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By midlandsmovies, Dec 11 2018 09:21PM



Midlands Review – Starman


Directed by Stuart Connock Wheeldon


2018


MontsegurFilms / NineLadiesFilm


Starman is the new short from Midlands production company NineLadiesFilm and was directed by Stuart Wheeldon. Wheeldon also co-wrote the film with Nick John Whittle and the team have come up with a mysterious story about a homeless man in the woods whose origins may not quite be what those around him expect.


Shot on location in Wirksworth in Derbyshire the filmmakers open the story well with fantastically filmed aerial drone shots giving us a great sense of this remote location. The slow hovering camera reflects a UFO of sorts which is mighty handy when the story unfolds later.


We dissolve to a mysterious man (Nigel Barber as Mark) who seems at peace in his own world and is currently confined to a solitary tent in the woods. Looking up to the sky we soon cut to him attempting to “make contact” with unknown people through an old radio.


Living off the land we get the feeling this individual is at one with their surroundings but his idyllic camp is at odds with local couple Peter and Lisa. Whilst Peter (Elliott Rennie) believes he could be a dangerous ex-con, his partner Lisa (Mia Mills) is more sympathetic to his plight.


Nigel Barber is great as the lonesome man, Mark, portraying him with a blankness that hints upon an “alienated” individual. Mia Mills’ subtle kindness is also used to good effect with her caring personality and friendly demeanour acting as our guide.


However, these good performances are unfortunately undermined with some less-than-adequate sound mixing. Whilst the slightly strange music and staccato strings echo the weirdness of Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho score – it is placed in such random places that there is often no link between the sound, the score and what’s being shown going on screen.


And although maybe it is an intentional choice to give the project an ‘other-worldly’ vibe, it simply feels like the film hasn’t quite finished its work in the sound department – certainly with regards to syncing it all up. Alongside this, several scenes at night muffle the words of our protagonists when a ‘chirping crickets’ background hum overpowers the dialogue almost to the point of being unlistenable.


Later on Lisa asks “where was home before?” and the film does an admirable job of never explicitly playing its hand as to the man’s origin. I also enjoyed the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to the filmmaker’s previous flick “In Limbo”. The film also earns points for its unique location. Other than the woods and the couple’s home, the film is mostly located a Wirksworth’s StarDisc – a suitably celestial stone sculpture showing constellations.


In the end though, despite positive performances from the cast, they are infuriatingly let down by the short’s sloppy technical issues and frustrating sound design. So whilst the location gives hints to a wonderful map of the stars, Starman is a slightly confused piece overall that could do with another run through in the studio.


Mike Sales


By midlandsmovies, Sep 4 2018 08:45PM



Midlands Spotlight - StarMan


Regional film production company Nine Ladies Film return with StarMan, an ambitious short about human frailty and an alien encounter. Midlands Movies Mike Sales uncovers more about this stellar new production.


StarMan is the most recent release by British filmmaker Stuart Connock Wheeldon who explains that the film is not just a tale of financial hardship. In fact, StarMan "seeks to topple the film industry’s under-representation of people of a poor socio-economic rank", says Stuart.


As a timely criticism of the abandonment by the UK Government of ex armed forces personnel, the film tells a journey of homeless ex-paratrooper Mark (Nigel Barber) and his efforts to survive in a world of judgement and misconception.


His chance encounter with the open-minded Lisa (Mia Mills) spurs him onwards to realise his final mission: that of returning to a life beyond the constellations.


The story continues as Mark’s interactions with Lisa urge the viewer to question the modern-day surge of prejudice and spurious charity. Stuart explains that Lisa’s husband (Elliott Rennie) offers "condemnation of her efforts to help Mark; his opinions representing the ever-growing cultures of narrow-mindedness and self-servitude".

As well as looking at current issues regarding army personnel, the film hopes to be an indictment of our plastics epidemic and propensity to waste food as well as our discarding of religion.


Derbyshire writer-director Stuart has been able to assemble a formidable group of actors and crew for the filming in and around Wirksworth in Derbyshire.


The film was written by Stuart himself and Nick John Whittle. Doug Cummings was 1st Assistant Director, Jordan Frater Sound Recordist, Jennifer Whitmore Production Designer and Wheeldon was the film's director.

With a zero budget, the filmmakers have pulled together all their resources and have released the films's first trailer below and be sure to check for updates at the official website http://www.nineladiesfilm.com/starman.html






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