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  • Bridge short film review

    ★★★★ Directed by # TaraAghdashloo Written by # GemmaBarnett Starring # GemmaBarnett, # BiancaBeckles, # PaulineTomlin Film Review by: Lawrence Bennie Booking a doctor’s appointment, or simply just being able to get through to speak to a doctor, has tragically become an all-too familiar obstacle across the country and beyond, pre- and post-pandemic.  In Bridge , the debut short film from writer and star Gemma Barnett, the audience are placed in the middle of such a situation; only for things to take a surprising turn. A co-production from BBC Films and Kusini Productions, Bridge is also the second short from Iran-born filmmaker Tara Aghdashloo.  Interestingly, Aghdashloo’s film has its origins in Gemma Barnett’s own award-winning poem which later formed the springboard for the script written by both Aghdashloo and Barnett herself.   Working through the daily barrage of surgery calls, Greenfield Gardens receptionist Bridget (Barnett) takes a call from Kirsty Taylor (Bianca Beckles).  Struggling to breath normally at home, and endlessly stuck in a queue on the phone, Kirsty eagerly wants to speak to a doctor.  Unexpectedly, Bridget becomes confidant to Kirsty when the pair recall they went to the same school and, against the endless tide of cold, clinical calls, they gradually establish a connection.   The talented team of writer and director begin their story with the striking shot of an elderly-looking couple gracefully dancing through a swirling mist, only for it to be shattered by the sudden appearance of a somewhat ominous figure and the irritating clanging of a phone’s alarm clock.  Here, we find Bridget – disinterested and disconnected from the world around her.  Kudos here to Director of Photography Kia Fern Little who creates a marvellous image of light blue brightly beaming through Bridget’s bedroom window as she lies demotivated before slowly rising to begin another day of monotony and despondency.  The world outside is far from dark, but Bridget is lost in an unhappy realm of her own, only underlined further when an abrasive cyclist (Charlie Atkins) snaps at her over a near-collision.  Arriving at work, Bridget is pounced on before the clock even strikes 8am.  Her only form of connection appears to with her colleague Jenny (Pauline Tomlin) who nonetheless forebodes that the day is going to be “a busy one”.  Bridget then mans the torrent of demanding phone calls, whilst Jenny deals with the stream of walk-ups.   The strength of Bridge  film lies in its realism and Aghdashloo lends these scenes a real sense of credibility and marked understatement.  Even when things are abruptly disrupted by Kirsty’s call, the script doesn’t slip into melodramatics.  Instead, Aghdashloo keeps it simple and real throughout and it really is here where the performances of Barnett and Beckles bring the piece to life as their relationship unfolds.  Notably, Aghdashloo and Barnett choose to integrate Kirsty directly into the story.  She remains not just a disembodied voice over the telephone but becomes a secondary character as we cut away to see her anxiously struggling but, somehow, holding it all together at home.  By contrast, we are then also brought closer into Bridget’s own psychological world through a series of flashbacks depicting the failed relationship between Bridget and her disappointed boyfriend (Sam Landon).  Again, Aghdashloo retains the admirable simplicity throughout and it’s convincingly effective.   By the story’s end, Bridget has begun to reconnect with her life and the world around her thanks to her chance encounter with Kirsty.  Of course, it is not an unfamiliar narrative, but Barnett’s story is told with subtlety and sincerity by her director and the performances of each of the cast bring a believability to its beats.  # LawrenceBennie

