Monday, 25 May 2015

Brenton Film: The Big Noise in Silent Film!

Silent films are big business worldwide! Yup, you heard right: silent films – no words, just pictures and music. The huge critical and commercial success of The Artist (2011) and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011) served to highlight the fact that not only are they experiencing a renaissance, in many ways they never really went away. However, even in 2015, no single website catered comprehensively to the needs of fans worldwide – until now. Building the world’s biggest and best silent film website has been the dream of local boy Brent Reid for years – now he’s well on his way. Here’s how and why he got started.

How did you first get into film; what’s your earliest film memory?

Like many I was fascinated by films on television from an early age I guess at that point I was mostly interested in fantasy, action and adventure-type stuff: wizards, war films, westerns and especially anything with monsters or dinosaurs in. Then as now, the name Ray Harryhausen (stop-motion animation wizard) in the credits was always a guarantee of quality!

I basically first became aware of film-watching as a special, theatrical experience when I was old enough to take myself, from the age of around 7 or 8 (!) to one of the surviving handful of ‘proper’ original cinemas that were still operating in the city centre back then. Sadly, the only one still remaining is the Savoy on Derby Road. Use it or lose it, people!

Why is silent film still relevant today?

They’re still entertaining – very much so. I’m on a mission to demonstrate to non-believers and the as-yet-uninitiated that they’re far from being just for film buffs and beard-stroking academics – and that’s just the women! The best silents, with a quality presentation, are every bit as potent and affecting to everyone, regardless of age and background, as they were first time around.

The influence of the silent era (1890s–1930s) is absolutely everywhere too. Modern filmmakers pay homage to it constantly; there’s barely a day goes by without me coming across yet another overt silents reference in a film, TV programme, computer game, music video or, especially, friends’ kids’ cartoons. Do you like WALL-E? he’s an amalgamation of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, two of the silver screen’s greatest-ever comedians, and the film itself is a quasi-silent one. Heard of Metropolis (1927)? If not, maybe you’ve heard of Star Wars, because that’s where C-3PO was born. So too was the dystopian vision of Gotham City in every Batman outing since 1989. (Speaking of which, Batman himself was based on silent film action hero Douglas Fairbanks, as was Superman!) How about Lord of the Rings? Yup: Metropolis is in there again. The list goes on and on. And on. That’s just one film – most people are already silent film fans and don’t even know it yet!

Additionally, much of the style and glamour of the silent era remain resolutely at the cutting edge of fashion and design and show no sign of ever fading.

One last crucial example of the silent era's ongoing relevance: incredibly, women in the film industry have never since enjoyed such wide-ranging power and autonomy as they did back then. They frequently rose to the top as some of the most highly-paid actors, directors and producers of the day. What's more, around 50% of all films made before 1925 were written by women; now it's around 10%. So much for progress... We seriously need to catch up again!

What first inspired you to start the website?

Easy: no-one else was doing it and I was fed up of waiting! I saw what was lacking online from the start and countless other silents fans I’ve met at screenings and film festivals, both at home and abroad, agreed it was a great idea. However, after unsuccessfully spending over a decade trying to cajole other, more tech-savvy folk to start such a site, it was clear that no-one actually wanted to take on such a huge task Eventually I took a deep breath and one year ago jumped into the heady world of social media to start heralding the site’s arrival, whilst simultaneously working on it. Finally, I just recently launched the site and got an immediate, great response. Tens of thousands of visitors already – and this is just the start!

How is Brenton Film different to other film sites?

That would require a whole article in itself, but fundamentally, I’m, trying to amalgamate and build on the existing global silent film community. Though in the real world it’s a thriving and healthy one, online it’s extremely fragmented, with a greatly diminished reach as a result. There are many smaller sites and blogs that do some parts of what I’m doing, but no single site is doing all of it. In addition to that, mine has several features that are unique, at least in the world of silent film. Chief amongst these is the Worldwide Events Calendar, the first of its kind I aim to get every relevant happening on there eventually. There are hundreds of them, on every continent, scheduled at any one time and it would be impossible for one person to keep track of them all. Therefore the calendar is a special interactive one that allows promoters and fans to upload dates themselves. I've got BuddyPress on there which is a sophisticated social networking facility. There are also features that people are more familiar with: chat forums, articles, news, reviews, prize giveaways, etc.

Brenton Film, including its calendar and forums, is built using WordPress so the entire site is completely integrated. Amongst other things this means that once you’ve signed in, using your own password or a social media account, you have the ability to create your own profile and post anywhere onsite, including leaving article comments, etc. I’m not claiming this to be unique but it must be a bit of a rarity, because I haven’t come across it anywhere else yet!

All of this is also promoted with targeted advertising and a large and very active social media presence, which are things that much of the silent film world in particular has been slow to adopt. I guess 'community' and 'interactivity' are my watchwords. I may have built the site but it really is intended for everyone to use and actively participate in.

How can people in Nottingham get involved?

