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By midlandsmovies, Nov 26 2017 09:16PM



Grindhouse Planet Film Festival 2017


Still a young pretender on the Midlands circuit, the Grindhouse Planet Film Festival may have started small but has grown into a successful alternative to the mainstream regional showcases with its focus on the bloody and gruesome. Midlands Movies Mike heads to the home of horror for the second time for another dose of sleazy celluloid.


Now in its second year, the festival ran on 26th November with over 50 films being chosen to screen at Leicester city’s The Shed venue. With a cosy and friendly atmosphere the films comprised shorts and features from the local to the international whilst all the while maintaining its grass roots grime.


With a 48-hour film challenge and a question and answer session from filmmaker Steve Lawson, the event had a varying array of talented filmmakers and fans eager to see the nasty gems on offer.




The festival was spread over 10 hours and included such fan favourites as West Midlands zombie comedy Still, web-series sci-fi shocker The Rockman and dark drama All Bad Things.


Blood, guts, nudity, violence and laughs were all covered across the films and although Quentin Tarantino drew attention to the genre with his 2007 homage to the 70s double-features of his youth, it was great to see local filmmakers show their love for the exploitation movie tropes of the past as well.




Around the halfway mark, The Shed held host to a Q & A with Leicester filmmaker Steve Lawson of Creativ Studios. Having recently completed Hellriser (our coverage here) and a co-directing stint on short Time, and Again (review) the writer-director was happy to share his current experience with the passionate audience.


“Jumping from making my first film to working with distribution companies I realised very quickly you have to compromise a lot and change a lot of things but you cannot make films without producers”, explained Steve.


“After doing the low-budget Essex Heist which wasn’t a mega-seller but was distributed into Asda and other major retailers, other companies began taking my calls,” he joked. He went on to say: “My new film though is for Hereford Films (We Still Kill the Old Way) who are based in London. It’s a serious horror slightly away from the grindhouse style”.


Steve is a firm believer in filming efficiently which he says zero-budget filmmakers should have an understanding of - as whether you are making a £10,000 film or a £10 million film, filmmakers should prioritise the important business side of things. And with his career in full swing Steve gave some exclusive nuggets about his upcoming film.


“This new movie stars Shane Taylor from Band of Brothers as the lead and support comes from Rula Lenska who hasn’t made a film since Queen Kong. Actually I don’t know what I’m doing here as I start tomorrow at 9am and should be prepping!”




As well as Steve, we heard from Kelly McCormack who is heavily involved in the film-making scene in Leicester and beyond, and was down at The Shed supporting The Rockman (as associate producer) as well as Christmas based short The N0ughty List as a make-up artist.


“How did I jump from one to the other?” asks Kelly. “Well, they needed someone to put lots of fake blood on Santa and I had lots of fake blood”. Encapsulating the grindhouse spirit and community, Kelly feels the support from fans and filmmakers often help get these zero-budget films off the ground.


“I’ve been here most of the day and loved Charismata but the 48 hour film challenge was so good to watch to see what local people can do in a short time. Once you get a team that’s fully on board you know that it’s going to go mostly right with these mini-projects. Regarding the festival itself I was here last year but The Shed has had a refurbishment and the filmmaking community has had an even better atmosphere over the last 12 months so it’s made this year even more special”.


She adds that the spirit of genre film fans helps inspire others too. “There’s also a lot of networking going on and this is the type of festival where you can see people achieve whatever they set out to do. And we shouldn’t forget that big thanks should go to the organiser Marc Hamill as it’s been a really great day".


Another attendee was actor, filmmaker and grindhouse fan Ryan Flamson who starred as the main character for one of the entrants in the 48 hour film challenge.


“Well I starred as Coke-head the Clown [laughs] and it was a lot of fun and the short got a great crowd reaction. The turnout has been really good and the local talent is far better than people realise”.


Ryan adds, “People don’t always get the opportunity to showcase these types of films but Grindhouse Planet helps this and the quality of production is getting better and better. Especially with the budget limitations we all have”.


“Another thing is that people can come here to learn", says Ryan. "Steve Lawson gave a great Q & A about distribution and you can hear lots of feedback and get involved in networking too. I really loved The Killer Must Kill At Christmas from the 48-hour film challenge so recommend people go check that out”.


