interview

Film Focus: BBC Proms Multi-Camera Director Peter Maniura speaks with Emily Cook

Film Focus’ Emily Cook speaks with highly accomplished multi-camera director and live events producer Peter Maniura. They met up at the BBC in London to talk about the art of directing multi-cameras for live TV, the media landscape of today and Peter’s top tips for anyone wanting to break into the industry.

Watch the Full Video Interview

Listen to the Full Audio Interview

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Emily Cook and Peter Maniura

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Happy Movie Going!

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This blog was written by Emily Cook

Film Focus on: Labyrinth (1986)

Emily and Sarah review Cult Classic ‘Labyrinth‘ Directed by Jim Henson, Executive Produced by George Lucas, and based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. The musical film revolves around 15 year-old Sarah’s quest to reach the centre of an enormous otherworldly maze to rescue her baby brother Toby, who has been kidnapped by Jareth, the Goblin King (played by David Bowie). With the exception of Bowie and Connelly, most of the significant characters in the film are played by puppets produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The Film will be screening at this year’s Isle of Man Film Festival.

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David Bowie starring in Labyrinth (1986)

Watch our Video Review Clip

Listen to our Audio Review Clip

The Film’s Trailer

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Happy Movie Going!

Emily Cook
This post was written by Emily Cook

Film Focus on: The Dogme 95 Film Movement with Ash Singh & Emily Cook

In this exclusive video Emily‘s joined by Film Focus‘ Resident Cultural Commentator Ash Singh to talk about the controversial avant-garde film movement, Dogme, where the director doesn’t get credited and sexual acts are depicted for real. In this filmed segment, Ash speaks about this exciting and often misused Danish school of filmmaking.

*Warning- trailers contain nudity and sexual references.*

Ash Singh
Ash Singh is a social and cultural commentator and broadcaster who has written for the Guardian,  Spectator, Scotsmen and appears regularly on national and international television. He has a book coming out later this year.

Watch the Video

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Listen to the Audio Discussion 

Dogma 95 Emily Cookand Ash Singh Film Focus

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Audio Channel: soundcloud.com/filmfocus
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Film Focus’  Emily Cook and Ash Singh

On Location: 5 Forests of Fear

In order to create the most believable ‘on screen’ worlds, films utilise a number of key elements, including computer generated imagery (CGI), set design and studio builds but perhaps most important, is the effective use of location. Films that rely heavily on a few key natural locations are able to keep costs down as they reduce the need for set dressing and costly studio rental fees.

Watch the Video Clip of Emily and Sarah Talking about the Films and Trailers

A natural location we see appearing time and time again in lower budget films is that of the forest. Low and medium budget thriller and horror films in particular make use of woodland in their on-screen worlds. The innate characteristics and physical benefits offered by the forest are a real gift to the film-maker. As far back as Shakespeare’s day, literature has presented the ‘woods’ as a place of mystery, trickery, evil and supernatural events, we see it again in the 19th century with the German fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm (e.g. in Hansel and Gretel), and the references continue right up to the present day with the likes of the 2014 film, ‘Into the Woods’ and aptly titled ‘The Forest’ (2016).

Physically, once under the canopy of the trees, our protagonists find themselves trapped,  disorientated, and confused within a repetitive landscape of untamed and unruly wilderness.  In the most basic sense, the trees and their darkness offer places for nefarious characters to hide and shelter so that their deeds can be concealed.

So now we invite you to follow us, breadcrumbs at the ready, into the deep dark forest as we explore our top 5 examples of when forests have been utilised effectively to generate a sense of fear and tension within a film.

Listen to our clip

 

Our Top 5 Forests of Fear

1.‘Severance’ (2006) Directed by Christopher Smith
Chosen by Emily

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A still from the film

What’s it all about ? Severance, directed by Christopher Smith is a British comedy Horror thriller that tells the story of a group of sales representatives who, when on a team building weekend in a remote cabin in the forests of eastern europe, become the victims of a group of crazed killers who will stop at nothing to see them dead. The film boasts an all star cast including, Toby Stephens, Danny Dyer, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay, Tim McInnerny, Laura Harris and David Gilliam.

Why we selected this film?
Emily: With a relatively low budget of an estimated at £5 million, the film made great use of the dramatic and atmospheric forests of the Isle of Man, which is where most of the on screen  action takes place. Arguably the film is rather formulaic and not everyone’s cup of tea, no doubt Danny Dyer’s involvement might put some audiences off, but I found the film’s depiction of location presented an effective sense of impending doom, as an innocent situation very quickly became something rather more sinister. The chase scenes through the trees were particularly well shot.

