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By midlandsmovies, Dec 6 2018 08:25PM



Midlands Review - Climbing Trees (2018)


Directed by Matthew R. Ford


Midlands Movies writer Sam Kurd takes a look at a new 33-minute short "Climbing Trees".


Climbing Trees is a short drama film written and directed by Birmingham-based writer/director Matthew M. Ford. It’s the story of a guilt-ridden father, tormented by dreams 12 years on from the murder of an 8-year old girl, who is trying to come to terms with the event and his inability to move on.


It starts slowly, almost lazily, as Kris meets 8-year-old Eliza at the scene of her murder. The mood quickly turns dark as he slips from dream into nightmare, though, and it’s immediately clear that this isn’t going to be a happy tale. Kris is a man divorced from society, seemingly living on the fringes even while passing among the crowds around him.


People know him, know his story, know his 12-year-long tragedy, but no one can bring themselves to speak to him. He drinks hard and grieves hard, living in a blur of drugs and tears. Things come to a head when the news reports that Eliza’s killer is due to be released under an alias, leading him to his presumably-ex-wife Sarah for a spot of soul-searching on how things could have gone differently.


Lead actor Tee Morris does a fantastic job playing Kris, a man torn apart by the depression and guilt that’s wrecked his life for over a decade. It’s all in the eyes, the pain and the despair, all on show but never over the top. When he’s attacked outside a pub and challenging his assailant to kill him, it’s clear what depths this poor man has sunk to. Caroline Frewin is also great as Sarah, putting in a performance that does a lot of heavy emotional lifting with relatively few lines.


The film is shot well, with a good balance between the beautiful bright park where the dreams take place and the dinginess of places like Kris’ rundown apartment. The only real problem is that the pacing is quite slow, and as a result the film tends to drag in places. A few of the scenes would benefit from tighter editing to keep the story flowing smoothly; 30 minutes is quite long for this film, and the story could easily be effectively told in half that time. The dream sequences get a little repetitive towards the end too.


On the whole, though, the film is certainly excellent. The ending was a great resolution to the story, tragic and bittersweet in equal measure, and more than made up for the slow time it took to get there. It’s technically accomplished, wonderfully acted and very moving indeed.


Check it out as soon as you can!


Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend


Find out more about the film over on IMDB by clicking here

By midlandsmovies, Nov 14 2018 02:49PM



Young filmmakers across the West Midlands team up and create their own opportunities


Young filmmakers in the West Midlands are creating their own opportunities as they work together under the name Gen.2 Creatives.


The group was founded in August 2017 by Luke Furmage, a young creative who graduated from BOA and the BFI Academy in Birmingham, after realising a want and need to create content among the young filmmakers and creatives in the West Midlands.


From workshops and masterclasses to festivals and competitions, Gen.2 Creatives main reason of existing is to be a safe environment for budding filmmakers from diverse backgrounds to practice and create film projects, while learning off each other and support one another by listing work opportunities.


With around 40 members of young creatives, they have worked on several projects, which have been uploaded online and played at the Flat Pack Festival 2018.


The group was also used as a part of the pitch for the Channel 4 bid, although it was not successful, they are working with other creatives in Birmingham, including established professionals, to create opportunities for young people. Three of the members were invited to a secret meeting, which took place on the 8th November, with names such as the Mayor of Birmingham Andy Street, Peaky Blinder screenwriter Steve Knight and many well-known media companies based in Birmingham.



Luke Furmage Founder and Director of Gen 2 adds, “Development and funding is only available for creatives that are already established in the industry, and Media courses, although teach students the tools of the trade, can often stifle creativity under the need to fulfil the criteria and complete exams".


"We want to develop a culture of creativity for a new generation of young creatives in the creative industry here in Birmingham. This new Online Generation has the unlimited potential for exciting new content that will shape the years to come", he goes on to say.


During one of their projects known as ‘12 Hours Till Wrap’ in which they create and edit a film in 12 hours, a few of the members explained why they joined Gen.2 Creatives.


