icons-03 icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Jul 10 2017 05:44PM


Midlands Movies Mike uncovers an interesting new experimental feature that combines the mysticism of folklore with the modernism of an experimental soundtrack.


Staffordshire set film The Doxey Boggart is a new film from John E Smoke who is a deaf-blind filmmaker, musician and artist. Set within a nature reserve called Doxey Marshes, the film is a semi-documentary which follows a group of people investigating the local legend.


From an experimental sound artist with his guide dog to his fellow esoteric associates, they seek to uncover the truth about a ‘boggart’ (an evil or mischievous spirit) that is associated with the area.


Director John E Smoke is the aforementioned sound artist and has performed in many unusual locations including abandoned buildings and a set at Mermaid Pool in the Staffordshire Moorlands.


During one particular session of his there were claims of a ghostly image being caught on film which went viral online and featured widely in press at the time.


The film mixes a slim ‘plot’ with real-life elements as the musicians perform a set on Doxey Marshes during which a folk poem about a boggart is recited. At first nothing untoward happens but after the disappearance of a mother and child “the team are left wondering if the recital has brought something to life”.


Following their investigations the film includes field recordings and footage and borrows from 'actual' local folklore relating to 'boggarts', 'bugs' and other entities.



One of the key parts of the film is the music which assists in supporting the atmosphere of the historic locations. John E Smoke has pulled together friends in the music scene to compile a soundtrack that includes well-respected members of the experimental noise genre.


Soundtrack artists include 'Tunnels of Ah' (the solo project of the former Head of David vocalist, 'Autoclav 1.1', 'Khost' (featuring former members of Techno Animal, Final, Iroha etc), 'From The Bogs of Aughiska', 'John 3:16', 'Ian Haygreen', 'Whote', 'Satan's Bee Keeper', 'Theresia', 'Raxil4' and 'James Hoehl' alongside field recordings undertaken by John E Smoke.


With a mix of documentary, sound art and a little bit of horror, The Doxey Boggart’s eclectic combination of experimental images and dark ambient music will be released later in 2017 and also includes the release of hand printed DVD and double-CD music packs.


For more info please take a look at the trailer above and also check out further details of this Sonic Entrails production over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doxeyboggart






By midlandsmovies, Mar 27 2017 10:18AM

Midlands Spotlight – The beautiful ballad of Songbird from Triskelle Pictures




Midlands Movies Mike hears the sweet sounds of a new production nearing completion in the region from filmmaker Sophie Black. Her company Triskelle Pictures are putting the finishing touches to ‘Songbird’, a new short made in the area. Read on below to find out what the director is currently composing.


Sophie Black describes her new short Songbird as a Fairy Tale. In true fairy tale tradition, the Midlands based filmmaker explains it contains magic, adventure, peril, a villain and a heroine but unlike most fairy tales however, it begins at an open mic night in a 21st century bar.


Beginning life when local award-winning writer Tommy Draper (Stop/Eject, Wasteland) began working with Triskelle Pictures, the film was shot amongst forest locations in Derbyshire and what Sophie explains as other geographical “hidden gems”.


Currently crowd-funding for further support and finances, ‘Songbird’ is hoping this final round of finance raising will help with its festival campaign and promotion.



“We (also) need a little movie magic to enhance footage we are truly delighted with; we will use visual effects and a professional colour grade to make the witch creepier, the woods more ethereal, and Jennifer’s adventure all the more intoxicating”.


The protagonist is Janet Devlin (who rose to fame as a singer/songwriter after appearing on ITV’s The X Factor) and the talented musician has also written two original new songs for the film which are being released to backers as part of the campaign.


She plays Jennifer (the songbird) who takes a journey in the film to regain her voice which has been stolen by an ancient creature known only as The Collector.


The film has recently passed one of their targets £1500 and with that, the production has released the first footage of the film by issuing the first trailer which we have linked to above so please get viewing and sharing.


With everything coming together nicely, Sophie and her team are just months away from the release of this fantastic looking melodic movie and you can find out more about the project and the team behind it over on the official website: www.triskellepictures.co.uk




By midlandsmovies, Dec 14 2016 05:25PM

The Importance of Sound in Film!


Making a short film, or any film for that matter can be a lot of amazing fun. I recently made my most recent short film called HUNGRY. A wicked, humorous, little piece on the greed that is rampant at Christmas. Here is how I came up with and developed the sound and music in the film.


So the way I work is that in the very beginning of preparing to shoot the film, when I am still writing the script actually, I start to listen to music that I like. I listen with the sole purpose of getting a feel for how this particular song will go with the film. I use each song that I like or think might go well and imagine how it will tell my story. Here is an example…in “HUNGRY”, the story takes place at Christmas. So I was constantly listening to holiday songs, wild versions, old-fashioned ones, newer versions. The one I came up with was of a child choir singing Carol Of The Bells.


This song was important in setting up the beginning of the film in 3 ways:


1. It is a beautiful innocent rendition of this song

2. It lulls the audience into the sweetness of the Christmas season

3. It also didn’t telegraph what was coming to the audience


I cannot tell you how important music or sound is in setting up your story or film. If you can do it right, then the whole film just falls into place. Another example of how much music played a part in my film is when the main character walks into the shop, the owner is listening to 1930’s jazz. The story’s background was that this woman has been alive for several hundreds of years, and this is her favorite music. Now you don’t actually see a 500 -year old woman on screen, that was just the back-story. But this music really helped the actress get the feel for what I wanted.


And her performance made the film. Another instance of how important sound was for me, was in editing.


My film is a horror film, and so I had a small creature. But because I was on a small budget, I couldn’t really afford to build a creature that could move in every way I wanted. So movement was limited. What I did tho, was to search a couple of free sound sites for sci-fi sounds, or dinosaur roars. It took me weeks to get it the way I wanted.


In order for the creature to look realistic, I had to use different sounds for each 2-second piece of footage that had the little guy in it. Each different sound conveyed a different want and emotion in the creature. It was incredibly grueling and difficult work. But in the end, the sounds and music are what really helped this film. In my opinion.


And when my main character was being eaten alive, sounds were so vitally important in conveying the horror of what was happening to him. And at the end of the film, when it is clear that the owner is in cahoots with the creature, or the creature is almost her mate, then the music that I put in at the end conveyed the craziness of this situation. So I put in this wild and crazy piece that makes me giggle whenever I hear it.


In conclusion, if you are in preparation for a film shoot, or if you are already in editing, then I cannot stress the importance of taking your time and getting the music and sound right. If you have the right style of music that brings your audience into your film, and the right sound effects if you are shooting a horror film, then this will improve your odds of this being a successful film. If nothing else, it helps your audience into your film, and it help in keeping them there. If you don’t believe me, go and watch the movie Brooklyn. The music in this film will bring you instantly into this world, and it keeps you there. Whether you like the movie or not!


John Montana




About The Author:

John Montana is an actor and filmmaker. His most recent film, “Hungry” has been accepted into 24 film festivals all over the world. Check out his short film - HUNGRY at No Title Production Films


By midlandsmovies, Oct 10 2016 02:14PM

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week (2016) Dir. Ron Howard


Don’t let me down. The Beatles were at the height of their popularity in the mid-60s when they left their touring days behind them despite the fact they were filling out venues worldwide. This new documentary from Ron Howard tries to explain those heady days on the road before their live retirement with songs, gossip and historical footage.


The film begins with the band honing their talents during intensive 12 hour gigs in Hamburg before the recruitment of Ringo Starr and their rise to stardom via The Cavern in Liverpool. Already a tight-knit band by their early 20s, they embarked on endless UK tours as they began their first record releases beginning with Please Please Me in 1962. With manager Brian Epstein keen to keep them in the public’s eye, a single was demanded every few months and live gigs were very much part of the promotional (mystery) tour.


The documentary uses archive tapes along with some longer sequences of full songs to show the talent the band had from the very beginning. Their story continues as they break America on the Ed Sullivan show which turns them into a worldwide phenomenon with shows soon spread all over the globe.


The problem with the film – and this falls squarely on my shoulders as a HUGE Beatles fan – is that the stories and material are so well known to aficionados that there was very little new to learn here. I literally found myself mouthing along not only to the lyrics but to the stories including Harrison’s tale of Lennon’s “To the toppermost of the poppermost, Johnny” mantra.


Being the biggest band the world has ever seen has meant the tour tales have been told and re-told time again, not least in The Beatles’ very own Anthology – a documentary so in depth that nothing really comes close.


What I hadn’t seen before – and by default was the best part for me – was some of the archive concert footage showing the brilliant live performing skills of the mop-tops. Sounding uncannily like their recordings, their competency and delivery is so good and represents hours of toil on the road and on the stage. The footage also shows how small-time venues led to larger shows in auditoriums before the infamous Shea Stadium gig in New York which was their unknowing and penultimate swan song.


The footage also shows how the live shows became little more than crowd noise and screaming as well as their studio experimentation becoming increasingly difficult to capture on the live circuit.


In conclusion, the documentary is solid with good interviews, stories and structure and it covers an important part of the life of the greatest band there’s ever been. However, avid Beatles fans looking for exclusive tales will be disappointed by the lack of any new information with only the rare concert performances being truly dazzling. I’m really down.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jun 15 2016 01:50PM

Local Leicester theatre The Curve is showcasing local talent with a new Midlands production of Bugsy Malone. Midlands Movies Mike speaks to The Curve to find out more about the child-focused musical.


Bugsy Malone was written by Alan Parker with music and lyrics by Paul Williams and used a child-only cast to show a time of 1930s prohibition with the rival gangs of Fat Sam and Dandy Dan fighting it out on the streets. Sam’s only hope is washed up boxer Bugsy Malone who also has eyes for wannabe showgirl Blousey Brown. The original 1976 film version was Parker's feature-length directorial debut and introduced young actor Scott Baio and featured a 13-year old Jodie Foster.


At the end of Summer, Leicester’s premier theatre will host an adaptation using over 30 young performers, and a home-grown orchestra will also be present at this year’s Made at Curve Community Production of the quirky musical.


In this version, up-and-coming local talent makes up the show’s crew of gangsters and showgirls including Joel Fossard-Jones as Bugsy Malone, Maeve Woods as Blousey, Harvey Thorpe as Fat Sam, Alfie Bright as Dandy Dan, Muhammed Ibraheem as Roxy Robinson and Benjamin Cowan as Knuckles. Femme-fatale Tallulah, Jodie Foster’s original role, will be played by Jennifer Brown.


Joel Fossard-Jones returns to Curve in the title-role following performances in previous productions including Adrian Mole in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole The Musical, and in other film-spinoffs as The Artful Dodger in Oliver! and Kurt Von Trapp in The Sound of Music.


The Curve itself is a spectacular state-of-the-art theatre based in the heart of Leicester’s vibrant Cultural Quarter with an award-winning building designed by acclaimed architect Rafael Viñoly.


For this production, and a first for Curve, Bugsy Malone will also feature a community orchestra made entirely of local musicians. Musical director George Dyer will lead the orchestra with many of the participants performing in an on-stage production for the first time.


The annual community productions provide an opportunity for people of all ages to work with Curve’s professional production and technical teams. The shows are central to Curve’s ongoing commitment to nurture, develop and celebrate local talent from across the region. Curve Associate Artist and choreographer for Legally Blonde and Grease, Nick Winston, will direct.


Curve Artistic Director Nikolai Foster explains, “The Curve Community Production is always a season highlight for us, combining the incredibly important work we create with our communities with our work on stage”.


The show runs from Fri 19 Aug – Sun 28 Aug and tickets can be purchased from the Box Office 0116 2423595 or booked online at www.curveonline.co.uk


Twitter: @CurveLeicester

Facebook: CURVEtheatreleicester


By midlandsmovies, May 18 2016 02:54PM

Green Room (2016) Dir: Jeremy Saulnier


Jeremy Saulnier previously directed the fun comedy horror Murder Party (2007) and the acclaimed vengeance drama Blue Ruin (2013) and the essence of these two films help contribute to what makes Green Room both highly entertaining yet gritty.