  • Filmmaker Interview with Federica Alice Carlino

    Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson Hi Federica, thanks for speaking with us. Where in the world do we find you right now? At the moment I'm speaking from London, UK, but I'm from Milan, Italy. In 2020 you wrote & directed the short film, The Monster's Club. For those that don't know, what's the film about? The Monster's Club is a proof of concept (linked in my bio on Instagram) for a bigger project, a TV series, it's set in 1999. Our main characters are three teenage friends, Jackson, the boss, Colin the brain, and Erik aka Dumpster, called like that because he constantly eats, but manages to stay skinny, who is also very unquestioning and the puppy of the trio, decide to organize a prank to be on TV and earn a cash prize, but things turn deadly for one of them. 20 years later the past comes back to haunt who's left, revenge is only the beginning of this story. Why did you want to tell this particular story? When I was a teenager, I used to play (very innocent) pranks with my group of friends, one of them fell from a tree to scare one of us and broke his leg, I always wondered what would have happened if something bigger happened, what would the consequences be? It was the early 2000s and now we have social media with challenges, the unhealthy rise to fame, followers, hashtags..and it already happened, and still does, that to follow these trends, people unfortunately have died. It's not only about these (initially) harmless "shenanigans'', but the deeper point of view is about coming of age. We all grow up and see people for what they really are, we've all been there for friends that decided to step back when we needed them the most. Growing up also means losing friends, having your first heartbreak (friendship wise in this case), stepping back from a relationship and understanding what's best for you as an individual is part of the journey. Events like this one, ending with tragedy, open your eyes and you learn that all those fairy tales with happy endings are not telling the truth about life, that the prince won't always save the princess, and that sometimes the princess has to save herself. It's a story that can help teenagers see life as it actually is, no sugarcoating. To be honest I think it would be a great story to any kind of audience. You now have plans to pitch this as a TV show. How do you feel that format will benefit the story? Yes, I'm pitching it, I feel like a short is not enough to tell this story. Everyone who watched the short said they wanted more, and I feel like they're right, we need to know their relationship better, not just between them, but with their families, classmates, teachers and we also need to know what happens after the tragedy: how did the school react to it? And what about the students? How did they behave towards the boys that survived the accident? And what happens once they become adults? In my proof of concept one of them receives the VHS with the prank, but also with how things actually went vs the version that was told to the police, this can ruin someone's life, who sent the VHS? And why? At the end of the proof of concept is very clear, we want to know what happens next and how the situation ends. I'm being vague, because if the readers want to see the short, I don't want to spoil anything. What (if anything) do you plan to change for The Monster's Club for a TV audience? I don't plan to change the story in the TV series, I plan to expand this universe. My proof of concept is just the tip of the iceberg, I want to explore the dynamics between them, for example, Colin and Jackson know each other since kindergarten, their friendship is solid and they are basically brothers, Dumpster moved to Severdeen (a fictional city in California) when he was 12, he is younger than Jackson and Colin, they are 16 and Dumpster is 15. I want to introduce their families, in the proof of concept we just meet Jackson's mother, Cassandra, she is a Colombian woman who got pregnant when she was 17, her boyfriend left her and she had to raise Jackson by herself, she spoiled him, and it shows in his behaviours as he is used to get whatever he wants. Colin comes from an African-American family of Nigerian descent, his family had to sacrifice everything to succeed, his mother is a lawyer and his father is a surgeon, they are very strict regarding Colin and his siblings' education, Colin is the smartest and his thirst for knowledge was inherited from his parents. Erik aka Dumpster, was adopted along with his twin sister, Alice, from South Korea, his adoptive mother couldn't conceive kids, her husband and her love Erik and Alice more than anything in the world. They are not among the coolest kids at school, but not even amongst the losers, you'll know the rest once I get an approval, but basically I want you to know more about them, their crushes, their relationships with others and between them, and I feel like a TV series is the right format, as these character's journey is complex, it's dramatic, not only because of puberty, but also because of the tragedy that they experience in this story. What advice would you give to new filmmakers? This path is hard, it looks fun once you start to create and experiment with your friends, and I definitely suggest doing that, but it gets harder once you start to work properly. You need to find a team to trust with your ideas, that is willing to participate and help on set, people that stimulate you and that you can count on. It seems easy, but it is not. Once you find your people, and I highly suggest finding someone outside of your friends' circle (because of DRAMA and lost friendships) you've done most of the work. Filmmaking has become accessible nowadays, when I started, You Tube was barely a platform for vlogs and short skits, now it's a platform for tutorials, indie filmmakers, influencers and creators, which is great, but there's a lot of competition, so try to be your unique self, don't conform to the idea of filmmaking, learn the rules and break them if necessary, and mostly, think outside the box, be unpredictable. What's next for you? I'm currently attending an acting course to improve my acting skills, but also to be the best version of myself, personally and professionally, aside from pitching The Monster's Club, and aside from my directing path, I'm also a casting director and I feel like directing and casting wise it will help me communicate better with my actors. I'm also a writer, I have other projects to produce soon, so follow me on Instagram @federica.alice.carlino for casting calls and more infos, because more things are coming and I'm very excited about it! I'm always on the move, so I don't know if I'll still be in London or somewhere else, but I'll definitely keep you posted! Watch The Monster's Club below: #ChrisOlson #FilmmakerInterview

