Category Archives: Guvnor Films

Bad Reception Movie Reviews

DVDFullWrapCoverTemplateIt’s been over six years now since I took the plunge to go to LA and direct my first movie. Had I known at the time, the heartache and turmoil, the potential law suits and financial impact the film would bring…I still would have done it anyway. Wouldn’t we all?

Dante’s Criterion (later renamed to Bad Reception) was a film born out of mysterious circumstances. Having raised $18,000 to make a film, on the (then) new HD 1080i format, our over confident and under talented writer demanded $46,000 and a WGA contract for his script.

 

Oddly, we decided not to go this route which was, believe it or not, a shock to the ‘writer’. Bet he didn’t see that in his story arc?

So having a budget but no film, I was tasked with the job of writing a horror movie in 6 weeks. Horror is not my genre but 6 weeks later, script 5A was ready to roll.  I won’t delve into the production because it would be a very long posting and if you’ve made a movie you’ve heard it all before. The precis being “Oh woe is me, but we managed it anyway, huraah”

Since then my last wife and I had to endure the joys of delinquent producers, law suits, contract disputes, failed film screenings and numerous distribution let downs in order to get the film out on the market. Shami Media of New York (our distributor) seem like a decent bunch of people and have got the movie out there and getting noticed. Thank you to them. But, after all this time, money and a learning curve that would make Sisyphus weep, what impact has my hollywood movie made? Well, mixed.

sisyphus

In this one I am the next Roger Corman: http://roguecinema.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3015

In this: The actors are meh, but we kill them well: http://www.triskaidekafiles.com/journal/2013/10/21/what-im-watching-bad-reception.html

But all this said, my sanity was saved by a few words of wisdom from a friend who isn’t in ‘the business’. He said he’d seen  Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull recently, he wasn’t impressed with that (and he spotted a few mistakes). So, what chance did my little movie stand against the critics?

He is right, but as a person I consider myself a creative. And as all us ‘creatives’ know, the worst critic in the room is always sitting in my chair.

So roll on the next film project,  lessons learnt, I guarantee it will turn a few critical heads and raise a smile.

MAT


The Birmingham Feature Film Trail

Birmingham CanalsI received this email from a colleague Keith Bracey. Never short of an opinion, Keith is a writer, broadcaster and avid historian of Birmingham.

Enjoy

 

 

 

I wondered why in your otherwise excellent examination of ‘incomers’ as I call them, rather than immigrants to the diverse City of Birmingham who made a great difference to our city, the Birmingham Jewish ‘Film Triumvirate’ of Sir Michael Balcon, Brummie Grammar Schoolboy and Birmingham and Britain’s first ‘Film Mogul’ who at one point worked for Louis B. Mayer of MGM, Victor Savile, who bankrolled Balcon and the eponymous Oscar Deutsche who founded the ODEON Cinema Chain in Birmingham in the 1930’s were not mentioned in History WM’s special edition on ‘Migration to the West Midlands’ and the effect that migration has had on our region, good (mostly) and bad………………..

All 3 film ‘movers and shakers’ could be found on a ride on the Inner Circle number 8 ‘Corporation Buzz’ in Birmingham’s inner city!

They are the reason Birmingham should set up a ‘Birmingham Film Trail’ with various stopping-off points in the City of Birmingham which as a city was almost single-handedly responsible for the world-wide film industry in the late nineteenth century with Brummie Alexander Parkes invention of the eponymously-named ‘Parkesine’ the first viable plastic in the City’s Jewellery Quarter in 1860, which led directly to the development of celluloid, also in the Jewellery Quarter and thence to the development of ‘film’ and the film industry.

Birmingham needs a ‘Birmingham Film Trail’ to highlight and showcase our cities film and cinematic roots which continue today with Sir Michael Balcon’s grandson, the excellent actor, possibly the best ever film actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, the record-breaking triple-Oscar for Best Actor winner.

The City of Birmingham is also home to the UK’s oldest existing cinema: ‘The Electric Cinema’ run by the excellent Tom Lawes which dates from 1909….and the oldest surviving ODEON Cinema which I think is ‘The Clifton’ in Perry Barr in North Birmingham.

keith braceyl well recall the early 1970’s BBC TV Black and White TV Series ‘Gangsters’ set in Birmingham echoing ‘The Peaky Blinders’ with an understated lead actor Maurice Colbourne ( like a typical Brummie, modest to a fault!) playing the lead role opposite a Pakistani actor with the surname of Malik (I cannot recall his first name) as they prowled the ‘Mean and Moody Streets’ of Birmingham where the Clubs along and just off Broad Street were run by ‘characters’ like Martin Hone’s ‘Opposite Lock Club’ in Gas Street.

