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By midlandsmovies, Jul 27 2015 07:23PM

Penny For The Guy (2015)

Big Frog Films

Directed by Kaush Patel & Nigel Buckley

Frank is a bitter homeless man spending his day as he does every other with the hope of passers by lending a hand, or even the occasional contents of their pockets. Accepting the life he’s forced to live, a visit from a friendly face soon turns into a chilling one when Frank learns of an evil in the world he never knew existed.

Nigel Buckley plays down on his luck Frank whilst Carla Buckley plays the warming social worker Imelda, who is keen to learn of how this homeless man ended up the way he is. The entire short is shot in an underpass, that whilst may seem a simple and easy location is displayed from various choice angles that make a lasting effect, particularly when Frank’s unfortunate scenario becomes even more so.

Credit must also be cast on the impressive make-up provided by Alex Bourne, when the unwelcome visitor makes their apperance and things go south for Frank. All adding to daring effort for a film that was shot in a mere four nights.


Guest reviewer Nick Staniforth

By midlandsmovies, Jul 27 2015 07:17PM

Stereotypes (2015)

Directed by Jordan & Rebecca McGibney

When a tragic death links two men walking very different paths, decisions must be made and life-changing actions must be taken if they are to ever recover from it. Stereotypes comes from directors Jordan and Rebecca McGibney, with a script penned by Luke McGibney who also stars in the short that gives an honest depiction of two opposing cultures, in one heartwrenching story.

These pair of tormented souls come in the form of Jordan Smith as the young Leroy Williams and Luke McGibney as Judas Blakely. Both do a wonderful job of battling their own personal demons and facing the consequences that come from it.

McGibney plays the corrupted Blakely, a father-to-be whose world is close to collapsing, which acts as a great constrast to Smith’s Leroy, whose world already has. Extra special mention must also go to Noor Lawson as Judas’ girlfriend, and Leroy’s brother Dez who both have a hand in trying to reallign our leads moral compasses.

Brilliantly displaying the bleak worlds the two characters inhabit, there are some effective scenes in Stereotypes that highlight the pressing matters it’s so keen to focus on. The build up to its final moments are pieced together impressively, all working to send a message that good or bad, everyone has a choice to make - watching this would be a good one.


Guest reviewer Nick Staniforth

By midlandsmovies, Jul 20 2015 06:52PM

The Diary (2015) Dir. Ash Connaughton

First up, a confession: I don’t get zombies. I don’t get pop culture’s current collective hard-on for a monster which even a heavy smoker like me could escape by keeping up a stiff walk for five minutes, and whose scariest feature is something a good dermatologist could sort out with a 2-week course of cyclosporin.

So it was with a certain amount of “Oh Christ, not again…” that I approached The Diary, a zombie short weighing in at a hefty 11 minutes (plus blooper reel). Would this be a slavish homage to Romero and The Walking Dead, or more along the lines of an arch wink towards the genre a la Zombieland, Shaun of The Dead or (pretty please?) iZombie?

Yep, it was The Walking Dead thing.

It opens with a gunshot, a man running, and two chav zombies (chombies?) who, in spite of travelling at approximately a third of the man’s speed, catch up with him pretty sharpish as he stops to look at a wound on his arm. He does this for a surprisingly long time, considering the chombies are STANDING RIGHT BEHIND HIM. But they continue to very obligingly stand there wobbling until he’s finished looking at his arm, whereupon he turns round in his own sweet time and shoots them in the head. Doesn’t even bother to double-tap; bad form.

So far, so zombie.

This is followed by three minutes of him coughing, an occasional vomit, and intermittent falling down. Because he’s been bitten, y’see, presumably by one of the chombies, and the zombification process apparently requires a lot of coughing, some puking, and a bit of falling over for full gestation to take place.

