Writers

Laurence Boyce

On a day where celebrities seemed to dropping like flies, it's a shame that the obits for British scriptwriter Troy Kennedy Martin  probably won't be as extensive as they should be. Needless to say the man was a man who had a hand in helping to create and write some of the best UK TV shows ever made including 'Z-Cars' and 'The Sweeney'. His TV shows helped pave the way for intelligent genre fare that were literate and exciting whilst 'Edge of Darkness', currently undergoing a Hollywood remake, remains a highpoint of British television. Aside from TV, he scripted the brilliant ensemble piece Kelly’s Heroes and – perhaps most famously – was responsible for The Italian Job, a film that is famous for lines such as “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” as it was for it’s impressive car chases.

Read more Troy Kennedy Martin (1932-2009)

Laurence Boyce, regular Netribution contributor and former director of GLIMMER: The Hull International Short Film Festival, give his opinion on the worrying trend to ignore exhibition and distribution in the UKFC debate.

(EDIT: Since being published, this article has also appeared on the Encounters International Film Festival website at www.encounters-festival.org)

 A recent letter to Sight And Sound from the British Federation of Film Societies pointed out a crucial omission in many of the discussions surrounding the demise of the UK Film Council. Whilst its importance in the production of UK films has been justifiably analysed, it’s significance in the exhibition and distribution within the UK cannot be understated. Either directly or through Regional Screen Agencies, the UKFC has part funded almost all of the film festivals in the UK from the likes of the London Film Festival to dozens of regional festivals bringing movies and events to local communities. The aforementioned British Federation of Film Societies has received UKFC funding for a decade to help bring cinema to rural areas and give people access to film that they otherwise may be denied. It’s P&A fund has helped small films increase the number of screens they’ve been able to book whilst magazines such as Little White Lies have received funding from the UKFC’s New Publications Fund. With support such as this in danger, there is a huge chance that – in the UK at least – audiences are going to be denied the opportunity to experience a wide ranging choice of films from the UK and beyond.

Read more Exhibition and Distribution: dirty words?

Simon Rumley is one of those UK filmmakers whose work never seems to get the recognition it deserved. His debut feature – the brilliantly crafted faux documentary Strong Language – showed his talent for sharp writing, creating compelling situations and making a lot out of a tiny budget. His follow up films The Truth Game and Club le Monde – which, with Strong Language, formed the 'youth trilogy' – confirmed his talent as a director and writer. Yet, as inventive and enjoyable as the films were, they still seemed to have trouble permeating the consciousness of the cinema going public. Thankfully, his latest film The Living and The Dead (which is reviewed on the resurrected Special Edition HERE ) didn’t just permeate their conscious: it skewered it and then slapped them around with its raw subject matter and brilliantly intense style. Laurence Boyce caught up with Rumley to talk about the film, which was released on DVD on May 12th,  and other projects.

Read more Simon Rumley: Living with 'The Living and The Dead'

Now available to buy on DVD, September remains one of the most affecting and beautiful British short films of the past few years. The film beat off stiff competition from the likes Sam Taylor Wood’s passionate and impressive Love You More to walk away with the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Short Film (Live Action) to add to its numerous other awards and accolades.

The film tells the story of Marvin, a man gradually seeing his life erode as he toils away at a motorway service station. But a chance encounter means his outlook on life begins to change and a life of flipping burgers and unfulfilled dreams seems to become more remote by the second.

Read more September
Simon Magus / The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz DVD CoverEveryone who says that there are no decent films being made in the UK are dead wrong. There are plenty of decent movies made in the UK. It's just that no-one really gets the chance to see them. With UK distributors consistently playing it safe, there's a raft of excellent stuff that - apart from an occasional screening at a film festival - that's gathering dust on a shelf. But thanks to the advent DVD, there's been a re-discovery of many of the films that seemingly slipped through the cracks. A couple of these happen to be two of the finest British films made over the past decade both directed by Ben Hopkins. Prepare to the enter the fairy tale land of Simon Magus and the chaos that surrounds The Nine Lives Of Thomas Katz Read more Simon Magus / The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz
Who I Am And What I Want DVD CoverThose who know the work of illustrator Dave Shrigley will understand how easy it is to fall into cliché when describing his work. Words such as ‘twisted’, ‘dark’ and ‘disturbing’ seem inadequate to express his truly warped view of the world and the people who inhabit it. Now, with the aid of Chris Shepherd who directed the wonderful short film Dad’s Dead, Shrigley has brought his deceptively simple style to the screen. Read more Who I Am And What I Want

One Life Stand DVD Cover"I'd like to finish with a word of warning. You may have started something. The British are coming." If that statement, made by Colin Welland during his 1981 Oscar acceptance speech for Chariots Of Fire, is true then the British have been taking their bloody time. More than 25 years on, it's only now that British cinema seems to be at the beginnings of resurgence that could put it at a level as it was during the 1960s. Whilst it's true to say that the talents such as Danny Boyle and Stephen Frears amongst others have provided many high spots over the past couple of decades they have been - comparatively - few and far between. Now with recent Cannes winners such as Red Road, commercial genre successes in the shape of Shaun Of The Dead and The Descent plus a thriving independent scene our indigenous industry may not be fully resurrected, but its certainly pulling itself out of a hole. So it's quite timely that May Miles Thomas' One Life Stand has found its way on to DVD after some years in the wilderness.

