Film of the Month: Louis Theroux

Posted December 1st, 2015 by Matt Turner

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Master documentarian Louis Theroux joins us for the December Film of the Month.

One of the most prominent and respected figures in documentary, Theroux has been bringing his singular style of filmmaking to audiences for seventeen years. Having trained and worked as a journalist, Theroux transitioned into presenting documentaries first as a correspondent on Michael Moore’s TV Nation (1994), before leading his own series for the BBC, the highly influential Weird Weekends (1998-2000).

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Shooting People Christmas Party sponsored by Jameson

Posted November 18th, 2015 by Xenia

Please JOIN US, for the last Shooters in the Pub of 2015!

If you’ve yet to swing by our lively London meetup, our Christmas Party will be the biggest one yet.

We’re partnering with Jameson First Shot to finish off the year in style.
We’re offering free drinks.
We’re screening some blistering short films (including previous Jameson First Shot winners and award-winning shorts by SP members).
We’ve found yellow balloons.
We’re going to introduce you to the brilliant activism of Directors UK.
We’re going to host a free Christmas raffle of cool stuff.
We’re going to show you why Maggie Gyllenhaal wants to be in your film.

So come along, bring friends, meet actors, writers, directors, composers, producers and watch some corking shorts.

We’ll be meeting on December 7th from 6.30pm onwards at the Hackney Attic, 270 Mare Street, London, E8 1HE. Attendance is FREE and open to all, but spaces are limited, please RSVP.

See you there!

Xenia & the SP team

Sound of Story

Posted November 11th, 2015 by Ben

Anyone who doesn’t think very hard refers to cinema as a visual medium. This is not true and has never been, even silent movies had a piano accompaniment. Cinema fills your ears as much as your eyes yet sound is often a second thought, the thing you turn your attention to only after picture lock.

Brighton based bastion of cinema training and development, Lighthouse, are seeking to address this with a two day event focussing on sound as part of Cinecity, Brighton’s annual film festival.

The Sound of Story is aimed at filmmakers, sound practitioners, music producers and film lovers. Through a series of talks and workshops, leading sound and film professionals will discuss their work, influences and insights, offering a rare opportunity to learn about the power of the soundtrack, and the importance of designing projects with sound in mind from the start.

Their amazing list of speakers includes:

  • Chris Watson – Wildlife Sound Recordist / Composer Frozen Planet (BBC) / Soundscapes (National Gallery)
  • Magz Hall – Sound Artist Tree Radio (installation) / Radio Mind (installation)
  • Barry Adamson – Singer / Composer / Filmmaker / Photographer Natural Born Killers / Moss Side Story (album)
  • Joakim Sundström – Sound Designer / Supervising Sound Editor The Constant Gardener / Seven Psychopaths
  • Martin Stig Andersen – Audio Director / Composer / Sound Designer Inside (game) / Rabbit at the Airport (cross-media)
  • Anna Bertmark – Sound Designer / Supervising Sound Editor Lilting / The Goob

The Sound of Story is on the 17th & 18th November in Brighton, for more information please visit their website.

Film of the Month Winners: October

Posted November 1st, 2015 by Matt Turner

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Suffragette Director Sarah Gavron judged October’s entries for Film of Month, in what proved a busy month for her. (Suffragette received its European premiere as the London Film Festival’s Opening Film that month.)

October proved one of the strongest contests of recent months. As she said, “I admired all these films. They all deserve accolades – they all worked very successfully as short films and all had high production values and compelling performances.”

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Film of the Month: Jeanie Finlay

Posted November 1st, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

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Celebrating the release of the film that lifts the veil on the scheme that had a mystery masked singer​ pose as Elvis back from the dead, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (2015), British artist and director Jeanie Finlay will be “in the building” as Film of the Month Judge for November.

