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By midlandsmovies, Dec 30 2017 10:12AM

The Hot List - Midlands Films to Look Out For in 2018

With 2017 nearly at an end Midlands Movies spotlights a number of local projects due for completion in 2018 which have us excited for the region’s filmmaking as we head into the new year. Please check out each of these individual films using the links provided as we highlight 7 of the most anticipated films coming up from the region in the following 12 months.

Songbird by Sophie Black

Described as a ‘modern fantasy for music lovers’ this new film from talented Nottingham director Sophie Black is an exciting new short starring musician Janet Devlin. Songbird comes from multi-award-winning screenwriter Tommy Draper (Stop/Eject, Wasteland) and tells the story of a shy open-mic-night singer called Jennifer, who has her voice stolen by a an ancient creature called The Collector. Also a film for music fans the short is set in the world of the underground music scene and features brand new songs by Janet Devlin herself. As a group of experienced, passionate, award-winning and slightly eccentric filmmakers based in the East Midlands, Songbird will be coming next year with high expectations from filmmakers who have consistently delivered. Catch their latest news at https://twitter.com/sophieblackfilm

The Return of the Ring by Abdulrahman Ugas

This unique take on the world of Tolkien is set right here in the Midlands as new fan-film ‘The Return of the Ring’ is a movie based on Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed film trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’. In a unique twist on the genre, the story has moved its fantasy world to modern day Britain where it will follow a resilient Elf who finds out the Ring has returned and sets out to re-claim its ownership. With the film planned to be released in early 2018, Abdulrahman hopes his exciting new project can bring the tales of Tolkien back to their roots in the West Midlands. Follow here for updates https://twitter.com/AbdulrahmanUgas

Patient Zero by Pathogen Films

After meeting up at a Business networking event, the 4 members of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Pathogen films have combined their talents to begin producing their own film web series. Their forthcoming set of zombie shorts follow a group of survivors who become involved in a deadly game of betrayal in an attempt to stop a maniacal group bent on turning what's left of humanity into mindless mutations. With their first film Patient Zero: Dead at the Gates premiering in Autumn 2017, the crew are now deep into production on the follow up titled “Semper Protegens”. Follow their updates and future crowd-funding campaigns at https://twitter.com/Pathogen_Films

UK Superhero by Rotunda Films

Rotunda Films is an experienced and creative film and video production company who have over fifteen years experience in production and who are now tackling an original superhero series in the region. The Birmingham filmmakers feel the UK deserves its own superheroes as they launch a new project to create a series of films featuring a unique range of characters. With a new selection of local superheroes in their own shared universe, they are starting this ambitious project with their film Mystic Highway, where they will be creating the first characters in this exciting new world. Follow the production here: https://twitter.com/rotundafilms

Brumville by Grant Murphy

Described as a film full of local people and local locations, Birmingham’s Grant Murphy hopes to utilise the West Midlands and Back Country’s pool of talent for his upcoming film Brumville. With filming recently concluded, Grant is not only writer director and producer on the film but will be playing the lead role of Connor as well. With a passion to give local actors more opportunities, the film will show just how bad it can be when friends are mixed up in drugs. The shooting of Brumville began in March 2017 after self-funding and crowd-funding campaigns and you can keep informed of their progress and release plans at https://twitter.com/brumville

The Law of Noir by Duaine Roberts

The Law of Noir started production in September and we cannot wait to see what's in store for this upcoming law-drama story. After the success of Graycon (review here) which saw Duaine Roberts branching out into sci-fi, the Birmingham filmmaker is getting back to basics with his this new drama short. Telling the story of a young law intern who is tasked with defending a client accused of human trafficking, the filmmaker is another trailblazer who is passionate in promoting Birmingham’s acting and production talent. Follow updates at https://twitter.com/CarmaFilmUK

