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By midlandsmovies, Nov 4 2018 08:44AM



Midlands Spotlight - Nottingham International Film Festival


The Nottingham International Film Festival is taking place at the Cineworld and Nottingham Arts Theatre from the 11th-15th November and is showing a great selection of independent film from around the world.


After two successful years the festival is expanding in length and will be spread across two venues with Nottingham’s city centre cinema Cineworld and stalwart of Nottingham’s arts scene The Nottingham Arts Theatre hosting a mix of feature and documentary films, short films, experimental, music videos and animations.


The opening night documentary, The Ballad of a Righteous Merchant, is about Werner Herzog and the making of his film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.


The film is playing at Cineworld on 11th November at 4PM and the director will be doing a Q&A after the screening. Check out http://www.nottiff.com/ballad-of-righteous-merchant for all the information and to buy tickets.



Screenings at the Arts Theatre are great value for money as they include both a Short Film Showcase and a feature presentation for the price of one ticket. Viewers can also grab a selection of passes for the Cineworld screenings, including all six films for £24 (£20 for students).


A 60-Minute Short Film Showcase and feature film double bill at The Nottingham Arts Theatre can be purchased for just £7.50


For all ticket options and offer click here: http://www.nottiff.com/tickets-and-passes/

For more details please visit http://www.nottiff.com


Full Line-Up below:


Ballad of a Righteous Merchant

HERBERT GOLDER / UNITED STATES / 63 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Werner Herzog, Michael Shannon, Chloë Sevigny, Willem Dafoe

Playing at 4pm on Sunday 11th November at Cineworld Nottingham


Opening Night Shorts

A selection of short films from around the world with stars Billy Bob Thornton, Stephen Graham and Alfred Molina in the linuep.

Playing at 6:30PM on 11TH November, Cineworld


Octav

SERGE IOAN CELEBIDACHI / ROMANIA / 100 MINUTES / ROMANIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Starring: Marcel Iures, Victor Rebengiuc, Lia Bugnar

Playing at 6pm on Monday 12th November at Cineworld Nottingham


My Year with Helen

GAYLENE PRESTON / NEW ZEALAND / 93 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Helen Clark

Playing at 8:30pm on Monday 12th November at Cineworld Nottingham


Behind the Mirror

DIETMAR GAMPER, LINDA ROEHL / ITALY / 73 MINUTES / GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Starring: Hanna Weithaler, Veronika Pircher, Walter Tribus

Includes Tuesday Night Short Film Showcase

Playing at 7PM on Tuesday 13th November at the Nottingham Arts Theatre


Phantompain

ANDREAS OLENBERG / GERMANY / 98 MINUTES / GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Starring: Daniel Littau, Sven Martinek, Jessica Boehrs

Includes Wednesday Night Short Film Showcase

Playing at 7PM on Wednesday 14th November 7PM at the Nottingham Arts Theatre


You Can’t Say No

PAUL KRAMER / UNITED STATES / 91 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Marguerite Moreau, Annie Monroe, Peter Fonda

Playing at 6pm on Thursday 15th November at Cineworld Nottingham


When The Storm Fades

SEAN DEVLIN / CANADA / 81 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Kayla Lorette, Ryan Beil

Includes Thursday Night Short Film Showcase

Playing at 7PM on Thursday 15th November at the Nottingham Arts Theatre


Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies

AMANDA LADD-JONES / UNITED STATES / 84 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Alan Ladd Jnr, Morgan Freeman, Ridley Scott, Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver

Playing at 8:30pm on Thursday 15th November at Cineworld Nottingham

By midlandsmovies, Oct 4 2018 08:59AM



Midlands Spotlight - Mayhem Film Festival


The Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke and screens the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema from around the world right here in the Midlands.


And their forthcoming 2018 festival is no different. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses and international special guest filmmakers - as well and unique live cinema events - the festival has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative horror genre festivals in the country.


Running from 11th October to 14th October the event is based at Nottingham’s Broadway – one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.


Festival Co-Director Chris Cooke has an illustrious career by writing and directing Film 4/BFI funded comedy feature One For The Road whilst fellow Co-Director Steven Sheil is also a screenwriter and director. His first feature film, the microbudget Mum & Dad (2008) was described by Total Film as 'one of the defining British horrors of its generation'.


And with something for every fright fan, please check out the full line up for the 4-days below!