William Terry-Wright, 18-years-old who was the Director of the most recent project, said, “It’s sounded like a great opportunity to network with young filmmakers and people with similar ambitions to mine, and it also sounded like a good opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in terms of filmmaking.”


Jordon Wolf, an 18-years-old aspiring actress who starred as the lead in the short films, said, “It’s very helpful to me because it’s something I want to go into in the future and it’s a great opportunity to get more experience.”


The self-sustaining group is starting to expand with talk of a partnership with The Producers’ Forum and possible connections with the BFI but are always looking to expand their network.


They have their first public 12 Hours Till Wrap event taking place 1st of December.


To find out more about the team, how to join, you can find them online on their website and Facebook page.


Fahima Khatun


By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2018 10:39AM



Midlands Spotlight - Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers are a lively group of filmmakers and enthusiasts who meet twice a month in the West Midlands to create projects and inspire new and experienced filmmakers alike. Midlands Movies Mike Sales catches up with Jill Lampert to find out more.


Jill Lampert is the Membership Secretary of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers, a grass-roots organisation that meets at 7.45pm every second and fourth Thursday of the month.


Their get-togethers take place between September and June at Wylde Green Community Hall, Emscote Drivein Sutton Coldfield and they are a community of like-minded cinephiles who enjoy developing film-making skills and supporting their members with their projects.


Although members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers include people with many years of experience working in mainstream television, Jill says that the club is an ideal place for beginner filmmakers to take their first steps into filmmaking.


"There is always a warm welcome given to visitors and new members and the first visit is free!"


Many members are currently working on different projects - from a murder story, an excerpt from Shakespeare and a short comedy with special effects. There are also a number of work in progress documentaries underway too and the range of subjects vary from beauty spots in Derbyshire to a boy with a passion for cricket as well as a film on hedgehogs and also another about homes for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in France.


With such a wide range of experience and diversity of projects, SCMM has already created and completed a number of award-winning short films and their most recent work has included:


The Race to Death’s Door

Julian Austwick wrote and directed this ambitious short comedy film with many locations and a large cast.





Short Cut

Jack Reid wrote a short script which interested experienced filmmakers Ann and Arthur Fletcher. They developed the script and helped Jack to make this film featuring a shy birdwatcher.




A Helping Hand

Filmmaker Debbie Daniels’ first short film is about an elderly man who couldn’t sleep at night. He turned night into day but found this was isolating and lonely, so he turned to Dr Spellman for help. The doctor’s remedy was surprising.




The Attic

Members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers rented holiday cottages in Wales which doubled up as locations for this spooky short film by Andy Wills.




Behind the Signs

Three groups of members each put together a very short film explaining (in imaginative ways) the story behind a different pub sign. These three films were bound together by another story put together by a fourth group. Altogether some 27 club members were involved in making this film.


One special feature of this film was that members who had no experience in some aspect of filmmaking were invited to have a go. So the crew largely consisted of members who were trying out a new role e.g. directing for the first time, or doing the lighting for the first time.


For more information and to become a member check out the group's official page at


www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk



By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2018 07:58PM



Midlands Review - Breakdown


Directed by Michael Ellis


“You just spent last night in a police station”.


And so says one of two male characters in a car as they drive through the countryside and come across a stranded woman attempting to get a phone signal as she stands next to a broken-down vehicle.


This is the set up of new Midlands film Breakdown from Michael Ellis and from the outset we get the impression that something very dark could be on the horizon involving this naughty duo.


Despite these shady themes the film is shot in stark daylight – throwing a bit of oddness into what could have been a potentially clichéd picking up a stranger on the road dynamic – but the quirky performances help to sell the unpleasant awkwardness as it plays out.


As the men stop to "help", they explain how their phones cannot be used to call for assistance (battery’s dead, left at home) and how they also know nothing of how to fix cars. This sets a tone of jet black comedy amongst what started as a seedy set up to the film.


