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John Henshaw joins cast of Rochdale Pioneers, about birth of Co-op movement

It started with 28 men in Rochdale in 1844. Now there are over a billion members of co-operatives worldwide - with combined turnover each year in the UK alone of £33bn. A new film from the British Youth Film Academy, funded by the Co-Operative Group will tell how it all began. Filmed in the Greater Manchester area as part of The Co-operative’s activities to highlight this year as the International Year of Co-operatives, the 52-minute feature tells the story of - and gains its working-title from - ‘The Rochdale Pioneers’ and their vision for a better social order which established the co-operative movement.

Actor John Henshaw plays the role of John Holt, one of the original members of The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, in the film. Well known for roles in Early Doors, Born and Bred, Looking for Eric and Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, John Henshaw said: “I am delighted to be involved with "The Rochdale Pioneers”. It’s a brilliant initiative, BYFA brings together talented people from all backgrounds and all levels of skill to work hard together to make film - it’s good fun, a pleasure to work on, I am really enjoying it. The application, dedication and professional standards is inspiring and, it bodes well for the British Film Industry that the wealth of talent out there is being supported, encouraged and nurtured by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy.”

British Youth Film AcademyThe new film is inspired by the 1944 film ‘Men of Rochdale’. It is funded by The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest mutual business – and is being filmed and produced by The Co-operative's British Youth Film Academy. The co-directors of the new film, Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande, along with its producer, Kevin Atkinson, worked together on the BYFA movie ‘Julius Caesar’ which was selected for the international Raindance Film Festival in London, October 2011. Kevin Atkinson, Operations Director of The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy and producer for the new film, commented: “Through the medium of film, we are bringing the spirit, heart and belief of the original pioneers to a brand new audience.”

The original 28 ‘Pioneers’ were all working men. After a year of trading (1845) membership had increased to 74 and total takings for the year reached £710. Soon the Pioneers’ fame spread overseas and today, there are one billion members of co-operatives worldwide and, in the UK alone combined sector turnover exceeds £33 Billion. Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s National Co-operative and Membership Manager, said: “Over 160 years-ago the original Rochdale pioneers set out the ideals which became the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world still operate to this day. 

“Now, with one billion members of co-operatives world-wide and a thriving co-operative sector enjoying international attention, we believed the time was right for this inspirational story to be re-told.” The film will be distributed internationally and plans are in place for it to be screened at the co-operative world festival and expo at Manchester Central in autumn 2012. To follow the progress of the film or for more information visit


Doddle and Handheld Production Tools

The very first business plan for Netribution back in 1999 included online call sheets that automatically filled in certain details like location maps and contact details. It never happened, so it's good to see it finally reality in DoddlePro, but this time without having to print the call sheets as it's using smart phones. Brent Burdick submitted the skinny - Ed.

doddlePRO ( is a smart phone production app that allows users to organize film projects by creating paperless call sheets directly on their phone. These digital call sheets can be distributed as PDF's and digitally via e-mail to all of your crew members. Users can view the weather conditions at any listed location, locate vendors, highlight hospitals and police in the area, and with GPS capabilities, can find their destination with step-by-step directions. doddlePRO eliminates the need for bulky, wasteful paper production guides.

doddlePRO is the companion to doddle, a continuously updated database of business and individuals that pertain to the entertainment industry. doddle – slang for "an easy task" – benefits anyone in the film and TV industry by allowing users to search for vendors, crew, talent, locations, film offices and other resources anywhere in the world. In its next generation, producers will now be able to access, amend and push call sheet information from their computer using doddle's call sheets online. Information will sync automatically between the online and mobile versions, allowing a producer to connect and use doddle's resources in even more locations.


A Film Industry First? British Movie ‘Love/Loss’ Offers Audiences a Live Link-Up with the Film Set

On Friday 21st August 2009 Gadabout Productions are streaming live behind-the-scenes action from the set of the new British movie ‘Love/Loss' staring BAFTA-winning actors Virginia McKenna and Keith Michell.  

