A Psychological Warfare

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My new short film takes us on a delrious girls journey alongside her fracturde mind. She has distorted vision and perspective on her actions caused by drug addiction, but also due to a lack of love and well-being. This lends part of the film to having surrealist qualities.

She is nestled in the detached basement of an upper class home, but she soon comes to realise that this home is all too familiar. The themes raised are far beyond that of addiction and paranoia, but more about family status and equality.

I shot the film single-handed with my lovely actress, who also did the make-up and set design. Thank you to Toby Archer for creating a perfectly abstruse score and to my brother, Tom Bury, for his wonderful piano skills.

Watch the film for free below:

Looking Ahead to Summer Movies coming in 2014

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It’s largely been a summer season of atrocious movies and I think most of us are glad that autumn has set in and winter is rapidly approaching. However, with remakes and sequels dominating the marketplace in 2014, things aren’t looking any brighter, in fact, their looking as bleak as an ancient conduit.

The ‘tent-pole’ flop of the summer award goes to The Lone Ranger, which only grossed a domestic of $88 million and cost Disney $200 million plus to make. Jerry Bruckheimer has now split from Disney, it’s a sad affair and no doubt The Lone Ranger contributed to his final parting. They made 22 films together! However, trifling domestic victories were claimed by Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Fast & Furious 6 – not that these successors were actually any good. 2012 was, domestically, the biggest box-office year in movie history, and in all fairness, 2013 somehow wasn’t far from it. As always with the movie industry, it appears to be the best of times and the worst of times.

Plans appeared well laid out for 2013, it was looking well balanced, but by July and August the wreckage had piled too high. This includes the White House blowing up yet again in White House Down, which unsurprisingly grossed $30 million less than Olympus Has Fallen with $100 million. The White House mirrors the destruction of San Francisco (Star Trek), New York (Man of Steel) and World War Z and Pacific Rim; chaos is everywhere. How many times can one watch CGI festering movies before they all just blend together in a heap of decaying junk?

Unfortunately, this explosive recurrence of ample CGI isn’t going away anytime soon. IMDB’s managing editor, Keith Simanton, sums the problem up effectively: “once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world.”

So, is 2014 looking any better in terms of less CGI destruction, sequels, space trips, superheroes and foolishness? Absolutely not, but there are a couple of tasty looking biopics and spec scripts in the mix – though they will probably get drowned out and suffocate in the pile-up.

To be honest, “Nobody knows anything,” wrote screenwriter William Goldman in what could just be the truest thing ever written about Hollywood. So, take my following scrutiny lightly and get rid of any sentiment – stuffs always changing.

Here are my personal prospects for the main studio’s summer movies (with May to August release dates):

Sequels:

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Marc Webb is persistent in bringing us this sequel from the rebooted sequel The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s not only getting confusing, but Peter Parker must be getting tired. I am.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return ­– Is it trying to be a remake of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or just another deficient sequel? I’m not sure, but Oz the Great and Powerful was terribly cloudy, though I did appreciate the affirmative allusions to the master Georges Melies. With no-one singular behind the film for me to get excited, I’m just not getting excited at all.

22 Jump Street – The first one was extremely funny and with the same crew behind the sequel, I’m confident I’ll come out having had a good laugh.

How to Train your Dragon 2 – Other than a collection of nice voices, I’m not certain what this one has in store for me. I might go, but I probably won’t (there’s nearly always something better you can watch these days).

Think Like a Man Too – How clever, a sequel to Think Like a Man, but with ‘too’ instead of ‘two’. Either way, I can’t imagine this film will be worth anyone’s time.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction – Stop torturing society Michael Bay!  

X-Men: Days of Future Past – It’s a fight for survival across two time periods, the characters must change the past to change their future. It sounds fanatical for Marvel geeks. Bryan Singer will direct again, and credit to him for doing a really good job with these movies. I’m just not taken.

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Fast & Furious 7 – James Wan will never stop. I am a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise however, and will no doubt be racing to see this one.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Will undoubtedly be packed with more CGI destruction and risk of the Earth at stake than in Rupert Wyatt’s prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which actually had a moderately touching storyline.  Lets hope director Matt Reeves doesn’t try his Cloverfield tricks on this one.

Planes: Fire and Rescue – A DisneyToon sequel to Planes. I’m sure it will be fun for the kids – that’s all.

