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By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2019 06:00PM



Stairs (2019)


Directed by Tom Paton


Mosley Productions


The very prolific Midlands-originating director Tom Paton who has tackled 5 features in as many years returns with new movie Stairs, an action flick with lashings of fights, drama and a dark splash of the supernatural.


Opening in Eastern Europe, a group of crack commando special mercenaries are privately hired on a mission to gather intel and kill anyone who stands in their way.


After completing their task, one woman survives but Commander Will Stanton (a bearded X-Factor winner Shayne Ward) demands one of his crew (Samantha Schnitzler as Kia Clarke) leave no one alive. In cold blood she reluctantly follows his orders. Also along for the ride is Toby Osmond (Game of Thrones), Sophie Austin (Call The Midwife), Alana Wallace (Black Site) and Bentley Kalu (Wonder Woman).


From the outset and despite the low budget, the film’s design looks suitably authentic – real automatic weapons, whole fleets of jeeps and military equipment give the army set-up a realistic tone. What isn’t so realistic sadly is an overly-saturated blue filter over the sequence to represent “dawn”. A day-time shoot would have been fine and the only change in the first 15 minutes is the addition of a green filter for a point-of-view scope of a rifle shot.


Once that goes however, we have a much better-looking film (although it returns in the form of a lot of red) and once back at their headquarters, the group head up some stairs for a debrief even though Kia is haunted by the atrocity of her actions in the field.


Yet as they ascend, the team find themselves stuck in the stairwell with no comms or support but is this a drill, an emergency or something altogether much more sinister? With a bit of a nod to Dredd and The Raid where an armed group are trapped in one building location, the claustrophobia gets to the audience but also to the characters who start pontificating on their lack of progress.


With a few monologues (bit of a genre cliché but expected nonetheless) giving some exposition – perhaps a bit too much at times – the strange environment turns even weirder as they begin hallucinating a bloodied woman amid ghostly noises and whispers. A spooky piano-played child lullaby adds a supernatural feel to the proceedings and eventually one unfortunate member falls to their death.


Much to my surprise however, when the unit finally find an exit on these endless Escher-like steps, the film takes an astonishing left turn. Stepping through the door, they find themselves transported back in time to the field from the opening scene. Well I wasn’t expecting that!


A kind of Groundhog Day/Back to the Future 2 situation occurs and now the team are forced to repeat endless loops (or video game levels) of violence to resolve their predicament – learning more each time they rerun. This “circle” of hell is hinted upon in the dialogue with allusions to purgatory, faith and guilt as the characters are trapped in their personal prisons.


These aren’t fully explored sadly, as the film decides to stick to its guns (literally in fact) and follows the rigid action beats of the genre. And it also reminded me at times (in a good way) of Edge of Tomorrow and 2018’s Overlord which mixed a similar military group dealing with an inexplicable other-worldly entity.


Without spoiling any ending, the film continues with more action scenes and a satisfying amount of gory and bloody wounds to boot. As an aside, unfortunately the film uses CGI muzzle flashes which does a sad disservice to the genuine stunts and accomplishments elsewhere.


But as the film clambers to its conclusion, Stairs provides the right amount of bangs and bust-ups. And it sits alongside Outlawed as a local British film bravely attempting to take on the bigger budget actioners of Hollywood. Whilst there are certainly a few minor flaws – many simply to do with a low budget (plus my colour filter pet peeve) - the film has a very unique idea which makes it far more interesting than the usual “Expendables” style flick. So in the end, Stairs sticks with what it knows best and is well worth a climb for any fans of supernatural-infused action.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2019 08:57PM



Midlands Spotlight - Stairs


Award-winning Midlands director Tom Paton is about to launch his debut time-travel/horror film 'Stairs' at Arrow Frightfest in London.


This is Tom's fourth film and stars Shayne Ward and Toby Osmond and will get its world premiere at the prestigious event.


Mosley Productions in association with Goldfinch will hold the debut screening of their film this August at the highly respected festival and is about a group of mercenaries who are sent into Eastern Europe in the middle of a civil war to retrieve intel.


But shortly after the mission, the unit find themselves trapped on a never-ending stairwell; forced to climb or die. To survive, they must revisit their past sins if they ever want to get off!


The production hopes to blur the lines of action and horror to create a visually unique movie that deals with time travel, the repercussions of violence and its consequences. With practical effects, bone crunching fight sequences and existential dread the film promises to thrill audiences with 'Stairs' marking Tom Paton’s third time premiering at the London-based event.