THURSDAY 11 OCTOBER

7.30PM - ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE + Q&A // Dir. John McPhail

10PM - NIGHTMARE CINEMA // Dirs. Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura & David Slade


FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER

2.15PM - THE WHITE REINDEER // Dir. Erik Blomberg

3.45PM - PIERCING // Dir. Nicolas Pesce

6.15PM - NIGHTSHOOTERS + Q&A // Dir. Marc Price

8.30PM - PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH // Dirs. Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund

10.30PM - MANDY // Dir. Panos Costamos


SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER

12PM - ONE CUT OF THE DEAD // Dir. Shin'inchiro Ueda

2PM - PROSPECT - UK Premiere // Dirs. Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl

4PM - NUMBER 37 - UK Premiere // Dir. Nosipho Dumisa

6.45PM - SHORT FILM SHOWCASE // Dirs. Various

9PM - THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY + Q&A //Dir. Aislinn Clarke

11PM - DEMONS + CHOWBOYS (UK Premiere) // Dir. Lamberto Bava


SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER

12PM - INUYASHIKI - UK Premiere // Dir. Shinsuke Sato

2.30PM - THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL // Dirs. Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland & Yannis Veslemes

4.45PM - THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW //Dir. Andy Mitton

6.15PM - The Flinterrogation in Cafébar

7.15PM - THE NIGHTSHIFTER //Dir. Dennison Ramalho

9.30PM - WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE // Dir. Colin Minihan


Check out the festival's official website here:

http://www.mayhemfilmfestival.com


By midlandsmovies, Sep 4 2018 07:50PM



Midlands Interview - Emmeline Kellie


From Nottingham's Film and TV Tweet Up to acting in recent action film Outlawed, Emmeline Kellie is a force to be reckoned with after being involved in film in front of and behind the camera at every level of production.


With such a diverse cinematic background and with her new project Keep Breathing recently launched, Midlands Movies writer Guy Russell speaks to Emmeline about her short film which has been created in light of the #metoo movement.


Guy Russell: You’ve recently launched the funding campaign for Keep Breathing, is crowdfunding a format you have used before and if so were you successful?

Emmeline Kellie: Nope, this is the very first time! I still feel extremely nervous about it even though we’re already two weeks in! It’s been really hard because all of us have been working full time while running it so it hasn’t had the TLC it needs. I’ve come to realise that Crowdfunding really is a full-time job. I probably wouldn’t advise doing it unless you have a dedicated team to do shifts, or you can take four weeks off of work!


Please tell us more about Keep Breathing, I understand it tackles the importance of sexual consent?

Keep Breathing is a powerful and incisive look at attitudes towards consent, rape, and victim blaming. It has a tightly plotted script that challenges two characters that don’t conform to the typical depictions of victim and perpetrator. The situation we explore is extremely common and goes widely unreported, yet when it is reported, both parties often have very different perceptions about what they’ve encountered. Not every victim of rape says no, and not every perpetrator understands the boundaries of consent. This film will engage the audience, provoke thought, provide a voice and encourage discussion, which is the essential next step towards changing attitudes.


Whilst the message is extremely important to us, the script is actually something we’re very proud of as well. It has interesting characters and it’s gripping, pacey and emotional. The message is actually drawn out very subtly through it. Most of the dialogue is ambiguous and laced with deeper meaning, so it’s a drama on the surface, but an eye-opener underneath.


What has the reaction been so far?

Amazing. Of those who have been sent the script, we’ve had a few say it’s the best short film script they’ve read which is so encouraging. I think the last person to read it was a documentary filmmaker called Miguel Gaudencio who our writer Tommy Draper worked with about ten years ago. He said “I think this is Tommy’s best script. I LOVE it! It screwed my head, which is great, and I love the fact that characters are not stereotypical. It’s a very powerful drama and so well set up.” I was quite pleased with that reaction! Especially as Tommy’s other work is just incredible.


Since putting the campaign out there, we’ve also had a lot of people getting in touch saying much it resonates with them and how glad they are that we’re trying to do something about it. So overall, a really positive response!



Was there a specific moment which inspired you to start writing Keep Breathing, or was the idea brewing for a while?

