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By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2016 09:42PM

Midlands Spotlight - Discover the truth with the X-mas Files

Lincolnshire filmmaker Liam Holland calls on his festive bell to speak to Midlands Movies about his first ever feature length animation due for release this upcoming Christmas.

As an avid amateur filmmaker based in Lincolnshire, Liam Holland began his career by studying media at Boston College until 2007. Yet during his childhood and teen years, he had already written, directed and edited several independent films, both short and feature length, with the help of his friends and family.

But now the Midlands animator is about to launch his new film which asks the audience if the they have ever considered if Santa’s sleigh flies owing to alien technology. With that set-up, The X-Mas Files promises a bumpy snow ride with aliens and the CIA and has been influenced by a number of Liam's passions.

"I've been making films since I was 12, but this is the first animated feature I have produced. I love all things Christmas and am very interested in the paranormal too", says an enthusiatic Liam.

"One day I was discussing conspiracy theories with my girlfriend when I joked about if the government knew Santa existed then adapted the story from that idea".

Liam goes on to add, "I have included as many conspiracy theory elements into the movie as possible, for example, the Bermuda triangle and all those unanswered questions. I felt it was important that, just because it's a cartoon, it should not be limited to those expectations that moviegoers have for casual animated movies. I wanted to break boundaries and treat it like a proper live action film".

A Christmas tale in the same dark-yet-light-hearted vein of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, The X-Mas Files is about a young boy called Neil who doubts the existence of Santa Claus.

But after coming across top secret government files in his military father's office, he discovers Santa does exist and aliens are supplying him with very advanced space technology which allows him to fly his sleigh.

Aimed at a family audience in a similar all-ages style to Dreamworks’ Shrek, Liam hopes there is something for everyone to enjoy but states that it's not the traditional style of Christmas movie with the inclusion of extra terrestrials and grown up themes.

"The reason I made it as an animation – besides wanting to try a new route in creative production – is because, with animation, if you can imagine it, it is possible. You are unlimited as to what you can create through the means of animation", says Liam.

Liam's pet project has been supported by a varied crew including freelance animator Julie Hubbard, film composer Thomas Ward and a wide range of voice actors including Jake Dudman, C. Martin Croker, Daniel Ferri and Gabrielle Stein.

With summer sadly now over, the season greetings start early with this charming children's tale with Liam and the rest of the cast and crew looking forward to the film's premiere which takes place in October at the Kinema in the Woods, Woodhall Spa.

By midlandsmovies, Aug 23 2016 06:24AM

New writer Kira Comerford speaks to Lincolnshire filmmaker Darren Scales who is currently filming Darkwave: Edge of the Storm. After the success of his previous movie The Drift which Midlands Movies covered here there are high hopes for this original sci-fi short set in the same universe. Due for release Autumn 2016, Kira finds out more...

After the significant and quite surprising success of his first film, The Drift, writer and director Darren Scales is gearing up for the release of his second film, Darkwave: Edge Of The Storm. The film is a project very local to the Midlands. It was filmed in Louth and the Lincolnshire Wolds, with post-production being done with students from the university of Lincoln. It is only the very final stage of post-production that has taken place further afield at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

But what is the Darkwave? Well, in this world humans are no longer able to travel faster than the speed of light due to the disablement of special starlight crystals. This separates families and as people are left strewn across the galaxy, they are sadly unable to get back to where they've come from. Besides being a travel aid, starlight crystals also have other special properties that can only be accessed by certain people known as organics.

Due to their powers with the crystals, organics are very powerful beings, or had been up until the Darkwave. However, now that the starlight crystals are no longer functioning, they have lost much of their power and whilst they are currently not as big as threat as they had been, the Ministry is intent on hunting them down while they can. One family is alone in the universe with no choice but to do all they can to protect their son, Ben, who is one of the organics the Ministry is searching for.

With this set up, director Scales had a surprise hit with his first film (The Drift) receiving 430,000 views on YouTube with little or no advertisement – something that the Scales himself is very pleased with.