  • Grimmfest unveils first wave of films for 2024

    PRESS RELEASE: MANCHESTER UK’S FESTIVAL OF FANTASTIC FILM, UNVEILS FIRST TITLES FOR 2024. Grimmfest, Manchester's International Festival of Fantastic Film is delighted to announce the first tranche of titles for 2024. The festival will be returning to its regular venue, The Odeon Great Northern on October 3rd–6th, for four high-impact, fear-filled days of the very best in new genre cinema. The full line-up of features, shorts, guests, and associated events remain a closely guarded secret, as the team continue to finalise and fine-tune the programme. But, by way of an astringent appetiser, Grimmfest offers the first sinister salvo of selected films. Guilt, emotional damage and fear of the dark collide with local legend, a treacherous landscape, and an unseen threat, as a park ranger and her former partner search for a missing woman in a vast and dangerous nature reserve, in FROM DARKNESS, Philip W. de Silva's engrossing, harrowing and visually stunning fusion of Scandi-noir, Swedish mythology, and the supernatural, which has its Northern UK Premiere at Grimmfest. A weekend hen party camping trip goes badly and bloodily wrong, as tensions are exposed, friendships betrayed, and psychopathologies unleashed, in Robyn August's smart and surprisingly savage satiric slasher, KILL HER. Boasting spectacularly splattery practical effects, cartoonishly cruel carnage, and anchored by a star-making lead performance by M. C. Huff, this is a crowd-pleasing call back to old-school 80s slashers, which finds unnerving new life in classic genre tropes. The film has its International Premiere at Grimmfest. Aaron Fradkin, director of VAL, makes a welcome return to Grimmfest with the International premiere of BEEZEL, an enigmatic and unsettling chronicle of the increasingly sinister legends and dark history surrounding a suburban New England house over a fifty-year period. A portmanteau of narratively interlinked vignettes exploring the influence of an ancient evil upon several generations of the same family, the film presents stories across generations and multiple formats, not simply to suggest the passage of time, but also to produce a record of overlapping experiences that slowly reveal the true identity and intentions of the evil haunting the family house. Federico Zampaglione (SHADOW) channels the classic era of Italian Gothic horror cinema in the full-bloodied and ferocious fable, THE WELL. TERRIFIER 2's Lauren Lavera stars as an ambitious young art restorer, enlisted by a sinister Baroness to salvage a fire-damaged family portrait, only to discover demonic activities down in the cellar. Conjuring up the baroque bizarreness of Argento, the gleeful grotesquery of Fulci, and the sly satire of Farina, the film unleashes its horrors with an admirably straight face and considerable visual panache. THE WELL will have its English Premiere at Grimmfest. And, in the generation-traumatising tradition of Peter Watkins' THE WAR GAME and Mick Jackson's THREADS, Grimmfest is delighted to present the International Premiere of Loïs Dols de Jong's suffocatingly tense, emotionally brutal, and utterly unflinching AMSTERDAM ALERT; a masterclass of white-knuckle cinema verité storytelling, in which the city of Amsterdam is faced with the thirty-minute countdown to a nuclear strike, and the instinct for survival overrides every other consideration. In the current global political climate, it's a film that feels all-too-terrifyingly real. Festival Director, Simeon Halligan, said; ‘That’s just a taster of the incredible movie premieres we are lining up for Grimmfest 2024. We don’t want to give too much away at this stage and there is still a whole body of premieres to be announced in late Summer. We can’t wait to reveal more amazing movie exclusives for Grimmfest fans, over the coming months, keep your eyes peeled for further news!’ Grimmfest 2024 Full Festival Passes are available now, from: www.grimmfest.com

  • Bird Drone Short Film Review

    ★★★★★ Directed by: #RadheyaJegatheva Short Film Review by: Alexandra James Bird Drone is a love story between an injured seagull and a human-operated drone with a short battery life. This short animation focuses on the theme of unrequited love and moving forward when relationships crumble, the idea of picking yourself back up and starting again. This can often be the best thing not only for your mental wellbeing but also fate, as you never know what is around the corner. The film also comments on the connection between humans and technology and highlights how the advancement within technology can sometimes take away from the actual experiences we have, as we lose what it means to be human by lacking that connection with both people and nature. Director Radheya Jegatheva is an Oscar-qualified and AACTA-nominated filmmaker from Perth and spent 3 years creating the animation Bird Drone, and this is certainly reflected with the level of detail, from the characters and their appearance to the narrative itself, a heartwarming but also bittersweet tale of love. The animation begins with a lonely seagull with a defective eye, looking longingly at the other seagulls who have found their mate for life. Wishing to find that connection too, the seagull seeks out a partnership with a drone that happens to be flying over and its camera looks very similar to the gull’s own eye injury! With a common bond found, the pair fly off into the sky overlooking the crystal-clear sea and sharing beautiful moments together. Unfortunately, this friendship quickly diminishes as the drone begins to lose power and plummets into the ocean. As the story transpires, the bird learns that all is not as it seems when confronted with the controller of the drone.  The narrative includes the highs and lows that comes with relationships and navigating our way through hard times. It’s clear that Jegatheva focuses on the full scope of emotions, as well as the aftereffects of the relationship. It was fascinating to see that without a single word of dialogue the audience can relate and connect with the seagull and witness the development of a newfound friendship. The imagery and colours used within this animation were mesmerising and allowed the viewer to become completely swept away within the tale. It was an exceptionally moving short film and rather nostalgic in a way, especially for those that enjoy the classic Pixar animations, I would very much liken this piece to that standard and quality. Director Radheya Jegatheva’s innovative imagination shines through and it is apparent that his dedication to the cause has paid off with such a beautiful film that can appeal to those of all ages.

  • Ain’t my Vibe Short Music Video Review

    ★★★ Directed by: #VikiYoung Starring: #MichelleDowd Short Film Review by: Alexandra James Ain’t My Vibe is a music video starring Michelle Dowd as lead singer. The video begins with a ‘f**k you’ to all the men that have never loved her back, a strong message to start with and sets the audience up for the overall tone of the video and song. The meaning of the song speaks to a lot of single women and men and the difficulties of journeying through the dating world. With access to lots of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, many people use today, this song becomes extremely relatable as we jump on an endless cycle of dates that seem to go nowhere. Many single people everywhere have been a very similar position as we attempt to build a relationship and date others but sadly, they sometimes become cut short as we quickly learn they may not be ‘our vibe’ or values just are not able to align. The song itself is catchy, relatable and can speak to the masses, especially avid daters. The video was down to earth, in that it showed Michelle Dowd in her own home, texting and reaching out to her potential date but is left unread. There is a big juxtaposition in terms of the aesthetic of the video as at first the audience see Michelle in her own home in dark clothing, singing and some cut shots to her in a bathtub fully clothed but in black and white which did create a mysterious feel and made for some emotional scenes. However, the scenes also included very bright locations and Michelle in a colourful outfit which took away from the overall theme of the song, it made the video look a bit disjointed and clunky as the moving back and forth between these scenes did not match up and created an almost amateurish feel. With a music video like this, I believe it’s important to have consistency throughout to keep the message clear and focus on the lyrics. Of course, diverse scenes are apparent, however, they do need to maintain a similar feel to avoid losing that powerful message. This was a good song that can be a voice for many, the video that accompanies it can be improved with some tweaks here and there so that lead singer Michelle Dowd and her words are seen as the main focal point allowing the audience to absorb but also feel the lyrics and have that connection with her, and as a character we can all relate to.

  • Surprise Short Film Review

    ★★ Directed by: #LuckyRathore Starring: #AbhayRathore, #SomyaRathore, #RahulIndoria Short Film Review by: Alexandra James Surprise is a short horror film that follows a young painter who lives alone in a secluded house when a sinister wooden box appears on his doorstep. The painter begins to inspect the box and prise it open, only to unleash an evil force that lies within. The story takes a turn, as the painter struggles to determine reality and fantasy, as he becomes haunted by horrors of his past. Directed by Lucky Rathore, this short is filled with anticipation and attempts to raise the hairs on the back of our necks by delving into themes of nightmares and dark entities. Horror films can be very much hit and miss, often people are not a fan of the genre because it does tend to spill out a lot of clichés and struggle to provide a new and exciting twist or turn in events. I have seen a lot of horror films, and it is one of my favourite genres, however, I believe that the mark of a good horror is originality but still paying homage to a lot of classics we know and love. Surprise did attempt to nod a cap of appreciation to horrors and thrillers that came before it. With a secluded location, a dark and mysterious box left waiting on the doorstep, and a fearful entity that accidentally becomes released, these are all key ingredients for a reasonably good horror film we can invest in. However, it is that creativity or unique flare from a director that propels the film into one of the greats and a perfect addition to the genre. The film lacked diverse scenes and was extremely difficult to follow. If it was not for the synopsis, I do not believe I would have been able to understand the concept entirely. The film itself was also exceptionally dark so it made certain scenes challenging to grasp. In addition, it was not clear that a dark entity had escaped this mysterious box, there needed to be a shift in tempo. That fear and trepidation did not seem to overcome the painter at all, and so the audience are left in this state of the unknown. There is a build-up within the narrative but unfortunately, there is no form of relief or twist that keeps us engaged, the story ends up with no real direction or an ending that manages to tie everything together. Surprise requires some development  in terms of it narrative, a horror does not just involve creating a creepy and tense atmosphere there needs to be a story driving the piece forward, giving the audience something new and fresh. Often there is a repetition of storylines amongst horror films, so it is important to show us something that has not been done before, or even a twist to a classic. It will be fascinating to see director Lucky Rathore, create more stories, and generate that climactic twist that leaves viewers wanting more.

  • A Happy Ending Short Film Review

    ★★★★ Directed by: #ChristopherDeakin Starring: #GemmaWhiteley, #AdamMercuryBrown, #JoyceBranagh, #AshleyGregory, #EleanorJessicaRoberts Short Film Review by: Alexandra James A Happy Ending is a spoof reality television show that pokes fun at some of the court room dramas we see today. The show focuses on a young married couple and displays their inner conflicts with one another. For wife Lizzie, she is prepared to divorce her husband for not ever being able to satisfy her in all areas…but specifically in the bedroom! This dark comedy is a combination of Judge Judy, Love Island dramas and absurdity all wrapped up in a show called ‘Out of Order.’  For main character Lizzie, regrettably, this was unforgiveable, and she was ready to take her life into her own hands, her husband’s money and then leave him! However, as the drama progresses, certain secrets come to light and the audience discover that Lizzie is not as squeaky clean as she presents herself to be. As like many of these shows, the audience feed off this scandal and the juicier the scandals become, the better! The short film begins in a court room, its all lights, camera action as the jury take their seats and listen to Ms Who’s tales of woes and the lack of satisfaction she has had to endure for a good few years. Their marriage is in turmoil and there’s no coming back from this, especially when we find out husband David Ducksoup has been going to certain places alone to get his kicks elsewhere…For our Judge this appeared to be a clear-cut case, however, certain witnesses began to shed light on the couple’s marriage which left the judge having to make some tough decisions. A Happy Ending is a witty and outrageous film that keeps you hooked until the very end. It was great to see some of those ‘behind the scenes’ moments where the director instructs some of the reality stars to add more tears at this point or show your angry side when you say this line. Many people believe each scene is authentic and completely unfabricated. However, nothing we see on TV is ever how it truly is, which made for a hilarious premise and managed to break down that wall between fact and fiction and showed us exactly what was behind the curtain. The characters themselves were very funny and combined with the comical storyline and dialogue, it makes for an entertaining show that I would certainly be investing in if it came into fruition!

