icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Jun 8 2018 05:27PM



Leicester filmmakers to be showcased at Midlands charity film gala


Midlands Movies Mike speaks to Kelly McCormack who is one of the producers of a new Leicester event coming up in July which will feature a range of regional short films.


Presented by Rajnish Sharma Films and Whatsername Productions a new film event takes place on July 14th 2018 with a charity screening of some of the newest short films and filmmakers in Leicester.


Promising a night that cannot be missed, Kelly explains that this will be an evening of red carpet glamour, movies and entertainment. With all proceeds going towards the YMCA charity, Kelly goes on to discuss how the preparations for event is going with just a week to go.


“We’ve been planning since September of last year but as we’ve got closer we’re now at full throttle with ticket sales and getting ready to show 5 brilliant short films”.


She goes on to say, “The films range from 1 minute to 18 minutes long with contributions from Rajnish Sharma, Mike Yeoman, G M Finney Productions and more”.


“We’ll be doing a raffle as well and all money raised is going to charity. Plus The Y Theatre is a great place so hopefully people will get an amazing experience in a fantastic venue”.


Built in 1900, the Y Theatre is the oldest surviving Victorian theatre in Leicester. It’s also a community focused non-profit and a bustling live performance venue providing a range of recreational programmes and performance for all ages.


“There will be a public vote on the evening too and a winner announced. And we hope to bring a lot of filmmakers together and give them an opportunity they may not have had”, adds Kelly.


The event will be a formal black-tie event with red carpet photos on arrival, the film screenings as well as question and answer sessions with the directors themselves.


Concluding with a charity raffle with exciting prizes, tickets are available and if purchased before 14th July are only £10 (£11.37 with Eventbrite).


Full price tickets will be available at £15 on the door and all seating is unreserved.


Venue information: Y Theatre (YMCA), 7 East Street, Leicester, LE1 6EY


TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leicester-short-film-gala-tickets-43074484944?aff=efbeventtix


FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/2053434741538285/



By midlandsmovies, May 31 2018 06:33AM



Midlands Spotlight - Ambitious short seeks support with new campaign


A group of Leicester based filmmakers have begun their crowdfunding campaign to finance their highly ambitious short film, being produced in partnership with Creative Media Skills (CMS) at Pinewood Studios.


The Nail That Sticks Out tells the story of Aiko, a controversial Japanese artist living in the UK, who is struggling to complete her latest collection. Her muse and girlfriend, Elisabeth, faces her own pressures dealing with her fledgling acting career. The journey to Aiko’s final masterpiece takes in passion, lust, obsession and shows no sign of a happy ending.


With a majority of the crew Masters students at De Montfort University, eight of which are studying International Film Production and one Digital Arts student, the group have received training from some of the biggest names in the British film industry.


This includes Iain Smith (Producer of Mad Max: Fury Road, Children of Men), Chris Kenny (Producer of Batman, Empire of the Sun), Gareth Unwin (Producer of The King’s Speech) and Terry Bamber (Production Manager on Casino Royale, Skyfall). The crowdfunding campaign is now live and runs for 30 days with a goal of raising £4,000 to support the production of the film. The ‘Asia extreme’-inspired short film will begin production towards the end of July and will be shot in Nottingham, Leicester and Loughborough.


Iain Smith spoke of his anticipation for the film: “The Nail That Sticks Out is an extraordinary and exciting project. It’s being made by a wonderful, energetic and creative team of student filmmakers. It has been a great pleasure to work with them at CMS; in particular Rebekah (Writer), Jordan (Director) and Jamie (Producer) who have huge talents. I predict they will go far.”


Jordan Dean’s previously spoke to Midlands Movies (click here) and two of his short films have been Official Selections at the Los Angeles Cine Fest, the $2 Dollar International Film Festival in New York and the Move Me Productions International Film Festival in Antwerp. His film Behind the Lens was nominated for a Midlands Movies Award in 2018 and his last film Not Alone recently won the Best Short Film award at the Direct Monthly Online Short Film Festival.


Jamie Ball, the film’s producer, said: “I feel that there is nowhere near enough varied representation of female and LGBT+ characters on screen, something I'm really passionate about. I'm pleased that the first film I'm producing addresses these issues, while at the same time telling a new and interesting story."


The cast and crew include award-winning Director Jordan Dean, award-winning actress Natsumi Kuroda, and Midlands Movies Award nominated composer Peter Flint. The cast and crew are all passionate about telling stories that showcase diversity.


