Cannes 2015 Entry #3 – The Divide


The paradox of this place is that everyone is searching for money and spending money they don’t have. Or rather, the .1% here has great yachts (probably not the filmmakers – the CEO of Dolce & Gabbana perhaps) and spends with all riches while the 12,000 filmmakers cobble on the sidewalks and plea for development money. Where is the middle ground? There is one, of course, but it is harder to spot, as is the case when one critiques any walk of life/society. A further paradox is that everyone has to look like they do have money – this is Cannes – and so returns home completely out of stock! I’ll be taking that suit back for a refund…

The hotels. I discovered that the festival hotels on the Croisette, the Majestic, Carlton etc. aren’t even top dollar for around here. They are popping with glam and sleaze, but the stars venture further down the strip to a place beyond any apparent humane reach. One can begin to suffocate amongst all the comfort, though saying that, the lifts in the festival hotels are surprisingly tight-nit – don’t overload! I don’t mean to sound too critical, I mean who wouldn’t bath in these suites given the chance? It’s the self-absorbed entourage that picks my stomach.

Then there are the folks who don’t even hold a festival badge. They stand outside the Palais holding banners for invitations. I can’t see how that has ever succeeded when Lumière tickets are so sparse – perhaps I will defy my own convention and find a ticket for the old lady wearing her tired blouse; it’s certainly respect for the dedication of a cinematic experience. Then watch out for the cronies who will line the sidewalks with sticks of legs coated in their latest euphoric lotions – the suntans. Their eyes, mouths and ears lap over the iron bars to banquet on the red carpet. Then brace yourself for the selfie sticks that appear in their thousands (need I go down that route?); you grit your teeth as you try to get past the hordes to your far more urgent meeting regarding a potential future source of income! Either that, or you may stop to gaze, at whom I am not so sure – the (male) attention has many conduits to wonder in Cannes!


Cannes 2015 Entry #2 – The Consequences

The Coen Brothers – These guys are serious hard workers (and miraculous filmmakers) who are now heading up the Jury at Cannes this year.

The consequences of the reality of the film industry are quite simple: hard work (past the expiry date). Yet, you might say hard work that hides in plain sight, as everyone appears to be having a very jolly time. I can’t think of another industry where one minute the work could produce feelings in the nature of a catastrophic disaster, and the next, make one whistle amongst the stars.

Here are a few reasons why I expect hard work to be the key to some shape of success. The competition is so fierce, there are some 12,000 filmmakers in attendance at the market, which means you need to stand out and that won’t happen without hard work. Remember, even a genius with talent smoking from their ears needs to work hard. The industry is constantly changing and strategies are evolving, so how else can one keep up with the trends? Consistently renewing one’s knowledge seems likely. There are a thousand other factors, but the hard work will surely bring those other factors into being, they couldn’t exist without it.

Now in relation to this blogisode (could that work?), we should be talking about Cannes. What are the consequences of Cannes for a beginning filmmaker? There are fountains of film posters looking you in the eye and saying, “hey, I’ve already been made, I have representation, and don’t you wish I was yours?” This is in relation to the market, a fascinating place, and it makes one realise that the film only begins its life here, not during any phase of production but afterwards. It highlights the importance of thinking about marketing and distribution from an early stage in the game. Of course, big ‘players’ know this and are even able to raise significant budget numbers in pre-sales, but for the truly independents it is easy to forget and dive head first into putting a picture on the screen. Liaise with a sales advisor and ask them how your film will sell, I am sure you can even establish a firing line from your very first treatment.

More consequences? Attend film festivals. They are passionate places with people as crazy as you are i.e. they consume unholy amounts of cinema and talk about not a whole lot else (this isn’t a criticism – it’s a blessing). It will inspire you and give you a clear-headed perspective on what is actually on offer, in regard to careers etc. Or, actually, as in my case, it may just confuse you more – “now, there are all these other jobs to consider?” Frankly, confusion, in this sense, or complications, is beneficial as it widens your horizons and by offering more pathways can only serve to sharpen the mind. Once the mind is sharpened, then you are ready to follow the heart and soul of you career choices. Okay, that last note was a tad sentimental; let’s stop before this post turns out like an pre-dated self-help guide…


The Limelight Index: Maria Reinup – Writer/Director


Maria is a bountiful and passionate young female filmmaker from Estonia. I had the pleasure of seeing her powerful short film Mai last year at Leeds Film Festival. The film is an incredibly impressive debut and completely blew me away. Fortunately, I have been able to catch up with Maria and ask her a few questions about her passions for film and the future of the industry.

