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By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2018 06:49PM

Midlands Movies Mike finds out more about the Bottle Smoke 2018 Film Festival due to take place later this year.

Celebrating filmmakers from all budgets the upcoming Bottle Smoke Film Festival will be featuring two days of movie industry talks as well as a short film award ceremony.

Located in Staffordshire, the first day will end with a feature film with a follow up Q&A and day two ends with the award ceremony which will feature prizes for best cinematography, best director and best overall film.

Taking place on the weekend of 8th and 9th September the headline film will be Kaleidoscope Man from director Simon Cox and submissions to the film competition costs just £10.

The judges for Bottle Smoke 2018 include Peter Rudge who has more than 25 years experience in the film industry and was co-founder of Grand Independent – a film production and distribution company based in Staffordshire.

Another is Ray Johnson MBE, professor of film heritage and documentary at Staffordshire University. He is a Director of the Staffordshire Film Archive, the Mitchell Arts Centre Trust and the Media Archive for Central England as well as an independent film-maker, actor, and writer.

The final judge is Simon Cox who has worked in the UK TV and film industry for over 20 years for the BBC, Channel Four and Five as well as directing a feature film of his own.

Also of note is the festival’s charitable partner, Grand Order of Water Rats, who will receive 15% of the event’s profits. The organisation has helped with donations and supplied equipment to Guy's Hospital, Roy Castle's Cause for Hope, International Spinal Research, Macmillan Cancer Fund and Moorfields Eye Hospital amongst others.

For those interested, the event will be hosted at the prestigious Stoke Film Theatre and tickets can be bought via Eventbrite by clicking here

For submission application forms and much more information please visit the official website at: http://kemper5.wixsite.com/cm-productions/bottle-smoke

By midlandsmovies, Dec 5 2017 06:12PM

Random Acts and Rural Media - Part 3

In our third and final part we cover 4 more filmmakers who are part of the region’s Random Acts and Rural Media partnership. From all across the Midlands, please read below to find out more of the young talent the area has to offer.

For the previous blogs - Part 1 please click here and for Part 2 please click here.

Body Language (Nottinghamshire)

Michael Mante’s film shows a krump dancer performing amidst the ills, filth and degradation of his urban environment in a surreal art exploration of gentrification, classism and racism. Michael is an aspiring filmmaker, both directing films and writing screenplays with his creative ambition to use film to speak to audiences, ask them questions, and encourage viewers to ask themselves questions. Michael adds, “Visual literacy is the world's most poignant language and I try to use that to communicate the things I see in everyday life.”

Everyday Choreography (Shropshire)

Everyday Choreography is a charming short dance film by Caldonia Walton following Gerrard, an overworked 45-year old man on his way home from a tiring day at the office. He puts his headphones in to forget about his worries and finds himself amongst amusing interactions with two people who alter his outlook on life. Caldonia is a 23-year old dance performer and choreographer from Shropshire who creates dance work that links with theatre, text and film, using clear narratives about the world we live in realised through physical movement and a touch of comedy.

Yellow Wallpaper (Warwickshire)

Inspired by the short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman(1892), this short film from Hayley Egan uses dance to portray the claustrophobic and cruel consequences of how ‘rest cure’ kept 19th century women compliant, which resulted in an increase in mental health problems and feelings of confinement and frustration. Through dance movement, our female protagonist will find solace in the yellow wallpaper, yet is driven to exhaustion by her frustrating predicament. Hayley Egan is young filmmaker/producer from Coventry now working in London.

Taking Up Space (Staffordshire)

Emily Mulenga’s animation covers the notion that time and space in the art world and academia are not often dedicated regularly to people of colour, most notably women. Emily grows to Godzilla proportions and takes over the city in this thoughtful short from this young talented visual artist from the West Midlands.

By midlandsmovies, Jul 10 2017 05:44PM

Midlands Movies Mike uncovers an interesting new experimental feature that combines the mysticism of folklore with the modernism of an experimental soundtrack.

