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By midlandsmovies, Sep 18 2019 12:11AM



The Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival launches in the Midlands


A new film festival for short horror films is launching in the area and is inviting the region’s filmmakers to send in their movies for their event.


The Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival will take place at Kinver High School in Stourbridge on 25th January 2020 and filmmakers will have the chance to show their films by submitting a short film under 5 minutes before 14th December.


Based in the Black Country, the festival is being organised by Weeping Bank Productions who are hoping to make this an annual event.


“We have quite an amazing panel of judges including Henrik Harms, Adam Neville and Steven Green”, says one of the founders Alan Birch.


Formed by two well-known Black Country ‘Alans’, Weeping Bank Productions is a small independent entertainment company dedicated to the art of scaring people by way of reading original ghost stories.


After many years of treading the boards with various theatre groups, actor Alan Birch starred in two full length indie comedy films as David Tristram’s creation Inspector Drake.


“I’ve always loved the horror genre and what excites me most about telling these stories is the fact that the audience has no preconceptions. They really will be unprepared for just how scary they are”, adds Alan.



Co-founder Alan Smith who writes under the name A.G.Smith has gained praise for his novels from best-selling authors Anthony Horowitz and G.P.Taylor. His work with prisoners has seen him appear on Channel Four’s ‘Secret Millionaire’ and on BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme.


The pair met on the set of ‘Inspector Drake The Movie’ and have remained friends ever since. Once they discovered that they both shared a passion for horror, the idea of forming Weeping Bank Productions was hatched.


And as they launch the festival, they are keen to encourage everyone with a horror story to tell to get involved. The 1st prize for the festival winner is £200 (plus a crate of Batham’s Best Bitter) and 3 runners up will win £50 (plus six bottles of Batham’s).


The full list of judges are Adam L.G. Nevill (author of the horror novels 'Banquet for the Damned', 'Apartment 16' & more), journalist/writer/filmmaker Steve Green, Birmingham radio journalist Nina Das Gupta, writer A. G. Smith and Worcester writer and director Hendrik Harms.


To enter is just £10 and click this link and check out further festival information and full terms and conditions on the official site here:

https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk/horror-film-festival







By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2019 07:19AM

Midlands Review - Jallianwalla Bagh 1919 and Peaky Blinders A New Era



This week we take a look at a double-release of films from new West Midlands film production companies Gurjant Singh Films and Five Pence Productions, which delve into two very distinct historical stories from the past.




First up is Jallianwalla Bagh 1919 directed by Gurjant Singh which is a 1-minute micro short which pays tribute to those massacred by the East India Trading Company in 1919. Given its short length it’s a welcome surprise to see the film mostly shot in slow motion. This extends the visual experience as we see gentle flowing clothes in the wind giving off an air of peace and tranquillity. This is juxtaposed with a screaming military sergeant (Richard Teasdale) and a cut to a primed rifle barrel. A voiceover from the protagonist (Nisaro Karim) provides some context given the film’s extremely brief runtime which was a good use of technique to give the audience background information. The pull of a trigger and the splattering of blood also gives us a brief glimpse of violence. The focus on just one person rather than a group (nearly 2,000 were shot in the struggle for independence) brings home the personal nature of this story to the filmmaker.




The second film is Peaky Blinders: A New Era. Most Midlanders will no doubt by familiar with the BBC TV series crime drama which is primarily set in Birmingham. It follows the exploits of the Shelby family after World War I and the fictional group is loosely based on the real 19th century urban gang who were active in the city from the 1890s.To honour the release of Season 5 in Sept 2019, this fan-film was shot in just 4 hours and set closer to the present in 1950.


This time period allows the short to (briefly) open up a conversation about a time where immigration was a cause for concern for locals leading to tensions running high. The short opens with Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child infamous guitar riff which although is an impactful sound, is simply the wrong song given that it’s associated with the end of the 60s rather than the period aimed for.


The film’s visuals work much better though as we see a gang of suitably attired “peaky blinders” in a pub drinking before they leave and come across an Indian man (Nisrao Karim again) squaring up for a fight before it cuts to a bloody outcome and a promise of more revenge.


In summary, both shorts are technically proficient and tease insights into very different worlds of the past. Their short run-time though merely acts as brief advertisements for longer narratives. Definitely with an air of professionalism throughout, despite my pet-peeve of music choice, they both act as intriguing calling cards for stories I’d like to see more of.