She is currently wrapping her second short film, stills from which are shown below. (Stills by Andre Visnapuu).

When did you first become interested in filmmaking?

I am not the kind, who can recall wanting to make films since their childhood. I had TV at home until I was 6, then it broke down, my hippie-father sang “hallelujah!” threw it out and I never had one again. It took me a while before I got used to the audiovisual medium. Over the course of growing up – there was three influential films and the course itself that led me into the point I realized – filmmaking is for me. The Matrix was the first film I saw on big screen, then some years later 2046, which absolutely blew me and then in a few more years I got to see Bicycle Thieves. In some odd way, seeing these three films – the possibility to bend reality (not to say the future), the vision to make paintings alive and the fact how movies can touch you – was my early film school. Meanwhile, I did every job there was – from selling diapers via phone to being a chef in Barcelona. And it was when I was living in Spain after graduating high school, that I started noticing my diary I kept at the time was filling up with ideas for clips, videos or films. Then, on the set of my first music video, I felt it, I felt the magic.


How did the idea for your short film Mai come about?

The story of Mai is a story that happened to me. I took the last bus from the suburbs of the city and there was just a friend with me on it that left after one stop. Two drug addicts entered, one of them in a really bad condition. And it was just the drug addicts and I. The bus driver did not care, nor did the people who slowly started to fill up the bus, as we were driving towards the center. I remember being there, when I had already called the ambulance, waiting for the right stop and thinking, “Really, is ignorance a bliss?” The fact how little we care… I don’t have words for this.

How did you attain distribution for your film?

In Estonia there is a quite unique deal for the short films – the professional shorts are compiled into one screening under a suitable name and then they hit the cinemas, marketing done accordingly. So for example, Mai was in the cinema together with 5 other shorts from the past 2 years. As a big production company, Allfilm, produced my short, I had not much to do with the distribution, the producer and the company took care of that. Also, they do most of the festival circulation.


What are your plans for the future as a filmmaker?

I am currently in post-production with my second short, called Mann Tanzt. This is a very different film from the themes I am usually interested in. It’s about a man who finds a glowing cube in the middle of nowhere, and when he enters it, he realizes it’s a phone booth. Also, I am writing the script for my third short, which we will hopefully shoot this autumn. It is a story about two young women meeting through couch surfing at the verge of different difficult events in their lives and those getting mixed up. Slowly, but firmly, I am developing my first feature with a wonderful co-director Anna Hints, which is a very personal film under the working title I am, if everybody likes me and a script for another feature – a revenge picture. So, that’s easy. I have no other plans than to make the films I want to do. What bliss it would be if I could make films until I die and make a living in doing so.

Do you have high prospects for the Estonian film industry?

Estonia gained its independency after the Soviet Union collapsed in the beginning of the 1990’s. Along the old system falling into pieces, we lost the handicraft and big studios that we were used to being connected with (film stock tickling the 35mm cameras, films were made year around, big productions).  Not only did we have to build up our economy again, we also had to redefine our cinema – its funding systems and in a way, our cinematic language. Its about 15 years from the day our Film Foundation was established and gave out its first production grant. The system is developing and getting better, a change is thus happening, along with the fact that the generation of the Soviet titans (filmmakers who worked with Tarkovsky, or on the productions during Soviet times) is about to fade and the gap will be filled with the new generation. So the new era is almost here, but a reality check is always helpful – Estonia is a country of 1.4 million people (audience numbers equals money) and with no proper distribution system, meaning digitalized cinemas (which until today is just a few screens), distribution is not really working hand in hand with the productions.


Why is it you love films and making them?

Besides being a filmmaker, I am also a festival programmer – my job is to watch movies. With both of these positions I find myself falling in love with movies over and over again. I love everything about it – from the making of films, upon seeing one on the big screen, but why? To me there are three simple reasons for that: as a young filmmaker I sincerely and really believe that you are able to deliver a message that matters and thus might be able to change something. I see the art of escapism and the need of it. Last but not least, to either make people think or entertained, or both, is simply wonderful and above all other mediums to me.