Staffordshire set film The Doxey Boggart is a new film from John E Smoke who is a deaf-blind filmmaker, musician and artist. Set within a nature reserve called Doxey Marshes, the film is a semi-documentary which follows a group of people investigating the local legend.

From an experimental sound artist with his guide dog to his fellow esoteric associates, they seek to uncover the truth about a ‘boggart’ (an evil or mischievous spirit) that is associated with the area.

Director John E Smoke is the aforementioned sound artist and has performed in many unusual locations including abandoned buildings and a set at Mermaid Pool in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

During one particular session of his there were claims of a ghostly image being caught on film which went viral online and featured widely in press at the time.

The film mixes a slim ‘plot’ with real-life elements as the musicians perform a set on Doxey Marshes during which a folk poem about a boggart is recited. At first nothing untoward happens but after the disappearance of a mother and child “the team are left wondering if the recital has brought something to life”.

Following their investigations the film includes field recordings and footage and borrows from 'actual' local folklore relating to 'boggarts', 'bugs' and other entities.

One of the key parts of the film is the music which assists in supporting the atmosphere of the historic locations. John E Smoke has pulled together friends in the music scene to compile a soundtrack that includes well-respected members of the experimental noise genre.

Soundtrack artists include 'Tunnels of Ah' (the solo project of the former Head of David vocalist, 'Autoclav 1.1', 'Khost' (featuring former members of Techno Animal, Final, Iroha etc), 'From The Bogs of Aughiska', 'John 3:16', 'Ian Haygreen', 'Whote', 'Satan's Bee Keeper', 'Theresia', 'Raxil4' and 'James Hoehl' alongside field recordings undertaken by John E Smoke.

With a mix of documentary, sound art and a little bit of horror, The Doxey Boggart’s eclectic combination of experimental images and dark ambient music will be released later in 2017 and also includes the release of hand printed DVD and double-CD music packs.

For more info please take a look at the trailer above and also check out further details of this Sonic Entrails production over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doxeyboggart

By midlandsmovies, Dec 12 2016 01:47PM

Midlands Movies checks out Staffordshire based filmmaker Daniel A. Finney whose debut feature BoXed has just been released online.

Hailing from Stoke-On-Trent, Daniel A. Finney has used local talent from the West Midlands, as well as many of the region’s locations, to film his new horror-drama BoXed.

Finney describes his film as “a quiet-horror, drama and mystery” and it tells the story of a girl called Rachel whose sister, named Hope, has gone missing.

BoXed follows Rachel as she begins to deal with her loss and commitments but there is soon an unwelcome return of a face from the past. The search for Hope subsequently takes Rachel to the dark, lost moments of her life that she had hoped she had left behind.

This Midlands made film stars Jane Hamlet, Charles O'Neill and Hetty Bentley and has recently utilised new media avenues to get their local film out to international audiences. With the use of Amazon Video, the film was released for digital download and streaming on 11th November. Click here.

View the trailer above for a sneak peak into this dark and crazy world and follow the production company (Sledgehammer Film) over on Twitter to see more information about the film.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SHFilm

A full review from Midlands Movies coming soon

By midlandsmovies, Nov 23 2016 09:46PM

Midlands Movies Mike speaks to local author and playwright Dan Weatherer from North Staffordshire. This regional born and bred creative has had four books published, with three more to hit the shelves soon. Dan speaks to Midlands Movies about his three-time festival award winner The Legend of The Chained Oak and his current film project Beige, which will hit the festival circuit next year.

MMM: Hi Dan. How did you, as a writer, end up working with the film industry?

DW: Quite by chance, actually! I’d penned my first tale The Legend of the Chained Oak during the January of 2013 and had passed it to friends who had grown up with the same legend as I. Feedback was good, but at this point, I had no idea of what to do with my story. Someone suggested I pass my story to Dean Maynard, who had always wanted to make a film based on the chained oak. For those of you not in the know, the chained oak is real, lies just outside of Alton Towers, and its origin is still shrouded in secrecy!