Check Ryan's recommendation below




With another successful year completed, the fans of saws, gore and more once again demonstrated their appreciation of all the talent on show and were buzzing to hear more about a third festival in 2018. Lets hope Marc and the team can grind out another successful full house of fright flicks next year. I'm almost certain he will.


Check out the official website here: http://www.grindhouseplanet.com


Check out The N0ughty List which is being shown before our own Batman Returns Christmas screening at Firebug in Leicester https://www.facebook.com/events/349772655487985/



By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2017 05:55PM




Midlands Professional - Set-maker and Prop Designer David Hardcastle


In a brand new series of articles Midlands Movies will be talking to a range of regional experts who are sharing advice and hints and tips from their particular field in film. First up to pass on their knowledge and experience is set-designer and prop-maker David Hardware who currently works at Roasted Studios in Leicester.


David Hardware has been a creative force for many years yet there's none stranger tale than his background in cake decoration where he excelled before hitting the film industry later in his career. After joining the Army Catering Corps at just 17, David explained he “learnt how to pretty much cook everything”. The talented set designer would eventually went on to use the creative skills from that role in film where the elaborate gourmet buffets were displayed on stage or based around specific themes.


Unbelievably some of these food courses were interactive which David says “made them magical” but after redundancy in 1995, David moved on to work for Location Catering and here was his true crossover with the film industry. “Location Catering was owned and run by Phil Hobbs who was married to Stanley Kubrick’s daughter. That company catered for a number of productions including Linda LaPlant’s Trial & Retribution, Nike adverts and A League of Their Own”, explains David.


“Then came along Eyes Wide Shut and I was to be the chef on the craft vehicle, feeding cast and crew including Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman! We moved considerably as well – The Lainsborough Hotel in London and Pinewood of course. And it was there where I stood on the New York street film set in absolute awe! I saw many things behind the scenes and Kubrick being Kubrick extended filming to 18 months. Filming was pretty much always a closed set, so the craft vehicle was sadly axed early”.



He didn’t realise at the time but David had caught a bug, and not a man-flu bug, but “one that suggests you have found a passion” he remarks. So it was then when David opened his own catering company and inadvertently met with celebrities and enjoyed the magic of film sets.


But soon, after a desire to move from behind to in-front of the camera, David learnt many things by simply being on film sets. “I got the Lead role of Black in a very small independent number, zero budget, you know the score. This production had animatronics, many outfits and masks and a full head cast was needed for my character”.


Then after gaining a small role in the Hamill Brothers’ The Wrong Floor (aka Toxic Apocalypse) and subsequently practising face and body casting for masks, David the prop-maker was born. During the production of their following film, David was asked to create a prop of a special book to grab an audience’s attention.


“I also made other props too which created the need for film sets, so I offered, at no cost other than materials and I was of course allowed to play with ideas based on the script. And so the set-builder was born too. As the writer adapted the script he asked for a statue of Jesus, with an arm that moves like a fruit machine and a compartment that opens revealing something. I duly obliged, I just made it 5 foot tall!”


When Roasted studios moved to new premises, David realised what his passion was all along and David says the best prop-maker can make things out of stuff other folk may throw away - certainly advising to check out free-cycle and up-cycle sites.


“Freebie sites are a fabulous way of finding props for sets. Especially on a zero budget one. I am currently coming to the finishing touches to what I call our shopping alley. It will be very Victorian, Harry Potter-ish, if I dare, once it’s complete. It’s allowed me to play and build based on what free materials I could find”.



David also recommends getting the basics right in terms of asking the right questions of filmmakers as well as maintaining the standard of the set-maker’s own skills and ability.


“You must first consider the space that you have, and what is required in that space, followed by how are they going to film in this space? Ask yourself if it can be built, what is the budget, is it enough? Also consider when is it required for and for how long? If you are making a set, and especially if it’s a copy of something, then you will need a fundamental skill set – from basic DIY skills, to painting, decorating and awareness of how it will be lighted”, say David.


His most recent creation is a police station cell. Currently without a door (!) David says that it is sometimes about what the camera can’t see and getting the information from the filmmakers as early as possible even if the story boards have not been completed. David goes on, “I need to know how interactive the set is going to be and how many scenes the set will be used for”.