If I ever had a super power, I’d like to time travel. Damn, dreaming of that makes me itch. In a way watching films is like scratching that itch – suddenly I can not only time travel, but I can be anything! A taxi driver or a small happy pig, see places all over the world, get introduced to different cultures, to the fears and dreams of the humankind. How is that something you don’t love?

Finally, any advice on the industry?

I will say one thing: success means hard work. And a personal touch to this – it starts to make sense when you realize that you have to really love your work first.

Below is a short teaser for Mai (unfortunately it isn’t subtitled but you will sense the urgency!)


Wise Words from the Bosses Themselves


Recently, there has been some big thoughts on the film industry coming from the big guns, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.

Firstly, Spielberg and Lucas were quoted last week saying that the film industry as we knew it would soon “implode.” But, what does this mean?

It refers to the mass uprising of media consumption and various forms of media outlets. Tracing back from the 80s to the dawn of cinema, audiences could only really consume film by going to the movie theatre, then they had video (VHS), Cable TV and DVDs, which arrived in the last 20 years of the 20th century. However, now we have hundreds of VOD (video-on-demand) outlets too. Shall I watch Netflix, Blinkbox, iTunes, YouTube or a DVD tonight?

The marketplace is clearly expanding and is thereby creating more room and opportunity for indie movies. At the same time however, costs for watching indie movies are dropping whereas studio films are getting more expensive to watch online. Why pay £12 for a new movie on iTunes when you can go see it at the theatres for £8? Wait… why not just watch a better indie movie for £2.50?

Spielberg and Lucas are suggesting that a system will emerge whereby you pay different amounts of money to see a movie based on that movies budget. This is happening. However, they also imagine that movie theatres will become decked out like sports arenas and offer more varied selections like TV stations. The small screen and big screen would have to finally call a truce and merge, but could you imagine going to the movies to sit and watch telly? Our lovely weather ladies may not seem so pretty.

This supports the fact that studio movies will continue to have bigger and bigger budgets, relying on franchises to recoup these budgets. The spots available to direct studio movies will become slimmer and slimmer, where working your way up from ‘below the line’ will be near impossible. Spielberg and Lucas are suggesting that one should work from the other side of this equation: take advantage of the vast expansion of media outlets and drop in production costs to make your own movies.

Spielberg and Lucas started the wave of the ‘film school generation’ of the 60s, 70s and even 80s. They hit the industry when it was on its knees and revolutionised the blockbuster. Everyone knows this: it is well-studied, the filmmakers are living legends and the film schools boast about them all the time. However, film schools can rarely boast about the present. The latest wave of filmmakers have not been from film school – they skipped it, grabbed their bags, cameras and lights and started making their own movies. We’ve all heard of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Guy Ritchie, okay you get the point.

The modern day director will work with smart budgets, reach their audience more directly, create a fan base and therefore demonstrate a market value. The film industry today is all about market value, those who have it stand a better chance at gaining investment capital for independent projects, or even better, representation and a shot at higher echelon jobs. Well, this is what Spielberg and Lucas think…


Next up, Marty (I double-dared myself) has some pretty serious thoughts on where the movie industry in going in an open letter to his daughter. Everyone knows that Scorsese’s heart is living and breathing cinema, but apparently the cinema we all know and love is pretty much dead. But, Scorsese is quick to say that the future is in fact bright, just a tad unpredictable. I quote, ” The most unpredictable element of all? Cinema. And the people who make it.” Brilliant.

Scorsese is tapping into a similar message as Spielberg and Lucas, he mentions directors who have all managed to get their films made despite the tough times, including artists from around the world. He also mentions the vast complexity of different media outlets available today and how movies are so cheap to make. “In the future, you’ll probably see less and less of what we recognize as cinema on multiplex screens and more and more of it in smaller theaters, online, and, I suppose, in spaces and circumstances that I can’t predict.” However, movies are still hard to make and still require strong will and a clear vision. There is no getting off the hook just because it’s cheaper, “the tools don’t make the movie, you make the movie.” A quote for the books.

So, in essence, Scorsese, Lucas and Spielberg are pronouncing that the movie industry is their to be scooped up, it is at a crossroads and it is cheaper than ever to make movies (not necessarily easier), but Scorsese is also clear to state that there are no shortcuts to getting your movie made. I’ve got one: start now!

Read the full letter that was originally published in L’Espresso here.