Tom grew up in West Midlands where his passion for story telling started. Originally he wanted to be a comic book artist, but at the age of fifteen he realised it was a different form of narrative he was most drawn to and film became the obvious choice. “I always had a goal and that was to have made my first feature film by the age of thirty, so writing and directing Pandorica always felt like something that was inevitable to me, even in those early days”.


Paton had this to say on “Stairs” inclusion in the event, “It’s a really honour to be back at Frightfest for the third year in a row. I’m especially proud of how Stairs has turned out and I can’t wait to share it with everyone".


"Frightfest has been an amazing platform for my career and I’m really excited to be heading back, especially as the line-up is so incredible this year", he adds.


The film marks the feature film debut of National Television Award Winning actor and former X-Factor winner Shayne Ward, alongside Toby Osmond (Game of Thrones), Sophie Austin (Call The Midwife), Alana Wallace (Black Site), Samantha Schnitzler & Bentley Kalu (Wonder Woman).


Never one to rest on his laurels, Paton has also announced that his fifth film 'G-LOC' is in post-production. It is set to star Stephen Moyer (The Gifted, True Blood), Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Aquaman).


Ward, Osmond and Wallace will also return for the film and Tom has already announced that he is in production on his sixth film with executive producer Steve Mosley.


Tickets and information are available via the events website www.frightfest.co.uk







By midlandsmovies, Jun 17 2019 06:46AM



"Don't Talk About It - Just Do It" - Midlands Movies interviews Toby Osmond


Midlands Movies Editor Mike Sales speaks to Game of Thrones and Henry VIII and his Six Wives actor Toby Osmond about his starring roles, the significance of Mark Rylance and his prolific acting in the region.


Hiya Toby, could you tell our readers a little about yourself and career?

Hullo! I was a late starter coming to acting having been an environmental campaigner throughout my 20's. My brother Jim suggested I audition for the role of Hamlet at our local Shakespeare Society - and I got it! I then did the next show there - Gormenghast - playing the lead and it may sound cliched but I had found my calling. I handed in my notice at the office and began my love affair with Stage and Screen. I was very lucky to land a good role in a C4 Docu-Drama about the Crusades shooting in Morocco and it's been a roller coaster ever since.


Great. You’ve also worked with prolific Birmingham filmmaker Tom Paton for a few years now – what is it like working in the Midlands region?

It feels quite lovely to say I think I'm turning in to the Johnny Depp of Tom's Tim Burton! He's been good enough to cast me in all 3 of his films since he edited a previous project that I was the male lead in. Black Site which won quite a few awards I only filmed over in Essex on, then Stairs we had both in Essex and Nuneaton so that was lovely - exploring Coventry and the local area. We were on the principal investors land which was a fantastic site - he collects Militaria - including several tanks!


Can you tell us about Tom’s last films G-Loc and Stairs and your involvement in those?

As well as working on Stairs as the central character 'Jack Ford' who's essentially a combination of class clown and bad-ass merc-assassin, Tom auditioned me for a big role on G-Loc which is a space sci-fi with some brilliant names involved including Lord of the Rings John Rhys-Davies and none other than the Starship Trooper himself Johnny Rico aka sci-fi royalty Casper Van Dien. Unfortunately I didn't get the role hahahaha - it went to the wonderfully talented Mike Beckingham however who is a lovely guy and very good actor - and having seen him on set on G-Loc actually much more suited to the role than me! Tom being the super star he is offered me a role as the Captain of the spaceship instead - which was fantastic as I got to do a scene with Casper. I was a bit star struck as Starship Troopers was for me one of the great films of the 90's. Casper was hilarious to work with as well - a bit of a joker like myself - he's a great guy.


Tom is quite prolific - is it easy for you as an actor to jump from role to role in a short time?

I love playing different roles - I often get type cast as either the villain or some sort of romantic boyfriend or some such. I much prefer the villains! But I love all acting - especially if there's time to really get in to a role. It was probably hardest for me on G-Loc as my first scene was a death scene - and I'm speaking in a made up language! hahaha. Great fun though - I love a challenge.


As well as challenges, you’re currently most known as the Prince of Dorne in Game of Thrones. Can you tell us how that opportunity came about?

