The little fierce diva Connie has a new lease of life! She is back and has high-kicked her way onto Shorts TV’s subscription channel on Amazon Prime. You can watch the feisty foul-mouthed showgirl as part of a free seven-day trial now.
Conceived in late 2018, Evacuees started as a pitch selected as one of eight feature projects in Arrow Video FrightFest’s New Blood 2018 contest to receive mentoring from BAFTA-nominated producer Jack Tarling (God’s Own Country), horror icon Barbara Crampton, director/producer Jenn Wexler, and Queensbury Pictures’ Giles Edwards. Since then, the script has grown through its infancy to become a Stage32 and Screencraft semi-finalist.
Set in 1943, it tells the story of a Yorkshire town that plays host to a group of child evacuees from war-torn London. Childless outcast Elizabeth grows close to them, but faces a dilemma when she discovers the truth of their sinister intentions.
Lauren Parker is a member of the BFI Network x BAFTA crew as a producer, where we first connected, and was awarded one of only twelve places on their mentoring scheme. Lauren is currently mentored by Camille Gatin (The Girl With All The Gifts). She was also selected for the Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab in 2018.
Lauren has produced successful shorts including the award-winning Night Owls and the Creative England/BFI NETWORK funded Wash Club. Wash Club received an online premiere with Short of the Week and a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Lauren’s latest short Majority was funded by the BFI NETWORK and has screened at Krakow Film Festival, Palm Springs Shortfest and BFI London Film Festival. Her next short Lord of the Free Range is due to shoot in 2021 with the support of the BFI NETWORK. Her films have played festivals around the world including Frightfest, Sitges, Aesthetica, London Short Film Festival, This is England, Galway Film Fleadh and many more.
She started her career in television as a production assistant with Endemol and has since worked in TV production with CBBC, BSLBT and Wellington Films. She recently worked as line producer on the interactive project As Dead As It Gets. Lauren has also worked on a range of feature films, from low budget horror to the BFI funded The Devil Outside.
Lauren has produced countless commercial and corporate videos with clients including Porsche, Boots, Nottingham City Council and NY record label, Bear and Owl. Her music videos have been screened on Vevo and MTV as well as nominated for Best Radar Commission at the Radar Music Video awards.
As a filmmaker, this story allows me to explore themes and concepts around motherhood, fertility, femininity, gender and identity through complex characters that are rarely portrayed on screen.
I’m so happy to join forces with Lauren on Evacuees. Her passion and enthusiasm for the script is palpable, even through lockdown, and I look forward to channelling our energies into raising this project from toddler through to adulthood.
I LOVE a good podcast, especially podcasts about films, so I was chuffed to chat about two great stonkers in two recent podcasts, both of which are now available for your aural pleasure.
First, I chatted to Mike Muncer on the hugely popular Evolution of Horror podcast about Ti West’s 2009 retro occult horror, The House of The Devil. A stunning example of beautiful low-budget independent filmmaking, which wears its influences on its sleeve, Mike and I delved deep into the plot, aesthetic, its legacy and superstar Greta Gerwig’s supporting role, as well as its film nerd status as a fine example of ‘mumblegore.’ This episode is twinned with Mike’s chat with Robb Watts about another witchy release from the same year, the equally brilliant Drag Me To Hell by Sam Raimi. Have a listen here or via Apple Podcasts and other services. It’s recently been Apple Podcast’s number one film history podcast!
Then I had a good old natter with Mark Goddard and Chloe Davies for the Franchise Players podcast about one of the best thrillers that has ever been made – yes, I said thriller rather than horror – Richard Donner’s 1976 classic, The Omen. This is another movie I have such respect for, and Mark, Chloe and I discussed the film in great detail – scene by scene where we could, evaluating the story, performance, score, its set pieces, where its genre lines blur and the influence it’s had on modern horror classics. We spoke for several hours and I could have praised it for another six hours. You can listen here.
If you love a bit of film history, critique and trivia, or just want to get your geek on during your commute, when cooking, in the bath or when trying to sleep, or you’re searching for creative inspiration, both are a good, fun and worthy listen. Enjoy!
And there’s more of me chatting on podcasts to come over the coming months… To be announced soon!
An extended article I wrote for the spectacular new print magazine Film Stories has now been published. The feature is about the too often overlooked 90s rom com Jack & Sarah, starring Richard E. Grant, Samantha Mathis, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins. Spread across five pages, I argue that the film is well worth a revisit and discuss its many merits. It includes extracts from an exclusive interview I did with the writer/director, Tim Sullivan, who was very generous with his time and shared so many interesting stories about the making of his ‘baby.’
Film Stories, Issue 5, is available now from the BFI Shop, WHSmiths and via mail order. It’s a snip at just £5.99, or it’s even cheaper if you opt for a subscription deal! This issue also includes:
- The stars of Rocketman on bringing the Elton John biopic to the screen
- Richard O’Brien on the lost Rocky Horror Picture Show sequels
- The movie apocalypse films that have flown under the radar: Reign Of Fire, anyone?
