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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.


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.


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:


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

By midlandsmovies, Jul 27 2017 08:49AM

The Man Who Knows the Ropes (2017) LeftLion Films

This little 9-minute film comes from LeftLion in Nottingham who feature Stewart ‘Sir’ Coates, a local business owner who works making twine and rope. Stick with us here.

The gentle acoustic music compliments Stewart’s mild pace of life in his small business, W. Coates and Sons, who manufacture rope, twine and cord. Understandably, there has been a decline in such old-fashioned production but this documentary shows a man happy with his lot, and with a great deal of pride in his history.

Behind green door Number 10 we are introduced to Stewart who explains “Business has gone down...and it’s just me doing it now”. With no employees, the film contrasts this with the fact there were once 200 or so workers that helped the business in the past. Taking over the ‘ropes’ 55 years ago, Stewart explains how the company has passed from generation to generation and the sad reality is that he may be the last owner after 150 years of business.

The film is peaceful and respectful as Stewart shares his passion during interview segments as he explains how he enjoys solo work as he has “no one to fall out with”. However, in a tender moment Stewart recalls how he met his wife and how she in fact still works as an accountant – ensuring the company, for now, remains a truly family affair.

The talking heads are interspersed with shots of a trade slowly declining yet his simple workshop and black and white photos of flat cap workers from a bygone era is, again, a soothing reminder of his legacy. Stewart’s positivity shines through despite the challenging circumstances and the film is punctuated with moments of noise as the sound of machinery is portrayed as an example of the hands on nature of his craft. And hands on it is.

Yet from his small wooden lock-up Stewart doesn’t let his circumstances get him down and the film shows us a man who takes pleasure in the simple things of life. “Look at my new boiler”, he remarks to the filmmakers. And in a world of immediate and virtual social media, how refreshing this pace of life is.

There’s a touch of melancholic sadness in the film as Stewart’s positivity is juxtaposed with the inevitable reality that the business won’t be around for much longer given there is no family ties to practically continue with such an archaic trade.

However, the filmmakers leave on a note of optimism as Stewart is not blind to the upcoming truth but revels in his final days as he “slowly moves towards retirement”. The laughter of the interviewer during their conversations really brings home the personal nature of the documentary and there’s a compassionate truth to proceedings as Stewart notes that “nothing stays the same”.

With a final smiles and a jovial “goodbye” the documentary concludes and is a triumphant success, which although could be used as a short news-piece, transcends its “functional” construction to deliver a fitting portrait of a local legend. *Doffs cap*

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 12 2017 05:55PM


“Darned criminals, stitched up good and proper!”

Midlands Movies uncovers one of the region’s most surreal premises as we take a look at upcoming comedy 'Socks and Robbers'.

‘Socks and Robbers’ is a short dark comic heist film coming in from Nottingham which follows a gang of daring, sock headed robbers who hold up a bank.

However, what the robbers don’t know is that one of them is an undercover cop. Directed by the award winning director David Lilley who says the film boasts “more twists than pages”, ‘Socks and Robbers’ is described as a rollercoaster of a story that will keep audiences guessing to the very end.

With a planned release for 2017, this Midlands film spans multiple genres and is part-gangster, part-horror but all comedy and will be released via Loonatik and Drinks productions. This group of filmmakers make a variety of short films and although they say they “don’t make money”, they add that “often people watch our films and say nice things”.

Along with David Lilley, Stephen Gray forms the creative core of Loonatik & Drinks and the duo have been working together for over 15 years, first on music and then film projects. Initial collaborations were loosely planned and informal but over the past couple of years they have worked even closer together with both being fans of the cult B-movie genre and classic horror fiction.

BIFA Nominated in 2006 and winner of a Cofilmic Audience Award in 2011, the Nottingham friends have taken their style for this film from genre classics such as ‘Fargo’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘The Mighty Boosh’.

The film will be produced by Jenn Day and the whole production can be followed on the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/socksandrobbers/about/?ref=page_internal

Also check out theLoonatik and Drinks page for info on previous projects, watch previous shorts and more: http://www.loonatikanddrinks.com

And you can view David Lilley's director showreel below on VIMEO:

By midlandsmovies, Jun 9 2017 03:19PM

New production company Them Pesky Kids hit the region as their Kickstarter campaign launches into full swing for their upcoming short film Ariella.

Formed recently in Nottingham, Them Pesky Kids are aiming for a fresh take on the crime-thriller genre as they begin production on their film with a fundraising campaign goal of £10,000 due to end on 30th June.

The filmmakers are brothers Michael and Jack Jobling and Ariella will be their first film they have created together, though they have both worked individually on music videos, short films and documentaries.

Michael Jobling’s last project Anoesis was well received locally at the Short Stack and Beeston Film festivals and went on to win a student Royal Television Society award. Ariella is being produced by Ryan Harvey who won the Best Student Drama for his debut film Tuesday Afternoon at the Nottingham International MicroFilm Festival.

With a talented crew, the film tells the story of a seemingly innocent waitress who is told to keep an eye on two thugs hiding out in her cafe, but her own motives get in the way of her professionalism.

And as well as the successful past of the filmmakers, they have managed to attract amazing local talent in front of the screen as well.

Hannaj Bang Bendz, who recently won Best Actress at the LA Film Festival for her short film, The Man up the Stairs stars alongside Johann Myers who is a Nottingham based actor who has recently starred in Luther and Black Mirror.

As the villain, James Graeme takes the creepy role and has also been in Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar on the West End. Finally, playing his daughter is Nottingham based singer and actress, Tiger Cohen Towell who has appeared as a BBC Introducing artist.

