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By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2019 08:25AM



Midlands Spotlight - The Pocket Film of Superstitions


Midlands Movies Mike uncovers a dark new feature film currently in production from Tom Lee Rutter, the writer/director of regional flick Bella in the Wych Elm.


THE POCKET FILM OF SUPERSTITIONS is a planned creepy docu-fantasy almanac and will explore a wide range of superstitions both well-known and not so well-known through the ages.


Produced under the director’s Carnie Features production company, Rutter promises a more “polished, feature-length progression” after his short film Bella In The Wych Elm (our review here) was released in 2017 to acclaim despite a low budget.


Director Rutter tells us that with this new film audiences should expect “dreamscapes, Victorian gothic, practical effects and nods to the haunted screen of the silent-era through to the seventies”.


“I am half-way through production now and up till now have completely self-funded but due to the ambitious jumps through time with period set-pieces and the SFX I have had to start up a Gofundme campaign”, he adds.


This will help “to raise a little money for us to achieve some exciting sequences on the horizon”.



He goes on to explain, “My films have always been proudly self-funded and are very independent in nature. Despite the limitations brought about by very little in terms of finance it has always given me the freedom to explore styles and create projects that I feel don't get explored enough in indie circles today”.


Hoping to be a one of a kind West Midlands movie you can find out more information and donate to their crowd-funding campaign here: GoFundMe LINK


You can also follow further updates from the official Facebook page here which includes some exciting behind-the-scenes photographs and lobby-card stills - click here for Facebook page




By midlandsmovies, May 30 2019 01:19PM



Midlands Review - Hope


Directed by Tee Visuals


2019


Hope is a new emotional drama from local director Tee Visuals starring Tenisha White and Andre Pierre as a couple facing sadness and sorrow in their poignant relationship.


Filmed with heavenly sunlight streaming into a bedroom, Hope opens with Jesse (Pierre) waking up his partner Faith (White) before he finds a pregnancy test in the kitchen which she confirms is positive.


Jesse’s happiness is at odds with Faith’s reticence but he suggests the name of ‘Hope’ if the baby is a girl. “We’ve got a long journey ahead of us”, he adds. Very true indeed as we’ll find out later. The director frames and films shots well and the visuals have a high quality sheen to them. The on-set sound is okay but could perhaps do with another pass in the editing suite to balance/boost the consistency of the dialogue volume.


However, the editing is steady and measured and the film has good use of fade-outs and metaphorical white-outs alongside some slow but meaningful scene transitions.


As the couple take their car out into the countryside for a walk in what looks like the Peak District, the tone moves into darker territory with a secret torment apparently under the surface of their relationship. More great shots are filmed here amongst the rolling valleys and hills and the director does well to capture the wide vistas and dramatic lighting of the location.


With a few drone shots as well, the filmmaker really does explore the expansive horizons, perhaps representing an unknown future to come. But here the film flashbacks to 6 weeks prior and we see the couple arguing about the difficulty of conceiving - leading to their potential break-up. 3 days after this, the couple decide to not give up despite the circumstances. But their good intentions may not be enough to see them through.


Hope's use of flashback to uncover plot details is a good but simple device to change and switch focus and create an air of intrigue over the different narrative questions the audience has.


* Some spoilers ahead*


However, as the couple begin to repair their relationship, a slow motion sequence sees Jesse involved in a hit-and-run and even though Faith says ‘yes’ after finding an engagement ring in his pocket, she cannot save him and Jesse passes away.


Sadly, a character as a ghost “twist” is quite overused in the local arena. Even last month with Leaving Home, it used the same conceit and, although I watch more local films than most, it’s a common – albeit powerful – trope that means the short isn’t quite original as it could have been.


That said, there’s enough positives to let it slide as the film has emotional gut punches and scenes that also tug on the heart-strings. And this is down to the performances of the talented White and Pierre. Both convey strong feelings of blame, guilt, sadness and loss and whether it’s a teary glance (White) or a longer passionate speech (Pierre) the two leads really hold the story together.


A bigger but slightly less welcome surprise was Hope’s post-credit scene set 25 years later (!) which featured a note that says “dad’s killer”, police sirens and a young man with a gun. I have to admit that it’s a brave choice but the sequence jolts you into another film entirely and may have been best left off this particular short.


And a melancholy piano-led song adds to the sad tone throughout and a great soundtrack overall from Marco Micucci and music from Punch Records help give the short an angelic vibe.


The (non post-credits) ending of Hope finishes on a positive note with Jesse giving some virtuous advice to instil strength and positivity to Faith to help her deal with the unfortunate situation she is facing, before he leaves her forever.


