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By midlandsmovies, Jan 7 2019 01:47PM


Directed by Ash Morris


Farside is the new film from Stoke-On-Trent director Ash Morris who has taken his Midlands crew to Welsh seaside town Rhyl to film his latest movie.

Presented in a very real-to-life hand held camera style, we follow refugee Sayeed (BAFTA shortlister Amir El-Masry) who heads to a caravan park to be trained as an on-site security guard.

As well as this with get glimpses into others’ lives from the park including Annabel (Sacha Parkinson who recently starred as the lead in feature film Apostasy) and her angry drunken father Jez (Shane Attwool from Clio Bernard’s Dark River).

As Sayeed kneels in Muslim prayer, we hear anti-immigrant sentiment on a radio phone-in and see Annabel going about her business on the sea front. But not before she suffers an epileptic seizure in her caravan home which foreshadows further physical and mental themes later in the film.

As Sayeed heads to the beach he has recollections of the sounds of war and the director cleverly shows the horrors of the past without giving too much away too early in the story.

Soon, Annabel joins him and they have fun together at the seaside arcade games but on her return we find her dad has lost his job which he blames on Polish workers. With drunken violent outbursts and attributing his current predicament on others, he seethes in boiling rage as we, the audience, feel a sense of tension about to explode.

With a crew made up locally from Staffordshire University students, a change of national location and its international themes, Farside successfully mixes small town sensibilities with wider worldwide issues. And it’s to its credit, that the film handles each of these ideas well – never forgetting the past and future whilst tackling the theme of conflict, both small and large.

As the two friends grow closer, Sayed still has nightmares from his previous life in the Middle East but is about to face new nightmares in his adopted home from those around him.

Hard-hitting and heart breaking, Ash Morris has tackled a difficult subject with gusto but also with sensitivity. Small details like Union Jack flags and background sound effects show the contrasting lives of the main players and the production doesn’t flinch from the complex matters at hand.

Escaping from violence in war-torn Syria into further violence in the supposedly peaceful UK, Morris parallels the loss of loved ones in a poignant yet stark short.

With fantastic performances from the three main leads, Farside ends up being a powerful reminder of the world we live in and explores the demonization of people escaping tragic circumstances and war-torn fighting, but only to find more battles in their new home.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, May 17 2018 07:02AM

Midlands Review – Rough

Directed by Chris Stone

Stoke on Trent based director Chris Stone has a history of creating great showreels for actors from the Midlands and beyond. But he is never afraid to tackle his own short dramas and delivers a high concept sci-fi short in his new film Rough.

Making films since he was a young boy, Chris has a background in scriptwriting, casting and editing which all come to play in this new short.

Set in a forest location, Rough has a cast of two - “mother" and Dawn - who seem equally confused and investigative amongst the dense trees. Electronic and motorised sound effects are used well to infer Dawn is a robot and the actor delivers her lines in a monotone effect to create the feel of her cyborg.

Unsure of how to describe the detail of the broken bark on a tree (“rough”) we are informed she comes from a factory and her digital memory can recollect timescales down to the nearest minute yet there is one past event that she cannot (or will not) recall.

Reminded by “mother” that she has been “owned” Dawn for far longer than the android realises we are told the revelation that Dawn is also the last person to have seen her missing child, Jamie.

Dawn’s strange behaviour (“would you like to hear a song?”) hints at a more eerie presence whilst she freezes to a standstill as she follows instructions to “stay” showing her current subservient nature.

Dawn refers to her companion as “mother” yet she is chastised for doing so and told she will never be her child as the frustration with the droid boils over into emotional anger.

Unable to compute we are shown her “corrupted memories” with a soft-focus flashback to the missing Jamie who is shown being strangled and buried by Dawn in a bout of mysterious fury.

With a host of fantastic flourishes if there was one problem with Rough, it was actually the lack of credits which would have given the stupendous actors their due. An online search could provide no answers and it’s a shame that filmmakers omit such a key part of promoting their film.

Whatever your level of filmmaking and despite a successful pedigree, creatives could gain more exposure with a certain amount of online presence over on IMDB or on their social media pages. If nothing else, it shows respect to the cast and crew who were involved.

That aside, clocking in at just 2 and a half minutes, Stone proves his showreel-making skill with a to-the-point short that demonstrates a wide range of talent from the actors, the sound, the music and a punchy little narrative with a technological twist in its tale.

Midlands Movies Mike

You can watch the full short on Vimeo here:

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

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