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By midlandsmovies, May 31 2019 07:40AM

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Directed by Michael Dougherty


When the 2014 Godzilla came out, audiences had two big criticisms: firstly, that Godzilla was chunkier than expected, and secondly that he wasn’t on-screen nearly long enough.

With this year’s Godzilla: King of Monsters, director Michael Doherty certainly can’t be accused of holding him back – there’s plenty of the big green guy on show as he smashes his way through buildings and throws down to show the roster of revived kaiju who’s boss. He’s also no less hench this time around, as his neck seems to have disappeared completely. I’m not body-shaming, he looks great!

Set five years after Godzilla duked it out with the MUTOs in San Francisco, the film follows estranged couple Emma (Vera Farmiga) and Mark (Kyle Chandler) along with their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). Emma is a scientist at Monarch, the global organisation introduced in the first film as the people charged with finding and researching Godzilla and the other Titans.

Mark left the organisation and retired after their son died at the hands (or feet) of Godzilla, but when a group of eco-terrorists (led by the always-great Charles Dance) kidnap Emma and Madison and threaten to unleash the Titans upon the world, he’s out of retirement to rescue them faster than you can say ‘that trope is so old it’s got false teeth in’.

Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins reprise their roles from the first film, but are relegated to side-kicks and exposition providers; one of the film’s most awkward moments has Chandler explaining Godzilla’s motives and how to handle him to Watanabe, who’s been established as having been researching and hunting for Godzilla for decades. Having the American man school the Japanese man on Godzilla of all things makes for uncomfortable viewing!

The actors all put in terrific performances, especially Farmiga and Brown, though I could have done with more Charles Dance because I love him very much. The film really hits it stride when all hell breaks loose and the Titans clash as the trailer promised that they would. The plot may have had some structural weaknesses, but it’s clear that this part of the film is what the filmmakers wanted to focus on; big monsters knocking the crap out of each other.

The effects are superb, as you would expect, with Godzilla and Rodan especially characterful. It’s easy to see these creatures as individuals with personalities rather than just dumb beasts with a penchant for stepping on people. I watched this in the IMAX and the film really makes use of that, especially in the battle scenes; make sure you see this on the biggest screen possible. The 3D feels tacked-on and unnecessary, though, as it was barely utilised at all; in fact it often set the actors apart from the action in a way that made me unconsciously aware of how the actors are acting against a green screen.

The film is far from perfect; certain characters deserved better treatment, the plot is hokey an predictable at times and there’s an alarming dynamic of White Heroes and Sidekicks of Colour (all the people of colour in the film are subordinate to the main heroes), but if you disengage your brain and go in expecting a fun spectacle where big monsters smash things up then you won’t leave disappointed. Plus it sets up next year’s Godzilla vs Kong quite neatly.


Sam Kurd

Twitter @splend

By midlandsmovies, Mar 11 2019 06:55PM

Midlands Review - Shining Tor

Directed by Andrew David Barker

When you Google Shining Tor, there are numerous things that pop up. Shining Tor is a hill in the Peak District; it’s also the name of Andrew David Barker’s short film. With its synopsis stated simply as “two hikers discover a doorway to another world”; even I was intrigued and tempted in by these 8 little words.

Set in the Peak District, with the elements of vast land, open air and rolling hills to set the scene, it was a perfectly remote location for two parallel storylines to mix.

A couple are hiking, with Amber, played by Laura Rollins, trying to take in the fresh countryside air and Dylan, played by Ashley Rice, the compliant but fed up boyfriend. You can tell there’s tension and both aren’t really enjoying the brisk hill climbing for different reasons. Dylan didn’t realise how much he had to walk and got himself a blister. Amber accuses Dylan of not listening and wants a change from the rut in her life – all relatable might I add.

The chemistry between the actors is natural from the very start and therefore their characters are highly believable. Laura Rollins and Ashley Rice both act on the daytime TV drama Doctors, where director Andrew David Barker is a researcher for the show. Knowing the cast very well had certainly paid off and the talent on and off screen is apparent in every aspect of Shining Tor.