And as we are shown a drone shot that takes the audience up and away into the celestial heavens, the film’s wholesome and hopeful message very much shines through. With two divine and passionate performances and some heart-breaking scenes, Hope ends up being an impressive short containing a whole host of tender themes provided with conviction and a lot of flair.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Apr 14 2019 08:27AM



Sustain movie releases brand new trailer


Award-Winning producers Troy Dennison and Keiran Bowers have unleashed the newest trailer for the Midlands-based crime thriller/drama Sustain, directed by Dave Hastings.


With the film in deep post-production, editor Sam Woodhall has been working closely with Hastings on fine-tuning the now locked visual cut of the film. The next stage sees film grading whilst James Hall will be supervising a new sound mix. And with a composer for the film being announced in the near future, the picture is close to completion for audiences.


However, the second trailer for the film is here to whet audiences’ appetites even more. “And we’re very proud to unleash the new footage from Sustain which we all hope you will find exciting” teases producer Troy Dennison.


Featuring lots of new footage that illustrates the wide-ranging scope of exciting Midlands locations, the filmmakers had help from people Sophia French at Walsall Council and beyond. "The new trailer raises the stakes and gives you an even more thrilling look into the dangerous world that protagonist Kieran Flank (Brett Dewsbury), finds himself slipping into after the brutal murder of his step-brother Toby (Joshua Sewell)”, says director Hastings.


Dewsbury comments that “people should be excited by the film because it was produced locally, made by local talent, cast filled with raw local talent and promotes the Midlands area so very much. It is exciting because it shows what hard work, passion and creativity can achieve when you virtually have a non-existent budget. It’s a beautiful, gritty and very emotional piece that people should be happy to support because it touches on many issues we face in our day to day lives”.


The trailer also features an expanded glimpse at some of the films ensemble of other actors such as Richard Buck as the dangerous Kevin McKenzie as well as Matthew Kinson and Jay Podmore who make up the film’s chilling trio of villains who set off the dramatic chain of events the film follows.


As well as this, are the good guys like Greg Yates as DI Bridge and Laura Evenson as local news reporter Kara Marshdale, who form an uneasy allegiance in an attempt to expose the dark heart of humanity.


All of them in the trailer “shine so very much, giving audiences a new compelling glimpse into a story we’ve been incredibly excited to share with everyone”, comments Dennison.


Sustain is a joint co-production between Lightbeam Productions, 5cm/Sec Films, ICI Films, Faceless Films and Pat The Bull Films. You can follow the film on Facebook and Twitter for more exciting developments.


By midlandsmovies, Apr 2 2019 03:30PM



Midlands Review - A Helping Hand


Directed & written by Debbie Daniels


2018


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers present A Helping Hand, a short film about an elderly man who is now sleeping during the day and active throughout the night. This isolated way of living forces him to seek help, with surprising results.


Arf (Arthur Fletcher) due to continued lack of sleep has now resigned himself to operating during the night and falling asleep in the day. The audience can see early on that he isn't happy with this arrangement as he is seen routinely opening his bedroom door, longing for normality, longing for sleep.


Writer and director Debbie Daniels, through a series of shots show the viewer how Arf lives his life. Because he cant sleep at night he is forced to carry out tasks such as shopping, gardening and cleaning in unsociable hours. Mute and glum with depression.


Arf decides to visit Dr Spellman where he reveals he is a widower, and since his wife's passing he has had trouble adjusting to sleeping alone. The good doctor discourages medication and recommends a “co-sleeper”, someone who will physically take the place of his late wife in bed to give Arf the familiar feeling of sleeping next to someone. Arf, taken aback by the unusual prescription agrees to give it a go.


Leah (Fiona Dunn) is introduced shortly after, lifting Arf's spirits immediately. The introduction of this character also elevates the films pace, as I enjoyed watching Arf and Leah's relationship grow in what should have been an awkward encounter. In stark contrast to Arf's conventional way of living, Leah brings with her otherworldly candles, props and music to help lull Arf into a deep slumber. Both characters are written beautifully, Arf's willingness after his initial scepticism warms me to his character whilst Leah's hunger for helping people make her a joy to watch.


“Remember, you can do anything you wan, be anything you want, you've got your whole life ahead of you” Arf says as he waves Leah goodbye after an unsuccessful effort to help him regain a normal sleeping pattern. Dave, another co-sleeper is introduced but to no avail until a third co-sleeper, an elderly lady Ann enters Arf's life. Will Arf be able to succeed in Dr Spellman's counselling and be able to live the life he wants to?