Michael Sales




By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2019 04:24PM



Sat-Nav


Directed by Lianne Moonraven


2019


Sat-Nav is a new short film which comes courtesy of Liane Moonraven, a West Midlands based director who tackles a problem that seemingly we’ve all have had with our Sat-Nav but there’s much more than bad directions in this dark drama.


Originally from America, Lianne has made the Midlands her home and apparently the short was brought back from the brink owing to complications in the production.


However, you wouldn’t notice it as the ominous music and digitised font of the title sets up excellently this mysterious short. Vicky Moloney plays Erica Bridges who grabs a coffee on the go whilst explaining to a friend on the phone how she’s not ready to date just yet after a failed relationship.


Entering her car she types in her friend’s Post Code into the Sat-Nav and heads off in her vehicle. More of the scary score accompanies her drive as the male voice on the Sat-Nav calmly gives her directions to her destination.


The technical aspects are more than solid whilst the sound is particularly well mixed and put-together given the various conversations, phone-calls and driving sounds as well as the recorded voice coming from the unit.


Functional without being flashy, Sat-Nav works best in its storytelling. After a phone call from her mum warning her of her ex-boyfriend, the film ratchets up tension as Erica tries to get the unit to recalculate but she gets lost and ends up far from where she thought.


As we continue the drive with her, her ex calls and finally she arrives at a deserted piece of land. The film’s denouement wasn’t too much of a surprise but all the threads that were set up pay off and the unanswered ringing telephone at the end was an eerie final calling card.


Sat-Nav therefore ends up being a laid-back but well executed short and is far superior to the director’s first film Assassins (review here). With a few rough edges to smooth off and if Moonraven can add a dash of cinematic sheen to the mix, then I’m excited for the filmmaker’s next short as unlike our protagonist in Sat-Nav, she’s more than headed in the right direction.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2019 07:24AM



Jungleland


Directed by Waheed Iqbal


2019


Dead in the City films


Written, directed and starring Waheed Iqbal, Jungleland is a new feature set amongst the seedy world of criminals in the West Midlands.


Waheed Iqbal stars as Tanha, a man with some seriously bad habits – drugs and gambling being just two of them – who gets in way over his head after a bet gone wrong. With just 5 days to pay off his debt, we get a countdown of days to a sports game that could help Tanha win a large amount of cash to resolve his situation.


He visits a number of criminal associates, prostitutes and shady dealers as he travels around the streets at night, trying to pull his wayward life together. The film also has an admirable support cast including Hannah-Lee Osborn, Magdalena Ziembla, Faraz Beg, Nav Iqbal and Haqi Ali who encapsulate the sordid aspects of their very unwholesome characters.


As the sparse story develops at an unrushed rate, the film seems to owe more than a debt to Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Iqbal has been inspired to chose a stark colour scheme with shots drenched in neon purples and reds. At the same time, the similarities continue as he focuses solely on a single character’s point of view as the director attempts to draw the audience into his depraved and shadowy psyche.


Although some parts have the vibe of Refn’s Drive (2011) with a downbeat individual entering an immoral world, Jungleland felt more of a nod to God Only Forgives (2013) as a man moonlights his way around a city dealing with threats and iniquitous behaviour.


Sadly, this is slightly unfortunate as this film has inherited the incredibly slow pace and somewhat meandering narrative of that film as well.


Regretfully, the minimalist dialogue and some extremely time-consuming sequences have the effect of making Jungleland feel a bit of a slog at times. An example straight away is the opening 2 minutes of static Birmingham shots that feel redundant - especially when the subsequent red titles, pumping music and a car swerving through a city at night is a much more intriguing and exciting opening.


And there is a LOT of walking too. Everything is dragged out and so measured I found myself switching off which was a disappointment given its mysterious narrative and impressive electro-infused soundtrack.


But it keeps coming back to its snail’s pace. At a whopping 1 hour and 40minutes, Jungleland ends up being an ambitious attempt to deliver an exploration of wickedness and sin but the repetitive script needs tightening, the film could do with a quicker edit and the length doesn’t justify the narrative content.


That said, Iqbal no doubt has an impressive variety of skills and throws them all at the screen during its runtime. Steadicam-style tracking shots, black and white scenes and some impressive and very atmospheric lighting are the film’s finest aspects. And all of this gives the movie an aura of sleazy racketeering and deadly corruption which comes across of screen.


