Mr Turner 2014 Review.

Last night I attended a preview screening of Mr Turner that included a Q&A with director Mike Leigh (Nominee of 7 Oscars).

 Mr Turner is a biopic of the famous British painter J.M.W Turner starring Timothy Spall. I went into the film knowing very little about Turner and his work, I knew who he was and some of his paintings but very little else. One of the things this film does well is show the very physical way in which Turner painted, spitting at his work, blowing powder at it and using powerful brush strokes. Full credit to the cinematographer Dick Pope for this film because visually it was stunning. Many of the scenes alluded to Turner’s work which was a great touch. Leigh explained that they had access to a lot of Turner’s work including his colour charts so they were really able to see how Turner approached colour and could incorporate it into the film’s cinematography which I found really interesting.

I did have a few issues with the film, during the Q&A an audience member praised the portrayal of the women in the film and Turner’s positive relationship with them. I definitely disagree with this opinion, in fact I saw the complete opposite. Turner in the film came accross as deeply misogynistic, sexually abusing his housekeeper and on the whole only interacting with women if he got something in return (usually sex). I also (partly because of this) found Turner’s character to be incredibly unlikable the majority of the time. The whole film takes the angle of empathising with him and portraying him as a gentle man who happened to bIMG_2520e a painting genius and in some ways this was successful, for example I enjoyed his relationship with his father and the scenes at the art gallery. But a lot of the time I found myself really disliking Turner as a character, and I can get on board with unlikeable characters if that was their intended purpose but it was clear from the Q&A that this wasn’t how I was supposed to perceive him. There were a mix of funny and sad moments in the film, it was also clear that Turner was incredibly passionate and forward thinking showing him embracing the new technologies of steam trains and early photography and acknowledging how photography was going to change art. Which of course he was right about. Mike Leigh described Mr Turner as a modern Biopic as it does leave a lot up to your interpretation rather than being strictly factual.

I had the opportunity to meet Mike Leigh after the event, I asked him what his advice would be for aspiring filmmakers and he said “Never compromise” and encouraged me to keep filming lots.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the event but to be honest I wasn’t a big fan of the film.

Filmed Up – North West Filmmakers Night. (September)

Every 3 months the Cornerhouse in Manchester runs a night of selected short films made by the North West film making community. The films vary, including animation, documentary and fiction. At the end of the night you vote for your favourite film and have a chance to talk to some of the filmmakers. The most recent installment of this was on the 25th of September.

Out of the 12 films shown a few stand outs were:

The First Hit – Joseph Malone 

A Documentary about 3 recovering victims of substance misuse reflect on their addiction and how it’s affected them.

This was incredibly hard hitting and moving, it did a great job in discussing the effects an addiction can have on a life but it also ended on a hopeful note.

Angel in Ancoats – Rebecca Luck

After Mark moves to a new area of Manchester (Ancoats), He is struck by the mixture of decay, demolition and construction and wants to make a positive change. This alongside fears of being stuck in his life he takes a unique approach in trying to set the bricks free.

This was my personal favourite of the evening, I liked Mark’s unconventional attitude to the abandoned and disused buildings in Ancoats and how he strived to make a positive change in the area and in himself.

Coast– Sois De Traca

An animated music video exploring the attachment to the things left behind.

This was just a really beautiful animation with a good attitude towards letting go.

The Pig Child – Lucy Campbell, Scout Stuart and Loran Dunn

A Scientist illegally creates an embryo that is part human and part pig and uses herself as the surrogate to bring it into the world. 

This was really well made and brilliantly shot, it was also incredibly disturbing and shocking. The Pig Child was voted the best film of the night.

This was a really great night and a great opportunity to see some of the work made by the local film community and I definitely hope to attend the next installment of this!

Best Worst Movie (2009) Review.

Best-worst-movieThe “Best Worst Movie” is a documentary about the making of the film “Troll 2” (1990) and how it went from being named the “worst film of all time” to a widely popular cult classic. It was made by Michael Paul Stephenson who was a child actor in the film itself. The documentary mainly follows dentist-by-day George Hardy who became a cult star due to the sudden popularity of “Troll 2” in the past few years, 20 years after the film was originally released with little response.

