icons-03 icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

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 Isolated and withdrawn from those closest to her, she’s left with only a few options: keep on fighting, alone?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



By midlandsmovies, Oct 6 2017 10:06AM



Lee Charlish is a filmmaker producing shorts under the Korky Films banner in Coventry and Midlands Movies uncovers more about his local take on all things animation.


From spending many a Saturday afternoon watching old VHS tapes of ‘video nasties’, Lee Charlish says that long forgotten B-Movies were his baptism into movies but got into animation because he became disillusioned with ‘live’ action filmmaking in the early noughties.


“I’d say I’m a bit of a frustrated director who just saw animation as more accessible way to produce the ‘vision’ I had for some projects”, explains Lee. “Animation appealed to me because I didn’t need to rely on anybody else. I was forever being let down on projects, which obviously happens when you’re creating films with no to low-budget and any wild and wonderful locations I required suddenly became possible by simply drawing it”.


Having such a wild imagination, Lee came to the conclusion his ideas couldn’t be fully realised with the limitations of budget and available resources and locations, so animation was the route he took to get his ideas onto the screen. However, despite his initial plans Lee says he was a bit naïve in his original thoughts. “It isn’t easier at all! It provides a whole different set of frustrations and headaches, but it’s strangely enjoyable and I’m still obsessed with filmmaking. If I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it and I love watching films, of all genres, from all over the world. I think I live by the Charles Bukowski quote, ‘Find something you love and let it kill you’”.


After switching from ‘live’ filmmaking in 2004, Lee returned to it in 2014 by producing the satirical animation Snow which won the inaugural Macoproject Online Film festival accolade of Best Animation.




Lee goes on to say, “I’ve had no formal animation training and, to be honest, it probably shows; I’m not a purist by any stretch and the rudimentary animation is hopefully saved by strong stories and style. I take a lot of time manipulating photographic elements in Photoshop, compositing in After Effects and working in various animation software packages”.


“I think it’s a steep learning curve and is quite literally visible with my latest offerings, such as Trigger Happy Birthday which has just been completed and is currently being touted to festivals and Mother which is in the final stages of production”.



Lee’s film Pig Dream did very well and was picked up by festivals as well as being awarded the British Special Mention Award at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol in 2016. And Lee feels it was a good springboard and is still very proud of his work.


However, ninetofive is Lee’s latest and is a 17-minute animation so fraught with problems that he nearly gave up on several times. “Thankfully, the hard work has paid off and I learnt so much during the production. My advice to any animator and/or filmmaker is to persevere and to ensure you improve and learn from mistakes and criticism. Most negatives can usually be turned into a positive if your approach and attitude is right. The film is now enjoying worldwide screenings and it had a great local premiere and Q and A in Leicester as part of The Short Cinema film festival".




"I doubt I’ll make another animation that long though. It’s also harder to programme at festivals because of the length too, so again, it’s reassuring to see it shown at so many when the curators could easily have shown two or three other films instead”.


Whilst training as an actor at drama college, Lee says a firm piece of advice he follows was ‘If it can happen, it will,’ which he says was dispensed more as a cautionary observation to live by, rather than some positive, motivational mantra. “I use it to ensure that all possible things which can go wrong are sorted or signposted before production starts, so the workflow is as seamless as possible”


“The plus side is that the ‘magic happens’ during any production, kind of organically and I think the advice is keep all the technical things tethered and tight, so the creativity can wield its wonderful tentacles and go anywhere it pleases”.


Lee says he’s influenced by music and as a child he enjoyed traditional cartoons like Scooby Doo, He-Man and Warner Bros stuff. Whilst being less interested in 3D he cites Spielberg, Lynch, Polanski, Wes Anderson and horror favourites like John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper as his film influences.


And with such a busy slate, past and present, Lee explains there’s much more to come from Korky Films. Lee plans to produce a ‘Making of’ for Mother so people can see the processes he goes through go and he hopes for the same with Return from the Moon - another high-concept piece.


“I am never short of ideas and often, while I’m working on a project I’ll get another idea and I’ll be making feverish notes and honing scripts or outlines. It’s not uncommon for me to work on more than one film at a time. I have just finished Trigger Happy Birthday, which was inspired from a Facebook meme I saw and I’m finishing Mother, which has a story which was devised and conceived in little more than an hour one Friday evening”


Check out further information from Lee Charlish and Korky Films on the official site below:


http://www.korkyfilms.com/







By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2017 08:32AM

Midlands Spotlight - Paul Vernon


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about regional filmmaker Paul Vernon who has gone from the local to the global arena with his documentary, dance and short films.


From gaining a BTEC National Diploma: Film and Moving Image at Brooksby Melton College back in 2007, Paul Vernon is now showing his latest short film, Lost In The Nameless City, in the Chelsea district of New York as part of the Artists Forum Festival Of The Moving Image .


From small beginnings, Paul has now directed a range of films, many of which have been selected, award nominated and chosen to open and close film festivals and Lost In The Nameless City was the recent winner of the Experimental Award from the 12 Months Film Festival in Romania.


The film is an experimental documentary and photographic film interpreting urban space in London and combines black and white video and 135 film photography with an original minimalist score from composer David C. Hëvvitt made especially for the short.


