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By midlandsmovies, Mar 18 2020 04:31PM



DJ Dougal’s Dad


Directed by Thomas Line


2020


We open in a music festival dance tent with a DJ attempting to pump up a packed crowd as we begin new documentary DJ Dougal’s Dad by Midlands filmmaker Thomas Line.


As the man shouts over the microphone, he introduces us to our first glimpse of Garry Clarke aka DJ Dougal’s Dad. We then smash cut to Garry leaving his suburban home that couldn’t be further from the euphoric boom of the crowd and sub-woofer of the festival event.


Garry is a photographer and videographer from Northampton whose wife bought him a Yashica 24 camera many moons ago and began his career by taking a few shots of a local guitarist known as Marc Bolan (!)


Later going on to sell his shots to big music magazines like Melody Maker, Garry has since come full circle to photograph local band Howlin’ Owls. But alongside footage of the older Garry working with up and coming artists, he regales the viewer with stories of photographing some of music’s most celebrated artists.


From Santana in the early 80s through to Bob Dylan, Garry shares his passion in an honest and informative documentary. We see his photos and director Thomas Line uses interviews, voiceover and both old and new footage to showcase Garry’s work over his distinguished career.


The passion from Garry and his interest in the subject matter comes across well and being a musician myself – and having done many a band photoshoot – the subject matter was especially interesting to me.


Tom previously made Headphones, a short film drama film we reviewed that was also nominated at our annual movie awards (click here for review). This film shows the director can jump mediums with aplomb and having a narrative background always helps in documentaries to create a story around the subject. It’s all too easy to think your own obsession with the subject matter will see audiences respond the same way but that’s not always the case.


Here though, Garry’s history and personal stories help you relate to his photography and the director has captured a man sharing his love for music and images in a simple but informative way. We briefly move on to his DJ son and rave culture but Garry explains the only drugs he takes are medicinal ones.


Although the documentary uses standard genre techniques, the subject matter was more than up my street and anyone with a passing interest in music, history or creative photography will definitely get something out of the film’s brief 8-minutes. What starts as a mad insight into a life capturing the excesses of rock n roll, actually develops into a more life-affirming self-portrait of an older soul processing the snapshots of his life. Recommended.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Mar 10 2019 10:47AM



Midlands Review - Headphones


Directed by Thomas Line


2018


This new 7-minute short comes from Northampton director Thomas Line and tells the story of an introverted young girl who retreats from the world into the music blaring from her headphones.


We open in a bedroom where the girl Sarah (a fantastic Arabella Smith-James) is reading and listening to music as she blocks out the sound of what we assume are arguing parents.


Increasing the volume to drown out their war of words we then jump from night to day on a college campus where two girls hand out flyers for a local gig.


Sarah takes a flyer before pausing to exchange glances with one of the girls (actress Olivia Noyce in a small but important support role as Naomi), however as she heads into an underpass she crosses paths with a group of males who snatch the headphones from her head.


The small but meaningful glances are testament to good performance from the actresses as director Line uses music throughout. And its constant presence places the audience in a similar place to our protagonist. The absence of reams of dialogue also demonstrates a good handling of pacing and visuals to get the story across too, which compliments the subtle expressions on the faces of the girls.


As Sarah tries to retrieve her headphones from the one of the bullies (a menacing Joseph T. Callaghan) they are smashed on the ground and she returns home to the ever-constant presence of her family shouting.


With her soul crying out for a replacement, Sarah spots the flyer and decides to head to the live show. At the gig she spies the girl from before, and as the band take the stage she builds up the confidence to join the dancefloor, swaying in time to the music. The boy from the underpass is also there but Sarah rejects his advances before Noyce’s character Naomi steals his drink and invites Sarah outside on to a rooftop.


The cast are effective in a short that covers a lot of emotions with very few words. Placing an emphasis on a good soundtrack, the excellent sound editing and mixing is one of the film’s many technical achievements.


As the film draws to its conclusion, the short focuses on female friendship – or perhaps more – as Sarah comes out - both of her shell and more literally outside of the bar - for an intimate final moment of “headphone sharing” with her new acquaintance.


The fact the film treats this relationship as something for the audience to decide upon is a fine creative choice as the two look out across a sunset over the city and whether love or friendship, simply shows a sensitive connection between two people.


With brilliant performances from the three main cast members and the director’s focus on private and public moments, the film is a first-rate look at young female relationships. Exceptional music editing reflecting the feelings of those involved also emphasises its focus on aural experiences. And the excellent sound arrangement alongside the visuals helps create the narrative beats too.


As it wraps up though, Headphones emphasises the heart much more so than the head, and ends up being a tremendous local short that expresses a melodic harmony between two tender souls.


Michael Sales


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