icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram


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

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

By midlandsmovies, Dec 10 2014 07:48PM

Midlands Movies Mike interviews freelance maker and special makeup effects artist Jayne Hyman who is based in Nottingham.

With a background in Film, Theatre and Live Events dating back to 2004 when she undertook a Media Make-up course at Shepperton Studios, Jayne Hyman has branched out from makeup into prop-making and art department work. Growing up in South Wales, Jayne wanted to be a special effects artist ever since watching horror films as a child but having lived in Nottingham since 2007, Jayne feels the Midlands city has now developed a good creative vibe which is why she has stayed here for as long as she has.

Jayne's story began a few years back after being trained in makeup in 2004 but she did not work full time in the industry straight away and did factory work and retail whilst practising makeup and volunteering for unpaid projects before finally became fully freelance at the start of 2011.

Although worried about the transition into freelance work, especially the financial implications, when the recession hit, Jayne’s admin role became redundant and she figured that that was as good a time as any to make a go of it. So after getting work experience at a theatre which led onto paid work, Jayne finally took the plunge and what a success it has proven.

Being a special effects artist and given the current trend for low budget filmmaking, Jayne often gets offered a lot of work in horror but has recently had more work in sci-fi and fantasy too.

“I was dangerously close to giving up on the pursuit of my career a few years after my course”, remembers Jayne. “I had pretty much put it to one side at one point as I just felt clueless as to how to progress. That's when I decided my life needed a shake up and I moved from South Wales to Nottingham. It was the best decision I have made in terms of my career and I've built up a strong network both in the Midlands and further afield”, she adds.

Typically, because she often work with people she now consider friends, Jayne develops projects together and her opinions are taken on board from the planning stage, which she feels is a great position to be in and one that people in her area of work often don't get to do.

However, as with most makeup artists, Jayne's typical day involves an early morning start and although breakfast is served on set upon arrival, she often has to get straight on with work as the application process can take anything from 30 minutes to several hours. Later once on set, Jayne will stand by the monitor and keep a close eye for any touch-ups that may be needed and at the end of the day will take the actor back to the makeup area for removal. “If this is a prosthetic removal then this can take up to an hour on its own”, says Jayne acknowledging this part of the job may not sound too glamorous.

Citing Robert Englund as one of her idols, since it was the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' films that made her realise FX makeup existed as a job, Jayne also likes the work of Dick Smith for his massive contributions to the world of FX makeup, as well as his encouragement of the notion that special effects techniques should be shared between people in the industry and not hidden away as a "trade secret". Also a big fan of Eli Roth Jayne mentions “his enthusiastic interview on the 'Cabin Fever' DVD during which his love for filmmaking and 80s horror was infectious, inspired me during a time when I felt like giving up on pursuing the dream”.

Jayne’s currently excited about a new film she worked on called “Devil’s Tower” which stars Jason Mewes (Jay from Jay & Silent Bob) which is set in the UK as well as heading out to LA at the start of October to support a short film called 'Cannibals and Carpet Fitters’ which will be screened in Hollywood!

Jayne says her influences range from Hollywood horrors like 'A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors', 'The Thing' and 'The People Under The Stairs' to British thrillers like 'Tyrannosaur', 'Twin Town' and 'Dead Man's Shoes' but in the end suggests that aspiring filmmakers and crew should just do it.

“If you're just starting out and don't have the funds, the concept will need to be one that can be realistically executed”, says Jayne, “But it's better to deliver a strong execution of a simple concept than to come up with a complex idea without the means and skills to deliver it.”

For more about Jayne Hyman and her work please visit her website http://www.jaynehyman.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Dec 8 2014 06:59PM

The Drift (2014) Dir. Darren Scales

Backyard Productions UK

“A century from now in deep space, the discovery of starlight crystals enables travel beyond the speed of light. Very soon, mankind is living among the stars”

The above opening crawl is interrupted by an explosion then glimpses of chaotic scenes as these crystals begin to fail and spaceships are left marooned in the galaxy. This is the intro to The Drift, a local feature length production that has ambition stamped all over it.

We follow this with an Alien-esque awakening, as a crew of intergalactic explorers are roused from their sleep to find themselves on their ship Deliverance which is salvaging from the scores of abandoned vessels now dotted around space caused by this mysterious “Dark Wave”.

This simple set up is the back-story for The Drift and the film doesn’t mess about, going straight for an epic scale with some impressive CGI that, despite its budget, helps sell the belief they are really out there in the universe. From the Gravity-like spinning to the dark corridors of Event Horizon, it shows huge aspiration and delivers on its grand set up.

“This drift is a graveyard” says the Captain as the crew begin their reconnaissance mission, which has suitable tension as they creep through uncharted ships. This reviewer would have preferred slightly less CGI in parts to allow for some more character interaction. This would have also helped balance both elements better as although peoples’ pasts were hinted upon, 25 minutes in I didn’t really know one character’s motivations from another. As I wanted to focus on those exploring the ship we would get another establishing CGI shot. Therefore to fill in these gaps there is a fair amount of exposition in dialogue which was a bit heavy handed and therefore more difficult for the actors to deliver.