And just for fun, here’s the trailer for Scorsese’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street:


16 Invaluable Online Resources for Filmmakers

In this new age there is endless content online for research, teaching, streaming, shopping, literally anything. I wonder, who needs school?

I always refer back to similar websites for training resources, various articles and film industry gossip. Below is a list I’ve compiled of all my favourite (top 16) resources for the independent filmmaker. These range from sites to help you get your movie made to those that fill your mind with futile trivia.



John August – Learn everything you need to know about screenwriting with John August and his team – it’s that simple!

Writer’s Room – BBC writer’s room offers lots of useful tips on the craft of writing and opportunities for aspiring writers.

Craft and Technique:


Phillip Bloom – A productive site on cinematography and filmmaking run by Phillip Bloom.

Vincent Laforet – Legendary photographer and DP Vincent Laforet shares workshops, tutorials and reviews on his highly resourceful blog.



Video Copilot – Andrew Kramer is a stunning visual effects artist who shares all his knowledge via insightful and entertaining online tutorials.

Red Giant Software – The most innovative software for filmmakers and a great community of visual artists.



Short Film Depot – A great shortcut for submitting your short film to festivals.

Festhome – Another great submission centre for shorts and features.

Film Buzz:


Indiewire – Essential for film fans. I could spend a week on this website.

Raindance – It may be a film festival, but the website is full of interesting articles and news for independent filmmakers.

Social Networks:


Stage 32 – A great networking site for film and theatre professionals. Share projects, find work and get paid!

Vimeo – The platform for good quality videos, which is largely a network of filmmakers and videographers looking to share work, get feedback and collaborate.



Shooting People – Enter monthly film competitions, find out about events and read great blogs!

My First Job in Film – A vast database for all the latest graduate jobs in the film industry and a nice place to share your work!



MUBI – Bringing you a fresh independent film each day and expert critique, MUBI is simply brilliant!

IndieRiegn – Distribute your own films and discover a world of others.

It’s official: I love the internet.


The Limelight Index: Michael Knowles – Actor/Writer/Director/Producer


Above is filmmaker Michael Knowles best known for his film The Trouble with Bliss starring Michael C. Hall, Brie Larson and Peter Fonda. I got the chance to talk to Michael about how he got started with filmmaking, his vision as a filmmaker and ultimately why he loves making movies! It was an absolute pleasure and he gave lots of noteworthy expertise about the film industry and even some thought on life in general.

Hi Michael, when did you get into filmmaking and where does the passion stem from?

It started out for me as an actor. I did the senior play in my high school, Our Town, and absolutely loved it. I think it was the fact that everybody paid attention to me, when it was my turn to say my lines, everybody had to listen. It was an awesome feeling. From there, my passion gradually morphed into realizing I had the ability to express what was going on inside of me through characters; the character I was playing. I found this to be incredibly freeing and liberating, which, in turn, led to me writing. I enjoyed writing about what I was feeling and trying to get that out through the characters and story. This then led on to directing, it just all made sense.

So, it’s really about falling in love with telling stories?

Exactly, that is what ultimately came clear to me. However, it did take a while to realize what I was doing and why the hell I was doing it, but I finally realized that I just love sharing stories. It allowed me to express how I feel about things.


Your films are very much about human relationships, are they personal to you?

Yes, my scripts are very personal and ultimately a lot about relationships. A lot about the relationship we have with ourselves. This is evident in my new film Old Friends/New Beginnings. It’s also about your relationship to a significant other, and then the relationship between you and society. So, my filmmaking is a lot about relationships and communication.

Could you tell me some more about your new film Old Friends/New Beginnings?

Yeah, so it’s coming along really well. I couldn’t be happier. We made this movie for very little money; it was shot on a micro-budget. I wrote the first draft of the script back in 2005 when I was studying screenwriting. My writing teacher always encouraged us to write about what we were afraid of and one of my biggest fears was about being lazy. So, I wrote about what it would be like if I become lazy, and this is the character I play in the movie: David. Because of his financial situation, David has lost his ambition and passion to create, which ends up affecting his marriage. His wife Julie, feeling undesired, invites an old friend and his new girlfriend to spend the weekend with her and David to hopefully stir things up but she never could have expected what happens over one long weekend.

catherine&david - jpeg

You worked with a small crew on this project. Do you feel that working in a small crew allows everyone to more clearly express the same vision?

