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By midlandsmovies, Dec 12 2017 04:09PM



The Exchange (2017) Dir. Richard Miller


Directed by Richard Miller and Grant Archer, The Exchange is a mysterious three-minute short film made as part of the MyRodeReel Challenge, an online filmmaking challenge where the film’s running time must not exceed three minutes.


The Exchange starts off with the introduction of two men. One rings the doorbell as the other answers the door. Both of these men appear to be flamboyant, outgoing, friendly. As they accompany each other into the hallway we see the windows and panes are covered with old newspaper, the owner cranes his neck around the door to see no neighbours have seen his guest arrive as he triple locks the door behind him.


Regardless of the uneasy atmosphere, the film is surprisingly darkly comic at times. An eerie score by Stephen Theofanous compliments the perfectly timed direction by Miller and Archer. The actors Richard Shields and Robert Laird bounce off of each other fantastically and juggle comedy with fear really well, with one playing a confident well-spoken middle class Englishman whilst the other displays a more quiet, homely persona, forcing the audience to think what could possibly connect these two and what do they have to exchange.


I enjoy short films where the conclusion completely takes you by surprise, as so many short films are made, the successful ones are those with finales you don’t forget. This is fortunately the case with The Exchange, another successful project by Richard Miller who continues to impress with every new entry.


Having seen his previous directorial work in Ballpoint Hero and Life Flashes it’s no surprise why he is one of the finest filmmakers currently working in the Midlands.


I highly recommend The Exchange, a fantastic way to spend three minutes and a brilliant finalist for the 2017 MyRodeReel Challenge.


Guy Russell

https://twitter.com/budguyer


By midlandsmovies, Dec 12 2017 04:03PM



When Voices Unite (2017) Dir. Lewis Coates


Written and directed by Lewis Coates, When Voices Unite is an uneasy study on the powers of the internet and social media as we follow a protestor film a live video feed whilst investigating a suspicious building.


The film opens with our protagonist Jess (Lara Goodson) in her car preparing herself to enter a dilapidated building she believes is active and carrying unknown secrets the public need to know. She is talking to her followers via a live video feed, updating them of the current situation and explaining why she sees this exercise as a worthy cause.


“Global monitoring” and “Government access to our lives online” are the reasons behind Jess’s interest in exposing confidential government secrets. And it is this current issue that not only interests me but scores of others as we continually live in a growing online world. It’s exciting to see a local short film like When Voices Unite focus on important themes such as these, even more so because Coates isn’t heavy handed in his approach and makes sure the story of Jess reaching the building remains at the forefront.


When watching this short I was reminded of a similar independent film, The Blair Witch Project, as both films have a strong, tough and passionate female at the core of them. Here though, the Jess and Heather characters are risking their lives to get the perfect shot for their documentaries.


As the lone character Jess, Lara Goodson who portrays her, carries the film in great stride, never putting a foot wrong. She is accompanied only by a chat log seen at the bottom of the screen, the viewers of her feed giving her support and direction. An interesting effect by Coates to have the viewer one step ahead of the films protagonist as they can see all around her, knowing what’s coming before Jess does.


Supported using public money from Arts Council England, this is a good example of what should be funded. Lewis Coates has made a thrilling, topical short film with something important to say.


Guy Russell

https://twitter.com/budguyer



By midlandsmovies, Nov 17 2017 11:17AM



Careering (2017)

Directed by Lee Tomes & Daley Francis

Bang Average Films


“She'll guide you to your dream job... via a nightmare!”


The movie world has a history of short but great scenes of interviews from the antics of Step Brothers to the seriousness of Will Smith’s desperate father in The Pursuit of Happyness.


Ben Affleck has been in quite a few from a comedy turn in Good Will Hunting to something more sobering in The Company Men (and I’d add his sleazy boss from Boiler Room as well) and these experiences are ripe for picking apart as two strangers come together to judge one another.


With lashings of Brent-style Office humour containing awkwardness and embarrassment, Bang Average Films take a different path with their new short ‘Careering’. Focusing on a career advisor in a college, we are thrown straight into a short comedy film where things aren’t as they seem.


We begin with advisor Tracy sitting at a desk playing with a computer and a potted plant but the interview she’s about to start comes up smelling anything other than roses.


Then the chirpy Daphne (Hollie Burrows) joins and sits down on a nearby office chair. From Scooby Doo references to shortening her name, Tracy demeans Daphne (or “Daffers”) whilst possibly attempting to create a mood of light-heartedness. It is anything but jovial though and the brilliant ticks and quirks of lead actress Helen Lewis channel that weirdly unsettling “try-hard" colleague or boss we’ve all experienced at least one time in our career.


