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By midlandsmovies, Apr 7 2018 07:42AM



Midlands Spotlight - Wash Club


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about new Nottingham-made film Wash Club which used a local cast and crew to create its weird tale of a death cult in the least likely of places.


Wash Club tells the true story of how an inspiring journalist accidentally created a death cult and as the movie Fight Club reaches cinemas worldwide, a Norwich student discovers his own underground version.


Wash Club is the latest film from writer Ross Sutherland, director Simon Dymond and producer Lauren Parker. The short was selected from over 300 submissions to be one of just 16 put into production on Creative England and BFI Net.work’s iShorts scheme in 2016.


Since then it has been since shown at festivals around the world and is now available online premiering on the acclaimed Short of the Week. And we also have embedded right here above!


In Wash Club, quiet student Doug overhears an anecdote about a secret society that test their endurance inside the campus tumble driers. Determined to use the story for his journalism coursework, Doug accidentally becomes the ringleader of a new group of tumblers, before realising that the original anecdote was clearly made up.


The filmmakers go on to say that when the campus driers are revealed to be gas operated, Doug realises he has formed a death cult. In a final bid he attempts to shut down the group, but it turns out to be harder to kill a good story than you might think.


Unbelievably, Wash Club is based on a true story based on the writer Ross Sutherland’s own experiences at university in 1999. A satirical thriller, peppered with dark humour.


Watch the film above and also check out the film's Twitter page: https://twitter.com/washclubfilm


By midlandsmovies, Mar 22 2018 05:58PM



I Am God, And Severely Underqualified (2017)


Directed by Theo Gee


A sparse room, a man at a typewriter and a slowly delivered voiceover monologue may seem a rather basic premise for a film with such a grandiose title but don’t let the simple set up give you a false sense of security.


I Am God, And Severely Underqualified is a Nottingham made film that comes from local director Theo Gee and opens us up to “creation” in all senses of the word.


As described, the film is set entirely in one room and with actor Melvyn Rawlinson (whose white beard is god-like but who is never referred to as such) placed at a typewriter. As a voiceover begins we realise that the words we hear are the words being typed out onto the paper. But in a great twist the words (and voice) are also describing the short as it happens.


This self-referential idea harks back to Stranger than Fiction (2006) and Adaptation (2002) both of whom are concerned with the meta-idea of the process and presentation of creative writing. In the latter’s case Spike Jonze’s film uses an inspired Charlie Kaufman script which, in turn, represents Kaufman’s own struggles with writing.


On a technical side, this short uses perfect image compositions and great close-up camera work that are balanced whilst the minimalist set is dressed superbly with little touches including brain-storming Post-It notes and lonely cups of water. In addition, the ethereal sounds of the score are suitably angelic and combine well with the clacking of the typewriter at work. A gentle hum of the background noise of traffic barely registers but allows the audience to acknowledge the world but we are solely focused of the writer, as much as he is on his work.


As well the struggles of writing the film can be seen as a metaphor of creativity – and specifically filmmaking itself. Like Nolan’s Inception, where the actors represent various roles on a film production, this local short uses a similar concept. The doubts of a filmmaker can be summed up with the writing process our lead undertakes whilst the photography posters on the wall are symbolic of camera work. A coin falling to the floor which interrupts the scene harks to filmmaking “money men” – funding being a key to the production process – whilst puppets in the corner could demonstrate the later need for actors.


A fantastic performance from Melvyn helps sell the abstract concepts as his pauses and sighs elicit a lot of intrigue from just a few subtle expressions. From pacing around to taking a break for some coffee – we get a protagonist deep in thought. A shot of a bin full of discarded first drafts further establishes the problems of writer’s block and scriptwriting. The film physically personifies writer’s block as the typewriter’s letter “A” gets stuck. I felt it important that this is the first letter of alphabet with themes of “beginning” (and creationist symbolism too) being littered throughout. These allusions to the religious continue as Melvyn’s “God” (of writing) even looks up to the light mid-way through and the drip of water has a feeling of rain, life and floods. Perhaps a flood of ideas?


Anyone who has seen Aronofsky’s “mother!” will notice the similar use of a parable to tell a story and this exciting short is full of similar ideas of imagination, creation and compulsions. The doubts of a filmmaker (or any creative endeavour) and the forces at work to complete works of art are fully explored as well as the outside influences of pure luck in anyone’s success.


The film won the categories for Best Short & Best Editing (Leonard Garner) at our recent award ceremony and is not just a technical tour-de-force but a short many filmmakers would relate to given their struggles and journeys in getting ideas started (and finished).


