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By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2017 11:07AM



Midlands Interview - Award winning director Andrew Rutter


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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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



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

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


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



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

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


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


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


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

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


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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

AR: A pleasure.


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



By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2017 10:49AM



Midlands Spotlight – Catharsis


With a successful cast and crew premiere at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema in August, Midlands Movies discovers more about local short film Catharsis from filmmaker Jay Martin.


Writer/director Jay Martin hails from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire and studied at the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies in 2015 where he began to develop Catharsis, his directorial debut.


The story follows Sandra (local actress Olivia Newton) who descends into drink and drugs after the loss of a child and the film is the culmination of a year and a half of dedication and commitment from a mostly local cast and crew.



Mark Jarvis (seen in a previous Midlands Movies film series we’ve covered called Let’s Bring Back Sophie) plays Isaac in the film and the regional focus of the movie meant it was made solely in and around greater Nottinghamshire.


“It's difficult to put into words the tremendous amount of love, respect, and gratitude I have for the entire cast and crew”, explains Jay. “A seventeen year old, first-timer, had no business working with such incredible talent!”


He adds, “With no producer on our backs hounding us for deadlines, we took the time to intricately develop every aspect of this film, and I truly believe that you see our love, and attention on screen. Every hardship we faced, we faced as a team”.




Although it is Jay’s first dramatic short, he has been involved with many previous projects which have included music videos ‘ABSORB - #PTFAD’ and ‘The Age of Stella – Lucilla’. And as production came to an end on Catharsis in May 2017, the director began developing his next short film project under the working title 'After Dark'.




Once completed, Catharsis was subsequently first shown at the 'Celebrate Short Film Festival' in Nottingham where not only did it have a tremendous reception, the dramatic short was awarded the converted 'Best Short Film' prize as well as a 'Best Director' win for Jay.


With a trailer soon to be released online and upcoming announcements on festival appearances and general release dates, Catharsis looks one to watch from an exciting and talented young filmmaker.


For more information check the film’s social media and IMDB accounts below:


Website: http://www.jaythefilmguy.com/


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaythefilmguy/?hl=en


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaythefilmguy


IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6509956/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 04:47PM

The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 2


For Part 1 of The Short Cinema showcase 2017 please click here:

http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/The-Short-Cinema-2017---Part-1/11214523


After a much needed beer break, I headed back into the main screening room for the second part of the excellent Short Cinema 2017 to discover even more great films from the region’s talent...




Ultrasound – Kon-Tiki by Andrew Rutter

This successful music video (and ultimately eventual winner of The Short Cinema 2017 Main Competition) is directed by Andrew Rutter using a track by the group Ultrasound to launch a whirlwind coming of age story mixing surreal visuals with the band’s catchy melodies. Tackling serious subjects of inner conflict – the young protagonist begins on a bike yet behind closed doors dresses in high heels and nail varnish – the film does so in an entertaining way without ever poking fun at the teenager. With a healthy dose of nostalgia, the film’s most successful images are the most strange and dreamlike ones from an “astro” love-making session to personal reflections on a lake. In the end, Rutter has high ambition and more than achieves his aims throughout the video which itself ends on an explosive climax.

Watch the full video here: https://vimeo.com/192961828



A Broken Appointment by Kaleb D’Aguilar

A 3-minute short about same-sex relationships, A Broken Appointment showcases the complicated issues of closeting and hiding feelings in the gay community. Mixing tender and violent emotions, the film condenses a lot into its short run time from the first touching of hands to the complexities faced by a mixed-race gay couple. Dark yet offering a glimpse of optimism, the film’s sensitive narrative is a dramatic slice-of-life exploring marginalised groups in a responsible and delicate manner.

Find out more information here: http://caribbeantalesfestival.com/project/a-broken-appointment/



Girl A by Jess O’Brien

Reviewed by Midlands Movies earlier this year, Girl A still packs a metaphorical and physical punch on a third watch as young filmmaker Jess O’Brien doesn’t flinch from her story of a bully from a broken home. Using strong language and flashes of violence, the solid story and great performances from a teen cast help infuse the film with believability, as we see a troubled pupil lash out at school owing to problems at home. With some great tracking shots and an open ended finale the film is a local success from a strong young filmmaking voice.