I believe it was at 2:39am on Christmas morning just gone. I was in bed and couldn’t sleep. My head was swimming with #metoo stuff, and how even though everyone else had publicly nodded to their experiences of sexual assault and rape, I hadn’t felt I could because there were some incidents I just didn’t want to open myself up to talking about, and then there was one where I was still convinced that what had happened was my fault. I was drunk and had said no repeatedly, then after about half an hour of persistence while I was trying to sleep, I gave in because it was easier. I didn’t say the word ‘yes’ but my body gave in. Why didn’t I stagger out of there? Why wasn’t I firmer with him? Why did I even agree to staying there? But I was so drunk and verging on the edge of consciousness. He was sober. It really messed with my head afterwards for so long. But why? It seemed so trivial- just one of those things that happen when you get too drunk.


I then deliberately shifted my mind onto film because I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I said to myself “Right, come up with an idea for a film with two characters in one location so we can just crack on with it and make something decent in a month’s time”… and that’s when the idea just came to me. Checked the time. 2:39. Bam. Except it grew into something so much bigger that we wanted to put a lot more time and effort into, to do it justice.


You co-wrote Keep Breathing with Tommy Draper, what was Tommy like as a writing partner?

Amazing. The thing I’m really bad at is writing a first draft, but he did it quickly, threw some brilliant ideas into the pot and then we had a really solid foundation to work with. Mark, our director, was also involved every step of the way giving notes on every other draft. The first two drafts we did actually went in a completely different direction, and then we sat down to work out exactly what we wanted the piece to say which is what turned it into the compelling story we have now. Tommy and I took in turns to play with the script. He was fine-tuning the action and the drama while I was fine-tuning a lot of the dialogue. We had a good balance and I don’t think we had any disagreements. Having said that…. I’d love to see his response to this question! Probably quite different!


Your short film Cadence was quite the success, it has had over a million views and is currently being used as an education tool about driving awareness, is there something similar you’d like to achieve with Keep Breathing?

Definitely. We want to tour it around schools, colleges and universities with a workshop and presentation. The film will get students’ attention (we all liked watching videos in school!) and afterwards, we can kick off the conversation with a discussion about the story and characters. Getting people talking about it, thinking about it, and aware of it is the first step to solving it as it should mean that they are more mindful when in the moment. Once it’s done its educational tours and film festival circuit, we want to release it online with a campaign, containing some facts and statistics found in our on-going survey and research. Hopefully the festivals will help give it the buzz it needs for a strong online launch.


Keep Breathing and Cadence are quite similar in the sense that both short films have an important story to tell, they have narratives that will feel familiar to a lot of people but are not shown enough in the media. Is there a reason you’re attracted to telling stories like these?

I think the reason I found an interest in filmmaking was because of how movies made me feel, and the things I learned from them. For example, take the film The Butterfly Effect, this film realigned my thinking and outlook on life. I’m not even sure it intended to. I used to constantly be living in the past thinking “what if I’d done that differently, where would I be now?”.. I’d really dwell on my decisions after I made them, and it’d keep me awake at night wondering if I’ve done the right thing. Even when I was 6 I ran down to my mum crying at midnight because I regretted the choice I made about which sunglasses to buy three weeks previous. The Butterfly Effect made me realise that going back and trying to fix things would disrupt everything else, and that everything happens for a reason. Some other films that have influenced my thinking or taught me something valuable are Seven Pounds, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Detroit, The Day After Tomorrow and tonnes more. Filmmaking is such a powerful tool. It provides entertainment and escapism, but it can also change the world.



Alex Stroud & Emmeline Kellie at the Midlands Movies Awards 2018
Alex Stroud & Emmeline Kellie at the Midlands Movies Awards 2018

You’re an Actor, Producer and Writer, do you have a favourite and why?

I’d say my heart belongs to acting but I really do love it all.


Do you see a future where you actively undertake all three roles or is there one you would like to focus all your efforts on in the future?

I think acting is what I actually want to do for a career. I really, really want to go into TV and work on lots of amazing projects with talented and inspiring people. In an ideal world, acting is where I’d make my income, however, I think I’m always going to have a passion project on the go as well. If I can produce at least one really decent film every year, I’ll be happy - it’s such a fulfilling experience.


What is your experience filmmaking in the Midlands, is it a good region to make films in?

The East Midlands is fantastic. We have such a wonderful close-knit film community and everyone is so keen and supportive. I think everyone has worked with everyone at some point, and we have at least a handful of amazingly talented people to fill every single position in a film crew. Apart from a grip maybe- I’m not sure I know any grips.


Was there a specific moment in your life where you knew you wanted to embark on a career in the media/film?