As the story continues, Amber walks off after a heated discussion with Dylan and comes across something out of place. Their curiosity gets them digging a little deeper to unveil a window into another dimension. A third interesting character is revealed to be a bloodied up Barbarian.

This scene is what won Mick Walker, the creative director of Shining Tor the Midlands Movie Award for best visual effects. Without giving away too much, what were used to create the window were card, a blue cloth, a green cloth and a light stand. My one and only suggestion would have been to add bruises and scrapes to the Barbarian to add that extra ingredient of realism that blended so well within each reality. He was a little too clean for a murderous wild man.

Mick and Andrew have known each other for years and they were the only crew on set when they made Two Old Boys. It is a delightful film about two gentlemen talking of the days gone by. Shot in a single day at a pub in Derbyshire, these lads require minuscule components to produce that spark they’re so good at showing through their work.

Mick Walker owns a production company; Boxset Media based in Nottingham. Specialising in corporate films, their reputation and expertise in filmmaking is phenomenal.

In Andrew David Barker’s other short films, he uses few actors but boosts the story to its full potential; this is a huge strength of Andrew’s and common throughout his work. It’s the simplicity that I love, there is no overreaching the mark on the special effects of Shining Tor, they knew what worked and completely played with it. I’m a sucker for these types of effects - using very little to create the absolute maximum.

So far, the story has drama, action and fantasy. It’s no surprise really that Shining Tor had won the Best Fantasy Short at the Independent Short Awards in LA last year too. Andrew said he had the urge to shoot bigger with a fantasy element in his next story, especially after making Two Old Boys with Mick got him back in the filmmaking game, and so became Shining Tor.

I hope that it continues to get as much recognition as it deserves and maintains a huge following, and that Andrew keeps surprising us with his incredible stories.

Sammy S

Twitter @IsoElegant

By midlandsmovies, Feb 5 2018 10:12PM

Local Midlands Artist Creates Draw for Movie and Special Effects Industry

Strangely, after finding their business card randomly in a local Fish and Chip shop, Midlands Movies got in touch with Augmented Imagination Studios in Leicester whose exciting projects and support are helping a new generation of young film creatives.

Augmented Imagination (A.I.) Studios are based in the Midlands and are a special effects-focused business who have a workshop of 3 large classrooms used to support and educate those who seek a route into the film and FX industry.

Run by Toran Tanner, the studios accommodate fine works for movie makers and also create their own unique special effects. With a background in high quality SFX work, the organisation was envisioned as a stepping stone for students to acquire technical training and skills in the industry whilst offering affordable education and shared studio spaces and materials.

With a programme geared towards promoting access to the standards of the industry’s requirements as well as to ensure all levels of interest are met, A.I. offer support, training and mentoring to practising professionals, enthusiasts and those who are just beginning their journey.

Their diverse variety of courses serve both beginner and skilled professional and they hope to provide a relaxing, yet fast paced, learning opportunity in classroom and workshop environments.

The courses also offer an opportunity for students to train and work with some of the most motivated and best special effect artists in the world in a relaxing environment, making their courses fun as well as educational.

A.I. offer extensive studio time to students enrolled allowing for each person to grow at their own pace and Toran believes the studio time is integral to learning and building the needed skills to pursue a career in the industry. As their curriculum continues to evolve, each course will bring new course options as well as a core group of regular courses to meet the needs of students at every level.

With a strong belief in getting your hands dirty, Toran and his team strive to do their best to help students master the techniques required and although they’re not the largest special effects school in the UK, they feel this offers a big advantage for plenty of personalized attention and instruction.

For more information check out their website at https://www.aifxstudios.com/

By midlandsmovies, May 13 2017 09:51AM

Father Phantom Studio’s special effect on Birmingham’s film scene.

When you enter the Father Phantom Studio, the first thing you notice isn’t the 8 foot tall Predator that towers over you; it isn’t the eerily realistic yet bald bust of Heath Ledger’s Joker; it’s the passion of founders Ben Fallaize and Laura Viale Durand. They’re the kind of people you could listen to for hours.

