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By midlandsmovies, Dec 30 2017 10:12AM

The Hot List - Midlands Films to Look Out For in 2018


With 2017 nearly at an end Midlands Movies spotlights a number of local projects due for completion in 2018 which have us excited for the region’s filmmaking as we head into the new year. Please check out each of these individual films using the links provided as we highlight 7 of the most anticipated films coming up from the region in the following 12 months.




Songbird by Sophie Black

Described as a ‘modern fantasy for music lovers’ this new film from talented Nottingham director Sophie Black is an exciting new short starring musician Janet Devlin. Songbird comes from multi-award-winning screenwriter Tommy Draper (Stop/Eject, Wasteland) and tells the story of a shy open-mic-night singer called Jennifer, who has her voice stolen by a an ancient creature called The Collector. Also a film for music fans the short is set in the world of the underground music scene and features brand new songs by Janet Devlin herself. As a group of experienced, passionate, award-winning and slightly eccentric filmmakers based in the East Midlands, Songbird will be coming next year with high expectations from filmmakers who have consistently delivered. Catch their latest news at https://twitter.com/sophieblackfilm



The Return of the Ring by Abdulrahman Ugas

This unique take on the world of Tolkien is set right here in the Midlands as new fan-film ‘The Return of the Ring’ is a movie based on Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed film trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’. In a unique twist on the genre, the story has moved its fantasy world to modern day Britain where it will follow a resilient Elf who finds out the Ring has returned and sets out to re-claim its ownership. With the film planned to be released in early 2018, Abdulrahman hopes his exciting new project can bring the tales of Tolkien back to their roots in the West Midlands. Follow here for updates https://twitter.com/AbdulrahmanUgas




Patient Zero by Pathogen Films

After meeting up at a Business networking event, the 4 members of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Pathogen films have combined their talents to begin producing their own film web series. Their forthcoming set of zombie shorts follow a group of survivors who become involved in a deadly game of betrayal in an attempt to stop a maniacal group bent on turning what's left of humanity into mindless mutations. With their first film Patient Zero: Dead at the Gates premiering in Autumn 2017, the crew are now deep into production on the follow up titled “Semper Protegens”. Follow their updates and future crowd-funding campaigns at https://twitter.com/Pathogen_Films





UK Superhero by Rotunda Films

Rotunda Films is an experienced and creative film and video production company who have over fifteen years experience in production and who are now tackling an original superhero series in the region. The Birmingham filmmakers feel the UK deserves its own superheroes as they launch a new project to create a series of films featuring a unique range of characters. With a new selection of local superheroes in their own shared universe, they are starting this ambitious project with their film Mystic Highway, where they will be creating the first characters in this exciting new world. Follow the production here: https://twitter.com/rotundafilms




Brumville by Grant Murphy

Described as a film full of local people and local locations, Birmingham’s Grant Murphy hopes to utilise the West Midlands and Back Country’s pool of talent for his upcoming film Brumville. With filming recently concluded, Grant is not only writer director and producer on the film but will be playing the lead role of Connor as well. With a passion to give local actors more opportunities, the film will show just how bad it can be when friends are mixed up in drugs. The shooting of Brumville began in March 2017 after self-funding and crowd-funding campaigns and you can keep informed of their progress and release plans at https://twitter.com/brumville




The Law of Noir by Duaine Roberts

The Law of Noir started production in September and we cannot wait to see what's in store for this upcoming law-drama story. After the success of Graycon (review here) which saw Duaine Roberts branching out into sci-fi, the Birmingham filmmaker is getting back to basics with his this new drama short. Telling the story of a young law intern who is tasked with defending a client accused of human trafficking, the filmmaker is another trailblazer who is passionate in promoting Birmingham’s acting and production talent. Follow updates at https://twitter.com/CarmaFilmUK




Dead Quiet by Alex Withers

This forthcoming horror drama is another survival film where the last person on earth struggles to stay alive and attempts to hold onto his humanity. Produced in Nottingham the film is written by Dan McGrath who will explore the “importance of the sounds we create and experience as humans in order to connect with each other and the world around us”. Director Alex Withers and a team of talented filmmakers are bringing this unique world to the life on the big screen and wrapped production in August of 2017. Both a “disturbing horror and a bittersweet drama” follow the film here to get updates on its impending release https://www.facebook.com/DeadQuietFilm


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Dec 6 2017 09:59PM



Midlands Spotlight – Lapwing


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about upcoming film Lapwing from Urban Apache Films which is being made in the region with a planned release in 2018.