Jeanie has an intimate, funny and personal approach to her films and artworks, creating compelling portraits of other people’s lives in a contemporary and innovative way. As well as Orion, her work includes​ Panto!(2014) for BBC Storyville, ​the Grierson nominated – Most entertaining documentary and BIFA nominated – Best documentary The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013), Sound It Out (2011) – a documentary portrait of the very last vinyl shop in Tee​s​side, (World Premiere – SXSW, winner – Cinema Versa – Best documentary)​,​ her Goth Cruise (2009) became the most downloaded title ever on IFC and Teenland (2007).

With Jeanie’s entertaining and magical storytelling – her feedback on your films would be gold dust. Head over to Film of the Month to submit your shorts before 14th November to get in on a chance for her to see it.

SCREAM PITCH

Posted October 29th, 2015 by Xenia

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SCREAM PITCH: Our annual round-up of the best horror projects in town.

Yes. They’re back.

And this time no one gets out alive.

It’s SCREAM PITCH!!!!

To read complete pitches and to contact any of the writers, please email andy@shootingpeople.org

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DRACULA IS OUT OF HIS BOX!
By NICHOLAS HORWARD

Genre: Comedy
Length: 90
Author: Nicholas Horwood

Logline:

London, 1889. A group of Victorian vampire hunters do battle with the evil Count Dracula and his disfunctional family.

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THE NIGHTSHIFT
By SEAN-PAUL THOMAS

Genre: Horror/Black comedy/Gore-fest.
Length: 90 Minutes
Author: Sean-Paul Thomas

Logline:

A group of Nightshift workers trapped inside their DIY superstore, must survive until sunrise as a powerful evil entity awakens and hunts them down one by one to feed on their souls.

Think Evil Dead/Nightmare on Elm Street meets Clerks set in your local hardware store.

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CROW FAIR
By ALAN FLEET

Genre: Horror
Length: 107mins

Logline:

To a young DPhil student researching pagan traditions, Cornwall, Punch and Judy and the dance of the crows was just too tempting.

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NIGHT SHIFT
By ELLIOTT MAGUIRE

Genre: Horror
Length: 85 pages
Author: Elliott Maguire

Logline:

A night shift security guard fears he is losing his sanity after making a terrifying discovery while watching over the cities CCTV.

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DEAD SOUL MUSIC
By STUART WRIGHT

GENRE: Horror

Logline:

A young woman must find a rare gramophone record before her 21st birthday or lose her soul to a demon trapped inside that record.

Would you dare let a demon cure your dying daughter in return for her soul?

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FROM ANOTHER PLACE
By DARREN ROBERTS

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Comedy
Length: 95 mins

Logline:

Whilst developing a teleporter three scientists discover the system has a few gremlins in it, real gremlins, with rabbit heads, and the ability to create the undead.

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PLAGUE OF THE APES
By DARREN ROBERTS

Genre: Horror Comedy
Length: 83 mins

Logline:

A group of friends wake up to find their town is over run with mutant zombie were-apes. They decide doing a runner to the countryside is probably a good idea. The key word being, probably.

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A NIGHTMARE AFTER CHRISTMAS
By ANNE-SOPHIE MARIE

Genre: Horror/Dark Comedy
Length: feature
Author: Anne-Sophie Marie

Logline:

Boxing Day: Three teenagers find themselves bored to death on Boxing Day. Clockwork Orange style.

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THE BAD PLACE
BY ELLIOTT MAGUIRE

Genre: Horror
Length: 95 pages

Logline:

A grieving widow and her rebellious teenage daughter go for a weekend away at an isolated holiday camp, where they are forced to fight for survival against a dangerous stranger with a sinister secret.

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THE DARK SAINT
By GERRY BYRON AND STUART WILSON

Genre: Supernatural Horror / Contemporary
Length: 106

Logline:

When a conflicted couple take shelter in an ancient stately home, they interrupt a ‘Ghost Hunt’ TV production unit. They must struggle with the TV crew as much as supernatural forces – to survive the night of horror that then engulfs them.

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LLANDFILL
BY NICHOLAS HORWOOD

Genre: Comedy, horror
Length: 110 pages

Logline:

A heavily pregnant ex-police woman moves to a small Welsh village and ends up doing battle with a seven foot mutant spawned by the local landfill.

