmmakers – especially from the Midlands. What advice would you give to someone starting out on their own journey in the film industry?

I think because you can make a film on your phone nowadays my advice would just be to go out and do it. Do it this weekend. Get some friends, scribble some lines down, shoot it. I think it’s in the doing that you learn. I was making films on my Dad’s camcorder from when I was nine years old. I’m just doing it on a slightly bigger scale now. I also don’t make quite so many Spice Girls videos starring me and my mates but that’s another story...


And finally, what are your future plans with this film and other projects?

Doing more lovely interviews like this! At the moment it’s just about spreading the word about You, Me and Him and getting as many people to see it as possible. Alongside all that plugging I am in the middle of writing a couple of new projects - one is TV and one is a film. Can I take this final moment to say some thanks? I will anyway. I want to thank everyone from the area who were so supportive during the filming of You, Me and Him and who continue to do so with its release. I’m so appreciative, thank you.


Thank you, Daisy.


You, Me and Him is on nationwide UK cinema release now and follow the updates on the film's official page by clicking here


Read our Midlands Movies review of the film by clicking here






By midlandsmovies, Apr 10 2018 05:23PM



Midlands Movies Interview - Going Behind the Lens with Jordan Dean


Local filmmaker Jordan Dean came to Leicester’s De Montfort University from Hull at the age of 22 and grew up like so many did with Spielberg and Star Wars as his first foray into film. We speak to this exciting new local filmmaker about his influences, film music and the uncomfortableness of watching audition tapes.


Midlands Movies: Hi Jordan. Glad you could join today. You mention you got into film via Spielberg?

Jordan Dean: Yes I did, but as a kid I was always asking how they managed to create these fantastical worlds!


MM: And getting older how did you end up in your current position?

JD: Well my love for film as a youngster developed into working for Bizarre Culture where I was their film and media editor. I wrote articles and reviews before studying film at DMU in Leicester. It was a very academic weighted degree but at a very highly regarded film university.


MM: And what did you learn during those years?

JD: Well, I made some terrible and awful stuff in my first year [laughs]. But by my third year I had learnt a lot so chose to make a film rather than do a written dissertation. By doing that I tried to prove to myself I could handle a larger production. I actually had 27 cast and crew for a 7-minute short. This included costume designers, extras, fashion models and the like. It really helped me learn different skills, got me a first in my degree and then played at 5 festivals winning a cinematography award at one of them. That was when I thought - I can do this!


MM: I went to the same University funnily enough from 1998-2001 and we only had video in year 1! It moved very quickly to digital.

JD: Ha ha. I would love to shoot on film but producers say think about the money!


MM: So where are you now in your career?

JD: Well now I am undertaking an MA in Film Production with DMU and Pinewood Studios which is exciting. I get to work every week with Terry Bamber (first assistant director on films such as Gulliver’s Travels and World War Z), Chris Kenny and Iain Smith, producer of Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s a real high calibre of people to learn from.


MM: Sounds very rewarding. What projects have you made?

JD: I worked on Not Alone which was actually a film to test equipment but has recently won a short film award at the Direct Short Online Film Festival. In addition I’ve been working with Rhys Davies on his upcoming feature Acid Daemons (click here for info on that film).



MM: You also made Behind the Lens which was nominated for a Midlands Movies Award in 2018 for best score for Peter Flint (click here). What were your influences for that film?

JD: Both of us were influenced by Drive and Neon Demon composer Cliff Martinez. I also love John Carpenter and got great feedback from Terry (Bamber) that Not Alone was Carpenter-esque which was fantastic to hear.


MM: It’s great to have recognition from someone who has been in the industry for a long time. I have seen in the Midlands that those connections and recommendations can really help (and inspire) local independent filmmakers move forward in their work.

JD: Yes and also give you the feeling that you do know what you’re doing. I’m not the best at networking and its great to be at Pinewood to meet people but also at the Midlands Movies film awards where I met likeminded filmmakers from the region.


