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Category: Editorials

Editorials

5 Underappreciated Films From 2018

January 19, 2019

We are still in January and most of the films currently in the cinemas are holdovers from last year. So I’m here to showcase five films from 2018 that didn’t get the appreciation they deserved.

In the year when superhero movies, Bohemian Rhapsody, Disney and the battle between A Quiet Place and Hereditary ruled the conversation, these are the films that got a little lost in the shuffle and deserve their time in the spotlight.

The Other Side of the Wind

Netflix scored big hits this year with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and positively received seasons of Bojack Horseman and Daredevil. They also acquired the rights to many interesting films like Cam, Roma and Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. But two films among their catalogue definitely deserved more attention, this being one of them. The Other Side of the Wind did garner attention before it’s release as the final film of legendary director Orson Welles. Since then it seems to have had little discussion, which is baffling as it’s a posthumous credit from a revered director. Other side of the Wind is a scathing look into the life of a well-regarded filmmaker, as well as the people and media landscape that surrounds him. Alternately, a fascinating semi-autobiographical glimpse into Welles life and opinion of himself. It’s an interesting look at the origins of archive footage and a cinematic trip through a haze of egos and scorched refined visuals. While not the next Citizen Kane it is still a satisfying film that adds a great epilogue to the tale of one of cinema’s most intriguing figures.

Poster for The Other Side of the Wind (lastpodcastnetwork)

Apostle

Here’s the second Netflix release you should all check out. The director of The Raid brings us an effective horror story about a man going to find his kidnapped sister. But his life is put in danger when he learns the secret of the island she is on. That summary sounds generic for a horror movie, but Apostle does some things so well that it’s easy to forgive a lot. It’s a film of two halves. The first half is incredibly tense, as our hero sneaks around investigating the island. In the second half, the film goes nuts as the blood flows and surprise reveals pile up. For this reason, it’s understandable why the films second half may lose some people. After such effective tension building, the change to blood and gore and the introduction of fantastical elements, feels somewhat disappointing. But the first half is so well done that I’m willing to go along with it. It is still very entertaining. And it’s refreshing to see a horror movie made with genuine passion. Sometimes enthusiasm is enough.

Netflix’s Apostle Poster (bloody-disgusting.com)

Knife + Heart

I am not surprised this movie was underappreciated. Knife + Heart had a limited release at film festivals so general audiences will not have seen it. Even when I saw it, it divided the audience. The plot concerns a gay porn director trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. While her crew are killed off by a masked figure. That description alone indicates this movie will not be for everyone. It’s a movie that deals with frank depictions of sexual themes as well as (depending on your interpretation) showcasing a conflicting attitude towards its characters sexuality. It’s also a movie that goes for dream logic and magical realism over cause and effect reality. Which some viewers may not like. It’s destined for cult stardom. Some will love it others will detest it. For me, it was a one of a kind experience. It showcased great affection for a cinematically underrepresented group and I saw nothing like it all year.

Opening to Knife + Heart (variety)

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Of all the listed movies, this is the most difficult to watch. Tigers Are Not Afraid tells the story of a girl who loses her mum in the Mexican drug war. She receives a piece of chalk which she believes will grant her wishes. She then uses these wishes to help her and several other children made homeless by the feuding. But all her attempts to help have dire consequences. I saw this movie listed at several horror festivals this year and heard buzz about it from the community but no one else. Having seen it I understand why. This movie pulls no punches when it comes to showing the impact that the drug war has on the Mexican people. Even children aren’t safe. Because this movie deals with such a sensitive and relevant topic it is not likely to be for everyone. Some may find the movie to be in bad taste or just too much to handle. But, like the movie shows, sometimes we need stories like this to help us process the world around us.

Tigers are not afriad poster (molinsfilmfestival)

The Hate U Give

My favourite release of last year was a film that I knew nothing about going in. I saw no trailers; none of the actors on talk shows and no one I knew was talking about it. But when I emerged from the cinema I felt so drained and excited. For the first time in a while, I felt the power of cinema. I cared about the fates of all of the characters. I never knew where the story was going. There were moments that affected me on an emotional and physical level and I felt like I was watching something important. This film speaks so much to this generation and this point in time that it is truly a feat. Because of this I want you guys to experience the film the same way I did. Don’t look up anything about it. Just know that the story concerns a teenage girl named Starr trying to navigate the ups and downs of growing up in modern America. It’s a film that deserved way more than it got and one that I will continue to fly the flag for as long as I can.


Amandla Stenberg in the poster for The Hate U Give (ComingSoon.net)

Thus ends my list of five little seen gems from last year. I hope that you will check all of these out and hopefully you will find at least one that you enjoy as much as I did.

What was your favorite underappreciated 2018 movie? Let us know in the comments. I look forward to seeing the underappreciated gems that this year will bring us.

Editorials

Three franchises ending soon: my hopes and fears for each

January 13, 2019
Avengers, Star Wars & Jurassic World

Good things come in threes (unless you’re an only child like me, in which case the BEST things come in ones), so this week I’ve picked out three film series that are coming to an end in the near future – one of which will wrap up in the very near future, I might add – and have laid out some of my hopes and fears for each.

Full disclosure: these are three film franchises that I adore, so apologies in advance if this gets emotional.

Let’s do them chronologically, just to keep things simple.

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame (Teaser)

The Endgame title was revealed just last month, along with a decidedly threadbare teaser trailer. We saw Tony Stark saying his goodbyes to his beloved, a clean-shaven Captain America concocting a plan, and the reappearance of some faces notably absent from Infinity War. This next (and very much not final) entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be the 21st in the series since Iron Man kicked it all off in 2008, which is in itself a remarkable achievement.

Hopes and fears:

The Avengers find themselves in a sticky situation, with a significant portion of their team (along with half of all beings in existence) wiped out by the jolly purple giant Thanos at the end of Infinity War. Plenty have speculated, but no-one really knows exactly how everything’s going to work out fine in the end for our superheroes, though Ant-Man and his quantum tunnel machine thing surely have something to do with it…right?

Personally, I’m excited to see how Captain Marvel fits into this increasingly-complex puzzle – is she the key to defeating Thanos? More importantly, just where did everyone go after The Snap? I hope the Russo brothers can deliver another perfectly-balanced visual spectacle to follow on from the first film, with solid performances from a very talented cast and plenty more breath-taking MCU action. My only fear is that Endgame won’t live up to expectations, and that the weight of eleven years-worth of interwoven narratives and characterisation finally collapses in on itself.

Fingers crossed we can make it beyond April without that happening…

Star Wars Episode IX

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Trailer)

The as-yet-untitled final episode in the new trilogy is perfectly poised to surprise, I believe. The Resistance has been reduced to a handful of rebels stuffed into the Millennium Falcon, with the ever-angry Kylo Ren now the Supreme Leader of the First Order hell-bent on wiping them out. Han’s gone, Luke’s gone, and, as a result of tragic real-life circumstances, Leia probably won’t feature for long in the new movie. That leaves us solely with the new cast, as well as Lando Calrissian, who is due to make another appearance in that galaxy far, far away.