Whilst the man who spent the night in the cells (Paul Findlay as “Passenger”) spins a yarn about his kindly offer of a lift, the second man’s worried brow (Dominic Thompson) is shown in close-up – hinting upon a repulsive inevitability he may have seen before. Offering to take her to a nearby garage, she reluctantly agrees to get into their car and the men and their new passenger drive off down the road together as we await their fate.


But director Ellis jumps 6 minutes before the story starts in an ingenious flashback which turns the tale upon its head. Without spoiling too much, the lady in distress (admirably played by Tenisha White) may not be as unaware as the first half of the short makes her out to be. We also get to see her character become less victim and more intimidator with an hilarious delivery of “piss off” which had me laughing despite the more pressing serious matters.


A fantastic short that handles its different tones with expertise, the twist in narrative during the middle section completely changes the direction of the story. As we are given new information we are suddenly thrust into a more complex dilemma which is surprising yet satisfying. Paul Findlay in particular as a man with obnoxious intentions gives a believable yet frightening turn, with his staring eyes and superb deadpan delivery of the lies his character spins.


With the right balance of story and plot twists and a trio of great acting turns in the film's brief 7-minutes, Michael Ellis has delivered a great short film that I hope not only does well on the festival circuit but brings more attention to this exciting filmmaker.


Mike Sales


Follow Michael and find out more about his film projects at his Twitter page: https://twitter.com/MEFilmsUK



By midlandsmovies, Oct 13 2018 02:26PM



The Initiation (2018) Dir. Sheikh Shahnawaz


Local independent filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz is back with The Initiation, a short film about two childhood friends who have their relationship put to the test when they meet a local crime boss they are interested in working for.


The Initiation starts off in an underground multi-storey car park, quiet with no one around but Aaron and Neil (Sam Malley and Dominic Thompson) as they wait nervously. Their long friendship is clear as they fist bump and agree to stand by each other no matter what, ‘since day one’ Neil says with an anxious Aaron agreeing.


As a dark car creeps up to them it’s clear this is their ride. A window rolls down to reveal a mysterious figure smoking. “Get in” he calmly demands. Neil makes the mistake of getting into the front passenger seat which is quickly met with another demand from the man to get in the back.


As the car drives out of the underground and into the streets it is clear this is one of Sheikh Shahnawaz’s most ambitious films yet as he films in external locations and makes it look effortless.


As the three men pull up on a quiet industrial estate they enter a dilapidated building with just a chair and a small table next to it. It is revealed that the strange man is Vinnie (Nisaro Karim) a local crime boss and a man to be respected and feared within the area. He takes the only seat and sits before Aaron and Neil as he quizzes them over a vacant position in his crew.


Vinnie makes sure to mention however that with the sought after lifestyle he can provide, the money, cars, respect, the job also brings with it responsibilities, one of which is making “difficult decisions whilst in difficult situations”. The initiation has begun.


I really enjoyed The Initiation, the premise being one of the main reasons. It is an interesting dynamic to have two loyal friends have the opportunity to make something of themselves albeit illegally but have them be prepared to do something drastic to achieve this.


Another factor of this short film I really enjoyed was the menacing performance by Catharsis Films regular Nisaro Karim, he seemingly towers over the other two men physically and mentally. Karim brings that authenticity to the role and brings Vinnie to life.


I would have liked to have seen more of a build up as it gears towards the finale as their friendship is ultimately tested it feels a tad rushed. However, this doesn’t detract from the fact this is a strong, short film. It is great to see well-made, entertaining genre films being made in this region by what seems to be the busiest and most determined filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz.


What’s next Catharsis films? I can’t wait.


Guy Russell


Twitter @BudGuyer


Watch the full short below:




By midlandsmovies, Aug 24 2018 06:33AM



Midlands Spotlight - LGBT film You Are My Sunshine completes first part of production


After two weeks filming around various locations within the Walsall area, the first shooting block for the new upcoming Midlands feature film You Are My Sunshine has now ended with a deeply heart-breaking scene filmed in North Wales.