“It really is a calling card film - we just want people to watch it, to like it and to share it. In the long-term, we’re not looking for crowdfunding, it's major investors that we want, but they'll only give us the money it they know the film will be popular".

Darkwave is all set for release on YouTube come September 16th. Everybody involved is very much hoping for the same levels of success that were experienced with its predecessor.

“It is then that we will be able to go to studios in London and stand a chance of being taken seriously.”

The entire plot and concept of the franchise composed by Scales comes from his former life in the Royal Air Force. “I used to think with all the new planes that we're coming in all the time, what would happen if all the oil ran out? What if it just ran out right this second? What are we going to do about it? Then I thought of that situation, but in space. Obviously space is bigger, so it would be a bigger problem then. That’s where the whole concept of the Darkwave came from.”

So what could this film lead to, beside, hopefully, attention from production studios? The answer is another sequel. “This film acts as bit of a teaser trailer for the next film which will focus on The Phoenix spaceship. I’ve always had a fascination with flight – I first built The Phoenix out of Lego when I was seventeen and have always envisaged it very much as Knightrider in space.” The next film after Darkwave will look more into the origins of The Phoenix and will be another story set in a different part of the same universe at the same time.

Check updates at the film's official website here: http://www.darkwavepictures.co.uk/

Or follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/DarkwaveEOTS

Kira Comerford

By midlandsmovies, Mar 20 2016 12:19PM

Midlands Movies speaks to one half of Roasted Studios, Marc Hamill whose new feature film The Wrong Floor is about to be released in 2016 and his reaction to a recent screening of his movie at new regional film festival.

Indie-Lincs is a new festival in Lincolnshire which covers both local and international filmmakers and champions low and micro-budget films.

Taking place over the weekend of March 11th and 12th the festival organisers were not looking for sequels, remakes or adaptations but focused on the best original work from around the globe. In addition, they hoped the filmmakers and the audience could network successfully with each other and the independent filmmaking community.

With a programme of dynamic, inventive and challenging fiction as well as documentary and animated films, Indie-Fest is proud that it embodies the low budget filmmaking ethic.

One filmmaker who made the most of the opportunity was Marc Hamill. His production company Roasted Studios have recently completed their first grindhouse feature film called The Wrong Floor. Screening on the Saturday Marc was not only there to promote his film but enjoy the festival with the other attendees.

“Although I was primarily in attendance for the screening of The Wrong Floor, I couldn’t help but be seduced by the indie film offerings at this year’s festival”, says Marc. “From controversial social commentaries, to grindhouse carnage, a whole spectrum of hidden gems were given a stage to shine”.

Marc was also impressed by the level of talent at the festival. “The quality of the film making on display was certainly impressive, especially given that the festival focuses on micro-budget films. There was literally something for everyone. The highlight of the festival for me, being a filmmaker, was the workshop on making a short film for festivals. It was basically a cheaters guide to win awards at major festivals”.

Marc adds with a smile - “Filmmakers Phil Stevens and Domonique Webb explained their winning formula and demonstrated how to execute the perfect production to exploit the system. They expressed their ultimate disappointment at the success of their winning formula and it really felt that by sharing their knowledge, they were somehow cleansing their souls. You may be wondering what this winning formula may be, I will summarise quite severely: Make a social commentary film under 10 minutes with desaturated colours using handheld camera with excellent sound quality. That’s pretty much the long and short of it”.

Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln, the festival films also competed for prizes in several categories. The prizes take the form of an 'Imp' which is the emblem for Lincoln city and resides high up on a stone pillar in the city's magnificent gothic Cathedral.

The mischievous Imp was thought by the organisers as the perfect embodiment of the independent filmmaker's spirit, someone who dares to upset the equilibrium and do things their own way

Marc was impressed by the festival though and got a great reception for his own film too. “The whole atmosphere at the festival was upbeat and inspiring. The indie-lincs team did a fantastic job and made everyone feel welcome. It was a unique festival which I would highly recommend to film makers and film lovers alike”.