Dead Quiet by Alex Withers

This forthcoming horror drama is another survival film where the last person on earth struggles to stay alive and attempts to hold onto his humanity. Produced in Nottingham the film is written by Dan McGrath who will explore the “importance of the sounds we create and experience as humans in order to connect with each other and the world around us”. Director Alex Withers and a team of talented filmmakers are bringing this unique world to the life on the big screen and wrapped production in August of 2017. Both a “disturbing horror and a bittersweet drama” follow the film here to get updates on its impending release https://www.facebook.com/DeadQuietFilm

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 04:47PM

The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 2

For Part 1 of The Short Cinema showcase 2017 please click here:


After a much needed beer break, I headed back into the main screening room for the second part of the excellent Short Cinema 2017 to discover even more great films from the region’s talent...

Ultrasound – Kon-Tiki by Andrew Rutter

This successful music video (and ultimately eventual winner of The Short Cinema 2017 Main Competition) is directed by Andrew Rutter using a track by the group Ultrasound to launch a whirlwind coming of age story mixing surreal visuals with the band’s catchy melodies. Tackling serious subjects of inner conflict – the young protagonist begins on a bike yet behind closed doors dresses in high heels and nail varnish – the film does so in an entertaining way without ever poking fun at the teenager. With a healthy dose of nostalgia, the film’s most successful images are the most strange and dreamlike ones from an “astro” love-making session to personal reflections on a lake. In the end, Rutter has high ambition and more than achieves his aims throughout the video which itself ends on an explosive climax.

Watch the full video here: https://vimeo.com/192961828

A Broken Appointment by Kaleb D’Aguilar

A 3-minute short about same-sex relationships, A Broken Appointment showcases the complicated issues of closeting and hiding feelings in the gay community. Mixing tender and violent emotions, the film condenses a lot into its short run time from the first touching of hands to the complexities faced by a mixed-race gay couple. Dark yet offering a glimpse of optimism, the film’s sensitive narrative is a dramatic slice-of-life exploring marginalised groups in a responsible and delicate manner.

Find out more information here: http://caribbeantalesfestival.com/project/a-broken-appointment/

Girl A by Jess O’Brien

Reviewed by Midlands Movies earlier this year, Girl A still packs a metaphorical and physical punch on a third watch as young filmmaker Jess O’Brien doesn’t flinch from her story of a bully from a broken home. Using strong language and flashes of violence, the solid story and great performances from a teen cast help infuse the film with believability, as we see a troubled pupil lash out at school owing to problems at home. With some great tracking shots and an open ended finale the film is a local success from a strong young filmmaking voice.

Read our full review here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Feature-Review---Girl-A/11098121

Vandella Day by John McCourt

Actor Kieron Attwood reappears on our list in this darkly comic short from Leicester filmmaker John McCourt. Alongside Lois Cowley, Attwood plays one of two people holed up in a confined space where we find there is just one bullet left in their gun as they think the unthinkable. With the noise of attackers approaching and with no apparent way out, the gun is raised to their heads but malfunctions at the most inopportune time. The intense 1-minute short sets up its characters, cramped location and desperate motivations in mere seconds and filmmaker McCourt turns the tables when an accident with the firearm leads to less than pleasant consequences. A brief but forceful short, Vandella Day’s in-your-face extremities will hit you like a bullet in the head.

Find out more about Vandella Day here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6483644/fullcredits/

Betty by Jordan Handford

Another film reviewed by us earlier in 2017 is this drama from Jordan Handford about the effects of dementia. Set on a park bench the film slowly pans around Betty’s distant face before she is joined by a man who regales her with a story from his past that connects to her own. A subtle film on a sensitive subject, the story had personal connections to me after my own mother lost her battle against dementia in May of this year. “Betty” tackles the issues with a finely tuned script that is masterly delivered by John Ghent as Eric, who uses the well-written dialogue to capture the spirit and memories of the past whilst acknowledging the difficulties of the present.