Hopes and fears:

I’m pretty hopeful for the final act in the Skywalker saga since J.J.Abrams retook the reins. The Force Awakens was excellent, while The Last Jedi was marmite (I loved it, for what it’s worth). Abrams is one of the best currently in the business, and with the story right on the brink of something truly special, I’m already getting excited about seeing how the inevitable Kylo-Rey-Finn love triangle pans out (don’t lie, you were thinking it too).

My fears for Star Wars always stem from Disney’s control over the final product. The worst part of The Last Jedi (ie. the middle bit at the casino) had clearly come about based on the advice of executives who wanted to retain a fun, child-friendly element in what was otherwise a darker and more interesting storyline. If Abrams and his writing team can keep the pesky Mickey Mouse meddlers out of production, we could have an epic space opera on our hands that’s worthy of George Lucas’s original vision, before pod-racing and Jar Jar Binks.

Jurassic World 3

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Trailer)

I know a lot of people didn’t like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and I understand why. I also know that, as a long-time fan with rose-tinted glasses fused to my face, I will always find a silver lining in every velociraptor-shaped cloud that floats my way, so I’ll do my best to be objective here.

The Jurassic World movies, though clearly not as expertly-crafted as the original movie, are fun to watch, and have introduced a whole new generation of movie-goers to the classic cloned reptiles. And I think that’s great.

Hopes and fears:

My hope for the final movie in the new trilogy, which hits the big screen in 2021, is that all of the potential that’s been simmering under the surface throughout the first two instalments comes together in the way I’ve always hoped it would. No more weak writing, no more ‘filler’ characters, and no more sauropods left behind on lava-soaked docks as I try not to die inside.

Colin Trevorrow, who did a fine job of resurrecting the series back in 2015, has returned to the director’s chair after being let go by Disney (“creative differences”, and all that jazz), and I think that might be enough to get the trilogy over the line in a satisfactory way – while Fallen Kingdom was often preoccupied with trying to either scare or sadden us, Trevorrow leans more towards giving JP fans what they always wanted to see.

The bottom line

Of the three series in question, Jurassic World 3 has the most potential to crash and burn, which I desperately hope it doesn’t. I think Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars Episode IX are both in great hands and stand a much better chance of delivering, especially since both franchises are guaranteed to carry on beyond 2019 with plenty more Marvel movies in the works and an entirely new Star Wars trilogy reportedly under development.

Fingers crossed for satisfying conclusions featuring copious amounts of Hulk smashing, lightsabre clashing, and T-rex jaws gnashing.

Editorials

Advice For First Time Independent Feature Filmmakers

January 10, 2019

Making your first feature film is a pivotal milestone for a filmmaker. From getting the right cast to working with the right producer, it can be a very daunting task, particularly if you’re working with a limited budget. So, we spoke to filmmakers who have independently completed their debut feature film to get practical advice on what to do when making your debut independent feature film. Here’s what they said…

Dom Lenoir (Director / Producer) – Winter Ridge (2018)

The right mindset & getting into cinemas.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t achieve, set yourself a goal for the film you want to make and something that sets you on fire with passion and then comit to making it. Half the battle is just making a pledge with yourself that whatever happens you will keep going, every time you hit an obstacle you just take it one at a time and eventually you’ll have a film. And build yourself the infrastructure of a film before you even think about asking for money, when its ready to go and all you need is the funds then you are in a good place for investment.

Getting into cinemas isn’t nearly as hard as people think. The attitude is that if you don’t have Tom Cruise in your film it won’t fill seats, but you can target areas you have a base and market single screenings yourself and a lot of cinemas are receptive if you can guarantee some seats filled.

Winter Ridge (Trailer)

Winter Ridge is available to download and stream across all major platforms.

Jamie Noel (Writer / Director) – Lie Low (2019)

Getting the right location & filming with smaller crew.

Once I came to terms with the restrictions of a smaller crew and minimal kit, I was free to focus on the benefits. Sure, I couldn’t afford an Alexa, or an expensive lighting set up but by shooting with available light, a documentary size crew, a Sony A7s and a hand-held gimbal, we suddenly were so much more flexible and agile. We were able to capture more takes and grab coverage and cutaways on the fly, something that would normally add hours on to the schedule. Embrace your limitations, they will end up being the best ally you have.

Working on a micro-budget, very little was certain. It was especially hard to lock down locations. We had to stay malleable and adapt quickly when the ground shifted. Our main location changed weeks before shooting, this not only changed things in regard to the logistics of the production but also in terms of the tone of the film. You just have to run with it, every location will have something to offer if you’re open to it and fortunately, in the end, our final main location turned out to be a real gem.

Lie Low (Teaser)

Lie Low will be screening at film festivals later this year.

Andy Collier (Co-Writer / Co-Director / Producer) – Charismata (2018)

When is a script ready & raising money for your film.

I think you should never stop working on [the script]. Good actors should bring their own takes to a script right up to shooting (which may or may not be improvements but working through them is always valuable). The better question is when is [a script] ready to use as a basis for fundraising? That’s a “piece of string” question but I think you need to be 100% happy that you have a very solid script in terms of all of story arc, structure, characterisation/slick dialogue, themes, motifs. The structure is a huge one… rightly or wrongly, a huge part of the gatekeeping side of the industry (financiers, prestige talent agencies) is focussed on BeatSheet-type analysis so it will help you if the script broadly conforms to that so that reading it satisfies their expectations.

Two methods for UK producers [For raising money]:

  • Package the script with a well-made lookbook (or at the very least one sheet) and a sensible business plan starting from sales projections given your genre and attached cast, and reverse engineer the budget to hopefully ensure break-even… and take that to the main markets (AFM, Cannes, Berlinale) and get meetings at the booths of as many sales agents, distributors, financiers as possible. And expect to get a lot of very encouraging responses in person that will 99.9% of the time fizzle out to nothing.
  • Get the same package and try to get rich individuals to invest, using EIS or SEIS as a sweetener. Finding rich individuals can be difficult if you don’t know any, but angel investors or equity crowdfunding platforms can be found on the internet. Depending on where you shoot, there are often soft money schemes available. In the UK, HMRC will reimburse you 20% of audited UK spend, provided you get all the necessary admin done properly. Soft money can’t be used for production or usually even post-production budget (it takes a long time to arrive)… but it’s valuable for back-end costs etc.

Charismata (Trailer)

Charismata is currently available in the U.S and will be available in the U.K later this year.

Sheila Nortley (Writer / Executive Producer) – The Strangers (2019)

Things to consider in pre-production & post-production.