Find out more about Roasted Studios at this link here: http://thewrongfloor.com/

Indie-Lincs information is on their website at: http://www.indie-lincs.com/

The Hamill brothers at Indie-Lincs
The Hamill brothers at Indie-Lincs

By midlandsmovies, Oct 27 2015 01:19PM

Top 10 things to check out for Lincolnshire film fans

After our Top 10 covering the best of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and West Midlands film-making talent we shift our focus to Lincolnshire to find out 10 of the best things a film fan can look out for in and around the county.

Lincolnshire Cathedral

The third largest cathedral in Britain after St Paul's and York Minster, Lincolnshire Cathedral owns one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta from 1215 but has also played host to a number of blockbuster feature films, often doubling for Westminster Abbey in London. Filmed in September 2007 this was the case with Young Victoria and also the controversial “The Da Vinci Code”. Oscar-winner Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon in the film which caused a storm of controversy over its questioning of many of the key beliefs of Christianity. Officials from the Abbey refused to allow filming to take place inside, claiming that the book is "theologically unsound". To arrange a visit and follow the Cathedral’s many events please check their Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/LincsCathedral

The Drift by Backyard Productions

An already successful sci-fi, The Drift is no average independent film having been created with a crew of over 100 and with help from many local businesses in Lincolnshire. With a limited local budget of just £5000, the film took 3 years to make (all in everyone’s spare time) and the cast and crew were all volunteers but the ambition does not stop just there. With a feature length 100-minute run time and over 1300 Visual Effect shots they also built sets over 9 months and did 2 years of visual effects production, matching and even surpassing many a Hollywood blockbuster. Formed in 1993, Backyard Productions began with three teenagers making short movies in the garden before quickly moving on to making their first feature. From there, the “company” grew to include friends and family members, making parodies based on Batman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars with all productions being self-funded and helping to raise money for charity. For more insight check out http://bypuk.com/movies/drift/ and view The Drift's exciting trailer here - https://www.youtube.com/embed/aXFILnob3AA

Read our article on the film here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---The-Drift/9207663

Lincolnshire Film and Digital Media

Lincolnshire Film and Digital Media is run by multi-award winning, professional film maker Phillip Lofas whose background is in film production. His company uses state of the art video and media equipment to deliver professional quality work which specialises in offering high quality services as well as training within the county for aspiring filmmakers. With a respected track record in delivering education and training to a range of organisations they cover a wide variety of media training topics including script writing, pre-production, filming & mastering as well as sessions on lighting, sound and animation. Read more about this exciting organisation to develop your skills with a professional and local team here: http://www.lincolnshire-filmmaker.co.uk

Lincolnshire Film Archive

The LFA is a registered charity set up in 1986 to locate and preserve motion film showing life and work in all parts of the county. Covering wartime reels as well as many other decades, their films are available to enthusiastic cinematographers with local historical events such as the first post-war Royal Show, the Festival of Britain and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II amongst archive footage available. Further footage comes in their “A Century on Film” series which focus on everything from World War 2 right through to the Victory celebrations of 1945. Drawing on its extensive motion picture collection, much of it has never before been made available for home viewing, the LFA sets out to present a wide-ranging picture of over a hundred years of Lincolnshire life. For an up-to-date list of videos and details of how to order, see www.primetimevideo.co.uk or check their main website: http://www.lincsfilm.co.uk

Movie Locations

We have already mentioned how The Da Vinci Code was partially filmed in Lincolnshire but as well as the infamous cathedral, the county has provided picturesque buildings for many more movies. However, one of these locations was again utilised in The Da Vinci Code, where Burghley House in Stamford near Peterborough was used for the interiors of ‘Castel Gandolfo’. Not solely focusing on that film though, Jan De Bont's The Haunting (1999) was filmed at Harlaxton Manor (Great Hall) in Grantham whilst Thunderball (1965) used RAF Waddington for the film's Airforce base runway scene. Not content with just those well-known classics, Lincoln can claim to be the location of certain scenes in the little-known The Emerald Forest (1985) whilst more famously, The Dam Busters (1955) with its “bouncing bombs” was partly filmed in the area. The coastal marshes from Atonement (2007) are at Gedney Drove End, a beach on the Wash and finally Pride and Prejudice (2005) was filmed in Lincoln where Burghley House (again) stood in for Rosings, while the adjacent town of Stamford served as Meryton. For more info on Burghley House check their official site: http://www.burghley.co.uk