Trivia: Hilariously Danny Dyer spent 10 weeks toning up in the gym prior to shooting. His efforts aren’t noticable in the film. 

Severance’s Trailer:

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2.Evil Dead (1981)  Directed by Sam Raimi
Chosen by Sarah

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Behind the scenes on set

What’s it all about?  The Evil Dead is a 1981 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi and executive produced by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who also stars alongside Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. The film focuses on five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area. After they find an audiotape that releases a legion of demons and spirits, members of the group suffer from demonic possession, leading to increasingly gory mayhem.

Why we selected this film:
Sarah:
This is a bit of an obvious one to choose but it had to be done!  Even though much of the action takes place inside the cabin, the forest plays an integral part of the storyline (the thick expanse of trees hem the cabin in, adding to the secluded atmosphere, and, as anyone who has seen the original movie will know, there is an unforgettable and harrowing scene that takes place in the woods when one of the friends leaves the cabin)

Trivia:  Filming began in 1979 with a cast and crew of 37 people. Initial shooting finished in six weeks, but it took 1.5 years to edit the picture (Joel Coen was actually an Assistant Editor on the movie).

The Evil Dead Trailer:  

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3.Take Down (2016) by Director Jim Gillespie
Chosen by Emily

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Official promo image

What?  TAKE DOWN from Director Jim Gillespie, focuses on the reckless sons and daughters of international billionaires, who have been sent by their frustrated parents to an exclusive, tough-love boot camp on a remote island, where they will be taught basic survival skills in the hope it will teach them to take responsibility for their lives. When they are taken hostage and held for a billion dollar ransom by a group of sophisticated kidnappers, the young captives suddenly need every ounce of their brief training to survive.

The film stars a bevy of gorgeous talented young cast including Ed Westwick, Jeremy Sumpter, Phoebe Tonkin, Ashley Walters and Dominic Sherwood.
The film’s trailer has just surfaced, please watch out online for the film’s UK release date later this year..

Why we selected this film:  
Emily: I had the pleasure of working on Take Down when it was shot in 2014, so had first hand experience of being on location for the shoots. The majority of the lighthouse scenes were shot in Wales where as the quarry, cliff face, beach and of course Forest scenes were all shot in the Isle of Man. Over the fortnight of shooting, she film shot in several different Manx woodland areas including Ballaugh and Sulby Glen. The steep plantation floors made for a physically strenuous experience for both the cast and crew which reflect well on screen. The nature of the forest provides several perfect opportunities for ‘ambush’ scenarios. The woodland in Take Down houses the action sequences rather than the horror of Severance.

Trivia: In line with last month’s celebration of Female Filmmakers, the Film was Produced by accomplished producer Sarah Black.

Take Down’s Trailer:

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4. Battle Royale (2000)  Directed by  Kinji Fukasaku

Chosen by Sarah

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A still from the film

What’s it all about?  Battle Royale is a Japanese film directed by Kinji Fukasaku using a screenplay written by his son Kenta and stars, among others, Takeshi Kitano (probably best known for the TV show Takeshi’s Castle). The film tells the story of a junior high-school student who is struggling with the suicide of his father and who is forced by the government to compete in a deadly game where the students in his class must fight to the death, with only the sole survivor being allowed to live.

Why we selected this film:
Sarah:
This is very similar to films like Take Down or The Hunger Games franchise but pre-dates all of them (the novel the film was based on was published in 1999 and was seen as very controversial at the time).  The forest setting is used both as a sanctuary for the characters and a place where surprise attacks can be staged and traps can be constructed; the environment is much more functional than atmospheric in other words.  I’d say Battle Royale is a beautiful blend of action, horror and thriller and I urge everyone to check it out – it’s brilliant!

Trivia:  Director Kinji Fukasaku celebrated his 70th birthday during the production. He passed away two years later during the production of the sequel “Battle Royale II” (2003), ending a 40 year career in the director’s chair.

Battle Royale’s Trailer:  

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  1. Camera Trap (2015) Written and Directed Alex Verner
    Chosen by Emily

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    Official promo image

What’s it all about? Camera Trap from Writer Director Alex Verner is a natural history documentary style horror-thriller about a British wildlife film unit, set in the depths of central Asia. Using the latest in camera trap technology, four film-makers go out in search of the rare Amur Snow Leopard. What they discover is something far more terrifying than they expected.