I’d say one of the key things to consider in pre-production is post-production. You’d think it goes without saying but when filmmakers are first starting out a lot of the focus is on just getting through the shoot and getting the footage. It’s so important to get your post-production team in the loop as early as possible so that they’re not having to fix problems which could have been avoided but rather the shoot has been shot and delivered in a way which is not only the most efficient and convenient for them to be able to crack on but also the best way for the film overall. This also includes budgeting properly for post and not going ridiculously over budget during the production and then trying to cut corners later.

'I'm a writer, a mother, a Muslim'

Sheila Nortley says she's a 'born and bred Londoner' with roots in Ghana. She spoke to us about her latest film, The Strangers.

Gepostet von BBC News Africa am Montag, 13. August 2018
The Strangers (Behind the scenes – BBC)

The Strangers will be screening at festivals later this year.

Mark A.C Brown (Writer / Director) – Guardians (2018)

Choosing the right producer & working on a limited budget.

On Guardians we had no money so my choice of producer was based on getting someone not for raising money but for their ability to use the resources we had at our disposal. So Fred Fournier was the man. We had worked together on many short projects and he had worked in several different capacities on each from sound, script supervisor, continuity, camera and editing. And he did a few of the scores. So his knowledge of and ability to communicate with pretty much every department was invaluable, saving us time, money and a fair amount of embarrassment for me as I knew very little technical stuff at the time of shooting.

Guardians (Trailer)

Guardians will be released on Video on Demand later this year.

That concludes our advice from filmmakers! Look out for updates regarding the films featured. Big Picture Film Club would like to thank all of the filmmakers involved for their contributions.

Editorials

The Perfect Post-Apocalyptic Holidays

January 9, 2019

One thing Hollywood and I have in common is an obsession with the collapse of civilisation and the end of the world. I’m not quite sure what fuels this but perhaps it’s just interesting to see how people react to catastrophe. Maybe a brief holiday to some of these destinations can satisfy our curiosity rather than being condemned to a lifetime of it. So whether it’s an admittedly brief singles holiday in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World or a pub crawl to The World’s End the apocalypse brings up a lot of interesting holiday opportunities.

Road Trips, Cruise & Train Journeys

The nuclear weapon devastated world of Mad Max is the perfect getaway for a car aficionado who’s looking for some adventure. You can take a road trip down the legendary Fury Road and marvel at the eccentrically dressed gearheads who are all too keen to demonstrate how their amazing vehicles work.

Those looking for some live entertainment should check out The Thunderdome in Bartertown where semi-willing participants take part in a very extreme form of theatre – you’ll not find more committed performers anywhere in the world. Due to sparse retail opportunities make sure to bring plentiful water, petrol and ammunition.

Many people love cruises although being trapped on a floating prison for weeks, or even months on end with the same people already sounds like the end of the world to me. But if that sounds appealing Waterworld may be the apocalypse for you. You can sail and swim to your heart’s content, however, despite spending a huge amount on this vacation spot many visitors found it a massive letdown.

Your friendly cruise director, Waterworld (IMDb)

We’ve all heard how wonderful a trip on the Orient Express is – if a little murdery – so recreate the golden age of train travel on board the best train the post-apocalypse has to offer: Snowpiercer. Passengers can enjoy fresh sushi or even the more interesting culinary delights in the lower-class section before moving forward to a world-class nightclub in a train! Snowpiercer is constantly crisscrossing the globe so you can see the Empire State Building buried by snow and…the Taj Mahal buried by snow. Warning – I know we’ve all done it but don’t try and sneak into the first-class carriage if you don’t have the right ticket as they are really strict about that. If you get caught paying a fine will be the least of your worries.

City Breaks

For those who want to rest and be pampered at the same time why not enjoy a stay in The Matrix? You can enjoy long baths and uninterrupted sleep while at the same time luxuriating in the pinnacle of human civilization – the late 1990s, enjoying pre-broadband internet, mobile phones you had to flip open and the dawn of reality television.

Be on the lookout for overly-officious government agents and very eager people pushing red and blue pills. And for those environmentalists amongst you don’t worry – this world uses extremely renewable energy.
Perhaps it’s my age showing but I can’t think of a better historical period to be trapped in for my entire life. This is my idea of the perfect holiday and have always thought our robot overlords set up a very nice post-apocalypse for us.

Family Getaways

For some people family comes first and if you’re looking to bond why not go to The Road? Yes, on first glance it’s possibly the bleakest and most horrible of all post-apocalyptic worlds but you can forge an everlasting father-son relationship. You’ll go on a very, very slow roadtrip taking in scenic views of dead forests, barren fields and gruesome remains. Personally I can’t abide a world that promises an acting masterclass from Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron and then only gives us a few minutes of the latter.

Family fun in The Road (IMDb)

Those with larger families why not take a country house in It Comes At Night – make boarding up windows, collecting water and dealing with the infected a fun family activity! And nothing stokes family unity like the fear of any and all outsiders, whether they simply want to steal your food or are infected with the mysterious but deadly plague that has wiped out billions it’s best to avoid them.

If you’re sick of your hustle and noise of the city – or just your family – A Quiet Place is a wonderful respite. Your children really will learn that silence is golden and you can enjoy countless hours of reading, lying very still and trying not to scream in pain.

The Zombie Experience

Zombies might seem the perfect way to ruin a holiday – after all who wants flesh-eating nearly unstoppable monsters attacking them? Well if you decide to hole up somewhere comfortable it’s not so bad. Do you want an old-fashioned lock-in at a real London pub? Then stop by the Winchester and once the zombie hordes arrive there will be no getting you out.

Enjoying a genuine London pub with friends, Shaun of the Dead (IMDb)

How about going to Zombieland and enjoying the last functioning theme park in the world Pacific Playland? It has exciting rides, sort-of friendly clowns and security is provided by a cowboy-hat wearing Woody Harrelson? Zombieland is also well known for it’s celebrity guests and they are all from the tippy-top of the Hollywood tree.

Some people pick their holiday destinations based on where they can do some great shopping and Dawn of the Dead offers you two fantastic malls in Monroeville. Whether you prefer the more sedate 1970s experience or fast-paced shopping trip from the mid 2000s they’ve got you covered. You’ll have plenty of time to explore shops as stays can last for months. The mall even comes with it’s own shuttle buses which a lucky few actually get to work on!

So there you have it: adventure, relaxation, luxury, whatever you want for a holiday experience the post-apocalyptic world can provide it!

Editorials

2019: The Year for Superhero Horror?

December 28, 2018
Blade Trinity

A great run of films

2018 has been a monster year for superhero films, largely due to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Infinity War & Black Panther being the two highest grossing films in the world this year. With the release of the trailer for Avengers 4: End Game, audience appetite for the Marvel’s franchise shows no signs of slowing down.