MM: With local filmmakers like Gareth Edwards, who jumped from editing Monsters in his home to Godzilla and then to Star Wars, is he an example of how low budget can spiral to the big time no matter how unlikely? Does that help motivate you?

JD: It’s really inspiring to see those journeys, of course. I also love sci-fi. E.T. is one of my all -time favourite films. I’d love to make a film in that genre but I feel I would need the resources to do justice to the ideas I would want to convey. My main focus right now is horror. I’m obsessed with scary films since seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was younger.


MM: I definitely noticed a Neon Demon influence in Behind the Lens

JD: My biggest influence right now actually is Nicholas Winding Refn. I know he’s not for everyone but I love his films. Over the last few years I’ve also enjoyed a variety of horrors such as The Babadook and It Follows. I’m not a fan of the current jump-scare style movies though.




MM: I found the recent version of IT a surprise success for Hollywood horror but its musical stings were warnings which gave away the approaching scares. Do you like foreign horrors though?

JD: I think you feel more vulnerable watching a foreign horror giving the investment you have to make. I am a huge fan of Asian extreme horror and my next film is heavily influenced by Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden.


MM: Are there any other genres you would like to dip your toe into?

JD: I don’t want to be a genre filmmaker as such. As a fan of Refn, if you showed Neon Demon to someone they may not consider it a horror. I would like to do similar and mix genres up but I was also exhausted by the end of The Witch as it built up tension without giving the audience a release. I wouldn’t mind trying a straight-up drama and tell a simpler story as well.


MM: Where do you get your ideas from?

JD: Behind the Lens is very much influenced by the photographer character from the Neon Demon and realised I had alos met those type of creepy, really intense characters.

MM: Voyeuristic?

JD: Very much so. I can get uncomfortable myself looking at audition tapes that I get sent given the nature of it.


MM: And where next for you?

JD: The next film is The Nail That Sticks Out whose title is taken from a Japanese proverb. It’s the first film I’m directing that I haven’t written. Rebecca Whelan has written a great script and I was instantly attracted to it as it has a tone and themes I can relate to myself.


MM: And what’s the story of the film without giving too much away?

JD: It’s about a Japanese artist living in England and her girlfriend is a failing English actress. It’s about culture clashes and how far different people are willing to go to produce their art. The two characters go in very different directions.


MM: And how far into production are you?

JD: We're making the crowdfunding promo this week and it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever been involved in. We’re shooting at the end of July in the Midlands at Scene Studios in Nottingham and location shooting at DMU as well. It also has an all Midlands based crew and we're looking to raise an £8000 budget which feels ominous but we’re hoping for success once we launch.


MM: And what’s changed for you on all of these projects?

JD: It’s a scary thing to undertake these different films. Especially when you can’t always pay people when you are starting out and there are very difficult thing to manage on small productions. Now we’ve got a group of people involved – including a producer – there’s a move away from checking the sound and lighting etc yourself. There’s people you can trust in all the roles within the crew. And Peter Flint will be again working with me on the score so we’re discussing that right now.


MM: That must be a relief?

JD: To an extent. My first real production (Acid Daemons) I was working with others and I took the advice that if I had a full understanding of how film works – not just your own role – then you understand the departments and their processes. By having a little bit of knowledge about each department you can respect their craft.


MM: Thanks Jordan. Any final thoughts or help for other local filmmakers?

JD: Don’t be scared of feedback. I have a weird thing as I think I encourage criticism as it’s the only way you learn. Friends and parents will go “it’s great” but you can’t ride that for long otherwise you won’t get anywhere.


Follow Jordan Dean for updates on all his projects on his Twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/Jordandeanfilm






By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2017 11:07AM



Midlands Interview - Award winning director Andrew Rutter


Filmmaker Andrew Rutter recently won Leicester’s 2017 The Short Cinema Main Competition Award for Best Film which is the culmination of many years hard work for the local director. Mike Sales interviews Andrew who tells us more about his winning film and more.


Midlands Movies Mike: Hi Andrew, congratulations on your win! The Short Cinema is a great event for the region so are you from the area at all?