Urban Apache Films are an award winning UK based independent film production company founded in 2009. The core team features director Philip Stevens whose work has been selected for festivals around the world and has won numerous international awards, including a Royal Television Society award for best short drama.


Joining Philip is producer Tom Walsh, another award winning producer/director. His work includes music videos, short films and documentary for online and TV and his short film, The Wraith, featuring Bernard Hill (Titanic, Lord Of The Rings) won the Best FreeFall category at the 2012 Limelight Awards.


Together they are tackling Lapwing which adds to their expanding portfolio of films as they endeavour to keep numerous projects in production at any given time.


Lapwing’s exciting location is the local salt-marshes of Lincolnshire. Set in 1555, the film follows an isolated group of salt famers who are arranging illegal passage to Europe for an Egyptian family in hiding. However, a love affair between Patience, a mute English girl, and Rumi the son of the Egyptian family, threatens to destroy both communities.


The cast includes Emmett J Scanlan (David), Sebastian De Souza (Rumi), Hannah Douglas (Patience) and Javed Khan (Arif) and will be produced by Urban Apache Films themselves alongside Red Dog Film and World Serpent Productions,


Urban Apache describe Lapwing as “an immersive, visceral, yet tonal window into the life of a young woman who is forced to the fringes of Tudor society”.


“Living within an isolated community on the Lincolnshire salt marshes, Patience embarks on a journey of self discovery beyond the ominous shadow of the community's violent patriarchal leader”.


“Part psychological thriller, part love story, the film sets the contemporary and modern themes of immigration, otherness and the female voice and gaze, in a dangerous world where violence, superstition and vengeance reign”.


The film has been written by Laura Turner who has written more than twenty original plays and adaptations of classic novels for the theatre, with productions of her work touring all over the world and a number published by Josef Weinberger Books. Her film The Empty Throne won a LOSA award in April 2016 at the BFI and Laura's new work The Buried Moon opened in May at the Rose Theatre in London.


After a successful IndieGoGo campaign, the film has now wrapped and the filmmakers are very proud of their local connections. “We are almost entirely local professionals who believe in the wealth of exceptional talent in the East Midlands where we are based. But above all, we want to make the most beautiful and entertaining film that we can”.


You can follow updates on the film at their social media Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/lapwingmovie or at their official website www.urbanapachefilms.com


Midlands Movies Mike



Hannah Douglas and fellow cast and crew on set of Lapwing
Hannah Douglas and fellow cast and crew on set of Lapwing


By midlandsmovies, Nov 29 2017 09:57AM



Midlands Spotlight - Screenwriter Neil O Neil


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about regional screenwriter Neil O'Neil who has begun work on a number of shorts and features in the region.


Neil O'Neil is an English award winning screenplay writer whose script, 'I.E.' won the best Epic screenplay award at the 2014 Monaco International Film Festival and has now been picked up by Hollywood Director Cyrus Yavneh.


Furthermore, his short film, 'The Magpie' won the Tabula Short Film cup 2014 and has been a finalist for New Renaissance Film Festival 2016. And more recently Neil has started producing films and is currently working on getting a number of features made.


Neil's latest is Chocolate Potato whose script has been greenlit and is Neil's first full feature being commissioned by Midas Light Films. Currently in pre-production, scheduling and budgeting, the film is being planned for a shoot in early 2018.