Similarly, if you’re a fan of horror films the last few years have been something of a golden age: Get Out, A Quiet Place, IT, Hereditary, Halloween & Mandy are all part of a new generation of horror films that have seen critical success and have spearheaded a revival in the genre. A testament to this is horror films increasing their take at the U.K Box Offices, going from £50.8 Million in 2016 to £66.2 Million in 2017

2017’s Logan has served as the precursor what we could potentially see from grittier-darker toned superhero films. As the appetite for both superhero and horror films show no immediate signs of slowing down, surely it’s only a matter of time until we see these worlds merge, right?

New Mutants Delay

The New Mutants was one of our own selected Must See films of 2018. The X-Men spin-off sees five mutants escaping from a secret facility where they are being held captive. The release of the film was delayed by a year, as a result of reshoots and the Delay of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The reshoots have reportedly allowed director, Josh Boone, to make the film “scarier”, with him even calling the film “a full-fledged horror film“. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the film can reach it’s potential.

The New Mutants (Trailer)

Enter BrightBurn

“What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?” – the synopsis of Brightburn reads like an “evil” Superman and certainly, that’s the direction the first trailer appears to be heading in. The film is directed by David Yarovesky (Guardians of the Galaxy) who has coined the phrase “Superhero Horror”, to describe the merging of the two. Brightburn will be released in May 2019.

Brightburn (Trailer)

History repeats

The idea of a popular superhero-horror franchise on the big screen isn’t exactly new. Marvel first saw success 20 years ago with the release of Blade in 1998, the film followed Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) who stars in the lead role as a vampire killer. Amassing an impressive $130 Million worldwide, a cult following and spawning two more successful sequels, the Blade trilogy has the honour of being Marvel’s first trilogy franchise and first live-action superhero film led by a black actor. Wesley Snipes has spoken openly about bringing Blade to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so perhaps a reboot isn’t too far-fetched.

Blade (1998)

Keeping on the theme of vampires, following the commercial success of the Spider-Man spin-off Venom, Sony has had its eye on the continued expansion of its own Spider-Man Universe (not part of Disney’s MCU) with Morbius, the Living Vampire. The lead antihero, Biochemist, Dr Michael Morbius, will be played by Jared Leto. In the comics, Morbius has pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits stemming from a failed biochemical experiment which was intended to cure his rare blood disorder. Although exact plot details of the feature film aren’t known at this stage, expect to hear more news soon. The film is currently at the pre-production stage, so will likely be released in 2020 at the earliest, however, with the release of edgier comic-book based films beforehand Sony will be keen to build off the momentum of other films.

One reboot which is definitely happening is Hellboy. However, based on the trailer it might not be as dark in tone as the original 2004 feature film starring Ron Perlman. Should the reboot prove successful it should film studios further incentive to work on developing more superhero – horror films.

Who wins?

Ultimately this could be a win-win situation for fans and the film studios. In order to maintain interest in comic book film adaptations in a post-Avengers; End Game world, it makes sense for the major studios to branch out and experiment with the genre to keep fans engaged. Increased attention in comic-book films also allows studios to take more risks in producing more niche titles, which may already have their own cult following among comic-book readers.

Editorials

May The Fan Film Be With You

December 23, 2018

I am a huge Star Wars fan. So obviously I’ve seen all the films and tv shows many times (even the prequels). I’ve also read fiction set in that universe, as well as non-fiction, I’ve read graphic novels, played computer games and literally bought the t-shirts. However, compared to some people I am not very committed at all. Some people love Star Wars so much they have devoted time, money and resources to create their own fan films, original stories set in the Star Wars universe. They do this without hope of profit or reward and I always admire people who work hard on something simply because they love it. In writing this article I watched a lot of Star Wars fan films and was shocked by just how good they were, so here’s a list of five great fan films that showcase the different types of film being made.

Troops

Troops was one of the first fan films and dates back to 1997. Troops create the format and style of infamous reality tv show Cops and applies it to stormtroopers on Tatooine. A Star Wars comedy parody fan film could easily annoy me but they pitch it perfectly, mixing the almost polite and reasonable behaviour police demonstrate on Cops – for example trying to calm down an arguing couple,  to more typical stormtrooper behaviour like shooting Jawas in cold blood.

There a lot of cute details for Star Wars fans and when we learn that these particular storm troopers are searching for stolen droids we kind of know where this is going. 

The special effects aren’t great but considering when this was made this is not surprising and the grainy appearance could even be intentional. The costumes are dead on and they certainly look like stormtroopers. Overall this a funny and cool film that everyone from casual fans to complete Star Wars nerds will enjoy.

Darth Maul: Apprentice 

This fan film focuses on everyone’s favourite bisected sith apprentice- Darth Maul, to many people he was one of the few good things in The Phantom Menace. In this film, Darth Maul takes on a number of Jedi sent to fight him. There is limited plot and is essentially one long fight scene but it has the best fighting of any fan film I’ve watched.

The stunt work and fighting are very well done, the fights moving quickly and smoothly and while occasionally some of the special effects remind you that you are not watching a Hollywood blockbuster that is a minor gripe as usually they are very well done.

The acting isn’t always top notch but this is a film about getting to watch Darth Maul fight Jedi and in that sense it is a complete success. That said, the actor playing Darth Maul has captured that character wonderfully.

Jakku: First Wave

A lot of fan films focus on fighting. Light sabre-duels, blaster fights and dogfights are all cool but often they lack story and interesting characters. Personally I really need these things and can put up with bad special effects if it makes me think and feel something.

This film has essentially abandoned many of the special effects and set pieces fan films rely on. The film lasts three and a bit minutes and is of several stormtroopers waiting to go into battle talking about why they are fighting. It was an interesting idea as it takes the normally anonymous stormtroopers who follow a clearly evil emperor and shows things from their point of view. The costumes and sound effects are great and I genuinely wanted to know more about their story and what happened to these characters and that’s high praise indeed.

TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story

Star Wars fan films are such a longstanding phenomenon there are awards – which this film won. Like Jakku: First Wave this is taken from the point of view of a person who signs up as a stormtrooper because he believes in the cause of the Empire, he’s clearly not evil but sees the Empire as the legitimate authority and propaganda broadcasts frame the Rebel Alliance wanting a return to the lawless days of the Republic. This is an epic of fan films capturing the chaotic and dirty business of war. Most of the film is focused on a single battlefield, soldiers fire at each other and dogfights go on above them and they even come up with some nifty stormtrooper weapons.

Perhaps most interestingly this film focuses on the fact that in a civil war your enemies can be your friends, your family, your neighbours. How will you feel fighting these people? Why did you choose different sides? Of all the fan films I watched this one felt most like a complete film.

Hoshino

This is a very interesting film that I enjoyed a lot, it is the story of Hoshino who we see both as an apprentice and as a Jedi Master with shots going back and forth from the present to the past. We see in the present that Jedi Master Hoshino is blind, a vicious scar running across both her eyes and when an apprentice this scar is not present. We will learn what happened to her.