From the hair-raising details of how wigs often originate from humans (before it’s painstakingly and individually hand-threaded over 40 hours) to tales of blood work special effects that literally blows the mind, they’re a whole other level of film aficionado. But it’s not all about gore and guts. Ben and Laura’s acute attention to detail and backstory creates characters rather than monsters and this approach has seen them work on the long-running Thriller musical as well as a string of films, including docu-horror Cain Hill and Director John Adams’ upcoming Aux

In addition to their film and theatre work, Father Phantom Studio’s line of collectibles is the embodiment of their obsessive eye for subtleties. Creating bespoke collectibles to order, each item’s uniqueness is ensured, with the cast thrown away once completed. As self-proclaimed perfectionists, their most popular sculptures are often taken from the actor’s death mask itself or from the original Hollywood mould which include original imperfections. To see for yourself, Father Phantom Studio will be exhibiting at Birmingham Horror Con on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of October.

Taking inspiration for the studio name from Father Death and the Phantom of the Opera, Ben and Laura recognised Birmingham as a city on the up for film production and as a result, relocated to the Jewellery Quarter. They are actively looking to engage with makers of both independent and mainstream films and can be contacted via the link below. We at Midlands Movies can’t wait to see what they do next.

Do you have a passion for props, special effects an make up? Have you finished studying & have experience in film/theatre hair or make up? If so, Father Phantom Studio are looking to expand their team and can be contacted directly through their website here

Robb Sheppard

By midlandsmovies, May 26 2015 07:07AM


BAFTA winning filmmaker Shane Meadows moved to Nottingham at 20 and started his own film festival to showcase his self-made short films based in the Midlands. Inspired by his own youth, Meadows was first nominated for a BAFTA for Dead Man’s Shoes (his sixth film) and the third to star Paddy Considine who he met at Burton College. His “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands” (2002) starred Robert Carlyle and was set primarily in Nottingham. So, with Shane Meadows being the county’s film hero, we take a look at 10 other up and coming things that film fans in Nottingham should also keep their eyes out for.

Broadway Cinema

Based at 14-18 Broad Street in the city centre, The Broadway building has changed a lot since it opened as a regional film theatre in the 1960s. After the first screening as a cinema on 31st August 1990, it has benefited from over £8 million of redevelopment funding. Later, low-cost office space to artists and filmmakers was rented out and by 2006 the cinema opened screen 3, screen 4 (designed by regular patron Sir Paul Smith) and the Mezz bar and lounge. With a mix of blockbuster, independent and locally made films, Broadway has no online booking fee or any extra charges for 3-D films which make it an even better central hub for film fans across the Midlands.


The Home of Horror

Midlands Movies has covered a wide range of films from the region since we began in 2012 but a high percentage of the horror flicks we cover come from Nottingham. Whether it’s something in the water or a much darker reason, the county has become a focus for all things frightful. Just a few of the highlights from the region include Jason Brown (link) Sick Bunny Pics (link) Hubert’s Ghost (link) Mr Stitch (link) and Superfreak media (link) . If you’re a fan of horror or twisted tales then the good film folk of Nottingham will be right up your scary street!

Television Workshop

From “This Is England” stars Kieran Hardcastle and Vicky McClure the BAFTA award-winning Television Workshop in Nottingham has been nurturing talent in the region for decades now. Star alumni also include Samantha Morton, Toby Kebbell and Jack O'Connell and their work can help propel young actors into children's television, films and beyond. For students they offer a development opportunity through membership of a well established, respected, professionally-oriented group, with direct links to the film and television industry. For the industry, they offer a well-trained casting pool and a development resource. The Workshop’s bursary system ensures that no talented student is excluded with members striving to succeed in sessions that are fun yet professionally demanding.


Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall is a stately home originally designed by Robert Smythson and built for Sir Francis Willoughby, being completed following eight years of building work in 1588- the year of the Spanish Armada. The building is in the English Renaissance style and its flamboyant design is considered to be a masterpiece. A programme of restoration at Wollaton Hall (with its gardens and deer park) was completed in April 2007 costing £9million. Now a museum, the building and park’s surrounding area is best known in film for being used as Wayne Manor in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Once a year for the last 2 years (and again in 2015) Wollaton Hall will once again be hosting the fabulous outdoor cinema screenings. On Sunday 30th August you will be able watch to that film at Batman’s home for just £12 per ticket. For more info see the Hall’s official page below:


McGibney Productions

Jordan McGibney is one part of the family-run McGibney Production company who have won many film awards since being founded in the Midlands in 2012. Jordan is currently editing his most recent film Stereotype which is not just a movie but also an anti-knife crime package that will go out to schools. Using film as a positive force Jordan’s slightly odd upbringing was rough but he moved away from that life and made his first film at 15 which was a comedy featuring Darth Vader as a Yorkshireman. Taking on commercial, innovative and creative work Jordan works closely with his father who is also a writer, which allows him to have more of a say in what he chooses. With heroes from his mum and dad to Spielberg and Kubrick, Jordan will be looking to work on a feature and some comedy pilots in the near future and hopes to get Stereotype out to schools and inspire the pupils to make good choices. To find out more please visit the site below:


Make-up artist Jayne Hyman

With a background in Film, Theatre and Live Events dating back to 2004 when she undertook a Media Make-up course at Shepperton Studios, Jayne Hyman has branched out from makeup into prop-making and art department work. Growing up in South Wales, Jayne wanted to be a special effects artist ever since watching horror films as a child but having lived in Nottingham since 2007, Jayne feels the Midlands city has now developed a good creative vibe which is why she has stayed here for as long as she has. Being a special effects artist and given the current trend for low budget filmmaking, Jayne often gets offered a lot of work in horror but has recently had more work in sci-fi and fantasy as well. Citing Robert Englund as one of her idols, since it was the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' films that made her realise FX makeup existed as a job, Jayne also likes the work of Dick Smith for his massive contributions to the world of FX makeup. For more about Jayne Hyman and her work please visit her website:


Beeston Film

The Beeston Film Festival kicked off 2015 with a bang and “Nottingham’s Creative Town” had huge interest for their event at the Beeston Cinema on January 24th/25th. This new festival received submissions from independent film-makers across the globe and was organised by John Currie of Arrondissement Films and James Hall of Creative Beeston, an organisation that aims to help Beeston’s creatives and businesses develop, network and expand. With plans for another early next year, the organisers also invite film fans to their cinema every other week at White Lion Bar & Kitchen, Beeston to catch more movies and events throughout the rest of the year.


Mayhem Festival

The Mayhem Film Festival is a cutting-edge event bringing you the very best in genre cinema and television. Screening the best in horror, sci-fi and cult features and shorts from around the world, the festival often has guest filmmakers in attendance too. From premieres, new releases and previews to cult classics, breakthrough shorts, midnight movies, master classes, live experiments and more - Mayhem offers a unique and exciting viewing experience for audiences across four days. The Mayhem Film Festival returns to the Broadway for all things eerie in Autumn 2015 and this year’s festival will take place on 15th – 18th October with previews, special guests and midnight screenings. Planning is currently underway for Mayhem’s 11th edition with more information and announcements coming soon.


Screen 22

Screen 22 is situated in Hockley, in the Creative Quarter of Nottingham and is an intimate venue hosting a state of the art cinema with just 22 seats. Screen 22 cinema is the ideal place for celebrating an intimate occasion with family and friends or even hosting a unique business conference or work social event. Catering for all sorts of events and occasions, the cinema’s low seating helps create a unique experience and is perfect for showing local films to small but appreciative audiences. Based at 25 Broad Street you can see what regular films are showing as well enquire about hiring the venue on their website details below:


Wellington Films

Wellington Films was founded in 2000 by producers Rachel Robey and Alastair Clark and their BAFTA nominated debut feature, LONDON TO BRIGHTON (Edinburgh International Film Festival 2006, Toronto International Film Festival 2006) earned them the Best Achievement in Production award at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards. They have also produced over 30 short films for festivals and TV, including ROYALTY by Paul Andrew Williams, THE GAS MAN by Matt Palmer for Rankin Films’ Collabor8te and THE DARK by Tom Hemmings starring Toby Jones.