More locally, Paul directed A Film By Abigail which was shot in his home village of Tugby near Leicester. Screened twice at Phoenix Square in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter - once with The Short Cinema as their opening film and also at the DocFilm Fest as well - Paul explains that his unique style saw the film screened in a gallery in Nottingham too.


“I’m deeply interested in cinematic aesthetics and form driven with passion to create unique varied films of individuality, tone and image”.


Although Paul has one foot firmly in the UK, and gained an MA with Merit specialising as a director earned at The Northern Film School in Leeds, he has always looked beyond the local too.


And it was "Abigail" that launched Paul’s work outside of the region when it was incorporated into a New York City school art curriculum and was an opening film at the 25. Internationales FilmFest Emden-Norderney representing UK films in London Shorts Special. Afterwards, the film was soon being screened further afield as part of festivals worldwide competing in Russia, India, Israel, Estonia, Albania, Egypt and France.


The film also premiered as the opening film of a short film showcase at BAFTA, screened in the "Best of Fest" at San Diego Comic-Con as well as the London Short Film Festival at the ICA and at the LACMA.


Find out more about Paul and his projects on his official website here: http://www.paulvernonfilmmaker.com


Watch the full short documentary A Film By Abigail here on YouTube below:



By midlandsmovies, Sep 26 2017 03:47PM



Midlands Spotlight - New drama short from Chilli Rose Productions


Midlands Movies finds out about the latest short film from Chilli Rose Production who are soon to launch their new drama “Who’s There”.


Shot entirely in Kidderminster and directed by local talent Fernando Antonio Maffei, Chilli Rose Productions are launching their film with an official screening event night in just a few months time.


The official screening will take place at Kidderminster Town Hall on 7th December at 7.30pm with a £2 entry fee and with DVDs of the film itself available after the show.


Who’s There stars Antonio Magro (Blood Orange, The Alienist), Amy Shepherd (WPC 56)

Greg Hobbs (The Truth), Grace Valloriani (Harry Brown), and Sophie Canare (ARTICHOKE)


Chilli Rose Productions are a local film production company based in Worcestershire UK and, on Facebook, Fernando had plenty to say about the support he’s received about the film so far on.


“I'm so proud of what we have achieved with ‘Who's There’. My cast and crew all worked very hard to achieve something so stylish and we shot the film using the RED EPIC camera”.


Fernando adds, “There is so much talent around here, I believe there are some great filmmakers around Kidderminster and the Worcestershire surrounding areas, the more we work together the stronger the local industry will become”.


For more information follow the film on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chilliroseproductions


Watch the trailer for Who’s There below:




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 4 2017 07:49AM



Midlands Movies speaks to local legend Thomas Hodge aka The Dude Designs who for years has been respected as one of the best alternative poster designers out there but who now has taken his first steps into making his very own film.


Thomas Hodge is the poster artist behind Hobo with A Shotgun (2011) The Innkeepers (2011) The Heat (2013) WolfCop (2014) and many more, as well as the author of VHS: Video Cover Art (2015). This book is the first of its kind to comprehensively bring together the artwork on UK VHS covers from the '80s to the '90s.


But now Tom is now proud to present his first stint in the director's chair with 'Teddy Bears Picnic', a proof-of-concept short film selected to premiere at this year's Fright Fest in London.


Written, produced, directed and financed by Tom himself, the film stars US actress Abby Miller (Justified, Aquarius & The Sinner TV series) and Laurence R Harvey (Human Centipede 2+3, ABCs of Death 2 & The Editor) yet was shot entirely in the Midlands at Welford in Northampton.


“I'm VERY excited to announce my first film project at long last!” says Tom who has kept the project behind guarded doors during its production. He adds, “It’s great the film is also showing at Fright Fest in London on the 28th August and with a world-wide online release to follow I hope it’s possible to develop it into a feature”.



The film revolves around a mother and daughter playing games in the forest but unbeknownst to them there is somebody watching their every move. Filmed entirely on location in the rural woodlands of the English Northampton countryside, Tom describes the short as "a year-long trip in terms of production but seven years of work in total”.


“I've been hands-on throughout, donning many new creative hats to produce, direct, art-direct and edit for the first time. I spent months making props, building creepy woodlands and creating original costumes."


Tom says how he was inspired by the 1907 melody of the same name, “Teddy Bears Picnic re-envisions the childhood song as a nightmarish fable that twists the concept of childhood innocence. I particularly loved the creativity of high concept horror in the '70s and '80s – from the films of Charles Band to the pulp horror novels of Guy N. Smith. So I wanted to take classic character-driven horror and develop it to suit contemporary tastes, with a strongly stylised visual approach”.


Tom also had the invaluable input of an “amazing director of photography" James Fox and the help and support from co-producer Natalie Dorn who also sacrificed a year for production. A musical score by Sophie Galpin (Pins-band) and sound design by Todd Freeman (Cell Count & Love Sick) add to the small cast and crew alongside co-writer Russell Norris.


With a set of teaser trailers being released online over the next month, you can get updates on the film at Tom’s YouTube channel - click here


And check out Tom’s poster art at https://www.thedudedesigns.com




RSS Feed twitter