Andrew Rutter: Hi and thanks very much! Well it all started for me in the Black Country where I was born and raised. I grew up in a small area called Rowley Regis where my brother and I would rope our school mates in to making horror films with us using the family camcorder. We managed to produce all sorts of whacky stuff, a few zombie films and our own little homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre at one point. Aside from a brief stint in backyard wrestling we very much enjoyed making horror films. Fast forward to now, I’m a freelance filmmaker full time. Of course I work a lot in corporate video to pay the bills but I tend to turn my hand to all sorts of film production, continuously trying to carve some sort of career out of all this madness!


MMM : And when did that home-made filmmaking become more professional?

AR: Well, I guess I started working “Professionally” right out of the gate after my stint at Wolverhampton University in 2011. I landed a freelance editing job cutting toy adverts so that helped me financially and grow professionally. When not working I was continuously shooting Music Videos for next to nothing, fully realising that I kind of had to build a brand new portfolio since the DSLR movement had swept the filmmaking scene and the bar had been raised.


I found it quite hard to navigate to where I am now, and even still I find it difficult because freelance is such a life that is all about unpredictability, not fully knowing if a job is coming through or not. The key factors for me were making friends and making cool art. I always believed that if you strived hard to make the best possible thing you can, time and time again, then eventually it’d be hard for people to ignore you.


MMM: So do your films focus on any particular genres or themes?

AR: It’s weird really as I pretty much grew up on genre movies, but my work tends to blend a lot of stuff, or at least that’s what’s going on in my head during the process. As a kid I made horror movies, but I haven’t made a horror film since then. I’m a big fan of dark comedy, quite a few past Music Videos have gone down that route and I think I’m leaning more in to that for some future shorts I have in mind. I kind of fell into music videos because they had a formula that meant you could get your ideas funded but you’d just have to tailor them to some music. I’m at a point now though where I want to fully dive in to all sorts of genre filmmaking.



MMM: You just mentioned the problems of balancing the corporate and freelance work but what have been other difficult hurdles you have overcome?

AR: It’s very difficult to pin point as I can honestly say my whole ‘career’ has been a constant struggle. Building a network of people, establishing regular work, detecting untrustworthy people, the list goes on. Then there’s the difficult reality of trying to navigate the film industry, which is this insane beast; to ‘break in’ to something riddled with elitism and blind luck. I didn’t come from money or have an uncle in the biz, just an encouraging mother, a camcorder and loads of ideas. Early on I really struggled with the notion of working with other people for a long time, I hated that I needed other people to make my films. I couldn’t tell you how many times I was let down by people I thought were trustworthy, at the risk of sounding really negative, I grew to dislike the industry after meeting so many bull-shitters. The positives from this though is that I learnt a lot from these people, it’s been useful to be stung a few times because my bullshit radar is pretty strong now! The reality is that you need to find the right people, sometimes it’s just a small tight-nit group of friends that will fight to get your film made and as a result champion each other’s talents through success.


I think the biggest challenges over time have not been the physical graft but my mental state. It’s hard to get anything done when your mind is rooting against you, filmmaking can be a lonely journey and when you do eventually meet these liars, they contribute to the gradual chipping away at your own mental stability, often causing doubt in your own ability. I’ve been fortunate to find strength in loved ones and other filmmakers who are also chasing this crazy dream. There’s a whole lot of inspiring stuff being produced all over the world so I think it just takes giving yourself that time to absorb some of it and recharge your batteries - a great cure for any negative thinking!



MMM: And how was the shoot for Ultrasound and how did you get involved in it?

AR: The shoot was very challenging as it was my most ambitious piece to date. The band were great, they literally gave me free reign over what the film could be and left me to it. I came to work with the band a few years ago, I was literally just a fan that sent them a tweet along the lines of “Let me do your next video”. They called my bluff and a few weeks later I was in Hastings doing the first video with them. A couple years later they had album three coming out, they invited me to the studio and that’s where I first heard ‘Kon-Tiki’. I knew from that moment that it was the one I’d do a film for.