The rest of the movie is just as formulaic: a couple of zombie hunters out on patrol decide it would be a brilliant idea to split up and search some buildings; Zombie Hunter #1 encounters the now fully zombied-up guy from earlier; his gun jams; he’s saved by Zombie Hunter #2 appearing in the nick of time; there’s a repeat of the close-up of a gun barrel pointing slightly to the right of the camera, smashcut to black, OC gunshot (but still no double-tap).

There’s then a bit of exposition (the newly-dead zombie caused the zombie outbreak in the first place, but he may have found a cure; our two zombie hunters are members of a bigger zombie hunter gang which they don’t much like being in, but what’cha gonna do?), and the film ends. The two young actors who play the zombie hunters try to imbue their characters with a bit of personality, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the script for them to fully develop this during their limited time on screen.

Overall, it’s a solid enough piece of amateur genre film-making, hitting all the beats that it needs to hit, even if it does so a little predictably. As a whole the piece would be improved by a bit of judicious editing to make it sharper and punchier, but that’s the sort of thing that’ll come with experience. The director’s a young man, so he has plenty of time yet to find his own voice.

tl;dr version – If you like zombie films, you’ll like this.


Review by J. Sirin

By midlandsmovies, Jul 20 2015 06:30PM

Life in a Box (2015) Dir: Lucy Young

"Freddie. You might not know me now but by the time you've seen this, you'd wish you didn't".

From Derbyshire writer/director Lucy Young, Life in a Box is a short film that follows the emotionally lost Freddie, who after losing a loved one seeks refuge in television only for his fragile state to begin confusing the two.

Narrated by Freddie himself through an internal monologue we witness not only the physical but emotional effect that grief has on him as the "box" starts to seep into his subconscious leading to scenes that might not be too out of place in Cronenberg's Videodrome and like that Canadian writer/director, this one also has something to say as it builds to its emotionally powerful climax.

This short film will not be for everyone as despite the relatively structured narrative it incorporates elements of surrealism which are needed to convey the psychological drama that is unfolding. However for fans of film that has slightly more going on beneath the surface this 15 minute short is worth checking out.

A strong film from a growing talent, it will be interesting to see what Lucy Young does next.


Midlands Movies Marek

By midlandsmovies, Mar 11 2015 06:46PM

Midlands Movies Spotlight - Crying Wolf

Derby based company MonoStereo Productions tell Midlands Movies about their new film “Crying Wolf” which is set to begin principle photography in late March.

Starting their first major short film, MonoStereo (based in Derby) will soon be shooting in locations across the Midlands with a local crew of 15. A large cast of 11, many of whom made it through several rounds of applications and auditions, will work with director Jason Rivers who is “looking forward to working with such a diverse and talented group of Midlands based actors”.

Cry Wolf’s story follows an 18-year-old girl called Alex who refuses help from her peers and is reluctant to let people into her life, especially men. As a youth basketball player, her coach is concerned about her missing friend Charlie but Alex is distracted by the attractive assistant coach James. However, she soon begins to worry and ends up working through clues around her friend's disappearance, becoming an amateur detective in the process. She uncovers some hidden truths but by finally letting people in she undoes her own chances of survival by putting herself in ever-increasing danger.

With a cast including Eleanor Kingsley as Alex, Richard Buck as James, Mik Horvath as Chris and Amethyst Gostlow-Crossley as Charlie amongst many others, this upcoming project is MonoStereo’s first major production with their previous work being mainly micro-shorts. This has helped the team’s working practices by finalizing the crew’s techniques and group dynamics.

Shooting is planned for 4 days between 29th March and 1st April with postproduction to follow and a targeted release date for the film is set for July.

Even with some team members being university-based, the company are clear that they are not a student production team as the work is planned for a wider release and not just for a module or course.

“We make films because we want to tell those stories and see what we and the film can do and lead to for all involved”, continues Jason.

Formed in April 2014 to develop some basic documentary interviews, the team is made up of likeminded individuals who donate their time, equipment and expertise to collaborate and work on creative film projects.