The Expendables 3 – I enjoyed the first, the second was a shame – the third can only be dreadful. However, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes will all be making appearances – Stallone really does love to dumb the status of our ancestor heroes. I will be dragged to the big screen once more no doubt, intrigued by the notion of what last stand the ‘big boys’ have in store.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – A sequel to Sin City, based on the graphic novels. Robert Rodruguez and Frank Miller co-direct. I simply can’t wait! Sin City was incredible – yes it will be hard to top aesthetically, but who cares? In this case, I’d happily have more of the same. I’m a fan.

Prequels:

Maleficent – A fantasy thriller with Angelina Jolie will either make me gawp or snicker the whole way through. It’s interesting to see Robert Stromberg take his hand at directing after being craftsmen of the century (production designer) on films such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. I’m hoping for something fresh and prosperous, but I can’t help get the feeling it’s another route down The Lone Ranger road for Disney.  

Remakes:

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Godzilla – It’s a reboot of the Japanese film franchise and a further remake of the 1998 film of the same name. We know what to expect, a heightened experience from the first: more destruction, more at stake, a more spectacular monster etc. I can’t help myself wanting to go see it though.

The Loft – It’s the remake where Hollywood ruins European cinema once more. However, Erik Van Looy, the original Belgian director of the Belgian horror film, will be directing it. But, there are numerous disastrous remakes of European and Asian movies by Hollywood; not to mention Michael Hanake regurgitating Funny Games shot by shot back in 2007. Just embrace the subtitles Western audiences!

Adaptations:

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Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise stars in another 3D sci-fi film, as if the debris of Oblivion wasn’t enough. It’s an adaptation from the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – it could be unique but more likely it will be an extravagance of messy proportions. However, with Doug Liman behind it my hopes are higher than they should be for a 3D sci-fi blockbuster.

Hercules: The Thracian Wars – Of course Dwayne Johnson is playing Hercules in Brett Ratner’s adaptation of the graphic novel with the same name. It will be interesting to see how the visual effects and production design is pulled off in what could be a really enthralling film, or one of disastrous magnitudes.

50 Shades of Grey ­– The one everyone’s been talking about – how much sex will they show? I have to say, I loathed the book, but I am intrigued to see how they handle the film. There has been lots of controversy about Charlie Hunnam playing Mr. Grey. I think all the girls are gabbling that he’s not handsome enough to play Grey – poor Charlie.

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Guardians of the Galaxy – yet another Marvel comic superhero film produced by Marvel Studios. It is the tenth installment in the Marvel cinematic franchise and I can’t say that I’ve seen many – The Incredible Hulk was enough Marvel prescription for me.

The Hundred-Foot Journey – The novel by Richard C. Morais tells the story of two restaurant rivals based in France. It sounds interesting and with Lasse Hallstrom and Steven Spielberg behind the wheel, I’m certainly expecting something noble.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – a reboot of the film series that most of us remember watching as a kid. However, I don’t remember particularly enjoying it. My confidence is also diminished by the fact that Michael Bay is producing the film under his production company Platinum Dunes – the company that was to initially specialize in horror films!

Biopics:

Million Dollar Arm – A biopic of the two famous Indian baseball players, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who were discovered by the New York sports agent J.B Bernstein after winning a reality sports show. Moneyball, in 2011, was the last great inspiring sports (baseball) biopic I remember seeing – it will be tough to top!

Belle – A British period piece based upon the historical character Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed race daughter of the African slave and British naval officer. Dido meets the young lawyer John Davinier and catapults into a path of self-discovery and love. Set in 18th century Bristol Docks and shot entirely on location around Oxford, London and the Isle of Man, this may just be the British gem of the year. The film was also shot using Sony’s F65 SinyAlta camera in 4K!

Spec scripts (i.e. fresh, potentially original movies):

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A Million Ways to Die in the West Ted was brilliant so expectations are incredibly high for Seth MacFarlane’s new Western comedy. He is starring alongside Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson – waaa! It could be epic, it could be trash. Nevertheless this film is peaking on my shattered excitement chart for summer 2014.

Chef – Jon Favreau is starring, writing, directing and producing this comedy about a chef who loses his job and starts up a food truck. Blimey! However, he has got an interesting cast aboard with Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johanssen and Robert Downey, Jr. also starring. Appears like another hit or miss film.