MMM: And what happened from there?

DW: Dean was interested in my version of the legend, and after a few months’ prep, a cast and crew were assembled, and we shot in the September of 2013. The entire shoot lasted three days, and we experienced all manner of weird occurrences and mishaps. I wish we’d documented “a making of”, as it would have made fascinating viewing!

MMM: Was sort of size was the production?

DW: The entire film was made for £500, of which I am forever grateful to Dean, and many talented individuals gave their time and expertise to the project. Since that project, many of the cast and crew have gone on to achieve further in their chosen fields.

MMM: Thank you. And how did you originally become a writer?

DW: Well, I was made redundant in the December of 2012. I became a house-husband and my time was spent looking after my two-year-old daughter. It was great getting to spend time with her, but I missed being active and turned to writing as a means to keep my mind busy. I seemed to have a knack for it and decided to make a serious go of forging a career as a writer.

MMM: What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just completed the second of two novels, both of which are with my agent, meaning that my time is currently spent on a book detailing my experiences as a playwright. I’m self-taught in all aspects of my work, and felt that my experiences may be of benefit to others looking to forge a career as a playwright. The book is almost complete and ready for submission. My latest short Beige, a surreal comedy about a husband who has just murdered his wife, is complete and will be cropping up at film festivals in the new year.

MMM: Do you like to specialise in any genres or styles of work?

DW: I don’t necessarily like labels, but realise their necessity. I suppose you could classify my work as dark fiction. It’s not horror, though occasionally it contains horror elements, nor is it paranormal, though again, it’s influence can be seen/felt. My work can be gothic, dramatic, intense, surreal, even comedic -it all depends on the piece.

MMM: What has been your greatest achievement?

DW: Winning awards for LOTCO was a career highlight, and helped set me on my way as an author, and this year I managed to secure the services of two agents -which was a huge career milestone! However, my greatest achievement personally, (aside from the birth of my children, who I am rightly proud of) was returning to my primary school to host workshops on playwriting. Being able to inspire others is important in art, and I make it a point of my work to visit schools, social groups, etc. wherever possible, to share my experiences, and help encourage others to write.

MMM: And what about your favourite movies? Do you look out for any adaptations being a writer?

DW: My current favourite is The Hateful Eight – and I’ll tell you why. It appeals to me because it is almost a stage play. It could translate to stage very easily. It’s dialogue led, and that’s what I enjoy most in a piece of work.

MMM: And finally. What are your upcoming plans?

DW: I’m not actively engaged in any new film projects at present, though I intend to be in the future. Many of my readers often compliment me on my work, explaining how well it would translate to the big screen. I’m working to raise my profile so that potential film-makers take an interest in my work.

MMM: Thanks Dan. All the best and we look forward from hearing more about your work.

DW: Thank you too!

You can watch the full version of Legend of the Chained Oak and find out more information about Dan Weatherer and his work at www.fatherdarkness.com

Or follow Dan at his social media accounts:

Twitter: @dweatherer21

Facebook: FatherDarkness

By midlandsmovies, Jun 25 2016 08:14AM

After 35 years of Arts Excellence the Lichfield Festival brings the best national and international artists and performers to the West Midlands each year for a summer celebration of classical music, dance, drama, film, jazz, literature, poetry, visual arts and world music.

Not only holding a unique role in the city but within Staffordshire and the surrounding area, the Lichfield Festival has become an integral part of the region’s cultural fabric – a focal point for exciting and challenging artistic presentations of an international calibre, and a showcase for Lichfield’s own wealth of heritage, culture and creativity.