Read our full review of Betty here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Film-Review---Betty/11160736

The Last Drop by Sascha Zimmermann

Written by Nottingham-based screenwriter Tommy Draper, this new short had a true international flavour having been made in Germany. Der Letzte Tropfen (The Last Drop) concerns itself with a self-help group who are experiencing problems with drink dependency with some attendees less than pleased with being there. The group’s advisor tries to maintain some civility as each member explains (or doesn’t) the problems with their addiction. As a first-time stranger joins the group the film goes into overdrive as it switches genres right before our eyes in a spectacular but satisfying “rug-pull”. With a tremendous script and brilliant turns by the German cast, the film is a superb collaborative effort that audiences can get their teeth into.

Find out more here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---Nottingham-writer-Tommy-Draper-heads-to-Germany/11200733

The Inuring by James Hughes

With another tale this evening of childhood abuse, The Inuring looks at a teen who is a victim of bullying who confronts a sister about their past. An astonishing Emily Haigh plays troubled teen Aleish who has been bullied yet keeps many private thoughts to herself. Locking herself in a room, her sister (Sarine Sofair as Claudette) places herself on the other side of the door in an attempt to get her sibling to talk. Haigh’s performance shows the systematic breakdown of a put-upon victim and during their awkward interactions, dark secrets of the past are revealed which raises the stakes in their important conversations. With a bleak and gloomy tone and great cinematography the film is not for the faint of heart but winning performances make this short a satisfying drama of angst, regret and childhood ruin.

For more info click here: http://www.theinuring.com

Retrograde by Eve Wills-Wilson

This 10 minute experimental film uses varying film stock and images to cover issues of the past, present and future as well as celestial bodies and the movement of the oceans. The archive sound drones in the background as an abstract series of repeating motifs are shown. Not to my personal tastes – the backwards clock being a cliché crime – the film nonetheless has its roots in contemporary art and would suit an installation in a modern gallery where its ethereal imagery could be studied and discussed. With lots of random footage and film speeds, I would liken the short to a visual version of The Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9” – i.e. some will consider it a disorganised collage whilst others will see intellectual gifts within. Take your pick.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/200670585

Bless You by Daryl Grizzle

Three videogame-playing friends sit in a front room in this short from Daryl Grizzle who uses the situation to discuss the history of one of the most used phrases of all time. As one of the pals does a particularly large sneeze, his friend gives him a courteous “bless you” before each of them in turn explains their version of the origins of the custom. From the plague and saving angels to keeping the devil at bay, the trio of chums lull the audience into a false sense of security with their banter before a jump-scare filled conclusion. Moving from a lightweight discussion to a darker ending the short is an off-kilter blessing in disguise.

Find out more info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6867424/

Loyal to War by Parang Khezri

Made by award-winning Iranian filmmaker Parang Khezri, Loyal to War was one of the shortest and strangest films of the night. With middle-eastern imagery and a boy looking into a mirror (actually cleverly played by two actors through a frame), the film is a surreal look at nature and life. With some filming shot backwards and the images of petals and mirrors, the short asked the audience to reflect on its ideas but provides very little context as to meaning. An intriguing visual statement, the film is baffling in many ways but portrays a very mysterious aura and an enigmatic puzzle to study long after it ended.

Catch Parang’s previous 2010 short TABU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zke-4oogD60

Upgrade by Mike Doxford

The final film of the night is another Random Acts funded project called Upgrade, where we are shown a night watchman who heads into a building to see a number of random youths hooked up to different technology. This tech seems forbidden, hence the security, but we notice they are listening to old headphones and playing old handheld video-games. The guard then presses play on an vintage tape recorder which plays some funky brass-filled salsa music. After a bit of head nodding the guard (played well by James Bartholomew) gets “into the groove” and begins dancing around the building. Linking the physical dance with the analogue tape player – the film presents a tangible world which stands in stark opposition to the passivity of modern day digital technology.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6394702/

In conclusion, with 22 varied films from different genres this year seemed more than just a showcase of film but acknowledged the huge work done by the community. In these films’ reflection and representation of different stories and narratives, the emphasis was on art and in the face of funding issues throughout the industry it was even more impressive to see the quality on show at the festival.

