Introduction

Women have often been told that “Formula 1 is a man’s world” and Formula 1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t believe women can compete, stating “women are not physically able to drive F1 cars” and that “if there was somebody that was capable, they wouldn’t be taken seriously anyway.”

I’m a huge motorsport enthusiast and follow Formula 1, Moto GP and Rally WRC where I can, and used to kart too. However, I’m sure I’m not the first in asking “where are the ladies here? They can drive too right?”

Since Formula 1 began in 1950, there have only ever been 6 female drivers who have started a race, and only 1 of those ever scored a point: Lella Lombardi back in 1975. So why has there been little progression since then?

The lower divisions are where the shifts and changes are unconsciously happening for women to have a successful future in this sport. And because of this, I decided our main documentary arc will follow a young up-and-coming karter and observe behind the scenes.

At the moment, the documentary’s prime questions to ask and address are: What is it like for women working in motorsport (F1, rally, karting, motogp, drivers, engineers etc)? Can and will women compete equally in the highest level, Formula 1, alongside it’s male drivers?

So far, there is only a small team of us involved, making initial contact with the relevant people.

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Civil War – Predictions and Speculations

Today is a good old-fashioned speculation post. With Captain America: Civil War right around the corner, it’s looking like the biggest Marvel film ever in terms of cast, plot and marketing scheme, (which I didn’t think was even possible after Avengers 2). The reason for this post, is from overhearing a few conversations and it seems many people are “betting” on which character(s) is going to die. Harsh yes, but I’d like to join the discussion so, here are my thoughts… (Warning: Potential spoilers if you haven’t seen the other movies!)

Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier: 

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Bucky, or the Winter Soldier, has only just redeemed himself and become a “good guy.” He’s not yet fully established in this universe and there is a big reason why he can’t die at the start of his Marvel career. Also, the only person who would be upset at this point is Cap who seems to go to great lengths to protect his man. There is more to see of this character.

Hawkeye:

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Hawkeye is ranking top of the polls right now from what I’ve heard. But here is why I don’t think he can or should die: he is the only member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or any superhero movie, to have a functional family. This character came into his own in Avengers: Age of Ultron and it would be heart breaking if he died, which is the reaction Marvel crave, so perhaps it would make sense. Hawkeye’s appeared in enough movies after all. But again, he is the only Marvel Superhero to have a working, FUNCTIONAL family. Audiences often need characters to set good examples particularly in times of stress, war and economic trouble (cinema is practically propaganda, but sometimes in a kind of nice nurturing way). Being a cool guy and having a FUNCTIONAL family sets a good example to audiences, enforcing that marriage still works and isn’t dying off, that a career and kids can still happen, that people can have both. Marvel struck the balance right with this guy. Hawkeye, or Agent Barton, counteracts the bad examples of Tony Stark’s play boy life, Scott Lang’s criminal lifestyle or Peter Quill’s lack of commitment to anything/anyone (even though these hero’s do “clean up their act”). All this aside, Hawkeye is an underdog type character and I think he’s great, so I hope he’s here to stay.

Scarlet Witch or Ant Man or Falcon or Vision:

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Marvel would be idiotic to kill off any of these characters. They are not established enough yet. Scarlet Witch’s brother Quicksilver was killed off pretty quickly granted, but, next to Black Widow and until Captain Marvel and The Wasp join, she is the only female hero in this franchise (I exclude Gamora as she isn’t part of this timeline yet). Also, she has the potential to be the strongest Avenger! Ant Man has a sequel scheduled so he’s sticking around. Vision plays host to the mind stone that is in his head, so he needs to be kept on until the Infinity Wars. The most expendable here is Falcon, but Marvel will then fall under scrutiny for a lack of diversity if he’s killed off. Plus, he’s friggin’ awesome.

Black Widow:

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Black Widow is also high ranking, next to Hawkeye. Natasha has been in many many movies after all and is still a secondary character. But with the introduction of Spider-Man and Black Panther, two more male superheroes, and Marvel shying away from giving her her own movie, it will be one huge kick in the face and will further anger/alienate audiences if she is killed off. We NEED Black Widow.

Spider-Man or Black Panther:

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Don’t be silly, they haven’t even made their debut yet. And I can’t wait to see them in action!