  • Shear Disturbance Short Film Review

    ★★★ Starring: #DevonGrevious, #NateReynolds, #TylerMcCray Directed by: #NateReynolds Short Film Review by: Alexandra James Shear Disturbance focuses on the theme of anxiety and how much it can affect day to day activities such as the simple act of getting a haircut. For protagonist Tyronne, this typical action becomes far more than that and is such a trigger that he becomes completely consumed by even the thought of it. This can be a very real experience for many people that suffer with anxiety, it can become debilitating and stop you from going about your daily life. Director Nate Reynolds portrays these struggles and highlights the importance of patience and understanding when interacting with a person struggling to keep their anxiety under control. The narrative itself is very simple and I think although this is a short film, it would have been great to truly expose the pain within the anxiety. It would have helped the storyline further to pull back the covers of Tyronne’s mind and provide the audience a sense of what it feels like to have this fear. The physical signs were apparent with the trembling and shyness when speaking to the barbers. However, a cutaway of Tyronne’s mental state would convey the severity and seriousness of his condition. It was interesting to see the negativity towards Tyronne as well, the barber seemed to have little to no patience and believed that Tyronne was wasting his time and essentially fooling around. Nate was able to suggest that we need to be more perceptive and recognise the signs of anxiety to help that person and bring them into a calmer and more relaxed environment to support and keep their anxiety under control. Unfortunately, for Tyronne, the experience became all too much, and he was unable to control his emotions and left the shop disappointed in himself. However, another barber came out after him and reassures him that he is not alone. In fact, he has also experienced these feelings and encourages Tyronne to speak with someone to overcome his struggles. Shear Disturbance has a message within, and director Nate Reynolds uses this short film to tear down the stigma and shame of living with anxiety and instead, Reynolds concentrates on the importance of speaking about this subject and sharing these struggles as this will ultimately educate others to understand more about the experience as well as learn how to help and manage them.

  • Watch What I Do Short Film Review

    ★★★★★ Starring: #IsidoraFairhurst, #MiaMckennaBruge, #RitaBernardShaw, #DaniDyer, #MalachiPullarLatchman Directed by: #TeddyNygh Short Film Review by: Alexandra James Watch What I Do is an all-female cast and short drama. It focuses on 3 teenage girls in secondary school attempting to navigate their way through friendship, social status, and their love for basketball. Being a teenager today can be a difficult transition, emotions and arguments become heightened and at this point in life. Conflicts at this age are all consuming and it becomes difficult to break away and see the light, as well as ignore the negativity. This becomes the case for protagonist Layla, as she struggles to become friends with the new girl joining the group. Layla often feels excluded and is unable to connect with Nikki, who chooses to disregard or shame Layla as a form of one-upmanship making her appear to be the ‘popular’ friend out of the group. Layla must find a way to channel her anger and focus on what is most important to her, true friendship, and her passion for sport. Layla’s skills in basketball become clear when she walks past a court and jumps at the chance to make a shot, she is encouraged by the other players to join and be a part of the team. However, through fear of ridicule she shy’s away from this opportunity and ignores their praise. Instead, she is left feeling embarrassed and even more of an outcast by showing an interest in the sport. It became evident that Layla has some form of anger issues which she needs to work on. Layla often represses these thoughts of violence and aggression; the viewer is given snippets of Layla’s frustrated mind with use of cutaway shots. Her anger becomes fuelled when faced with conflict, and unfortunately for Layla she becomes tested to her limit as Nikki starts to put a wedge between her and her friendship with Kezia. Layla has managed to control this anger for a long period of time, however, like a bubbling pot, it does not take long for this anger to spill. The characters are extremely relatable, especially to teenagers growing up and learning to adapt and change throughout their school years and rise above the hate. Director Teddy Nygh breaks down some of the barriers that stop kids from being their true selves. Nygh highlights that for Layla, basketball gives her the chance to channel her energy, focus and discover some new friends who follow a similar passion. This was a great story, and the characters were able to really convey that emotion of betrayal, fear, hurt but also happiness and the importance of friendship. It was an enjoyable watch and the interactions between each character were engaging throughout, you really feel for Layla’s character and want her to overcome her fears and see the true bond between her and Kezia.