Single Moms Club – A family movie or a movie for depressed single ‘moms’? The story follows a group of mums who bond and create a support group after an incident at their children’s school. Gossip alert!

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Neighbors – It’s the adolescent comedy with an engaging cast. A couple with a newly born child moves into a new neighborhood, but next door they soon discover the establishment of a fraternity house. I don’t think they’ll be happy about this somehow. The film stars the persistent Seth Rogen, the complimentary Zac Effron, the gorgeous Rose Byrne and the young James Franco (Dave Franco). It will be funny if I can manage not to grind my teeth to tatters.

The Familymoon – Another collaboration between Frank Coraci, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The romcom involves kids, blind dates, family resorts and a burgeoning relationship. I am hopeful, but you know my underlying attitude to romcoms…

Tammy – Ben Falcone’s debut film as director. It appears awfully unadorned. It is a comedy about a woman who loses her job and then learns her husband has been unfaithful – because we haven’t seen that one before.

Sex Tape – Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel have had enough of teaching in Bad Teacher and decide to get married and make a sex tape in Jake Kasdan’s new movie. Jack Black will also make an appearance – it’s about time! I’m hopeful this will be an amusing movie, but after 90 minutes of a couple simply searching for a tape, lets face it, things could get dull. I presume Cameron Diaz will lose an item of clothing here or there to keep viewers fully engaged – she didn’t exactly hold back in We’re the Millers.

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Jupiter Ascending – Another mind-boggling sci-fi film from The Wachowskis. Mila Kunis, our lead heroine, discovers that her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader. We can certainly expect oodles of fantastical adventure, which will no doubt receive a disproportionate bag of mixed reviews.

Jessabelle – Editor turned director, Kevin Greutert, teams up with comedy writer Ben Garant (known for Night at the Museum and Balls of Fury) to make a horror film for Lionsgate. The team has all had involvement in the Saw films, so perhaps we can expect common themes of bloodshed. However, in studying the plotline Jessabelle it just appears to be another rundown horror film were a widow goes on retreat and becomes possessed by an evil spirit. How corrosive.

Phew, that was a feat. To sum it all up, it seems the big studios are bringing us 13 sequels (it makes my blood boil), only 2 remakes, 6 adaptations, 2 biopics (they have to be interesting or I will scream) and apparently 9 polished specs (there is hope).

So, it is shaping up to be a pretty overcast summer of rotten sequels, but thankfully not too many remakes and a nice dosage of novel adaptations and specs, which should be refreshing. I’m keeping optimistic; not forgetting there will be plenty of independent gems buried six feet under and a few last minute revitalizations on the studio circuit. After all, we love cinema, right? So, let us embrace the trash.

What are you looking forward to next summer?

The Limelight Index: Jonathan Sothcott – Producer/CEO

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I’m incredibly thankful for getting an interview with Jonathan Sothcott, one of the UK’s leading film producers! He has over a dozen feature films under his belt and shows no sign of slowing down. Here is what he had to say about himself, his films and the British film industry. Thank you Jonathan.

Have you always had your mind set on being a successful film producer?

In the last year, yes, since I started Richwater Films in January of this year I have had a very clear and precise game plan. Before that I think I was drifting from idea to idea, which is why my output was variable to say the least. I always knew that I wanted to be in films, but was never quite sure what as, though I never had that desire to be an actor or a director. Still, you only learn by doing and I think I have spent my time in the trenches and paid my dues in the industry and now know where I’m going.

How did you find your feet in the film industry?

Slowly! I entered the business in 2007 and essentially a friend, a filmmaker named David Wickes, said to me that I should think about producing. He was very much a mentor to me at the beginning and I learned a lot from him. The person who really gave me a break though, was the actor Martin Kemp. He lent his name to my endeavors, which opened doors I could never have dreamed of getting near. Nobody wanted to meet a new producer with a load of ideas, but a lot of people wanted to meet Martin Kemp. He’s an incredibly generous man and I’ll never forget that. Once I had a toe in the door I thought I’d be making horror films, I was drawn to the genre personally, but I think that was a mistake and I made some real howlers. I was beginning to think that maybe I was more suited to a kind of Executive Producer role as I was getting increasingly disenchanted with films and the people I was working with, I even moved out of London thinking a slower pace of life was in order. But late in 2012 I got talking to Danny Dyer, who’d been a pal for a long time and we were both in the same boat, his film career was on the ropes and he’d had enough. So I got a writer/director I liked, Steve Reynolds, to put together this script called Vendetta, try and have one last hurrah, both for me and Danny. And to say it was something pretty special was an understatement. It gave me more passion about film than I’d ever had and we assembled an absolutely amazing group of people to make a very special film. The results speak for themselves and suddenly I’d found my way. I’m now in a position where I’m working with some major acting talent – people like Leo Gregory, Ricci Harnett and Vincent Regan – and the fact that these guys want to come and make films with me is very satisfying.

