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What are your favourite history films?

A lot of people go on about horror. I can see the appeal, from a creative point of view, of tilted cams and steady cams and all kinds of eerie sound and visual effects that a writer-director can do with a limited budget.

But, When I think of British films, I think Gandhi, Chariots of Fire, Iron Lady, Amazing Grace, Victoria and Abdul, Darkest Hour. I might also think of some romantic comedies, indie dramas like Secrets and Lies, adaptations of classics and other genres, but not really horror. (Unless you count Hitchcock, but most of his films were made in America. Stan Laurel was born in the UK too, you know. Why aren't his films considered British?)

So, I thought, maybe there's some other people here who like history films?

I saw like, two history pitches on script pitch, scrolling through lots of films (three if you include my silly short film).

Perhaps we can have a black history month pitch sometime? Or something to celebrate some anniversary? November, remembrance as a history pitch? I'm sure there are more history pitches out there, waiting for the right "theme."

I have a few history films to pitch, not sure if this is the right place.

In the meantime, what are some history films that you enjoyed watching?

  • My favourite history film hasn’t been made yet... it’s mine - - a female lead WWII espionage biopic and I need help on launching it!!!

    10 months ago
    • Hi Franz. If I were even remotely considering investing in your film, or working in a creative capacity on it, I might ask, what's your second favourite? I guess you have your team, but hey, at least make something up for the extra features, right?

      By the way, I was up Manchester way yesterday, realised how close I get to Wigan when I go that way, and thought about your film a little as I walked through the streets. It seemed much more lively last time I was there, maybe pessimism linked to the football?

      I hope the TV deal works out for you.

      10 months ago
  • Could Shooters please stop posting and adding to fav film list discussion/topics. Shooters is getting a bit like Facebook where so many annoying fluff pieces inundate you to the point where you tune out and dilute to the point of tedium. Please let's just focus on informative discussion because, I'm sorry to need to have to say it even, really you are beginning to loose me Vasco.
    Regards Ray

    10 months ago
    • Ray, you're one to talk. Oh wait, this post is not about me, and it's not Whining, so I guess my posts are different than yours.

      Now, if I'm annoying other shooters, than sorry. I suggested before a limit on posts and responses, for you, me, John and Paddy especially. (And maybe Mac, until he finds something nice to say.)

      But, I don't really care if I annoy you, because the whole world has be to about you, doesn't it?

      10 months ago
  • Would you like me to start a topic of discussion about pictures of attractive kittens, or perhaps on a photo of the meal I am about to eat. Really, it's not about me or you, it's about trying to get the best out of this forum, starting useful points of discussion and building a valuable resource and vibrant community by sharing film facts, information, opportunities, events, successes, and failures etc,. Your last discussion already encouraged someone to follow immediately with an attempt to start a "What is your fav film poster" topic of conversation, do you not see where this is leading the forum too? What next Vasco who is your fav actor, (living and dead), who is your fav Actress (living and dead) etc ad infinitum, we could all start lightweight topics of discussion but then trying to find the needle in the haystack would become so very much harder. Focus please Vasco I know you are smarter than this sir...Sorry if I offended you if I did, as it wasn't my intent.

    10 months ago
    • Ray,
      Some of us might want to make historical films. If we have the same taste in films, we might decide to work together.

      And thanks for alerting me about the posters discussion. I might have missed it otherwise!

      In fact, that's the question I might ask if I'm interviewing a marketing person, or a poster designer.

      When William Goldman (Who wrote Butch Cassidy) talks to a director, the first thing they discuss is what films they like (according to his book.) I find that works with me too. I ask editors what they think of Rocky, and so on.

      Creativity is not about paint-by-numbers distribution and fake blood. It's about being inspired by great art from the past, and coming up with new solutions to the unique problems each filmmaker faces. Some of us are beyond colouring books.

      There's a great book on foley sound effects, I forgot the name, it said that a cue like "knocking on the door" means nothing to a real sound designer. Is there a sense of urgency? Of fear? Of anger? What type of door is it? What's the character's motivation? Would Thatcher knock on the door in the same way and Churchill? What about Mandela?