Film fans will be able to watch live, unedited footage of cast and crew on set by clicking on the Love-Loss website The webcam will follow all the rehearsals and filming from 9.00am until the film wraps at approximately 7.00pm @


Virginia McKenna and Keith Michell will also be joined on set by Diana Quick, Geoffrey Whitehead and Strictly Come Dancing's Len Goodman who is making a guest appearance as the village dance club teacher in the movie.

‘Love/Loss' is a moving story of love, life and death and has been filmed entirely on location in and around Knebworth for the last two weeks. The webcam will capture key internal scenes from the final day of the shooting and will take place at an undisclosed location.

The 90-minute film is written and directed by documentary filmmaker and web TV specialist Guy Daniels and produced by Gitte Daniels. Gadabout Productions are currently in the process of securing a distributor for Love/Loss.



Mohamed Al Daradji's Son of Babylon feature wraps filming in Baghdad

sobFilm looks at Saddam regime's 'modern holocaust'

- second feature from Leeds based Oscar-shortlisted producers Human Film
- 400,000 bodies in mass graves found since 2003 from over 30 years of rule
- cast and crew are made up of many survivors of regime
- includes lead actress Shazada Hussein; the only woman to witness against Saddam during his trial

'If we forget the past, there is no future'
Simon Wiesenthal, KBE, Holocaust Survivor and Nazi Hunter

Son of Babylon is a Holocaust film unlike those we are familiar with. In a country embittered by decades of tyrannical rule, torture and systematic murder at the hands of Saddam’s Ba’athist party, during which an estimated one million people were displaced, a Kurdish mother and her grandson set out to discover the fate of her missing son, captured by Republican Guards 12 years earlier. Travelling across the chaotic landscape and killing fields of Iraq - paralleled by the story of her son, an Iraqi Soldier - she retraces his steps in the hope of reuniting him with his son.

Written and directed by Mohamed Al-Daradji ('Ahlaam', 2004), a Baghdad-born survivor of Saddam’s regime, having fled the country after the execution of his cousin. Produced by Isabelle Stead of Human Film (UK) & Atia Al-Daradji of Iraq Al-Rafidain (IRAQ), the film is about to wrap on location in Baghdad. The film was shot throughout Iraq and the Kurdish territories in the North of the country. Cast and crew are made up of many survivors of Saddam’s regime, including the lead actress Shazada Hussein; the only woman to witness against Saddam during his trial. Like many survivors, who lost their families to Iraq’s 30 year Holocaust, the crew of “Son of Babylon” are using this opportunity to share their experiences of suffering through this story, with the determination to prevent these atrocities from occurring again.

Since 2003, 400,000 bodies have been uncovered. The majority remain unidentified. Yet, 60 years after the Nazi Holocaust, it appears the Western world has become complacent about continuing persecutions similar in size and destruction. In a society occupied by Western Forces, millions of Iraqi, Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites continue to search for answers to the fate of their missing amongst the mounting number of mass graves. Could this obstruction prevent peace and progression in Iraq?

NB - A press conference with cast and crew of 'Son of Babylon' will be scheduled for later Saturday, 7th March, 10am at Abo Noalse Street (opposite the Sheraton Hotel.) BAGHDAD, IRAQ - anyone reading this who could go?


The sun shines in Cannes on a New Voice in World Cinema

peace2.jpg "Religion is something private, it's about you and your God. You respect me, I respect you - we live together this fantastic life. This is why God made us different. If he made us the same with one religion, it would make life boring. That's why he made us different: white, black, yellow, brown." 
Mohamed Al Daradji *

It was Laurence Boyce, actually, who alerted me to Ahlaam - the first fiction film to be shot in Iraq in decades, using a largely Iraqi cast and crew - and its creator, Yorkshire-based Mohamed Al Daradji. It's a relief to hear the latest news from his producer, Isabelle Stead, in Cannes on one of the most exciting and urgent voices in British cinema right now.


mohamedaldardji2.jpgThis week UM-HUSSEIN received funding from the UKFC's development fund and are in talks with the UKFC's New Cinema Fund, along with attaching Goalpost Film (Clubland) for world sales.