Telling the story of an illicit spam email which arrives at the wrong time that pushes a man over the brink when his wife thinks he’s having an affair. He then enlists a weird friend before going on a bizarre and hilarious journey trying to put things right in an unusual combination of drama, comedy and words.


Originally writing as a lyricist - with a claim to fame being an album in the German Rock charts in 1982 - Neil spent 15 years living in Europe working writing seriously in 1999 when a lucid evening of delirium in Warsaw planted a complete multicoloured version of 'The Shooting Gallery' in his head.


Three years later he had a creative writing diploma from the University of East Anglia and has also completed numerous scriptwriting, director and production courses at the UEA, City University of London, Arts University Bournemouth and Raindance.


Based in Central England, Midas Light Films has been set up as a cooperative by an International Award winning Producer and the team consists of a network of award winning Directors, DoPs, Editors and screenplay writers; all based in an around the Midlands. Besides using exceptional 'Front-End' talent, Midas collaborates with International directors and have experience in features, shorts, documentaries, music videos, TV, live streaming and corporate videos.


Follow Neil on twitter - @UKScreenplays

www.screenplays.co.uk

http://midaslightfilms.co.uk



By midlandsmovies, Nov 27 2017 08:23PM



RANDOM ACTS & RURAL MEDIA (PART 1)


In a new 3-part series Midlands Movies will be showcasing a selection of films and filmmakers from the region who have been involved in the national Random Acts programme.


Random Acts is a collaboration between Arts Council England and Channel 4. The short films (from just 90 seconds to 3 minutes long) have been described as ‘bold expressions of creativity’ with each one being individually engaging, experimental and quirky.


For the last 3 years, local organisation Rural Media (click here) has been working with young artists and filmmakers right across the Midlands to create ‘First Acts’. And Midlands Movies will be focusing on a selection of these fantastic films created by local artists right here on the site.


This Movement is Silent (Birmingham)

This spoken word film is from Paul Stringer who has made a film covering the journey of an open mic performer from chair to stage through a crowded, passionate and engaged poetry audience. This is edited alongside a journey throughout Birmingham, past its great landmarks in a bid to show that the local poetry scene is not only the people performing the poetry, but the whole collective community as a whole. Watch his film below:





Re-Code (Birmingham)

Made by Sipho Dube, Re-Code is a dance film exploring themes of dyslexia and empowerment. Sipho is a spoken word artist and dancer and as someone who has both dyslexia and with a profound stutter, Sipho has overcome issues through the use of spoken word. Watch this thought-provoking film below:



One Rogue Santa (Kidderminster)

Another spoken word film, Steven Williams’ short is an account of a troubled home life that led to various stints in and out prison. Through stylised silhouetted sequences, Steve’s story explores the complexities of growing up without a support network and having to deal with the choices we make. Now aged 24, Steven has been homeless from the age of 18 and has been in out of prison 4 times. Yet now with two children he’s looking to become a better role model and is working towards becoming a social worker to help other young people avoid making the same mistakes. Watch Steven’s video here:



Meet Cute (Northamptonshire)

Chris Cosentino has created an animation/live-action crossover comedy where a conspiracy nut shares a "meet cute" with a nice girl but discovers he's actually a fictional character in a short film. View the short here:



Dirty Re-Birth (Derbyshire)

Joey Mottershead explores the part of the human condition where we are required to perpetually reinvent ourselves, to grow and evolve to new forms. “The reality is these moments happen in the darkest of places, where directions have no meaning and internal struggles amount to the psyche being ripped apart”. Joey is a live interdisciplinary performance artist based by in the East Midlands whose work explores gender politics, the human condition and the empowerment of the self. “I take inspiration from the beautiful aspects of the grotesque”, says Joey, “finding light in the shadows and portraying the particular strain of glory only found within sadness”. Watch the film here:









By midlandsmovies, Nov 27 2017 07:23PM



LEICESTER BASED FILMMAKERS ‘BANG AVERAGE FILMS’ ARE OUT OF THE GATE


‘Bang average’ is a term normally used in relation to something being pretty poor, but Leicester based filmmakers Lee Tomes and Daley Francis and decided to take the saying and give it a positive spin.