Durability, the use of moving parts and level of detail are also key to the success of the set-designer’s role so those looking for a future in the arena should get used to asking lots of questions. The build space will obviously dictate what angles are available, although moving walls and interchangeable doors is something David is trying to achieve at Roasted Studios, which will allow for the more discerning director to have more options.



“What we are offering at Roasted has not been readily available before. I aim to build sets that are not generally accessible to the independent film production company. The first one is of course the cell, and we have a fabulous stairwell to accompany it. Hopefully once the writers out there find out about what we’re offering, they can then write it into their stories”.


With future planned sets including a night club with working bar, a boxing gym and maybe an airport check in desk with conveyers and scanners, David encourages budding young filmmakers and creatives to get involved. “We have many opportunities for upcoming prop makers or set builders, where they can see their own handy work in future productions from the studio”.


David finishes, “I am also very keen to get media students aware of where we are and what we do and link with any colleges on a course opportunity level. I have no formal qualifications in set building but with the things I have built I have had an impact on the stories filmed here themselves. I always aim to ‘add the magic’”.


To find out more about the magic at Roasted Studios, or to take a tour round their sets, or to even chat to David and Marc about the opportunities please contact them at https://www.roastedstudios.co.uk


Also check out David's Prop-making Facebook Group page: https://www.facebook.com/FilmPropMakers

By midlandsmovies, Mar 20 2016 12:19PM

Midlands Movies speaks to one half of Roasted Studios, Marc Hamill whose new feature film The Wrong Floor is about to be released in 2016 and his reaction to a recent screening of his movie at new regional film festival.


Indie-Lincs is a new festival in Lincolnshire which covers both local and international filmmakers and champions low and micro-budget films.


Taking place over the weekend of March 11th and 12th the festival organisers were not looking for sequels, remakes or adaptations but focused on the best original work from around the globe. In addition, they hoped the filmmakers and the audience could network successfully with each other and the independent filmmaking community.


With a programme of dynamic, inventive and challenging fiction as well as documentary and animated films, Indie-Fest is proud that it embodies the low budget filmmaking ethic.


One filmmaker who made the most of the opportunity was Marc Hamill. His production company Roasted Studios have recently completed their first grindhouse feature film called The Wrong Floor. Screening on the Saturday Marc was not only there to promote his film but enjoy the festival with the other attendees.


“Although I was primarily in attendance for the screening of The Wrong Floor, I couldn’t help but be seduced by the indie film offerings at this year’s festival”, says Marc. “From controversial social commentaries, to grindhouse carnage, a whole spectrum of hidden gems were given a stage to shine”.


Marc was also impressed by the level of talent at the festival. “The quality of the film making on display was certainly impressive, especially given that the festival focuses on micro-budget films. There was literally something for everyone. The highlight of the festival for me, being a filmmaker, was the workshop on making a short film for festivals. It was basically a cheaters guide to win awards at major festivals”.


Marc adds with a smile - “Filmmakers Phil Stevens and Domonique Webb explained their winning formula and demonstrated how to execute the perfect production to exploit the system. They expressed their ultimate disappointment at the success of their winning formula and it really felt that by sharing their knowledge, they were somehow cleansing their souls. You may be wondering what this winning formula may be, I will summarise quite severely: Make a social commentary film under 10 minutes with desaturated colours using handheld camera with excellent sound quality. That’s pretty much the long and short of it”.


Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln, the festival films also competed for prizes in several categories. The prizes take the form of an 'Imp' which is the emblem for Lincoln city and resides high up on a stone pillar in the city's magnificent gothic Cathedral.


The mischievous Imp was thought by the organisers as the perfect embodiment of the independent filmmaker's spirit, someone who dares to upset the equilibrium and do things their own way


Marc was impressed by the festival though and got a great reception for his own film too. “The whole atmosphere at the festival was upbeat and inspiring. The indie-lincs team did a fantastic job and made everyone feel welcome. It was a unique festival which I would highly recommend to film makers and film lovers alike”.


Find out more about Roasted Studios at this link here: http://thewrongfloor.com/


Indie-Lincs information is on their website at: http://www.indie-lincs.com/


The Hamill brothers at Indie-Lincs
The Hamill brothers at Indie-Lincs
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