A Helping Hand is a light hearted story regarding a sombre subject which another director might have been heavy handed in their approach however director Debbie Daniels handles the story with a gentle touch surrounding Arf's evident discomfort with humorous moments.


Daniels is also responsible for the inspired choice of casting Arthur Fletcher as Arf as he gives a great performance. Fletcher is the films anchor as he commands attention in every scene and also to have great chemistry with all three of the supporting actors is a serious achievement.


The aspect that stood out for me the most whilst watching this film was friendship and the potential strangers have to be of importance to one another.


Shot on location in Sutton Coldfield, A Helping Hand reminded me of particular type of film that Britain does excellently, the mature comedy-drama. Go check it out.


For more information on Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers please click on this link.


Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer


By midlandsmovies, Mar 23 2019 08:52AM



Midlands Spotlight - KOBE


KOBE is an upcoming short crime thriller film from West Midlands director AR Ugas about a university student who, after his childhood friend is released from prison, decides to enter into a life of crime which culminates in a robbery that goes wrong.


Shot in 5 days in several locations in the Birmingham are, the film was shot, produced, directed and edited by Ugas, who had great success with his Tolkien-inspired first film 'The Return of the Ring'.

AR Ugas explains, "After The Return of the Ring and its success I felt like I was ready to jump into making a feature film. I wrote the script, casted it and was about to start the rehearsal process, but for a variety of reasons and like many other independent projects it failed to launch".

"After that, I decided to go back to the basics and fully develop myself as a one-man team guerilla filmmaker, buying my own camera and editing software and hardware", he added.


The director explains that not only did he make decisions to save time and money in the long run, he also wanted to fully appreciate and understand what it takes to create a film. "Having dipped my toes into shooting and editing myself, I am a lot more confident and comfortable with all sides of filmmaking now".


While 'The Return of the Ring' was very high-concept and flashy, the director felt it lacked an emotional depth - "Everyone saw what happened but not many felt what happened and we watch films not just to see but also to feel".


KOBE will be a lot more gritty and dynamic film and the director hopes it's also a lot more personal too as the film delves into the friendship of an ex-prisoner and a university student, examining their moral compasses and how people change when put in a difficult situation. It also looks at a faltering relationship between a strict out-of-touch father and said student.



Working on the project are the two leads, Mathias Andre (as Kobe) and Dominic Thompson (as Mouse) who also played the hooded wizzard in The Return of the Ring.


Joining them are Tee Morris (Christopher) who recently won an award for 'Best Actor' for the wonderful short film 'Climbing Trees', Alexandria Carr (Serena), Bola Latunji (James), COrey Thompson (Sully) and Summer Carr (Natasha).


With a plan to release the film in the next few motnhs, the production are looking at several platforms for the release and you can find out more about the film and filmaker here https://www.facebook.com/ARUGASUK and check out the two exclusive screengrabs of Dominic Thompson playing 'MOUSE'.



By midlandsmovies, Feb 4 2019 04:26PM



Midlands Spotlight - Cosmos


Midlands Movies Mike Sales looks to the stars to find out about new Birmingham-made sci-film Cosmos which is coming soon in 2019.


Cosmos is a new local feature from directing brothers Elliot Weaver & Zander Weaver who not only self-produced the project but actually took on all major crew roles throughout production.


With the only exception being the writing of the score, the brothers have made a film that mixes local flavour with a story that looks out to the universe for its inspiration.


Making movies since they were children, the brothers have been concocting and creating shorts films throughout their education including music videos and short documentaries and when they finished school decided to set up an online film school themselves.


"We wanted to share with other young filmmakers some of the tips and tricks we’d already picked up on professional projects and hopefully inspire others to have a go themselves. We managed to establish a small following and continue to enjoy interacting with those who benefit from our content".


But with production on Cosmos now finished, the filmmakers are about to embark on a festival and screening tour for a film which cost less than £5000 to make.


Cosmos itself tells the story of three amateur astronomers who accidentally intercept what they believe is a signal from an alien civilisation. Realising they may have just stumbled across Mankind's greatest discovery, they race to document their finding, prove its authenticity and share it with the world before it is lost forever.


But as the filmmakers say, the truth they uncover is even more incredible than any of them could have imagined. Inspired by Amblin-era adventures and set over just one night against the backdrop of a world-changing discovery, Cosmos is promising to offer spectacle and thrills when its released later in the year.