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Who influences you in the film industry?

Historically I’m a big fan of Hammer Films and I love what they did from the mid fifties to the mid seventies. They made so many different types of films and were incredibly productive. However, they failed to adapt to market changes and by 1970 they were 5 years behind the times. To adapt is to survive and that’s a lesson I have learned. I’m also a huge admirer of the late Albert Broccoli who produced the James Bond films, what an incredibly perceptive, shrewd guy he was. More recently I think you have to respect Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn because they made British film cool again after a 20-year wilderness period.

You have been hailed in the Digital FilmMaker magazine as the man who could potentially save British filmmaking. Does this inspire you?

Well I never really expected to be on the cover of a magazine so that was very flattering and what a magazine too, it’s a totally essential read! It was incredibly flattering and obviously I write this monthly ‘Ask The Producer’ column for them now that completely keeps me on my toes!

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How do you feel about the state of the British film industry?

I don’t think its in bad shape at all, and the problems affecting it are no different to anywhere else, namely the death of the $10 million – $20 million indie – pictures made at that level need to perform theatrically but can’t compete with Avengers Assemble and Skyfall. Increasingly audiences want bang for their buck at the cinema so go and see these huge studio blockbusters in their millions but not dramas, romcoms etc. Low budget straight to video stuff like mine makes its money back in that market; we don’t need a box office as such. But those high end indies are struggling.

You recently set up your own independent production company, Richwater Films, what exactly are your plans and direction for the company’s future?

Its nice being the master of my own destiny. In the past I think I had always been the backroom partner, the guy who was dealing with distributors and financiers but with Richwater it’s all on me… and I relish that. Part of the thinking behind Richwater is to be flexible, I don’t just want to be ‘the horror company’ or ‘the gangster producers’ – our first film Vendetta is a vigilante movie, we’re just wrapping up hitman film Assassin and then I’m going into two gangster movies – Reign of the General and Top Dog. But in early 2014 I have a couple of action movies coming up. So I guess the core aim is quality blokey popcorn entertainment but ultimately I want to make the films that people want to see. As to the future, I hope that in 2014 we can branch out into television and open an American office – those are my goals.

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Have you always had a desire for action related films? Can you see Richwater Films branching out into other genres?  

Yeah I grew up in the 80s which was the decade of the action movie so of course I wanted to, I just didn’t really have the self-belief to think big and make things happen. Next year we’re making a picture called Renegades, which is basically Steve Reynolds and my love letter to the action movies of our childhood, Commando, The Wild Geese, Predator, Die Hard etc. It’s a kind of British Expendables. And that’s a space I love being in.

You also have interests in multimedia and other areas. Is this largely a business motive?

When I was a kid I used to love paperback tie in books to movies, even better when they had stills from the film. It made the film feel bigger before we thought about merchandising the way we do now. I wanted to go back to that. So I partnered up with a really cool indie publisher called Caffeine Nights, initially for a novelization of Vendetta. We got a terrific writer named Nick Oldham to pen it and we were so pleased with that that we agreed this first look deal which works two ways – Darren at CN gives me first eyes on film rights for what he publishes and I give him first refusal to publish books from our films. Before the end of the year we’ll have a Vendetta graphic novel in shops and something I’ve co-written, The Films of Danny Dyer, which is a companion book for the fans. We’ve already agreed to move ahead on an Assassin novelization in Spring 2014 and of course CN are publishing a movie tie-in of Dougie Brimson’s book Top Dog.