For further information about the production of the film and its release check out their Facebook page below or email MonoStereo Productions on monostereofilms@gmail.com


Twitter @monostereofilms

By midlandsmovies, Mar 9 2015 08:22PM

Feature Review - Beverley (2015)

Directed & Written by Alex Thomas.

Urban Edge Films

“Look, I’ve got a half-caste doll”.

And with the above words so opens new Midlands short film Beverley, the latest project from director Alex Thomas which is set in 1980 around the city of Leicester. With the rumbling bass music and a simple black and white font straight from the Two Tone music genre, the film revels in the traditional Ska music revival from the early part of that decade. It also sets the background to a highly charged and emotional short movie concerning race-relations and family and friend relationships.

We open in the home of Beverley (played by Laya Lewis from E4’s Skins) who is a mixed-race girl living with her white mother (This Is England’s Vicky McClure) and black father (Winston Ellis) as she struggles to identify with the conflicting cultures she’s thrust into. With a group of loud skinheads antagonising the streets with their barrel-chested rendition of “Rule Britannia”, the family move from an impoverished neighbourhood into a new home amongst the coiffed flower beds of white suburbia.

As the curtains twitch, Beverley supports her older brother and younger sister but soon finds the opportunities are little different than the deprived area she grew up in. A familiar cast of skinheads hang around locally and amuse themselves with BB guns and racist language on nearby waste ground. However, as the obvious tensions rise, it is Beverley who uses her cunning to find a common ground in the escapism of drugs but more importantly, a shared love of Ska music. Overcoming thorny odds, her attentions begin to fall upon one of the gang members Wilson, played brilliantly by Kieran Hardcastle (another actor who found fame in the ensemble cast of This Is England).

And so the short certainly doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and themes. After finding her brother being chased by the gang she has since become aligned with, we see Laya Lewis’ great skill in showing Beverley’s bravado in the face of tough circumstances. From wry smiles to emotional outbursts, the actress pours her heart (and soul) into the role with a passionate performance.

Difficult decisions are thrust upon Beverley as the narrative plunges into a Two Tone gig at a local venue that quickly descends into a violent encounter led by Dean, one of the gang with ties to the National Front.

The film’s sense of time and place is second to none from Bev’s chopper bike to the poster of The Specials adorning her wall whilst the adherence to the real-life locations of Leicester – including The Shed and references to Highfields and Market Square – make the realism pop. The fantastic soundtrack combined with the exceptional costume design thrust the audience into the era and the story, although not the most complex, contains multiple levels of meaning, forcing the viewer to confront the tricky choices along with the characters.

Although the film does not shirk from the seriousness of the struggles the character’s face (from the “Paki” cat-calls to the chants of “No black in the Union Jack”) the film’s lingering memory is one of great positivity. This unique optimism continues as the differences (and defences) disappear – especially poignant in an almost throwaway scene where Bev’s young sister is shown gardening with her previously antagonistic neighbour. This is definitely a film of hope. And a film about finding common ground. Whilst respecting these differences, the film creates drama through the blurring of the conventional conflicts and treats us to a distinct perspective. This reflects the true conditions of the film’s inspiration – Beverley Thompson, who also produces – whose life events encouraged the filmmakers on their long journey to the screen.

In summary then, I felt that combined with the superb naturalist acting, the film is a shining example of the talent from the Midlands area with both disturbing and poignant scenes being played so well they are like a generous gift to the audience. Director Alex Thomas, who hopes to expand the film into a feature, leaves us on a cliff-hanger with certain roles reversed and audiences expectations turned inside out. The combination of a strong story twist but a lack of a neat conclusion was a positive decision to further help cement the film’s themes of ambiguity and blurred lines.