A lot of things went wrong during the shoot, a producer dropped out at an awkward time and I became buried in multi-tasking alongside the DOP Christopher Hood. We shot for around 5 days, lead by location availability really, which was primarily Wolverhampton, Wales, Peterborough and an evening in Leicester. I was running on 3 hours sleep for most of it, barely eating and generally a silly mess. For all it’s hardships a lot did go right on the shoot, it had to or we’d have been well and truly…


This shoot also happened to be the last with my good friend Keith ‘Casablanca’ Whitehouse who sadly left this world not long after the film came out. I was so happy he got to see his work in it, that he really loved it and supported it massively. Whilst he plays a rather negative character in the film, I have a huge smile when his face pops up on the big cinema screens that it’s been playing across recently.


MMM: And which do you have any heroes or people who have influenced you from the film industry?

AR: My heroes of the industry have kinda changed as I’ve grown up. I managed to meet a few when I was in my early teens. At thirteen I attended a TROMA master class in London with my brother where we got to meet and talk with Lloyd Kaufman, a real champion of independent cinema. I got to briefly meet John Waters and George A. Romero many years ago too, both who’ve made extremely influential films. Seeing John Carpenter play his music live last year was also a beautiful treat.


There are so many great filmmakers out there now doing amazing things, I’m a frequent visitor of Vimeo, which is a great injection of inspiration when you need it. The filmmaking duo DANIELS I’ve followed for a few years on there, watching their journey from Music Videos to feature film Swiss Army Man is amazing. Nowadays though I find my heroes to be the people who are fighting to get their films made, the ones who are pushing on regardless of doubt and naysayers. I suppose it transcends film though, artists in general have a positive effect on me when I see what they’ve been through to get something made.



MMM: And what do you think has been your greatest achievement on your journey so far?

AR: I don’t have any defining moments of success to be honest; it’s been a series of little victories that have kept me going over the years. Last year I learnt to drive and bought myself a car, which I was pretty proud of, as it’d been something that tormented me for years! Every project I’ve completed has been a victory for me, knowing that something exists because I willed it to, whether it’s good or bad doesn’t matter. So many people don’t get past the ideas part of the process so to have something actually exist in the world is a win, to get accolades for it is a bonus.


MMM: And for the obligatory “impossible” question – what are your favourite films?

AR: I live and breathe all kinds of cinema and my top ten is forever changing. As a kid I was introduced to stuff like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dawn of the Dead, and John Carpenter’s The Fog. In early high school I saw Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, which was a massive influence; the behind the scenes of that film alone is a testament to him as a filmmaker. When I reached my teens I was discovering a bunch of stuff from David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Jan Svankmajer, Terry Gilliam, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Roman Polanski, Werner Herzog and so many more. I fell in to a deeper world of film and it all opened up for me during my teens. It was magical stumbling upon something that blew your mind; in college it was stuff like Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Boogie Nights, Todd Solondz’s Happiness. Even now I’m still catching stuff I missed out on, such as Tarkovsky’s Stalker and the work of Kenneth Anger.


MMM: With The Short Cinema win now in the bag what can we expect next from Andrew Rutter?

AR: I’m developing a few short narrative films at the moment; I’ve done a lot of Music Videos and Documentaries so I’m trying to push myself in to some narrative shorts that aren’t either of those. I’m not ruling out anything though as you just never know what may present itself at the right time.


MMM: And finally, what are your favourite Midlands films and is there anyone for our readers to look out for?

AR: I’ll use this moment to plug my brother’s new film which he’s just released as you couldn’t get any more Midlands than this. It’s called Bella in the Wych Elm and you should definitely check it out here


MMM: Wow! I didn’t know you were related and we reviewed his film earlier in the year. Huge thanks for speaking to us today Andrew.

AR: A pleasure.