Once the publishing deal was in place I began looking at other areas to build our intellectual property portfolio – we are doing a digital soundtrack for Vendetta with Big Sky Song Records. It’s a fantastic soundtrack and I think people will love it. In the future I’m very interested in moving into partnerships for Apps and Video Games – Richwater product is a natural companion for games brands such as GTA and Call of Duty.

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Can we expect any big release dates for your feature films currently under production?

Well Vendetta’s in selected UK cinemas on November 22nd and DVD on boxing day (the day after Danny Dyer bows in Eastenders, which is an incredibly powerful profile raise for the film). Assassin is penciled for an April release and I think Top Dog and Reign of the General are looking like late spring. The Vendetta novelization is out on 21st of October.

Any parting advice on the industry for those starting out? 

Only to repeat what I said earlier – roll with the punches, be adaptable. This business is changing at an alarming rate and there are no 10 year plans. I think unless you’re a big studio there aren’t even 2 year plans. But good stories need to be told and will always find an audience, so get out there and tell them!

Find Jonathan on Facebook and Twitter.

Blue Jasmine – Talent Never Dies

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MOVIE REVIEW

Blue Jasmine
Perdido Productions, US
98 Min
2.35:1
UK Release: 27th September, 2013

DIR Woody Allen
EXEC Leroy Schecter, Adam B. Stern, Jack Rollins
PROD Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson
SCR Woody Allen
DP Javier Aguirresarobe
CAST Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay,Michael Stuhlbarg, Max Casella, Alden Ehrenreich, Tammy Blanchard

Woody Allen is at his finest with Blue Jasmine. Many were disappointed with To Rome with Love last year, as they expected big things from a follow up of the runaway success Midnight in Paris. Blue Jasmine might just be what fans were expecting. It reminds us of Allen’s seemingly infinite capabilities to make great films – 49 so far!

Allen may be on form as a director, he plays the narrative back and forth to great effect, but it is Cate Blanchet’s sterling performance as Jasmine – the socialite fugitive – that blew my mind. She is a character fuelled by excessive amounts of vodka and Xanax, horrified to be stuck inside her body and corrupting life; she is a train-wreck on legs. Of course, this may all sound drastically over the top and exhausting, but Blanchet pulls it together with immanent perfection and knocks me for six.

After being married to a bourgeois lifestyle through her slimy husband, Hal (played adequately by Alec Baldwin), a crook powered by investment, Jasmine embarks on a new life residing with her sister, Ginger, in the pits of San Francisco. Sally Hawkins gives a marvelous performance as Ginger, who works at a grocery store and lives a second-rate life, getting ramshackled by shady men; this is how Jasmine views it at least, hence the divergence between the two ‘sisters’.

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Allen’s script is impeccably sharp, weaving in an array of pessimistic thoughts and people around Jasmine; nothing is left unaccounted for. Jasmine struggles to deal with Ginger’s current boyfriend and the thought of going near his ‘mate’, who is eager to get friendly (wink, wink). It is painful to watch her attempt to come to terms with working-class life, having to work as a receptionist for a dentist who, to say the least, has some troubles of his own. Then, a rich, voguish man who falls acutely in love with Jasmine lures her in. His high hopes are to be devastated by consequences of Jasmine’s instabilities and lies. Meanwhile, Ginger is off on her own adventures, once again leading to misfortune. It’s a glamorous series of dismay for nearly all Allen’s characters in this melancholy script.

The film has less humor than Allen’s previous. Indeed, some may find the film too abrasive, and consequently may struggle to find empathy in any of the characters. However, Jasmine is so harrowingly tangible, you’d have to be inhuman not to find any compassion hidden away. This said, Bobby Cannavale, as Chili, Ginger’s apprehensive boyfriend, is occasionally apathetic and brings some form of levity to scenes that would otherwise be screaming with domestic perplexity.

Blue Jasmine is full of characters making the wrong decisions. It’s Streetcar Named Desire terrain as the domestics pile up. It is flawless, in a catastrophic and unforgiving way. Maybe these aren’t the themes people were expecting but that’s just unfortunate. Nevertheless, this is still a very entertaining film, and a beautiful one at that.

5 stars!

The Limelight Index: David Anthony Thomas – Writer/Director/Actor

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David Anthony Thomas is a filmmaker from Newcastle. He is currently in the process of embarking on a feature length project. I was lucky enough to catch up with him and ask a few questions about what got him where he is now, what to expect and his interests as a filmmaker.