The crowdfunding campaign can be found at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-nail-that-sticks-out-short-film-horror-drama/x/18734609#/





By midlandsmovies, May 27 2018 09:44AM



Midlands Spotlight - Summer Nights Film 2018


Summer Nights festival as it is now in its eighth year and returns to its Midlands origins (as well as many more new venues throughout the country) with another spectacular line-up of outdoor cinema events in luxurious and fun locations in the region.

Highlights include a screening of IT (2017) at Calke Abbey on August 4th and Wollaton Hall on August 24th as well as Wayne’s World at Wollaton Hall on August 23rd. Party on!

Tickets can be purchased at the early bird price of £12.50 until the 1st June when they will increase to £15.50.


For the full line-up please see dates, films and venues below:


East Midlands


Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire – Fri 20th DUNKIRK & Sat 21st July MOULIN ROUGE


Bradgate Park, Leicester – new venue! Fri 20th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 21st July DIRTY DANCING


Calke Abbey, Derbyshire – Thu 2nd PRETTY WOMAN & Fri 3rd THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 4th IT Sun 5th August THE GREATEST SHOWMAN


Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire – Fri 17th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 18th August DIRTY DANCING


Wollaton Hall, Nottingham – Thu 23rd WAYNES WORLD Fri 24th IT Sat 25th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN Sun 26th THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Mon 27th August BEAUTY & THE BEAST


Belton House, Lincolnshire – Fri 7th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 8th September GHOSTBUSTERS



West Midlands:


Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire – Thu 26th BEAUTY & THE BEAST Fri 27th TOP GUN & Sat 28th July FOOTLOOSE


Attingham Park, Shropshire – Fri 31st August DIRTY DANCING & Sat 1st September DUNKIRK


There are further dates and venues throughout England includng Surrey, Yorkshire and Cheshire


More information about these screenings and the festival can be found online here: www.summernightsfilm.co.uk





By midlandsmovies, May 26 2018 09:40AM



Martin Sharpe Is Sorry


Directed by Lee Tomes & Daley Francis


Bang Average Films (2018)


“Two Academy Award Nominations. Too many allegations...”


This new 3-minute short comes from Midlands filmmakers Bang Average Films who previously impressed us with their comedy film Careering earlier this year.


They take a sharp turn here with a far more multi-layered drama about sexual harassment in the media which marks a stark contrast between their previous light-hearted effort and the serious subject matter we see here.


The short begins with a man (Dean Kilbey as actor Martin Sharpe) inside a hotel room staring blankly as he hears news reports about a famous man accused of sexual misconduct.


We are quickly to assume that this coverage is about him and this is confirmed as his PR agent starts to discuss with him the various options to mitigate the issues. With the #MeToo movement raising awareness in real life, the film approaches this difficult topic head on but throws in some controversial perspectives as well.


The strangely brown colour palette mutes some of the harsher themes at play and the film takes further risks with a rather comedic performance from Helen Lewis as Jane. This was an interesting direction to take and didn’t entirely work for me but at around the half way point there is a particular shift into more a more sombre and dark tone.


As she proposes the different options to the star including a non-confirming announcement that his judgment was impaired, Martin asks, “when did everything change?” Of another time, the film asks the audience to question how modern values have shifted from more previous “acceptable” times of the past. Combined with his protestations of innocence one could even suggest the film creates a tiny amount of sympathy.


However, this is dashed immediately as it contrasts with Martin’s statement, “I used to do anything I wanted” further complicating the issue and setting the audience in opposition to his big-headed arrogance.


As they work through which PR route to take – interviews, charity donations – the aforementioned tonal change occurs when Jane raises the subject of “aggressive allegations”. Jane’s previously jovial demeanour rotates 180 degrees with her acute question, capturing Martin off guard.


Martin’s “tart’s pants” comment continues to play with the audience’s mind whereby his adamant denial conflicts with his dismissive sexism and chauvinism.


Is it defending an innocent man’s accusations with a comment on witch-hunting and principles from another time? Or is it taking a moral standpoint that with clever media and PR you can spin these genuine victim claims into gossip and hearsay?


Well, the film leaves the audience to decide somewhat and a final shot of Martin entering a lift is juxtaposed with a raft of voices spinning through his mind with more (and multiple) accusations.


Tackling difficult themes, Martin Sharpe Is Sorry is not entirely successful with an uneven tone but its script and performances will make audiences contemplate the problematic subject matter in a world of spin and soundbites. But make no mistake, you’ll be thinking about the issues it raises far beyond the confines of its short runtime.