“I love the term ‘bang average’, especially in a Scouse accent,” says Francis, the screenwriter and producer of the group. “I can understand people might be scratching their heads when they hear that’s the name of our film group - especially when it’s a negative term - but there’s a reason for it".


The name Bang Average Films comes from the ethos of the filmmaking collective formed by Francis and Tomes - Low-to-no budget films that bring bang for their (lack of) buck.


“These days technology, information and guidance is easily accessible and you can reach millions of people in an instant,” said Lee, the man behind the camera and behind the editing desk. “There are no reasons - or excuses - for filmmakers to not be making films anymore. You can make a film on an iPhone. It might not be cinema ready, but if you’ve got talent it’ll shine through".


The term ‘bang average’ also applies to the ideal that not every film has to be on a level with Kubrick or Nolan. Filmmaking can (and should) be fun and achievable. If it’s not Hollywood standard, who really cares? At the end of the day it’s all about great ideas and great storytelling”.



Lee and Daley have made various short films together in the past, including the boxing mockumentary Rocky Road and the anti-bullying drama Common Ground.


Both films went to festivals and have been well-received, but then came a four year hiatus before Bang Average was formed, with Francis venturing into self-publishing and releasing four novels, and Tomes running Orange Fox Studios, a visual storytelling agency based in Leicester that specialises in making online ads and virals.


“We’ve both continued to tell stories, just in different forms,” Francis explains. “But we’ve always kept in touch and knocked ideas around. We work well together and that shows with our new film Careering".


After deciding that Bang Average Films will focus on 3-8 minute comedy and drama shorts, Francis scripted Careering, a tale about a crazed Careers Advisor who tries to convince college students to abandon their dreams. All in the name of (questionable) fun.


“Careering is a statement of intent, for sure,” said Tomes. “We want to be prolific, we want to have fun and keep the momentum going. But most of all, we want to move people: tears, anger and laughter are all welcome. I can’t wait to work on our next project!”


You can read our review of Careering as well as watch the trailer CLICK HERE


Bang Average official website https://bangaveragefilms.com/


Midlands Movies Mike




By midlandsmovies, Nov 6 2017 02:28PM



Forget Me Not – The inspiration behind a short-film on depression


Screenplay writer, Stacey Duah, gives an insight to Fahima Khatun on what inspired her short-film on depression and her fight on the stigma attached to depression.


Over a period of 12 months, ten film makers and 6 actors/actresses came together, starting May 2016- May 2017, to create a short-film ‘Forget Me Not’, which was shared on YouTube on 2nd October 2017 and had generated over 600 views in two weeks.


It tells the harrowing story of a teenage girl, Sephora, whose suffering from depression, while her best friend Cain – consumed by a life of his own, doesn’t spot the early signs of her depression. Fearful of the stigma attached to mental health, Sephora hides her condition. Isolated and withdrawn from those closest to her, she’s left with only a few options: keep on fighting, alone? Seek help or, find another way out?


The screenplay was written, co-produced and starred by Stacey Duah. Her passion from reading and writing her own stories from a young age grew when moving to study in Birmingham, mixed with the connections she made while at the BFI Academy in 2013 she started making independent films continuously working on and developing her craft.

The film was originally a story the 20-year-old had written at school, during her creative writing class, while googling different kinds of flowers. “I stumbled on the Forget Me Not flower and I was instantly intrigued by its significance and its meaning – it’s a flower of remembrance. I wrote a story about two star-crossed lovers almost like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet adaptation but in my story, only one of them dies – the girl.”


Five years later, after a conversation with her best friend and younger sister, she explored the idea of writing her own screenplay encapsulating depression and mental health, from her own personal experiences and from others she knows.