      Take the film "Ray" about the blind musician. It was shot very differently from Invictus. They use an overlay of venue names. Now, in "Ed Wood" they show the same kind of drug addiction, but in a different way. They don't have the flooding memories of Bela.

      Talking about films we have in common can be a great starting point for making films.

      10 months ago
  • Vasco - being something of a 'history' buff (not sure why I am mind you) I would imagine making any sort of history film is beyond our necessarily modest means. Mind you they found a reed with holes in it from 20,000 years ago and it was made with extreme precision and could play - for instance - the Star Spangled Banner (should you feel so inclined - the pentatonic scale yeah?). Think of it Cro-Magnon man - and obviously woman -and s/he was just like us. Got to be some sort of basis of a plot there and all you'd need is a cave somewhere and a reed. And some imagination of course. Yeah they were just like us. Of course they were just like us. We all come from the same relatively small family in the line of east African chimps. I can hear Brexiteers everywhere shuddering at the thought. If that idea offends anyone - and it might of course - go on Youtube and look up Alice Roberts professor of evolution I think or something like that. She explains it all in words of amazing simplicity and conviction. And if you get offended listening to her you can always just look at her - she's rather beautiful.

    10 months ago
    • Allan,
      Okay, so what I got here is that you go by Darwin's theory of evolution. I passed through Shrewsbury yesterday, the castle, the Darwin centre, thought, we could do something here. Creationists tend to think of a first man and first woman, and still, we're all of one bloodline. ("Creation", the Darwin biopic, was a pretty good movie, by the way.)

      I'm not being a Brexiteer here. I love a few movies about Napoleon. Perhaps we could do a July Pitch, to celebrate 4th of July, 14th of July, and the whatever other independence, Saints, or commemoration days come in July. (Grandparent's Day? Darwin's Birthday?)

      About being beyond our modest means, are investors banned from Shooting People?

      Also, we've had discussions about Star Wars in the past (you were against it.) No one complained that none of us have the means.

      10 months ago
    • Oh, and are you saying that Alice Roberts does a great, microbudget history documentary?

      10 months ago
  • Taking it back to the OP: historically-set films are a hard sell for filmmakers starting out, because of the costs. I love watching them, and I've written more thana few. Even when producers are interested in the subject, the additional costs deter them.

    10 months ago
    • Stephen, Even microbudget films like She's Gotta Have It, Napoleon Dynamite, and Pi weren't self-funded. Maybe partly self funded, but filmmakers usually get some finance for their early movies.

      Werner Herzog's directorial debut, which is often touted as a micro-budget film, was historical. (His first released film, at any rate.) It may not be historically accurate, but it was set pretty far in the past.

      Ridley Scott's debut was a low budget film called "the duelists." It wasn't exactly contemporary either.

      The Coen Brothers' debut, while some might not call it historical, had a reported budget of 1.5 million, which was higher than some historical films of the same era.

      Even if your first feature is not a history film, it's just interesting to know which direction you're going in. You know, like the infamous interview question, "where do you want to be in five years?" Making microbudget shorts for the rest of your life?

      10 months ago
    • @vasco de sousa Hi Vasco, your examples are all directors or writer/directors. I'm talking about non-hyphenated screenwriters, looking to get a film made form their scripts. And the comparison with microbudget shorts doesn't apply. (I've never made one.) Let's say a new(ish) writer has two features, with equally good stories, characters andn writing. One is historically set, requiring horses and costumes and set dressing of castles , and the other is a contemporary crime drama on anywheresville city streets. Which is the more likely to get funded?

      10 months ago
    • @Stephen Potts Good point that I was talking about directors. However, Cinderella Man was written by a total newbie (a supply teacher, in America called substitute.)
      I think it might have been ruined by a seasoned writer.

      Most of the British films which I've seen over the past 20 years have either been historical, adaptations (which are often set in the past, or big budget like Harry Potter), or by writer-directors like Mike Leigh.

      Experience and budget matters even more for directors than writers. A great script is a finished product, if the writer is a relative newbie, then so what? There isn't the risk of something going wrong on set. If you have a script, then you have a script.