However, this is a minor flaw in a polished product as the film continues pursuing its high goals, enjoying as I did the style of the screens when systems were rebooted and the astronauts re-acquainting with each other around the confines of their space home. The filmmakers use a hand held camera for the most part (although not “shaky” cam) which helps sell the claustrophobic atmosphere within the craft.

With talk of this “Dark Wave”, they then arrive on one seemingly derelict vessel but an unknown entity on board results in further power loss and once the crew enter the abandoned ship, the subsequent eerie noises and explosions create a sense of dread as things go from bad to worse.

The influences on The Drift are from a range of sci-fi classics (cameras on heads and a corporation called “The Ministry” are pulling some evil strings) but some new ideas are thrown in as a characters attempt to access computer records and black boxes to find out what has happened. Yet, the action really hots up once we come across a zombie-like infected crew which ensures a fair amount of chaos before a splatter-fest of blood and gore. The movie has some good pacing which also helped the audience focus on the main characters such as Ace (an entertaining Vin Hawke) who seemed to be channelling every inch of Karl Urban he can muster and Scarlet (Victoria Hopkins) a female on board with conflicting interests.

They eventually find a survivor (Astra) who uncovers herself from hiding but like most things, all isn’t what it seems. This leads to the some genuinely jumpy moments and I liked the fist fights between infected assailants and the crew which took place in smoky compartments that helped maintain the action levels.

The movie kicks up a gear once the secrets start being uncovered and a chain of events build to an exciting climax. One to definitely keep an eye on is actor David Dobson playing crew member ‘Geek’ who was all smarm, sarcasm and immediately tagged by me as cannon fodder but helped maintain some humanity in the film.

Finally, with shots from outside the ship combining with interiors The Drift continued with its larger scale than your average local movie and an orchestral score complimented the well designed ship set. Production values are one of the film’s high points with everything from monitors to jump seats all seemingly authentic and as good as anything you can see in theatrical releases.

As the effort by all involved was clear to see, multiple techniques were used such as spotlights and strobes which gave the murky corridors a realistic sense of foreboding with audiences unsure what could be around each turn. And with that, you can’t ask for any more of a film which delves into the inner turmoil of outer space.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 3 2014 08:31PM

Midlands Movies Mike checks out “Checking In”, a new feature from the West Midlands set in a hotel as we follow the highs and lows from a number of guests' viewpoints. Right this way....


Filmed over 2 years through 2012 and 2013, ‘Checking In’ only just finished post production in April of this year and was shot entirely at Baron's Court Hotel in Walsall, just outside of Birmingham.

The film delves into the lives of numerous guests around the establishment over the course of a 24 hour period on a random average working day. Told through the eyes of maid Radka (Nici Preston) & Alec the Manager (Roger David Francis), a range of guests will make you laugh, make you gasp while some will make you think.

Bringing together a host of amazing actors and crew, the team finally got to see the movie at the Lighthouse Cinema on May 12th with feedback being overwhelmingly positive.

The makers are incredibly proud of their achievements and are currently entering the film into festivals worldwide and made the film on a very limited budget whilst bringing in favours all over from friends, family and the local community. The films has 6 directors each taking different segments of the story and one of the directors, David Hastings says the themes cover “homosexuality, marriage, dreams and comic con!”

“We have been very much inspired by the public encouragement which has helped further us through our journey”, adds David. “We have worked very hard also with local colleges to make sure media students were heavily involved with on-set duties, to help them get experience for their own CV content, helping them in the process”.

With such a great community spirit the film’s anthology structure lends itself to a collaborative nature and please check out further details about the film and it’s cast and crew at their website http://www.checkinginmovie.co.uk

For press enquiries, please email dave.lightbeamproductions@gmail.com or kaushy@patthebullfilms.com

By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2014 11:01AM

Nottingham short film “Hubert’s Ghost” directed by Joe & Lloyd Staszkiewicz has shortlisted alongside 2 other horror films to win the ShortCuts to Hell II competition.

The competition is run by The Horror Channel and Film 4 Frightfest and the local Midlands moviemakers were runners up in the 2013 competition and it’s now down to a final public vote to decide on the winner.

Please note the competition closes on October the 8th and the winners get the chance to turn their short film into a feature film with a minimum budget of £20,000.

To vote all you need to do is click the like button on this particular post - https://www.facebook.com/horrorchannel/posts/814772081895688

Please visit http://horrorchannel.co.uk/shortcuts to watch all the Finalists and cast your vote to determine which Director should get the chance to make their feature film.

To find out more about the filmmakers and their previous projects and shorts go here http://www.lloydstas.co.uk

Midlands Movies wishes the lads all the best of luck and is another great addition to the current pool of local talent in the region.

Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter