‘Evacuees’ Feature Film in Development with Kato Pictures

I’m delighted to announce that my elevated period horror feature film Evacuees is now in development with Kato Pictures, led by fantastic producer, Lauren Parker. I’m attached as writer/director.

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.

‘Faux Hidden Gems of the VHS Era’ now on sale

A cool project that I’m involved with is now on sale! I’m a guest writer included in Faux Hidden Gems of the VHS Era – a collection of all the best/worst and bonkers plots from the back covers of 1980s VHS boxes, but for movies that don’t exist! It’s a smashing little book available in an actual print edition and is the brainchild of the magnificent Mike Garley, an EMMY-nominated comic series writer (Collider, Wallace and Gromit, Adventure Time, The Kill Screen).

As a kid, my family rented stacks of VHS tapes every weekend – all the weird and wonderful shock and shlock flicks. They all had glorious cover art that was sometimes better than the movie itself, cracking loglines and enticing synopses. This book pays tribute to the era with a compendium of completely made up movies that could totally have been made and fit in perfectly with the real thing on video shop shelves.

I’ve created a totally made up cult VHS hit for this book, complete with logline, reviews, production gossip and a crazy premise. The book features 52 fantastic creations from the depths of the mind of Mike Garley and other guest writers – it’ll leave you wishing you could actually rent these gems. It’s great escapist fun and only £6.00. Buy it here now.

Cover Feature – Morfydd Clark interview – Film Stories, Issue 19

I’m delighted to have written the cover feature for this month’s Film Stories magazine! I was lucky enough to interview the chameleonic actress Morfydd Clark, who spoke to me about two new films out in October that she stars in – psychological horror, Saint Maud, and the comedy drama, Eternal Beauty. We had a good old natter and chatted about both and so much more.

Speaking to me from New Zealand, where she is currently filming the new Lord of the Rings TV series for Amazon, Morfydd was incredibly insightful, charming and self-effacing. She sets the screen ablaze in both films. I also wrote the Eternal Beauty review in the same issue. Huge thanks to the editor, Simon Brew, for being such a supporter of my writing.

Films Stories, issue 19, October 2020 is shipping now.

New podcast appearances – Evolution of Horror & Franchise Players – out now!

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!

Blood Shed now available to buy on Amazon Prime Video

After about sixty film festival screenings internationally, Blood Shed is now finally available to buy on Amazon Prime Video for £2.99 HD or £1.99 SD in the UK and the USA. So a bargain price for a bargain shed! OR, better still, it’s free to watch if you already have Amazon Prime! So go, fly my pretties, fly… Fly over to Amazon Prime and take a peek at our bloody sheddy horror comedy short!

Blood Shed is now also screening in North America on ShortsTV, with the European premiere coming soon.

FFIDENT20 now online starring Andy Nyman, Emily Booth and Kim Newman!

Our secret ident for Arrow Video FrightFest this year is now online for free – #FFIDENT20 – FrightFest Opening Night of the Dawn of the 28th Day. Starring Andy Nyman, Emily Booth, Kim Newman, Jack Doolan, Adam Green & Joe Lynch.

Please watch, rewatch, share. I loved directing the Night of the Living Dead segment with the wonderful Emily Booth – such a funny woman. Huge thanks to her and our other brilliant guest stars. We made this with a huge amount of love, care and attention couldn’t have done this without the fab crew who gave us days and days of their time on this epic labour of love – Kirsty Graham, Joao L C Da Silva, Stu Dye, Taylor Rae Papworth, Grace Sargeant, Rhian Webster, Lauren Webster, Louise Brightman. This is our last ident as we’ll never beat this one!

It was screened before the UK premiere of Come to Daddy at FrightFest on the gigantic iMax screen last night.

Happy 20th anniversary, FrightFest!

To Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray, Alan Jones, Greg Day

and all the FrightFest team x

Podcast appearance: Evolution of Horror – Zombies, episode 10 – available now!

Ta dah! My latest podcast appearance has been unleashed on the world via Apple Podcasts and other great platforms! I had a blast chatting to Mike Muncer, with James Moran, about George A Romero’s classic flick Day of the Dead for the Evolution of Horror podcast. It’s episode 10 of the season on zombie flicks. The episode was recorded shortly before the sad passing of one of the stars – Joseph Pilato – RIP.

 

We’re paired with fellow filmmaker Sam Ashurt who discusses the other zombie game-changer of 1985 – Return of the Living Dead. It’s a really cool episode and well worth a listen! You can listen at the Evolution of Horror website, and find out more about Mike’s Patreon campaign for the series here. Go support!

 

 

Connie now screening on ShortsTV and available on iTunes US & Europe

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.

Connie – 5 year licensing deal struck with ShortsTV for broadcast & EST/VOD sales

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!

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Blood Shed selected for TWO Oscar festivals and wins more awards!

2018 is now in full swing, and this is my first news post since the birth of my amazing baby daughter, Ava-Grace, in January. I’m loving balancing motherhood with my writing and filmmaking, and have actually found myself with a renewed sense of vigour, despite the mountain of diapers I have to contend with on a daily basis. I’m incredibly inspired and the ideas don’t stop coming at the moment. I can’t wait to share them, but for now, I’m riding the wave of love for Blood Shed!

Since making its festival debut last August at FrightFest, Blood Shed has been selected for more than 30 festivals across the globe, winning 6 awards and garnering many more nominations, and we’ve still a long way to go! Our latest win in February was the Best International Short award at Nevermore Film Festival in North Carolina.18_Nevermore_Jury_Award_Black

It’s been just over a year since we smashed our Kickstarter campaign target and began production on the the film, and James and I can hardly believe it, but Blood Shed has been selected for TWO Oscar qualifying festivals in the USA. The first is Nashville Film Festival! It’s one of the longest-running film festivals in the US and one of the most acclaimed in the South, so we’re thrilled to be part of it. We’re screening with the superb Found Footage 3D on 18th & 19th May. Nashville had nearly 5000 short film submissions this year, selecting just 215, and we’re competing as part of the Graveyard Shift competition.

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The second qualifier is the amazing Seattle International Film Festival! Connie screened at #SIFF last year, so Seattle feels like home for me as a filmmaker. It’s the largest and most highly-attended festival in the USA and the selection of films this year is not to be missed. Blood Shed screens on 26th May as part of the Terror Internationale block.

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It’s not that we think a film about a man-eating shed would ever actually be nominated for an Oscar, but it feels amazing to get recognition from such big festivals that get thousands and thousands of submissions from films of all genres from across the globe.

Finally, I’m happily beavering away at feature ideas, with several already scripted and others at the outline or pitching stages. I’m also keen to get back on set and shoot my next two shorts from the Summer, but am making sure I get plenty of time to enjoy my babymoon with my favourite Moranic production…

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Photo by Michael Gill Photography, 2018