Awards, Festival Selections, Features galore.

So The Dark Recess has had an excellent start to its festival run. Along the way there have been four awards so far and about 8 selections. Considering we shot this for no money, I couldn’t ask for a better festival run, and we’re still running with potential of a red carpet event in January 2020.

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Meanwhile, there are now 2 more features in Post-Production to add to Vikings vs Scarecrow. In feb, the boys and girls of Proportion Productions shot Reign Of Chaos, a Resident Evil/Buffy type action adventure. Then in April, the boys and girls at Champdog films shot Cy:Wife a Sci-Fi horror that blends Her and Black Mirror. I’m looking forward to seeing both very much.

As of writing I’ve just finished writing Jurassic Island a Dinosaur film with nods to Journey To The Centre of the Earth. Currently also writing a short I’ve been hired to do, called The Bar (working title).  A twisty turny, Lock Stock-esque little thriller. Then I move onto a string of features. First a Pirate feature. Then an exciting feature mixing elements of Suspiria, Charmed and The Craft which will feature a couple of very exciting actresses with a large following. One of whom I remember vividly in the long distant days of 1am viewings of titillation on a then new Channel 5 in The Red Shoe Diaries, in the one episode people remember more than any others from that (oddly artistic, for a booby show) series as being the David Duchovny episode (which aired around the same time he was breaking out in The X Files.

Finally after that it’ll be a WW2 action film with odes to Inglorious Bastards and Basterds. From then on the rest of the year will undoubtedly bring more pitching, writing and hopefully features, as well as a return to producing alongside the amazing Leila Bartell as we develop firstly, the short film As The World Falls Down before moving onto our passion feature Feral and potentially developing several more features beyond.

Another award, Shooting time, and exciting prospects in Europe and Asia.

Katie McKenna in ‘The Dark Recess.’41454955_951792318343216_5998601473078853632_n

So Winter Hill is in the festival phase. It’s a time where you leave a film and wait patiently to hear back about selections. So far we’ve had a pleasing amount of selections for the film and on a personal level I’ve now won two awards, which is greatly satisfying. Again, I can only give credit to all involved in bringing my PDF delivered script to life so fantastically. Actress Lucy Lowe hits first, and brilliantly well in a key car scene which requires a lot of emotion. According to the director, my good buddy Alex Lawton, she did it right on cue. It’s the central heart of the film (every film has that key moment, like Rocky Balboa’s pre-match confessional to Adrian in Rocky), on which we need to grab the audience, and she nailed it, and as such the film is doing well in the fests, and I get a little more recognition than perhaps I deserve (but will gladly take).

Meanwhile I’ve been overseeing the shoot for a no budget short horror/thriller I wrote (The Dark Recess), that my brother is directing. An ode to all manner of films from Labyrinth, Stalker, Persona, Cries and Whispers, to Videodrome, American Psycho, Taxi Driver and The Machinist. Not having any money to spend on a film provides challenges, but at the same time a certain (maybe indulgent) freedom. I like to think I have a good eye for casting. I’ve cast quite a lot of roles in films over the years and there’s never been anyone in retrospect I was disappointed with. Genuinely. I’ve had a few first timers too, some newbies and they’ve done very well and in Katie McKenna (for The Dark Recess) I’ve found someone who makes me think of Liv Ullman. Given Bergman was one of several influences for Recess, that comparison seems apt. She’s got a gift for introspective acting that not many can pull off (particularly so young). I think this film could be her ‘do you remember this early short you did with a couple of mad bastards?’ when she hits it big.

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Film is a funny business. I’ve been working non-stop it seems of late. Projects blend into each other. 2-3 on the go at once. Then you see a window in the distance where you might have space. An itching begins. I long for a break, for some peace, but then I begin dreaming of new projects. Then one day, in the space of an hour I get a new project offered, plus a potentially very exciting one in Poland (that would mark my biggest project so far). Then another day passes and another opening comes up from China (that would be massively big). Then another just today and the short version is, I’m pitching left, right and centre like a pitching demon. If just one of them sticks, I’ll be happy. For now though, I move onto Hell-Girl (undoubtedly to be retitled) and continue enjoying a mix of genre pictures. I had a lot of fun writing about Cyborg wives, demonic scarecrows and Witches so far, so Demonic cults, Hell-Girl vigilantes and Demons will be masses of fun. No rest for the wicked. Never stop pitching.