Martin Hone, a big car-racing fan, was the prime mover behind the ‘Birmingham Super Prix’ of the 1980’s.

I was a Freshman at Birmingham University in the mid 1970’s and well remember going to the Fewtrell’s ‘Barbarella’s’ in Sheepcote Street opposite the old Liberal Jewish Synagogue which is long gone.

Birmingham then in the 1970’s was a generally racially tolerant city with an undercurrent of racism and violence pervading the city.

I went to George Dixon Grammar School for Boys from 1969 until 1976 and in that time we had two fine young black men as our Head Boy, both incidentally, who went on to play and coach in top class Rugby Union: Rudi Smith, who I think was the first black schoolboy to play for England Under 18’s International Schools Rugby and Collin Osborne, who is the current Harlequins Rugby Skills Coach, whom I interviewed on my Rugby Union Show on Sports Radio Birmingham a couple of weeks ago.

Collin has coached and played rugby at an elite level with Harlequins and coached Zimbabwe in the first Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987.

As a former Academy Director of Harlequins Collin played a pivotal role in the development of current England Rugby Union Captain Chris Robshaw and England Internationals Full-Back Mike Brown, scrum-half Danny Care, and centre in his own image, Jordan Turner-Hall, a fine young black England international and centre as Collin Osborne was for Dixonians RFC (my Rugby Club) and Birmingham’s Premier Club Moseley RFC who currently play in the second tier of English Rugby, the IPA Greene King Championship, the tier below the AVIVA Premiership where Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints play.

People do not believe me when I tell them that Moseley Rugby Football Club was a bigger rugby club in Birmingham than either The Tigers or The Saints…….!!!!!!!

Other young black men in soccer like the ‘3 Degrees’ Regis Batson and Cunningham the WBA soccer players were those brave young men who changed the attitudes of Britain toward black people by their groundbreaking feats on the football field and beyond, in Batson’s case as a PFA Union Official

They ignored the throwing of bananas onto the pitch and other such vile acts of racism and played the game as it should be played with passion and heart and soul.

I am so glad that their efforts have been recognized with Sandwell Council and the Baggies erecting a statue in the centre of West Bromwich to these 3 pioneers who braved the ‘Monkey Chants’ from the so-called soccer gangs like the Blues ‘Zulu Warriors’ and West Ham’s ‘Inter-City Firm’ as portrayed in films like ‘This is England’.

Back in 1974 I went to see the Reggae star Jimmy Cliff’s Biopic ‘The Harder they Come’ at the ODEON New Street founded by a chap from a previous generation in Birmingham who had suffered from prejudice in the City, a German Jew called Oscar Deutsche, who founded the ODEON Cinema Chain which is still the largest in the UK based on the acronym ‘Oscar Deutsche Entertains Our Nation’ the Greek for to watch is ‘ODEON’ so you can see Oscar was on the ball.

I saw Cyrille Regis, the late Lawrie Cunningham, who played for Spanish Giants Real Madrid, before his untimely early death in a car crash and a young Brendan Batson came out of ‘The Harder they Come’ who was a Black Hero to these young Black men……that typified and exemplified Birmingham in the 1970’s for me…..three young black men out for a good time, watching a violent Gangster Film in racially tolerant Birmingham…….

Another Brummie Grammar School Boy Sir Michael Balcon who founded Ealing Studios which gave us those great ‘Ealing Comedies’ like ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’, ‘Passport to Pimlico’ and ‘The Ladykillers’ should be part of ‘The Birmingham Film Trail’ too for me.

Balcon went to my old school George Dixon Grammar School for Boys from 1906 when the school opened until 1913 when he left to join up in 1914 at the outbreak of The Great War.

Balcon tried to establish some of the early ‘Birmingham Pals’ Regiments in The Great War but ironically could not fight and serve himself due to defective eyesight……….

Balcon also named his ‘Everyman Copper Hero’ PC George Dixon of ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ fame after his old school, named after Education Reformer and the founder of Edgbaston High School for Girls, which my daughter attends and where my wife is a Teaching Assistant: George Dixon MP.

George Dixon was the Birmingham MP and Lord Mayor who was much overshadowed by his direct contemporary, former Colonial Secretary and architect of the modern municipal Birmingham Joseph Chamberlain.

‘The Birmingham Film Trail’ should be set up by Film Birmingham, Birmingham City Council‘s film promotion agency in my opinion, to maximize Birmingham’s film and cinematic history.

And as you can see the film and TV legacy of ‘The Peaky Blinders’ is nothing new in portraying Birmingham as a gritty, edgy city!

