On The Line

A late night radio host has to think fast on his feet when a creepy stalker tries to blackmail him live on air after taking his family hostage. On The Line will be available on Amazon Prime from Friday 3rd February.

Featuring Mel Gibson who plays Elvis, ‘the legendary’ late night radio host, a likeable but difficult person with a reputation for pranking his colleagues mercilessly. No one is safe from his scathing roastings especially his fellow host Justin (Kevin Dillon) who he jibes with typical rants that aren’t without humour. Working alongside him is his regular radio show side-kick Mary (Alia Seror-O’Neil) and a new studio intern from London, Dylan (William Moseley), whose English sensibilities and accent are a prime target for Elvis’ pranking. 

With 40 years’ experience at the station, he attracts his fair share of weirdos on the late night talk show, although he is more than cable of handling these using his smooth talking radio diplomacy but when his family is targeted by a caller’s (Paul Spera) vendetta against him, he finds himself in an all too personal hostage negotiation live on air. Unable to cut the caller off in fear of him harming his family he’s at the mercy of the caller’s demands.

From French Writer Director Romuald Boulanger who is someone who knows a thing or two about radio broadcasting as a former radio presenter himself with his own popular comedy show, you might guess this isn’t going to be a straight-laced thriller. The tone is set from the very beginning as Mel Gibson sends himself up as a tortured captive and he fits the bill well as the radio station’s star name with his raspy voice and droll acerbic wit. The creepy caller played by Paul Spera has the sinister menace on the phone as the threatening omnipresent force, which builds along with the body count into a farcical parody.

Whilst the script stretches the levels of plausibility and the clichés become predictably leaden there’s enough at stake to carry the movie towards its live on air conclusion(s) in a pastiche tribute call to the late night radio show host.

Film: On The Line

Director: Romuald Boulanger

Genre: Thriller

Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon

Run time: 1hr 44mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

I Love My Dad

An award winning festival film, I Love My Dad is about an estranged father who decides the only way to get his relationship back with his son is to catfish him pretending to be his girlfriend but it’s only a matter of time before his desperate attempts begin to backfire as his son wants to meet her (him!) in person.

The son, Franklin (James Morosini), is not in a good place. He’s seeking group therapy for his suicidal thoughts, revealing he’s blocked his dad, Chuck (Patton Oswalt) from his social media contacts as he’s had enough of his lying and broken promises. His dad meanwhile is distraught he’s been cut off by his son and is now even more concerned about his welfare. Opening up to a sweet waitress at a diner Chuck comes up with the idea to create an online profile of the waitress (Claudia Sulewski), to get in contact with his son online. This is clearly frowned upon not least by his colleague (Lil Rel Howery) who tells him in plain English, “This is the creepiest s***t I’ve ever seen.” But Chuck continues undeterred fastidiously putting together the profile and some how manages to friend his son on Facebook posing as a pretty lone girl on the internet looking to make a connection with someone. His son’s early scepticism soon disappears because of the ease in which he is able to communicate with Becca – who is in fact of course his dad.

They get along great chatting online, sharing the same interests and as the feelings grow for one another so does the cringe factor as the son starts to talk more intimately online with his father. There are some obvious stages of a relationship that his dad can’t keep avoiding, firstly actually speaking over the phone, which he manages to get around by persuading his partner to call up as ‘Becca’ on the phone. It isn’t before too long that his son wants to meet her in person, something his dad is desperately trying to avoid so he can keep the relationship going. All the while things are getting more awkward and likely to be leading to messing up his son far more than he was in the first place.

With the strapline, “Inspired by a true story. Like, this literally happened to me.” It’s a story so twisted and dark it would be hard to imagine a loving father wanting to do this in real life without a majorly dark sense of humour. The fact that it is written, directed and acted by the son, James Morosini, provides an empathetic handling of this messed up virtual relationship that is handled with great humour and sensitivity. The relationship is brilliantly played out in the film using the characters’ avatars as they chat online to one another. So when Franklin is speaking to ‘Becca’ online, even though it’s actually his dad doing the typing, we see her and hear her voice sat next to him as they chat, providing a real sense of the intimacy and creepiness going on. This reaches a climatic crescendo when they start sexting each other with the cringe factor reaching another level altogether.

I Love My Dad will be available on Digital Download from 23rd January 2023

Film: I Love My Dad

Director: James Morosini

Genre: Comedy

Stars: Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, Claudia Sulewski

Run time: 1hr 36mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

Poison Arrows

This is the darts mockumentary that is long overdue, especially for its makers who have taken 22 years to finish it. It’s the story of Rocky Goldfingers, a 6 times world darts champion put in prison for the murder of his darts protege Perry ‘the Poison Arrow’ Peters. It’s a crime he denies doing and his quest to uncover the true culprit is being documented by filmmaker Lewis J Maitland who’s hoping to win himself an elusive BAFTA award.

The film goes back to the heyday of Rocky Goldfingers showing him strutting around the Lakeside Country Club, the one time home of darts, during the 2003 World Darts Championship. Rocky is mercilessly mocking the players in the press area and players’ bar showing off his “different class of sledging” as well as delivering his match winning performances. This all comes to an abrupt end when he’s put in jail after the mysterious disappearance of his protege Perry ‘the Poison Arrow’ Peters.

Documentary filmmaker Lewis J Maitland (Ben Gardner Gray) narrates the story giving a quick history of the darts before bringing us to the present day by which time Rocky has spent 15 years banged up in jail. On his release Rocky discovers the world is a very different place to the one he left behind, not least because his wife has left him and Martin “Wolfie” Adams has moved into his home, “the house that darts built”. No longer the golden boy of darts Rocky is battling against the odds to try to find out who “stitched him up”.

Starring Geoff Bell (Greenstreets, Kingsman: Secret Service) as Rocky Goldfingers, who is full of the kind of cockney swagger that got him cast in Guy Richie’s “Rock ‘n’ Rolla” and James Harkness, as Terence, Rocky’s cellmate and sidekick, who brings another entertaining, this time Scottish accent to a script full of funny one-liners.

There are numerous cameo appearances throughout played with deadpan assuredness from the likes of Barry Hearn OBE (Chairman PDC), Ray Stubbs (BBC sports presenter) and the darts professionals themselves (albeit now mostly retired since filming began) like Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams, Bobby George and James Wade, that have just the right amount of gusto not to make them cringeworthy viewing.

From director Simon Sprackling (Breakfast with Johnny Wilkinson), known for his bold off-centre low budget filmmaking, the film is a remarkable feat of perseverance having started filming back in 2002. With access to the 2003 World Darts Championship he shot the film between the gaps in the match schedules, mixing real tournament players and crowds with his spoof script. But the film was put on ice due to budgetary restrictions – for 20 years! Eventually with a renewed interest to complete the film the script had to be re-jigged because of the loss of key personnel, like the actor playing Perry “The Poison Arrow” Peters. Not wanting to waste the priceless tournament footage, he’s cleverly used it as genuine archive material in his own mockumentary.

It’s a raucous comedy crime caper, that will appeal to the UK cockney gangster audience as well as the “Eurosport” viewers of darts. With plenty of swearing warranting its 18 certification be ready to cover your ears if easily offended. Nervous? “Just have a lager.”

Available on all major digital platforms from 3rd January 2023.

Film: Poison Arrows

Director: Simon Sprackling

Genre: Mockumentary, comedy

Stars: Geoff Bell, James Harkness, Ben Gardner Gray, Carrie Hilton

Run time: 1hr 35mins

Rated: 18

Rating: 3/5

Hunt vs Lauda: The Next Generation

The sons of two legends of Formula One motor racing, Hunt and Lauda, go head to head in celebration of their father’s epic 1976 Championship dual, as they look to recapture some of the famous rivalry and friendship on and off the track.

Racing team boss Joseph Thomas first hit upon the idea to re-create this piece of motorsport history after watching “Rush“, Ron Howard’s biopic film about the famous F1 Championship of ’76, which still remains one of the most epic title races in motorsport history.

This time around it’s not James Hunt vs Niki Lauda, it’s their sons Freddie and Mathias. Both have been keen racing drivers over the years albeit not quite in the same class as their fathers. Mathias edges things in terms of experience but that doesn’t seem to worry a highly competitive Freddie who doesn’t want to let the family side down particularly in this filmed showdown.

There are some nice video montages re-telling the famous Hunt vs Lauda story as well as interviews providing the back stories to the sons on how they got introduced to racing along with memories of their fathers, with some emotional responses particularly from Freddie, who lost his father at a young age.

Comparisons will be drawn between the two sons particularly as they share similar personality traits to their well-known fathers. James Hunt was considered the glamorous playboy and a bit reckless on the track hence the nickname “Hunt the shunt”, whilst Niki Lauda was more calculated in his preparation and a steadier performer going on to win 3 World Championships. Similarly, Mathias is much more calm and collected, he’s set up home in Ibiza with his wife and children and lives a more carefree existence pursing his sporting interests. Meanwhile Freddie, based in Scotland, has a similar wild side to his father and seems to have had more difficulty finding his way trying to live up to his father’s legacy.