Yes my wonderful agent Patrick Warrington who splits his time between Yorkshire and London got me the audition. It was the standard process - he told me Nina Gold's company wanted to see me for this role on Thrones but they were being very tight lipped about what it actually was. So I then get to the audition not knowing I'm about to be asked to ad-lib a complex scene in a Dornish accent! Luckily I'm a fan of the show and fairly good with accents - I think largely as I'm ballsy and will just go for it - not much sense of shame haha. So I ad lib this scene involving multiple characters (who of course aren't actually there) and as I'm leaving and seeing all of these other guys waiting to audition who look like me but are more muscular and better looking I think 'well at least it's nice to be seen for GoT'. Then in less than a fortnight I've flown to Belfast and back for the costume fitting, said hi to Peter Dinklage and Anton Lesser who were there, popped my head in to Kings Landing and am waiting in the VIP lounge at the airport to fly to Seville to film!


And how did it feel to be in such a well-known and esteemed series?

I was on cloud 9! I'm also a big fan of the show so it was not only fantastic from a career perspective but also I was just loving the hell out of every second. It was a total thrill to be on set surrounded by so many of the stars of the show, having lunch with them, nicking and sharing cigarettes with them (I've since quit btw! In case my mum's reading this). I especially loved a chat about theatre with Tobias Menzies (Edmure Tully) - I've followed his career since seeing him in the great TV show Rome. Interestingly the fantastic Indira Varma who plays Elariah Sand was also in Rome. Alas she wasn't in the scene - but if there's ever a spin off I think first thing on the Prince of Dorne's agenda is to go and rescue her from the dungeons!


Staying with Game of Thrones, how has the experience affected you as an actor? Are you recognised in the street?

They don't, no! I had a chat with a very talented actor friend who I trained with - Calum Bowie - who was on 'First Dates' and he said he gets recognised on the street haha. For Stairs however, which was filmed after Thrones, I cut my hair off. I also don't usually have as much of a beard as I did as 'the PoD on GoT' so I don't look much like I did on screen. It's been wonderful for me as an actor as in the same week that Thrones came out I got a meeting with the fantastic writer/director Jessica Swale and was promptly cast in her film 'Summerland', starring Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sir Tom Courtenay and Dame Penelope Wilton. Which was rather exciting! It was also nice getting such exposure for my work - I wasn't on screen a huge amount on Thrones but I did a lot of research in to the role and I hope that paid off. In fact all the people and memes saying I looked bored in the meeting are great - because that's what I was trying to portray! haha.


I currently live in Leicester which is the final resting place of Cardinal Wolsey who was buried in Abbey Park. You’ve played another Henry VIII adviser Thomas Cromwell in the recent Channel 5 show Henry VIII and His Six Wives. How was that experience and did you do any research before filming?

I always try to do research for roles I'm playing and Thomas Cromwell was one where I got to do a lot of reading in to it. I also watched all of Wolf Hall prior to the audition and a running joke on set between the director - a fantastically talented guy - Chris Holt and myself. He would say 'more/less Rylance please Toby' - Mark Rylance famously being a very subtle actor so it was a gauge of if Chris wanted me to up or lower the performance level. I actually looked in to Leicester for another role I played in a great comedic play by the wonderful Sharon Jennings who is sadly no longer with us. 'The King Must Lie' was about Richard III - who of course also has his final resting place in your cathedral. One of the things I love about acting is the chance it affords to research in to things you just wouldn't ordinarily come across. For instance the fantastic history of Leicester!


Jumping from the princely Game of Thrones to the courts of Henry VIII, you are also due to appear in Summerland set during World War II. Do you specialise or favour any particular genre?

I love period dramas and fantasy - I'm a geek at heart so the holy trinity for me is Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. One down two to go! haha. To be honest I love it all though - from Westerns to War films and Doctor Who to Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. After working with Tobias Menzies on Thrones I got in to 'The Crown' and am loving that - he's set to play Prince Phillip and was going through his lines while we were on breaks. I also love comedy and horrors - I'm a big fan of Neo Noir too and David Lynch - loads of stuff! I just love good film and television (and Theatre!) and also the opportunity to play in them.


And finally, what projects are next on the horizon for you?

I'm actually hitting a bunch of conventions because of Game of Thrones - which is super exciting. I've been to a few comicons before with Tom Paton for qna panels for his films but this is the first time I'll be signing pictures of my face haha. I'm really looking forward to them as I'm a bit of a fan boy myself so the enthusiasm of other fans gets me going! I love the excitement at the events. I've had some offers of films roles which is exciting and my agent has me up for some TV and film projects - so we will see! Can't really talk about the specifics I'm afraid! Tom is directing another film later in the year set in WWII and says he has a role for me - so that's very exciting!

Thank you Toby


Catch Toby's latest updates on his social media pages:


www.twitter.com/tobyosmond

www.facebook.com/TobyOsmondActor

www.spotlight.com/1413-1279-9342

www.tobyosmond.com






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