Not that I can remember. I’ve always wanted to act since I was small. I loved school plays, loved going to the Valle Academy of Performing Arts and loved making my mum sit through many private performances that I’m sure she was a huge fan of. Film came about quite suddenly when I was presented with the brief for my GCSE art coursework. My teacher said “you can do whatever you like, whether it’s a painting, a sketch, pottery, a sculpture, a cross-stitch… hell you could even make a film if you’re crazy enough!” … I chose crazy and I loved it. Picked up a crappy digital camera from my mum’s drawer, flicked it into video mode and bribed my friends to act for me, and then started shooting. Never looked back.


What should the industry be doing that it currently isn’t for independent filmmakers such as yourself?

Funding. I just feel like the amount of hoops you have to jump through to get any kind of funding secured for a film, whether it’s a short or feature, is soul-destroying. Although I do understand that there’s sadly not much money in the pot anymore. Maybe there should be more peer-mentorship and shadowing opportunities set up with the people who are achieving the things we all want to be achieving. I don’t really know but it’s so hard to move forward.


Keep Breathing aside, have you any other projects in the pipeline?

There’s lots of ideas being thrown about at the minute - I think it’ll either be a fun, snappy short that we can do on a couple hundred quid, or our first feature!


If people would like to take part in the funding for Keep Breathing, how can they do so?

You can find all details on our campaign page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/kbshortfilm


Be sure to check out all the rewards! The campaign ends on 17th September at 10:00am.



By midlandsmovies, Aug 29 2018 06:55PM



Outlawed (2018)


Directed by Adam Collins & Luke Radford


Outlaw Productions


“Who do you think you are? Bruce Willis?”


So says one cop in new Nottingham film Outlawed. And by all accounts, co-director, co-writer and main star of the film Adam Collins – also a former Royal Marine Commando – may just be exactly that in his new flick which does a damn good imitation of Die Hard and similar retro actioners.


We open on Nottingham in 1996 as we hover over the city at night before unhinged criminal Harry Archibald (Ian Hitchens) executes the city’s Mayor in an alley in a ruthless power move. But the whole incident is witnessed which sets in motion the story of Outlawed.


A local film of some flair, we are then whisked away to Afghanistan – via a CGI plane – and the first thing to note is the amazing production values of what could have been a homemade affair.


As the titles roll we get a parachute drop, a shoot-out and an impressive award ceremony. Whatever little money the filmmakers have is all up on screen and whilst the accents keep it firmly a Midlands film, the movie has far more Hollywood sheen than I was expecting.


This is partly the result of the fantastic professional look from the five cinematographers. The shadows, the lighting, the silhouettes and even the daytime shooting from the combined efforts of Robert Beck, Troy Edige, Will Price, Nico Turner and Louis Vella all make it incredibly visually interesting. They film Nottingham landmarks such as Trent Bridge, Nottingham City War Memorial and Nottingham Council House with great skill from the start.


Back to the story, we get to find out that commando Jake O’Neill returns from war to be offered a deal with Archibald now in his new position of power. After refusing he struggles to adjust to normal life and when he finds his girlfriend cheating on him, his life begins to spiral out of control.


However, when a girl from his past (Jessica Norris as Jade Roberts) contacts him to investigate her father’s death, he agrees but soon after a failed rescue mission in which a young boy loses his life, Jake completely self-destructs in orgies of drink and drugs. The film’s acting is solid but there are times when clichéd dialogue slips in a bit too often (“I’m not cut out to play happy families”, “welcome to the party” and “there’s no school like the old school”). These are quirky nods to other action films but seemed a bit too familiar in their repetition.


However, it’s the action – also influenced by 80s and 90s classics – that is most impressive here. A deal-gone-wrong at a car yard that ends in a violent shootout with machine guns and explosions and is impressively handled. And as the narrative steamrolls ahead – albeit a bit messily – there’s frankly no time to get bored at all.


A sequence of commandos tackling an armed group of hostage-takers filmed in an abandoned factory has echoes of Robocop and slews of bloodied guts hark back to Verhoeven’s other brutal classic Total Recall. A nice Wilhelm scream is a sly nod to old Hollywood stunt-work yet leads us to the amazing sound mixing. Outlawed has expertly handled the difficult balancing act of complex explosions and gun shots alongside the dialogue and is a joy to the ears as well as the eyes!