Directed by Charlotte Fantelli the F1 archive footage brings a sense of history to the proceedings, which is always going to be difficult for the drivers to match here, but that doesn’t detract from enjoying this very British motor racing encounter. Shot at the iconic Donington race track, there’s more at stake than meets the eye between two men racing for fun but also for their family bragging rights.

Hunt vs Lauda: The Next Generation will be available on DVD & Digital Download from 19th December and can be pre-ordered here.

Film: Hunt vs Lauda: The Next Generation

Director: Charlotte Fantelli

Genre: Documentary, Motorsport

Stars: Freddie Hunt, Mathias Lauda, Marlene Lauda

Run time: 1hr 20mins

Rated: 12

Platforms: Amazon, iTunes, Google, Microsoft, Sky

Rating: 3/5

25 Years of UK Garage

’25 Years of UK Garage’ takes a look back at the UK garage scene paying homage to the DJ’s, MC’s and producers who made it happen. With interviews from the breaking artists at the time, the documentary charts the success of the UK garage scene from its fledgling beginnings to its hedonistic peak before its downfall and then making a surprising festival comeback attracting new crowds both young and old.

Taking us through some of the history are Terry Stone and Jason Kaye, the masterminds behind Garage Nation (a spin-off of their One Nation rave events), who became major players in putting on garage events during the ’90’s and 00’s. Their knack for finding the top talent such as the chart topping So Solid Crew along with booking the best venues put them front and centre of the UK garage scene.

With its sound coming from US garage and hip hop mixed with the UK jungle and drum and base, UK garage was finding its audience on the radio through the likes of one of its earliest proponents DJ EZ. Tracking back to the pirate radio stations such as Supreme FM and Delight FM, the interviewees explain how by setting up these DIY stations they risked everything i.e. their records and equipment, if caught by the DTI (Department for Trade and Industry). The relationship between the pirate radio stations and the rave events, flyers, dubplates (the promo records played at events) and tape packs from the MC’s and DJ’s were crucial in helping the scene take off in London with the track “Casualty” by Oxide and Neurtino one of the first to “blow up”.

Now considered Old Skool, it has been superseded by the likes of drill and grime music, but UK Garage at the time was one of the biggest music scenes to happen in London and UK with its hedonistic party atmosphere mix of music, girls, champagne, designer clothes (Versace, Moschino and Patrick Cox some of the brands of choice) and designer drugs. Through a healthy competition between the DJs and MCs they pushed themselves to new highs and these ground breaking times seemed to culminate in the take-over of the holiday party island of Ayia Napa.

Terry and his team took the Garage Nation brand to the island, bringing over the DJs and by then garage had become mainstream with a number 1 track in the charts, “Do you really like it?“, and the unmistakable voice of MC DT singing “We’re loving it, loving it, loving it.”

There is much joy taken by them in reminiscing about the parties on the island, but their euphoria couldn’t last forever as they tell how the good vibes were getting overshadowed by overzealous punters, gangsters and violence, which was getting too much for the locals and the local police, who wanted their sleepy fishing town in the Mediterranean back.

There was a similar pattern happening in the UK with the gangs getting more violent, with more stabbings and more shootings. The garage scene was getting a bad reputation and the government and police were cracking down on the venues who became reluctant to book garage acts in case there was any trouble.

Bookings were on the decline but enter James Shadimehr, a young 19 year old student, who’d picked up the event bug putting on under 18 discos. He bought the Garage Nation brand with the support from his family and after many dark days and years, including a pandemic lockdown, he’s managed to re-energise the Garage Nation brand and re-invent it not just as a club night but a festival with 10,000 party goers, bringing back the halcyon days.

Directed by Terry Stone and Richard Turner “25 Years of UK Garage” is a nostalgic look back at a highly influential music scene in the UK. Amongst the pioneering DJs, MCs (mostly the So Solid Crew and Heartless Crew) and producers are several well-known faces in the music industry including DJ Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont, Ms Dynamite, MC Harvey, Lisa Maffia and Dane Bowers plus a special guest, impromptu performance from boxer Anthony Joshua.

What’s interesting is seeing this social cross-section of London’s youth culture at that time and hearing about the journeys they went on. Some of the conversations are quite unfiltered as they nostalgically reminisce about their triumphs as well as their misdemeanours with one DJ commenting, “Clubland has always been a bit naughty no matter what era you were from.”

It’s entertaining seeing the two different styles between the old skool proprietors of Garage Nation, Terry Stone and Jason Kaye, put side by side with the new younger generation of James Shadimehr, they seem like chalk and cheese in their approaches, but aim to have an equally big impact on UK Garage.

Surprisingly the music takes a quieter back seat for the most part, playing softly in the background and doesn’t get a proper airing until the final credits, probably due to budgetary restrictions.

What will be next from Terry Stone or James Shadimehr and Garage Nation? Those interested in a good nostalgic fix will certainly be tuning in.

“25 Years of UK Garage” will be available on Digital from 5 December. Follow the film via their social channels or on TikTok.

Film: 25 Years of Garage

Director: Terry Stone & Richard Turner

Genre: Documentary, Music

Stars: Richie Campbell, Anthony Joshua, MC Harvey, Lisa Maffia & Megaman

Run time: 1hr 30mins

Rated: TBC

Rating: 3/5

Something In The Dirt

An eerily entertaining supernatural sci-fi comedy from directors Moorhead and Benson where two new neighbours stumble across some supernatural activity in an L.A. apartment and are determined to get it on camera to make some money regardless of the unknown danger of the paranormal powers at work.

The story begins with Levi (Justin Benson) waking up on the floor of his new, dilapidated, apartment. He’s just moved in and there’s a strange creaking sound and a dripping ceiling. Things aren’t all what they seem. He sees John (Aaron Moorhead) his neighbour sitting outside and goes out to chat to him. They’re kind of opposites, Levi is the grungy long haired barman type trying to make it in L.A. and John is the more clean-cut photographer relying on his second job to make ends meet, but they do share the same unfulfilled work-life experience.

John helps Levi move in and they discover the strange paranormal activity happening in the apartment (some floating objects and strange reflecting lights). Both are keen on filming the supernatural activity to profit from it. As an ex-maths teacher John has been reading up on some mathematical theories and when he discovers some identical symbols all around the city he starts to develop a theory this could be a much wider city phenomena. This sets the two of them off trying to join the dots between various conspiracy theories about aliens whilst all the while trying to capture the evidence on video. The film meanwhile cuts to documentary style interviews talking retrospectively about what happened and it quickly transpires that things don’t turn out well for both of them.

Written, directed, produced and performed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson the story makes for a quirky sci-fi comedy with some interesting layers to it. The film within a film idea, having the guys making a documentary, provides plenty of opportunity for some indie filmmaking in-jokes, whilst the mockumentary style interviews cleverly give the audience the impression this could actually be a true story. All the while the two main characters bounce off of one another, both are a bit edgy and you’re never really sure how scrupulous either is as the growingly bizarre events unfold.

The cinematography builds the atmosphere brought together with lots of quick edits. Not afraid to shoot into the light to capture the interior apartment shots and the L.A. sunshine along with the glaring paranormal activity, the guys even suggest the name for their documentary should be “Something In The Light”. The visual effects subtly create the illusion of the paranormal activity without ever going overboard. Who needs a flying saucer when you’ve got an equally impressive flying crystal ashtray. Similarly the sound design is quietly efficient in adding tension when needed reaching a rousing crescendo with a uniquely performed rendition of Beethoven’s 9th.

‘Moorhead and Benson’ are fast on their way to gaining a cult indie status as writers and directors, if they weren’t there already. Here they show their diversity by playing the two main characters, showing the kind of manic chemistry on screen that suggests they have a lot of fun making movies together.

It has a ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ sensibility that builds the suspense and tension. Entertaingly humorous, loaded with good visual gags it manages to draw you into the supernatural mystery despite its convoluted assortment of theories.

Something In The Dirt will be on Digital Download + Blu-ray from 5th December.

Film: Something In The Dirt

Director: Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson

Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror

Stars: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Sarah Adina Smith & Vinny Curran

Run time: 1hr 56mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

Hilma

Hilma is the biopic of Hilma af Klint the relatively unknown Swedish artist of the late 19th and early 20th century whose abstract art, locked away for 20 years, famously channelled the spiritual world. Directed by Academy Award-nominated Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules) it’s a fascinating journey into the life of an artist with radical ideas fighting for recognition in a male dominated era.

The role of Hilda is played in two parts. We see the older Hilma af Klint (Lena Olin) on a tram in the city of Stockholm reflecting back on her life picturing herself growing up in the countryside surroundings of the family home. The young Hilma (Tora Hallström) has developed a close affinity to nature and science and as a talented artist uses painting to examine life in greater detail. One of four siblings we see her loving relationship with her youngest sister (Emmi Tjernström), who also shares her passion for science, but sadly she passes away at a very young age, which becomes the catalyst for Hilda’s journey into the spiritual world.