Read our full review here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Feature-Review---Girl-A/11098121



Vandella Day by John McCourt

Actor Kieron Attwood reappears on our list in this darkly comic short from Leicester filmmaker John McCourt. Alongside Lois Cowley, Attwood plays one of two people holed up in a confined space where we find there is just one bullet left in their gun as they think the unthinkable. With the noise of attackers approaching and with no apparent way out, the gun is raised to their heads but malfunctions at the most inopportune time. The intense 1-minute short sets up its characters, cramped location and desperate motivations in mere seconds and filmmaker McCourt turns the tables when an accident with the firearm leads to less than pleasant consequences. A brief but forceful short, Vandella Day’s in-your-face extremities will hit you like a bullet in the head.

Find out more about Vandella Day here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6483644/fullcredits/



Betty by Jordan Handford

Another film reviewed by us earlier in 2017 is this drama from Jordan Handford about the effects of dementia. Set on a park bench the film slowly pans around Betty’s distant face before she is joined by a man who regales her with a story from his past that connects to her own. A subtle film on a sensitive subject, the story had personal connections to me after my own mother lost her battle against dementia in May of this year. “Betty” tackles the issues with a finely tuned script that is masterly delivered by John Ghent as Eric, who uses the well-written dialogue to capture the spirit and memories of the past whilst acknowledging the difficulties of the present.

Read our full review of Betty here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Film-Review---Betty/11160736




The Last Drop by Sascha Zimmermann

Written by Nottingham-based screenwriter Tommy Draper, this new short had a true international flavour having been made in Germany. Der Letzte Tropfen (The Last Drop) concerns itself with a self-help group who are experiencing problems with drink dependency with some attendees less than pleased with being there. The group’s advisor tries to maintain some civility as each member explains (or doesn’t) the problems with their addiction. As a first-time stranger joins the group the film goes into overdrive as it switches genres right before our eyes in a spectacular but satisfying “rug-pull”. With a tremendous script and brilliant turns by the German cast, the film is a superb collaborative effort that audiences can get their teeth into.

Find out more here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---Nottingham-writer-Tommy-Draper-heads-to-Germany/11200733



The Inuring by James Hughes

With another tale this evening of childhood abuse, The Inuring looks at a teen who is a victim of bullying who confronts a sister about their past. An astonishing Emily Haigh plays troubled teen Aleish who has been bullied yet keeps many private thoughts to herself. Locking herself in a room, her sister (Sarine Sofair as Claudette) places herself on the other side of the door in an attempt to get her sibling to talk. Haigh’s performance shows the systematic breakdown of a put-upon victim and during their awkward interactions, dark secrets of the past are revealed which raises the stakes in their important conversations. With a bleak and gloomy tone and great cinematography the film is not for the faint of heart but winning performances make this short a satisfying drama of angst, regret and childhood ruin.

For more info click here: http://www.theinuring.com




Retrograde by Eve Wills-Wilson

This 10 minute experimental film uses varying film stock and images to cover issues of the past, present and future as well as celestial bodies and the movement of the oceans. The archive sound drones in the background as an abstract series of repeating motifs are shown. Not to my personal tastes – the backwards clock being a cliché crime – the film nonetheless has its roots in contemporary art and would suit an installation in a modern gallery where its ethereal imagery could be studied and discussed. With lots of random footage and film speeds, I would liken the short to a visual version of The Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9” – i.e. some will consider it a disorganised collage whilst others will see intellectual gifts within. Take your pick.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/200670585




Bless You by Daryl Grizzle

Three videogame-playing friends sit in a front room in this short from Daryl Grizzle who uses the situation to discuss the history of one of the most used phrases of all time. As one of the pals does a particularly large sneeze, his friend gives him a courteous “bless you” before each of them in turn explains their version of the origins of the custom. From the plague and saving angels to keeping the devil at bay, the trio of chums lull the audience into a false sense of security with their banter before a jump-scare filled conclusion. Moving from a lightweight discussion to a darker ending the short is an off-kilter blessing in disguise.