From a snow-covered graveyard to an impressive church, the sheer variety of visuals throughout is spectacular for this level of filmmaking. Only an operation room betrays the film’s production values. Yet, as we pick up Jake in his most dire of times, his dismissal means he heads to a casino to gamble. And with his tuxedo and liquor, Adam Collins could easily be considered for the next James Bond. Some racy sex scenes are sprinkled throughout and Collins’ natural charm on screen works well with the confidence shown behind the camera where he has utilised different influences from a genre he’s clearly passionate about.


And whilst the script could do with some polish, the film’s ending is a spectacular revenge action sequence as Jake rescues his loved one from the clutches of the villain. Getting to this point we have seen all the right pieces for a Hollywood actioner – sex, style, seedy goings on as well as guns, bullets and explosions. However, this breath-taking finale will satisfy and then some. The full rampant final sequence includes motorcycle stunts, snipers, fist fights, people on fire as well as grenades and a rocket launcher (!)


Filmmakers who feel the leap from the local to Hollywood is too huge a barrier should study Outlawed. With plenty of inventive filming techniques, the film is the kind of movie that can see filmmakers move from the independent scene to larger studio-helmed projects.


One of the hardest things for me here is to review the film as being at the high end of the low budget local film community OR the low end of the high budget film community. It straddles both which is actually a huge compliment. Fans of Olympus Has Fallen will enjoy this, but the film demonstrates how local filmmakers are no longer showing them to “just their mates” but creating movies vying for position on your shelf or in your Netflix playlist.


Certainly not without some flaws – most of which come from a handful of over-used genre clichés – Outlawed should be seen as a high benchmark for regional filmmakers looking to create feature films that can compete in the big leagues. Tackling a genre – action – that requires a high degree of skill and dexterity on technical aspects like stunts, special effects and fight choreography is also no easy task. The fact that Outlawed delivers plenty of all of these in spades is testament to the startling cinematic talents of all the incredible cast and crew. And action fans will love the high-octane thrills and shattering action all the way through.


Mike Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 19 2018 07:30AM



Midlands Review - Bare


Recently released from prison is Steven Arnold’s Bill who in flashback is revealed to have been violent to his partner in a new drama film called BARE from Staffordshire director Ash Morris.


Bill initially seems withdrawn and somewhat forlorn as he makes his way back to his neighbourhood with his brother Ryan (Rob Haythorn of TV series Waterloo Road). Returning to his mum’s home, the narrative is interspersed with scenes of chaotic frenzy as we see Bob in his prison cell on the night of his arrest.


“A real man wouldn’t hit his woman", his mother screams at him at breakfast and the reality of his new position contrasts starkly with Ash Morris’ directorial use of flashbacks, which are a dreamy haze of blood and fierceness. A female victim, who is also pregnant, is seen drenched in blood staring at her reflection in a mirror seemingly contemplating the events that have just occurred.


Some smoky slow-motion shadow boxing and a Rocky-esque run in park with grey tracksuit shows Bill’s roots in violence before the film guides us to the shocking event itself.


Without scrimping on the graphic nature of the attack, we are then whisked back to present where William in joined by Bruce Jones (of Coronation Street) – an old friend who makes disturbingly light conversation of Will’s drink and violent past. And perhaps future.


Strangely, as although the violence isn’t condoned in Bare, the minor suggestion that alcohol or a woman’s taunting provokes the outrage is somewhat problematic. As someone who has been trained on the Freedom Programme, it is well established that whilst a lowering of inhibitions is without question through drink, the dominator shouldn’t be excused from choices made. Here in Bare, the character’s inherent violent nature could have been made more overt aside from the obvious boxing analogy.


That said, the film provides no easy answers and a great shot of blood-soaked water in a bath is a strikingly memorable image. Again, Bare doesn’t shy away from the harshness with a grotesque shot of his pregnant partner discharging blood shocking the audience in its deliberate portrayal.



Nottingham writer, and award-winning novelist, Nicola Monaghan says a lot with a little dialogue and the story’s non-linear structure gives us a glimpse into the past and future which was edited with great dexterity and form. Sound mixer Rick Smith, also from Nottingham, has worked on the This is England TV show and the brutal fist crunching, screaming matches and music are edited together brilliantly to give the film an aural jolt.


As we come to the film’s conclusion, a slide into the world of illegal underground fighting leaves hints, albeit small ones, of a touch of redemption and remorse as the reality of the consequences of the decisions he has made becoming hauntingly prescient.