For more info on the Short Cinema please click here and a big thank you to all the organisers including the magnificent Alexzandra Jackson for such a tremendous 4-day event.

Midlands Movies Mike

Below are some photos from the evening.

By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 10:21AM

Five Lamps Films presents: July 2017 Screening

With the regular monthly screenings of the Five Lamps Films being moved to bi-monthly comes the added anticipation when the night finally arrives, showcasing what the local filmmaking community have to offer.

With that in mind here are some of the highlights from their July Summer showcase.

Showing first was the hosts (Carl and Sam) short featurette they filmed as they prepared to host the Five Lamps Films 24-hour Film Festival. Funny and entertaining as always, it was also nice to see what work actually goes into making sure one of the Derby Film Festivals closing events ticks along smoothly. I’m also a sucker for anything documentary based when it comes to making films, so I really enjoyed this!

The Smiling Man – Kronicle Films

This short, about a young girl who wanders the streets alone at night, impressed me in various ways. Based on a popular internet horror story, The Smiling Man starts with two young sisters who have evidently grown apart. As one sister stares at a static television, the other stares longingly into the dark street as she decides to take a walk. Whilst on the walk it’s there where she meets The Smiling Man, a creepy entity who seems to be everywhere she is.

I thought this film was shot brilliantly, as well as the performances being brilliant, especially that of The Smiling Man who was genuinely creepy! I would recommend this to any horror fan.

Some Lines – Serloin Films

My favourite of the night, Some Lines starts with two friends spending Friday night in with a few bottles of wine and pizzas. Both have been friends with each other for many years but both are holding something back.

The performances of the two girls were brilliant, they felt natural as if they were friends in real life which gave the film the punch it needed to satisfy the audience. I felt the screenplay was grounded in reality, the dialogue witty as if these were actual conversations. I also really enjoyed the score in Some Lines, it had a menacing, brooding vibe to it very similar to that of an 80’s film.

I can’t wait to see what Serloin Films have to offer in the future!

Bag of Money – Foyle River

Four people, an abandoned tunnel, an unclaimed bag of money. What could go wrong? Bag of Money intentionally starts off where most films normally end, a bag of money containing £350k has been found some time ago. Confident no one is coming to collect the bag; the film starts as the four characters pick up the bag to split the findings, unfortunately these scenarios never happen to plan and a fall out soon ensues.

Shooting on location near an abandoned tunnel in a tucked away wooded area gives this short an incredible look, not just visually but the habitat here adds to the atmosphere of the situation. This simple story has been done many times before but this time with fresh eyes. I look forward to seeing what Foyle River get up to next!

Lily Gulch – James Pyle

A veteran of Five Lamps Film Nights, James Pyle consistently puts forward films he has made himself, each film vastly different than the last. This screening he submitted Lily Gulch, an animated short about a gun slinging cowboy entering a new town ready to make a name for himself.

Short but sweet, Lily Gulch had the audience in fits of laughter throughout its run time, a common trend with Pyle’s films. I’ve now seen him tackle live action, animated and silent films so I can’t wait to see what James has got up his sleeve for the next screening.

The Last Drop (Der Letzte Tropfen) – Sascha Zimmermann

Last but not least is The Last Drop, a German short film written by the Midlands very own Tommy Draper. Premiering on a popular German TV channel, The Last Drop features a group of men and women who meet every week at in a local community centre to talk through their addiction, however this all changes when a new addition walks in.

Brilliantly directed by Sascha Zimmermann, The Last Drop is funny, dark and worth a watch!

Click here to find out more about Tommy's project here on Midlands Movies

Now back to waiting for the next screening and seeing again what brilliant project our talented filmmakers in the region have to offer.

You can catch the next show on September 26th 8:30pm at the QUAD.

Guy Russell

Twitter @Budguyer

By midlandsmovies, Jul 31 2017 02:58PM

Midlands Spotlight - Nottingham writer Tommy Draper heads to Germany

Midlands screenwriter Tommy Draper has built upon his short film successes in the region to head into areas further afield with his new script Der Letzte Tropfen (The Last Drop), which has been made in Germany. With its beginnings in the region, Midlands Movies Mike takes a look at this truly European production.