With its thoughtful and moving ending, Beverley is a huge triumph in local filmmaking with a story that shows nothing in life is simply black or white.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jan 19 2015 10:48PM

“It’s a wrap!” This is a phrase that many first-time short filmmakers cannot wait to hear signalling the end of a shooting schedule. However, Midlands Movies talks to the writer/director of The Fort who explains that this can actually be the start of a long promotional journey. Mike speaks to Doug Cubin to find out more...

With the editing and production of Doug Cubin’s The Fort deep underway, Mike asks the local Leicester filmmaker about the next steps on seeing his creation on the big screen and how he is tackling the tricky topic of promotion.

“There is so much left to do with a film after it’s complete. With Finding Richard our priority was to get distribution - which not many short films do. Following a visit to Cannes we sold our film to Gonella Productions. Next on the list was film festivals,” explains Doug.

“Everything aside, festivals are a great opportunity to be seen by a large number of people”.

After producing Finding Richard which was shown with Keith Allott’s Flawless and Tom Young’s Shelter at The Phoenix Cinema in Leicester for a local film festival, Doug says one way to investigate your next steps is to use a variety of websites to identify the festivals that are out there.

“I’m not against shot-gunning your project out to festivals”, continues Doug, “but it can be hit-and-miss whereas it does reap rewards if you can find the right festival for your film. Really analyse what the festivals are looking for, whether it be horror, drama or comedy and even if they don’t have an overt subject, they many have a slant”.

We have already featured a number of festivals in the Midlands region (our full list here) including the New Wave Festival at the Broadway in Nottingham and the Beeston Film Festival in January 2015. For some films, the only place you’ll ever see them on big screen will be at a festival given their limited distribution. With low budgets though, Doug advises to start with free festivals first and then consider paying for more in the future.

“We paid about £70 to get into Cannes but we had budgeted this from the start”. Alongside Finding Richard director Rhys Davies he planned with his team to ensure he got the best possible version he could, working hard on editing and colour grading to ensure a high quality product.

“With Finding Richard we always wanted to get it into Cannes – co-writer Rhys Davies of Hive Films is an accomplished filmmaker with multiple features and what better place for me to learn about everything and do some ‘serious’ networking. Quality of production was paramount and when it came to editing we were shaving frames from the film to really try and nail it”.

Similarly Christopher Nolan also focused on high grade film stock when releasing his first feature The Following. Read more about the struggles he faced here.

However, Doug also recommends that setting a budget is a good way of ensuring you don’t spend beyond your means. As with all artistic endeavours, there is a balance of creativity versus the marketing and business side of things that zero budget filmmakers need to be mindful of.

The festival market and circuit can be a secondary thought but helps focus on your movie from a different angle – Doug ensure his film got the legal aspects in place (permissions, copyright and waivers etc) whilst a calendar of festivals may help ‘snowball’ the film along in promotional terms or at least keep you on time for a release date.

However, Doug does acknowledge the last thing on a director’s mind may be a festival. “When you are in production, and especially on set, a festival is definitely not in the director’s mind”.

Doug recommends that a producer can save the production time by helping to “position” the film for the most appropriate markets.

Doug also suggest that trailers, press packs and a poster can help your film when applying for festivals. If accepted festivals may ask for all of these. While festivals do not necessarily need a trailer of your film, the team made a finding Richard trailer for online marketing. We suggest that short film makers should not have long title sequences given their limited length. Doug agrees.

“You need to get straight into your film in the main. When you think about a short at a festival – you need to try and get the attention of the judge to accept the film. In Finding Richard, Richard Burton’s mandolin music grabbed the audience which helped sell the film’s style and genre”.

“With the shot of the shelf in the boy’s room and the model of the knight, we jumped straight into our historical tale”. We suggest Nolan stole the idea from Doug for Interstellar!

“Ha ha. That’s a good point though. Like Interstellar, filmmakers need to get their vision across fairly quickly given the limited amount of screen time”.

Doug reminds filmmakers to consider credits as well. With Kickstarter fund-raising, he feels it is important to give thanks to all has contributed. We also discuss European festivals and a global market which should not be underestimated as there can be a huge market to tap into.