David, as a writer, director and actor, what first sparked off your real interest in filmmaking?

I don’t come from an arty family, and it’s really bizarre that for as long as I remember I always wanted to work in the arts. I decided I would be an actor from a young age when others at school still all wanted to be firemen or ballerinas. I’ve been acting since I was 8 years old and doing it professionally since I was 10. I started off by working in theatre and I learnt so much working with and in such close proximity to some of the all-time great directors like Greg Doran. I started doing film and TV a few years later and began fall in love with filmmaking. I eventually made the move behind the camera and it seems to have turned out well.

Who are your influences?

I’ve loved Joe Wright’s work since Pride and Prejudice and I also love the old Ealing films. I’m a huge fan of British cinema and British characters, British stories and British history are always at the forefront of my mind when I write, because I think it’s important that our culture reflects our identity. However I’ve always thought I’ve been more inspired by authors and playwrights than by filmmakers, and perhaps this is why we do things a bit differently.

Your main body of work is in period dramas, what attracted you to this particular genre?

It has to be working for so long in theatre. Working with the RSC early on opened the door to the possibility of setting something in different eras, as it’s somewhat easier to pull off in the theatre. I grew up thinking “Why should cinema be different? Why should everything we make be set here and now?” Most people make the transition to that way of thinking later on, but the assumption that everything should be in a contemporary setting because it’s easier to make is just laziness to me when there are so many great untold stories still out there. Solitary Trees, for example, is set in 1940, but it’s still a very modern film about the role the press plays in British politics. The historical aspect just gives it a new angle.

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The Brontes, will be your debut feature film, how did this project all start?

I did a location scout up on the moors outside of Haworth when a film I shot called Love Thy Neighbour was screening at the Bradford International Film Festival. That film eventually became The Business of the Day that was screened at Cannes and Cyprus, but it was actually during the shoot that suddenly everything just hit me: I saw everything and realised that this needed to be done. I swear that the Brontes drew me there and wanted me to tell their story because of the suddenness and intensity of it, I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I kept going back up to the moors throughout the development and pre-production of Solitary Trees and getting a bit more every time, and I’d always have my notebook so I could just sit and write it all down by hand – I never do that but the words just kept flowing.

Do you find it a big risk taking on a biographical project of this nature? How much of your own creative input will there be in the story?

Not really, no. Challenging, but certainly not risky. I know the Brontes and all of their works through and through. We’re collaborating with anyone we can find with specialist knowledge on the subject and we’ve got a fantastic, world-beating team together. It would be dangerous to be arrogant about it and project anything I want to put across in a film using the Brontes as my characters, not to mention completely inappropriate. It’s about letting them tell their own story through the medium of film. It’s about the empowerment of women, about social issues and identity, so to an extent I understand my role is as much of an editor as a writer, using their own words and works where I can to piece together a strong narrative about their lives. When I look at it as a director, I then feel the freedom to tell the story knowing that the script is there and will keep me in check.

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Can we expect any prominent names, cast or crew, from the independent circuit to be cast?

Definitely, and likely from the studio circuit too.

Can we look forward to any important dates for the movies future?

The only date that we’ve revealed so far is Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday in April 2016. We’re planning something really big for it and that will be the film’s official unveiling.

Finally, can you give any parting advice for young filmmakers on the industry?

I can tell you that working in theatre, film and television is a lifestyle, not a job. I can tell you it’s one of the most rewarding lives to lead but it can also be incredibly tough, and most people don’t think of that going into it. Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons and treat your contemporaries like collaborators, not competition. You’re all in it together and you’re in it for the long hall so you can definitely benefit from helping each other out.

Never use the excuse that you’re “just” a student or “just starting out” to allow for mistakes or corners to be cut. If you’re calling yourself a director you should act and behave like one and you should maintain high standards and ask the same of your crew. Raising a budget to at least feed them, pay expenses and getting some quality equipment may not seem like much but it certainly makes a statement of intent and often your cast will give you that little bit more. Look after your cast and crew and they’ll look after you.

Also most young filmmakers, it seems like, make the same film over and over again. If you’ve seen a film about drugs, Facebook or dating in your film school or on your course for the past three years running, you should probably think about making something else. No festival selection committee will care that you insist yours is the better project because they’ve been told it all before. An understanding of your audience and your platform for exhibition is vital.