Hilma’s artistic talents get her a place at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts despite a very female prejudiced society that restricted women’s opportunities – highlighted here by the fact that women had to use the back entrance to the Academy. She meets her friend and later lover Anna (Catherine Chalk), who together with their circle of other female artists and writers (of a spiritual publication) make a formidable socialite clique in Stockholm. Keen on seances to communicate to the other side, when Hilda meets Rudolf Steiner, a spiritual philosopher of great esteem, her mission to paint the spiritual world is further ratified.

Director Lasse Hallström has lovingly assembled a troupe of female talent who dominate this historical piece in all their splendid period costumes radiating with a gentle warmth despite some of the darker aspects of the story. Lena Olin (the wife of the director Lasse Hallström) plays the older Hilda who although having been affected by her intense pursuit of the spiritual world still manages to maintain a dignified elegance, even as she quietly mumbles to herself on a packed tram. Tora Hallström, as the young Hilda, completes the film’s heartwarming family trinity of father, mother and daughter carrying the exuberance of a wide eyed artist passionate in pursuing her beliefs. Also making up the female spiritualist collective is Lily Cole as Mathilda, who alongside Catherine Chalk, pulls off the Swedish upper crust artist with ease albeit with a Geordie like accent.

Lasse Hallström has a knack for pulling off the other worldly behaviour of others and here manages it without going overboard by doing just enough to suggest there is more going on for some people than meets the eye. He could have gone much darker on the spiritualism and bustier on the corsets but has made this good clean family fun in what is a Swedish homage to a unique artist who warrants further investigation.

Credit: Hilma will be released in UK cinemas on 28th October. Early 2023, Hilma will also be available on Viaplay UK, Viaplay’s streaming service set to launch in the UK this autumn.

Film: Hilma

Director: Lasse Hallström

Genre: Drama, Biography

Stars:  Lena Olin, Tora Hallström, Lily Cole

Run time: 2hrs

Rated: TBC

Rating: 3/5

Edgar Wright Teaches Filmmaking

The BBC Maestro series (www.BBCMaestro.com) introduces Edgar Wright Teaches Filmmaking. UK film director Edgar Wright delivers 27 lessons with over 4 hours of expert tuition taking you through every stage of the filmmaking process from writing, directing, casting, location scouting, funding, distribution and plenty more, making this the perfect way to pick up all the tips and tricks you need to get your film made.

Edgar Wright’s credentials are second to not many in filmmaking. The UK film director’s credits include Hollywood smash Baby Driver (which took $220 million dollars at the box office), Scott Pilgrim vs the World, cult indie successes Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End and his most recent outing Last Night in Soho, making him the perfect choice as your filmmaking tutor. 

Beginning with a brief history of film, Edgar Wright’s fascination with old black and white silent cinema is commendable. His keen interest in the early inventors and innovators of cinema is a noteworthy lesson on its own. Here we have a contemporary director openly sharing the influences of the past that he has been so heavily inspired by and has readily used in his films.

Other highlights on the course include his Story Boarding and Animation class. This might not come as a shock to fans of his but at the same time might make uncomfortable viewing for those wishing to emulate his successes. The level of meticulous preparation would be hard to match – but there’s no need to be overly concerned, he does at least hand over his frame by frame sketches to be finished by a professional storyboarder (his brother Oscar) and reassures that this level of storyboarding is not a prerequisite demanded by all top directors.

Writing on the other hand he confesses is not his favourite part of the filmmaking process. For him it’s about 1% inspiration, 99% procrastination (he won’t be alone on that one) but as he says, he at least tries to be a creative procrastinator watching and reading around his chosen subject as much as possible and gives invaluable tips on the methods he uses to keep his script on track.

A part of filmmaking he finds especially enjoyable is the collaboration with people and talent. Here he talks through some incredibly complicated shots that may appear common place in the big budget movies nowadays, that he casually surmises as looking “effortless” in his film before finishing, “…which really means it was an enormous amount of hard work by many many people.”

Pristinely captured in 4K, this video tutorial is a polished production as you’d expect from the BBC with a cool backbeat sound design, alongside the now customary multi camera angle interviews to aid cutting between edits and accentuate various moments during the interviews. 

Edgar Wright makes an amiable tutor whose love of film and filmmaking is palpable. Fiercely proud of his indie filmmaking roots, he’s able to pass on his wisdom for low budget filmmakers as well as take you into the private filmmaking world of a director at the top of their game.

This is a director happy to share his secrets, drawing upon his enviable catalogue of films to share what he’s learned about filmmaking. The tagline on the BBC Maestro website is “let the greatest be your teacher” and whilst Edgar Wright may not quite be the greatest, he’s considerably worthy of the maestro label.

The course costs £80 for lifetime access to Wright’s 27 lessons and comprehensive downloadable notes.