  • Filmmaker Interview with Antonia Bogdanovich

    Filmmaker Interview by William Hemingway Hi Antonia, Thanks for sitting down with us to chat about your films and filmmaking. Where in the world do we find you today and how are you doing? I am in Santa Monica, California – about 6 blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles. I’m a surfer – so being near the ocean helps. You’ve just completed a Director’s Cut of your film Sleep No More. Can you give us a little background to the story of the film and say what it was that made you want to revisit it again? What differences can the audience expect from the new version? I grew up and hung out with troubled teens, as I was one too -- the ones your parents don’t want you to hang out with. Many of them were small town crooks, and the more talented ones burglarized homes in Santa Monica - on the nicer side of town – the side of town where my mother owned a home. So the initial inspiration for this story centered around my best-guy friend, who was a first class musician, extremely handsome, and a master thief. The reason I wanted to revisit this film was for a number of reasons, first and foremost there were a few scenes I felt shouldn’t be in the film and I also wanted to adjust the ending a bit. Originally, we had a different ending, but the producing team felt strongly that the original ending with some adjustments would be best for the film, and I couldn’t help but agree. Sleep No More also began life as a short film, My Left Hand Man. Can you talk us through some of the process of developing the film from one format to the other? How was that process for you personally? I wrote My Left Hand Man solo, but I had a partner on the feature length script. Anne Heffron has a dark, unique sense of humor, so she brought in her own unique style. A lot of the bits that are absurd, like Miss Rose sitting at the bottom of her empty pool sun bathing, came from her bizarre and often absurd sense of humor. Also, we added a lot of characters to the feature version, so once we wrote back stories for those characters and determined how they connected and intertwined with the lead characters we had a lot to play with. The plot is still the same as the short though. I remember when I was really young and had told my father I wanted to be a writer, he said that all the plots had already been written by Shakespeare and so my focus should be on creating interesting characters and how they navigate through the story. You’ve talked before about the film being representative of your time growing up in LA without it being entirely autobiographical. What was it that you saw in the characters that made you want to tell their story? This film is about my family – it’s actually quite personal – but in a highly fictionalized setting and format. I mean no one can argue that the film industry is not the most moral and ethical industry – and I literally grew up surrounded by film folks. My uncles and step dad were in the industry too. Everyone and everything I was exposed to up until middle school, when I hung out with kids from the bad parts of town, was entertainment industry centric. Not to mention my family went through an incredibly violent and highly publicized murder when I was barely out of elementary school. So even though I wasn’t consciously connecting it – the ending of my film is influenced and connected to the murder of Dorothy Stratten. Also, Luke Kleintank’s character, Beckett is based partly on myself but mostly on my best guy-friend I mentioned above, the master thief, who quite tragically robbed my mother’s house when I was 16. I found out much later that it was him, and that betrayal crushed me. He apologized and I did forgive him. My group of friends helped me understand the mind of a thief – they get a thrill out of it – some can’t help but steal while others do it if they are desperate for money. My friend’s mother was mentally ill and couldn’t work, so he struggled financially growing up. There are a strong variety of themes throughout Sleep No More, ranging from Shakespeare to comic books to abusive relationships. Can you talk us through how you used these themes to develop your story and why you wanted to use them in your film? Great question. So, growing up, cinema was like Jesus or God in our house; great cinema was all-knowing and could teach you anything you needed to know about life, art and humans. Cinema was literally worshipped, and it pervaded everything we did and said. On the flip side of that was TV, there was NO TV at my father’s home, if we wanted to watch something it had to be a movie, and his collection was not contemporary, all but a few were made before 1959. Then at my mother’s home, she took the remote with her to work, so we were rarely allowed to watch TV and she frowned upon it as well. Now keep in mind this was before The Sopranos and what I call the Golden Age of TV which began with that show in 1999 – which, ironically, my father ended up being an actor in. In general, other things such as traditional school, college and things like morality and how to conduct oneself as a parent were secondary to art. My childhood was anything but idyllic, my parents fought amongst each other and in the media and in books. My father was a huge success when I was quite young, but struggled to work in the 80’s and 90’s, while my mother had huge success throughout the 80’s and 90’s. But still cinema was the WORD. In Sleep No More, I took these ideas to the extreme - Shakespeare is cinema and comic books are TV. I have studied Shakespeare, read every play, and have gone to see many of his plays whenever I’m in London. I identify so much with so many of his works, perhaps because my childhood at times felt like a never-ending drama and that at times it was very public and a lot like theatre. So, I really wanted to intertwine Shakespeare’s mythos into my first feature. And yes, I would die to direct a Shakespeare play in the UK! Even though the patriarch is a hopeless gambler and alcoholic, who puts his entire family in jeopardy, he won’t tolerate bad grammar, comic books or state-mandated education. He lives in a fantasy world of Shakespeare and conducts himself like one or several of the Bard’s characters. You wrote this film with your writing partner Anne Heffron, was this something that you felt you needed or wanted to do from the beginning or was the process of coming together more organic? Is having a writing partner something that you are keen to do again in the future? This was the second screenplay we wrote together, the first one she asked if I wanted to write a screenplay with her and I was struggling with a novel I couldn’t finish so that sounded a lot more fun. Since I had grown up in the film business, I figured it has to be easier than writing a novel, which it most certainly was, at least for both of us. That first screenplay, a road trip film about a mother who sets out to find a daughter she gave up for adoption as an infant, got a lot of attention in Hollywood and so we naturally wanted to write another script together. Anne went on after that to write a memoir and is working on other prose and I kept writing screenplays, but if there is ever a project where we can write together again, I’d be down. Before deciding to direct you had already been in the film business for some time. You’ve been an executive producer, producer, production assistant, post production supervisor, writer, director and actor. How invaluable was this experience when you finally came to direct and did you find that you used skills learned from these other roles as you were heading up your own film? I used all my skills, all of them. I produced mostly after I had directed, and I didn’t enjoy that at all, but I wanted to help my dad get his film made, so I went for it and I was able to help make that happen, which he was very grateful for, and of course I am now too, since it turned out to be his last film. Most of my other credits you mentioned: acting, production assistant, assistant editor credits were “before”.  