Thank you David.

There’s a lot to learn here. I particularly like what David said about culture reflecting our identity and treating your contemporaries as collaberators and not competition. Everyone should support each others work positively, after all how will the industry ever thrive if we’re not all in it together? David has definitely made a strong statement by delving away from common contemporary themes like drugs and the internet (as he mentions), and it has definitely worked for him and made a strong impact. Try and be different, it appears one of the few ways (or dare I say only) to make a stand in this industry.

Find David on IMDB here.

You can support his current projects on Facebook: Solitary Trees and The Brontes

The Call – Should you take it?

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Probably not…

Brad Anderson’s The Call is a cluttered B-thriller with a tight clasp, but very little personality.

Anderson’s The Machinist was an incredible divergence into the mind of the insomniac male (executed to sincere perfection by Christian Bale). It was a chilling ride, one that continued out of the cinema door and infiltrated your dreams. However, with Anderson’s The Call, we are sent on an intense and suspenseful adventure, only to be gatecrashed of everything fresh and intriguing in the third act.

The Call takes us into the high-stakes world of an LA 911 operator. This proves to be an interesting insight, as the emergency call centre setting isn’t something I can recall being explored much in film. It is totally immersive. Thus, the film gets off to a flying start. Halle Berry’s resourcefulness is tested after a terrified young woman (Abigail Breslin) phones from the trunk of the car of a serial killer who’s just kidnapped her. This is an edge of your seat premise. D’Ovidio was onto something here, a classic crime thriller could have been crafted from the elements laid forth – this wasn’t to be acknowledged by Anderson or D’Ovidio (where is David Fincher when you need him?)

It appears that most of Berry’s life is spent behind her desk in “the hive” as co-workers call it – this also happens to be where most the movie is set. It is a work-centric environment and even one that her handsome LAPD officer boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) is part of. It therefore has far greater impact when Berry can’t handle work anymore, as she blames herself for a misstep. This misstep condemns a teenage girl to be summoned to a shallow grave; Berry consequently joins the workforce training new operators instead. However, this is short-lived when, six months later, the veteran reluctantly takes over a call as the young operator couldn’t handle the pressure. This call comes from the girl (Abigail Breslin) who is locked in the trunk of the car.

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Once it is evident the car boot has a shovel in it, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the kidnapper is the same one from six months earlier. You can predict that things will get personal for Berry, in fact very personal, as the realization causes Berry to almost self-destruct.

The serial killer is offbeat, as one might expect, but Michael Eklund plays a twitchy, restless killer who looks as though he may have dropped some acid before each take. Eklund’s character is easily spooked and seems highly unprepared. This had me puzzled because he had a grand underground lair devoted to torturing young blonde teens – a little confusing for such a chaotic man.

The entire premise wouldn’t work without the fact that Breslin is calling from a cheap, pay-as-you-go, disposable mobile. Unlikely in an era where nearly everyone owns a Blackberry, Samsung or iPhone. Berry, therefore, can’t trace the phone and of course Breslin has no idea where she is. This makes for a nice cat and mouse chase. Unfortunately, form and imagination are clearly lacking throughout the belated chase sequence. The premise offers great opportunity for a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere, there are hints of this but everything quickly becomes flat. As you can imagine, endless shots of Berry yelling into her headset become tiresome and the action cuts seem rather wonky and disordered.

Eventually, the movie betrays its premise, a premise that could have been far more ingenious. Perhaps, Anderson realized it was time to go back to his roots and delve into a grindhouse style rape-revenge movie, with floods of horror. It sees Berry miraculously leave “the hive” and go on a solo mission to find Breslin herself. It seems dumb, and it really is dumb, but Anderson is now doing what he’s good at: creating oppressive atmospheres and orchestrating opaque horror. Of course, this third act concludes as unquestionably puerile and the resolution is left hanging thin in the air – and not in an indulging way. I was just left thinking: “After all that trouble, why the hell would they do that?”

All in all, this movie will summon you, but then dump you in a trench and maybe lift you back out again, but only half way.

It’s a tattered 3 stars for Anderson’s efforts and Berry’s slightly improved performance from a career of washouts (The Flinstones, Gothika, Catwoman, Movie 43 etc).