Coming from his local involvement with Night Owls, Stop/Eject, Wasteland and the forthcoming Nottingham short Songbird, Tommy wrote the script with the director Sascha Zimmermann. Shot by David Rankenhohn, this new venture was produced for German TV station 13th Street, which is a division of NBC Universal.

13th Street has been supporting young German directors for many years and helps co-finance selected new short film projects. Director Zimmermann has also been nominated for Shocking Shorts in 2013 whilst successful Youtube star Alex Böhm plays the lead in the drama.

The short is currently touring in film festivals back here in the Midlands and will also be screened at the prestigious Short Cinema Festival in Leicester. As well as this, the writer is also helping to show the film at the Five Lamps film showcase in Derby as well as Short Stack in Nottingham.

Tommy is also excited about a forthcoming big screening at ComicCon in San Diego, USA. The film features a host of new and experienced German actors in addition to Alex Böhm. Souzan Alavi, Patrice Ötvös, Niklas Osterloh, Kailas Mahadevan, Marcus Prell, Martina Offeh and Angela Daniel make up the group ensemble who are a group that meet weekly to talk about their addictions.

Despite their efforts to stay on a 'straight and narrow' path, their goals are challenged when a new member Dennis (Alex Böhm himself) accidently joins in and they all question if their addictions are truly under control.

Check the short teaser trailer below and for more information check out the official IMDB page - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6691554

By midlandsmovies, Jun 19 2016 11:07PM

Midlands Movies roving reporter Guy Russell interviews local filmmaker Tommy Draper from Nottingham.

Hi Tommy. You’ve recently launched the funding campaign for Songbird, is this a format you’ve used before and if so been successful with?

We, myself and the Triskelle Pictures team, have crowd-funded before. We did it for both Stop/Eject and Night Owls. They were both successful, but it’s not the way we would like to fund our films! It’s always risky to rely on the generosity of others. With Songbird we are creating a fantasy film, a real crowd-pleaser that we know everyone will enjoy, and we have Janet Devlin on-board to star and write original songs for it. Fingers crossed, we will get the money we need to make the movie.

2016 has seen the release of two of your short films Fade and Night Owls, how has their reception been?

Both have been great. Night Owls was screened at the London Short Film Festival, which we (cast and crew) went to. We held our own against all the films backed by Channel 4, BFI, etc, which is impressive as we were totally self-funded. As for FADE, it has been in a couple of festivals and I’ve heard good things from people. It’s little bit different from my normal style. The people who connect with it are really impressed. I’m very happy with the reaction both films get. If you hear of any screenings near you, I recommend giving them a try.

What is your experience working within the filmmaking community in the Midlands? Do you think it’s a good city to work in creatively?

I love working with the filmmaking community in the Midlands. There is so much talent close to home in Derby and Nottingham, and it just spreads out from there. I have been very fortunate to work on some great projects and film them right on my doorstep.

Was there a specific moment that made you start writing and if so what was it?

I have always loved movies, since seeing E.T. at the long gone Heanor cinema. I was in my 20’s though before I decided to try to do something with movies. I was watching an indie film (I don’t even remember the name of it now) and thought ‘I think I can write this’, as you do. So I brought some books on how to write films, and learnt by writing really really bad screenplays! Eventually the bad screenplays turned into not-as-bad screenplays, and it went from there.

We hear so often about the lack of original stories in film today. That we've all "seen it before". How do you stay fresh?

I try not to worry about things like that. I just write what I find works. If I think I’m straying too close to something I’ve seen before, I change direction. But like everybody else, I am influenced by the movies I love. I just try to use those influences in new ways.

Where do you draw your stories from? Personal experiences, people you know?