I quit the business for 11 years, during that time I fell in love, left Los Angeles, got married, and had a child. I actually swore I’d never return to film. Then came “after”. After I began writing with Anne and then I directed my first short, I knew that all along I was destined to direct. The notion of being a director had literally never occurred to me. When I was young, my father had so many ups and downs, so much unemployment and disappointments, I just couldn’t imagine living a life that way. Ironically, I’ve been confronted with similar challenges he faced, but I am so passionate about making films that I will never walk away again. Just like dearly departed father. He was very encouraging, and he would have told me if I was a terrible director or writer, my parents didn’t mince words, or bullshit about talent, not ever. You grew up and started your career in the Hollywood film industry, but making Sleep No More, and the original short My Left Hand Man, meant that you were now involved in independent filmmaking. How much does the process differ in getting a film made and seen when you are doing it all independently? What do you feel are the benefits/drawbacks of making an independent film? What I would do to make a studio film! To have access to all the money I need and a support system of trained professionals. I just don’t have that in the indie world. I miss the studios terribly. Independent filmmaking is brutal, I worked at WB, Sony and Paramount and I had no idea at the time how great I had it. It’s become so hard to make a film. There are stops and starts and financiers who pull out at the last minute; there are actors who drop out that cause the picture to fold; and distribution is a killer. The main reason I’m putting out this film now is that the original distributor went bankrupt shortly after buying my film and my film got buried in lawsuits, so it really never saw the light of day. To the best of my knowledge it never got a chance in Europe, so the public at large both here and overseas had no access to it. Your parents, Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt, were both big players in their own ways in the filmmaking business, your father as a director and your mother as a producer and production designer. Do you feel that the types of careers in the film industry still follow some sort of typecasting in terms of gender? Do you feel that you were more accepted, as a woman in the film industry, when you were working in the more ‘unseen’ roles and was there ever any doubt for you about becoming a director? Were there ever any difficulties that you faced from other people’s perception of women’s roles in film? My parents taught me so much about filmmaking – SO MUCH. We talked about making movies and how to make movies all the time - at every meal, in the car and while watching films, on set and on vacation. My mother was a genius, I was there the day she brought home Matt Groening’s Life In Hell cartoon and told me she was taking it to Gracie Films as this guy had the goods! There are many, many more stories like that about my mom’s ability to discover talent. I told her I wanted to work in film when I was about 10 and so she took it upon herself to mentor me, even though she often pushed me towards science and college all the time (I was very good at math, chemistry, biology and physics). I think she pushed me towards other fields as she wanted me to have a steady income. But it never stuck. I think it’s much easier to be a male film director. I have very close friends in the VFX industry who will call me from set and tell me some young male director who has no clue how to direct is at the helm and it’s a disaster. They tell me they wish I was the director, and I wish I were too! I get calls from editors too about the very same thing. When I was working in the more “unseen” roles I thought about editing, but never directing, until I started directing theatre and writing screenplays later in my life. I think all women have been exposed to sexual harassment at work, my mother told me quite a few stories, but kept it to herself, as she would have for sure lost her job back then. I have dealt with those issues and never went public about it, but I don’t tolerate that anymore under any circumstances, and I would certainly deal with any such conduct immediately on my film set. It really has changed ME TOO and I’m so happy about that. The last few years, I have been very fortunate to find a group who are all about the work and I feel safe to create and build projects with them. You’ve previously mentioned that you learnt a lot through osmosis by watching your parents work, which must have been an incredible experience for you growing up. Since you’ve carved your own path for yourself and come back to filmmaking have you been inspired by anyone else in the filmmaking industry or perhaps by other writers, stage directors or other professionals? My father was not necessarily attracted to stories about crime, murder and violence, but as a kid I was. Although I love a wide range of films and filmmakers I was always drawn to dramas and dark subject matter. I was obsessed with Francis Ford Coppola’s early works and Apocalypse Now changed my life. Ridley Scott’s early works like Blade Runner is a film I’ve watched over and over, and many other of his earlier films. The directors that have inspired me since right before and after I become a director would be Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson - I study There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights – to me they are both master classes in contemporary cinema. I adore David O. Russell – Three Kings is literally one of my favorite films. And then there is Alejandro Inarritu – he’s got to be my favorite contemporary film maker – from his first film, Amores Perros, which I saw in the theatre in 2000 when it came out, to The Revenant. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to make all gritty and violent films, I’ve actually been leaning towards dark comedy lately, as I feel the world needs to laugh right now. What’s next for you after this? Are there any projects that you currently have on the go and what are you looking forward to that you can see in your future? Yes! I am directing a fantasy comedy/drama about a Catholic boarding school for child geniuses, who set out to build a rocket that will get them to heaven. It’s more otherworldly rather than pure fantasy. It’s incredibly unique and very inspiring. My producer, Josh Russell, also happens to be a brilliant screenwriter, and he wrote it. I am very excited to explore this genre and the comedy is what really drew me in – I can’t wait to make people laugh. After that, I have a WWII script that my parents wrote in 1968 – it’s like Schindler’s List meets Ocean’s 11 – it’s unbelievable and I’m going to cast mostly Europeans for this and of course shoot in Poland where the story takes place. Where can people get to see the new cut of Sleep No More and how can we keep up to date with what’s happening with the film and any other Antonia Bogdanovich projects? Sleep No More comes out in the US for a limited theatrical day and dates in July – it will be on Prime Video, VOD, Apple + and a few other streamers, too. In the UK, we aren’t sure yet, but after the Cannes film festival I will be able to tell you more, as we are selling foreign distribution there. #WilliamHemingway #FilmmakerInterview