Why we selected this film:
Emily:
I worked on this film in 2013 creating all of the DVD extras or EPK, this is the third film we’re focussing on which was shot on the Isle of Man. The film has the same producer as Severance, Jason Newmark. Unlike Severance and Take Down, however, Camera Trap makes use of the forests at night time, displaying it a variety of erie ways. The USP of the film is how it makes use of various camera technologies, state of the art infrared cameras, handheld diary cameras, head cameras, body cameras, gopros, camera traps and starlight camera. The use of darkness in conjunction with camera footage that excluded great deal of information from the frame, plays on the audience’s fear of the unknown. It’s in Camera Trap that the location of the forest at night really shines. Who knows what’s lurking behind the trees…

Camera Trap is available to download on iTunes with this link:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/camera-trap/id1005062592

Trivia:  The film seamlessly joins forest shot in the Isle of Man with that of Nepal.

Camera Trap’s Trailer:

Which films would you include in your top 5 forests of fear?

 

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Happy Movie Going!

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Film Focus with: Paul Ensby-Leading Feature Film Colourist

In this exclusive special guest interview, Film Focus’ Emily, catches up with one of the worlds leading  feature film colorists , Paul Ensby, in his Soho grading theatre at the prestigious post-production facility Company 3.

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Emily Cook and Paul Ensby in 2013 when he was working at Technicolor

 

Freshly back from LA, Paul gives exclusive colourist commentaries of the trailers of four of his most recent films including Amy, Man From U.N.C.L.EThe Lady in the Van and Allegiant, explaining what it was like working on the films and intriguing behind the scenes insights. He outlines the role of a colourst, how you go about forging a career as a grader and reveals what happened when he worked with legendary director, Lord Richard Attenborough.

 

 

Paul began his career within the industry in 1990 when he followed his father and grandfathers footsteps into the Technicolour laboratory in London. There he began to work as a 35mm photochemical feature colour grader, working with some high profile directors such as Ridley Scott and Jane Campion. Just after the turn of the century, grading digitally began to rise in popularity and Paul was at the forefront of this new technology, initially with Cinesite Europe and then back under Technicolour as their principal colourist in London. He joined the ranks at Company 3 in late 2014. His credits include ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘, ‘Amy‘, ‘Hanna‘, ‘The Man From Uncle‘ and many more.

Watch the Full Video Interview (Featuring Footage from the Film)

Video Clip: Exclusive Colourist Commentary of Allegiant

 

Video Clip: Exclusive Colourist Commentary of Amy

 

Video Clip: Exclusive Colourist Commentary of Man from U.N.C.L.E

Video Clip: Exclusive Colourist Commentary of The Lady in the Van

Many thanks to Richard at Seen and Hird design for creating these super video thumbnails.

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Happy Movie Going!

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This blog post was written by Emily Cook Founder of Film Focus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit : Marianne McCourt

Episode 4: The March Edition -The Oscars & The Virtual Reality of the BBC Blue Room Tech Lab (inc.Hail Caesar! & London Has Fallen)

Episode summary:
In this episode, we review new releases, “London Has Fallen” and the latest from The Coen Brothers “Hail, Ceasar!”. Emily and Sarah discuss some of their favourite categories from the Oscars, who won and who they think should have won.

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Special Guest – Lindsey Suter – Leading Tech expert at BBC Blue Room

In our special guest interview, Emily speaks with Lindsey Suter leading industry consumer technologist for an exclusive filmed tour of the BBC’s flagship tech lab, known as the ‘Blue Room‘. Embracing our inner geeks, we delve into the submersive world of virtual reality, explore 360 capture and talk about robots, gadgets, the future of broadcast and cinema and discover the next generation of technology before it hits the high street and our homes.

Lindsey also divulges her top advice for anyone wanting to break into the industry and perhaps most importantly we discuss whether, in this world of connected technology, there’s still a place for the cinema experience.

We check in again with Sarah to see where she’s up to with her ambitious 500  Film Challenge – she’s watching 500 films in a year!
Trivia, reviews, interviews and much more from the world of film and TV!

Watch the full video episode:

For more episodes and exclusive clips, please check out our Vimeo Channel and Soundcloud channel which house all of our episodes. To be the first to hear about our new posts and videos please subscribe to the channels and this blog.

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Happy Movie Going!!

Emily Cook

This blog post was created by Emily Cook Founder of Film Focus and Reel Vision Films

Cinema’s Alternative Love Stories – Our Top 5

As viewers, we’re so used to Hollywood telling the same contrived and formulaic love stories. We are all too familiar with the scenario of girl meets boy, couple strive and against adversity to be together, happy couple ride off into the sunset together, the end. Well we’d like to celebrate the lesser told films about love from the ‘cult’ love story to the ‘LGBT’ love story, here are our top 5 unconventional films about love.

