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By midlandsmovies, Mar 23 2020 09:27PM

Lip Flaps

Directed by James Pyle


With two Midlands Movies Awards nominations under his belt, local filmmaker James Pyle heads into 2020 with a brand new regional animation called Lip Flaps.

James is director, writer, producer AND provides some voices in Lip Flaps, which again goes to show how local filmmakers take on many roles with their projects. None more so than the often solitary tasks undertaken in the tough world of low-budget animation.

In this micro-short, we open to the sound of a whirring cinema projector in 1928 with two older gents explaining how the public’s viewing interest is now with the “talkies”.

Unable to deliver on the audience’s demands, one of the men has an idea to present their silent movies in “polly-phonic” sound. Polly, you may ask?

That’s right, Lip Flaps sees a pet bird providing the voices for a black and white film replacing loving dialogue with lines like “Polly wants a cracker” and a variety of noisy squawks.

The animation has more of a somewhat computerised look at times which contrasts against the old-time vibe of the piece but the sound mix, archaic fonts and filters used for the era are spot on. James has again been influenced by classic movie-making which we saw before in his excellent crossover animation Bee-Loved (see review here)

This short is anything but “bird-brained” however, as it is cleverly constructed and at just under 2 minutes could probably have been longer in order to expand on its amusing ideas. That said, Lip Flaps doesn’t overstay its welcome and delivers a witty slice of retro animation and a top selection of bird puns for another fun day in animation parrot-dise.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Mar 22 2019 01:04PM

Midlands Review - Return from the Moon

Directed by Lee Charlish

Korky Films (2018)

One of the biggest mistakes a film-goer can make is mistaking Animation for a genre. There’s nothing worse than sitting your tiny child down in front of something bright and colourful only to discover it’s Akira and the last third puts them in therapy for life. Awkward. Animation is a medium, not a genre, one that gives filmmakers the freedom to express all sorts of thoughts, no matter how dark.

‘Dark’ is the key word for this particular film, as anyone familiar with other offerings from Korky Films such as ‘Scarecrow’ and ‘The Cold Caller’ can reasonably expect. With ‘Return to the Moon’, Lee Charlish has crafted a twisted Lynchian nightmare that very much highlights how animation is not always for kids. Not for nothing did it win Best Animated Film at this year’s Midlands Movies awards!

An astronaut plummets to Earth following a visit to the dark side of the moon, but while his body is trapped in his capsule, his mind (his soul?) is elsewhere, still on that remote chunk of rock far far away. His visions are troubling, even existentially terrifying, and he’s forced to take drastic measures to free himself.

I’ve seen this short several times now, and it’s very hard to pin down in words exactly how effective it is. It was interesting watching with an audience at the Beeston Film Festival, as nervous laughter broke out at the first surreal image (a humanoid rabbit is a pretty funny sight, in fairness) but the laughter quickly died down and became an uneasy silence. It went down well, the audience liked it, but it touches you on a deeper level.

This is a film worth watching at least twice to soak up the aesthetic and to embrace how uncomfortable it makes you feel. It’s not gory or nasty or anything like that, but it’s very unsettling. And that’s exactly how it should feel – this is a consciousness in peril, a psyche warring with itself or with a higher power.

That’s up for debate and personal interpretation, of course, as all the best art is. The animation itself is fluid and has an extremely distinctive style, a little reminiscent of mid-2000s era internet animation but with a much more careful eye for detail and flow.

If you’re interested in films that leave you with an itchy id, make sure you check this one out.

Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend

By midlandsmovies, Oct 6 2017 10:06AM

Lee Charlish is a filmmaker producing shorts under the Korky Films banner in Coventry and Midlands Movies uncovers more about his local take on all things animation.

From spending many a Saturday afternoon watching old VHS tapes of ‘video nasties’, Lee Charlish says that long forgotten B-Movies were his baptism into movies but got into animation because he became disillusioned with ‘live’ action filmmaking in the early noughties.

“I’d say I’m a bit of a frustrated director who just saw animation as more accessible way to produce the ‘vision’ I had for some projects”, explains Lee. “Animation appealed to me because I didn’t need to rely on anybody else. I was forever being let down on projects, which obviously happens when you’re creating films with no to low-budget and any wild and wonderful locations I required suddenly became possible by simply drawing it”.

Having such a wild imagination, Lee came to the conclusion his ideas couldn’t be fully realised with the limitations of budget and available resources and locations, so animation was the route he took to get his ideas onto the screen. However, despite his initial plans Lee says he was a bit naïve in his original thoughts. “It isn’t easier at all! It provides a whole different set of frustrations and headaches, but it’s strangely enjoyable and I’m still obsessed with filmmaking. If I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it and I love watching films, of all genres, from all over the world. I think I live by the Charles Bukowski quote, ‘Find something you love and let it kill you’”.

After switching from ‘live’ filmmaking in 2004, Lee returned to it in 2014 by producing the satirical animation Snow which won the inaugural Macoproject Online Film festival accolade of Best Animation.