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Mar 16 2018 11:00AM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2018 edition):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 20 – 25, 2018


• NOTTINGHAM MICRO FILM FESTIVAL Twitter @FilmNottingham http://www.nimfestival.com/ 8-10 March 2018


• INDIE-LINCS - March 15-18 2018 Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln http://www.indie-lincs.com


• BRINDLEY PLACE OUTDOOR FEST - http://www.brindleyplace.com/event/brindleyplace-film-festival-2018/ July 16 -22 2018


• LEICESTER DOCFILM FEST https://twitter.com/docfilmfestival Contact John Coster November 2018


• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - 23rd February - 11th March 2018


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - November 22 – 25 2018 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Black International Film Fest) https://www.biffestival.co.uk 2018 dates TBC


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL http://www.shockandgore.co.uk The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, July. Contact david@theelectric.co.uk or https://twitter.com/shockgore July 20 – 26 2018


• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk Friday 17th to Sunday 19th May 2019


• THE UK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL LEICESTER - http://tonguesonfire.com/ 15 March - 31 March 2018


• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham Dates TBC for 2018


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 4th - 13th MAY 2018


• FANTASTIQ FEST http://fantastiq.co.uk Fantasy/Horror Fest at Quad in Derby (part of Derby Film Fest)


• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem 11 October - 14 October 2018


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 13 - 22 April 2018


• EAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://www.eastwindsfilmfest.com May 2018


• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL - https://twitter.com/BeestonFilm 8th - 11th March 2018


• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone 5th - 7th October 2018


• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - www.grindhouseplanet.com November 2018 TBC


* BOTTLESMOKE FILM FESTIVAL - https://www.facebook.com/BottleSmokeStoke Stoke on Trent, 8th - 9th September 2018


* POCKET FILM FESTIVAL (Unseen cinema) http://www.unseencinema.co.uk/pocket-film-festival-2018/ Stafford 12-17 March 2018


* BIRMINGHAM HORROR GROUP - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/birmingham-horror-group-mini-movie-marathon-25-march-2018-tickets-41683231668 Mini-Movie Marathon Mini-Movie 25 March 2018


* SHROPSHIRE'S FIRST WORLD WAR FILM FESTIVAL https://twitter.com/wilfredowen100 Oct/Nov TBC 2018


* THE BRAVE BLACK BIRD FILM FEST Wolverhampton https://ajayhackett2113.wixsite.com/bbff Wolverhampton 25th Feb 2019 (submissions until July 2018)


Other useful Film Festival information can be find at these links:

http://www.festivalfocus.org/festival

http://film.britishcouncil.org/festivals-directory/festivals-map

http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Feb 16 2018 04:52PM



Local filmmakers fundraising for Poison Ivy fan film


Since her introduction in 1966, Poison Ivy remains one of the most popular Batman villains of all time yet has been strangely underrepresented in modern cinema. With her only notable big screen appearance being in Batman and Robin (played by Uma Thurman), her portrayal was less than pleasing for many fans and critics alike.


Well, local fans and filmmakers want to set that record straight by giving Ivy her own starring role in an upcoming fan film. Sophie Black, Aislinn De'Ath and Robert Dukes want to be faithful to the source material from the comics yet still palatable for modern audiences.


The screenplay was written by De'Ath and is inspired by Ivy's graphic novel appearances and an award-winning cast and crew are already attached to the project and ready to begin filming.



First though the group are launching a crowd-funding campaign where fans can make pledges to be involved - from executive producer to donations towards the materials to make Ivy’s costume. Monies raised will also be put towards production design, location and marketing costs. With a goal of £2,800 to be raised, the film shoot will take place in February 2018.




Aislinn De’ath will be playing Poison Ivy and has appeared in numerous short films, including The Dress in 2015, which won her the Best Actress award at Festigious Film Festival whilst Robert Dukes joins the case as Bruce Wayne. Robert has played a charming yet dangerous antagonist in Surveilled and a soldier in World War 2 drama The Code.


The film is being helmed by Nottingham director Sophie Black who is also working on here next release which will be the ambitious fantasy short Songbird, starring The X Factor's Janet Devlin. Joining Sophie is Sarah-Jane Lyon (make-up), Charlotte Ball (production designer)


For more information please check out their official campaign page here - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-poison-ivy-fan-film-fantasy


Poster design is by Adam Blakemore of Strelka design, with concept art by Sophie Black


By midlandsmovies, Jan 29 2018 09:55AM



Nottingham writer director James Postlethwaite is soon to launch his new film, As The Sun Rises, a relationship drama that covers LGBTQ issues with a sensitive and passionate approach. Midlands Movies Mike finds out more about this gripping new film.