The film follows idealistic punk band who land an unscheduled gig at an isolated venue, which also just so happens to be filled by neo-nazi punks. After kicking off their set with an impromptu cover of the Dead Kennedys ‘Nazi punks f**k off!’ and losing half the crowd things gradually improve until band member Pat (Anton Yelchin – Star Trek, Fright Night) accidently walks in on a murder scene backstage.


Suspicion, panic and violence ensues and the club owner, as played by a calm yet menacing Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: TNG, X-Men), is called in to fix the situation turning the film into a fantastically well-paced siege-come-survival movie as our luckless group try to escape.


The real strength of the film comes from its editing and pacing while the use of sound is at odds with recent cinematic scare tactics. There is no audio build up, no priming of the senses but just short sharp shocks to the system showing you realistic, graphic violence for just long enough to process before moving on. Ultimately this results in a tight film that is not afraid to mix up the tone in order to not only drive the narrative forwards but also to keep it exciting for the viewer.


Never outstaying its welcome Green Room packs a lot of ideas into its brief running time and succeeds all the more for it.


8/10


Midlands Movies Marek

By midlandsmovies, Apr 3 2016 05:10PM

Midlands Movies Editor Mike Sales take a visit to the studio of Damon Baxter (aka Deadly Avenger) as the Leicester musician continues to put his skills to use on trailers for a range of Hollywood blockbusters.


It;s a sunny Sunday afternoon when I meet with Damon Baxter at Leicester’s Meatcure restaurant (great burgers by the way) to have a chat about movies, music and more with the talented trailer composer.


Previously working as a DJ at London nightclubs such as Fabric, Damon now splits his time between Los Angeles and Leicester, creating electronic soundtracks for movie trailers. No small feat coming from his small studio on a trading estate in the Midlands.


With the food going down a treat and a quick chat about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I ask him about his career so far.


“Well, I first got into the dance scene around 2000", says Damon, "and with the likes of Fatboy Slim, Propellerheads and Jon Carter, I helped push forward the ‘Big Beat’sound”.


I asked him if that helped open up many doors? “I got to tour the world but then eventually settled nicely into a Fabric Residency alongside Unkle and The Wiseguys”.


Did that give you the breakthrough you were looking for? “Yes and no. My Deadly Avenger sound emerged when I remixed bands like Manic Street Preachers, Elbow and The Charlatans”.


And how did that leap to movies? “My ‘Deep Red’ album had a track that captured a cinematic vibe and eventually that sound was soon being used regularly for adverts, TV spots and movie trailers”


From orchestral to synthesisers via dance, Damon utilises a wide variety of sounds to create compositions that have been used on huge tent-pole move releases such as Age of Ultron, Men in Black 3 and Transformers 4. From his record label Destroy All Planets, Damon says his compositions use enigmatic and sparse arrangements to capture audiences’ imaginations.


Now finished, we both get up and head to Damon’s rusty pickup truck - which he claims belongs to a friend - and one that he’s nicknamed the “Millennium Falcon”. The second Star Wars reference of the day that I had noticed, I then realise how that franchise was a window into Damon’s world.


We headed around Leicester’s awful ring-road (luckily the city’s successful football team were playing so the roads were clearer than most days) and arrived at an industrial estate just outside the city – one that I quickly recognise from having a band residential rehearsal room for 3 years at the same location.


After acknowledging the weird coincidence we enter Damon’s studio where I am greeted with a range of movie posters. Covering the hallway and adorning the walls of the studio space itself, I witness Damon’s love of movies from framed retro posters of Close Encounters and They Live to modern blockbusters like Transformers and a ginormous 6 foot poster of Kill Bill: Vol 1.


A studio that Damon built himself, this sanctuary is a neat arena to create inspirational music. And proud of place in the corner is a full-sized Star Wars Stormtrooper costume on a mannequin set amongst his key instruments of computer, keyboard and mixing tools.


Damon went on to explain his style. “I love to use weird sounds. One of the effects on the Transformers TV spot was me hitting a metal bar outside which I mixed and put through the computer to become one of the main trademark motifs of the music”.


Using a combination of styles, Damon is also having a clear out of his DVDs on this of all days with the majority of his huge collection of 500 movies about to be given to charity in a spring clean that is not only clearing his studio for an imminent move, but also clearing his mind for Summer trailer work. Just a few of his previous summer work has included Antman, Furious 7, Chappie and The Last Witch Hunter too.


