Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Being one of few who enjoyed Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong remake, I was a bit skeptical of another Kong movie. But this time it’s different. This movie is brought to you by the same people who made the 2014 Godzilla remake (which I also thoroughly enjoyed) and not many people know that King Kong and Godzilla exist in the same universe and there are more of these monster movies to come (e.g. Mothra and King Ghidorah to name a couple). It seems then, that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe algorithm is so successful that other production companies are following suit.

Recruited to explore a new uncharted island, officials from the organisation Monarch, a group of soldiers fresh from Vietnam, a ex-military hunter-tracker and a photojournalist travel to Skull Island and disturb the unique and deadly creatures that live there, including a giant gorilla named Kong.

kong4

Kong: Skull Island reminded me of a Vietnam war film – even the poster was resonant of Apocalypse Now! This blended perfectly with the fantastical, i.e a giant gorilla, and the action sequences that followed. The 70’s soundtrack worked brilliantly too, and really paced the film well. I was never bored.

The only quibble I had was that I didn’t care enough about the characters. Whether they got to the other side of the island in time to leave safely or not, I didn’t care. There were so many characters to get to know in such a short space of time, all with little or no backstory, and none of them were particularly likeable either.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island was an all round decent and enjoyable movie. It’s in cinemas now, and, if you’re interested in what’s to come, wait for an awesome after credit scene!

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

Advertisements

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

There are a few film genres I’m biased towards and War films are definitely no exception. And I’m just going to go ahead and say that Hacksaw Ridge is the best war film I’ve seen in a long long time.

World War II American Army Medic, Desmond Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and is considered a “conscientious objector.” But, his acts of courage and the choices he makes in war means that he might be braver than them all.

hacksaw7

Hacksaw Ridge is true to it’s genre: bloody and brutal. It’s not shied away from, and at times, really shocks and scares. But, Director Mel Gibson has created a film that shows us war doesn’t have to be pain, sorrow and dehumanising. It’s not just the brutality of war that stays with us, it’s the perseverance and love that Doss has that inspires and hits deeper on an emotional level.

hacksaw

Andrew Garfield is riveting and humble as Desmond Doss; he really shines in a role that’s extremely well suited to him. The supporting cast, also, are brilliant. Hugo Weaving as Desmond’s father, is compelling and emotional. Vince Vaughan brings a smile and typical military banter as Sergeant Howell, yet isn’t too comical, and Sam Worthington too is commanding as Captain Glover.

Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a truly gripping and great war film and will stay with me for a long time. Perhaps, though, what is even greater, is the real man Desmond Doss himself and his acts of humanity in a time of horror.

Autosport Show – 14/01/2017

The Autosport International Show at NEC Birmingham is one of the largest motorsport shows in Europe, and I had the pleasure to gain a media pass to document the event. Mainly to follow Abbi, we filmed her receive different awards and her interviews with other media peoples.

Our first stop was to the British Women’s Racing Driver’s Club Stand, where we met Lorraine Gathercole who is Vice Chair of the organisation. She then introduced us to the three nominees of the Gold Star Elite award: Trish Cecile-Pritchard, Kate Milner and Abbi Pulling! After a quick interview with the three of these (with our extremely limited equipment), we ran over to the MSA stand (Motorsport Association) to film the ceremony. Unfortunately, Abbi didn’t win, but the equally talented Kate Milner did and it was great to see Abbi nominated and recognised for her achievements in Super One.

The MSA also had a Karting Magazine presentation, where Abbi received an award also. After this, we head over to the Super One stand for the official award ceremonies, where we saw Abbi was given her trophy for coming second and her new “Number 2” plate, which she will ride with on her kart this year.

One thing we gained, is that Abbi had changed her tune a little from when I last spoke to her in September. She now is pursuing becoming a Formula 1 driver as her ultimate goal. This is an exciting new dynamic for the documentary!

The Super One season starts March, where we will be following Abbi during her racing season!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interview with Niall Johnson, Emilia Fox and Singe Greene – Mum’s List (2016)

On 24th November I was lucky enough to be invited to the press junket of Mum’s List. Recently released in cinemas across the UK, Mum’s List is a British movie shot on location in Clevedon. Based on a true story, the film is about the Greene family who’s lives are altered when Kate is diagnosed with cancer. She prepares her family by leaving notes and messages, a sort of “To Do” list for after she’s gone.

I had the absolute pleasure to meet and interview director Niall Johnson, leading actress Emilia Fox, who plays Kate Greene, and author of the book, and Kate’s husband, St John (Singe) Greene.

All three were a joy to talk to and gave real insight into the movie and the filmmaking process. Niall spoke on how the story came to be a movie such as this and his background with the Greene family. Emilia told me of the huge responsibility yet honour it was to play Kate Greene, (and how the West Country accent is a tricky one to master!) And for young people, like myself, trying to break into the film industry, they both give some advice!

Afterwards, I met with Singe and he told me more about his family, the boys Reef and Finn, and how the filmmaking experience affected them.

Even after the interview with Singe was over, I mentioned that he knew my dad from back home. We had a quick chat about him and then he told me to give him a big hug and tell him I love him “acres and acres.” Even through all the press days and premieres, Singe continues to spread Kate’s inspirational, positive message and his families’ story.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have met all three. And we could all strive to be more like Kate.