This intensely personal story of UM-HUSSEIN is being passionately supported by Sundance, directed by the award winning Mohamed Al-Daradji (Ahlaam, War, Love, God and Madness), produced by Human Film's Isabelle Stead (War, Love, God & Madness) and Iraq Al-Rafidain's Atia Al-Daradji (Ahlaam).  The film's executive producers include Pippa Cross (Bloody Sunday) of CrossDay Productions and the highly acclaimed Antonia Bird (Priest) of 4Way Pictures, with co-producers Dimitri de Clerq (Earth and Ashes) of CRM-114 (France) and internationally regarded filmmaker Rashid Masharawi (France/Palestine).
UM-HUSSEIN  is a mother's journey to bring home her son against the debris of a war torn Iraq. Told through two parallel tales we recount Hussein's turbulent life as an army deserter through the treacherous and courageous steps of his elderly mother UM-HUSSEIN and his young son Ahmed on their pilgrimage to find him.
The film is receiving funding from Fond Sud (CNC), Screen Yorkshire's Development Fund alongside the Kurdish and Iraqi Ministries of Culture.  After the success of Mohamed's first two films; AHLAAM,  the award winning film that that represented Iraq for Oscar and Golden Globe consideration in 2007; and WAR, LOVE, GOD & MADNESS, that recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, there is no doubt of the potential importance UM-HUSSEIN has to offer the current voices of  World Cinema.

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The rise of low-budget: Paramount spends $25m on 2008 tentpole

Prospective blockbusters are not usually built this way. From the NY Times

cloverfield_poster.jpgRob Moore, the executive who oversees Paramount Pictures' marketing and distribution operations, had an open date in his movie schedule. He had just watched a little step-dancing film called "Stomp the Yard" clean up over last year's Martin Luther King's Birthday weekend, and he figured his company could do the same if it had some cheap popcorn fare ready for the holiday in 2008.

J. J. Abrams, meanwhile, had a theory. Best known as one of the creators of the television series "Lost," Mr. Abrams figured he could make the modern-day equivalent of "Godzilla" for $25 million or less, if he hired a bunch of no-name actors, shot much of the movie with a single $1,500 hand-held camera and threw the rest of his cash into special effects.

And Brad Grey, chairman of the Paramount Motion Picture Group, had an itch. Imagining himself following in the footsteps of the movie moguls Lew Wasserman and Sidney Sheinberg in the days when they took a budding Steven Spielberg and his fledgling company under their wing at Universal, Mr. Grey remembers telling Mr. Abrams: "I'm going to be Sid and Lew, and you're going to be Steven."


BBC and Pathe to Produce Kipling’s Jungle Book Movie


The BBC has joined forces with French film studio Pathe to co-produce a $50m (£24.8m) movie based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. The film will be shot as live action and CGI techniques will be used to appear to make the animals in the story talk. Director is to be BBC natural history filmmaker John Downer, who filmed the Emmy-nominated drama documentary Pride. Michelle Fox will produce for John Downer Productions.


Midlands production company wins 15th award of past two years

iceni, a Midlands business video production and broadcast design agency, is celebrating after scooping two awards at the prestigious US International Film and Video Festival in Hollywood. This takes the company’s worldwide award haul to fifteen in 2006 and 2007. 

The Staffordshire based production company received Certificates of Creative Excellence in the Advertising / Marketing category for promotional work for Teka and the Environmental Issues and Concerns category for a creative energy saving drama produced for Birmingham City Council. The awards from Hollywood join trophies from the New York Film and Video Festival and the CiB*, a coveted IVCA** award, and an Every Child Matters and Creative Curriculum award from the government’s Creative Partnerships programme.