Read below to find out about this year's eclectic range of film events within its full programme for the benefit of the regions’ film fans:

Singin’ in the Rain (screening) Saturday 2nd July, 8pm, Lichfield Garrick Theatre (studio)

Comedy, romance, great musical numbers, stars at their best and a fond recreation of a bygone moviemaking era: Singin' In the Rain has so much that it ranked a lofty 10th on the American Film Institute's 100 Best American Films list. Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/2G-FILM-Singin-In-The-Rain/index.asp

Dial M for Murder (screening) Monday 4th July, 8pm, Lichfield Garrick Theatre (studio)

Alfred Hitchcock's screen version of Frederick Knott's stage hit Dial M for Murder is a tasty blend of elegance and suspense, casting Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings as the points of a romantic triangle. Kelly won the New York Film Critics and National Board of Review Best Actress Awards for this and two other acclaimed 1954 performances. Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/4I-FILM-Dial-M-For-Murder/index.asp

Charlie Chaplin Silent Films with presenter Mark Kermode and the Orchestra of the Swan

Tuesday 5th July, 8pm, Lichfield Cathedral

There will be a screening of two Chaplin classics from the era with live accompaniment from the acclaimed Orchestra of the Swan, conducted by David Curtis. Film critic and presenter Mark Kermode hosts the evening and provides an introduction to each film. Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/5C-Charlie-Chaplin-Silent-Films/index.asp

Cabaret/Circus: Hitch (live performance) Tuesday 5th July, 8pm, Lichfield Garrick Theatre

Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club pushes cabaret to new frontiers. The show has been created by a troupe of international circus and cabaret artists, veterans of NoFit State Circus and the underground live art scene of London. Fancy dress is optional but highly recommended. Come as your favourite Hitchcock character! Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/5D-HITCH-Mary-Bijou-Cabaret/index.asp

Sunset Blvd (screening) Friday 8th July, 8pm, Lichfield Garrick Theatre (studio)

The winner of 3 Academy Awards including Best Screenplay, Billy Wilder's film-noir classic stars Gloria Swanson and William Holden as Norma and Joe, and features cameo appearances from real-life silent movie stars Buster Keaton and Anna Q Nilsson as themselves. Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/8D-FILM-Sunset-Blvd/index.asp

Jazz: Hollywood Romance Friday 8th July, 7.30pm, Lichfield Cathedral

Hollywood Romance celebrates the art of popular song from the golden age of Hollywood. Expect to hear elegant, swinging settings of songs arranged by Callum Au and inspired by the legendary Songbook recordings of Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day and Sarah Vaughan. Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/8C-Hollywood-Romance/index.asp

Comedy/Drama: Dinosaur Park Saturday 9th July, 7pm, Lichfield Garrick Theatre

Superbolt Theatre's five-star production is an epic adventure of show-stopping, spine-tingling theatrics and megalithic mayhem. Direct from a sell-out London Season, and an official sell-out status at Edinburgh Fringe 2015, the show tours the UK for the first time! Tickets: http://lichfieldgarrick.com/9C-Dinosaur-Park/index.asp

By midlandsmovies, Mar 7 2016 08:36PM

The Red Carpet Cinema in Staffordshire has been providng a unique cinema, dining and event experience in the region since 2012 and now have even more great news for the area's filmgoers.

March 2016 will see two brand new Christie CP2208 IMB projector systems to replace their older models and the owners are filled with joy in order to stay up to date with the latest technology.

Back in 2008 when the opening was just a pipe dream, the cinema was fully prepared to be shipping in 35mm prints on 2,000 foot reels to show on projectors that had been designed for cinemas from the 1980s. However by the time it opened in 2012, 35mm was pretty obsolete, replaced by digital projection.

Despite 2012 being a disastrous time for getting hold of any cold hard cash from the banks, the cinema toyed with the idea of using the old 35mm projectors which were cheap but ultimately not suitable. In order to achieve a varied range of films that are up to date you need digital equipment which can be very expensive.

Like most cinemas co-owener Kate Silverwood finds that the trouble with digital projection is that nobody except for the audience is watching the film.

