Best of Leicester 2015
Midlands Movies Mike looks at 10 of the most exciting films, cinemas, filmmakers and festivals in Leicester this year.
Gatling Gun Productions
Producing short and feature length film productions, Gatling Gun Productions are very much a Midlands venture where they not only make fictional stories but also produce music videos, documentaries, educational videos and comedy sketches in the area. In addition, Gatling Gun say they want to “promote this region of Britain for its rich culture and countryside” and go on to explain that uniquely all of their cast and crew are in fact volunteers. They hope these volunteers share the company's commitment to improve themselves personally and have a positive impact on the local community and their ethos is to also give others opportunities to experience and practice different aspects of movie-making.
The Wrong Floor
The Wrong Floor is a new British grindhouse action thriller by Leicester siblings the Hamill brothers who have been making their movie around the UK and Spain over the last 18 months. Currently in production, the film tells the story of Danny, whose father, a pioneering research scientist, has disappeared. Suspecting foul-play, Danny goes undercover at the research centre where he worked and soon discovers that there is something sinister at work. Marc and his brother Carl not only make the film, they both star in the movie as well. As well as the many roles they play on set, the brothers got the great artistry skills of Tom Hodge (a Hollywood designer originally from Leicester) to create the poster for the film. After seeing his design for schlock spoof Hobo with a Shotgun (which starred Rutger Hauer) they asked him to design something for their film and came back with a brilliant design. See the artwork and film’s progress on the link below.
The Piccadilly Cinema
Showing a range of Bollywood and Hollywood films in the heart of Leicester, the Piccadilly Cinema is one of the great independent cinemas in the city. Based on Green Lane Road in the city’s multi-cultural area of Evington, the cinema showcases a wide range of international films and movies. With local restaurants and more sights nearby, the cinema shows films in a variety of languages including Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. As a cornerstone of the community, the cinema gives film fanatics in the community a wide range of choices from across the globe as well as established blockbusters and beyond.
Firebug Film Club
The Firebug Film Club is a monthly night of double bills and trilogies shown at the upstairs lounge of one of Leicester’s most renowned bars in the city. With a wide range of films, recent double bills have featured High Fidelity & Empire Records, Mean Girls & Clueless and Evil Dead & Shaun of the Dead. With free entry to each showing and free popcorn for attendees these relaxed atmosphere social events and cult movie screenings have proved popular to those seeking to see films in an entertaining environment.
The Short Cinema
Run by Alexzandra Jackson, the Short Cinema has established itself at the forefront of showcases for Leicester-based filmmakers. An annual event held at The Phoenix Independent Cinema has now been going for 8 years from its grass roots screenings to a much larger festival showing established and emerging talent from the region. With a mix of genres, styles and budgets, local writers and filmmakers can come together to exhibit their work to the ever-growing filmmaking community. Eclectic and forever growing under the continued efforts from across the community, the next event is already taking its 2015 submissions and has continually championed local Leicester film from its inception.
Midlands Movies has been following the ongoing creation of this feature by writer-director Doug Cubin which is now on its final post-production run. A chilling feature film, Doug has set his film during World War 2 and filmed not only in Leicester but across the UK including at The Shuttleworth airplane collection and at an actual fort in Dover too. With Hurricanes, Spitfires and a range of artillery, Doug has ensured period detail is at the forefront of his film. In addition, a partnership of Sawscale Productions and Seven / Five Productions has seen this anti-war horror set in 1944 following a small group of German soldiers, returning to Berlin, who take refuge in an old fort. The fort is not on their map and has long been abandoned as the darkness closes in and strangely the fort seems to have its own sinister agenda. Starring Jordan Handford, Andrew Joshi, Sean Sheahan and Eric Wharton, follow the film’s progress at the link below:
A Dozen Summers
Children's feature film A Dozen Summers by Kenton Hall is a feature-length comedy about and for children while still being funny and relevant to adults too. The film concerns itself with what it’s really like to be 12 in the 21st century and whilst Kenton has been involved in acting, writing and directing a large number of projects in the Midlands, this 2014 release is still making waves around the region for its unique view on youth and growing up. This low-budget independent production was made all the easier by fan support and from embarrassing fathers to eclectic mothers, the whimsical beats are cemented by the central characters jumping from one scene to the next with a click of a finger and viewers will want to leap into this exciting adventure with them. A superb first feature with a fast paced plot and assured control from director Hall, this is a Summer that you won’t want to end.
Jess O’Brien is a young writer, director and actor from the Pauline Quirke Academy (PQA) in Leicester and is beginning her first film outside of the PQA. With mentoring from Bad Shoes’ Keith Allott. Jess also stars in Keith’s film Flawless, a 5 minute short focusing on time and causality amongst other larger themes with an intelligent circular narrative. Cleverly written by James Worrad and Lucy Wade (who split the task between them by taking the voice of separate characters) the film is a large effort from a whole group of people but Jess’ central performance is key to the film’s success and this 13 year old has big dreams with her new film, Coping. With enormous achievements already behind her and new opportunities flooding in, Flawless’ success at 16 film festivals and counting has helped this bright young star become a huge talent to look out for in the future.
Coming off the back of the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in a car park in Leicester, Rhys Davies follows up his mockumentary How to Make a Movie for £43 Pounds with a short film inspired by the finding of the Last Plantagenet. The King of England’s unearthing provides the film with its main plot that sees a young boy, Gull (played by 12 year old local actor David Knight) beginning his own journey with his Granddad. The role of the granddad is played by the sixth Doctor Who, Colin Baker and together with Gull, they develop a sensitive relationship between generations that allows both of them to dream and follow their own path. With showings around the city in 2015 as part of Richard III’s internment, Davies premiered the film at Cannes and dedicates it to “dreamers everywhere”.
The latest project from director Alex Thomas is set in 1980 around Leicester and with its rumbling bass music and a simple black and white font straight from the Two Tone music genre, the film revels in the traditional Ska music revival from the early part of that decade. It also sets the background to a highly charged and emotional short movie concerning race-relations and family and friend relationships. The film’s sense of time and place is second to none from Bev’s chopper bike to the poster of The Specials adorning her wall whilst the adherence to the real-life locations of Leicester – including The Shed and references to Highfields and Market Square – make the realism pop. The fantastic soundtrack combined with the exceptional costume design thrust the audience into the era and the story, although not the most complex, contains multiple levels of meaning, forcing the viewer to confront the tricky choices along with the characters. The film is being shown in May 2015 at Leicester’s Phoenix cinema in the city’s cultural quarter.