Tomorrow Morning

Tomorrow Morning is a big screen adaption by Nick Winston of the off-Broadway smash hit musical. Set in London, it simultaneously looks back at two significant moments in a couple’s relationship where 10 years have passed. With an all-star cast from the stage and screen featuring Samantha Barks (Frozen The Musical, Les Misérables) and Olivier Award nominee Ramin Karimloo plus cameo performances including film and TV icon Joan Collins. Tomorrow Morning will be in UK Cinemas from 6th September.

The film opens with a swooping aerial shot of London’s skyline as the music starts up and the actors go straight into song for this musical film. We see the lead actor Bill (Ramin Karimloo) leaving the flat of his ex-partner Catherine (Samantha Barks), whilst she sits with their sleeping child and they begin to sing together the opening rousing ballad ‘Tomorrow Morning’. Is this a song full of hope or dread? It turns out both. As Bill looks back across London’s Thames waters we jump back in time 10 years as he visualises the beginning of their relationship from that very spot – before they were married and before they had a kid and so the story unfolds in duplicity looking back to simultaneously countdown towards two momentous moments in their relationship – getting married and getting divorced – all to music and some dance too.

As an award winning musical you can expect some touching songs being performed by two of the West End’s biggest stars, Samantha Barks and Ramin Karimloo, who make the transition from stage to the screen look effortless. Samantha is supported amiably by Fleur East (X-Factor) who plays her best friend India whilst Ramin’s character teams up with his best man played by George Maguire (Billy Elliot), both injecting some vibrant sequences as they reminisce about the couple’s relationship in the build-up to the wedding. It’s not all fun and laughter though as the film flip-flops back and forth in time between the wedding preparations but also the breakdown of the marriage looking back at the tell-tale signs of how they grew apart leading to the day of the divorce proceedings.

The all-star British cast includes cameo appearances from film and TV royalty Joan Collins, who revels in giving some ironic marriage counselling, whilst comedian Omaid Djalili provides some alternative fatherly support and Anita Dobson channels her Eastenders’ feistiness as the demanding advertising boss.

The mix of acting and musical performance needs some adjusting to as conversations burst into song at short notice using the unmistakeable intonation of musical dialogue and especially elongated syllables, but the musical format isn’t without its successes, like Oscar winning La La Land and should be slighted at your peril.

Enjoy the London backdrops, West End performances and cameo appearances in this British rom-com style musical of converging worlds that could just go to show how much better life would be if it were a musical.

Film: Tomorrow Morning

Director: Nick Winston

Genre: Musical, Romcom

Stars:  Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Joan Collins

Run time: 1hr 30min

Rated: TBC

Rating: 3/5

Interview Ian Tripp and Ryan Schafer

Ian Tripp and Ryan Schafer are the US co-directors and first time feature filmmakers of the film ‘Everybody Dies by the End’, one of the closing acts at this year’s FrightFest, the UK’s No.1 horror and fantasy film festival.

Please introduce yourselves and your movie

Ian Tripp: I’m Ian Tripp one of the co-directors and I wrote the movie. Our film is called “Everybody Dies by the End“.

Ryan Schafer: And I’m Ryan Schafer the other co-director.

How did the film come about?

IT: The dream has always been to make feature films so the short films career was always for practise and just to be up to stuff, come up with ideas and be happy with them. The idea for Alfred Costella and the making of his movie I have had in my brain since 2012 and after meeting Vinnie (who plays Alfred) and a couple of other things happening in life, it kind of just hit, we wanted to make this movie and so we did.

Can you give a synopsis of the movie?

RS: Acclaimed horror director Alfred Costella has a bit of a mental breakdown on a public access interview show. Sort of has his artistic integrity questioned and goes into hiding for like a decade until he suddenly comes out of the woodwork to work on his new project, his ‘magnum opus’, “Everybody Dies by the End”. He hires a documentary crew to film the BTS (behind the scenes) of it and that’s who we see going in and we get to learn that not everything is as it seems at the Costella Ranch.

IT: I play one of the documentarians, so the angle of the movie is through the POV of our character chronicling the ‘disc 2 making of featurette’ to the actual movie.

What are some of the themes the movie is about?

IT: I’d say it comes down to bullshit artists. 

RS: …artistic integrity, what it means to make real art, quote unquote. Real art being genuine and raw.

IT: …and how that can lead someone down a misguided path. Madness in a sense. The movie is a kind of descent into madness.

RS: …and how some directors will push the boundary to pretty messed up extremes to try to coerce a real raw performance from actors with no real regard for their well-being.

IT: …if it makes the movie better, it justifies that.

RS: …it’s worth it.

IT: Which is not our opinion in real life!

RS: That’s not how our sets look like!