Check out Andrew’s showreel below and follow the filmmaker on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AJRutter



By midlandsmovies, Aug 18 2017 06:29PM



Interview with Lincoln Filmmaker Lewis Coates


Midlands Movies meets Lewis Coates, a filmmaker currently based in Lincoln who has just completed his most recent short film 'When Voices Unite' for Channel 4's 'Random Acts'.


Being filmed and edited in the Midlands, the short film has just been shortlisted for Danny Boyle's Shuffle Film Festival in London and editor Mike Sales chats to this rising filmmaking star.


Midlands Movies Mike: Hi Lewis. Hope you are well. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Lewis Coates: Well, I’m a 24 year old filmmaker and graduate of The University of Lincoln and I moved to the Midlands from down South a few years ago for University. I’ve been based here throughout my degree and for 3 more years working as a videographer and editor. I’ve written and directed a number of short films and creative projects whilst being here, but When Voices Unite is my first professionally funded and distributed film for this year’s season of Channel 4’s 'Random Acts’.


MMM: Great stuff. Did you get into filmmaking at all before University?

LC: I remember picking up my mum’s digital camera when I was very young and just started making videos with my friends. Stupid stuff - horror movies with fake blood, Jackass-stunts - the normal stuff kids do, I’d just want to film it all. By the time I’d finished education and got into Uni, I’d watched hundreds of great independent & foreign cinema, and really found my love for making it too!


MMM: And how did you get involved in Random Acts?

LC: I sent a script to Channel 4 back in January and they got back to me pretty quickly, asking if I’d like to direct it. The only problem, they wanted it complete by April ready for the next season of ‘Random Acts’ - so we actually went from first draft script to screen in less than a month! We filmed and edited in one weekend. The production team were very helpful getting most of the leg-work done, which allowed me to concentrate on perfecting the final script and assembling everything else for the shoot!


MMM: Wow! That timescale is very tight. Were there any more issues with the filmmaking process given that issue?

LC: There's quite a funny story actually - we found a great location, these big underground tunnels that used to be a disused nuclear bunker. We paid the owner to use them for the evening, but we’d been double-booked with a Ghost Tour. So at about 8pm we were interrupted by 50 ghost-hunters with torches and hiking gear, walking round doing seances. There were times where we were filming and we’d hear footsteps and “Hello…. Is anyone there…?” and we’d all freeze and wait for them to pass by. They probably all claimed they'd seen an undead film crew on multiple occasions! But this pushed our filmming back through the night and we ended up finishing around 4am!



MMM: The film covers a whole host of topical issues. How did this subject matter come to be of interest to you?

LC: The film includes social media, government surveillance, fake news - and with the current social climate being very volatile, there’s a lot of fear and emotion to play on; and technology & fears of the future are a good starting point that gives a lot of creative scope. Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ does a similar thing where technology and social unrest plays a large factor in the narrative. I think if the audience can relate to the character or understand the emotions conveyed in the piece, they usually enjoy it more.


MMM: And have you made many films before this one?

LC: I’ve made a few self-funded student short films before, but When Voices Unite was my first professional short. My first was called ‘Pin’ about a crime scene cleaner that gets caught up in the criminal world, the second was ‘Synoptica’, a slight-futuristic drama about a couple that get interactive contact lenses, starring Nathalie Cox (Jumper, Kingdom of Heaven), which first ignited my interests in the ‘negative technology’ theme. Both films were for University, so had to be between 20-30mins, where I found that shorts for consumption online usually have more chance of success the shorter they are.


MMM: Coming back to your latest film, what are your plans for this project?

LC: ‘When Voices Unite’ is currently being distributed online via ‘Random Acts’ channels - there’s a chance it will be broadcast on Channel 4, but nothing confirmed just yet. It’s also doing a festival run from now until March; currently shortlisted at Danny Boyle’s ‘Shuffle Film Festival’ in London and hopefully more to be announced soon.


MMM: You mentioned Charlie Brooker earlier. Are there any other films or filmmakers whose work interests you?