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THE DEBT COLLECTOR
BY ELLIOTT MAGUIRE

Genre: Horror
Length: 93 pages

Logline:

An ex-con seeking redemption is hired to protect a wealthy family from a psychopath, but finds himself in a life or death situation when he discovers horrifying secrets hidden by the family.

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The Devil’s Out by Heather Hampson

Title: The Devil’s Out
Genre: Horror
Length: 9 pages
Author: Heather Hampson

Logline:

Two teenagers and a drug dealer encounter Lucifer himself as a strange ley line folk tale reveals itself to be true.

Jameson First Shot: The one film competition you must enter this year

Posted October 16th, 2015 by Anna Bogutskaya

Jameson First Shot

Dear Shooters and ALL writer/directors in the UK,

Jameson First Shot film competition for 2016 is now officially OPEN. We’ve been saying it for years and years… this is by far the best film competition out there and we’re determined to see UK­-based filmmakers triumph.

What to do?!

Send in a stonking short script.
Make it the very best you can.
Get selected as one of three winners.
Receive a phone call from Kevin Spacey!
Answer that phone call, ok?
Get your short film produced by Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti (Fifty Shades of Grey, The Social Network)
Yup, this really is what this competition offers..
Direct your short film in LA
oh but wait…
Direct it with Maggie Gyllenhaal as the star of your film.

YES. Maggie Gyllenhaal
YES. Maggie Gyllenhaal of The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, Secretary and Sherrybaby, The Honourable Woman etcetera….
YES. Maggie Gyllenhaal who believes in giving upcoming filmmakers a shot, and a break, and who has agreed to star in three films by unknown filmmakers.

Maggie Gyllenhaal
We adore her and applaud her.

And we say to all of you ­ get writing/submitting as the competition has OPENED. This could be your First Shot at a serious break. And what a brilliant opportunity too to write for a female protagonist. Come on UK!

Tips:

Maggie has recommended herself that you put ‘a little bit of your actual self into what you’re doing ­ good art takes vulnerability.’

UK WINNER!

The competition is international folks. But this year, for the first time, a UK winner will be selected to go into the finals. So drop any fears you might have and embrace this competition folks. Get submitting. We want to see the UK triumph. As proud believers ourselves in the power of short film, we’re buzzed by the thinking behind it. Created by Spacey and Brunetti back in 2012, Jameson First Shot was created to give first­-time filmmakers a break –

“It’s not about where someone is, it’s about where they might get to in 10 years if they’re encouraged, nurtured and guided,”

Kevin Spacey.

Touche.

Writer/Directors of the UK — This is your calling — Give it your best shot!

GOOD LUCK. GO FOR IT.

Cath Le Couteur
Co-­founder & CEO
shootingpeople.org

BFI London Film Festival – Chevalier

Posted October 16th, 2015 by Thomas Grimshaw

Chevalier is the latest film from Attenberg director Athina Rachel Tsangari and like other films of the loosely collected Greek New Wave, this is not a film that deals in character arcs, personal stories or even clear-cut emotions, it is instead an experiment, or more explicitly in the case of Chevalier, a game. Herd a group of characters into a rarified situation and then examine the consequences. In this situation Chevalier monitors the petty, trivial competitiveness of six upper or middle class Greek men as they sail around the Greek Islands on a luxury yacht. Joseph and Christos own an estate agency, Yorgos and the enigmatically named The Doctor work at the same clinic, while Yannis an insurance salesman has arrived with his spectrum-baiting brother Dimitri. Nothing is mentioned as to what has brought these men together, other than a shared affluent status that allows men of this position to enjoy an ego driven conspicuous consumption. Ego is what ultimately drives the film, as the men enter into a game, the titular Chevalier or ‘who’s the best in general.’ There are no rules per se, except that everything that can be critiqued and judged will be and at the end of the trip the victor, the overall best in general, will receive a shiny Chevalier ring as there prize.