So definitely check out Jungleland if you’re a fan of Refn’s work – especially Only God Forgives whose tone is splashed all over the film – but for others, prepare for a long-drawn-out endeavour that may leave you either immensely fascinated or slightly fatigued.


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 28 2019 10:22AM

Midlands Spotlight - New trailer for Jungleland


Jungleland is a new Birmingham-made film from local filmmaker/director Waheed Iqbal and after a busy summer in post production will soon to be released later in 2019.


Made on a very limited budget of just under £5,000 Iqbal wrote, directed, produced and acted in the film himself. As well as this the multi-faceted filmmaker took on the major role in post-production where he carried entirely carried out work on the film's picture & sound.


Not content to throw himself into every aspect of the filmmaking process, at the same time all of the work was done whilst he was a student during the last academic year.


Jungleland also features famous tracks from Bruce Springsteen and Chromatics (whose music was featured heavily in the film Drive),as well as Tangerine Dream, Alisha and Mazzy Star, all of which he has the complete rights to use.


The film itself was planned, shot and edited in just under a year and there was never any more than 4 of 5 crew members (including the director himself) working on the shoot at any given time.


"This was my first film, and the first film for the entire crew, which was made up of college students", says Iqbal.


And he hopes all the hard work will pay off as the entire producion team look forward to the upcoming release.


Watch the full teaser trailer below:






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 23 2019 02:19PM




Kobe


2019


Directed by A R Ugas


Kobe is a short crime thriller from West Midlands writer/director/producer AR Ugas, who you may remember from last year’s Return of the Ring.


Lead character Kobe (played by Mathias Andre) is a disillusioned and hungry young man. About to graduate University and pushed hard by a father he sees as overbearing, he’s seen what happens to those who fail to live up to society’s expectations afterwards. In his own words, he wants to work smart and get rich now, not work hard and get rich at 50 – or never.


So when childhood friend Mouse (Dominic Thompson) is released from prison, Kobe jumps at the chance to join him in a life of crime, as they’re hired by a mysterious man (Tee Morris) to knock off a warehouse full of cocaine. But when the address changes, the stakes shoot up and Kobe finds some very hard choices ahead indeed...


The film gives us some wonderful dilemmas, which I won’t go into in too much detail for fear of spoilers. There are two lines that, to me, embody the best parts of this story. “Lions don’t walk with hyenas,” Kobe’s dad says threateningly to Mouse. And later, not long afterwards, when Mouse cautions Kobe to “go to sleep and don’t wake up as the same person you went to sleep as”. Kobe sees himself as a class warrior, defying his father’s middle-class attitudes in favour of running with Mouse and taking on a life of violent crime.


But Mouse knows the truth of it, and is warning him that Kobe the 3rd-year student might not have what it takes to pull this crime off. Kobe the faceless masked criminal might.


Ugas brings his camera in close and handheld, eschewing glossy shots to bring a gritty low-tech feel to this gritty low-tech story. It’s a realistic story told in a no-frills way, which mostly works extremely well.


Some of the scenes felt a little flat and could have used more dynamic editing or movement (Mouse’s argument with his now-ex comes to mind), but once the story gets going there’s no stopping the flow. The only technical area that could use more attention is the sound; sound design is often the first casualty of a low budget, but it’s arguably one of the areas that needs the most attention. Clear, audible dialogue and effective use of soundtrack and sound effects are essential in grabbing and holding an audience’s attention and helping them stay immersed. Some of the dialogue towards the beginning is mumbly, and some of the silent scenes would benefit from music to help evoke emotion.


The cast is superb – Andre shines in moments of conflict where he wrestles with his conscience, and Thompson balances cocky chav with wounded victim of the life he leads. He’s trapped in his life, a bit more explicitly so as we see towards the end, but Kobe chooses to walk his path. No wonder Mouse seems almost frightened by Kobe’s willingness. Tee Morris is another standout, bringing the intensity he had in Climbing Trees and channelling it into the brief but memorable role of a man twisted by anger and hatred.


This is only AR Ugas’ second film, with a third in development (with a title like “We Have the President’s Daughter” it promises to be a slicker and faster-paced affair). It’s clear he has the talent and aptitude to take a tiny budget and deliver an entertaining and moving story. I suspect this is only the beginning of a career to keep an eye on!


Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend


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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