War Machine:

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Rhodey has been in it from the very beginning of the MCU in Iron Man (remember Terrence Howard?), so he’s been in enough movies that he could be killed off. He was shown to be unconscious in the trailer, but I’m sure it’s a classic misdirect on Marvel’s part. Being initiated into the new Avengers team has added weight to the character, so I don’t think they would get rid of him yet. We also have the lack of diversity problem that we have with Falcon. Plus, I don’t believe people will care too much if he was killed off… or I won’t… I’m sorry, I can’t stand Don Cheadle and his new characterisation since replacing Terrence Howard. Overall, I think he could outlive Iron Man…

Captain America or Iron Man:

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The two protagonists, almost joint leaders of the Avengers, but now the leaders of their own sides locked in a Civil War. It’s no spoiler that both Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans’ contracts are coming to an end. The impact needed here, the heart break, the tears and the crushing pain of losing a much loved character… I believe it will be either Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. Or both. So just prepare yourselves.

OVERALL VERDICT: Brace yourself for a devastating loss in Iron Man or Captain America’s deaths. But of course, I could be completely wrong.

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

M x

Matt Charman Q+A: Bridge of Spies (2015)

So Wednesday 6th April saw me sat in a Q+A session with the incredible Matt Charman, screenwriter of Bridge of Spies. He was a fascinating bloke to say the least, particularly interesting to me as I love writing and have always considered screenwriting a potential career path for me.

Matt Charman’s advice to early writers, or to any writers, is to “write what you want to see.” And as writers, we should be able to tell anecdotes and stories well. I myself am sometimes eloquently fascinating or sometimes lose absolutely all social skills and bore everybody to sleep with my life stories, however this will force me to practice! His work ethic too is incredibly impressive; writing on one project from 7am-1pm, then writing on another project from 1.30pm-7pm. If you want to write, just keep at it!

The idea for Bridge of Spies came from footnote in a book, according to Charlan, about JFK and his administration, where JFK sent a man named James Donovan, an insurance lawyer, to negotiate in Cuba with Castro directly to return American hostages during JFK’s “Bay of Pigs” period. The footnote told Charlan that James Donovan was an insurance lawyer who was known for negotiating in East Berlin in the Rudolf Abel case. His mind was whirling; who is this James Donovan that the American government put all their faith in- twice?

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I wrote a short review on Bridge of Spies a while back in November after I had watched the film, but never published it. So here we go:

Three reasons I thought I’d like this film. First, because it is directed by Steven Spielberg- you’ve got an above average film right there already. Secondly, because it’s based on a true story of America in the 1950s – which I am completely fascinated with. And thirdly… It starred Tom Hanks. An amazing man and a fantastic actor, class A, the best- I love Tom Hanks. But what did concern me was that this film could end up being another boring Lincoln. But how wrong I was!

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. The only hope of freedom is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man’s freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court.

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Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are a reliable combination. And with a killer script by Matt Charman, and Mark Rylance’s support, this film is an engaging, captivating watch. I wasn’t surprised either to see the Coen Brothers being the co-writers on this (alongside Charman), as some of the dialogue and the mood the Coens create in their films was ever present. Mark Rylance (who won Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards), is incredible, there are no words (and adding to this review now, he seriously deserved the Oscar, he’s a wonderful actor).

A politically driven film, and topical at it’s time of release with recent terrorist attacks, our society living in fear and world leaders doing what is easy and not right, Bridge of Spies also portrays a society living in fear, but a character like Donovan addresses the opposite; do what is right and not what is easy. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a wonderful film, thoroughly enjoyable and even my American friend grew emotional stating “this film has made me so proud to be an American.” Like 50s America, forever living in fear of the Atom Bomb, we shouldn’t live in fear either as life just goes on and, like Mark Rylance’s Rudolf Abel asks, “would it help?”

M x

Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Heathcliff Andrew Ledger would be 37 years old today.

At 14 years old, I had a lot going on at home and I used films as an escape from this. Being absorbed in another’s world with another person’s life to focus on allowed me to escape mine. Each film, different from the last, was beautiful and unique. I adored watching all sorts of genres from Hollywood blockbusters to world cinema to old classics. At that point, I hadn’t decided I wanted to become a filmmaker.

A family friend of mine understood, and one day, she brought round Brokeback Mountain. Having heard the film’s name through award ceremonies, I knew the film but had no clue what it was about. I didn’t research the film beforehand or even read the blurb of the DVD, I just slotted it into my portable DVD player in my room and watched.

