All Things…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

I got dragged to Birmingham when I was nine years old to see Star Wars. It’s the first film I remember my parents (and specifically my Dad) taking me to see. The old man took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and so many other good movies over the years. Star Trek and Star Wars, Conan and Commando; the list went on and on. The last film we saw together at the cinema was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a few years back but between my Dad and my Great Uncle I was set on a certain path with my taste in movies that still holds true to this day.

One big thing I remember from my childhood was the music that always filled the house on a Sunday morning. Music was important to my parents and I went to a lot of concerts with my Dad over the years. It wasn’t always my thing (my taste runs to Rock) but I got to see the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry and the Crickets, The Eagles, The Dixie Chicks and Garth Brookes and so many other great artists (and a few stinkers) too. The music stays with you long after the the show has ended and when I hear a familiar song it never fails to raise a smile and old memories of good times.

My Dad liked fishing; I like fishing. My Dad loved Wales and so do I. He liked dogs and flying kites and steam trains, Monty Python and the Goons and these too are things I have in common with him. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the things that made him who he was and the things he loved are a part of me.

My Dad passed away this year, and this is the first Christmas without my parents. In some ways it’s a natural thing, time passes, we get older and we inevitably lose the people we love. On the other hand it does feel strange to not have my Dad around any more. When Tom Petty died the first thought I had was to tell my Dad, but of course he was already gone himself. That caught me out because something that I had taken for granted (the ability to talk to my Dad whenever I wanted) was suddenly gone from my life. It was a weird realisation and even now, months later it doesn’t feel quite right somehow.

This time last year my Dad had been in hospital for several months and he spent large chunks of that time complaining bitterly that they didn’t serve “proper food”. My dad’s taste ran to old fashioned; tripe, liver and other assorted things that I know I couldn’t eat even if they were part of a bushtucker challenge! On Christmas morning I smuggled him in duck dripping on toast (stop making faces! It’s yummy!) and duck pate, both of which he munched down with relish. And of course on New Year’s Eve I sat and chatted for hours with him while we sipped whiskey and ginger beer (yes, I’m a rebel and a bad influence!).

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This year I can’t do these things, but I’ll raise a glass (or three) in his memory and remember the good times (and the bad), the music and the films and the food…

 

 

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Podcast!

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So, we recently had the absolute pleasure of chatting with the cool guys from 365 Flicks Podcast about some of our film projects.

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With My good self, Dave Hastings, Josh Baggott and Sam Woodhall we covered some of our past glories and upcoming work, recommended some of our favourite films and had a laugh or two in the process.

365 Flicks Podcast

Check out the link – I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it!

 

Sustainability

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So, here it is kids – the first trailer for Sustain.

Sustain Trailer

Shot in the West Midlands this gritty urban drama follows the aftermath of a racially motivated attack that ends in tragedy.

Starring Brett Dewsbury, Richard Buck and Greg Yates. Directed by Dave Hastings and brought to you by the talented team behind Checking In and The House of Screaming Death this film brings the hard edge of British drama to independent film making.

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Gregg Yates and Brett Dewsbury in ‘Sustain’.

The Quiet…

I’ve been a wee bit quiet of late. But that’s mostly down to being a wee bit busy. For now I shall do a brief overview, but I’ll go into details on these projects soon enough.

I started the year up to my neck in a gritty urban Brit drama called “Sustain”.

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I acted as producer on the project, and also somehow managed to do all the make-up and SPFX and provide home made pizza and chicken wings every day of the shoot!

Sustain was a fun, challenging shoot and I got to work with an incredible team and some truly amazing actors – it rained, it snowed, we had gale force winds and if Gojira had wandered around and said “hi” I wouldn’t have been surprised.

We were also working like crazy to finalise “The House of Screaming Death” ready for its premier and that wicked little slice of homage horror is currently on the festival circuit and will be shown at the Starburst International Film Festival this month (I love Starburst magazine!).

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I also finally managed to get a photograph taken with the star of HOSD Ian McNeice. I’ve worked with him, appeared on film and at conventions with him and somehow not got a photo taken until now!