‘The cast and crew have brought this collaborative mentality on board, they’re really bringing their A-Game”, says Jack Jobling. He adds, “I’ve lived in Nottingham for a year and I’m still astonished by how professional and creative everyone is!”

His brother Michael agrees with him. “Everyone believes in this project, the community support is incredible. It’s great to direct a film that’s bringing such talented Nottingham-based artists together”.

Previously, Them Pesky Kids held a launch screening at The Nottingham Contemporary to showcase their earlier films as well as unveil their plans for the future.

And in June 2017 they’ll be releasing further news, cast announcements, vlogs, songs and flash rewards across their social media pages.

Check their full Kickstarter and social media pages below:



By midlandsmovies, Apr 20 2017 07:39AM

White Lily (2017)

Directed by Tristan Ofield

White lilies have a historical symbolic connection with chastity and virtue and are often considered a mark of purity. Yet, they are also associated with funerals. They can symbolize that the soul of the departed has received a restored innocence after death.

And with this important side note in mind, we come to a new sci-fi short from Nottingham called White Lily. Written by Adrian Reynolds and directed by Tristan Ofield, the sound of birdsong introduces us to a spaceship where a man and a woman are discussing their memories of the past.

This pilot and co-pilot have trouble with their ship as it heads towards the investigation of a passing comet. Their troublesome relationship reflects the current malfunction issues with the ship yet the film concerns itself more with memory and the past despite its futuristic setting.

With a claustrophobic Industrial sci-fi location, the film has a look of Red Dwarf series 8, but with a far more serious tone, which is ironic as we find out the holographic nature of the pair’s cohabitation.

As the pilot crawls through ducts, with tunnels illuminated by a torch light, we get echoes of Alien whilst thematically, there are similarities to Spike Jonze’s Her and the interaction and relationships between humans and technology.

But the focus is firmly fixed on the soul and human nature. “Remember the things and the places you love the most”, says Isobel as the small talk of lunch crosses with their chat of a sadder journey involving bygone memories. I read that director Ofield included hints to the nature of Alzheimer’s disease in this short, and we see this with Isobel (who is revealed as a flickering hologram) being subject to a “reboot”. This re-setting of her ‘operating system’ sees her memory wiped yet she ultimately looks the same as before.

As someone whose mother is currently terminally ill with a similar form of dementia, the themes very much hit home for me. The similarity between an individual struck down with such a terrible illness – where the memory loses clarity – and an artificial being’s historical data “wiped out” is a heartbreaking parallel. But it’s been done subtlety and handled well by the filmmaker with an ambiguity that isn’t intrusive.

Technical wise, a soaring score of urgent strings help create tenseness in deep space and brings urgency as the spaceship tangles with the comet’s crevices. In addition, some Minority Report- style floating screens are well created and the CGI spaceship is effective, especially on a low budget and it’s great to see such ambition for a local short.

In conclusion, White Lily has much more going on under the (comet) surface with interesting thematic ideas that combine the emotional and the mechanical. A superb sci-fi short with exciting performances, the film displays a brilliant array of multi-textured layers. And with all those positive attributes and more, White Lily ends up blossoming into a sci-fi gift that rewards its viewers with both emotion and flair.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 16 2017 09:59AM

Midlands Movies Mike finds out about new sci-fi film ‘White Lily’ which has been made in Nottingham and been selected to screen at the prestigious Sci-Fi London Film Festival.

With a budget of just £4000, this new Midland short has recently won five awards at the 2016 Summer Focus International Film Festival including the coveted Best Short Film.

White Lily's director is Tristan Ofield, who was also nominated in the Best Director category and feels his new sci-fi film does what the best sci-fi genre movies do by being focused on character.

“The situations are fantastical but the aim is often to tell human stories, of courage, betrayal and love”, says Tristan. He adds, “White Lily is kind of a weird breakup movie in space.”

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the film is described as an exploration of the relationship between a spaceship captain and his co-pilot as they investigate a comet. And a subsequent technical fault cuts to the core of their relationship problem.

Beginning life in 2014 when a dedicated Nottingham team filmed the short, WHite Lily had a very long post-production time and it was the following two year journey of working on special effects which resulted in wins in Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Design awards.

Producer Sophia Ramcharan said, “I felt that it was a fantastic achievement for the whole team and great recognition of Tristan's vision as a director. We shot the film nearly two years ago and it's been in postproduction ever since, which is a relatively long time - but necessary due to the SFX and animation.”

White Lily premiered at the Mayhem Film Festival at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham and Ramcharan adds, “Although I've watched the film in various stages during post-production, it’s only when we see it on a big screen with a big audience at Mayhem that you realise how stunning the craftsmanship is”.

The final 2 wins were for Actors David McCaffrey and Siddhii Lagrutta who had their performances recognised by succeeding in the Best Actor and Best Suporting Actress respectively. With the director’s focus on sci-fi characters, Tristan was especially pleased. “David and Siddhii both delivered beautifully subtle performances that really brought the characters to life".

"Often bad science-fiction films get bogged down in focussing only on the special effects, and the characters can easily get forgotten. White Lily is a character film at its heart, and the actors embodied those characters perfectly”.

Following on from the success achieved at the FIFF, White Lily continues its festival run at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival this April/May. Sophia Ramcharan sums up its current success by adding, “I would like as many audiences to see this film as possible through the festival circuit - and ultimately be picked up by a distribution company. A few more awards would be lovely!”

Watch the film's trailer above for a preview of this local sci-fi short as well as find out more about the Sc-Fi London Film Festival here https://sci-fi-london.com

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