The film has great special effects including a very cool sequence of Hoshino assembling her light sabre just by using the Force to combine all the pieces.  There is also some cool Jedi philosophising between Hoshino and the Jedi training her which fits in nicely with the Jedi religion that Lucas created. 

There is a familiar plot of arrogant apprentice rushing into something they’re not properly prepared for but this is handled well and has some interesting features. There is, of course, the question of how a blind Jedi perceives the world and while I don’t know of any such characters in the wider Star Wars universe I wouldn’t be surprised if they existed.

Editorials

Top 5 Un-Christmassy Christmas Films

December 20, 2018
Brazil (1985)

Debates are currently raging across social media and news outlets regarding a certain movie and it’s status as a Christmas movie. So when would be a better time to run down a list of the 5 most debatable Christmas movies ever?

For the purposes of this list, a Christmas movie is a movie that pays particular attention to the holiday season. And also focuses on delivering the festive message of goodwill. As such, movies on this list don’t pay close attention to the holiday or deliver messages of despair and misery. What a fun way to counteract all the forced gaiety of Christmas time. So for those of you looking to watch something different this year, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s begin.

Black Christmas (1974)

Many un-Christmassy Christmas movies like to use Christmas as an ironic or dark setting. To exemplify their stories horrific or absurd nature. One of the earliest films to do this was the original Black Christmas. Bob Clark’sseasonal chiller tells a familiar story. A group of sorority girls are killed off one-by-one by someone hiding in the attic. But it sets itself apart in a myriad of ways. Not least by how it uses Christmas as its backdrop. When juxtaposed against the snow, lights and carolers, the films violence and adult content becomes extra effective. And the perversion of Christmas iconography like birth, family and having the killer breaking into the house like Santa Claus, transforms the film into both a well-told deconstruction of Christmas mythology and the best Christmas horror film ever. But when watching it, goodwill will be the furthest thing from your mind.   

Gift wrapping gone wrong in Black Christmas (1974)

Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece is a sci-fi reimagining of George Orwell’s 1984, except more concerned with corporate bureaucracy, the power that corporations hold over us and how fantasy is a far more attractive prospect than reality. And it is set at Christmas…I wonder why? Like Black Christmas, Brazil uses the bright trappings of Christmas to accentuate the darkness of its world. But this time with a more darkly satirical edge. Like many of Gilliam’s films, it finds absurd humour in combining jolly childish fantasy with bleak adult reality and both of those things very much fit the Christmas motif. Making for an experience that captures not so much the fantasy of Christmas, but perfectly captures the pain of growing out of Christmas.

Santa visits the condemned in jail. Brazil (1985)

The Hunt (2012)

And continuing from Brazil’s use of grim adult reality to offset childhood innocence, comes the ultimate example of how assumed childhood innocence can have grim repercussions on adult life. The Hunt is a Danish film from director Thomas Vinterberg and stars Mads Mikkelsen. The story focuses on Lucas, a schoolteacher accused of something during the holidays. He then spends the season attempting to clear his name. While also trying to save his relationship with his son and surviving persecution from his neighbours. This truly is one of the most challenging films set at the most wonderful time of the year. Watching a man being driven to near-suicide, for something he didn’t do, by “civilized” people is as far removed from Christmassy as you can get. But the message of forgiveness and the dangers of pre-judgment is one that everyone should hear, especially at this time of year.

The happiest midnight mass ever in The Hunt (2012)

Die Hard (1988)

The movie everyone is currently discussing for its holiday relation. The classic action movie concerns New York cop, John McClane (Bruce Willis). Who attends his wife’s Christmas party which is later hijacked by “terrorist” Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). The story then becomes pure white-knuckle action as John tries saving the day, while desperately trying to avoid being killed. It is so easy to get absorbed in the action, brilliant acting and dialogue, that Die Hard’s Christmas setting seems incidental. But again the festive trimmings lend extra catharsis to the blood spurts. And the themes of greed and honesty that permeate the film still shows a clear affinity for the holiday. So we may have Bruce Willis instead of Santa. Delivering death instead of presents. But Die Hard deserves to be seen as a Christmas movie. Let it Snow’s presence on the soundtrack also helps.

See a Santa hat. Die Hard (1988) is a Christmas movie

Filth (2013)

Finally, for our list of seasonal antithetical movies, we have the filthiest holiday movie of the century so far. Filth stars James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson. A cop with dreams of promotion, investigating the murder of a foreign exchange student. But he has some serious demons to deal with. Including drug addiction, a disparaging voice in his head (Jim Broadbent) and being separated from his wife and child. Consequently, he spends the Christmas season making life miserable for himself and his colleagues. Pitch black in every sense, Filth is only recommendable to those with strong constitutions. Even seasonal goodwill may not get you through it. This is a film intent on showcasing humanities selfish and destructive side. But McAvoy’s brilliant performance makes it hard to turn away from. If nothing else, this film shows, however bad you think your office Christmas parties are, they could be much worse.

One hell of a Christmas party in Filth (2013)

So, I hope this list has given all of you some new festive treats to check out. To help provide a different perspective on this wonderful time. It may not always be holly and jolly, but all are a great cure for a silent night at home. Happy watching.

Editorials

Not Watching The Worst Film Ever Made

December 13, 2018
The Worst Film Ever Made

I once went to an all-night cult film festival and the cinema had three screens so essentially you had a choice of three films at any time. First up was The Big Lebowski, Brazil and The Room. The first is probably my favourite film. Brazil is Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece and a film that is so good that it can get away with casting Michael Palin as a sadistic torturer. And The Room is considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Its entire fame is based on that it is terrible and yet people were choosing to see this over either of the two classics. It is a mystery to me why anyone would want to watch it at all. I’ve never seen Raging Bull, Vertigo or Oldboy all of which look brilliant and interesting but I just have never gotten round to watching them and it feels a bit wrong to see something like The Room before Raging Bull.

The Room (IMDb)

The Room would fit into a category of film known as “so bad it’s good”, that a film with glaring and obvious flaws, with failures of writing, acting, directing can be enjoyable because of these flaws. Usually, it’s not just films that aren’t very good, there are lots of those films, normally it needs something more like the filmmakers thought they had something good. That certainly seems to be the case with The Room and while the filmmakers seem to have embraced the awfulness of their film it certainly seems like they weren’t making it ironically.

Despite its terribleness, The Room is genuinely a cultural landmark with special fan screenings across the world and perhaps has wrestled the title of worst film ever made from Plan 9 From Outer Space. Both films are so notorious that each has been the subject to follow-up films (The Disaster Artist and Ed Wood respectively) which to me look far more interesting than the original films. I understand that I am in a distinct minority in this opinion with many people taking great pleasure in watching bad films. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 has been going for thirty years on the simple premise of watching bad films and making jokes about them (while that premise is simple the rest of the show involves evil scientists, talking robots and captured spaceship pilots). There are many bad movie podcasts such as The Flop House, a show with clever, witty hosts who know lots about films – good as well as bad ones.