“We also thought upfront about showing the film at a international film festival – it promotes the locality and the Richard III imagery is on there. This historical connection was transferred to the DVD artwork. In my mind we had to have Richards's crown in the centre of the disc”.

On the back of that we agree that showcasing a region can be a good thing for all involved. Currently Leicester has a big “buzz” about it which is creating more opportunities for filmmakers, actors and crew whilst also a healthy competition exists to push projects even further.

In summary, we discuss how supporting each other in a scene and working collaboratively does not necessarily mean an inward looking attitude. “It actually helps create a supportive environment”, says Doug. “People will find their own way to do their thing and learn more about the industry along the journey”.

And with that, Midlands Movies supports the local filmmakers who have aimed high and building experience is key as filmmakers begin festival planning. We finish our chat with Doug by agreeing that the real key is to give it a go and focus on enjoying the ride and whilst the actors are told to go home, please give some sympathy to the producer, who aside from having a coronary, is just starting their job of getting the film “out there”.

Midlands Movies Mike

Please support Doug and Rhys here:






Photo of Rhys (2nd from left), Doug (3rd from left) and fellow filmmakers at Cannes 2014 (photo courtesy of Laura Wilkinson)

Photo of Rhys (2nd from left), Doug (3rd from left) at Cannes 2014
Photo of Rhys (2nd from left), Doug (3rd from left) at Cannes 2014

By midlandsmovies, Jan 4 2015 02:28PM

Midlands Movies Mike finds out about non-profit film group Gatling Gun Productions based in Leicestershire and how they intend to shoot away the competition with their new film projects in the region.

Producing short and feature length film productions, Gatling Gun Productions are very much a Midlands venture where they not only make fictional stories but also produce music videos, documentaries, educational videos and comedy sketches in the area.

In addition, Gatling Gun say they want to “promote this region of Britain for its rich culture and countryside” and go on to explain that uniquely all of their cast and crew are in fact volunteers.

They hope these volunteers share the company's commitment to improve themselves personally and have a positive impact on the local community and their ethos is to also give others opportunities to experience and practice different aspects of movie-making.

As well as actors and actresses, the company are always on the lookout for cameramen & women, still photographers, editors, make-up artists, costume designers, runners, directors and musicians and ask interested people to contact them by email on info@gatlinggunproductions.co.uk

Gatling Gun do not ask for previous experience which is a refreshing change and allows those to enter an ever-growing but competitive industry. They also promote their production team as a conduit for individuals to learn the many different roles in film-making and to try out these roles first-hand.

Last year was a great success for the company as Gatling Gun officially opened on Friday 26th September 2014 and had regional alumni Stephen Graham (This Is England, Public Enemies, Pirates of the Caribbean amongst others) and his wife Hannah Walters in attendance who cut the ribbon at their current location at the Palace Theatre in Ibstock.

Gatling Gun also continue to run fortnightly meetings and rendezvous for filming outside the Palace. For more information about the next meetings are on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GatlingGunProductions

With plenty of new projects happening in 2015, their latest venture can be seen in a trailer advertising Gatling Gun Productions' upcoming series: Hunted. The first episode named “Outbreak” will be released in early 2015 and the trailer can be seen on YouTube here:


For more information see their social media pages and official contact details below:

Gatling Gun Productions

High Street,



LE67 6LH

Tel. 07964976099

Email: info@gatlinggunproductions.co.uk

Web: www.gatlinggunproductions.co.uk

Twitter https://twitter.com/Gatling_Gun

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GatlingGunProductions

By midlandsmovies, Dec 12 2014 12:33PM

Midlands Movies Mike finds out about the BottleCap Film Festival based in the West Midlands.

Open to UK filmmakers, the Bottle Cap Film Festival is due to be held in Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire on November 8th 2014 at the city’s old Conservative Club.