- True confessions of a movie PR rep
- The woman who transformed Warner Bros’s movie marketing
- Jack & Sarah: revisiting an overlooked 90s British movie.
- The evolution of movie special effects, and the return of practical
- Three films and he’s out: the movie career of Yahoo Serious
- Celebrating the musical films of John Carney
- The trick to making a horror movie remake
So don’t miss out! And I hope you enjoy reading my lovingly crafted article!
Brilliant news! My award-winning short Connie is now available to buy on Shorts International’s iTunes stores in the US and Europe! Better still, the foul-mouthed puppet is a cheap gal – a snip at only $2.99 or £1.99 respectively – so fill your stockings this festive season with twenty minutes of our little felt-covered diva.
Connie has had an incredible journey since the shoot in May 2016, playing festivals globally, including awards qualifiers, winning awards, receiving great reviews and entertaining audiences we could only have dreamed of. Being able to share it now with a whole new audience is really something else. Film festivals rock, but so few people can actually get to them, so I’m proud that Connie has been licensed by Shorts International.
The film showcases the incredible talent of our superstar, Catrin Stewart, who did an incredible job of playing two roles at once and also operating a puppet – all in just two days on set! It also features the legend that is Kim Newman. It’s a film I’m incredibly proud of. Meeting audiences at festivals and seeing their reactions to the film, and to me and the puppet, has been an extra slice of joy.
Connie is also screening now on ShortsTV’s channel in the US, with the European premiere coming very soon. ShortsTV is the world’s first 24/7 HD TV channel dedicated to shorts, and currently available to approximately 25 million homes, with more channels across the globe to come. More details on how to watch ShortsTV here.
The magazine is the brainchild of Den of Geek founder, Simon Brew, and accompanies his popular new podcast – also entitled Film Stories. The magazine was recently funded by a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, smashing the initial target – almost doubling it. It champions new releases and new writing, celebrates all the geeky film stuff that you want to read about, and features regular columns by stand-up Romesh Ranganathan, BAFTA-winning creator of Wolfblood, Debbie Moon, and writer/director of The Levelling, Hope Dickson Leach. So we’re in great company!
Our article addresses how to get your film noticed and more bang for your buck when submitting to film festivals, with our hints and tips for playing the odds and creating a successful strategy. There are also some of our lovely behind the scenes photos taken by the brilliant Mike Shawcross.
Excellent news! We’ve struck a licensing deal with the brilliant Shorts International to broadcast Connie on ShortsTV in North America, Europe and South Asia for five years from late 2018. ShortsTV is the world’s first 24/7 HD TV channel dedicated to shorts. This is a very exciting agreement as the ShortsTV channels are currently available to approximately 25 million homes! I can’t wait for Connie to reach a wider audience and for the little puppet to expose herself on TV!
PLUS, Connie shortly be added to the ShortsTV online stores on Amazon (UK, USA and Germany) and iTunes (in over 80 countries) for purchase! So anyone who hasn’t managed to catch little felt diva at festivals can see her on the tellybox or online! Launch date details coming soon!
Great news! Connie has won big at GenreBlast Film Festival 2017 in Virginia, USA! Connie scooped the Funniest Short Film award this month following the State Premiere at the festival, where my little short screened alongside the opening feature film, Guardians.
GenreBlast is an awesome festival and the comedy shorts selection was really amazing, so I’m totally blown away that the film has actually bagged the award. You just never really know when you write a comedy if people are going to get your sense of humour. You can edit, rewrite and share with your team and crew and have all the laughs in the world on set, but you still have to hope that the film finds its tribe in on the festival scene and in the big bad world. Thankfully, Connie has, and I’m thrilled that GenreBlast wanted to recognise my work in this way.
Connie was also nominated in two other categories against impressive competition – Best Actress and the female writer/director award.
Massive congrats to all the nominees and winners at GenreBlast, and a big thank you to the festival team for including us in the festival. The selection was amazing and communication before, during and after the festival has been great – a festival really worth submitting to and being part of. We couldn’t be there in person, but will definitely be submitting more work in future and hope to make it over to join the party one day.
There are more festival announcements and screenings still to come for Connie as she continues to stomp around the globe – thrilling, touching and offending as many wonderful people as she can well into 2018! These are regularly added to the Screenings page on the official Connie site.
Wowzer! Connie continues to cook up a storm stateside with four upcoming state premieres over just nine days, with three award nominations to boot!
First, Connie gets to catch some rays at the California premiere tomorrow, 31st August, at Long Beach Indie International Film, Media and Music Festival 2017. The film is screening as part of the Suspense and Horror shorts block from 9pm. I love California and am really thrilled that she’ll be allowed to cause mayhem in the golden state.
Connie is hitting Kansas City on Monday 4th September! The little diva is headed to kick Dorothy’s butt and enjoy the Missouri premiere next week, screening at the super cool Slaughter Movie House at the Screenland Armour movie theatre. Connie will be screening with the feature film, Space Babes from Outer Space, kicking off at 7pm… and better still, it’s FREE! Check out this gorgeous event poster!