How much of the film reflects your own experiences in the film industry?

RS: Most of our experiences are just independent, working on our own sets. Thankfully not too similar. We’re able to be different but you hear stories. There are all the famous ones with Kubrick and Hitchcock and the things they’ve done.

IT: Or even down to, it’s been a bit of a hot topic recently, to sort of denounce method acting.

RS: …what’s that quote “no one ever method acts a good person.”

IT: Right, Robert Pattinson “No one ever method acts a good person.” They are always method acting an arsehole.

RS: So you feel like you have this free pass to…

IT: …release your inhibitions.

RS: Be Jared Leto on the Suicide Squad set.

Does it also look at how violence in film potentially influences society with copycat violence?

IT: Less a theme and more a perspective of following a character who is questioned from that outlet. You’ve definitely seen interviews of Tarantino getting questioned and flipping his lid.

RS: …and the interviewer coming at it from a gotcha perspective to try to devalue the art. To try to put this perspective that this is just a snuff film. 

IT…or fetish.

RS: I mean it’s primal. Who doesn’t fear death. Fear being hurt. It’s a very primal instinctual thing that is just inherently ingrained in us.

IT: I think as humans we do celebrate death in a way, to dance with death is to accept it. We celebrate the day of the dead, halloween etc. These are all examples of us getting together and celebrating the dread of our existence as a way to embrace it.

RS: It’s the one thing we all have in common. We all die by the end.

IT: Since the beginning of time, we’ve been afraid to be out alone in the woods because if a highway man or a wild animal comes, you can get fxxxxd up. A lot of our stories are based around the simplicity of primal existence.

How did you cast the lead actor Vinny Curran as Alfred Costella the cultish film director?

IT: I first saw him in a movie called “Resolution” which was shot in our home town of San Diego and so that was really special to see a movie that we really liked come out of our home town. That was very influential and so we ended up getting to meet those filmmakers just vicariously through screenings around town and ended up being friends on Facebook. I thought I had the character Alfred Costella in my head but after meeting Vinny the image of Alfred Costella faded away and I could only see Vinny Curran. So when I wrote the script, I wrote it for Vinny and we just boldly hit him up, “we wrote this for you and we hope you’ll do it, if you don’t do it, we’ll probably move onto a different movie.”

RS: But luckily he said yes.

Where did the script and the funny lines come from?

IT: Honestly, the idea was there but then movies like “What We Do in the Shadows” really influenced the tone we wanted to go for. There’s a bit in “What We Do in the Shadows” where they’re like “you can’t kill any of the cameramen…maybe one cameraman”. Ideas like that you are like ok, you’re working dangerously on the edge with someone who could be malicious potentially. Have you seen the “Creep” movies with Mark Duplass? Those were another influence and some of the more underground movies “Man Bites Dog” is a mockumentary about a film crew chronicling an assassin, but the assassin is really funny and quirky but then will shoot people in the head whilst they sleep. So it is like shocking the turn over but it is still the integrity of the character; he is that. Then also “Street Thief” is another one where a camera crew is chronicling a professional safe cracker; so the perspective of mockumentaries following sociopaths were big influences on this movie.

The location on a ranch looked like a filmmakers dream

RS: We got very lucky in terms of the ranch location, a lot of the locations we were looking for beforehand were so expensive. 

IT: We were looking at a cowboy set and they wanted way too much money for a place that wasn’t being used that much.

RS: Or at least we are not at that level to have the financing for getting locations for a full wild west town.

IT: We hit up a family friend whose dad owned a ranch. So she contacted a bunch of ranch owners and we met Jose the property owner of that ranch and he took us in like family. He loves us. We’re going to shoot a ‘cabin in the woods movie’ on his property and he’s going to build a log cabin for us.

RS: He’s down with the cause. We’ve been really lucky with all of the people we’ve met on this film.

IT: The movie is secretly in 3 different locations that we’ve stitched together. The interiors of Alfred Costella’s house is my mom’s house in San Diego and then the exterior is the ranch and the basement studio is a basement in downtown San Diego.

How does Calvin, the BTS documentary character, drive the movie?

IT: The idea with that was because we were having a BTS documentary camera, it is not narratively shot, you literally have a conscious camera. Someone’s POV is making emotional decisions of what they are filming and that comes with biases and so this is a character who has a bit of voyeuristic tendencies and also Calvin in particular is a fan boy of Alfred Costella and that is something Alfred acknowledges and plays on and makes a particularly interesting character.

Did you use held POV footage throughout the film?