LC: I watch a lot of foreign and independent cinema to really get a variety of filmmaking and storytelling techniques. I enjoy the work of Park Chan-Wook, Michael Haneke, Denis Villeneuve - but it’s hard to say which filmmakers directly influence my work, as it’s probably an organic culmination of many. I’m proud to represent the UK film industry, I love the work of Ben Wheatley, Charlie Brooker, Edgar Wright, but my favourite films of the last few years would be Victoria (Sebastian Schipper’s tense one-shot masterpiece), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins beautiful LGBT Oscar-winner) and Whiplash (Damian Chazelle’s enigmatic musical drama).


MMM: Thanks Lewis. And finally, do you have any films/filmmakers from the Midlands region our readers should check out?

LC: There's definitely not enough Midlands filmmakers out there! A few Ben Wheatley & Shane Meadows films are set here, but we really need to encourage the film industry to utilise this region of the UK more.


We couldn't agree more! Thanks to Lewis for his time and check out the film via YouTube below.







By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2017 09:03AM



Midlands Movies interview Luke Gosling and Sean Brown of B305 Productions


Midlands Movies Mike speaks to Luke Gosling and Sean Brown from Leicester film production company Bearing 305 Productions to talk about their new horror Blood Myth, what the future holds for this exciting new project and there experience of on-set ‘Barnageddon’.


Midlands Movies Mike: Morning Luke and Sean. How are things and what’s your connection to the Midlands film scene?

Luke Gosling: Hi there! Well I’m originally from Newark, but now living in Lincoln. I have been an avid film fan from a young age, which lead me to study BA in Model Design at Hertfordshire University. From there I developed a keen interest in storytelling so started making skits and short films as a means to show my written work.

Sean Brown: For me, I have been making films since I was 16. I am originally from Newark and I studied Media Production at Lincoln University. I worked at ITV in Leeds in their post production facilities and have more recently been working at The Northern Film School in Leeds.


MM: Nice! How did your new film Blood Myth come about?

LG: After tackling numerous short films across various genres we decided that we had progressed technically to a level where the natural next step was to make a feature length film.


MM: Can you tell us a bit about the film’s story?

LG: Blood Myth is British folk horror film. It is a twisty turny mystery that will intrigue and shock audiences worldwide. A man’s pregnant girlfriend vanishes on the anniversary of a centuries old sinister folklore surrounding the occult. He then sets out to discover the truth and find her before she becomes part of a 30 year cycle of disappearances.


MM: You’ve focused on horror for this film. How did that come about? Are you fans of the genre?

LG: We initially envisaged doing a dark noir thriller revolving around a journalist and the occult, but as the development process moved forward the film naturally evolved away from the noir tropes and more towards a horror mystery thriller with elements of black humour which better fit our writing and watching sensibilities.

SB: In addition, the idea was to use what we had to save money on the production design. Luckily my mother in law has a farm with various visually interesting buildings. We realised quickly that it would be a folk horror film that would fit best for the location.


MM: With that location in mind, what has been the most difficult hurdle you have had to overcome during filming?

LG: Shooting on a micro budget and a tight timeframe means you can’t afford to wait for everything to be just right e.g. the weather, so we had to grin and bear some cold, wet and windy days. Night shoots are tough, especially when you have started at 8am and go through into the early hours.

Our most challenging day was shooting an important set-piece, involving multiple characters, on a large set with an elaborate lighting set-up. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, which became known as “Barnageddon”. Thankfully everyone pulled together and we got it done late in the day but it worked out great.

SB: I think that filming on various weeks for over a year makes keeping continuity consistent a challenge. After the first week filming I managed to get hit by a bus travelling at 30mph in my car. My first thought was relief that I had survived and my second thought was that we had only filmed half the shots that we needed with my car. So for the rest of the film the camera had to be in the car looking out. Other than that I think that the major challenges were time and money. When you are working with such a small amount of money you have to be very creative to fill in the gaps and with a limited amount of time on top of that it makes everything twice as stressful. I also didn't help matters by making the film at the same time as having a new born baby.



MM: And can you tell our readers about you many other projects?