The Worst Film Ever Made That Cost $125,000,000

Another contender for the worst film ever made is Batman & Robin and I have seen this one and in my defence, I had hoped it would be good. Before Christopher Nolan resurrected Batman it had been thoroughly killed by this film. There is a supposed Batman curse and that accepting a high profile role in a Batman film will harm your career and this was certainly true for Batman & Robin. The careers of George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered severe harm and some have still not recovered. This should have been a big success. George Clooney has since proven himself to be a great dramatic actor, director Joel Schumacher had made good films like Falling Down, and it’s easy to forget that Schwarzenegger was once the biggest movie star on the planet. The film is a total fiasco with everything from the script to costumes being picked apart in the subsequent twenty years for being absolutely awful. Personally, I’d say this is a far worse film than The Room; as that was a small film with no stars and not much money the budget of Batman & Robin was $125,000,000 and for that amount people expect results.

Batman & Robin (IMDb)
Guilty Pleasures

Many people say they enjoy “so bad it’s good” films as a “guilty pleasure”. Personally, I’m with the brilliant comedian Josie Long who said instead of having guilty pleasures said you should have “brazen pleasures”, things you love and are proud to love them. This doesn’t mean everything has to be  Kieślowski’s Three Colours Trilogy but you don’t need to feel guilty about what you love. Ultimately there are only two types of films – bad films and good films, and what goes in what category is just a matter of opinion. It’s hard to make a definitive argument that Citizen Kane is better than Clueless and it is perfectly valid to say that Alicia Silverstone’s performance is better than Orson Welles’. Personally, I really like Clueless and probably enjoyed watching it more than Citizen Kane and have had to defend it to other people who consider it awful. To me, Clueless is not a guilty pleasure it is a film I’m proud to say I enjoy. If a film engages you entertains you and interests you then it must have something going for it.

Clueless (IMDb)

So what do people get out of so bad it’s good films and guilty pleasures? Is it just to see a whole group of people fail? After all, many writers and philosophers have talked about the odd pleasure in seeing our friends fail and apparently we get the same pleasure when total strangers do so as well. Maybe it’s even better for us when they spend hundreds of millions of dollars doing it. It still seems bizarre to me to spend time watching something that even the people who made who it aren’t proud of it. I have no plans to ever watch The Room. Maybe when I’ve watched every good film ever made I’ll move onto watching the bad ones but that will probably take me quite a while as people keep making good ones.

Editorials

A Christmas Buyer’s Guide for Film Lovers

December 2, 2018

At the time of writing, Christmas is just over three weeks away. The streets are strewn with lights, classic Christmas songs are on the radio and everyone is struggling to find a gift for their loved ones. But fear not. If you are buying for a film lover, Big Picture Film Club has your back.

Today we are going to give five categorical recommendations of gifts that will please any film fan. Hopefully, this will give some of you an idea about what to get. So, let’s begin.

Collector’s edition DVD’S/Blu-rays

Nothing makes a film fan happier than owning the best editions of their favourite films. Regular DVD’s/Blu-rays are nice but there is a certain pleasure in unwrapping a collector’s edition with filmmaker commentary, documentaries, interviews, analyses, and a gorgeous transfer. Although collector editions are available from various sources, in the UK if you want the best, you can go to one of five companies:

  • Arrow Video – Specialises in cult releases (see also, Arrow Academy which specializes in critically acclaimed work and Arrow Films, which focuses on new releases)
  • The Criterion Collection – Specialises in releasing important films from world history
  • Eureka’s Masters of Cinema and Eureka Classics label – a UK counterpart to Criterion which puts out works of cultural importance and well-regarded niche films. If criterion doesn’t have your film, Eureka probably will.
  • BFI – They provide gorgeous transfers of historically significant work from Britain and around the world
  • Curzon Artificial Eye – Provides extra ladened releases of world cinema titles, new and old.

If your friend loves a film released by one of these companies, you owe it to them to get it. They are a little more expensive than other DVD/Blu-ray releases but for the quality of the content, it’s worth it.

(Also recommended 88 films, 101 films, Powerhouse Films, and Second Sight Entertainment)

Film Merchandise

This category really has the power to surprise and delight. Film fans adore minutia to brighten up their homes and there are so many options for what to buy.

You could get them a classic poster of their favourite film to give them something gorgeous to hang on their wall. You could buy them a Funko Pop of their favourite film characters to liven up their work desk. Or, why not buy them replicas of famous movie props. To allow the recipient to live out the fantasy of being a part of their favourite films.

Freddy Krueger replica glove (Amazon.co.uk)

These items vary drastically in price but no matter what you pick, your film loving friend will have a big grin on their face.

Subscription Viewing

There really is nothing better to get your friend to ensure that their movie viewing needs are cared for all year. But, what service should you get them? Well, what do they like?

  • Netflix – For a range of well-known classics, critically acclaimed modern and original films (£5.99-£9.99 monthly)
  • Amazon Prime – Provides modern favourites and many obscure older titles. Also includes prime next day delivery for those who frequently use Amazon (£79 a year or £7.99 monthly)
  • Shudder – A streaming service for horror fans. Stocked with well-known and obscure horror titles from around the world (£47.98 a year or £4.99 monthly).
  • Now TV with Sky Cinema subscription – Provides a range of classic and little-known Hollywood favourites (£55 a year)
  • Mubi and Mubi Go – For those with a taste for auteurs, independent and foreign language films. And Mubi Go allows the owner to attend one specially selected film screening a week at selected cinemas (£59.88 a year)

Or perhaps if your friend likes visiting the cinema, you could get them a subscription card for their favourite cinema chain. Cineworld has unlimited, Odeon has limitless and many cinemas have their own loyalty program. So, if your loved one likes visiting the cinema, this could help them keep up to date with new releases.

You won’t see your friend for a few weeks after they get their gift, but be assured, they are appreciative.

Home Cinema Equipment

What’s better than getting a good quality Blu-ray or DVD of your favourite film? Watching it on good home media equipment. Whether it be the latest 4K television that allows you to see a higher quality image or a home surround sound system to provide a more immersive sonic experience, it makes a nice little addition to any film watchers home.

Home Theatre System (Family Living Today)
Filming Equipment

Finally, every film fan likes watching films, but do they also want to make their own films? Well, this year why not give them a helping hand.

Firstly, find out what the person you are buying for is interested in. Do they make films solo or are they interested in one particular area of filmmaking? Once that question’s been answered, we can proceed.

If they want to make films themselves and you have a bit of extra cash, then you could buy them a nice DSLR camera. Which allows them to shoot their own stuff on the go and have a great input into how the image will look. If you don’t have enough cash for that, why not try a nice phone gimbal? To allow them to use their phones in a more cinematic way.