As the tables are turned, Daphne is shocked to see a celebratory drink being poured from a desk drawer hiding a glass decanter of liquor. The comedy comes from surprise as well as Tracy’s knack for ‘enjoying’ a job which turns potential artists and doctors away from their dreams. The tight script efficiently gets to the fun visual and verbal gags as the two lead actresses banter back and forth in an increasingly stunted relationship.


A cameo at the end from Flip You’s Peter James is a nice crossover to another Midlands comedy group – maybe a cinematic universe in the making, ha ha – but the trio of actors work well with their brief but important roles.


The Office comparisons are easy to make with any desk-bound comedy but directors Tomes and Francis keep their film short and sweet and is a great calling card for this new Midlands filmmaking group. With a hint of Pauline from The League of Gentleman thrown in as well, I envisage a long career in the Midlands movie scene ahead.


Midlands Movies Mike


Check out updates from Bang Average Films at their site and social media pages below:


http://www.bangaveragefilms.com

https://twitter.com/bangaveragefilm








By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2017 05:06PM


Loose Cannon (2017) Dir. Howard-Smith


Director Howard Smith presents Loose Cannon, a short film that follows recently discharged soldier Baz Locke (Simon Hawkins) as he struggles to adjust to civilian life.


We first see Baz travelling home on a train, face pressed against the window, calling his former partner Em (Lorren Winwood). The call doesn’t go as planned; Baz is keen to meet up however Em is not pleased to hear from him. The audience can only assume that Baz being in the Army was one of the factors as to why this relationship hasn’t worked.


After Em brushes Baz off on the phone we see the first example of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) come to the fore. A flashback of his dismissal causes him to lash out at the passenger opposite him. Before he’s even step foot in his hometown the warning signals are everywhere.


Whilst in town we see Baz visit his old friend and former soldier himself Jack (Gary Rogers), who offers advice on how to readjust now out of the army. Jack warns Baz off chasing Em down, saying she’s moved on but Baz is agitated however and bounces an idea off Jack.


Filmed on location around Birmingham, Loose Cannon benefits from this style of shooting as it gives the film a grounded reality. Something the audience can believe and really engross themselves in.


A reporter they both knew from the past might be interested in a story that’s been covered up by the government for years. A spate of suicides at Longmarsh Barracks were never investigated properly, Baz is adamant this was a cover up and teases to know why. And as events spiral out of control for Baz, he attempts to locate Em and expose a government cover up.


Shot and edited by Howard Smith himself, he uses several techniques early on to accompany Hawkins portrayal of a former soldier living with PTSD. An example of this appears early on in the film when on the train, Baz’s memory of being dismissed surges over him. This is edited in a frantic way, sounds are amplified and the colour is awash with a dark grade.


Loose Cannon reminded me of seeing Sly Stallone’s First Blood for the first time. A story about a man who has fought for his country, seen awful things during war, only to be discharged and seen as an unwanted nuisance in a peaceful town. Both Baz and John Rambo have fought for their freedom, only to be let down by their respective governments triggering their PTSD.


Whilst watching Loose Cannon, I made a comment to myself to look up whoever composed the score to see if their material was available online. To my surprise, the director here has used John Debney’s score for Sudden Death, a flawless choice which was used well in all the right place.


Overall Loose Cannon is a well-made 17-minute short film and another welcome addition to Smith’s previous work. Constructively I would like to see this film done as a feature if the chance ever arose so as to expand on the story more and explore the character Baz Locke better and his relationship with Em.


Some of the best feature films began their life as a short so maybe director Howard Smith is onto a winner.


You can watch the full short online on Vimeon here: https://vimeo.com/225168790


Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2017 10:49AM



Midlands Spotlight – Catharsis


With a successful cast and crew premiere at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema in August, Midlands Movies discovers more about local short film Catharsis from filmmaker Jay Martin.


Writer/director Jay Martin hails from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire and studied at the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies in 2015 where he began to develop Catharsis, his directorial debut.


The story follows Sandra (local actress Olivia Newton) who descends into drink and drugs after the loss of a child and the film is the culmination of a year and a half of dedication and commitment from a mostly local cast and crew.



Mark Jarvis (seen in a previous Midlands Movies film series we’ve covered called Let’s Bring Back Sophie) plays Isaac in the film and the regional focus of the movie meant it was made solely in and around greater Nottinghamshire.


