FIX FILMS RETROSPECTIVE – GETTING BACK MR HUNT (2005)

FIX FILMS RETROSPECTIVE BY PAUL LAIGHT

Incredibly it’s been TEN years since myself and my creative ally Gary O’Brien began working on short films together!  And despite no actual financial success, some short film festival screenings and vague industry interest in our work (I made that last bit up) we are STILL going!  Now we are planning our TENTH short film this year! Why I hear you ask:  because we love films AND the creative process and that is success enough for us.  I think.  That or we are a little bit mental! Or delusional.  Both probably!

Anyway, to celebrate  a DECADE of short filmmaking I’m taking a trip down memory lane to examine the films we have made and maybe just maybe add a few more views to their YouTube status.  Or gain a new fan.  Hope springs eternal.

GETTING BACK MR HUNT (2005)

This low budget short was a great experience for myself and Gary. We’d met at the Running Horse pub one drunken evening in Bracknell a few months earlier in 2005 and immediately bonded over our love of movies and movie-making. Gary was a veteran director of his own videos shot and edited — from his early teens — on VHS recorders or in-camera; and I a budding writer full of hopes and dreams having just finished a MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway University.  A decade on those dreams are now shattered and strewn to the winds of time and history as a legacy of bitter experiences lay in our wake. There were some really bad times as well.

Check out Gary’s old videos here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/tagfilmsarchive

This one is a beauty:

So these two great minds conjoined to form the creative team known as Fix Films and inspired by our friend Douglas Hurley and his brother Stuart we decided to make a short film to enter into the BBC New Filmmaker’s Competition of 2005.  The film failed completely to gain any recognition but it gave us a great insight into the filmmaking process.

I’d written the screenplay a year or so before and it, like many films, was based on wish fulfilment:  the desire to wreak revenge on all the bad bosses I had had. Plus, in the subtext was my own vain disgruntlement at desiring a creative career but ultimately ending up with a prosaic office job which made little use of my brain or perceived skills and in the process reduced my existence to that of a clock-punching drone.  Not much has changed there.

gettingbackmrhunt

It’s very therapeutic to channel one’s experiences and emotions through a cinematic conduit but the actual filmmaking itself is often one of compromises due to budgetary constraints or unforeseen mishaps or actors pulling out at the last minute.   The latter happened to us on the day before the two-day shoot was to begin so I had to re-cast the role of our bad-guy Nigel Hunt.  It was a blessing in disguise because after hunting (sorry) high and low on t’internet I found the wonderful actor Philip Delancy via www.shootingpeople.org and the rest they say is history.  Because Phil subsequently worked on two more of our productions. Do check out Philip’s CV at http://www.philipdelancy.com/ – he’s a fine actor and great bloke too.

Myself, Gary, Doug, Stuart and cast and crew worked TWO long days one balmy weekend at FIVE different locations all those year’s ago and successfully produced a pretty witty little short film.  It has some fine moments and arguably some elements don’t hold up. Personally I wanted to redo the voiceover but in the end we left it.  But Gary did a great job filming, editing and composing the music for the film. Indeed,  for a £150 budget we very much did the script justice and breathed life into a universal desire. I mean, who hasn’t ever had a boss they couldn’t stand or wanted to rain down furious vengeance against?  If you haven’t then you’re probably THE boss!  And we’re coming for YOU!  Up the workers!  Vive l revolution!

Enjoy the film!

 

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SCREENWASH by PAUL LAIGHT – JANUARY 2015 FILM WASH-UP

SCREENWASH by PAUL LAIGHT – JANUARY 2015

Rather than fanatically and brilliantly reviewing EVERY film I have seen at the cinema this year, I am providing bite-sized reviews of movies I’ve experienced on various mediums:  Cinema, TV, Blu Ray and Netflix et al.  Here’s the FIRST WATCH films I saw  in January 2015!

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A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (2014) – DIRECTOR: J. C. CHANDOR

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a slow, moody and shadowy thriller screaming gimme-Oscar-nods-material. It is really very good in ALL departments but dramatically I wanted more. Critic friendly but ultimately lacking a decent ending, thrills and character development.  Oscar Isaac is impressive in the Michael Corleone style role and Jessica Chastain is terrific if criminally underused. Surprisingly, given the title there isn’t much violence either.

BIRDMAN (2014) – DIRECTOR: ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU

BIRDMAN is an intellectual and artsy dark comedy about loads of stuff involving: celebrity, identity, artistic credibility, insanity, family, f*cked up egos, vanity as well as analysing the creative process. It is NOT a superhero film but a satire on that kind of thing. I liked the stylistic device of making it look like it was shot in one take; Edward Norton taking the piss out of ‘the method’ and Michael Keaton playing himself kind of. Smart, funny and a bit up its own arse – great stuff!

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013) – DIRECTOR: MARC VALLEE

Missed this great drama first time around with Matthew McConaughey as the Rodeo Electrician struck down with AIDS. Great story brought to you by a committed cast who deservedly won Oscars for their sterling performances. What I loved most in the adept screenplay was the fact Ron Woodroof essentially found a niche market within the capitalist paradigm and challenged the status quo of the corrupt government and pharmaceutical cartels. At the same time his character transformed into a globe-trotting upwardly mobile corporate executive – with AIDS!