Tom

 

A First Award and a foray into Features.

So with a few projects in the offing, I look back to a film that shot last winter. Called Winter Hill. As with everything in film, time plays with you. You prep for it and it seems like forever between writing, to the point where the film is picture locked. Of all my work so far, I’m most proud of Winter Hill. It’s my nicest film. It’s pure British, bittersweet drama and something that the Brits are almost unrivalled in producing and something which I’ve longed to do. Most of my films end in death, or are odd, or psychologically disturbing, so it was nice to do something with an element of  the uplifting.

Now just over a year since writing the script the film is currently doing the festival rounds. So far the response has been very good. There have been some selections but more pleasing has been some nominations for best film (as well as actress and score). I was also delighted to be given a Best Writing Award at the Top Indie Film Festival. It feels good to get that recognition but I have to tip my cap to the cast and crew who all did an amazing job in bringing my pages to life, well beyond even my expectations.

This has happened in conjunction with writing two features for Champdog Films, which have distribution secured for a Worldwide DVD/VOD release in 2019/20. It might sound ridiculous but a dream of mine is to walk into an HMV one day and pick my own film off the shelf. Even if I’ve already had a complimentary copy. So how does one follow their first award for a heartfelt, bittersweet drama? Well you write a feature called Vikings vs Scarecrow of course! Followed by Cy:Wife (Cyborg Wife). I wrote both, one based on a rough spec I pitched (Cy:Wife) and the other based on a distributor demand (can you write a Viking vs Scarecrow). The challenge of writing low budget genre films interests me. Something high concept like Cy:Wife, even with budgetary constraints was enjoyable to write. Vikings vs a Demonic Scarecrow? Well that was just a blast to write.

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My eclectic tastes in film are very much reflected in what I’ve written so far. I love so many different genres and styles. I have several shorts still in the offing, including The Dark Recess (which I’ll be producing) and Everywhere and Nowhere. Then my most personal feature next year, Feral. Long formulating and gestating until we (myself and the amazing Leila Bartell) get it perfect. It will cover dark topics and has psychological intensity. Then my mind drifts back to more straight drama in the next short I do. Then perhaps comedy too. Comedy is my favourite genre but I’ve never quite found the opportunity to forward any scripts or the deep desire to produce a script myself. It will happen eventually.

I also look forward to writing more genre pics as they’re enjoyable to write, and ultimately seem to be the most marketable on low budget. I’m hoping the momentum keeps going into the new year and here’s hoping I can make that visit to HMV.

Tom Jolliffe.

Pleased To Announce… Winter Hill!

A new film is on the horizon! Winter Hill which has been produced and directed by Alex Lawton. We previously produced ‘Out’ together to great success and hopefully a similar fate awaits Winter Hill.

On this occasion I was simply able to hand off a script and let Alex run with it. Producing is a love/hate affair for me. Having co-produced our first film out of necessity, though we had full control, ultimately it takes a lot out of you emotionally (and financially).

Over the years I’ve handed off countless scripts with promise of a finished film to come back from it. Both for nothing or with the promise of money. It rarely comes off, and increasingly you will find this as an aspiring writer in the film world. It’s often with a heavy heart I hand a script over because I rarely feel like I’ll see a finished film come back. I sold one which is still to be released, so effectively is a dead credit so even getting paid doesn’t always do much for your CV.

It’s with that in mind that I now find myself with a mind back on producing and taking control. What was a pleasure with Winter Hill however was the knowledge that handing over my script would result in a finished film. Not only that, I can be rest assured that it will turn out as well as I envisioned when writing it. It’s rare in this business you can trust someone to take your work and realise it, so for the second time (and hopefully not the last), Alex has run with this and to his credit, run solo (whilst I find myself very busy not just with work, family and the rest, but casting a Thai Feature film).

Furthermore for the second time we find ourselves casting Sharon Lawrence as mum in our film. She’d worked previously too on a short with my brother and whilst we’re probably now going to owe her a mothers day card, there was the trust that she would come in ready and prepared and deliver an excellent performance. That proved to be the case again.

Expect a trailer in the coming months and a release next Spring.

Alex Lawton IMDB

Sharon Lawrence IMDB