Maybe it was because of what was happening in my own life that made it so emotional and poignant? But one thing’s for certain, Brokeback Mountain is the most perfect film I’ve seen and I watched right to the end through Gustavo Santaolalla’s The Wings, Willie Nelson’s He Was a Friend of Mine and Rufus Wainwright’s The Maker Makes. I couldn’t stop crying, and never have I cried so much at a film since. It was the oddest experience. And Heath Ledger’s performance brought this on, I can’t even explain it. He shone brightest in an already shining film, conveying through Ennis Del Mar the injustice and painful reality of living a difficult life, in a difficult time and this resonated strongly with me.

After Brokeback Mountain, I desperately wanted to not just watch these films in my bedroom on my little portable DVD player late at night anymore. Instead, I sought to create them. To move and inspire someone just as Ang Lee’s masterpiece had and to discover or even meet acting revelations like Heath Ledger himself. But, alas, the announcement of his death came shortly after.

Without his initial influence, I wouldn’t be pursuing a career as a filmmaker. Heath Ledger helped me find my passion, helped me to concentrate on something else other than my life and he helped me imagine a potential future for myself. Even now I can quote the film, write a University academic essay on Brokeback Mountain and often I refer back to Heath Ledger’s work. He was my role model, a symbol of where I wanted to reach one day. I owe him a lot.

Heath Ledger was the greatest actor my generation has ever known: an incredible talent and a special person. He was taken too young, but to quote Ennis: “if you can’t fix it, you gotta stand it.” Happy birthday dude, and thanks for everything. M x

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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

And so the age of the superhero movies dominating the box office continues, and 2016 begins with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Probably the most anticipated movie for a long time, purely because of it’s title and because two of the most iconic fictional characters and superheroes history will ever see are going to fight each other!

Superman (Henry Cavill) is seen as a controversial figure in Metropolis after the events seen in Man of Steel, and while there are many in the world who see him as a superhero or a God, there are many others who view him as an extreme threat. Bruce Wayne or Batman (Ben Affleck) falls into the latter, having witnessed the destruction and death caused by Superman fighting General Zod in Man of Steel. As a result, he vows to use his power and resources to stop the danger that is Superman.

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Straight away, I observed and listened when a lot of people gave it bad reputation, mainly due to the fact it wasn’t Marvel and the fact DC is known for not being on top form (but reminder, that neither is Marvel.. remember Iron Man 3?) But does that mean because it’s DC it’s already set out to fail before even entering the cinema? Of course, Batman V Superman had it’s flaws. To start with, we had some poor, cliché dialogue constantly surfacing, to the point I was rolling my eyes numerous occasions. Secondly, I think always will find scenes with Superman a bit lacklustre, leaning almost towards snooze-worthy. Unfortunately his powers and gentlemanly characterisation is no longer captivating audiences. Since we can utilise our VFX and SFX much more effectively nowadays, we can create a less conventional hero with more unique powers and be able to do them justice, for example newcomers Ant-Man, Jessica Jones or even non-humans Rocket and Groot! And thirdly, I will also never be convinced on the casting of Amy Adams as Louis Lane.

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However, despite this, the movie itself was not cliché and surprised in being unconventional. Firstly, I adored the opening; it was provocative, artful and a fresh way to introduce our new Bruce Wayne, without giving him another dragged out origin story. And I was completely intrigued by Ben Affleck’s Batman. If this is the Batman we are staying with for now, I’m really excited for what’s to come. I’ll be honest and say the scenes that stood out for me included Batman/Bruce Wayne, particularly Bruce’s visions and scenes with Wonder Woman (the incredible, enchanting Gal Gadot). Shout out to Jeremy Irons too as Alfred, but who is now a mega hybrid of butler father-figure Alfred and tech genius Lucius Fox.

Batman V Superman is unlike any of the superhero movies I’ve seen so far because it is visually engaging. The cinematography is excellent and it’s post production colour grading makes it look even darker than The Dark Knight Trilogy, but equally as coarse and urbanised. The action sequences, like Man of Steel, are fast and warped, which brings my boyfriend hope they’ll finally be able to create a credible live action Dragon Ball Z movie also, as the fighting, movement and pacing of the final fight scene against Doomsday is resonant of the anime.

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My only other quibble is there is not enough interaction between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent and I would have definitely liked to have seen more. However, when they do come together without the capes and masks, it’s one of the most intense, well written scenes of the movie.