LG: Together we’ve made four projects before Blood Myth. Web series sit-com The Pitch (2012). Animated comedy short B-Movie (2013). Comedy short film I Am Lodger (2014) and sci-fi short film Athena (2015).


MM: And how was B305 set up?

LG: Bearing 305 Productions is two person team with Luke and Sean writing, directing and producing. We do like to work with the same people wherever possible, bringing back familiar actors and crew. It was set up due to two friends having the same film watching/ making sensibilities and goals.


MM: What were your influences from the genre? Any specific for this film?

LG: We have always loved films and TV like Seven, X-Files, True Detective and The Wicker Man (original). Story and tonal touchstones for Blood Myth include Kill List, Shallow Grave, The Usual Suspects and Blue Ruin. Musically we like the tone and tension created in Sicario, Hell or High Water and 10 Cloverfield Lane.



MM: Do you have any future plans for Blood Myth?

LG: We are currently submitting Blood Myth to film festivals around the world with an aim to get distribution, and ultimately to make enough waves to get considered for production of future scripts. I think like any filmmakers we just want the film to reach the widest possible audience.


MM: What are your favourite Midlands films/filmmakers? Anyone you’d recommend?

LG: We really like Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes. Although it had roughly 100 times our budget it was still a very low budget film, made with such an independent spirit. It was a big inspiration for us especially because it was from an area we recognised. It wasn't glossy or glamorous it was a film about characters that were recognisable and had a story that was heartfelt and touching. It also put filmmaking within our reach because we knew Toby Kebbell and there he was on the big screen in a film. This was an enormous leap, from just making short films for fun, to seeing that the film industry was actually within reach, if we were prepared to put in a lot of hard work.

SB: Local filmmakers we have worked with include Jordan Handford who is a terrific actor and has just made a nice debut short film, and Kris Tearse who has done acting for us and provided great score work in the Blood Myth teaser trailer.


MM: And finally, we always ask if there’s any advice for anyone looking to start their own project in the region?

LG: Create for yourself. My initial aspiration was to be a writer, but no one was gonna make stuff from an unknown, so I had to take on directing to tell my stories. Learn, develop and push yourself with each project. Keep writing and most importantly finish. It’s too easy to have twenty openings or synopsis, it takes dedication to complete script after script. See it through to the end. Blood Myth has been two and a half years work.

SG: Don't wait! I have made a lot of short films and now a feature and I have learnt more from making the films than any book, course or video online. You have to make mistakes to understand how to be better. The only way to progress at anything is to do it over and over again. Also learn the technical side of filmmaking. When you are starting out it is very difficult to find people who are as passionate about your project as you are. If you are not relying on other people to work the camera or edit the film, then you will have it done much faster and learn more.


Huge thanks to Sean and Luke for their time and check out the film's trailer above and follow the latest news about the release of Blood Myth over on their official website at http://www.bloodmyth.com

By midlandsmovies, May 4 2017 11:20AM



Tony Gibbons is an established actor hailing from our very own region with a string of prominent roles in Midlands films and beyond. With award-winning Checking In and the forthcoming House of Screaming Death already in the bag, Tony is now developing his career in America. In this new interview, Midlands Movies Mike speaks to the actor about his influences, method and forthcoming projects.


Midlands Movies: Hi Tony. How are things in the Midlands for you right now?

Tony Gibbons: Great thanks Mike!


MM: I know you’ve been out in Los Angeles recently so are you from the region at all?

TG: Yes...I'm born and bred in Wolverhampton! But now spend a lot of my time in Los Angeles working on projects there.


MM: That must have been quite the change from Wolverhampton?! Which do you prefer, Hollywood or The Midlands?

TG: You could say that! I actually love both. Obviously Wolves is my home but I lived and worked in Manchester and London, too, before making the move to LA...and I've started to make a home out in the sunshine, too.


MM: And what about the work? How does working in Hollywood compare to working in the Midlands?