Do they want to be an editor? Why not buy them some editing software like Final Cut X or Premiere Pro? Hopeful directors can always use a viewfinder. For those interested in sound maybe a new microphone may be in order. And there is a myriad of other equipment available online to help start your friends on their journey towards becoming the next Spielberg. So, I encourage you to look around.

Conclusion

So, there are just a few suggestions of what to get your cinephile for Christmas. I hope this has at least given you some idea about what is available out there and wish you all the best of luck with your Christmas shopping. If you have any further ideas of what to buy, then please let us know in the comments and stay tuned for more festive articles coming soon.

Editorials

Screens on Screen: Computers, The Internet And Social Media In Films

December 1, 2018

The Internet is constantly taking over more and more of the world as seemingly anything can be improved by a WiFi connection. We watch television through Netflix, buy things through Amazon and google every passing thought or question that goes through our mind. As with any new technology, Hollywood was eager to pounce on the Internet for ideas.

What Could Computers Do?

The Internet and computer networks have been featured in films since the 1980s examining the possibilities of what “hackers” could do from accidentally leading to nuclear war in Wargames to even more sinister – changing your attendance record at school in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It is fair to say Hollywood has an odd relationship with the Internet and that’s not surprising – illegally downloading films was supposedly going to destroy the industry while Netflix almost single-handedly wiped out Blockbuster Video.

Wargames (IMDb)
Online Secrets

Assassination Nation is a recent release that deals with the Internet and social media, and without these, there would be no plot. In this film, a hacker plans to upload all of the messages sent by everyone in the town so secret conversations, insults, gossip will all come out. Judging from the trailer, the whole town collapses into violent anarchy very quickly.

Technology and Storytelling

The new technology computers and the Internet have made possible hasn’t always benefited storytelling. Mobile phones would have ruined the plots of hundreds of films and so often now there is an exposition explaining how it’s a bad reception area. Hacking into secure government files seems child’s play for any teenager with a computer, replacing any interesting and complicated break-in. Tracking someone down was once the territory of hard-bitten private detectives but social media has made it easy to find virtually anyone.

The First Glimpses of the Internet

1995’s The Net was one of the first major films to deal with the Internet and created a terrible world of secret online organisations controlling the world and, if necessary, acting against you. Sandra Bullock stars as a computer programmer and shut-in Angela Bennett, a woman with very few friends or family, who falls foul of a sinister online organisation. They swap her identity with that of convicted criminal Ruth Marx and kill her ex-husband by deleting his allergies from his medical records and pretty much ruin her life. It’s interesting that identity theft has now become an extremely commonplace crime, although not quite how they imagined it. Far scarier these days is not that someone accesses your bank account, that’s just money, but someone accessing your social media and email, that’s your soul. The Net seems laughably clueless now and I think at the time people who knew about the Internet thought it was as well.

The Net (IMDb)
The Good and the Bad

The Social Network is one of my favourite films and I’m still angry that it didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars. This is a film with a far better grasp of the Internet, social media and computers as, if nothing else, Facebook co-creator Eduardo Saverin was consulted for the book the film was based on. The Social Network talks about algorithms for god’s sake. As films about the Internet go The Social Network is broadly positive – yes, a close friendship is destroyed and most of the characters are thoroughly unlikable but there’s no Black Mirror-style horror. It’s not surprising that most Internet films are about the potential dangers; films need to be dramatic so there’s no film about how awesome Facetime is for connecting with friends abroad, in the same way, there are no films about genetic modification fixing hunger, it’s all murderous mutant hybrids. The Social Network portrays Facebook as largely a good thing, even if the origins of Facebook involve hacking, theft and some pretty mean stuff around rating the looks of women. It would be interesting to see how Aaron Sorkin (writer) and David Fincher (director) would handle making the film now after Facebook’s recent problems.

Ingrid Goes West is a film showing a very dark side of social media. It stars Aubrey Plaza as a young woman who becomes dangerously obsessed with people via their social media (the film’s title is what she names her Instagram account when she moves to Los Angeles). The film feels very current as if social media is in the news it is usually negative – it’s bullying, it’s stalking, it’s catfishing. Ingrid carefully culls her victim’s social media to find out where she shops, where she eats, what things she likes and very quickly her actions escalate beyond simply following someone online. Not to give too much away but unsurprisingly it doesn’t go terribly well for any of those concerned.

Ingrid Goes West (IMDb)

Horror has quickly embraced the darker elements of the Internet. Unfriended is a supernatural horror film viewed entirely as if viewing a computer screen in a twist on found footage films. So you see Skype windows, instant messaging, Facebook updates almost making social media the “setting” of the film. Another recent horror/thriller Cam looks at another often dark side of the Internet – pornography. The film follows “camgirl” Alice who is trying to put on ever more inventive and exciting shows for her viewers when suddenly her identity is stolen: someone has hacked her account and is streaming new videos of her but videos she never made. As well as being a chilling identity theft thriller it also shows some of the real-life impact of working as a camgirl – how devastating it can be if people find out about her career, how viewers profess their adoration but then treat her as less than a person, how getting help is much harder for her because of the way the profession is seen.

What Next?

In many ways, Hollywood still seems to be learning how to use the Internet effectively in stories but given it’s increasing importance it does feature more and more all the time. Unsurprisingly it’s younger filmmakers who have grown up it that are leading the way.

 

Editorials

Lenny Henry Leads a Call for Change

November 28, 2018

Sir Lenny Henry has had a long career in entertainment, dating back to the 1970s. He began doing small appearances on New Faces (1973) and TISWAS (1974). But found success in the 1980s with the likes of the sketch comedy show Three of a kind (1981) and his own show. Aptly titled, The Lenny Henry Show (1984). Since then, he has been a busy man. He turned his hand to films, starring in True Identity (1991). While also moving into dramatic television with Alive and Kicking (1991) and recently Broadchurch (2013). He has made documentaries, his own production company specializing in products that spoke to black lives, such as The real McCoy (1991) and he even co-founded comic relief alongside Richard Curtis. Using comedy to help raise money to fight poverty. In summation, Lenny Henry has done a lot throughout his career but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

Growing up in Dudley and being the son of Jamaican parents, Henry was a minority in his community. He has said that he was one of only three black children in his school and when he began performing on stage as a comedian in the 1970s he was the target of many racist comments. At the time opportunities for black people within the entertainment industry were so small, Henry even appeared on The black and white minstrel show (1958), one of the most racist shows in British shows in history, which he has expressed regrets for. Over the years Henry has begun shifting away from comedy, towards serious acting roles and activism for underrepresented people within the entertainment industry.

This culminated earlier this month when the star delivered a letter to Downing Street calling for tax breaks for industry companies who employ more women, BAME and disabled people. In hopes of encouraging diversity, he delivered this letter alongside Meera Syal and Adrian Lester. The letter was signed by 80 prominent figures in the UK film and TV industry including, Dame Emma Thompson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, David Oyelowo, and Jodie Whittaker. So what does this letter mean to the UK entertainment world and what could it lead to?