Midlands Movies Mike


Watch the full short below:






By midlandsmovies, May 16 2018 04:21PM



Midlands Spotlight - Phoenix Access Cinema


As part of Deaf Awareness Week 2018 Midlands Movies catches up with Josh Senior who is the Cinema Programme Assistant at Phoenix Leicester. We talk to Josh about their recent crowd-funding campaign to assist those with hearing impairments as part of their Access Cinema programme.


In December 2017, Phoenix Leicester launched a fundraising campaign to buy 26 new amplified headsets to help more people with sight and hearing loss enjoy films at the cinema.


Phoenix Leicester has an infrared system in both their main screens which allows people with a sight or hearing loss to use a personal headset to hear the film audio described alongside the action in the film or to hear an amplified dialogue track.


Midlands Movies were proud to donate £200 towards the Phoenix’s campaign and the target goal of £2000 was reached in January 2018 with the support of Leicester City Council and a host of other generous donors.


With the success of the campaign they have increased the number of headsets so can now cater to even more people including guide dog groups, social groups and special educational needs school groups.


Josh Senior explains, “As part of our regular programme we build in films that audio description tracks and subtitles. As well as that, the headsets can be used for amplification also”.


“We are building upon this in the future whereby our website will be able to highlight even more films where the technology is available”, continues Josh. “This all ties in with the expansion of the Phoenix in 2020 where two new screens will be available to allow greater access for those with additional needs”.


Phoenix Leicester has regular subtitled films on Tuesday evenings and also provides Autism-friendly screenings on a regular basis. Josh goes on to say the cinema works closely with others in the region, especially with Film Hub Midlands.


“Staff attend workshops and training around accessibility for cinema which keeps us up to date of the current challenges. And the BFI shares knowledge to help us find ways to provide solutions”.


Through Access Cinema, Phoenix Leicester hopes to bring people with differing access needs together to watch the best in world cinema and socialise with friends and family.


Asked about Oscar-winning Midlands film The SIlent Child Josh adds, "There's a great package called the Lives in Sign Language which covers a wide range of genres and experiences and we hope we can bring that to the Phoenix in late Summer".


Striving to keep up to date with social policy, advancements in accessible technology and best practice, the cinema also aims to provide all customers with the most enjoyable cinema experience possible. And with these new headsets they are another step on the way.


All the headsets are readily available at the Phoenix box office with additional help on hand to assist customers as required.


To find out more about Access Cinema at Phoenix Leicester then click on the What’s On section of their website:

https://www.phoenix.org.uk/access-cinema/


And for information on the appeal please click below:

https://www.phoenix.org.uk/blog/phoenix-access-cinema-appeal/


By midlandsmovies, Apr 21 2018 08:52AM



An Officer and a Gentleman at Curve Leicester


An Officer and a Gentleman starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger was a huge critical and commercial success when released in 1982 grossing $130 million and winning an Oscar for Louis Gossett Jr. for Best Supporting Actor.


This new Curve production from Nikolai Foster takes the same premise but infuses it with an 80s-flavoured soundtrack of well-known hits from the decade. Telling the story of Zack Mayo and his Navy training in Florida, the protagonist falls in love with local girl Paula whilst conflicting with a tough Sergeant during his classes.


With successes in theatre productions of big movie hits (see our reviews of Sunset Blvd. and Grease), Foster doubles down on the music to carry this production and it mostly works. Mostly.


The film opens with an adaptation of In the Army Now (most famously recorded in the UK by soft-rock icons Status Quo) but here changed to “navy” and we see the cast work well together like combat ready marines themselves.


The soft-rock continues as the story develops as we are introduced to Zack (Jonny Fines) who signs up to the Navy and forms a friendship with Sid (Ian McIntosh). Quickly they get to know girls off the barracks Paula (Emma Williams) and Lynette (Jessica Daley). The ladies’ blue collar toughness shines through as they faithfully deliver renditions of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World and the perennial retro classic Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Their broad interpretations delivered the songs with gusto but sadly character development and drama was unfortunately side-lined for the high-energy tunes.


More fleshed out was Keisha Atwell’s Casey Seegar who channels her beautiful voice with a rough and ready performance as the sole female in the outfit. Her strong vocals even came through in the group performances as well as her solo stints.


As a member of a rock band myself, one niggle was the “power” of the cover songs themselves. Although this changed for the second act – I think the soundman found the bass, kick drum and guitar volume faders and cranked them up – part one lacked the explosiveness of the songs themselves – making them a bit bland.


The vocals were top notch throughout but the heavy Marshall-stack guitar solos, the uber-reverb and over-produced drums were nowhere to be seen. The excessive 80s were known for their “hugeness” (see the end of Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love is) but this was sadly missing.