TG: Right now most of my work is in the US, and I feel really lucky to be working on bigger and bigger projects and getting to work alongside amazing acting talent and film makers, but I love working back home to work when I can, too. We have so much talent in the Midlands! I think some of the best film makers in Europe are from the Midlands. I've been fortunate to work with Dave Hastings on 'Checking In' and 'The House of Screaming Death', and that whole team is a credit to our area and the industry, and I think Liam Banks is one of the most exciting young film makers out there today – and I got to work with him, too, on 'The Copy-Writer'! I'm hoping to work with them both again soon.


MM: Do you (or the projects you choose) specialise in any genres?

TG: I love working on all types of projects and never planned to work in just one genre, but if you look at my recent credits it certainly looks like I specialise in horror and sci-fi! I did the US TV show 'My Haunted House', then 'House of Screaming Death' with the wonderful Dave Hastings back here in the Midlands, and 'Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter', a sci-fi action epic that's about to be released in the US, and another US feature I just booked the lead in is very sci-fi, too!


MM: Any particular faves though?

TG: I have to say I have been enjoying the action/horror/sci-fi stuff – it’s a lot of fun to shoot! - but I also enjoy working in other genres, and love anything with true to life characters and emotion, like 'Checking In', which was very much a character driven drama.


MM: Spreading yourself across a wide range of projects – and geographical locations – you must have come up against different challenges. What has been the most difficult one you have overcome?

TG: Actually, for me it was probably “coming out” as an actor. I was a sports kid, and wanted to be a footballer most of my life, and then went to University to do a Law degree. So when I told my parents – half way through my degree – that “I think I want to take acting classes”, it was definitely a shock! I had never shown any interest in drama at school, but I felt this pull towards acting that I couldn't really explain. Once I started training, and working, I never looked back, so I'd say to young actors to follow their hearts and put the work in. Oh, and be patient!



MM: How do you like to work with directors? Any good (or bad) experiences?

TG: I must have been very lucky because most of my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. I've heard some horror stories from other sets, but I've never had a problem with a director. When I was starting out I used to always want more direction. Like, they wouldn't give me any so I didn't know if what I was doing was good or not, but now I love working with those types of directors. If they've cast you, it’s because they like what you do, so it becomes much more collaborative, letting you do your thing as an actor and bring your own contributions to the table. That's what I've experienced on all my most successful projects, like 'Checking In', 'The Cup of Wrath', and 'Rogue Warrior'. There's probably good reason why these directors are award winning!


MM: Out of your many, many, film and stage projects, what has been your greatest success?

TG: Playing Macbeth on stage, early in my career is something I don't think will ever stop being a highlight for me. It was a wonderful experience and something that has stayed with me throughout my career. Over the past couple of years I have been so lucky have worked on projects that have had massive success. Winning Best British Film at the London Film Awards with (the Midlands made) 'Checking In' was incredible, and being invited to attend the Cannes Film Festival with 'The Cup of Wrath' is the sort of thing every actor dreams about. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do something I love as a career, and honestly, every project I work on feels like the next achievement.


MM: And besides acting, what else have you been up to?

TG: I'm actually really excited because I was recently asked by a couple of industry publications to write 'expert advice' columns. My first article was just published on Backstage, and I'm going to be writing some more, both for Backstage and a couple of other trade outlets. I'm also really excited to be part of the Birmingham Film Festival. I'm working with them as a judge, and get to watch lots of great movies in doing so!


MM: And looking over the horizon, what’s in Tony’s future plans?

TG: Work, work, work! I just recently booked an amazing role in a movie that I'll be shooting this Summer in the US, which I can't wait to start work on. I have a few other US projects lined up after that, too, but also hope to pop back home some time to work on something else in the Midlands!


MM: That sounds perfect to me and the region and its talent would more than welcome you back with open arms. All the best for the future.

TG: Thanks, it’s been great.


Check out further information on Tony and his latest projects by clicking and following on the links below:


http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2971362


http://www.allstarsactors.tv/listing/tony-gibbons/


https://twitter.com/tonygibbons5?lang=en

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