The screenplay writer who studies at University of Birmingham was facing her own mental health issues while studying. “My first year at university (in Birmingham) was one of the most challenging moments of my entire life. When you go to university you’re on your own – especially if it’s in a city completely different to where you were born and brought up in prior. I no longer had the distraction of family and friends (while at university) – I sort of came face to face with my “demons” and there weren’t really many people to talk to besides my best friend over the phone who studies in the opposite end of the country. Although, I faced many challenges during my first year of university, I also discovered myself.


Despite the film being set and filmed in London, it was a culmination of her Birmingham experiences that inspired and drove the film.


“Birmingham is one of the greenest cities I have been in, and whenever I felt like things were getting too much I’d take frequent walks in the parks nearby just to vent and clear my head. On one occasion, I was going through serious writers’ block for Forget Me Not and decided to take a walk in a nearby park (in Selly Oak). A few strides into the park I came across a patch of flowers – I’m not sure what they’re called but they were a bluish-purplish colour and they reminded me of Forget Me Nots and I was instantly filled with all these different ideas of where I could take the story. For that reason, I’d say that Birmingham – particularly my university experience, was definitely my muse.”

And the film had a main purpose to lessen the stigma attached to mental health. “The films’ purpose was to help tackle mental health amongst young people and try to decrease the stigma, as well as inform my peers about the issue as a whole."


With the help of her producer Tia Philips, production designer Conor Powell and director Riad Ahmed, she finished her script in three months, but it was The Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman that was the backbone of the portrayal of two protagonists in the film – Sephora and Cain. “Sephora (Stacey Duah) – the main character in Forget Me Not represents the plight of the voiceless in society and for those people who feel as though their voices don’t matter or that they’re all alone.


Cain (Ishmel Bridgeman) and Jenk (Janel Ince) – I talk of the two collectively because they’re sort of a microcosm for society’s ignorance and disbelief when it comes to matters regarding mental health, a lot of the time. We live in a fast-pace world and everyone is so busy doing things that we often miss vital signs, especially when it comes to people in need such as our loved ones. I definitely wanted Cain and Jenk to sort of represent and reflect society’s absent-mindedness regarding mental health and the stigma surrounding it.


Samantha (Molly Wilsher) – one of the nicer girls on Sephora’s doorstep (a later scene in the film), represents hope because there are actually people in society who are advocates for tackling the stigmatization of mental health. Some people do actually care, and I think that Samantha reflects this balance really well.”




With it being a small-scale production Duah took on three different roles, having to face challenges with each role. “Writer – essentially if there’s no writer then there’s no script, and if there’s no script then there’s really no film. So, I felt a huge lot of responsibility on my shoulders, people were counting on me to sit down and write the script and deliver the story in an authentic way".


"As an actress, well, the acting part for me wasn’t too stressful, as I use to act before I got into filmmaking. The most challenging part for me was probably trying to separate my own life and experiences from that of Sephora – the character I was playing. Although Forget Me Not was partly inspired by my own experiences, my goal was to make sure that it wasn’t a replica of my life – because it’s not my life, it is Sephora’s life and her story and she’s a character in her own right".

 

"And finally I’m quite an organised person, so I feel as though producing is something I’m quite good at. I mostly produced in pre-production and post-production (alongside my producer of course) but then I had to stop producing completely, as the director wanted me to focus on getting into character. One of the hardest things was being on set and acting in a scene, seeing something – technical wise and feeling the urge to say something as a “co-producer”, but then remembering that I’m now the actor and that I need to trust my producer and the rest of my team to handle the situation".


Currently in her final year of university, the young screenplay writer has more ideas developing but is now co-writing an extended short film/screenplay called “I’m Fine” with Sanchez Roberts. Another film on mental health but from a different angle and will be much longer – with more “fleshed out” characters and room for character development and exploration.


To see more of her upcoming work follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/dramastacee or on Instagram @staceyduah



Fahima Khatun

Twitter: @screen_shock


By midlandsmovies, Nov 2 2017 09:23AM


West Midlands short All Bad Things


All Bad Things is a new Midlands short that has been written and directed by Chrissie Harper, from an idea by producer and former Solihull News reporter Steve Green.