That said, Act 2 began with a bang and the increased production levels (and volume) of the bass on Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer was a welcomed wake-up call after the interval. Versions of Kids in America, St. Elmo’s Fire and Toy Soldiers all hit the mark whilst Madonna’s Material Girl (again, another song of excess that was expressed in its overblown music video) was a bit lacklustre.


My nit-picking of the music covers shouldn’t take away from some huge successes though. The choreography by Kate Prince is fantastic. The best being a seated sequence where the cadets mime out hand moves in front of imaginary computers. Their hard ‘logical’ movements measuring out straight lines with their arms are a mix of intensity and concentration. But soon their chaotic actions harmonize in an amazing physical representation of the de-humanizing effect on the individual in the armed forces. Amazing!


Also, despite the film’s infamous tension between the stars of the film, there is strong on-stage chemistry between Fines and Williams as well as the rest of the cast. One standout performance was Ian McIntosh’s tragic Sid and his slowed version of Hall & Oates’ Family Man was the highlight of the night, coming as it did with great neon-lit stage production of silhouettes and smoke.


In conclusion, Leicester’s Curve delivers another welcome film adaptation that gives a well-known romance a new twist with the inclusion of pop hits. Audiences will witness all hard work all the cast have put in during their rehearsals (maybe they had their own drill instructor) which means ‘Officer’ will lift your spirits up with its mix of famous tracks and a fun, if slightly workman-like, delivery.


Midlands Movies Mike


Grab tickets from the Box Office on 0116 242 3595

By midlandsmovies, Apr 17 2018 09:24PM



Shootfighters

Directed by Richard Butterworth

Fifty-Nine Films


Shootfighters is a 30min documentary by Richard Butterworth that showcases the Leicester Shootfighters Mixed Martial Arts School circa 2011.


The school trains young men in the art of MMA, which to the uninitiated (i.e. me) looks like two people in a cage smacking the hell out of each other. Through the course of the documentary, it's made clear that there's much much more to the sport than this image.


As someone who has never practised a martial art and has little interest in sport (I know, I know), I wasn't at all sure how to approach this review before watching the film. I'm a big believer in opening your mind and letting in new experiences, though, so I thought it would be interesting to watch - and it certainly is!


Right away, I learned that there are over 50+ MMA clubs in Leicester alone, and that the sport originally had very few rules before it evolved into the form it enjoys today, as exemplified by the UFC. Then we get into the meat of the documentary.




We're introduced to Aiden Hayes (though I admit I was a little confused as the first person we see is actually his brother Andre), a 20 year old fighter who's determined to be the best mixed martial artist.


The documentary touches briefly on his troubled past as his father describes Aidan's struggles in school and how joining Shootfighters gave him focus and purpose. We're told how angry and aggressive he was before discovering the sport, and how he was able to channel this into his training. There's a real sense of the competition that he and his brother feel, the need to compete and dominate and be the best.


It's not easy. MMA is a remarkably technical sport, a melding of several disciplines and styles, and it takes a huge commitment. As one of the doc's talking heads puts it: “these guys are athletes, they're not thugs, not anyone can do this.” I think it may be easy to forget this when caught up in the showmanship of events like UFC matches. These are serious athletes pushing themselves with series training regimes.


Butterworth has a good eye for dynamic shots, mixing it up so that it never feels static no matter how many talking heads we cut to. I did find myself wishing this was a feature length documentary as I would have loved to follow Aiden's journey more closely, showing a more in-depth look at a typical training day perhaps, or seeing him interacting with his brother and exhibiting the competitive relationship we're told about. On the whole, it feels almost like more time is spent on learning about the nature and the psychology of MMA than about Aiden himself, though in fact about equal weight is given to both.


If you're interested in MMA and the mindset of someone who practices it, this documentary would be a good place to start to give you a sense of how important the sport is to the fighters. It's clear that the athletes are as passionate about this as any Olympic athlete is about their own sport. I think this documentary has chipped away at some level of snobbery I didn't even know I had, which is as good a reason as any to check it out!


Some light googling reveals very little information about Aidan Hayes' career after this was filmed. Hopefully he recovered from his injury; there is a video on YouTube that suggests he was fighting as recently as 2014 if the upload date is anything to go by. Leicester Shootfighters is of course still going strong.


I wish you luck, Aidan, I hope you're out there knocking 'em dead. But not literally, because I'm pretty sure that's illegal!


Sam Kurd


Twitter @Splend


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






RSS Feed twitter