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There are no limits as to what is open for scrutiny, examples include, who’s the best at sleeping, Yannis for example is noted for his excellent choice of underwear, however his perfect posture is considered a little too try-hard, almost forced, so points are quickly removed. Others include cleaning, eating, choice of language, and their relationships with their own families. Tsangari has the most fun with this conceit when dealing with dumbly masculine considerations, as these cause the most harm to their already frayed egos. One competition has them seeing who can assemble flat-pack furniture the fastest, whilst another has them giving blood. As the film progresses, the men who were brash and confident at the outset, begin to crumble, wracked with nerves and paranoia. For Christos, the biggest blow is his impotency in the who’s got the best erection competition. Though later when he manages to regain his virility, his pride in sporting a self-proclaimed ‘beautiful erection’ (shown in full detail), is negated by the wide-eyed drooling mania in which he exposes himself.

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Chevalier is both well performed and frequently hilarious in its dissection of weak, immature male egos and although not a single woman appears in the film, the ridiculousness of their increasingly feeble one-up-man-ship creates a loose feminist critique of the competitive, ego-driven nature of male bonding. Further developments are made in the way men wilfully demonstrate skills without prompt, such as a delightfully deranged attempt to mime and breakdance along to Loving You by Millie Ripperton, implying that men will throw themselves into things on the assumption that their inherent brilliance will carry them through. Simultaneously though the film is essentially a one-joke film, with very little in terms of escalation. There’s a suggestion that the way the men try and curry favour with each other and form alliances to gain more points, can be viewed through the slippery prism of contemporary Greek politics specifically the manoeuvring of politicians in the aftermath of the economic crash. Yet this still feels too vague to have any genuine conviction. However thanks to a very game cast and a strong visual style, the film remains a riotous piece of entertainment, where the simplicity of it’s absurd screwball premise and distinct characterisation, can’t help but mean we’ll be subjected to a Hollywood remake within the next few years.

To buy tickets for Chevalier click here.

BFI London Film Festival 2015 – Green Room

Posted October 16th, 2015 by Thomas Grimshaw

Following on from last year’s Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier returns with another grisly exercise in slow building tension. Green Room follows the misfortunes of small-fry punk band The Ain’t Rights as they chart there way on a tour of north-western America. Broke and weary they agree to a profitable gig out in the styx, but upon arrival discover the club is a focal point for local neo-nazis. After riling the crowd with an enthusiastic rendition of the Dead Kennedy’s ‘Nazi Punks Must Die’ and then accidentally witnessing a murder in the titular green room, the band find themselves in an increasingly perilous situation, as the local skinheads, let by the enigmatic Darcy (a game Patrick Stewart), attempt to dispose of all witnesses.

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At its heart Green Room is a trashy, scuzzy take on the John Carpenter model; a single vulnerable location, a group of average joes out of their depth, a brooding, foreboding soundtrack and a vicious glee when it comes to blood letting. In this sense Green Room builds on the promise of Blue Ruin; dog bites to the throat, hands hacked to the bone, razor-slit torsos and gunshots to the head. The film takes a sadistic pleasure in dispensing with its victims; characters that you’ve developed a genuine affection for are disposed of in five seconds flat, their corpses unceremoniously ditched.

As entertainment it’s a tense, immaculately crafted thrill ride, so why is it a lesser film to Saulnier’s debut? The problem lies in its inefficient storytelling. Blue Ruin was a masterpiece of economical narrative and visual storytelling, despite it’s other flaws, Dwight’s backstory, his journey and his mission were all carefully moderated. For the first thirty minutes of Blue Ruin, every shot propelled the story onto the next, offering up continuous tidbits of information. It was precise, efficient and it showed instead of told. With Green Room, Saulnier is already on the back foot with having to contend with five separate protagonists and although I hope this takes nothing away from the smart, empathetic work of the ensemble cast, that initial lack of focus carries with it a lack of emotional connection, especially as some of the band members tend to blur into each other. Additionally Saulnier stuffs the narrative with irrelevant backstory. A film that can essentially be boiled down to punks vs Nazis should be able to soar via its low-brow, high-concept trashiness alone. Yet we are invited to engage with the relationship history of the murdered girl and the illegal dealings of the Nazi group, neither of which feel fully formed nor have any bearing on our enjoyment of the central premise. It never tips the film into tedium, its pace is too nibble for that, but it’s superfluous detail that undoubtedly muddies the water.