  • Film Podcast: Wicked Little Letters Named Film of the Month

    Film Feature by Chris Olson UK Film Club was back in March with a new episode of their film podcast. Hosts Brian Penn and myself (Chris Olson) brought you a jam-packed show with a heavy dolloping of great movies to check out, across the spectrum of film. As with all episodes of UK Film Club, the podcast covered theatrical releases (in cinemas), streaming movies, independent cinema (short films & features), and a nostalgia pick. It was one film that impressed Brian the most though and his coveted Film of the Month award went to Wicked Little Letters starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall, Anjana Vasan and more. In Brian's written film review, he summed the plot thusly: Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley) is a feisty Irish girl who brings her daughter to the sleepy town of Littlehampton in the 1920s. Her husband died during the Great War and aims to start a new life in a tight knit community. However, trouble is afoot when she falls out with God fearing neighbour Edith Swann (Olivia Colman), who mysteriously receives poison pen letters laced with profanity. Her father Edward (Timothy Spall) is an upstanding member of the community and repulsed by such vile prose. Soon these wicked little letters are dropping through everyone's letter box. Read our full Wicked Little Letters Review here https://www.ukfilmreview.co.uk/reviews/wicked-little-letters Soon to be on home entertainment release, I look forward to checking out Wicked Little Letters. Other movies covered in the film podcast episode 13 of UK Film Club included: Bob Marley: One Love - a biopic about the legendary music artist. Brian found this to be a safe but effective film, perhaps a little too sterile for its own good. Dune: Part 2 - a fan of Part 1, this second outing seemed to have lost its magical appeal with Brian, who likened it more to Marvel movies. If you want another film podcast opinion, check out the episode by The Fantom Zone on the UK Film Review Podcast - it goes into incredible detail! Spaceman - a Netflix movie starring Adam Sandler, this was an interesting film to say the least. It will make you think about all manner of humanity but leave you pondering how you felt about the journey. I Bring Joy - a powerful and potent indie feature film. Written and directed by filmmaker David Stuart Snell, this female-led thriller set in London pulls no punches with an incredible story about a dancer who finds a new way of life after almost being mugged. Everyone - written and directed by filmmaker Marcus Flemmings, this indie comedy set in a restaurant and told in real-time was a big hit with both me and Brian - a firm recommendation! Dagr - a fantastic found-footage film about two social media influencers attempting to run a scam who end up on the receiving end of some serious scares. Expertly done and proof that films on phones can be excellent! The ACTT - a humble and comedic short film about a community theatre group attempting to organise their new show. Full of classic theatre stereotypes and playful jibes at the scene, it's a fun movie. Beneath a Mother's Feet - from filmmaker Elias Suhail, this gripping and movie short film about one woman's struggle to be a mother and widow makes for essential viewing. Absolutely knockout! The UK Film Club podcast is one of several shows on the UK Film Review Podcast and can be found on all top platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, PodBean, Pocket Casts and more.

  • After Hours Short Movie Review

    ★★★ Starring: #KieranReeves, #ZainUllah, #TeniOsho, #ArchieClark, #OliviaBurley Directed by: #Shayaan Short Film Review by: Alexandra James After Hours is a short crime film that explores some extremely dark themes. The film begins in a flat, people have been drinking, but there is one girl in particular who seems to have taken drunkenness to another level and unfortunately for her, this leaves her in a very dangerous and vulnerable position. The audience at this stage can guess what happens next for this young girl, and its at this point the story takes a sinister turn. Director Shayaan who also created North Nights has a clear passion for crime and gangster theme short films and has created his own cinematic style and its interesting to see this carry through to the film After Hours. You can see there is a particular look and feel to each of his films and its great to see this established style develop within his projects. Many of the camera angles used throughout this film were diverse and set this film at an impressive level in terms of quality. There were occasions that the film appeared too dark in places so became difficult to make out what was taking place, however, the car scenes and within the parking garage were all fantastic and helped to create this into an action-packed short. Moreover, the main protagonist was a great choice of actor, the character was filled with rage and needed to establish that dominance over others, so it was crucial that he was able to tap into that deep emotion and convey his pain and torment. I would liken this actor to Stephen Graham, who can portray a wide range of emotions in such a deep and raw way that the audience are able to feel that character’s pain. This is a crucial skill to adopt for any actor and makes for an exciting and dramatic film. Unfortunately, not all the actors were up to this standard, and this can simply be put down to inexperience and lack of confidence, this is a skill that can be acquired over time, it meant that some of the characters seemed very detached from the scene and looked somewhat emotionless when dealing with some extremely heavy and dark subjects. It was also difficult to understand how the characters were connected to one another and the story sometimes became lost amongst the chaos. With a short film, the audience need to be able to connect with the characters and know the link between them to follow the central story. When trying to determine this, the story becomes confused, and it can be hard to remain engaged. Keep it tight and concise, with such an action packed and dramatic piece we need to establish whose who so that we can watch the turmoil unfold and develop. All in all, there are some great elements to this film and Shayaan should continue to develop his projects further and delve deeper into the world of crime films, this is a clear passion of the directors that should be explored.

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