Our incredible film GRID has been garnering 5 star reviews as it screens at festivals across the globe (and I get to work with the star Steve Salt again tomorrow!).13988224_10157364136260241_5230077683738971833_o.jpg

And then things got kind of crazy. This week I’ve been working on two projects. First of all the incredible true story of resistance fighter Willem Arondeus where I provided make-up and special effects.

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And at the same time I served as Producer, co-director and actor on “The Hunted” – a wicked little sci-fi short…

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Somewhere in there we’ve also fitted in convention appearances, promotion and public screenings of HOSD, lots of festival stuff and did I mention the upcoming features “Teggie” and “You Are My Sunshine”?

Watch this space folks. Cool stuff is happening ^_^

(Carry On) Screaming

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A year ago I was doing this –

 

and this –

And it’s hard to believe how much time has flown since then.

I still remember how I felt the first time I saw the Manor House in West Bromwich. It was a majestic, imposing building and walking around I could see the potential for using it as a filming location. I was snapping photos on my phone and all the time I was thinking about shots and framing and how to bring my part of the film to life.

The months between our first visit to the Manor House and filming there flew by at an alarming rate. At first we had all the time in the world and then time seemed to speed up as we raced towards principal photography. We gathered crew and cast around us and sorted out the million and one things that were required when you film something as huge as “The House of Screaming Death”.

Bringing my own story to life was an interesting challenge for me. I’d lived with the broad strokes of “The Lady in Grey” since I first came up with the story all the way back in 2004. The version that we made was far more refined than that original comic but it still retained the essence of the story.

Part of the fun of directing LIG was the opportunity to work with my daughter, who played Lady Sarah – the eponymous Lady in Grey herself. And there was also the challenge of bringing each of the many eras my story crossed (The Elizabethan era, World War 1, World War 2) to life.

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Including pick-up and additional photography we spent three and a half days filming “The Lady in Grey”. It was an absolute pleasure to edit the footage and see the story taking shape as the actors brought my characters to life in such a wonderful way. The entire film is currently in the final stages of post production where it undergoes VFX editing, audio recording and the myriad of other steps a film requires before it is released. Our amazing composer Matthew Calvert is working hard on the score and I can’t wait to be able to screen the feature film for an audience late this year.

In total it has taken four years to bring “The House of Screaming Death” to life and it’s still hard to wrap my head around just how much time has passed. I’ve made some good friends and great memories working on this film and when we finally get to share it with you I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.

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Sustain

What do you do when you find yourself with one award winning movie under your belt and a highly anticipated one featuring a well known actor due for release later this year?

You make another movie of course!

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Sustain is a hard hitting, gritty British drama that follows the aftermath of a brutal racially motivated attack that ends in tragedy. It explores tolerance, grief, family and the lengths people are driven to to find justice.

The creative team behind Checking In and The House of Screaming Death are now turning their hand to something the UK does well – down to earth, character driven drama that challenges and entertains. Sustain draws inspiration from classic British films such as Get Carter, Harry Brown, Dead Man’s Shoes, and even Eden Lake, as well as being influenced by the writing of such celebrated home grown talent as Jimmy McGovern (The Street, Accused).

Production begins in early 2017 with a fantastic ensemble cast, the majority of who originate from the Midlands, a tradition the team were very conscious of wanting to continue while also welcoming new talent to the project, both in front of and behind the camera.

Producer Keiran Bowers calls on people to help support the film, either by donating to the campaign or simply by sharing it, and all the new content that is posted through social networking avenues, to help get it out there, because, as he states, “I read the screenplay and I was floored by how well written the characters are. This alone should get people excited!”

“I’m very excited about SUSTAIN”, concludes writer/director Dave Hastings. “It has lots of depth, unique and intense conflict throughout and deals with very universal themes. And it’s as far away from ghouls and ghosts as I could ever have wished for on my next project. I cannot wait for you to see what this amazing cast and crew have in store for audiences. It will completely surprise you and you’ll remember it long after the final credits have rolled for sure!”