Mum’s List (2016) review and interview with Niall Johnson, Emilia Fox and Singe Greene

Although its subject matter is familiar territory in film, Mum’s List is unique in the sense that the story itself is unique and true. Adapted from St John (Singe) Greene’s autobiographical book of the same name, the story focuses on Singe (Rafe Spall) and wife Kate (Emilia Fox), who was diagnosed with cancer only a few years after their young son’s battle with the disease. But Kate prepares by compiling a collection of notes and life lessons for her family after she’s gone. Just hearing the synopsis can have audiences dabbing their eyes, but Mum’s List is a whole lot more than just a tear-jerker.

Director Niall Johnson’s true story drama is so understated and realist that it felt like, at times, I was watching a home filmed video. The story is personal to him: “I knew Kate in the last eighteen months of her life, so I knew the story way before the book. Movies were moving in on the story and Singe said “why don’t you do it?” I thought I was a bit too close and movies can mess things up. But as Singe and Rachel Murphy were writing the book I realised they were helping me find my way through what it was about the story that would make a hundred minute film. It was in Kate’s list. The book follows Singe of course, but the movie had to follow Kate.”

mumslist3

Johnson glides us through the story, using the narrative to naturally flow back and forth from present day to past moments and memories. This enables an audience to grasp what kind of person Kate was and show that she’s not just defined by her illness. Brilliantly played by Emilia Fox, Kate is a loving mother, wife and friend, and has an incredible zest for life. “It was a huge responsibility being asked to play Kate, but a huge honour as well. I relied very heavily on Singe himself to talk me through every scene in the film. We sat in the pub and talked for a couple of hours and cried for a couple of hours.”

Emilia breathes life to Kate, and brings an element of subtlety, leaving out the melodrama. Similarly, Rafe Spall plays Singe with the same subtlety and he very much pulls us through the movie. Both actors give genuine, heartfelt performances and carry the film through it’s absolutely devastating and upsetting scenes.

mumslist

Being from Bristol and having a lot of family in the West, seeing Mum’s List filmed on location in Clevedon was incredibly exciting for me and is something that the film really takes pride in and Singe Greene definitely does too. “I really wanted it to be a British movie. I’m very proud of where I live and I hope we put it right on the map.” The scenery shots slotted into the movie are truly stunning and picturesque like from a postcard, all thanks to Director of Photography Eden Bolter, who’s recently been nominated for BAFTA’s 2016 Breakthrough Brit award.

Mum’s List, as a whole, is very understated, pulling away from Hollywood melodrama. Despite it’s subject matter, the film oozes positivity; everything down to the production design is bright and shining to reflect Kate’s personality even when she was ill. Mum’s List is a cruel and frank reminder that life is too short, so love too much and care too much. Its a heartbreaking watch at times, but altogether an uplifting, positive journey.

Mum’s List is in cinemas now!

mumslist-njef Full interview will be posted soon!

Wyedean Rally – 12/11/2016

Up at the crack of dawn for a drive deep into the Forest of Dean, today was a first step into another segment of the documentary: Rallying. As well as following our main subject in the karting world, it’s equally important to show the world of rallying and the women competing there.

Firstly, Rallying is not circuit racing like F1, karting etc. It’s terrain focused, point A to point B timed driving and set out in stages. There are normally six stages per rally event, each different locations. Wyedean’s were all in the Forest of Dean, near a place called Mitcheldean and primarily gravel terrain.

wyedean2

The driver we met with was Sara Williams, probably the most successful female rally driver in the UK right now, who has won events and can be spotted in her white and pink Subaru Impreza. After collecting our passes, she met us in the car park and chatted. The plan was to film stages 1 and 4 (once finished, she run the 2nd and 3rd stages straight after each other, and we wouldn’t have time to get to 2 and 3), but before going to number, we’d come back to the services during their hour break to do a short interview with her.

 

Watching and filming the rallying was one of the most fascinating and coolest moments of my life so far. My crew wasn’t sure what rallying was until this point, and I’d told them it was dangerous, so they needed to have their wits about them – and at one point this came into practice when a rogue Ford Escort came off the track and into the crowd nearly killing our sound man!

wyedean3

Unfortunately, we got trapped in the rally stages and couldn’t make it back to the services in time for the interview, so decided to stay for stage 4 and watch Sara run again. Unfortunately, also, we didn’t see Sara start, and after speaking to multiple marshals and trying not to be ran over, Sara had had an accident during an earlier stage and was forced to retire.

Overall, we didn’t get what we came for, but it was such a fun experience and truly epic to be so close to the rally! I’ve discussed with Sara that we’ll definitely rearrange to interview her soon, probably sometime in the new year.

More pics soon!!!

wydean1

Crew selfie from left to right: Jamie (Sound), Oscar (Camera 1), James (Camera 2), Emily (Producer) and Me (Director / Camera 3)

PFI Filming – 17/09/16

17th September saw a small crew of us heading up North to Grantham and it’s PF International Kart Circuit. This included our two producers Emily and Kyle, camera operator Rachael, sound recordist Jamie and myself directing.

Immediately we realised how we underestimated the sheer size and numbers of people involved in the Superone karting championship. There were motorhomes and trucks lined up and so much hustle and bustle. As soon as we stepped out from the cars, the revving of engines hit us straight away – we all couldn’t help but be excited already.

Staying with Abbi and Andy most of the day and filming, I got to know them both and slowly learnt more and more about the car and the championship she competes in. Abbi is a Junior TKM karter and a works driver with Tal-Ko, her number 49 on her kart and she hopes to get into single seater race cars soon (she’s testing a Ginetta in October).

We confirmed then that a crew would follow her racing season in 2017, whatever she decides to do. This would be our documentary’s narrative arc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.