Where the stories come from, who knows! They can be from watching a scene in a film, listening to a song, or just daydreaming and looking out of the window. When I start to write, I like to add bits of myself in there, bits of people I know and then let the story and characters take over. I think you have to put something personal in there, somewhere. People can tell when things are real and mean something.

When you feel creatively sapped and inspiration is needed for writing what do you do to reignite the fire?

Last year I had bad case of writer’s block, felt low in confidence, couldn’t get anything started. I talked with Sophie Black about the original idea for Songbird, she told me to write it. So, I sat down with a blank page open and worked on it. With the help of some good music and a story I was connected to, I felt inspired and creative again. Sometimes, you just need to start putting one word in front of the other. The inspiration will come, eventually.

What is the one mistake most screenwriters make, regardless of experience?

I have always found that a lot of people start something and can’t finish it. For various reasons, you end up with a half-finished screenplay. The biggest mistake you can make is not finishing that first draft. If you can get that done, you’ll have something to work from, even if it’s bad.

What one piece of advice would you share with fellow screenwriters?

Don’t over think it. I’m terrible for sitting and trying to consider everything that’s going on in a screenplay, to a point where I’m thinking more than writing. Sometimes you just need to work, and same as I have said, finish what you start.

When you are writing, what is the one aspect you have to get right and make sure is perfect?

Tough question. I tend to be more bothered about making sure things are simple. I don’t like it when stories get contrived and characters do things that aren’t natural. If I keep it believable, and the characters honest, I feel like I’ve got a good script.

Is it hard to find time to write? A full time job and being a parent can take up a lot of time I would imagine.

Yes, it’s very hard. When I first had the kid, I spent some nights writing with him in one arm, typing one handed to get the work done! Now, I try to find time for it all, I just don’t sleep much. I have to make time to write, but when I do sit down to write I make sure that I’m focused. I don’t sit waiting for inspiration, I do what needs to be done. If I’m inspired at that moment in time, even better. As long as words are going on paper then the script is getting there.

What should the film/t.v industry be doing for screenwriters that it isn’t?

I would love to find more avenues to get funding to write a script. It’s very hard to get paid to do what I do. Trying to do all the writing while working a day job is tough. Being able to make this the day job would make life a lot easier.

The 2012 horror film Wasteland was your first feature film, have you got plans for anymore?

I have plenty more feature films planned. I am under contract to write two for a director/producer in L.A. I have a feature script with the Pro Kopf team in Germany. A feature script looking for investment over in Poland. And I’m talking with a friend about collaborating on a horror script. Then I have a folder of ideas for ones to write that I haven’t had time for. Oh, there’s also a feature film script of Night Owls in the mix too. So yeah, I have lots of plans!

Ever thought of directing your own work?

No, directing isn’t my thing. I just want to write and collaborate with other talented people to bring the best out of a movie.

What would you say has been a highlight for you so far?

So many highlights. Getting awards for Pro Kopf and Stop/Eject was great. Stop/Eject being long-listed for a BAFTA (we made the final 15), getting Wasteland sold across America in Walmart, getting in London Short Film Festival with Night Owls. I loved all those things. I’ve been pretty lucky.

Apart from Songbird have you got any other projects planned?

Currently I have three short films in post-production with the Pro Kopf crew in Germany. They will be trickling out this year. At the moment I’m mostly focused on all the feature film writing that I mentioned. I have enough projects to last me until the end of the year. You never know which one will land first, so I try to keep working.

If people would like to take part in the funding of Songbird, how can they do so?

They can take a look at our Indiegogo page https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/songbird-a-modern-fantasy-for-music-lovers/x/147432#/ - and we really need the support. We’ve got Janet Devlin (an amazing singer who was in the top 5 in X-Factor 2011) starring and writing songs for it at the moment. It has one of the best cast and crews lined up that I have worked with so far, but if we don’t raise enough funds we can’t make it. And I really want to make it. Any contributions will help us, and there’s a load of great rewards in exchange for your donations but we have just gone £2,000 over our goal for Songbird funding! We're pushing for £10,000 now!

Midlands Movies Guy

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