Just a couple of days later after a stroll down the yellow brick road, Connie heads to GenreBlast Film Festival 2017 for her Virginia state premiere! Connie screens with the opening film of the festival, Guardians, from 7pm on Thursday 7th September at the Alamo Drafthouse. You know it’s a great festival when it’s at an Alamo Drafthouse, and GenreBlast have a really cool selection of shorts and features playing, including an advance screening of IT, also on the opening night.
AND… The awesome team at GenreBlast have very kindly nominated Connie for not one, not two, but THREE awards at the festival! It’s pretty stiff competition though, so Connie better get her boxing gloves on… I certainly can’t hop in the ring and fight it out for a trophy when I’m 6 months pregnant… But being nominated gives me a lovely, glowy, warm feeling…
Finally, finishing off next week, Connie will be hitch-hiking her way to Utah for FilmQuest 2017, screening as part of Shorts Block 2 on Friday 8th September from 6pm. FilmQuest celebrates the majesty of genre filmmaking in the realms of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and beyond, running until 16th September. Connie is in great company as our web series, Mina Murray’s Journal, has also been selected for the festival! Go team Moranic Productions!
What a lot of mileage to cover in just nine days! It’s a US road trip. Sadly, I won’t be the Susan Sarandon to Connie’s Geena Davis for the journey as I enter the third trimester of my pregnancy, but she can hack it on her own. She’s a freebird… *zippo lighter overhead*
Months and months of hard work have now finally paid off! Yes, Blood Shed is now complete! Bringing this unique tale of a guy’s deep, obsessive love for his man-eating shed to life was far from easy, but James Moran and I can now finally celebrate as our short film is unleashed on audiences!
And even better still, we’ve had a terrific response to our trailer, and a flurry of fantastic news through from film festivals! Good news, it seems, is like buses! Long may it continue! I love it when a bus comes on time!
Blood Shed‘s WORLD PREMIERE will take place at the UK’s biggest genre festival – Horror Channel FrightFest, on 27th August! We’re especially thrilled to be part of FrightFest again and screening as one of only twenty-six shorts selected for the festival this year. Having our laughably twisted work recognised in this way is a big honour. We had no idea that our story about a bloodthirsty shed, with an aesthetic inspired by Creepshow and 80s horror, including the fashion and style, would strike a chord in this way.
Back when we wrote the first draft of the script together, last December, James and I could only have dreamed of getting this kind of response. This certainly makes the pain and torment of crowdfunding feel worth it, and we can’t wait to share it with all our pledgers, festival audiences and dare we say it, reviewers (*chews off nails frantically in anticipation*). As co-writer, producer and production designer of the piece, I put my heart and soul into Blood Shed… and she certainly enjoyed eating me up for months on end! But the hard work doesn’t stop now… The marketing and distribution has only just begun, merchandise has been designed and ordered, the extra content and digital goodies are being pulled together for Kickstarter supporters, and the press train is underway! When I see this image of our two amazing stars, Shaun Dooley and Sally Phillips, drenched in blood, it reminds me that they probably had it harder than me on this film!
Though Blood Shed has felt all-consuming (how many references to being eaten can I crowbar into this blog?!), 2017 has been a huge year for me in other respects, too.
Connie continues to enjoy success on the festival scene and has even picked up some awards, and festival acceptances are still coming in. Looks like there’s life in the little foul-mouthed puppet film yet! There are numerous festivals that I’m itching to announce, but can’t just yet, but there are some very exciting ones coming imminently, including GenreBlast and FilmQuest, both in the US in September!
My next project as writer/director, Hank: Portrait of a Serial Killer, is now in pre-production, with a view to shooting over the next few months… More on that soon.
This year I’ve also achieved a couple of massive life goals! I successfully completed my second Masters degree, in Professional Media Practice, validated by the University Of Bournemouth. My final project, on slasher films, feminism and psychoanalytic film theory, was the culmination of five years of blood, sweat and tears, and resulted in my original feature film script and insightful research on slasher films and feminism. Having studied previous modules at the Met Film School, Goldsmiths and with the BBC Academy, I learned and grew so much over the five years of study, and so many of my writing and directing projects have been researched, developed or inspired as a result of the MA. Considering I hated school when I was a kid and felt like a complete outsider, it’s hard to believe that I now have two Masters degrees!
But, an even bigger life goal has been unlocked that will make me look rather different in my graduation gown at the MA presentation ceremony in November… James and I are expecting a baby! Yes, a beautiful, no doubt loud, giggly and impatient, little girl! Not only will I be an MA, and MA, I will literally be a MAMA! James and I are both thrilled that we’ll be parents. We can’t wait to meet our little warrior woman and shower her with love.
But, I’m still writing, producing, directing and am generally unstoppable. There’s nothing that Team Moranic can’t achieve. We’ll just have a super cute, extra little team player on our side soon.