A harsh uncompromising drama, Bare never lets up with its violence, darkness and serious tone which may be too much for sensitive viewers. However, it lays bare some horrible truths about domestic violence and the nature of its perpetrators, condemning and contemplating the various aspects of such situations. With technical flair and high production values, Bare is a fantastic Midlands film drama with strong performances from the whole cast and themes that will plague you long after watching.


Mike Sales




Watch the Bare teaser trailer below:






By midlandsmovies, Jul 19 2018 02:29PM




Midlands Spotlight - Them Pesky Kids launch new Nottingham film Ariella


Local film producer Ryan Harvey is one of the founders of Nottingham-based film production company, Them Pesky Kids who are about to unveil their new and upcoming projects in a new Midlands based event later this month.


On Friday 27th July, an industry audience will join Them Pesky Kids at the Nottingham Contemporary to celebrate another year of successful filmmaking plus an official premiere screening of their brand new crowdfunded short film Ariella.


Them Pesky Kids are a video production company based in Nottingham with a passion for storytelling and in Ariella a seemingly innocent waitress is told to keep an eye on two thugs hiding out in her café. But her own motives get in the way of her professionalism. A short crime-thriller by The Jobling Brothers, Ariella is part of a series of films the company are set to release in the coming months.



“We create films that focus on narrative and the way that a journey through the story, is what holds the audience’s attention. We love what we do, and we find passion and excitement in each project we decide to take on and develop”.


Collaborating with a talented network of filmmakers around the East Midlands, they have a track record of turning a variety concepts into marketable and effective productions.


Ryan Harvey adds, “Over the past year, we've been working extremely hard on building our business and creating a variety of short films to build into larger projects. And take to festivals around the world. Now we have a fantastic selection complete we're ready to release and so we're holding an exclusive screening for the cast, crew and key members of the local industry to share them”.


Following the momentum of their first sell-out showcase which lead to their successful Kickstarter campaign, the whole team are looking forward to their evening showcase in the run up to bigger things.


To find out more about Them Pesky Kids and their exciting new projects please check out their official website at www.thempeskykids.co.uk


By midlandsmovies, Jul 7 2018 07:46AM

Trentside (2018)


Directed by Charlie Delaney


Trentside is a 30 minute short written and directed by Charlie Delaney. It tells the story of Sterling (Josh Barrett), a troubled teen who happens upon a disturbing Super 8 reel in an abandoned building. After watching the footage, he has strange visions and dreams, finding it hard to distinguish reality from fantasy.


As a directorial debut, this film is pretty damned fantastic. Delaney has a great eye and there are some great shots and sequences here. Spencer’s foray into the darker areas of the abandoned building is a particular standout, with the use of light and shadow joining the superb sound design and eerie soundtrack to produce an incredibly creepy sequence.


‘Creepy’ is the operative word here; Trentside is a mood piece, my favourite type of horror film. The emphasis is on creepy visuals and, especially, sound to unsettle the viewer and Trentside delivers in spades. The opening scenes set the tone, with the flickering fire and the long shot of people arriving and standing in near-silence around it. I hate jumpscares but the ones here are used well, breaking the tension as needed rather than just thrown in now and then for a cheap shock. In fact, there’s one moment in the abandoned building that many would have used a jumpscare for, but the fact that they chose not to really drives the horror home.


A good horror filmmaker should know when it’s more effective to avoid the jumpscare, so kudos to Delaney for making this excellent choice here. The film-reel footage also feels genuine (perhaps filmed on Super 8 for authenticity?) and is evocative of the cursed VHS tape in The Ring.


At first I wasn’t sure what to make of Barrett’s performance as the lead – he seemed a little monotone and his lines were often mumbled and a little hard to make out. It quickly became clear that that was the point, though; Spencer is a moody teen with troubles on his mind, sent to therapy for violent outbursts in class. Barrett’s performance is completely genuine for a troubled teenager, and we’ve all sat behind kids like Sterling on the tram. Barrett’s performance gives him nuance and vulnerability.


Trentside was made for a budget of around £2000 and so was shot ‘guerrilla’ style, ensuring they made the most of the settings available. And boy did they make the most of them! From the skatepark to the Savoy Cinema to Sterling’s meditative moment on Trent Bridge, this film bleeds Nottingham (despite having been partially filmed in Yorkshire). As a Nottingham resident it was nice to see these little touches popping up and giving it a sense of authenticity. The budget is put to good use as this film certainly doesn’t look or sound cheap. The rave scene especially comes off well as it’s clear that there’s only a small group present, but the use of smoke and the barrage of sound makes it feel much much bigger than it is.