Getting into the industry at the tender age of 16, James Postlethwaite has trained and worked on some of Britain's most prestigious and well-known programmes including Coronation Street and The Graham Norton Show. Having also directed films and documentaries in Los Angeles, he returns to the region for his new project.


As The Sun Rises follows a man called Andy who is in a loveless relationship with his partner, Emma, but who has known he was gay from a very early age. Spending most of his life masking his emotions and living a lie, the film shows Andy's struggles to be honest about his sexuality to the people he loves the most.


The film’s pre-launch campaign has gone live and the makers are offering fans the chance to win one of five £50 Amazon vouchers just for signing up with their email address and sharing the post on their own social media. Click here for the first offer full details.


Tackling their fundraising with gusto, the filmmakers will then run an IndieGoGo campaign from 9th March seeking to raise a budget of £25,000.



James is supported by a talented crew including Oli Braybrook who is a producer based in Nottingham. Oli is most known for producing the films Lucidity and The Keys to It All along with three episodes of the television pilot, Print.


Laura Gallop joins the production as director of photography whose strong belief is that cinematography “should compliment the story and should add to the project on an unconscious level rather than overpower it”.


Christian Smith will compose the film's score and the Hampshire born pianist already enjoys several credits to his name including a portfolio of clients - from his music appearing on O2 adverts to scoring several other low budget films.




Also on board is a talented cast with many coming from the Midlands who also have a whole host of successful credits on shows such as Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Law and Order UK, Silk, Happy Valley, Doctors, Emmerdale and Shameless to name just a few.


Despite its micro-budget indie origins the film is hoping to tackle changing issues within the film industry from raising the profile of marginalised groups as well as improving female cast and crew figures.


For more information about the production check out the ongoing updates at the official website: www.asthesunrisesfilm.co.uk


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, Oct 19 2017 06:50AM



I am Not a Witch at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema


A fearless debut from Zambian-born Welsh director Rungano Nyoni, the film will be showing in cinemas across the UK including Broadway Cinema in Nottingham and on demand from Friday 20th October.


When eight-year-old Shula turns up alone and unannounced in a rural Zambian village, the locals are suspicious. A minor incident escalates to a full-blown witch trial, where she is found guilty and sentenced to life on a state-run witch camp.


There, she is tethered to a long white ribbon and told that if she ever tries to run away, she will be transformed into a goat. As the days pass, Shula begins to settle into her new community, but a threat looms on the horizon. Soon she is forced to make a difficult decision – whether to resign herself to life on the camp, or take a risk for freedom.


Watch the trailer above and follow on their social media pages below


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


Twitter https://twitter.com/NotAWitchFilm


Full show times are here:


Fri 20 Oct 16:45 20:45

Sat 21 Oct 16:45 20:45

Sun 22 Oct 16:45 20:45

Mon 23 Oct 16:45 20:45

Tue 24 Oct 16:45 20:45

Wed 25 Oct 16:45 20:45

Thu 26 Oct 16:45 20:45


To book, please head to http://www.broadway.org.uk/events/film-i-am-not-a-witch




By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2017 08:04AM



Director Sophie Black is a Nottingham based filmmaker with many shorts to her name and in the latest of our ‘Professional’ series, she passes on her experience and advice about directing behind the camera. Want to get into directing yourself or learn more about the profession? Sophie, take it away...


To start with? Well, go for a walk, people-watch, whatever it is that inspires you. Collaborate with your friends if you need to bounce ideas around. Even if you don't have a camera yet, write stuff down, sketch things. I didn't have a camera until I was fifteen years old, so a lot of my early inspiration came from writing novels and physically making things with my hands. But to be honest, everyone has access to a camera these days (unlike when I was young!), because they come as standard with phones, so there's nothing to stop you just shooting something to find out what you like, and who you might be as a filmmaker. You're not going to find inspiration unless you go out and experience the world, decide what it means to you personally, and really get to know how you see the world as an individual.


But if you are the type that needs to research, then read books on filmmaking, or just watch films and make notes about certain stylistic decisions that inspire you. I first realised people could make a career out of films - and decided that was the career I wanted - when I read Peter Jackson's interviews in the Lord of the Rings visual companions, but there's lots of great articles out there to give you an early buzz if you need it.


This is different depending on the filmmaker - which is why it's good to spend some time experimenting first, to discover what kind of director you are. Definitely shoot something by any means necessary, even if it's just trying to recreate shots that inspired you, or even if that means directing your friends in amateur roles.