      A lot of writers only get one shot. And, write too many in a genre you don't like, and you'll get type cast. So, at least pitch the historical script, to show your ability.

      But, even if you are right, before there was a monthly "theme" I remember a lot more historical pieces. I think we could at least try, and see whether there are writers out there who have an interest in writing history (and directors/producers who have an interest in making history.)

      10 months ago
    • @Stephen Potts As to which is more likely to get funded, that depends. A lot of contemporary crime dramas are actually quite expensive, not all history films need a lot of dressing, so it was a loaded question.

      But, even if it's more expensive, the more interesting film will get funded. I did a search for Crime Drama, and came up mostly with television, not film. The only crime drama I can remember seeing in the cinema recently was Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and that was back in time, not exactly anywhereville.

      10 months ago
  • PETERLOO is out on 2 Nov... The story has never been made into a film before... Mike Leigh knocks it out the park for my money

    10 months ago
    • I think I might end up hearing more about that film. I saw Leigh's take on Gilbert and Sullivan. It was interesting and funny in bits, but I thought it could have benefited from a script. (There were some scenes that just slowed it down, and they were also the ones that limited the audience.)

      10 months ago
  • Hey Vasco -I'd forgotten Ridley Scott's first (and perhps best) foray into the business with The Duellists. Godt a couple of rewards I seem to remember and has Harvey Keitel ever been better? And the attention to detail and the research e.g. on fashions, clothers, hairstyles etc. Brilliant. I don't think it made much dosh though.
    And yes, of course Alice Roberts does a great micro-budget documentary on all of us. But then I'm a fan.
    And re Darwin Vasco - not a lot of point discussing that here except to say that ever since he published Origin o Species he has been under constant attack and he and his followers have successfully refuted them all. Unless of course you're a 'creationist'. Like Darwin was wbhen he first visited the Galapogos. It wasn't an option in those days, it was a 'given'. But he slowly and painfully came to believe otherwise. Why do I think that a belief in creationism makes you more likely toa br a Brexiteer?

    10 months ago
    • Mac,
      I don't know much about you, but you seem to see the world as two characters. So, if you're being honest about your opinion of me, you'd probably make a pretty boring screenwriter.

      I think it would be great to make a film on the history of the EU, and how the left was first opposed when the Tories wanted to join, and why it changed.

      CAP, The Right to be forgotten, standardisation, the introduction of the Euro (and Britain's being snubbed repeatedly in things like the common exchange rate under Major...)

      I think the Thatcher film Iron Lady was inaccurate, because she was an early Brexiteer, and that's part of her downfall in the Tory party.

      Anyway, let me know if you know any good films on the history of the EU (or common market).

      10 months ago
  • Vasco - I think you and I should draw a line under our 'differences' if such they can be called. You seem to be in the 'unfortunate' position of leaning towards - siding with - being a whole hearted supporter - of 'creationism' or something like it. And it would appear to be a problem for you. Well it was for me. I was brought up as a Catholic and found myself serving mass at fourteen (I can still remember whole chunks of the mass in Latin), serving at Benediction and collecting plenary indulgences just for fun. When I go mate Peter will be waving me in and I'll be jumping the queue. Got to be some sort of screenplay there. We could use a cartoon from yonks ago (can't even remember where or when) of people lying on clouds with wings and harps and looking extremely bored and envious of the hell-raisers below having an orgiastic good time. I seem to remember they were all fully dressed. Even hell was more conservative in those days.

    10 months ago
    • Allan, whatever. I just think you're analysis of Brexit is shallow, especially for someone who probably lived through the entire common market period. I was interested in the thing from an early age, some relatives loved it, even had a summer job at the EU.

      My first copyrighted screenplay featured the "ECU" as the common currency. Then, they changed the name to Euros. Since then, I studied the EU's history for various reasons (One day-job I tried for was filming eurocrats.)

      Still, I'm guessing you saw more of that part of history than I did. I don't see what being an Altar Boy has to do with Europe though. Is the pope anti-EU? I thought he wanted to save it?