Find out more info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6867424/




Loyal to War by Parang Khezri

Made by award-winning Iranian filmmaker Parang Khezri, Loyal to War was one of the shortest and strangest films of the night. With middle-eastern imagery and a boy looking into a mirror (actually cleverly played by two actors through a frame), the film is a surreal look at nature and life. With some filming shot backwards and the images of petals and mirrors, the short asked the audience to reflect on its ideas but provides very little context as to meaning. An intriguing visual statement, the film is baffling in many ways but portrays a very mysterious aura and an enigmatic puzzle to study long after it ended.

Catch Parang’s previous 2010 short TABU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zke-4oogD60




Upgrade by Mike Doxford

The final film of the night is another Random Acts funded project called Upgrade, where we are shown a night watchman who heads into a building to see a number of random youths hooked up to different technology. This tech seems forbidden, hence the security, but we notice they are listening to old headphones and playing old handheld video-games. The guard then presses play on an vintage tape recorder which plays some funky brass-filled salsa music. After a bit of head nodding the guard (played well by James Bartholomew) gets “into the groove” and begins dancing around the building. Linking the physical dance with the analogue tape player – the film presents a tangible world which stands in stark opposition to the passivity of modern day digital technology.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6394702/


In conclusion, with 22 varied films from different genres this year seemed more than just a showcase of film but acknowledged the huge work done by the community. In these films’ reflection and representation of different stories and narratives, the emphasis was on art and in the face of funding issues throughout the industry it was even more impressive to see the quality on show at the festival.


For more info on the Short Cinema please click here and a big thank you to all the organisers including the magnificent Alexzandra Jackson for such a tremendous 4-day event.


Midlands Movies Mike


Below are some photos from the evening.




By midlandsmovies, Feb 15 2016 07:43PM

The Inner Carriage Metaphor (2016) Directed by James George Oshoba & Robin Trinity


The Inner Carriage Metaphor is the title of a new narrative music video from Nottingham media student James George Oshoba. Shot as part of a second year university assignment, this experimental short is as different as anything we’ve ever been sent here at Midlands Movies.


However, the short contains a wide range of film techniques to help create a series of memorable and ambient images. We also know that all the good directors like Spike Jonze and David Fincher began their careers as music video directors so the format provides a perfect short-form platform to achieve much, but on a smaller budget. That doesn't mean it's restrictive - in fact the opposite - as creators trial more challenging subject matter than a mainstream film could do.


Experimental in concept, the film tackles themes of information overload and raises a variety of questions through symbols, images and edits. Inspiration comes via a variety of topics and emotional beliefs and the filmmaker explains that the concept as a whole refers to mystic philosopher and spiritual teacher, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff.


Spoken word, script, text and black and white video are combined to create a collage of hallucinogenic style dreamscapes. Images overlap creating an ambiguous experience for the viewer whilst there are some attempts at creating meaning between nature and technology as well as the human soul.


I enjoyed the René Magritte-esque apples and headshots whilst the superb music was not a million miles away from Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack with piano/organ notes adding some spirituality. Albeit mixed with electronic drum loops.


The negatives? As a fan of narrative cinema I would have preferred some focus on a small “story” no matter how slight and I couldn’t care less for anything incorporating "interpretive dance" . The film’s reliance on just a black and white palette also gave it a bit of a student-y feel when a dash of colour could have enlivened the proceedings.


That said, the short intentionally keeps its meaning in the shadows and silhouettes combine with kaleidoscopic effects to create an abstract experience. Combining the conceptual with the intangible the film shows great promise for a short and although its ambient ideas were not particularly up my street, the piece could qute happily find a successful place in an art gallery as well as a music channel and that alone is something.


Find out more on

www.jamesgeorgeoshoba.tumblr.com


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