Definitely. I really enjoy working with a small crew, which I did on my first movie, Room 314. The second movie, One Night, got a little bigger and the third, The Trouble With Bliss, even more so. But, with this movie I’ve gone back to the stripped down model, and I love it. You know where you are with everybody, there isn’t a chain of command where you have to wait five minutes to hear back from the person you need to actually get something done from. I love that intimate feeling on a small set, it’s cozy and warm and you feel as though everyone is really in it together. We’re all there for the same reason.

How do you manage all your roles; you work as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editor?

It’s hard work but I love having the knowledge in everything. It informs me on all the other aspects I do. So, editing has helped me to become a better writer, a more efficient writer, and directing has helped me to become a better actor and visa versa. It all feeds into one another and informs the storytelling process. It helps me to understand, just keep it simple.

Producing for me was something that was necessary to get things done – it just made sense. If I needed something done I could do it myself or try and convince somebody else to do it for me, it was easier to do it myself.


Which filmmakers and films influence your work?

There are so many films out there, but I ultimately just love all movies and actors. Just watching great performances mostly inspires me; for example, Daniel Day Lewis I could watch all day and this motivates me as a storyteller. He makes me want to write better just so I could work with him one day. Woody Allen’s stuff is great and he is obviously a big influence. I find his work hilarious as well as dramatic.

As directors, I also love Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman. Their the kind of directors who work with ensemble type casts, who work on character driven pieces, I love those type of directors. For example, I love the fact that Steven Soderbergh can do so many different things.

Do you feel a director who tries out different genres is more masterful than a director who just hones in on one genre?

I don’t think about this too much, I don’t really care who is a master. I feel like Ang Lee is amazing that he can do so many different styles, but if you look at his stories there is still a similar theme. I love that he can tell the stories he is telling in all these different ways. I would find it to be a little bit boring if a director continued to do the same genre over and over. I don’t know how anyone would want to do that.


Does anything inspire you outside of filmmaking; you’re also a martial artist?

Oh yeah this inspires me big time. It’s a huge influence. Martial arts is everything to me. First off, martial arts introduced me to meditation, which helps me tremendously to get focused and grounded, which ultimately helps me to see things clearly. Another important thing I learnt is about the exchange of energy that happens between people. Just like with characters in a movie. For example, the way that two characters wrestle, I apply this the same as when martial artists freestyle, it’s the same as signing a contract, it is ultimately about dominance and submission. We see this in real life all the time. Martial arts have helped me to see this clearly and have no doubt been a big influence on how I see the world.

What marital art is it you practice?

It’s called Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, it’s a traditional Korean karate.

Is it similar to Hapkido and Taekwondo?

There are things in those martial arts that have similar moves to Soo Bahk Do. But, just to be clear, why I do martial arts is to find inner peace. This is why I want to tell stores, I want to help more people find inner peace.

And this is your vision as a director?

Absolutely one hundred percent. I want people to feel something and know that there are other people who feel the same thing, which gives a bit of peace knowing they are not alone. If you watch my movies, you will see that I try to remove all judgment, I don’t try and say what is right or wrong, or who is good or bad. I’m trying to tell stories and trying to help people understand that we are all doing what were doing because it is ultimately what we thinks best. I don’t judge any of my characters.

 julie - jpeg

Do you have any advice for young filmmakers starting out in the industry?

The things that I’m reminded of all the time, is to keep trusting myself. So, I would say to anyone who is up and coming to just keep trusting that gut feeling you have. No matter what anyone says to you, if your gut is telling you to go left, then go left. Even if at that time it seems wrong, just go with your gut feeling and see where it takes you. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned.

Also, for the most part, no one is going to do it for you, you’ll have to do everything for yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader, don’t wait for other people. However, if someone comes along and helps you, fantastic, thank them and thank them again. But, you will eventually have to keep pushing in and doing a lot of stuff that other people don’t want to do until your famous, and then everyone will be your best friend!

So, ultimately it’s a case of just getting out there and doing it?

Yeah, just start making movies. Don’t wait.

It’s been great talking to you, thanks Michael.

My pleasure!

Support the Kickstarter campaign here.

Find the film on Facebook.

Michael’s Website.


Looking Ahead to Summer Movies coming in 2014


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):



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  



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!



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.


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!


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):


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!


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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.