Whilst I have not seen “Troll 2” the documentary tells basically all you need to know about it to fully enjoy this strange cult classic phenomena. Directed by Italian filmmaker Claudio Fragasso, the film was originally titled “Goblin” But was then changed to “Troll 2” to give it more comercial value despite having no connection to “Troll” (1986) and not even mentioning the word “Troll” throughout the film. From the clips shown in the documentary the film looks hilariously bad. From the acting to the costumes even the plot line and dialogue. None of it connected, and none of it making any sense.

The documentary is a great look into the making of a cult classic. It reiterates many times that “Troll 2” is a bad film, and there’s no reason that it should be this popular. But somehow it is. I think there’s something very interesting about what attracts people to genuinely bad films, there’s obvious aspects such as comedy and making fun but what’s different about a bad film in comparison to say a bad novel is that dozens of people were involved in the making of it. This isn’t just one persons creation, lots of people came together and created something terrible. Which possibly just adds to the hilarity of the concept of bad films.

There are points in the doumentary that do make you feel  bad for all the laughing. Most of the actors in the film have never worked again, there is even one point in which Connie Young who played the daughter in “Troll 2” knows that if  at an audition someone recognises her from “Troll 2” she knows she is not getting the part. That must definitely be  a frustrating thing  for her to be haunted by a role she played 20 years ago when she was a teenager. Not to mention that the director, Claudio Fragasso completely believes that he made a good film. As someone who wants to make films I did sympathise with him, it must be difficult for your project to be laughed at when you truly believed in it.

All in all, I did thoroughly enjoy the documentary. It was funny, thoughtful and interesting. I recommend!

The Wind Rises Review.

“The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!”

I had been desperate to see this film for nearly a year as I am a huge fan of the Studio Ghibli films. When I travelled to Tokyo last summer “The Wind Rises” was showing in Japanese cinemas so there were posters all over the city advertising this film. I also visited the Studio Ghibli museum (which is incredible by the way for any fan of the films!)

Furthermore, it was announced that this would be the 11th and final film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Creator of Studio Ghibli and the director of the Oscar winning “Spirited Away” as well as many other amazing films including my personal favourite Ghibli film “Howl’s Moving Castle”. As i’m such a huge Miyazaki fan I ended up traveling from Plymouth to Exeter to see “The Wind Rises” on its opening day in the UK (9th May). I saw the Japanese version with English Subtitles, I would love to see the dubbed version too at some point.

The film itself is a tribute to the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a young aeronautical engineer who designed Japanese fighter planes during the Second World War (most notably the Mitsubishi A6M Zero) The film documents key historical events in Japan such as the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and part of Japan’s involvement in the war. I think one of the main successes of this film is that like many of Hayao Miyazaki’s films that touch on the subject of war it does not glorify war. If anything, it is anti-war. To quote the English subtitled trailer the film is most focussed on “how did Japan’s youth survive at such a time?” It’s a very human approach to the time and as an animation is absolutely stunning. There was controversy over the film in Japan, some saying it was “Anti-Japanese”  and that Miyazaki is a “traitor” due to it’s anti-war stance.  Hayao Miyazaki said in 2011 that he was inspired to make the film due to a quote he read by Jiro Horikoshi that said “All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful”. Which is definitely the main theme. Whilst in the film Jiro is clearly a pacifist, he continues to pursue his dream either in denial or not realising the devastating consequences of his work which I believe is very reflective of the time as well as being incredibly human.

To conclude, “The Wind Rises” is incredibly beautiful and a really different perspective on Japan at the time. A brilliant film for Hayao Miyazaki to retire on even if I will miss his great work!

Media Arts Exhibition.

I took these images through the installment set up for another student’s work which involved a projector and sheets of sheer fabric that enlarged the projections that ascended through the room. I think the pictures look quite dreamlike.

Media Arts Exhibition 2014 from Emily Steele on Vimeo.

I also filmed part of the exhibition to document my experience there, here is the result.

Meeting Robin Ince

IMG_6412A few weeks ago I met the English stand-up comedian, actor and writer Robin Ince who is best known for presenting the BBC radio show “The Infinite Monkey Cage” with physicist Professor Brian Cox. I was attending his talk at Plymouth Skeptics in the Pub and got the chance to speak to him during the break.