“It's difficult to put into words the tremendous amount of love, respect, and gratitude I have for the entire cast and crew”, explains Jay. “A seventeen year old, first-timer, had no business working with such incredible talent!”


He adds, “With no producer on our backs hounding us for deadlines, we took the time to intricately develop every aspect of this film, and I truly believe that you see our love, and attention on screen. Every hardship we faced, we faced as a team”.




Although it is Jay’s first dramatic short, he has been involved with many previous projects which have included music videos ‘ABSORB - #PTFAD’ and ‘The Age of Stella – Lucilla’. And as production came to an end on Catharsis in May 2017, the director began developing his next short film project under the working title 'After Dark'.




Once completed, Catharsis was subsequently first shown at the 'Celebrate Short Film Festival' in Nottingham where not only did it have a tremendous reception, the dramatic short was awarded the converted 'Best Short Film' prize as well as a 'Best Director' win for Jay.


With a trailer soon to be released online and upcoming announcements on festival appearances and general release dates, Catharsis looks one to watch from an exciting and talented young filmmaker.


For more information check the film’s social media and IMDB accounts below:


Website: http://www.jaythefilmguy.com/


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaythefilmguy/?hl=en


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaythefilmguy


IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6509956/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 09:36PM



Time, and Again (2017) Dir. Kel Webster and Steve Lawson


Produced and directed by local filmmakers Kel Webster and Steve Lawson this new sci-fi short Time, and Again was independently made in Leicester and Nottingham and stars former Dr. Who Colin Baker alongside local actress Helen Crevel.


Baker has supported Midlands filmmakers before with a voiceover in Kenton Hall’s A Dozen Summers and in Rhys Davies’ historical Finding Richard so has a great track record here in the region. Crevel too has starred in a number of films for Leicester’s Creativ Studios including horror-drama Survival Instinct.


“Is the future in our hands?” asks Baker’s Professor Theo at the start as he address a small audience of students. After the class finishes, theoretical physicist and ex-student, Maggie, takes him to a clock-filled room akin to Doc Brown’s laboratory in Back to the Future.


After calibrating the professor’s watch with a wooden grandfather clock, she drops it into an electrical blue ‘nest’ only for it to appear later during another time and space. However, not only physical objects are affected as Maggie explains that “time shifts” will disrupt one’s memory as well.


The ticking of clocks and shots of timepieces are littered throughout, with sound effects coming from the chiming of bells with the film’s slight musical track sometimes drowned out in the background. The science lab set is well dressed and doesn’t overpower the actors – who are the film’s sole focus.


The props are a mix of past and present which highlight the fluid nature of time and before long, a discussion is had about the scientific and moral decisions in an ambiguous effort to erase/replace their pasts – along with their recollection of these.


With the risks (briefly) talked over, the theme of changing the past – for the better or worse – leads the film to a final leap into the unknown. Without going into spoilers, influences range from the circular nature of Looper to the dark scientific repercussions of Shane Carruth’s head-spinning Primer.


The short is well filmed with the performances of the duo are fantastic. The stoic academic Theo is given humanity through Baker’s accepting glances whilst Crevel is the wide-eyed inventor with dreams of changing their histories. Both display a sorrowfulness when recalling a past tragedy which is wisely left mostly open to interpretation.


A haunting little film, which leaves the audience with many more questions to think about than answers, Time and Again is an assured debut from Webster who started out as a camera assistant alongside the more experienced Steve Lawson. It is to the credit of the two arresting main actors who infuse an engaging uncertainty into what could have been your standard “fixing-the-past” plot, that the film owes much of its success. Overall, the future looks bright for Webster and Lawson as the story is a timely reminder that a good short can use the genre conventions of the past yet challenge expectations to deliver its fresh new ideas in a contemporary way.


Mike Sales, Midlands Movies


View the film's trailer here:




Find out more about the film on the links below:


IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5770448/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_2

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

By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 08:40AM



Midlands Spotlight - The Short Cinema 2017 in Leicester


Leicester's amazing The Short Cinema is now under a week away and they have a full programme of loca, national and international films to showcase over their 3-day festival line up.