      As far as history goes, I often don't know where to class religious films. Ben Hur needs the same specialists as any secular film based in the same period, like Asterix or I, Claudius. Keanu Reeves was wonderful as little Buddha. Excalibur is not even based on the original myths. Yet, costumes, architecture, and so many other things are based on secular accounts as much as religious ones.

      I suppose if they are set primarily in the past, on earth, in the world of humans as recorded by humans, we can count them as historical, whether we agree with the spiritual interpretation of the world or not.

      If it happens on a cloud or in hell, based solely on spiritual beings and locations that only one religion believes in, then no. Those are religious films.

      But, Jason and the Argonauts or Sinbad? here, the creators don't even have an interest in historical accuracy. Yet, it's cool to see the Colossus of Rhodes, and sometimes costumes and other elements, if not authentic, are at least similar. Then, where do we put the Captain America, Winter Soldier, set in World War II?

      Darwin's film, "Creation" speaks about his life as you say. Wonderful acting, goes over Darwin's personal life too, I'd recommend it. There's even an extra feature with scientists discussing creationism.

      There was also a film I saw as a kid about Scopes or someone like that. Even though set in the past, it seemed more like a contemporary courtroom drama.

      But, something like 10,000 BC or Hammer's One million BC would be pre-history, because it's based more on archeology than written text. Noah's Ark and Adam and Eve films aren't really historical either, because they aren't based on contemporary written accounts.

      10 months ago
  • I always wondered if there could be a good film about the Indian Free Legion, kind of like Stalingrad or Das Boot. I heard there were problems with the attempts so far.

    Lord of the Fireflies shows what it's like to be on the wrong side of history when it's not your choice. But, as an animation, do we think of it as a history film?

    10 months ago
    • I meant Grave of the Fireflies. Ah. It's nothing like Lord of the Flies, don't know why I mix the names up.

      10 months ago
  • I saw "Bohemian Rhapsody" recently. The cinema was more packed than usual (despite more screenings), teenagers to pensioners.

    I don't know if it counts as history, but the story starts before most of us were born. Biopic anyway.

    Some scoffed, one person clapped. I think most of us would have made the film differently, and it was cliched, but it was way more interesting than Spielberg's Lincoln.

    Anyway, I think it proves that there is a market among all ages for biopics, as long as the subject is interesting.

    (Peterloo isn't out here until December.)

    9 months ago
  • Correction...Peterloo has been released already, presently screening at my local Cineworld Bexleyheath and nationally.
    Regards Ray

    9 months ago
    • Ray, I said out here, meaning where I am, in a two screen town in Mid Wales. I'm not going to Bexleyheath to see it, that's over a five hour journey for me, and travel there costs more than a couple of cinema tickets. (I was considering Manchester or somewhere, but that's still a long way.)

      Your reading comprehension seems to get much lower when you read my writing.

      By the way, did you see it?

      9 months ago
    • Wrong again Vasco....

      Live Premiere: Peterloo (12A)
      Wednesday 17 October

      With a live Q&A with Philip Bradshaw

      Market Road, Canton
      Cardiff, Wales
      CF5 1QE
      t: +44 (0)29 2030 4400

      Regards Ray

      9 months ago
    • @Ray Brady
      Thanks for trying to help.

      I said I live in Mid Wales (perhaps I should have said, the middle of the West coast of Wales). Cardiff is at least three hours away by car. (The buses are infrequent, making it really a whole day trip.) Just like London isn't exactly the middle of England, Cardiff isn't exactly Mid Wales.

      It's actually easier for me to get to Liverpool or Manchester. Perhaps the closest cinema showing Peterloo is Shrewsbury, that's still at least a couple hours by train (and they only come every few hours.)

      That's why I didn't tend to go to any of the networking events in Cardiff. Even if it were free, it would probably mean an overnight trip for me.

      That said, maybe if I knew ahead of time, I might have gone. Chapter Arts centre isn't beautiful, but it's an okay place to watch films.

      I'm sure there are parts of Scotland (and perhaps Northern England) that are even further from a screening.

      9 months ago