Watch our video clip

Listen to our audio clip

Our Top 5

1.Lost in Translation’ (2003) Directed by Sofia Coppola
Selected by Sarah Moore
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Synopsis:  Lost in Translation is a 2003 American comedy-drama written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It was her second feature film after The Virgin Suicides (1999). It stars Bill Murray as aging actor Bob Harris, who befriends college graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in a Tokyo hotel. The film is about their relationship. Lost in Translation received critical acclaim and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Bill Murray, and Best Director for Coppola; Coppola won for Best Original Screenplay. Murray and Johansson each won a BAFTA award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role respectively.

Why do you love this film?  I liked the fact that this is not a traditional love story.  The two main characters are unhappy in their respective lives and there is arguably a large age gap but a bond still forms and they become quite close over the course of their time together in Japan.  The ending is left open and I’ve often found myself considering what I think happened after the film draws to a close.

Trivia Fact: Scarlett Johansson was only 17 years old at the time of filming

Trailer: Lost in Translation

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2. Romeo and Juliet’ (1996) by Director Baz Luhrmann
Selected by Emily Cook

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What? The 1996 movie, Romeo and Juliet from the Director Baz Luhrmann, (Moulin Rouge) is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s most famous romantic tragedy. Two star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet played by a young Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes, fall in love and find themselves in an impossible fateful situation. Baz Luhrmann sets the characters in a postmodernist city called Verona Beach (a play on Venice Beach) and the two opposing households, the Montagues and Capulets are in fact rival gang with guns, knives and a huge amount of honour which needs defending.

Why do you love this film? The film is emotionally intense, beautiful, passionate and expertly translates Shakespeare’s 400 year old story into today’s modern world. I feel the film is all the more intense for us knowing the ending from the start. The relationship depicted and beautifully acted by DiCaprio and Danes, is so passionate, raw, innocent and visceral, the viewer can’t help but but be submersed in their impossible love and tragic fate. I find it hard to believe this film is now 20 years old, I watched it recently and although there were stylistic elements which felt dated, the story remains as relevant as ever.

Trivia Fact: The Jesus statue that dominates Verona was actually a visual effect. In reality, it was 2 feet high.

Trailer: Romeo and Juliet

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3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)  Directed by Michel Gondry
Selected by Sarah Moore

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What?
The Cult Romance, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about an estranged couple who have erased each other from their memories, the film is written by Charlie Kaufman, directed by Michel Gondry and stars Jim Carey and Kate Winslet . It creatively uses elements of science fiction, psychological thriller, and a nonlinear narrative to explore the nature of memory and a rather unconventional romantic love.
The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Winslet received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Why do you love this film?  This movie is incredibly original and touching.  I think we can all understand how it feels to want to erase all memory of someone who has hurt us but the beauty of the film is that it examines whether it’s better to feel that pain and have the happy memories the come with it.  

Trivia Fact: During the train scene, Kate Winslet punches Jim Carrey. This was not staged or planned and Jim’s response is that of genuine surprise.

Trailer: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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4. ‘Amélie’ (2001) Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Selected by Emily Cook

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What?
Amelie is a french film from acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet which tells the story of a young waitress  in Paris called Amelie, played by Audrey Tautou, who using her wild imagination orchestrates and positively affects the lives of those around her, based on her own brand of justice. Along the way she falls in love with a mysterious stranger.

Why do you love this film? I loved this film from the moment I saw it. It tells of several unconventional love stories in parallel, parental love, self love and respect, the love and compassion one can show to a stranger and of course a very beautifully unorthodox and pure romantic love. The film is fast paced and sweeps you along on an unpredictable journey. I would go so far as saying Amelie is one of my favourite films of all time.

Trivia Fact: The part of Amélie was written specifically for Emily Watson. She wanted the part but had to decline because she didn’t speak French and had already agreed to be in Gosford Park (2001).

Trailer: Amelie

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5. The Danish Girl (2015) Directed by Tom Hooper
Selected by Sarah Moore

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What? The Danish Girl was directed by Tom Hooper and stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. This remarkable love story is loosely inspired by the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener and beautifully explores the couple’s relationship as they navigate their groundbreaking journey as transgender pioneers.

Why do you love this film? I enjoy watching love stories, especially if the characters’ circumstances are massively different to my own.  This is a story may not be exactly true but it captures the love felt by Gerda for Lili beautifully.

Trivia Fact: In real life, the women were more like sisters and Gerda was in fact bi-sexual.

Trailer: The Danish Girl

We hope we’ve given you some alternative films about love to watch this February.  Which films would you list in your top 5 Unconventional Love Stories?

Happy Valentines (or anti-Valentines) and Happy Movie Going!