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Sustain is currently in pre-production and crowdfunding is taking place vie Indiegogo –

Sustain Crowdfunder

You can also follow them on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Further into Darkness

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“I confess, I do love telling a good, scary story….” – The Architect13122842_580772145416376_6941029755860405396_o.jpg

The Architect, a purveyor of dark dreams who crafts his tales of terror from the torn fabric of nightmares. This intriguing character has been given life by gifted actor Ian McNeice who adds a touch of charm to the horrors The Architect speaks about. The character is shrouded in mystery and nothing will prepare you for the surprises he has in store in The House of Screaming Death. Ian McNeice is known for such genre films as ‘From Hell’ and ‘White Noise’, as well as starring in ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Dune’. He joined the massive ensemble cast for the film, a project that lovingly pays homage to the style, tone and content from the classic heyday of Hammer Horror and Amicus Studios.

Producer Dave Hastings, who wrote the Architect scenes, remarks that “after reading through the script with Ian in early January, he immediately got what we were attempting to do, as well as being very impressed with the first trailer we’d released last Halloween. We discussed the role, what it meant to us as all, as well as his own ideas, which were thrilling to hear. From the first take we did on set, everyone just watched him, spellbound and you could have heard a pin drop!

Kaush Patel, who directed The Architect segments over the course of two days in mid-February this year, observes that “when the concept of The Architect character started developing in the script we knew straight away that our film needed someone who would bring a sense of appreciation and esteem to the classic Hammer/British Gothic Horror genre that we loved. We approached Ian directly for the role and showed him the trailer and the pre-production work we had done beforehand. He was very impressed with how hard we had worked with the film so far but he also looked at our previous feature “Checking-In”, which won BEST BRITISH FILM at the London Film Awards in 2014.

The film is currently in post production with an anticipated release in late October – just in time for Halloween.

Click here to see the Band new trailer

 

The House of Screaming Death – filming

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A long, long time ago in the early September of 2012…

The “Checking In” team gathered to talk about what we’d do next. Antholgies seem to work for us, so that was the way we were going to go. We also had a collective love of horror movies, especially the old films from Hammer. From this madness came “The House of The Screaming Death” (we dropped the second “the” shortly after).  Four stories; ghosts, witches, vampyres, demons all woven together by our very own master of the macabre, The Architect. Such a simple idea, but it took on a life of its own and grew beyond our expectations.

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Casting was undertaken and location scouting began. As part of the process we produced a series of mini prequels to each of the films’ main stories which would give people their first look at the world we were creating. There was a modestly successful crowdfunding campaign and we built up a core team of crew who would be with us throughout the shoot.

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Production design went into full swing with props, make-up and costume being created alongside storyboards and concept art. At the same time we documented the process with a series of videos – “The Blog of Screaming Death”. In August 2015 principal photography began on “The Witch in the Mirror”.

This was followed by “The Lady in Grey”.

And then “The Vampyre”.

And “The Diabolique”.

Once principal photography wrapped we went away (to recover) and the process of assembling the first edit began. In february 2016 a week of pick-up shots and additional footage was undertaken. During this week we also filmed all of the linking sequences for the film featuring The Architect.

“The House of Screaming Death” is currently in post production, where it is being edited prior to scoring and the million other things that a film requires before it is released. We’re also busy promoting the film at comic conventions on radio and television.

I hope you stick with us as our little film (that grew slightly out of hand) draws close to completion. It’s been a long, amazing ride filled with fantastic people, brilliant locations and more than a few surprises. Our next big surprise will come later today with the release of a brand new trailer where we finally reveal the answer to the question we have been asking for so long now – “Who is The Architect?”.

 

The House of Screaming Death

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In September 2012, a group of slightly crazy people were putting the finishing touches to the award winning “Checking In” and talking about what to do next. From that came the anthology horror film “The House of Screaming Death” featuring four tales of terror related to a group of very special guests by a collector of the macabre known only as The Architect.