Supporting independent movie makers, the festival celebrates those who work outside the mainstream with the cult rather than the conventional and gives filmmakers the chance to network with fellow peers as well as awarding some amazing prizes, trophies and artwork.

Categories in the festival include Short Fictional, Short Factual, Music Video/Experimental and Student films (all up to 15 minutes in length) and films can be from any genre so the festival is hoping for a wide range of talent and submissions in its diverse groups.

With no limit on how many categories entrants can apply for (other than only one entry per category) the festival is completely free to enter which is becoming increasingly rare in a battling market place but organiser Darren Teale says it will remain so forever.

His colleague Dave Burgess has designed the festival’s unique artwork and says he tries to incorporate “strange creatures, fantastic voyages and vivid colours” into his art which can be seen at the festival site here - http://www.bottlecapff.co.uk Don’t forget to side scroll!

The festival’s Audience Award allows films to be judged on the night so the festival encourages cast, crew, friends and parents to attend but eventually only 3 nominees will stand a chance of winning in each category but they will get their hands on the prestigious BCFF 7” Metal BottleCap trophy! The award is designed and smelted by Charis Jones of www.sculptedsteel.co.uk The Audience Award Winner will receive a prize of £500 which will help make more films for future festivals no doubt.

For more information about the festival or to submit a film please contact Festival Manager Darren Teale of Junction 15 Productions on the details below.

Submission deadline October 1st 2014 - check the website for 2015 dates

Darren Teale – d.teale@junction15.com – 07932 995 222 Junction 15 Productions


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 10 2014 07:51PM

Midlands Movies Mike catches up with Owen Morgan who tells him about FLIX – a student run but not student exclusive – community cinema in Leicestershire.

Flix was founded way back in 1946 and is based at Loughborough University in Leicestershire and the history of the society can be traced back to the Loughborough Technical Institute where the College Film Society used the Engineers Dining Hall as a base to show films.

In 2004 a redevelopment of the Union building saw the main auditorium converted into the Room 1 nightclub, forcing the Film Society to move its equipment over to the newly refurbished Cope Auditorium. The venue was specially customised to accommodate a new screen and sound system for Flix - and to this day this is where Flix remains.

However, the history of how it got to that stage is far more compelling. In 1952, after the separation of Loughborough College into several smaller colleges, the Film Society moved into the newly constructed Martin Hall to show films regularly. One Union represented all of the student bodies within the separate colleges, so mobile equipment was used to provide showings within the Engineers Dining Hall and the Art College throughout the 1950s and 60s.

Then, in 1966, Loughborough College of Advanced Technology was given chartered University status. This forced a split within the Students’ Union to accommodate the new University of Technology and the three other colleges. In order to accommodate both Unions, the Film Society split, allowing it to show films in the Edward Herbert Building, Martin Hall and the Art College Great Hall.

During 1975 Loughborough Students’ Union FilmSoc was created from a recombination of the two film societies of the Loughborough University of Technology Cinema and Union of Loughborough Colleges Film Society. After moving into the brand new Students Union building in 1978 the LSU FilmSoc was renamed, becoming Flix.

Bringing us up to date, Flix was proud to install the latest digital cinema equipment in July 2013. With this new equipment Flix has also been able to offer Live National Theatre events brought straight from the top theatres in London.

Flix is also a member of the regional BFI Film Hub (http://www.bfi.org.uk/film-audience-network/about-film-hub-lead-organisations ) and is very keen to take part in both local and national arts events promoting independent film producers all across the country.

Owen goes on to explain that Flix is now focusing on inviting the local community along with the students and staff of the academic institutions of Loughborough to enjoy their film offerings and theatre in 2015. With a top price of just £3.00 entry for non-members then anyone in the region would be a fool not to head down at least once to see what all the fuss is about.

Find out more about Flix at their website here - http://flix.org.uk/

Midlands Movies Mike

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