By midlandsmovies, Dec 10 2014 07:48PM

Midlands Movies Mike interviews freelance maker and special makeup effects artist Jayne Hyman who is based in Nottingham.

With a background in Film, Theatre and Live Events dating back to 2004 when she undertook a Media Make-up course at Shepperton Studios, Jayne Hyman has branched out from makeup into prop-making and art department work. Growing up in South Wales, Jayne wanted to be a special effects artist ever since watching horror films as a child but having lived in Nottingham since 2007, Jayne feels the Midlands city has now developed a good creative vibe which is why she has stayed here for as long as she has.

Jayne's story began a few years back after being trained in makeup in 2004 but she did not work full time in the industry straight away and did factory work and retail whilst practising makeup and volunteering for unpaid projects before finally became fully freelance at the start of 2011.

Although worried about the transition into freelance work, especially the financial implications, when the recession hit, Jayne’s admin role became redundant and she figured that that was as good a time as any to make a go of it. So after getting work experience at a theatre which led onto paid work, Jayne finally took the plunge and what a success it has proven.

Being a special effects artist and given the current trend for low budget filmmaking, Jayne often gets offered a lot of work in horror but has recently had more work in sci-fi and fantasy too.

“I was dangerously close to giving up on the pursuit of my career a few years after my course”, remembers Jayne. “I had pretty much put it to one side at one point as I just felt clueless as to how to progress. That's when I decided my life needed a shake up and I moved from South Wales to Nottingham. It was the best decision I have made in terms of my career and I've built up a strong network both in the Midlands and further afield”, she adds.

Typically, because she often work with people she now consider friends, Jayne develops projects together and her opinions are taken on board from the planning stage, which she feels is a great position to be in and one that people in her area of work often don't get to do.

However, as with most makeup artists, Jayne's typical day involves an early morning start and although breakfast is served on set upon arrival, she often has to get straight on with work as the application process can take anything from 30 minutes to several hours. Later once on set, Jayne will stand by the monitor and keep a close eye for any touch-ups that may be needed and at the end of the day will take the actor back to the makeup area for removal. “If this is a prosthetic removal then this can take up to an hour on its own”, says Jayne acknowledging this part of the job may not sound too glamorous.

Citing Robert Englund as one of her idols, since it was the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' films that made her realise FX makeup existed as a job, Jayne also likes the work of Dick Smith for his massive contributions to the world of FX makeup, as well as his encouragement of the notion that special effects techniques should be shared between people in the industry and not hidden away as a "trade secret". Also a big fan of Eli Roth Jayne mentions “his enthusiastic interview on the 'Cabin Fever' DVD during which his love for filmmaking and 80s horror was infectious, inspired me during a time when I felt like giving up on pursuing the dream”.

Jayne’s currently excited about a new film she worked on called “Devil’s Tower” which stars Jason Mewes (Jay from Jay & Silent Bob) which is set in the UK as well as heading out to LA at the start of October to support a short film called 'Cannibals and Carpet Fitters’ which will be screened in Hollywood!

Jayne says her influences range from Hollywood horrors like 'A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors', 'The Thing' and 'The People Under The Stairs' to British thrillers like 'Tyrannosaur', 'Twin Town' and 'Dead Man's Shoes' but in the end suggests that aspiring filmmakers and crew should just do it.

“If you're just starting out and don't have the funds, the concept will need to be one that can be realistically executed”, says Jayne, “But it's better to deliver a strong execution of a simple concept than to come up with a complex idea without the means and skills to deliver it.”

For more about Jayne Hyman and her work please visit her website http://www.jaynehyman.co.uk

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