Lee goes on to say, “I’ve had no formal animation training and, to be honest, it probably shows; I’m not a purist by any stretch and the rudimentary animation is hopefully saved by strong stories and style. I take a lot of time manipulating photographic elements in Photoshop, compositing in After Effects and working in various animation software packages”.

“I think it’s a steep learning curve and is quite literally visible with my latest offerings, such as Trigger Happy Birthday which has just been completed and is currently being touted to festivals and Mother which is in the final stages of production”.

Lee’s film Pig Dream did very well and was picked up by festivals as well as being awarded the British Special Mention Award at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol in 2016. And Lee feels it was a good springboard and is still very proud of his work.

However, ninetofive is Lee’s latest and is a 17-minute animation so fraught with problems that he nearly gave up on several times. “Thankfully, the hard work has paid off and I learnt so much during the production. My advice to any animator and/or filmmaker is to persevere and to ensure you improve and learn from mistakes and criticism. Most negatives can usually be turned into a positive if your approach and attitude is right. The film is now enjoying worldwide screenings and it had a great local premiere and Q and A in Leicester as part of The Short Cinema film festival".

"I doubt I’ll make another animation that long though. It’s also harder to programme at festivals because of the length too, so again, it’s reassuring to see it shown at so many when the curators could easily have shown two or three other films instead”.

Whilst training as an actor at drama college, Lee says a firm piece of advice he follows was ‘If it can happen, it will,’ which he says was dispensed more as a cautionary observation to live by, rather than some positive, motivational mantra. “I use it to ensure that all possible things which can go wrong are sorted or signposted before production starts, so the workflow is as seamless as possible”

“The plus side is that the ‘magic happens’ during any production, kind of organically and I think the advice is keep all the technical things tethered and tight, so the creativity can wield its wonderful tentacles and go anywhere it pleases”.

Lee says he’s influenced by music and as a child he enjoyed traditional cartoons like Scooby Doo, He-Man and Warner Bros stuff. Whilst being less interested in 3D he cites Spielberg, Lynch, Polanski, Wes Anderson and horror favourites like John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper as his film influences.

And with such a busy slate, past and present, Lee explains there’s much more to come from Korky Films. Lee plans to produce a ‘Making of’ for Mother so people can see the processes he goes through go and he hopes for the same with Return from the Moon - another high-concept piece.

“I am never short of ideas and often, while I’m working on a project I’ll get another idea and I’ll be making feverish notes and honing scripts or outlines. It’s not uncommon for me to work on more than one film at a time. I have just finished Trigger Happy Birthday, which was inspired from a Facebook meme I saw and I’m finishing Mother, which has a story which was devised and conceived in little more than an hour one Friday evening”

Check out further information from Lee Charlish and Korky Films on the official site below:


By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2016 09:42PM

Midlands Spotlight - Discover the truth with the X-mas Files

Lincolnshire filmmaker Liam Holland calls on his festive bell to speak to Midlands Movies about his first ever feature length animation due for release this upcoming Christmas.

As an avid amateur filmmaker based in Lincolnshire, Liam Holland began his career by studying media at Boston College until 2007. Yet during his childhood and teen years, he had already written, directed and edited several independent films, both short and feature length, with the help of his friends and family.

But now the Midlands animator is about to launch his new film which asks the audience if the they have ever considered if Santa’s sleigh flies owing to alien technology. With that set-up, The X-Mas Files promises a bumpy snow ride with aliens and the CIA and has been influenced by a number of Liam's passions.

"I've been making films since I was 12, but this is the first animated feature I have produced. I love all things Christmas and am very interested in the paranormal too", says an enthusiatic Liam.

"One day I was discussing conspiracy theories with my girlfriend when I joked about if the government knew Santa existed then adapted the story from that idea".

Liam goes on to add, "I have included as many conspiracy theory elements into the movie as possible, for example, the Bermuda triangle and all those unanswered questions. I felt it was important that, just because it's a cartoon, it should not be limited to those expectations that moviegoers have for casual animated movies. I wanted to break boundaries and treat it like a proper live action film".

A Christmas tale in the same dark-yet-light-hearted vein of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, The X-Mas Files is about a young boy called Neil who doubts the existence of Santa Claus.

But after coming across top secret government files in his military father's office, he discovers Santa does exist and aliens are supplying him with very advanced space technology which allows him to fly his sleigh.

Aimed at a family audience in a similar all-ages style to Dreamworks’ Shrek, Liam hopes there is something for everyone to enjoy but states that it's not the traditional style of Christmas movie with the inclusion of extra terrestrials and grown up themes.

"The reason I made it as an animation – besides wanting to try a new route in creative production – is because, with animation, if you can imagine it, it is possible. You are unlimited as to what you can create through the means of animation", says Liam.

Liam's pet project has been supported by a varied crew including freelance animator Julie Hubbard, film composer Thomas Ward and a wide range of voice actors including Jake Dudman, C. Martin Croker, Daniel Ferri and Gabrielle Stein.

With summer sadly now over, the season greetings start early with this charming children's tale with Liam and the rest of the cast and crew looking forward to the film's premiere which takes place in October at the Kinema in the Woods, Woodhall Spa.

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