If I have any criticisms it’s that a couple of the supporting actors’ line deliveries are a little wobbly and that the therapy scenes slow the film down to a crawl (just a pacing thing, not at all the fault of Anita Dashwood who does an excellent job in the dual role of therapist and ghost), but these are merely niggles and the film overcomes them with great ease.


It’s not the most original premise, perhaps, but horror is one of those genres where that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Horror fans expect certain tropes, and as long as the production values and creep factor are high, a plot that’s slightly derivative is very easy to forgive.


This is a solid debut and a very strong foundation to build a career on – good luck, Charlie, I have a suspicion you’re going to go far!


Sam Kurd

https://twitter.com/splend

By midlandsmovies, Jun 16 2018 08:21AM



Songbird (2018)


Directed by Sophie Black


Written by Tommy Draper

Produced by Laura C. Cann.

Triskelle Pictures


Starring Janet Devlin (from ITV’s The X Factor), Songbird is an enchanting new short following a female singer who encounters a wicked stranger set on stealing her talents.


A folktale that jumps swiftly between reality and fantasy Songbird comes from Nottingham filmmaker Sophie Black and her Triskelle Production company who has already seen success with the 2016 film Night Owls.


With a feathery familiarity, here our red-headed heroine is Jennifer (played with a subtle vulnerability by Devlin) who is dropped off near a forest at the film's beginning. But as she holds up a writing board which says “Thanks for the ride”, we get the impression that all is not as it seems in the woods today.


Heading into the countryside, the eerie sounds are well edited as the crunch of leaves by Converse-wearing feet introduces us to the tone of the film which mixes a modern hipster vibe with fairy tale folklore.


Cutting to 3 weeks earlier at an open mic in a local café, a chattering and chirping audience isn’t paying a great deal of attention as Jennifer plays a soft rhyming ballad with her acoustic guitar. A wonderland of poetical lyrics sends us down an aural rabbit hole complimented by Black’s potent cinematography with its dreamy visuals and hazy glow.


As the audience warms to her soaring vocals we cut to a set of crusty finger nails drumming on the bar to reveal an evil dark-eyed woman. Whilst Jennifer is spotted by a local producer, all looks well but she is soon confronted by the ominous lady in an alley outside the venue. As a strange powder is blown over her by the old crone she awakens at home, yet an uncomfortable phone call reveals her inability to speak. Black invites the audience to ask if this is a medical condition, but a visit to the doctor finds nothing wrong and her frustration kicks in with her vocal wings wholly clipped.


However, a handwritten book of spells and rune symbols is discovered and we are migrated back to the film’s opening as Jennifer begins collecting frogs and mushrooms to concoct a potion that perhaps can release her from this spell.


Black alludes to well-known fairy-tale myth from Sleeping Beauty - as Jennifer passes out - to Devlin’s auburn hair which plays to the imagery of Little Red Riding Hood’s adventures in the woods. As well as this, Therese Collins is excellent as a classic villain keeping her victim in a state of bondage with her incantations. She mixes a dash of Helena Bonham Carter witchcraft with fellow vocal-thief Ursula from The Little Mermaid as she incubates her stolen voices in jars amongst the trees.


2018 has had a fair share of similar cinematic encounters with fantasy voices, from the silent creature in Guillermo Del Toro’s aquatic fable The Shape of Water, as well as Duncan Jones’ Mute. Black tackles some parallel themes using well-shot special effects, gothic make-up and a superb choral score at its conclusion to deliver a bittersweet fairy tale.


Like all good fairy tales though, the film could be interpreted with having a number of symbolic undertones including an allegory of stage fright. As a musician myself, the fear of losing one’s voice can be difficult to swallow and here the film showcases a strong female trapped in a cage of insecurities.


Songbird is a tremendous short that shows the importance of voices and how they can truly transform and heal when you are filled with doubts and a lack of confidence. Sophie Black demonstrates a skill for the craft of filmmaking and, others take note, has created an artistic short with a raft of narrative to keep an audience captivated. With a selection of thematic and emotional beats, Songbird therefore takes flight with a magical trip from the mic stand to wonderland.


Midlands Movies Mike


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