Check out the full programme below:


THE SHORT CINEMA LAUNCH PARTY Wed 23 Aug, 6.30pm

To celebrate the eleventh edition of The Short Cinema, we’re launching the festival with a get-together, to give us a chance to highlight some of our partners and supporters and allow our makers to meet before their screening night. Join us for a drink from Langton Brewery and finger food from exciting, new, vegan caterers The Mystery Booth to celebrate another year of excellent short film. We will also have music from the talented Les Hayden and an outdoor screening in partnership with The British Silent Film Festival (weather dependent). This event is followed by our Opening Gala screening of our 2017 International Programme in Screen 2 from 8:45pm. Please note you will need a separate ticket for this event.

 

THE SHORT CINEMA OPENING GALA: INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME Wed 23 Aug, 8.45pm

Opening Gala: The International Programme has expanded! For the first time this will be showcased in one of our main screens following the launch party.

 

ARTIST MOVING IMAGE: THE LACEY RITUALS: FILMS BY BRUCE LACEY Thu 24 Aug, 6.45pm

This delightful programme showcases the playful, physical sense of humour and irreverent sensibility of great British artist and eccentric, Bruce Lacey.

 

THE BEST OF IRIS: QUEER FILM NETWORK SCREENING Thu 24 Aug, 7pm

A chance for audiences to watch the Best of Iris LGBTQ+ Film Festival Shorts. A post screening discussion will be hosted by Connor Winterton. [LIMITED AVALIABILITY]

 

THE SHORTISH CINEMA Fri 25 Aug, 8pm

Screening for its third year, the festival has expanded with The Shortish Cinema, a screening of Midlands-made films which need slightly longer than our usual 15 minute limit to tell their story.

 

FAMILY SHORTS: Sat 26 Aug, 10.30am

Presented in partnership with Flatpack Assemble: Join us for a morning of family friendly short stories told on the big screen.

 

THE SHORT CINEMA CLOSING: MAIN COMPETITION Sat 26 Aug, Doors 7.30pm – Screening 8pm

Now in its eleventh year, The Short Cinema is an annual short film festival showcasing established and emerging talent from across the world with a strong focus on Midlands makers.

 

More info can be found at http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk/




By midlandsmovies, Aug 7 2017 03:40PM



Restroom (2017)


Directed by Scott Driver


4AM Films


A young man experiences a series of life changing events inside a public restroom only to find out all is not as it seems.


When a young man (Joseph Sean-Lyons) takes a trip to a public toilet whilst out with friends, the last thing he expected was to be trapped in a cubicle when a hammer-wielding madman shows up and attacks a couple in the next stall. In a series of events that quickly go from a bit strange to absolutely awful, the man is forced to make a split second decision, only to find expectations challenged.


Restroom is the latest short film from writer and director Scott Driver. Inspired by a series of online prank videos, he wanted to take this social media trend and turn it into something far uglier than anyone who has ever seen or even set up one of these videos would imagine it could become. It’s a pretty local project, with three of the four main actors coming from the Midlands and the entire film being shot at an abandoned school in Newark, so really showcases excellent local talent.


I think of all the short films I have seen over the last year, and bear in mind they have all been so different, this has probably been my favourite. It was very intense and an audience would never know what was coming next at any point. The film started out with a character sending a text message to his mate whilst on the toilet, and then very quickly went up a gear from there. Suddenly I didn’t know what to expect, and that was a fantastic feeling to get with such a compact storyline.


The setting really helped to build the tension in this short. It felt so claustrophobic and when the attacker set his sights on our protagonist, I kind of lost all hope for him. Combine this with the number of shots cut together during the initial attack and the audience could quickly became disorientated with it all. The film moved fast, causing some of the panic being felt by the main character to be transferred onto the viewer.


Of course, Restroom is a film that does have some heavier undertones. As pointed out by Driver, his inspiration for this short came from online prank videos. He wanted to show how they can soon go from a good laugh to something horrendous, and the twist he built into the film right at the end did just that.


The film ended so abruptly, and I think this was very effective in the way it kind of prompted you to think, well… what happens now? In all seriousness, this is something that could potentially happen when one of these pranks goes wrong in real life and the film just makes you stop and think a bit, which is a fantastic way to conclude.


All in all, Restroom is a really great short film that grabs viewers and shakes them into action. It forces you to think about seemingly harmless acts and the potential consequences for people if they go wrong - something that can be applied to other situations - not the just internet trend shown in this film. It lures you in with a friendly conversation between friends and then it pounces and that's when the fun really starts.


This is a film that you should see if you get the chance because there is so much to it. For me, it’s a real winner, and my only criticism would be that I didn't get to see more of the aftermath, even if it was only another 10 seconds or so on top of the rest of the short.


Kira Comerford

twitter.com/FilmAndTV101

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