Actors Steve Salt and Jack Knight played out their final scenes together as the younger versions of Tom and Joe, the film's protagonists, which chronicles the tender story of how they first fell in love and the difficulties they face against a backdrop of 1970s Britain. Set during a time when gay rights were only just asserting themselves, the film also leads into the modern day where we find how their characters are continuing in the face of prejudice.


Writer/Director Dave Hastings has praised not only their performances but also those of actors and actress Charlie Clarke, Kiah Reeves, Dale Roberts as well as Hellraiser alumni Simon Bamford, all of whom he says brought great pathos and unique energy to the sometimes challenging and dramatic scenes.


"Everyone has been remarkable", continues Dave. "When I first wrote the script for Sunshine back in 2014, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined these performances. They are heart-breaking, funny, sincere, emotional, as well as loving. I'm such a happy and humbled director because of each and every one of them".


Producer Troy Dennison, who supervised a shoot that saw the filmmakers and actors take to such iconic Walsall locations like Barr Beacon and the Park Lime Pits has equally praised the cast. Thanking them all for bringing some extremely powerful performances to the screen Troy added, "Absolutely astounding, all of them, every single time they were all on set"


"We have been so lucky to have them wanting to work with us, and we will do our very best to honour their work in the final film. That we will always promise".



WIth a very ambitious shoot, and working closely alongside Walsall Council, the director thanked the authorities assistance and advice which eased potential filming issues on location around the borough. "The council have been absolutely incredible and so very supportive, helping us work on the streets of Darlaston which doubled for 1970s British exteriors in one instance" says Hastings.


The production even had an element of nostalgia when it returned to Manor House in West Bromwich where the company had shot The House of Screaming Death. This time, it doubled as a 1970s bedsit. The crew of the film were equally up to challenge to help present and turn locations into those with a genuine 1970s vibe. Director of Photography Will Bradshaw studied the look of former British films made within the era, while set designer L.J. ‘Stark’ Greenwood researched various colour palettes as well as vintage props.



But while this phase of the shoot is over, the crew's attention and planning is now moving towards a secondary block of filming which sees the story of Joe and Tom continue into modern day & the repercussions of the past still haunting them.


And for now, Dave reflects on that final scene just filmed in North Wales. "It was the right one to finish on. We'd been on a rollercoaster of emotions, all of us, both in front of and behind the camera over the past two weeks with the differing scenes and charged content, so this last one, set on an isolated beach, where young Tom & Joe look to the future, just allowed us all to say goodbye sadly to them collectively".


Dennison agrees, stating "It was very difficult to say goodbye because we'd become a massive family again for two weeks".


You Are My Sunshine is a co-production between Lightbeam Productions, 5cm/Sec and Pat The Bull Films and is being executively produced by Kaush Patel. It will continue to be filmed in and around both Walsall and Sandwell areas in the West Midlands.


Find out more information here:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YouAreMySunshineMovie/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MySunshineMovie




By midlandsmovies, Aug 12 2018 08:31AM



Midlands Spotlight - Pocket Pictures


Midlands Movies Mike Sales checks out Pocket Pictures, a Birmingham based organisation helping filmmakers from across the UK with their projects, showreels, training and more. Read on to find out about this company and their wealth of local experience.


Pocket Pictures is a video, film and content creator and can take the words, pictures, idea or scripts of their clients and turn them into a visual reality. With a history of clients trusting their experience, every project they take on is unique and has its own special requirements.


Owner Mark Todd is a writer, director and filmmaker in his own right and prides himself on the quality of work he creates. “In an exciting time when cameras are everywhere it's important to remember that just because you have a spanner, you may not always be a mechanic”.


Being based in the Midlands, Pocket Pictures have worked with a number of local projects as well including the recent Suicide Blonde where they handled the post production. (See our coverage of that film here).