Keith Bracey
Writer, Broadcaster and Historian
Greensward Enterprise Business Consultancy
Oldbury, Sandwell, United Kingdom

 

Any opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and not the publisher or In Mi Experience.


Independent film – Spike Breakwell’s article features on Disability Horizons

Guvnor Films’ feature film Bad Reception continues to create a stir. After a successful premier in Dunstable, executive producer Spike Breakwell was asked to write a piece about his work on the film.

http://disabilityhorizons.com/2013/01/from-a-stage-in-luton-to-an-la-movie-set/

A full cast and crew listing is on IMDB

Own a copy of Bad Reception yourself, just click buy below.

Bad Reception DVD


Independent Film: In this digital age, is the BFI my BFF?

tumblr_m4wmqiTPZG1qher3go1_500Six months ago, I returned home to the UK from Hollywood. Bank bail-outs, global crises, and an explosion in production technology aside, the landscape of the British film industry had changed in my time away. Screen West Midlands was no more, and many of the old filmmaker online hangouts (with the exception of Shooting People) had also gone by the wayside. Nevertheless, we hit the ground running and began production on our feature length documentary.

Short of Facebook friends, our next stop had to be the ever present British Film Institute. A quick browse around the site yielded an email address…10 minutes later my request for some professional updating was on its way.

Now, at this point, I should say I don’t usually ‘hang’ with institutes and such; I’ve always found, for them, red tape is thicker than water – like the time I was in Cannes celebrating the financing of a feature film project. In a flurry of champagne and French cuisine, I was invited to meet with The Film Council. The next day, I arrived at the spacious suite on the Croisette and was handed a form to request a meeting back in London. I was there, they were there….but the meeting was back in London?  #wtf

Anyway, I digress. Back to my BFF’s at the BFI. As the application deadline passed, thoughts of development funding retreated from my mind, replaced with schedules and logistics. Our promotional series, The Haunted Kingdom, began to attract the attention of the press, and with the failure of the Mayans to predict a simple end to the world, it was Christmas which finally brought an enforced halt to production.

The New Year brings fresh interviews, a fresh fall of snow and a reply from….the BFI/MEDA [sic] (MEDIA, methinks?). Two and a half months after my original email, I got the reply and the invitation I was waiting for “…Check out our webpages.” OMG. I presume the address is: http://www.wedontgiveacrap.com.

Ignoring the obvious points: a) I couldn’t have contacted them without getting the email address from the website, and b) timewise, my BFF’s email took longer to write than the New Testament, I have to ask myself:

Are entities like the BFI redundant in today’s digital film and media landscape?

Personal annoyance aside, I would genuinely like to pose the question and open the debate.  Let’s look at the areas these types of foundation/quango/whatever purport to support: #poetanddontknowit

Development
If you are a writer, you write. If you are a producer, you produce. Creativity is an itch which always needs to be scratched. It doesn’t stop when the money dries up. Giving development money to people who need encouragement to create is promoting the wrong sort of people to be “in the business.” Proactive writers and filmmakers are often penalised for getting on with it, so…tell me again how this is helping British filmmakers?

Funding

The BFI has announced its Vision Awards for 2013-2015, but the entry criteria for production funding is too high for anyone except established companies. Arguably, filmmakers are much better off spending their time and efforts raising money with Kickstarter or other crowd funding options.

Distribution

You will struggle to find anything on the Film Council/BFI or other websites that would help regular filmmakers to get their film out there. Most smaller filmmakers struggle to get any distribution and don’t have the tens of thousands of pounds to support their own P&A campaign. So, again, an online distribution or streaming solution is a clear winner.

SO?

Well, let’s take a moment to look at a few factors affecting filmmakers today:

So, a dedicated filmmaker can: raise money for a project via suitable crowd funding; produce a feature length project in an HD format; cut the project on a relatively inexpensive edit solution; then distribute it online. All without involving a funding body, studio or production company.

🙂

Now, aside from the issue of filmmaker’s objectivity and the quality control that comes with third party eyes viewing a creative project, there is that point again…Who are my BFF’s really helping?

The Vision Awards help companies with a “fiction, documentary or animation feature film that has been distributed theatrically in the UK.” That eliminates 99.9% of all filmmakers in the UK, for the reasons I mentioned above. So, this helping filmmakers guise is actually a none too subtle disguise to subsidise companies already in a position to make films. Unlike.

Banks are always criticised for only lending money to people who don’t really need a loan. But is this any different? This is government money used to subsidise film companies who already have the means to make films. If that’s the case, wouldn’t a more honest approach be to introduce better tax incentives for ALL companies making films, and re-allocate BFI/Lottery hard cash to prop up organisations like the CAB, who actually need help and are in a funding crisis? Like.