 

 

Read more One Life Stand
Straight 8 Camera

It’s ironic that, in an age when film moves forwards in leaps and bounds in terms of technology and innovation, it takes an almost obsolete format to encourage some of the of the most original, inventive and enjoyable filmmakers around. The idea of Straight 8 is deceptively simple: filmmakers get an 8mm cartridge of film sent to them and then have to make a three minute film shooting in sequence and editing only in camera. They then have to send the films back to be processed: no post-production is allowed and each cartridge has a unique serial number to make sure that they can’t cheat and start again. The first time anybody sees the films – including the filmmakers – is at the packed premiere screening.


Read more The Best of Straight 8 2005

V For VendettaFilms based on a comic book will always attract two forms of criticism. Firstly there’ll be those who judge the inherent quality of the film. Then there’ll be those who’ll judge the film and its fidelity to the original source material. For a perfect of example of this then you need look no further than V For Vendetta. Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s original graphic novel has been beloved of comic fans since its publication in the mid 80s. A tale of a vigilante who wreaks havoc on a totalitarian Britain, the novel was a densely plotted and intense vision of the future that was a thinly veiled attack on the horrors of Thatcherism. Intelligent and adult, it was a favorite of those who were used to being told that ‘comics were just for kids’. Almost two decades on, there was slight consternation when it was announced that V For Vendetta was being brought to the big screen. After the debacles that were From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would this be the Alan Moore adaptation that got it right? And, for those who didn’t give a damn about the original, would the film be any good?

Read more V For Vendetta
Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick On Film CoverGiven that he's written more than 30 novels and numerous short stories it's surprising that the works of Philip K. Dick haven't been adapted more in Hollywood. Yet, from 1982s Blade Runner to the just released A Scanner Darkly there have only been 5 films based on the work of the celebrated science fiction author. In Counterfeit Worlds Brian J Robb examines Dick's career and the Hollywood system that the author was both inspired and repulsed by. Read more Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick On Film
David Lynch 2nd Edition Book CoverAs the film world anxiously awaits the release of David Lynch's latest film Inland Empire, Michel Chion's definitive book on the one of the most complex directors in American Cinema today is finally updated. But if you're looking for a book that explains all of Lynch's work then you're going to be disappointed: after all, it's sometimes questionable if Lynch himself knows what the hell is going on in his movies. Instead, through Chion's intricately researched prose, we are offered various pieces of the puzzle. It's up to us to try and work it out. Read more David Lynch: 2nd Edition by Michel Chion

The Art Of Ray Harryhausen Book CoverWhether you're old enough to remember seeing Jason And The Argonauts on the big screen or fondly hark back to bank holidays where you could comfortably settle down for a screening of Clash Of The Titans, the films of legendary animator Ray Harryhausen have enchanted many a movie goer. But as much as Harryhausen is loved by his audience, he is also revered and respected throughout the film industry for his pioneering animation techniques in the pre-digital era. Now in The Art Of Ray Harryhausen he reveals the people who influenced him and the secrets behind the ways in which he brought so many mythical creatures to life.
Read more The Art Of Ray Harryhausen by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton

Close Up 01 Book CoverClose Up 01 is the first in a series of annual books from Wallflower Press, each containing three individual studies that are linked by their detailed explorations of the decisions that are made in both film and television, such as camera position, editing and sound. Whilst to some this would seem somewhat rather obvious, those who are steeped in film academia will known that many theories in film studies can be somewhat broad to say the least. But can this first volume in the first series manage to do justice to its noble intentions?

Read more Close Up 01 Edited by John Gibbs and Douglas Pye

The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations CoverWhether it’s the fountain where Anita Ekberg frolicked in La Dolce Vita, the scuzzy convenience store where Dante wasn’t even supposed to be that day in Clerks or the hotel where Jack Nicholson went a little bit bonkers in The Shining, there are plenty of movie locations that remain a source of pilgrimage for holiday makers, movie buffs and – on occasion – completely barmy fans. Whichever you are, the efforts of Tony Reeves in The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations means that you need never miss out on finding that obscure bit of land that looks nothing lime it did on the screen.

Read more The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations by Tony Reeves

Shepperton Babylon CoverFrancois Truffaut memorably said that there was “… a certain incompatibility between the words ‘cinema’ and ‘Britain’.” Stephen Frears had an equally memorable retort, stunning in its simplicity and epic in its sentiments: “Bollocks to Truffaut.” Yet aside from certainly glorious moments – the Free Cinema movement, the Swinging Sixties and the new wave of the 80s and 90s – it would appear to the casual observer that British Cinema has consisted mostly of a parade of insipid comedies, gangster movies and enough period movies to get the children of corset designers through college. Thank goodness that Matthew Sweet is firmly on the side of Stephen Frears in saying “Bollocks,” though he does so with a tad more elegance and verbosity through his book Shepperton Babylon.

Read more Shepperton Babylon by Matthew Sweet

Blade Runner Experience CoverIf you’re a fan of Blade Runner – and there are many – you may be happy that there’s a new book exploring the classic film. However, if terms such as ‘Intertextuality’, ‘Liminal Space’ and ‘Cyberethnography’ are liable to give you a sudden headache then maybe you’d better check out Laurence Boyce’s review of The Blade Runner Experience before spending your hard earned money.

Read more The Blade Runner Experience (Edited by Will Brooker)