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There’s been a recent resurgence in American independent filmmaking to readopt the cool, efficient and intelligent genre filmmaking of the 1970s and 80s and both Blue Ruin and Green Room demonstrate that Saulnier is riding the crest of that wave. Unlike Adam Wingard’s The Guest or David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, which although undeniably entertaining, feel almost too referential to their b-movie forefathers. Saulnier on the other hand has crafted a world that in some ways feels relevant to the world today, a cinema of cynicism, brutality with subtle flecks of social consciousness weaved throughout, that lacks the increasingly insufferable post-modernity of other genre cinema.

BFI London Film Festival 2015 – Chemsex

Posted October 14th, 2015 by Thomas Grimshaw

Chemsex is the self-explanatory term used to describe the taking of drugs within a sexual context, an activity that has become increasingly prevalent within the gay community. In their film, William Fairman and Max Gogarty interview a number of men all involved in the chemsex world; from frequent ‘slammers’ of Crystal Meth, Mephedrone, GBL users, young guys new to the scene and health care practitioners.

Our guide to the world of chemsex is David Stuart, an affable, non-judgemental staff member at 56 Dean Street, currently the world’s leading authority on chemsex research and care. As he describes in the film chemsex is a result of what he calls a ‘perfect storm’ created by a variety of new drugs hitting the scene, the rise of hook-up apps such as Grindr and most importantly a distressed and persecuted community that’s trying to seek identity in opposition to hetronormativity.

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The testimony drawn from victims of this ‘perfect storm’ is both deeply sad and simultaneously horrifying. One man talks of taking too much GBL whilst in the company of two older men, only to pass out and not know what had happened to him in the intervening two hours. He later found out he had contracted HIV. Another young guy, a bondage aficionado from Watford explains how two men had him strapped down when the topic of ‘slamming’ or intravenous drug use came up. At this point he had never ‘slammed’ before and didn’t want to, but they injected him anyway telling him that because he was restrained, they could do whatever they wanted with him. The guy has been a frequent user ever since. As one user in the film points out, drugs loosen people’s moral perspective and in the context of S&M dynamics, this only increases people’s desire to abuse or be abused.

What proves to be most shocking though is the endemic denial that takes place within the chemsex community. Many interviewees don’t see there choices as a problem, despite having contracted HIV as a result or are deeply paranoid to the point of having to check their front door every few minutes to make sure they’re not under surveillance. This denial even drips down to a lexiconical level, as one guy describes, ‘“We’re not injecting, we’re slamming. We use ‘pins’, not needles.” The film’s singular heartening moment is seeing the caption cards at the end to show how nearly all the participants in the film have since given up the lifestyle, though for some there’s a definite air of uncertainty as to whether their restraint is sustainable.

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Chemsex is the latest documentary from Vice Magazine’s recently revamped film production wing and what it makes up for in compelling testimony, it sorely lacks in restraint and tact. As to be expected with a Vice production, the film is gluttonously stuffed with confrontational imagery: needles hitting veins, bubbles of blood, half naked men masturbating in squalor, a purely illustrative and degrading aesthetic which very rarely transcends a self-serving desire to be noticed for its own sake. What’s more contemptuous are the slow-motion montages that Fairman and Gogarty cook up, ‘edgy’ mood pieces; dimly lit dungeons, strobe lightning, grunting, leather, flayed flesh, nipple clamps. Not only do these images have very little to do with the chemsex world, other than being generically queer, but they seem to have sprung from the minds of two very hetronormative men with a queasy desire to show how much they ‘get it’. It’s the filmmaking equivalent of your middle-aged dad dancing at a wedding, except in this scenario your dad is a self confessed ‘sub pig’ and he’s being fisted by an angry bear in vulcanised rubber chaps.

Click the link to purchase tickets for Chemsex