Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Review: "Caught in the Headlights" and "Pro Kopf (The Maid)"

Hello dear readers!

Photo Credit: Chris Newman
   Today's blog post is something a bit different, but something I hope to do more of. 

    Last night, after a good day spent editing Ashes, I attended this months' Five Lamps Films night in Derby. I've been before - and they've been good enough to show a handful of my films in the past - so I knew that I was in for an enjoyable night of local cinema combined with business networking, and almighty QUAD food. Plus it gave myself and writer Tommy Draper chance to fly the flag for Stop/Eject in our limited edition T-shirts (see left).

   Last night's 5Lamps, however, was a bit special because there were two films I was particularly keen to see. The first of these being Caught In The Headlights, showing there as one of its first public screenings.

   I, like everyone else on the Derbyshire creative scene, had followed Caught in the Headlights' progress from its early (highly successful) stages of funding right through to its release. Without having to look up anything about the film, we all found our social media sights flooded with information and regular updates without our patience being tested, and without our interest levels dropping. Needless to say, the crew's publicity campaign has been first rate.

   So, after the months of Caught in the Headlights news, updates and titbits appearing wherever we looked, the film's followers waited with baited breath to see the finished result. With a marketing campaign so well-done, I'm sure I wasn't alone in wondering if it was a case of too much hype. I'm happy to say that Caught in the Headlights was everything it set out to be.

Caught in the Headlights trailer

   It tells the story of Keith, a taxi-driver in the clutches of a midlife crisis, who discovers his inner strength on a particularly challenging late night shift. The plot is relatively simple, and it suits it - this is a film which doesn't have to shout or make an epic dance to move its audience. It doesn't have to demand your attention to get it.

    Directed by Christopher Beaven, who perfectly captures the loneliness of the nighttime setting, and the sadness of the central character, through a relatively slow paced edit, use of minimal dialogue, and existing location lighting. The film revels in stillness, often focusing on dark, empty streets, or the emotion on the actors' faces. All of which is neatly enhanced by the haunting and gentle music of Jonathan Armandary

Caught in the Headlights poster
   There's a great supporting cast - including Joseph Maudsley and Lucy Varney, the latter of which I've worked with before - but absolute praise must go to the actor at the film's heart: Neal Higham. He's perfect for Keith, a man who - at first - appears physically weak. He's greying, slightly over weight, and sobs on the phone to a cheating wife, blaming himself for her actions. There's a passion in him which isn't quite allowed out; he toys with the idea of calling her lover and standing up for himself, and he chases after a boy who dodges paying his taxi fair, but his ageing body doesn't allow for success. It isn't until the presence of three unruly teenagers that he is finally pushed over the edge, and truly finds the fire within himself.

  
   With all the hype it's had, and its use of wonderful equipment (including a Canon C300!), Caught In The Headlights could've been just another gritty drama, shot in a neo-film noir style. A tale of revenge in which a tortured soul releases his pain through a series of fight sequences involving unlikeable yobs. That's how Hollywood would have done it. And, in all honesty, the films' Drive-esque poster may have suggested that. But Christopher Beaven has created a timeless film through empathy and tact, and I wish it  success for the future.

*

   The other film which stood out to me last night was one which was written by Tommy Draper, my frequent collaborator, and so it is one which I would've gone to see for his sake whether or not I enjoyed it. With Tommy's work, you tend to expect certain things - clever one-liners, unusual quirks, and girls called Lolli. To my surprise, this film had none of those things, but could potentially be Draper's best script to date. Not bad considering he had the added challenge of writing an English script to be performed in German.

   Directed by Sascha Zimmerman, Pro Kopf  (renamed 'The Maid' for English audiences) is a story of a man who discovers his wife is having an affair when he rings home and talks to the new maid (infidelity seemed to be an underlying theme at last night's 5Lamps!). In a moment which is handled very well - one which starts out as a spoken thought but which quickly turns to a plan - the man asks the maid to kill his wife and her lover. As the plan develops, the characters barter, settling on a fee for the job through a battle of wits which wouldn't seem out of place in a Tarantino film.

Still from Pro Kopf (2012)
   The whole film is done in one room, in a single scene where the supporting cast appear only as voices on the other end of a receiver. The film is carried wonderfully by Draper's script and the performance of the film's lead, Ray Strachan (I'm particularly impressed by his performance, in fluent German, having learnt that Strachan is in fact Scottish).

   But of course, since this is a Tommy Draper script, the audience was made to laugh - albeit through dark humour - with the film's wonderful twist towards the end, one which I wouldn't dare spoil for you!

*

   5Lamps Films is a bi-monthly film night in Derby, and there's always a great selection of films on (sorry for not reviewing all of them), so it's a night worth making if you can. Head on over to http://www.facebook.com/fivelampsfilms for more information.

   You can follow Caught in the Headlights' progress at http://www.facebook.com/CithFilm, and visit Tommy Draper's official website (www.tommydraper.com) for more information about a great writer. And I'm not just saying that because he's the new co-writer on my upcoming feature!


Sophie x

4 comments:

  1. It was my first time at Five Lamps film night, and I really enjoyed Pro Kopf too. Had to leave early so didn't see Caught in the Headlights, which is a shame as going by your review it was pretty good.

    I wasn't aware of the marketing campaign either, probably because I'm new to Derby. Why do you think it was so well done? Any useful lessons learnt?

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    1. Hi Shreen,

      Thankyou for your comments.

      The first notable thing about Caught in the Headlights was their successful funding campaign. I've noticed a decline in the success of funding films through public donation sites, but Caught in the Headlights smashed through their total and stood out amongst the other campaigns. A lot of funding success tends to be luck but the main thing they did great here was that I think every member of their team got involved with promoting the campaign - they didn't just leave it to the lone voice of the Director or Producer.

      Since then, their publicity has been particularly excellent because they shared it with their followers so loyally. They regularly updated the Facebook page with photos as things happened, even showing us the C300 they collected from London, as they were travelling back with it.

      Even if the film hadn't been as good as it is, their publicity alone has been a great achievement!

      I hope that helps,

      Sophie

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  2. Hi

    I just wanted to say that I think that both your blog and latest post are amazing and pretty cool. It made me smile reading that you are a local person, as most blogs I have been on are all from people who are in or from London. I am currently trying to pursue a career as a production runner/ locations assistant. I was wondering if you know of any or will be involved in any projects that require miscellaneous crew members.

    Please feel free to check out my blog, and let me know your thoughts on my site;

    http://www.mediadreamz.wordpress.com.

    kathryn2013


    Look forward to reading more of your upcoming posts :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kathryn,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Your blog looks like a great record of your adventures, and particularly cool to see that you were at ITV recently.

      The local creative scene is great but it's only really taken off in the last few years. I myself travelled close to London to get my degree; most of the films I made back then were in London and Surrey or Hertford, and I still have a lot of contacts in London. I was lucky that the midlands creative scene became so rich around the time I graduated and moved home.

      I'm not currently producing any new films but I know people that are. I'll let you know if I hear of any who need a Production Assistant. In the meantime, follow my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/triskellepictures) as I try to post casting/crew calls on there.

      Thanks,

      Sophie

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