I've always been more of an actors' director than anything else, and if that's the same for you then I really recommend joining local drama or theatre groups, to practice working with actors in a focussed, technology-free environment. That's how I got my start. But either way, you will need to learn the language of cinema eventually, so studying technical filmmaking in some form - be it personal study or a structured course - is necessary at some point early on in your career.



Formal Eductation vs. Hands On Experience


You definitely need to know how to make films, but the way you learn is up to you. If you have family members or other peers who already know the language of cinema, and you grow up learning everything from those people, then it could be that you don't need to go to film school. The best way to learn things is by doing them, so nothing beats practical experience - plus, these days, you can learn a lot through YouTube tutorials. A lot of the best filmmakers I know are completely self-taught.


But if you've never learnt the basics of film production - e.g. 'this is how a camera works', 'this is how to light the average interview' - and if you learn better in an academic environment, then definitely take a course. It gives you a great foundation (not to mention the all-important life skills you get with any level of further education!). You also meet a lot of people on your course that you could end up working with in the future.


Motivating a Team


It's all about creating the right environment for people to work in. Morale always needs to be up, particularly if people aren't receiving payment. I think it's important to mix solid grafting on set with a sense of fun as well, whenever appropriate - so don't always take yourself too seriously. This film may be the most important thing in the world to you at that moment - but your crew needs other reasons to feel inspired. Listen to your crew when they're unhappy; join in with a joke or even a hug when they're in need of a break from the hard work. Good food helps as well, particularly if there's no money to give people - you won't believe what a bacon butty on a cold morning can do to lift the spirits!



General Skills


Leadership skills, confidence and belief in your vision are all important factors; if people don't respect you, they'll start listening to the next loudest voice in the room. But confidence doesn't come straight away. You need to build up your craft first; practice and learn every day, and start with small, independent crews before building up to full teams.


As I've said before, it's important to have a technical knowledge of film production - but you also need to admit which areas aren't your strong point. In the past I've given wrong information in this area; I've said that directors need to learn every aspect of filmmaking before they can direct their team - but do you really think that James Cameron knows which make-up to use to make a face look rounder, for instance? The truth is that everyone has some things that they're stronger at than others, and if you're focussing on every little area of a production, your skills will get stretched too thin, and your work will suffer because of it.


The trick is to make sure your weaknesses are covered; if there's something you're not so good at, make sure there's someone better at it to handle that area for you. (To give an example, I learnt that whilst I'm confident directing dialogue and small physical interactions, I'm not as good with scenes that involve more detailed choreography, such as stunts. So in the future I'll always hire a stunt co-ordinator when the scene requires.) It's not a sign of a weak director to admit you're not great at something, as filmmaking is a collaborative process after all; what is weak, however, is if someone ignores their failures and lets them show in the finished film when it could've been avoided. That makes the director look bad.


One of my favourite things about film production is the fact that you're surrounded by brilliantly talented people, all experts in their field, all brought together to make your vision a reality. You need to learn how to get the best out of these people, and how to keep them at their best - but you also need to learn to listen to their ideas and let them have an input into the film. It will help give them a sense of ownership over it too, which will encourage more loyalty to the project. And trust me, you definitively need loyalty - particularly in the long slog of post-production, when the work feels less structured, and you need to find other ways to keep your crew engaged.


It's also important that a director rehearses everything with their actors. Absolutely everything. It's tempting to think that you only need to rehearse dialogue, or complicated action, like fight scenes. Even wordless moments need to be polished by the time the cameras roll, otherwise it will cause delays on set and your actors might feel uncomfortable. I've made this mistake in the past, thinking "this is a basic movement - we can just put a camera on the actor now and let them go for it". I was very young and arrogant back then!


Director Advice


Firstly, don't be a director until you've been a crewmember. I've said this a lot. Too many people think they can go out into the world as a 'director' without hands-on experience behind them. Those people often don't get work. But being a member of the crew - starting low down the ladder, and building your way up - will help you to learn more about the practicalities of film production, so that you understand exactly what you'll be asking your crew to go through when you direct them. It's also the best way to meet people, to create a list of future collaborators for when you move onto your own projects. That's what worked for me.


Secondly, make sure you really, really love a project before you go into production. People don't realise how much commitment goes into a successful short film. There can be a year between writing a script and shooting a film, particularly if you need to raise money, and you can spend months in post-production too. On top of that, the average festival run lasts for two years - after a festival finally accepts you. So you're realistically looking at four years' worth of work on a project, and if you don't care for it or believe in it, those four years can feel even longer. Can you guarantee that you won't abandon your film when something shiny and new comes along? If the answer is no, then don't start it in the first place.