I don’t mean to sound like a rabble rouser, but it irks me when people claim they help but actually don’t. That’s why I love Ronseal — “It does exactly what is says on the tin.”

But back to my original point: why does this matter? Well, it doesn’t. If filmmakers can produce their own quality digital material and distribute it, then these types of elusive BFF’s aren’t needed.  Unfriend.

Talent floats, and realistically, there is no filmmakers’ lifeboat. But the digital age gives us literal safety in numbers, and these ones and zeros do help creative, informed people. All we need now is a way to connect all those disparate people…Oh hang on, isn’t that called the Interweb?

Mark Alexander Todd is a working writer/director located in the West Midlands.

More details about the projects he’s involved in can be found on his company

website, GuvnorMedia.co.uk.


A Good Reception for “Bad Reception” in Dunstable.

Ashley Trevathan and Spike BreakwellThe irony of watching a film about a killer TV on a large screen TV was not lost on the audience at the UK premiere of Bad Reception.

Producer Spike Breakwell, lead actress Ashley Trevathan, and director Mark Alexander Todd looked on as members of the audience watched, rapt, as the scary and sometimes gory story unfolded. Accompanied by the odd scream of surprise, the audience watched the supernatural goings on all the way to the film’s thrilling climax.

When the lights came up, the VIP lounge at the Highwayman rang to the sound of applause. Not known for its film premieres, The Highwayman Hotel took the premiere to heart. Fitting a red carpet on the entrance gave the premiere a real Hollywood feel, and the free hot popcorn added a sense of theatrical fun.

Audience member Nicholas Donnithorne was caught out by Bad Reception’s many scary moments, and later said “Bearing in mind I do not watch horror films, for reasons you soon noticed, I really enjoyed it.”

American actress and star of the film, Ashley Trevathan, said, “It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, and it’s always awkward to watch myself on screen, but I really enjoyed it.”

While the evening was fun for everyone concerned, there was a serious side to the event. All of the money raised from DVD sales and donations was donated to Macmillan Cancer Support. With the sad loss of Spike’s mentor, Kevin Robinson, in September, “It seemed a good way to remember Kevin and the positive influence he had on my life,” said Breakwell.

Breakwell and Todd have more showings of the film planned for 2013. They are also collaborating on a new project, which is a documentary about ghosts in the West Midlands. Details about all the Guvnor Films projects can be found at: http://www.guvnorfilms.com


Press Release: Bad Reception UK film premiere for charity.

PRESS RELEASE

Dunstable-born writer and stand-up comedian, Spike Breakwell, is to play host to the UK premiere of his first feature film “Bad Reception”.  reakwell, formerly one of Rory Bremner’s writers and star of BBC2’s disability show “From the Edge”, plays Ziggy Fontaine in the award winning horror movie.

The premiere will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support as a tribute to Kevin Robinson, the theatre director and friend of Breakwell who died of cancer in September. “He believed I could act right from the word go”, Breakwell explains. “And I guess, as I’m in a Hollywood movie he was right”.

Filming days in Hollywood are long as Breakwell remembers “We were shooting my scenes on the set in North Hollywood, I was on set, made up and ready to go and it was only eight am”, he says. “My character is supposed to be very bubbly and lively and described in the script as a self-styled “Stephen Hawking of Hollywood” not easy at that time in the morning.”

Director Mark Todd (Guvnor Films) remembers, “Spike knew that the set wasn’t friendly to his disability, but he was a real pro and told the crew jokes as they carried him and his wheelchair up two flights of stairs.”

As well as appearing in the movie, Breakwell took an executive role as a producer on the project. He jokes, “That’s how I got the film company to hold the UK premiere in Dunstable”, he explains. “Mark (Todd) lives in Birmingham. Who wants to spend a night in Solihull?”

The event will be held atThe Highwayman Hotel Saturday 24th November 8pm and as well as Breakwell, director Mark Todd and American lead actress Ashley Trevathan will also be attending. The screening is free to all-comers, but the producers ask for a voluntary donation to Macmillan Cancer Support.  It should be a great night for horror fans and devotees of independent cinema.

Spike Breakwell

Mobile: 07976 289832

Email: spikebreakwell@hotmail.com

Guvnor Films website: http://www.guvnorfilms.com/


The radio – In Mi Experience!

Despite the slow start while I was still in LA, now I’m here on the ground (and can talk to people face to face) interest in The Life and Death and Life of The Black Country is growing.

A local Wolverhampton radio station enjoyed hearing about the project and seems open to follow up stories in the run up to Halloween.

The Haunted Kingdom.com


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