Overall, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was anything but dull in my opinion. No, it’s not Marvel but this is because it’s DC, and I commend it for not jumping on it’s band wagon. It had a few issues, but otherwise I found it a well crafted film that was thoroughly enjoyable; well shot, decent script with decent acting and a kick ass fight scene that featured three of the most iconic comic book heroes – what more can you want? And with it’s book ended opening and conclusion, and thanks to those awesome “teasers” shown to us by Wonder Woman, we can only assume there is more to come!

M x

(Also I’m totally psyched too that Bruce Wayne’s mother is called Martha and that Clark Kent’s mother is also called Martha!)

Inside Obama’s White House (2016)

On Monday 14th March I had the privilege of being at BAFTA’s lovely comfy seating about to watch a preview of Inside Obama’s White House (BBC 2 on Tuesday’s at 9pm). As an audience, we were invited to enjoy episode 2, Obamacare. The screening was followed by a Q+A with series producer Norma Percy, executive producers Paul Mitchell and Brian Lapping, and director/producer of episode 2 Sarah Wallis. And enjoy it I did!

Inside Obama’s White House is a four part series concentrating on important moments of Obama’s presidency: economy, healthcare, foreign policy etc. It reminded me of how Sir David Frost’s four interviews with President Richard Nixon focused on similar topics: foreign policy, Cambodia and Watergate. After the screening and watching episode 1 ‘100 Days’ last week, I quickly realised we were in similar territory, and if these documentaries continue as they mean to go on, they could be as historically influential and poignant as the Nixon interviews were.

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What strikes me straight away about this documentary is the level of access the production team were able to receive, which in itself is extremely impressive! This included an interview with the President himself, which was the hardest part according to Series Producer Norma Perry- they were only allowed 40 minutes with him, amounting to a strict 10 minutes covering each topic.

With America in the world’s eye right now because of the presidential campaigns, the elections and Donald Trump being Donald Trump, there are a lot of political based documentaries and dramas crawling onto our screens e.g. Race for the White House, Scandal, House of Cards etc. But we live in a time where documentaries are popular and becoming more and more successful, particularly those that document and focus on America’s society. Most recently and famously Making a Murderer, a Netflix 10-part documentary series focusing on wrongly incarcerated sex offender Steven Avery, who, after his release, went on to also be the primary suspect in a murder case and tried to prove his innocence. Similarly, Inside Obama’s White House also has underlying subtlety about it; it highlights America’s society and all that is wrong with it’s political system.

Many believe, including the American gentleman who spoke up at the Q+A screening, that the election of Barack Obama marked the real end of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. It was a turning point, that America had progressed and matured in terms of discrimination and was setting an example to other nations. He was to take over from President Bush who left the country knee deep in the war on terror and facing the worst economic crisis for decades. Episode 1, 100 Days, focuses on how Obama desperately tried to steer America out of the inevitable; the new Great Depression. Episode 2, Obamacare, focuses on how the President tries to fight for a healthcare reform, so that it is fairer and more favourable to all, as everyone has a right to healthcare. The tone of the series is factual, yet the edit includes moments where Obama is dismissed by many Americans. His political endeavours aside, the bottom line is, his years in office were difficult as he was still discriminated against for being a black man.

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It’s with Obamacare we really see how the edit is used to include moments where Obama is undermined every chance given, particularly by the Republican party. They throw everything at him to stop this reform, yet we can see how determined and optimistic Obama is and gives it everything he has to make the reform happen, benefiting hundreds of thousands of Americans. Yet, it’s a bitter sweet victory. With the elections coming up, there is a chance a Republican could gain office. The options are looking like Donald Trump (shivers) or Ted Cruz (shivers), who are both supporters of the Tea Party protesting to undo the reform and Obama’s hard work.

All political talk aside, Inside Obama’s White House is powerful and definitely one to watch. As well as hard-hitting and enthralling, it also has a humorous tone, to reflect Obama’s nature that he is an easy-going man at heart. A favourite moment of mine is the recollection Frank Lutz has when Obama spotlights him during a talk at a Republican event: “if the President points you out and says your name, the only thing you do is try not to faint!”

Inside Obama’s White House was described as a “privilege” at BAFTA, which is correct. As a filmmaker, you only dream to document the most powerful man in the world, therefore this series was a privilege to create, and we as an audience are privileged to have a chance to witness these events and interviews in an intimate manner. The documentary is honest and true to Obama and his years in office and will join many in preserving America’s history. It’s absolutely fascinating and, indeed, a privilege to watch.