Their small studio in Aston, Birmingham covers a diverse workload ranging from training actors to corporate work. Mark himself is also developing his second feature The Crooked House whilst his first feature, Bad Reception, was shot in Hollywood!


Their current range of courses can help actors develop their skills. Acting ‘On Camera’ is an intensive course designed to give actors the industry knowledge needed to achieve their best performance in front of the camera. Courses accommodate 6 people and there is plenty of time to ask questions and work on individual needs.


In addition, Essential Voice Coaching for stage or screen is a one day course led by established voice coach Emily Lee who aims to give attendees more confidence in vocal performance using proven professional exercises.


The company’s Telsen Studio is a 500 square foot production space in a quiet area of Aston and can even help with creating showreels with interviews, talking heads, green screen and model shoots all in one full package.


With a whole range of support to the filmmakers and cast and crew of the Midlands area, Pocket Pictures offers a great opportunity to help support the local movie community. If you are interested in finding out more then please check out their full details below for further information.


http://www.pocketpicturesltd.com


Pocket Pictures, The Telsen Studio

Unit 313, The Telsen Industrial Centre, Birmingham, B6 4TN

Contact: projects@pocketpicturesltd.com or call 07447 592605



By midlandsmovies, Aug 8 2018 02:02PM



Dear Josephine


Written, Directed & Produced by Duaine Carma Roberts.


CARMA FILM MOTION PICTURES


“The most sensational woman, anybody had ever saw, or ever will” - Ernest Hemingway


Described as a visual poem that recounts the life of 20th century icon, civil rights advocate and superstar, Josephine Baker, this new 4-minute short comes from West Midlands filmmaker Duaine Carma Roberts and his Carma Film production company.


Starring Zellia John as Josephine Baker, the film is part poetry reading and part theatrical drama against a plain backdrop to summarise the background of this legendary woman.


For those unfamiliar with Baker, she was an American-born entertainer and activist whose career began as a celebrated performer headlining the Folies Bergère in Paris. Dubbed the "Black Pearl", the "Bronze Venus", and the "Creole Goddess" she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national after her marriage to a French industrialist. And she was the first person of colour to become a worldwide entertainer and to star in a major motion picture.


Taking a stance by refusing to perform for segregated American audiences, she was offered unofficial leadership in the civil rights movement following Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Although Baker declined the offer, she was later awarded the Croix de guerre by the French military owing to her aiding the French Resistance during World War II.



Josephine Baker at the March on Washington 1963
Josephine Baker at the March on Washington 1963

Roberts’ film mainly uses close ups to quickly convey the subtle emotions and hardships Baker faced during her life and a suitably laid back jazz score harks to the 1930s along with time-specific costumes.


Some black and white footage of the real Baker is used sparingly throughout to give us a glimpse into the legend, whilst Zellia John throws in some flapper dancing to set the period before changing into all black for her later civil rights engagements.


With no dialogue or sound effects, the film echoes the silent stylings of Marcel Marceau, the legendary French mime artist. Like Baker, he also performed at the Folies Bergère and was also in the French Resistance as well.


But this isn’t about Marcel despite the nods to his brand of performance art.


Roberts instead places images of beauty and harshness in opposition to one another. The drama sometimes literally translates the overdubbed poetry, whilst at other times, it simply evokes a tone or mood from the era. A final montage of the real-life Baker starring in Hollywood movies again reiterates her trailblazing cinematic legacy and an image of Baker in her World War II uniform shows a determination to fight for justice, both inside and outside of the system.


An interesting take that sets it aside from the usual style of local films, Roberts shows that a different cinematic approach on subject matter close to his heart can have a strong effect. Along with his sci-fi film Graycon, the director proves he can move between genres and film structures with ease.


With dreamy images of an historical icon some may not know much about, the simplicity of the words and images together makes the story come alive and allows the importance of Baker’s memory to speak for itself.


Mike Sales


Watch the full film below on Vimeo:







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