And finally, don't ask people, cast or crew, to do something you aren't willing to do yourself. You need to be a leader - not a dictator! If you expect people to work long hours, or stay later than expected, be there with them. If they need to be in a scenario where they are cold or uncomfortable, show that you would willingly do the same for them. It's for this reason I starred in a music video, playing a prostitute, shortly before I directed my actors in some sexual scenes on the set of Ashes - I needed to understand how awkward or uncomfortable they would be feeling on the day.




Finance


Commercial and corporate work is great, when you can get it. You need something to fill the gaps in between your short film projects, and it's really satisfying to have a job that utilises your filmmaking skills. Plus there's nothing like working with clients to prepare you for the amount of say commissioners and executive producers will have, should you approach them with feature film ideas.


Leaving your day job for film production is hard. You certainly shouldn't do it unless you know you'll have money coming in - or unless you have contacts and a strong business plan in place. Do it when you're young; fresh out of university is the best age to try things. The older you get, the more responsibility you have, and the more chance you have of becoming homeless, should it all go wrong!


I can't tell you exactly how to make it work. Some people take a leap of faith, and it works out for them; others take a long time to build up their contacts and personal clients before becoming self-employed. If you need a bit more confidence and structure before you take the plunge, there's nothing wrong with taking business classes - it can all be applied to freelance filmmakers. All I will say is, only you will know the minimum level of success you are comfortable with - and whatever happens, you need to have a plan B.


I get asked about crowdfunding a lot, and although I've had some success with it, I'm not the biggest fan. It's a necessary evil - but people can rely on it too much. What people don't understand is that the moment you receive crowdfunded donations, unless it's going through a business, an accountant will see you as self employed. You need to be prepared for the implications of receiving this money. If you don't declare £1,000, you might get away with it - but I don't recommend you risk it. If you don't declare £10,000, that's a completely different kettle of fish. Crowdfunding has been very popular for the last few years, so of course the HMRC are aware of it, and they do have their eyes on the filmmaking community. So definitely declare your earnings, but if you can, get an accountant or a financial adviser who can help you declare it properly. Because you don't usually get to keep the crowdfunding money for yourself, you really don't want to end up out of pocket through tax implications.


Inspiration


I've used "film is temporary, film is forever" a few times. Who hasn't? I first heard Peter Jackson say it to Miranda Otto, in a making-of-documentary, during a long, difficult scene in The Return of the King - but I know he wasn't the first person to say it.


I also loved it when, on the set of Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann declared "I challenge you all to make me say 'you've gone too far'!" That's a bit mad, but it's braver than I can be, so I applaud that. Incidentally Baz's company motto is "a life lived in fear is a life half-lived", and I think of that whenever I face the next, daunting project.


I have a plaque in my office that says "keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground". I don't know who said that, but it always reminds me to stay humble and remember the little things in life that matter the most.


Sophie Black


Check out Sophie Black's Production company Triskelle Pictures here:

https://www.triskellepictures.co.uk




By midlandsmovies, Jul 31 2017 02:58PM



Midlands Spotlight - Nottingham writer Tommy Draper heads to Germany


Midlands screenwriter Tommy Draper has built upon his short film successes in the region to head into areas further afield with his new script Der Letzte Tropfen (The Last Drop), which has been made in Germany. With its beginnings in the region, Midlands Movies Mike takes a look at this truly European production.


Coming from his local involvement with Night Owls, Stop/Eject, Wasteland and the forthcoming Nottingham short Songbird, Tommy wrote the script with the director Sascha Zimmermann. Shot by David Rankenhohn, this new venture was produced for German TV station 13th Street, which is a division of NBC Universal.



13th Street has been supporting young German directors for many years and helps co-finance selected new short film projects. Director Zimmermann has also been nominated for Shocking Shorts in 2013 whilst successful Youtube star Alex Böhm plays the lead in the drama.


The short is currently touring in film festivals back here in the Midlands and will also be screened at the prestigious Short Cinema Festival in Leicester. As well as this, the writer is also helping to show the film at the Five Lamps film showcase in Derby as well as Short Stack in Nottingham.


Tommy is also excited about a forthcoming big screening at ComicCon in San Diego, USA. The film features a host of new and experienced German actors in addition to Alex Böhm. Souzan Alavi, Patrice Ötvös, Niklas Osterloh, Kailas Mahadevan, Marcus Prell, Martina Offeh and Angela Daniel make up the group ensemble who are a group that meet weekly to talk about their addictions.


Despite their efforts to stay on a 'straight and narrow' path, their goals are challenged when a new member Dennis (Alex Böhm himself) accidently joins in and they all question if their addictions are truly under control.




Check the short teaser trailer below and for more information check out the official IMDB page - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6691554





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