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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



By midlandsmovies, Jan 2 2019 02:11PM



Trick


(2019)


Directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz


With an amazing short film production run in 2018, Midlands filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz ends the year with another hard-hitting drama with his new film Trick.


As a young man pours drugs onto a weighing machine, another older man sits nearby and discusses pets and how kindness can be seen as a weakness that can be exploited.


And “hey presto”, immediately we are thrown into one of the director’s familiar gangster scenarios where a boss is giving his underling some much needed advice. But before the conversation can continue however, they are interrupted by two men – one of whom (Jimmy) sheepishly asks for more time to repay some money.


Crime and violence are a recurring theme in Shahnawaz’s work - from Tarantino-influenced kidnapping in Witness to a Nolan-esque time-twisting attack in his last film Reversal. And here, the film sets up more of the same with a brutal world of hoodlums and terror. One of the hired hands (Shahnawaz regular Nisaro Karim) forces the man to sit down at the boss’ table.


The boss (a menacing James Jaysen Bryhan in a fantastic performance) proceeds to perform a magic “trick” involving a blood-red handkerchief. Darkly comic, he sarcastically provides his own magician’s musical accompaniment to his silly – but scary – performance.


Raising tension, the director does well by mixing the light-hearted trick with the darker themes already shown – thus creating a rising atmosphere of dread. And what will he make disappear using his fists? Well, you’ll have to watch the full film (see below) but suffice to say Sheikh has added one of his trademark twists to the tale to surprise the audience like pulling a bunny out of a hat.


With the director’s plans to tackle less shorts and bigger projects, it seems just the right time for Shahnawaz to tackle a larger and more thorough film. As although the shorts have all been dark delights, they now seem like teasers to a talent that requires flexing in a bigger arena.


Trick therefore ends up with Shahnawaz conjuring up another forceful short that alludes to the next step on his magical filmmaking journey.


Michael Sales



Watch the full film below:




Find out more about Sheikh's projects on Twitter and Facebook:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinesheikh


By midlandsmovies, Dec 12 2018 03:34PM



Midlands Review - Reversal


Directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz


2018. Catharsis Films


The Midlands most prolific filmmaker™ Sheikh has released yet another short drama before Christmas in which he features his regular contributing actor Nisaro Karim in a brief tale of mystery.


Beginning in stark close-up, the film starts with Karim’s hooded character staring into space but we quickly cut to a shot of his abdomen and discover that he is in fact injured. How and why the audience may ask?


Zooming further out we see that another suited man (played by Angus Villiers-Stuart) is leaning over his body in a pedestrian underpass. His hands are soaked in his attempts to stop the flow of blood.


He slowly backs away from the body. Is he in shock? Does he think his help is futile?


Well, actually... [spoiler warning] his slow steps backwards reveal that the film is in fact shot in reverse. Suddenly a bloodied knife rises from the ground into his hands and its shown to the audience that this may not be the seemingly good Samaritan we first thought.


His heavy breathing cuts to Karim’s victim suddenly rising from the floor to set up a standoff between the two. And then we see another switch again, reversing roles and constantly toying with viewer expectations.


The film plays with time in a Nolan-esque way (a definite nod to Memento for sure) and with great soundtrack music by Savfk, there are also audio hints of reversed instruments evoking a feel of Zimmer’s Inception score.


A clever short, the film has lots to think about in its brief runtime and has a feel of another local movie called FEIHT (Midlands Movies Awards Best Short winner 2017) which uses a similar sleight of hand narrative and time twisting structure to play with audience perceptions.


Another winning formula of acting, music and technical editing, check out Reversal for an impactful short that delivers a lot in its brief (backwards) runtime.


Michael Sales


For more info on Sheikh and his film projects please check out the links and watch the full short below:


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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinesheikh




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


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