Lincoln Shorts

The 5th annual Lincoln Shorts film festival showcased local film-making talent from Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas in October 2015. Previous screenings at the annual film event left audiences excited and amazed by the wealth and breadth of film-making talent right on their doorstep — film-making they may never knew existed. This annual event regularly takes submissions from a wide range of genres from comedy, drama, music and factual and all have a local Lincoln connection. Examples may be that it was filmed or edited locally or someone in the cast or crew may be originally from or lives in Lincolnshire or even studied in the area. Screening shorts (films should be five minutes or under) the last event was a great success at Lincoln’s Drill Hall and submissions will soon be open for filmmakers to submit their newest creations for the 2016 festival.



The LAFTAs (Lincolnshire Awards for Film, Teamwork and Animation) is now in its ninth year and has become a key event in many schools' calendars and a regular event not to be missed. These annual film awards are for 3 - 19 year olds and showcase/celebrate the films and animations made by children and young people. The scheme has supported thousands of young people, teachers and schools through training, advice and guidance. Last year 40 schools submitted over 100 films and were judged by an independent panel consisting of experts from the film industry and education. All prizes were presented by the LAFTAs patron, Oscar and BAFTA winner, Jim Broadbent, who was born in Lincolnshire in 1949. Every year Jim dedicates time to viewing all of the shortlisted films to choose his favourite Primary age and Secondary age winner. Further information at: http://www.laftas.co.uk

Crow’s Eye

Crow’s Eye is a Production Company based in Lincolnshire involving the joint creative team of Nick and Pauline Loven. Covering a wide variety of work from feature length and short films as well as costume drama and music videos, Nick is a filmmaker with 15 years of experience and established his company Crow’s Eye Productions in 2005. Also available as a freelance camera operator, Nick uses broadcast standard equipment and for his most recent film set on First World War battlefields, he undertook pyrotechnic training. Crow’s Eye Productions also has its own Period Costume Wardrobe Department run by Pauline Loven, a costumier with 30 years’ experience. Check out the brilliant work of this dynamic duo at their websites and Twitter links below:

Twitter @CrowseyeUK http://www.crowseye.co.uk Twitter @periodwardrobe http://www.periodcostume.co.uk

Lincoln Film Society

The LFS is a small group of cinephiles who regularly meet at the Venue at Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln. Publishing a set programme for each season, films are selected based on member’s suggestions and research by the Society’s committee. The ‘programme’ is never too specialist because their members have a wide taste in movies and the club also screens other one-off films as well. The Venue’s 230 capacity auditorium with fixed rake seating is the perfect location for the society which also allows temporary members to see films but heartily recommends full membership which can save people money over the course of a year. Like most film societies, Lincoln Film Society requires membership and has reasonable rates for those wishing to join. If interested please email lfs-membership@hotmail.co.uk for more information.


BlackBeetle Films

Last but certainly not least is the brand new production company from Lincolnshire. They are currently fundraising for their debut short film Every Waking Breath which follows the story of Abigail Burton - a young woman who is haunted by the death of her parents when she was a child. After years of mourning she decides that there is only one way she can gain closure - by finding the man responsible and exacting revenge. With very high expectations, the team of Josh Brown (Producer) Scott Driver (Writer/Director), Joel Dunn-Wilson (DoP), Jake Greenan (Sound), Oliver Cowton (Art Director) & Harry Kumar (Editor) have set a preliminary fundraising target of £1,000 at IndieGoGo and have already surpassed their goal. Formed within the well-known Media Production course at the Lincoln School of Film and Media (https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/fm) the group will utilise the industry-standard, purpose-built facilities at the University to complete the project.

Check their updates here: https://twitter.com/BlackBeetleFilm

Fundraising campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/every-waking-breath-a-short-film#/

Midlands Movies Mike

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