“One of the things people may not know is that I’m not always told the movie I am working on so have some free range to create something new from my own imagination whilst providing the film company with something that matches their vision”.


“I also try to combine all kinds of music into a new format. Recently I saw the trailer for Midnight Special which was brilliant as it gave the music room to ‘breathe’ rather than a traditional multiplex feel. That’s where I see my style heading towards along with my love for both the past, present and future".


Damon will next be seen at the Alfresco Festival on 27th – 30th May in Tunbridge Wells and we chat about our joint love for movies and music. Laughing at various films in his collection – Steven Seagal appears to have been a big part of his life – we then move to music and I suggest he check out both Inside Llewyn Davis (with Poe Dameron & Kylo Ren for the Star Wars fan) as well A Mighty Wind, the mockumentary from the Spinal Tap guys.


I ask him what the next stages are for Deadly Avenger. “Well, I have reworked my own tracks for use in TV shows like CSI but would love to attempt a full movie soundtrack at some point”. A great goal for an immense local talent, Damon has also kindly submitted soundtrack remixes for our own Midlands Movies events using scores and songs from films and adding his own twist to help create a brilliant atmosphere at our theme nights.


Damon says how pleased he is when his music gets used in a big production but hasn’t forgotten the local with a further keenness to offer his services to local filmmakers free of charge.


“I think I can offer some technical advice and practical pieces of music to local filmmakers to help give their soundtracks and trailers a professional quality which can sometimes be very costly on low budget films”. And this can only be a great thing for Midlands filmmakers.


With that, and the DVDs finally ready for the charity shop, we head off to enjoy the rest of the weekend with both of us humming the great “Please Mr. Kennedy” by Oscar Issac, Justin Timberlake and Adam “Kylo” Driver in a weird but satisfying duet for us both.


Midlands Movies Mike


More about Deadly Avenger :

http://www.deadlyavenger.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/DeadlyAvenger

https://twitter.com/deadly_avenger

By midlandsmovies, Feb 15 2016 07:43PM

The Inner Carriage Metaphor (2016) Directed by James George Oshoba & Robin Trinity


The Inner Carriage Metaphor is the title of a new narrative music video from Nottingham media student James George Oshoba. Shot as part of a second year university assignment, this experimental short is as different as anything we’ve ever been sent here at Midlands Movies.


However, the short contains a wide range of film techniques to help create a series of memorable and ambient images. We also know that all the good directors like Spike Jonze and David Fincher began their careers as music video directors so the format provides a perfect short-form platform to achieve much, but on a smaller budget. That doesn't mean it's restrictive - in fact the opposite - as creators trial more challenging subject matter than a mainstream film could do.


Experimental in concept, the film tackles themes of information overload and raises a variety of questions through symbols, images and edits. Inspiration comes via a variety of topics and emotional beliefs and the filmmaker explains that the concept as a whole refers to mystic philosopher and spiritual teacher, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff.


Spoken word, script, text and black and white video are combined to create a collage of hallucinogenic style dreamscapes. Images overlap creating an ambiguous experience for the viewer whilst there are some attempts at creating meaning between nature and technology as well as the human soul.


I enjoyed the René Magritte-esque apples and headshots whilst the superb music was not a million miles away from Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack with piano/organ notes adding some spirituality. Albeit mixed with electronic drum loops.


The negatives? As a fan of narrative cinema I would have preferred some focus on a small “story” no matter how slight and I couldn’t care less for anything incorporating "interpretive dance" . The film’s reliance on just a black and white palette also gave it a bit of a student-y feel when a dash of colour could have enlivened the proceedings.


That said, the short intentionally keeps its meaning in the shadows and silhouettes combine with kaleidoscopic effects to create an abstract experience. Combining the conceptual with the intangible the film shows great promise for a short and although its ambient ideas were not particularly up my street, the piece could qute happily find a successful place in an art gallery as well as a music channel and that alone is something.


Find out more on

www.jamesgeorgeoshoba.tumblr.com


RSS Feed twitter