The two began collaborating on reports for local channel Big Centre TV (now Made in Birmingham TV) last year, and have since begun developing a raft of drama projects.




This particular film features actor Liam Woon as book agent Mike Daventry who becomes increasingly frustrated when one of his top authors fails to turn up to a business meal. Things turn even stranger when a mysterious young woman (Demelza O’Sullivan) arrives in her place.


Written (and directed) by Chrissie Harper, the short was filmed in Solihull at the Rajnagar International Restaurant, which is soon about to celebrate its 30 year anniversary after years of serving award-winning cuisine.


The shoot involved a team of 18 and restaurant owner Dr. Moula Miah turned up to wish the cast and crew and everyone involved with the production good luck. "The film is set in a high class restaurant, so having the use of the Rajnagar was a dream come true”, says Steve Green.


“Dr Moula Miah and his staff really put themselves out for us, and it was a terrific boost to get their support."




With even more surprises on the menu for Liam Woon's increasingly bewildered agent Mike, the film got its first public screening on Halloween at the Gunmaker’s Arms in Birmingham with more plans in the pipeline!


Watch the film’s trailer on the YouTube link above.


To find out more about the short and the production follow on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/Network23UK


And please check out the cast and crew on social media at these links

https://twitter.com/ChezChrissie

https://twitter.com/SteveGhostwords

https://twitter.com/lwoon

https://twitter.com/DemelzaO





By midlandsmovies, Oct 9 2017 08:16AM



Midlands Movies gets an exclusive first look at the new film from Abdulrahman Ugas who has a unique take on the world of Tolkien set right here in the region.


Abdulrahman Ugas has 'gone epic' in his new fan-film ‘The Return of the Ring’, a regional movie based on Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed film trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’.


In a unique twist on the genre, the story has moved from its fantasy world of horses and swords to modern day Britain where it will follow a resilient Elf who finds out the Ring has returned and sets out to re-claim its ownership.


With the film planned to be released in Autumn 2017, Abdulrahman explains the story of his distinctive film concept.


“After the events in “The Return of the King” in which the Ring was destroyed and Sauron’s empire collapsed, we know that peace was spread throughout Middle Earth. But this peace was not destined to last long”.


He adds, “We’ve proposed that incursions and raids by wild bands of Orcs and opportunistic land grabbing by the Dwarfs sends Middle Earth into a spiral of violence. A worn-out Aragorn decides to take drastic measures to cleanse Middle Earth of anything non-human. Destroying any sign of their civilizations so thousands of years later there are no more traces to be found”.


“And that’s when our story starts!”



Abdulrahman goes on to say that their protagonist is a young Elf called Illyandra who discovers that the Ring has made an unexpected return. Setting out to find it, we discover The Ring was sent to John, a young man who will have to make a choice that will decide their fate.


As both the director and writer of the film, Abdulrahman Ugas already has a feature script optioned with Julian Holmes (Strike Back, MI-5, Law & Order) attached to direct. Elaine Granger from Clash of the Titans, London Has Fallen and The Autopsy of Jane Doe is attached to cast for it.


He decided to make the leap into directing and will launch his career behind the camera with this short.




Amongst the multitude of support is Director of Photography James Alexander who is a talented West Midlands cinematographer. Having worked on music videos, corporate videos and commercials Abdulrahman says his eye to detail is impeccable.


With a cast featuring Rhianne Elizabeth as Illyandra, Sam Malley as John Frisby, Dominic Thompson as Alatar the Young, Theo Johnson as Frank Simms, Nisaro Karim as Amdir and Thomas Compton as Nazgul, this exciting new project is close to completion and promises to bring the tales of Tolkien back to their roots in the West Midlands.




To stay up-to-date with the project follow the film and director here:


www.instagram.com/AbdulrahmanUgas


www.twitter.com/AbdulrahmanUgas


https://www.facebook.com/AbdulrahmanUgasFilm



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