IT: There is some blocking in terms of the camera movement even though it does feel run and gun. What we would do is, the first few takes of a scene would be let’s dance it out, let’s go slow, make sure everyone hits their marks, feel it out, try things. Then after the first 3 takes we would just go, ok let’s make it snappier, make it louder, make it faster if things are running too long, just crunch it in and make it a little more crazy.

What would you recommend to any filmmakers wanting to make a film?

RS: Not to say going to film school is a bad thing, not to talk down anyone who’s gone to film school, but because we didn’t, we don’t have that debt. Instead any money that we would have put into going into film school, we could instead just put it into the film itself and learn by creating and that is a pretty big benefit. Not saying that that is the way to do it, we are not saying that but it’s definitely not a necessity film school. 

IT: It is something you have to ask yourself personally. Do you work best in an educational environment. Is that where you flourish? Is that where you can best meet people?

RS: I’d say what we are doing that was our film school. Neither Ian or I went to film school. We are both very passionate about filmmaking. We love movies so for a few years we were just making short films and learning from that and basically doing at home film school, just getting the skillset to be able to finally do this – make a full-fledged feature film.

IT: With the internet today you can put yourself through film school. A big part of what Ryan and I did was … the first thing we did in 2015 was a short film called ‘Philip Finds Love’ and it was made with just Ryan and I basically. Ryan was the lead actor and I was the director and I was shooting it myself. We shot it over 3 days. It was a great experience and we felt the partnership between us and so it evolved from actor and director to being creative partners.

I’d say, don’t be afraid to make something just for practise. A big part of what I see holds people up is the inadequacy traps of not being good enough to make what you want. So I would say make things for the attempt to learn how to make bigger things. That short we were talking about it had no onboard audio. It just had Ryan talking to a cam girl on the internet. 

RS: I don’t think I said a single thing.

IT: So we dubbed the whole movie basically. It was just focusing on shots, compositions, editing, flow and then we started making more things like 20 minute movies until we felt versatile enough to carry a feature.

RS: Also, I feel like a lot of people are scared of that first project because they really want it to be good and perfect. You end up just kind of waiting and procrastinating when it’s best to just bite the bullet and get it done. You can see where you fell short and what you can improve on. Being able to actually look at your work and see where you can expand.

IT: Another thing, we dabbled with attempting to work with different people on the movie but we eventually just did it ourselves. So many people were telling us that we needed to make it for a bigger budget and we were seeing the movies that they made and it felt unnecessary. I didn’t see the end quality in what they were putting into it and so it kind of just gave us the influence to say fxxk it, let’s just go and do it our way. We don’t need to make movies with these people who are bringing us down.

RS: You’ll see million dollar films that look like they were filmed for $10,000 and $10,000 dollar films that look like they were filmed for a million.

IT: There was a movie that a lot of people in San Diego worked on. It was like a horror movie and it was a horror production. Like everyone was fed up with the movie, it ended up bloating into half a million dollars and I’ve seen great filmmakers like Benson and Moorhead make movies for less than one hundred grand that look like they cost millions of dollars. Jim Cummings latest film ‘The Beta Test‘. I think it was made for less than $300,000, and it looks like it was made for $3 million. So it isn’t about the abundance of resources. It’s about what you can do with what you have and so I would just say, don’t feel like you have to hold yourself back by what you don’t have. Make what you can make now the coolest thing you can make.

RS: Realise what potential scale you can work with in your story. If you are an indie filmmaker your first film should not be some crazy sci-fi ‘Star Wars‘ epic. Realise the scope that you can potentially work with.

From script to screen how long did your film take?

IT: We wrote the movie in 2018 and then December of 2018 we shot that opening scene and then we basically took all of 2019 to just read through all the scripts and to make it the best thing we could make it and then we started shooting again in March of 2020. We shot a couple of days and then covid hit and we shut down. We didn’t get back to shooting until October and so we filmed a week in October, a week in November and a week in December and each of those weeks were each of those locations.

You’re closing the London FrightFest 2022. How do you expect the film to be received at its world premiere tomorrow night? 

RS: So far people have been pretty positive about it. I don’t want to go in with any expectation. Just go and see what people think. Hopefully they enjoy it. Hopefully the take away is that they had a good time with it.

IT: There seems to be like this taboo thing of being a filmmaker and wanting to entertain people, but we do just want to entertain and so we hope that people are entertained. I hope you laugh. I hope you cry. I hope you sweat a little bit.

RS: Maybe having a few of these conversations that we are having right now about artistic integrity and what makes real art.

Film: Everybody Dies by the End

Director:  Ian Tripp, Ryan Schafer

Stars: Vinny Curran, Brendan Calahan, Bill Oberst JOR

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Run time: 1hr 30min

Rated: 18