For more information following the film on Twitter or at the official website: https://ellianderpictures.co.uk/films/cosmos


And you can watch the trailer for the film below:





By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2019 08:09PM



Midlands Spotlight - CineQ Queer Film Festival in Birmingham in March


Working with the BFI FAN Film Hub Midlands, Centrala Art Gallery, Midlands Arts Centre and Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen the CineQ Film Festival runs from the 22nd until the 24th of March covering a range of Queer AF screenings, parties and workshops.


CineQ Queer Film Festival will put the focus on new stories, and QTIPOC (Queer Trans and Intersex People of Colour) perspectives, while introducing ‘New Queer Cinema’ a type of queer cinema often overlooked and showcase some of the best underrepresented LGBTQ film both past and present.


After the film festival, CineQ will specially curate a selection of queer films representative of the LGBTQ community which will tour cinemas, film festivals and film societies in the region in order to grow the appetites of LGBTQ cinema lovers in the Midlands.


CineQ founder Rico Johnson-Sinclair says, “Queer cinema has often been a blind spot in the region’s best independent and multiplex cinemas. Not to say that there isn’t an offer. LOVE, SIMON, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and GOD’S OWN COUNTRY were notable successes in recent years, but there’s a plethora of films from a variety of perspectives that are being made, but just not shown in cinemas”.


“Often the only places to watch queer films are streaming services, we want to change that by bringing audiences across Birmingham and the Midlands, more opportunities to see these brilliant titles on the big screen”.



CineQ was previously operating as a community cinema supported by Flatpack Projects. They’ve screened many titles such as THE WOUND, CLOSET MONSTER, and CHECK IT as well as short film programmes at Centrala Art Gallery and Cafe, Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, and Flatpack Film Festival.


CineQ has also worked with cinemas outside of Birmingham such as Phoenix Cinema in Leicester and was recently awarded a commendation by Cinema for All, Britain’s leading authority for community cinemas and film societies.


Further programme announcements will be made available via social media and the CineQ website from 22nd January 2019.


Facebook @CineQBrum

Twitter: @CineQBrum

Instagram: @CineQBrum


By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2019 11:31AM



SYNT: A Night in the Death of Jenny Taylor


Directed by Dave Inglis


2018


SYNT is the debut film from Dave Inglis, a writer-director from Birmingham who previously starred in West Midlands short Eviction and has now turned his hand to filmmaking in this horror comedy.


With a cast and crew from Birmingham and Solihull, SYNT is a kind of faux-documentary about Keith Fairbanks (Dave Inglis himself) who is a part-time journalist and online bingo-caller.


But things go strange very quick in this story as Keith arranges an ‘interview with a vampire’ after an online audition and heads to meet Jenny Taylor, an octogenarian bloodsucker AND a prostitute to boot. Sucker indeed.


Giving its documentary feel, the film has been wisely made in a very hand-held style. The camera movements and slice-of-life discussions are like a dark re-imagining of BBC’s The Office and everyday mundane activities are shown in a comically matter of fact delivery.


The script has lots of odd-ball and surreal jokes and dialogue often seems improvised which keeps with the documentary vibe as Dave and his cameraman – Ignatious Orlando Fyke – have funny off-the-cuff chats on their journey around town at night.


Long takes again maintain realism and whole scenes are played out without cuts which is testament to the actors’ skills. In addition, the film is punctuated with inserts, text, pauses and more which creates some visually interesting editing. However, SYNT could have definitely done with more of this though, as the long takes can begin to feel drawn-out and it just about avoids the pitfall of looking too much like an un-edited home-movie.


I am aware however of a shorter director’s cut that the filmmaker has made for festivals and I think this would work better as although the film throws lots of jokes at the audience, the murky lighting and juddering camera verges may push audience's to their 'wobbly' limit.


Brent-like Keith continues his investigations on the streets with Vlad and others, and seems somewhat unaware of his bumbling interview technique as he not only portrays events but almost gets involved in them himself. From take-aways to kerb-crawlers, the film finds lots of morbid fun in seedy night time shenanigans and its new suburban spin on the classic vampire hunter.


Obviously, the film is most reminiscent of Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows with its mix of vampire lore, comedy and documentary stylings but with the director freely admitting to some personal troubles outside of filmmaking, SYNT feels a cathartic exercise. Dave approaches the production as a form of therapy, involving friends and family and focusing on a complex project yet with a humorous tone which is more than an honourable exercise.


In conclusion, at over an hour in length some viewers’ patience may feel as stretched as a vampire’s life span but SYNT has more positives than negatives overall despite its drawn-out feel. If you loved Waititi’s 2014 film then I’d highly recommend this similar local Midlands flick with its fun parody mix involving crypts and quips.


Michael Sales



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