Film & TV Representation: Positives and Negatives

While Henry himself has been quite vocal about the industries “atrocious” representation for women, BAME, and disabled people, the industry has begun taking steps towards better representation in front of and behind the camera. Organizations such as the BFI have made it so that films applying for funding must demonstrate a commitment to diversity through on-screen representation and creative leadership. The BBC also plans for “its employees to comprise 50% women, 8% disabled people, 8% lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people and 15% people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds” by 2020. And there has also been a big push towards shows and films fronted by underrepresented parties. The new series of Doctor Who is probably the best example of this. With Jodie Whitaker leading a diverse cast of different races, genders, and ableness. Which is a big step forward for one of the cornerstones of British television history.

But Henry’s letter points out “only 2% of UK television is made by directors from BAME backgrounds”. Meaning the UK industry still lacks significant input from non-white creative voices. And the latest statistics show that the representation for women, BAME and disabled people in the industry is still shocking. So, in modern times, what are the barriers that are still halting progress towards a truly diverse workforce?

Modern Barriers

According to research from the Work Foundation, there are several obstacles that impede underrepresented groups from succeeding in the industry. These include the lack of visible screen role models. Which make others from similar backgrounds hesitant to work within the industry. Lack of clear knowledge about opportunities that are available. Employers are often inflexible about adjusting to suit certain candidates. The prevalence of networks that support nepotism over skill, perceived cultural prejudices and of course finance. So, what could these tax breaks do to help future underrepresented media workers?

Tax Relief: Positives and Negatives

The extra money will allow companies to make adjustments to suit disabled candidates as well as pregnant candidates and those with families. And the tax breaks call for more diversity in front of the camera may help break the aspirational barrier. As viewers will be given more diverse role models they can aspire to be like. The promise of financial relief could even encourage companies to provide clearer advertisements to allow for a wide range of applicants for available positions.

However, the inclusion of financial incentives for businesses does not deal with the other problems mentioned. Such as exclusivity within the industry, which still leaves a large proportion of applicants, particularly women, feeling locked out. The lack of financial support for workers still favours people from more advantaged backgrounds. And while position advertisements may become clearer, this may have the unfortunate side effect of making applicant choices feel like obligations for extra money rather than a genuine desire to promote diversity. Which helps to further, perceived cultural prejudices. It is a step forward for representation but one that helps the companies more than it does the workers and the public.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Henry’s proposal for industry tax breaks provides a great opportunity to boost representation for non-white, male and abled people. But potentially only serves a short-term solution to benefit entertainment businesses rather than current and future workers. Representation is important, and tax breaks would be a good start. But more long-term plans are needed to improve overall diversity within the industry. Should this be done through education? Dedicated work programmes to drive diversity? Investment in services to help those with specific needs? Or should the organizational structure of the industry change? I cannot say. But as the outcry continues, things will need to change. And solutions will have to be found sooner rather than later.

Editorials

Questioning Our History

November 26, 2018
Hacksaw Ridge Screenshot

“History is written by the victors.” The irony of this quote from Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who led Britain through one of the most documented wars, isn’t lost when it comes to historical accuracy and how Hollywood’s depictions of historical events can shape our understanding of the past.

It is crucial that history is documented and Hollywood re-tellings can make previously unknown historical events accessible to a wider audience. However, issues arise when an artistic license is taken to a new level and scenarios can be changed in order to heighten drama or, a more damaging reason, to portray events from a particular bias.

The popularity of period dramas is undeniable; let’s face it, good period dramas are one of the main reasons the BBC can justify the TV license – not that I’m complaining as it brought Tommy Shelby into my life! Now other platforms are jumping on the historical bandwagon – or carriage – with series three of the Netflix original ‘The Crown’ now in production.

Audience numbers for ‘historical fiction’ films have peaked and dipped over the years. There was a huge increase in 1998, with 16.63% of overall tickets sold being for this genre (Titanic had been released the December before!) while the 2011 rise could be put down to the film adaption of The Help. However, ticket sales have declined rapidly in the past year, from 6.98% in 2017 to just 2.61% this year. So why the drop?

Perhaps the issue is the historical accuracies, or rather, inaccuracies which has caused audience numbers to dwindle. Perhaps it is the whitewashing of historical events which has been prevalent in Hollywood. Perhaps it is the lack of diversity within period and war dramas.

There is a clearly evident issue of harking back to the “good old days”, particularly in older war films. This is often the case with films told from a British perspective. Graham Dawson refers to this as “the pleasure culture of war”; films providing a nationalistic perspective. Although this is to be expected as the winners tell the story, this only provides a very limited narrative to audiences. The issues caused by this “revisionist” history can be incredibly damaging. On a small scale, it might infuriate historians to see a plane being used in a film which wasn’t commissioned until two years after the events it is portraying. But, on a more damaging scale, stories can be told which present people and even social groups in an unfairly positive or negative way.

Zack Snyder’s 2006 film 300 faced a huge backlash; both historically and socially. The film gave the Spartans all the credit when they were actually supported by around 7,000 other Greeks. More worrying is the film’s portrayal of the Persians. The Persians were one of the most advanced cultures within the ancient world while the film depicts them as savage killers who held people as slaves. It was, in fact, the Spartans who held the most slaves in Greece while the Persians had outlawed the practice. The film received a great deal of negativity in Iran due to this factually inaccurate and damaging depiction of the Persians.

Although issues can arise in the making of a film, it is still vitally important that these events are documented, albeit accurately and with fair representations. As  the old adage from George Santayana goes; “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But we still need to remember the actual past, not a fictional one created for heightened drama and box office sales.

World War Two is possibly the most documented war in modern cinema. There have been all sorts of perspectives told on the silver screen; from the battle in the air to the trials and tribulations of those left behind when their loved ones went off to fight. Stephen Spielberg has done his fair share of big budget war movies, most famously Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. (He also directed War Horse – a British story about British soldiers directed by an American – think that’s one for another post!) Both films mentioned have been heralded as incredibly accurate representations of the events they depict. Although Private Ryan wasn’t, in fact, a real person, the artillery used in the film most certainly was. In fact, the opening scene, the storming of Omaha Beach, was so accurate that WWII veterans had to be escorted from screenings. Schindler’s List is another Spielberg film which has been praised for its accurate telling of the harsh realities of Nazi Germany.

Perhaps that is what historical films need in order to be able to fully tell their story: harsh reality. 12 Years a Slave was incredibly difficult to watch because of the brutal violence shown. It has also been deemed one of the most accurate accounts to date by historians. The film was based on the actual experiences of Solomon Northup, a man who was forced into slavery and was able to share his narrative after he regained his freedom. It was a narrative that I was unfamiliar with until the Hollywood adaptation, at which point I read the book. This is why historical re-tellings are important; they provide the opportunity to learn about the lives of people which might otherwise have been lost. However, it is vital that these stories are told with the accuracy they deserve.