"Therefore it isn’t until someone kindly pops their head out of the auditorium to announce they’ve been looking at a blank screen for 20 minutes that we know anything about it. Why don’t you have someone to watch I hear you cry! Well, because 99% of the time it all goes perfectly to plan so losing a member of staff at a critical moment in the café bar 10 times a day is incredibly costly and not very practical".

Kate adds, "I’ll stop making excuses and let’s rewind for a second to the moment that a kindly customer informs us that the projector isn’t working. Behind the scenes everything goes into action overdrive. One person reboots the servers the way you would with any wayward computer. Meanwhile another person calls our service provider who can see our technical issues remotely from London via the cloud".

At this stage, Kate explains that the audience is can get restless and a bit hacked off. "The tension rises and we are quite sweaty behind the scenes but we know there’s still a person free to run in and out of the cinema to let our waiting customers know that we are working on it and all ends up well".

Despite some technical hiccups, it isn’t until they start calling people on the phone to cancel a show that they realise how many special life events are scheduled around The Red Carpet. "I don’t think we’ve ever cancelled a show and not disappointed a few people", says a sorrowful Kate.

"We damage secret birthday treats, plans with guests over from Australia, distraction before major operations, even a wedding proposal! Cancelling a show is sickening and up until now, we’ve never had to cancel a fully booked auditorium….yet, but it’ll happen if we keep the old projectors".

Although now 50k lighter in the pocket - the projectors have actually come down dramatically in price - Kate and her partner are very happy to be sharing this news today with the customers. "These bits of kit are light years ahead of the ones we are scrapping.

So….does Kate breathe a little more easily now? She asks if anyone ever really breathes easily when they run their own business? Ah well…oxygen can be highly overrated!

The Red Carpet are currently advertising for a full time cook/ chef so please apply via the contact details below to become part of The Red Carpet family.

The Red Carpet Cinema

Barton Marina

Barton under Needwood


DE13 8AS

General Enquiries: 01283 716257

Box Office & Restaurant: 01283 716257

Email: contact@redcarpetcinema.co.uk


By midlandsmovies, Jan 10 2016 11:53AM

Midlands Movies Mike enters January by taking a look at Stoke-based filmmaker Chris Stone who has come out from his undercover mission to release his new espionage web film series “Year of Spies”.

Chris Stone’s varied background from the BBC to filming LA music videos has helped him set up his biggest project to date with the release of his Ipcress File inspired spy series. With a Royal Television Society nominated documentary also behind him, this new project compliments his previous work that has been showcased on ITV and MTV as well as being premiered at Pinewood Studios.

“Year of Spies” is the culmination of all this hard toil and Chris has turned to the internet to release this impressive 12-part thriller which unfolds over the course of a year.

Under Christ Stone Films, the director also offers custom-filmed show reel scenes for up and coming actors to show off their acting talents. Helping others to demonstrate their skills to casting directors he gives new actors and actresses a route to much needed first-hand experience of working in front of camera with a professional director.

"Year of Spies" also continues Chris’ bold visual style with Hollywood influences and larger than life heroes with Bond-esque action sequences. This major difference from his previous work is the project will be made up of individual self-contained mini stories. Chris says they are “set in the same 'universe' rather than one long continuous narrative”.

Using both his experience as a short filmmaker and finding a new route to audiences via the web, Chris has built a fanbase online and his Victorian vampire adventure 'Blood and Bone China', won 'Best Web Series of 2011' at the Indie Intertube Awards and has been viewed over 300,000 times on YouTube.

Chris also hosts seminars and practical lessons on film-making and web series production around the country, including at the UK's largest film festival Raindance and if you bring a script to Chris he is more than happy to work alongside budding writers too. So local filmmakers and actors should definitely get in touch if you want to work alongside this exciting talent from Staffordshire.

For more about Chris, his films and his future projects and local support then please check the links and watch the exciting trailer for the "Year of Spies" series via YouTube below:

Official website: http://www.yearofspies.com

Director's website http://www.chrisstonefilms.com

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