M x

Back to Blogging – The Circus

Hi all,

So I’ve been completely out of the loop with blogging the past few months, all because of a little short film called ‘The Circus.’ Well little, to be honest, is an understatement. Featuring a big top circus tent, trapeze artists and acrobats, insane makeup by Penelope Gwen (@pennold) and steampunk costumes, ‘The Circus’ is the most ambitious film I have produced so far, and was super fun to work on!

Here are some sneaky screenshots…

Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecircusfilm/?fref=ts

Twitter / Instagram: @thecircusfilm

Now I’m back and ready to blog again with new film/TV reviews, musings and potential guest bloggers too!

M x

‘The Circus’

The video you see below is my promo for my third year grad film, and the reason why I’ve not been able to blog so often on here, as I’ve been super busy with this! It was created by myself and some incredibly talented third year students, to give you a taste of the film to come. Click on the ‘K’ to check out our Kickstarter page and back us!

‘The Circus’ is an ambitious student project inspired by the steampunk style and set in a Victorian England Circus, focusing on the female ring master. She and her troupe try to trap a government bureaucrat during their final performance, a man who is responsible, along with others, for abducting orphaned children off the streets of London.

It also starred the incredibly talented make up artist and model Penelope Gwen – if you’ve not heard of her, check out her amazing make up looks on Instragram @Pennold. Also, check our social media out too!

Twitter – @TheCircusFilm

Instagram – @thecircusfilm

We’ve got a healthy following, so if you back our project, we’ll do you a shoutout!

Thank you! M x

The Martian (2015)

In 2013 we were given Cuaron’s Gravity and in 2014 we were given Nolan’s Interstellar. This year, 2015 brings us Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which arguably is the most enjoyable yet!

When astronauts on the planet Mars get caught in a fierce storm, they flee in fear of their lives and leave behind crewmate Mark Watney (Matt Damon),who is presumed dead. With only a tiny amount of supplies, Watney must utilize his wits and his intelligence as a botanist and a scientist to “science the shit out of this” so to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates have other ideas to rescue him.

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With cinema continuing for a third year with the theme of space, The Martian has many parallels to it predecessors. Firstly, it had big name director Ridley Scott at the helm and, like Gravity and Interstellar, the film will probably go on to be nominated for some Academy Awards for it’s technical achievements but perhaps a Best Director or a Best Film too that Interstellar missed out on (which was criminal). Secondly, it has taken the strongest elements of both previous films and combined them. Gravity was successful partly because of it’s simple format and strong lead, as it was practically a one woman Sandra Bullock driven show. Interstellar was memorable for it’s indescribable visuals and aesthetic and it’s crazy scientific talk. The Martian combines both of these strengths: an engaging lead, with Matt Damon in many lonesome scenes setting a lighter tone, and beautiful awe-inspiring visuals to create a brilliant hybrid.

The third parallel is that The Martian starred Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, who both were two starring cast members in Interstellar. And Matt Damon is once again stranded and needs to be saved. At least he was a less cowardly scheming git this time. Oh and this is the third feature film where the U.S. has to fork out to save Matt Damon from jeopardy. Just saying.

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I may joke and quibble but actually I’m being unfair. Matt Damon was incredibly compelling as astronaut and botanist Mark Watney. For someone who has been left on Mars, he was actually incredibly relaxed about the whole thing, and he had fantastic comic timing. But Damon let’s you see right through this persona on occasion, and you catch a glimpse of Watney’s vulnerability. The fact that he talks to the camera the whole time, and becomes quite attached to this and the rover that transports him, like they are living creatures. Or when he constantly jokes to hide the fact that he’s probably truly terrified. But in typical Ridley Scott style, the hero is brave, throws their-selves in and is not afraid of death (similar to Russell Crowe’s Gladiator and Siguorney Weaver’s Alien).

I feel though, that with so many characters and a star studded cast, some were underused. Chastain is second on the cast list bill, as Commander Lewis, but we don’t see her much until the end, or her crew either (Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Askel Hennie). The back and forth with NASA too is similar to the script’s pacing of one-liners and charming characters. Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels are excellent, but again, none particularly stood out in terms of character development: they are all incredibly clever but all a bit nice.

Other than this, The Martian is still really enjoyable, is not short on laughs, visuals or drama. It’s light-hearted and thrilling at the same time, and, again, made me realise further just how dangerous and scary space really is. What surprises me though is still, after all these perilous space movies, I still really really want to go!

The Martian is in cinemas now!

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