I wanted to talk to him to tell him about the film project “And She Cried” as he openly supports the Sophie Lancaster Foundation (As you can see in the picture with our wristbands). He was incredibly intrigued and supportive of the project and gave me contact details to give him more information.

This was a really exciting thing to happen in the run up to the premiere on May 1st!

Behind the Scenes on “And She Cried”.


This has been a really great project and taught me a lot about film making. Here is some of the behind the scenes of the first couple of days of shooting “And She Cried”. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the finished film in May!

3D and my doubts.

It’s hard to remember what started the fad of 3D films again. It was probably James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ that started the trend “Must See in 3D” which you can now see at the bottom of many film posters.

3D was a huge novelty in the 1950s; films such as Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” were released in 3D  even though Hitchcock himself was dismissive of 3D, calling it “a nine-day wonder, and I came in on the ninth day”. 3D films quickly subsided when the novelty wore off just like it is starting to now. However, most films released now still have the option of seeing it in 3D unnecessarily such as Disney’s “Frozen” and “The Lego Movie”. Furthermore, some old films are re-released in 3D such as “Beauty in the Beast”, “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” and “Titanic”. My question is most of the time, why bother?

Even flicking through Empire Magazine’s “20 Best 3D films” I agree with very few that it was worth seeing them in 3D at all. 3D-movie-without-glasses-610x374

Although it may have died down a bit in cinemas the 3D trend has spread to our TVs and I just can’t see the fascination with it.

I feel like it very rarely adds a new layer of depth to the film (With exceptions such as “Gravity”) and can often make special effects look less realistic.

Also, when Filmmakers use the cliche trick of having objects ‘fly off the screen into the audience’ I think it can actually take you out of your engagement with a film rather than engrossing you further.

Obviously there are good aspects of 3D technology such as stated by a study done by Mindlab who found that people are 7% more attentive watching films in 3D than they would in 2D.

“3D is a fully immsersive format, increasing engagement in viewers. The fact that subjects were witnessed as having increased eye movement and head movement is testament to this. The 3D technology draws attention to peripheral images on the screen and, coupled with Blu-ray quality definition, it is able to deliver footage that increases engagement and emotional response over all the formats”. – Mindlab’s Duncan Smith


However all in all, I think most 3D films are not worth spending the extra money for.

“And She Cried” Update.

1925105_814077321940261_402789409_nThis is the new promotional image for the short film project “And She Cried” in which I was Second Assistant Director.

Since the second week of January, “And She Cried” has been in post production but we now have the semi-confirmed premiere date in May. This news is incredibly exciting and I’m really happy to have been a part of this project. I’m looking forward very much to seeing the film when it is completed.

Please support the project by following it at:

I have also talked about the project in another blog post which is here:

Gravity (2013) Review.

I’m probably the last person to jump onto the bandwagon about this film, “Gravity” was released in November 2013 but I think out of all the films I have been watching in the run up to the Oscars it is the one that has been hyped up to me the most. In all honestly I went into the film expecting not to like it, I expected to enjoy the cinematography and special effects but not the film as a whole. I was most definitely wrong.

“Gravity”; directed by Alfonso Cuarón, centres around the character Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), who after six months of NASA training has been sent into space to attach a new scanning device to the Hubble  space telescope as an engineer. She is accompanied by the charismatic character Matt Kowalski (George Clooney)  who is an experienced astronaut. However, on a routine spacewalk to fix this device, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving both characters completely alone spiraling out into the depths of space.

The cinematography was beautiful as expected, and it was definitely worth seeing in 3D (which I normally don’t agree with, but I will make another blog post about that). Although occasionally they did do the typical cliche trick of objects ‘flying out of the screen at you’  which did distract from the experience a little bit but not massively. All in all the 3D added another layer to the imagery in the film. Now, I’m not going to give any plot spoilers, but throughout the film you are incredibly invested in the characters as you get to know them, particularly the protagonist Ryan. In truth, I really enjoyed this film it is absolutely stunning and the narrative is engaging, emotional and very well performed by Sandra Bullock. I highly recommend!

Here is a little bit about the making of the film:

“I want us to be sued by NASA when they see the film.”- Alfonso Cuarón