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This is how we began our indie film, with a teaser trailer before our crowdfunding campaign – youtu.be/XcBwYa5JVVE just a little something for the curious. A tiny tidbit to whet your appetites for the scares that were yet to come…

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Then we introduced special teasers for the stories from the film begining with “The Lady in Grey” – youtu.be/blLzGG42HOg

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“The Witch in the Mirror” came next and gave us our first glimpse of the dark menace of the Necromancers – https://youtu.be/euvud9Rc3bA

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A doomed attempt to track “The Vampyre” followed and the earth ran red with the blood of his victims – https://youtu.be/XblQFTZmEGo

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A summoning of dark forces in “The Diabolique” teaser may open the gateway to the destruction of everything you know and love – https://youtu.be/aImCAy2t5Oo

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In August 2015 an intensive shoot was undertaken using a variety of stunning locations and featuring some fantastic actors. The first full trailer gave us a taste of what was yet to come – https://youtu.be/OiUdB_BpbEQ in our little anthology and begins to show the wonderful locations, high production values and amazing cast.

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A week of pick-ups and additional scenes followed in February 2016 and then the film was turned over to the editors – the footage is spectacular! Tomorrow will see the release of a brand new trailer which finally reveals the identity of the film’s lead actor, something we’ve been keeping to ourselves for long months now (most of the cast and some crew have no idea yet who he is!). I’m pretty sure the internet will explode at 2pm on saturday and I’m looking forward to seeing how people react to our little film.

 

 

Checking In – Looking back (a behind the scenes special)

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UntitldggdgedAlmost a year ago an ambitious independent film project was screened for the first time to an enthusiastic audience. Checking In has gone on to be featured in film festivals across the world and won Best British Film at the London Film Awards 2014. The movie is now available on VOD for the first time and in celebration of its continued success we’re going to be visiting some of the cast and reflecting upon the film in a series of special blogs.

This particular post is a little different as we take a peek behind the scenes of what goes into making an independent movie in a real life hotel on a shoestring budget.

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Director Leah Green talks to actor Michelle Cox (Sally) and musician Adrian Harvey prior to filming a scene for story #2 Sally & Tim.

Director Troy Dennison with DOP Ben Thompson preparing to film Nici Preston (Radka) in a scene from story # Ted & Mary.

Director Troy Dennison with DOP Ben Thompson preparing to film Nici Preston (Radka) in a scene from story #1 Ted & Mary.

Director Mark Adams talks to Laura Evenson (Jenessa) on story #3 Ed & Jenessa.

Director Mark Adams talks to Laura Evenson (Jenessa) between scenes.

Reynah Rita Oppal (Kalpna) in make-up during the filming of story #4 Ren & Kalpna.

Katey Wilkins (Lady of the Night) in make-up during the filming of story #4 Ren & Kalpna.

Actors Conner McKenzy (Pete) and Tony Gibbons (Aaron) rehears one of the intense scenes for stoy #5 Pete & Aaron.

Actors Conner McKenzy (Pete) and Tony Gibbons (Aaron) rehears one of the intense scenes for stoy #5 Pete & Aaron.

All of our amazing extras (and a couple of the directors) line up after shooting the intricate wedding scene for story #4.

All of our amazing extras (and a couple of the directors) line up after shooting the intricate wedding scene for story #4.

Once filming is copleted the long and arduous process of editing takes place.

Once filming is completed the long and arduous process of editing takes place.

Phil Stanley (Ren), Reynah Rita Oppal (Kalpna) and Katie Wilkins (the lady of negotiable affection) at the films' premier at the Lighthouse cinema.

Phil Stanley (Ren), Reynah Rita Oppal (Kalpna) and Katie Wilkins (the lady of negotiable affection) at the films’ premier at the Lighthouse cinema.

Some of the team gathered outside the hotel for a newspaper photoshoot.

Some of the team gathered outside the hotel for a newspaper photoshoot.

Tony Gibbons (Aaron) being interviewed by Satnam Rana for BBC Midlands Today.

Tony Gibbons (Aaron) being interviewed by Satnam Rana for BBC Midlands Today.

Rebecca Harris-Smith, Roger David Francis and Troy Dennison being interviewed by Carl Jones for Bigcentre TV.

Rebecca Harris-Smith, Roger David Francis and Troy Dennison being interviewed by Carl Jones for Bigcentre TV.

A Q&A session with the audience following one if the films' special screenings.

A Q&A session with the audience following one if the films’ special screenings.

Click the image below to see the film’s trailer –

checkingindeskChecking in is now currently available on VOD at the following sites –

10868278_10154976281070241_1462151664844279540_nVimeo Link (click image)

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VHX Link (click image)