 

FOXCATCHER (2014) – DIRECTOR: BENNETT MILLER

A powerful and haunting tragedy with incredibly subtle direction, this complex psychological thriller which shines a light on billionaire John DuPont and his fascination with fraternal Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz. Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo are great but the film belongs to Channing Tatum; a raging bull of an ordinary Joe desperately trying to find an identity amidst the two surrogate fathers he finds himself trapped between.

 

THE GUEST (2014) – DIRECTOR: ADAM WINGARD

Awesome B-movie action-comedy starring Dan Stevens as a Gulf War veteran hiding a secret past.  Director Adam Wingard lays on the 80s parodic charm without veering into ultra-corn while the film contains a cool star-turn from Downton Abbey’s buffed and shiny Dan Stevens.

 

LAWN DOGS (1997) – DIRECTOR: JOHN DUIGAN

Morally ambiguous character piece which finds Sam Rockwell’s underdog gardener befriending a precocious schoolgirl portrayed by Mischa Barton. Apparently it’s inspired by the folktale of Baba Yaga but I felt we were in David Lynch territory with the offbeat characters, sexual subtext, sudden violence and dreamlike denouement.  Rockwell as usual is fantastic as an ordinary Joe caught in the crossfire of the mores of a rich and spoilt American community.

 

MALCOLM X (1992) – DIRECTOR: SPIKE LEE

Excellent true drama concerning the controversial Malcolm X played with formidable presence by the ever-excellent Denzil Washington. Spike Lee treats this political iconoclast with the respect he deserves as the one-time hoodlum is propelled to spokesperson for the Nation of Islam. It’s a modern epic and Lee imbues the film with some impressive stylistic flourishes, excellent drama and inspirational speeches.

 

SABOTAGE (2014) – DIRECTOR: DAVID AYER

Average actioner with Arnie’s FB-CIA-GENERIC-SWAT team colleagues dropping quicker than the Austrian Oak’s box-office takings as they get wiped out one-by-one by a rat in their dirty pack.  Agatha Christie on steroids with some chunky action and decent violence yet let down by paper-thin characters and weak plotting.

 

SACRAMENT (2014) – DIRECTOR: SHAWN EWERT

Ultra-low budget horror comedy that I watched at the Horror-on-the-Sea Festival had terrible acting, but loads of gore and violence and cannibalistic religious nuts in the Deep South (where else) of the United States.  Some fine lo-budget blood-letting and gallows humour made it great fun and highly entertaining.

 

STARRED-UP (2013) – DIRECTOR: DAVID MACKENZIE

Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn are on cracking form as father and son banged up together in this brutal slice of prison life.  O’Connell is out of control and starred-up (promoted) to the big boy’s institution as scene after scene illustrates his anger at the world; only beginning to see another way through Rupert Friend’s calming voluntary social worker.

 

WHIPLASH (2014) – DIRECTOR: DAMIAN CHEZELLE

I concur with all of the praise the film WHIPLASH has been getting. It’s a triumph in all departments from director, cast and crew. Echoes of Officer and a Gentlemen (1992) and Full Metal Jacket (1987)with the fearsome Drill Sergeant battering the young grunts for starters. But then it takes off into an incredible final act as Teller’s recruit and Simmons brutal teacher face-off to an amazing musical crescendo.  Miles Teller is great but if J.K. Simmons doesn’t win every Best Supporting Actor award this year I’ll eat my high-hat…. b’dum-dum-chh!!

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In between doing a back-to-back binge on the U.S. OFFICE (up to Season 4 so far) with Carell and the gang, I also rewatched the bastardized adaptation of LORD OF THE FLIES (1990) and Brian DePalma’s lurid Hitchcockian-slasher-giallo-homage DRESSED TO KILL (1980) with Michael Caine in a very against-type role.

SALUTATIONS TO HORROR-ON-THE-SEA FILM FESTIVAL!

Greetings,

A big thanks and plug to the organisers of HORROR-ON-THE-SEA for the wonderful organisation of their festival.   I went on January 23rd 2015 as they screened my short film HELL IS… (2014) – see film here:

HORROR-ON-THE-SEA is a brilliant festival based in Southend-on-Sea in Essex and it screens some of the most gruesome and scariest independently produced horror films around.

With the Hollywood machine controlling the market with their product it’s refreshing to find a festival which caters for the Horror connoisseur. It’s a festival that gives a platform to the ghoulish freaks who love their films bloody, gory and crazy; movies made by Horror auteurs from as little as $50 or pounds and who pay their cast and crew in goodwill, sandwiches and coffee. I love those guys!

All hail to the organisers of Horror-on-the-Sea.  Do check it out next year. Here’s their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/horroronsea?fref=ts

Without these kind of festivals many many filmmakers, such as myself, would not get their work shown. I salute you!

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