Easy: use the site! Sign in, leave comments and post in the forums. If you know a lot about silents, share your knowledge; if you don’t know much yet, ask questions! Guest articles are always welcome: click here to contribute

Eventually I’d love to bring a proper silent screening – or even series of screenings – back to Nottingham. Somewhere a little out of the ordinary would be cool, like inside either Wollaton Hall or St Mary's in the Lace Market.

Any there any other Nottingham connections?

Well, Alma Reville, or Mrs Alfred Hitchcock, as she was otherwise known, was from St Ann’s! As any true Hitch fan will know, she was well-established in the film industry before they met. Afterwards, she continued to be instrumental in the filmmaking process and was almost as much a part of all his films, including his silent ones, as he was himself. There are many other luminaries of the early British film industry that were born and brought up in Nottingham, amongst them Jackeydawra Melford (her actual, real name!), Holmes Herbert, Billy Merson, Norman Page and Sebastian Smith.

You want more? The history of film exhibition in Nottingham is as old as film itself, with the first public screenings occurring from 1896 onwards, just a few months after the Lumière brothers débuted projected motion pictures in Paris. Far more recently, the British Silent Film Festival, one of the finest such events anywhere and my first real induction into this wonderful world, had its home at the Broadway cinema for a decade. Since sadly having to depart in 2009 it’s become a nomadic one; this year it’s being held in September at Leicester’s Phoenix Cinema. Make the trip: you'll meet lots of lovely folk, have your filmic horizons broadened inordinately and might just become addicted too!

What’s your favourite cinema in Nottingham?

Why, the Savoy Cinema, of course. The last remaining bastion of my childhood cinematic dreams, I absolutely love it there. I’ll even tell you my favourite seat: Screen 1, front row centre, right of the aisle – my happy place! Note that this grand old lady celebrates her 80th birthday this November; I’ll see you at the party!

Brenton Film: The past, present and future of silent film

Friday, 11 January 2013

Zombie Hood Film REVIEW

As the temperature plummeted and a freezing fog settled eerily and ominously around the city centre, the atmosphere was well and truly set last night for the premier of Nottingham's very own full-length, full blown, blood, guts and gore-fest movie Zombie Hood at Nottingham Contemporary.

A whopping two and a half years in the making on a shoestring budget by a dedicated team of cast, crew and zombie extras numbering literally hundreds of people, this hugely ambitious project was filmed in and around Nottingham and other local areas employing a wide range of local film-making skills, talent and die-hard enthusiasm.

Zombie Hood's plot revolves around a disparate and desperate group of survivors who flee the initial outbreak of the zombie infection in the city and base themselves in Sherwood Forest whilst risking visiting populated areas for food and supplies. From the outset, local horror fans will have loads of fun spotting and name-checking familiar Nottingham locations and venues and it's a very dramatic sight to see the spookily-deserted city centre streets up on the big screen, particularly the creepy panning shot of the empty and newspaper-blown streets outside Victoria Centre, shiveringly-silent and shopper-free.

Meanwhile, hungry zombie fans will have a squelching, oozing and splattering blood-feast to sink their teeth into with the impressive and shockingly gruesome make-up effects, as zombie of all ages, shapes and sizes romp and chomp after the survivors, who pull off compelling and entertaining performances.

Lightened by genuinely classic very funny lines and moments that got the whole audience bursting out laughing, Zombie Hood rampages through the city and pulls out every blood-stained stop to answer all your How To Survive A Local Zombie Apocalypse questions. Watch out Nottingham, it's a biter.

You can find out more about Zombie Hood including film release dates on their website
And you can read our Nottingham Confidential interview with Steve Best, director of Zombie Hood here
Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Bad Movie All-Nighter At Broadway Cinema

Ever seen a movie that's so bad it's good? Here's your chance to go the whole hog and make a good-bad night of it with the four of the 'silliest, funniest,and most astonishingly awful films ever made' at the All Night Bad Movie Experience at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham on November 19.

Starting at 11pm and going right through the night into the early hours of Sunday morning, the films include the first ever Nottingham screening of international cult sensation The Room and a rare big-screening of Road House with Patrick Swayze.

"It really is a demented line-up," says organiser Matt Palmer. "Samurai Cop (an 80s action movie) is just completely unbelievable. And Pieces, (an 80s slasher mind-trip) the final film, showed at an event I did in Glasgow and people went mental."

The event also includes classic bad movie trailers and a free raffle. Tickets cost £15/£14.50 and are available to book at

Nottingham's Smallest Cinema Reopens As Screen 22

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Nottingham's smallest cinema is back and it's, well, just as small as ever!

Renamed Screen 22 after its number of seats,
the cinema is thought to be the smallest commercial cinema in the world and has been reopened by Amy Gathercole who, at 24, is the youngest female owner of a cinema in the UK. 

Based in Broad Street, the cinema has a long history at the site with a reputation for showing X-rated films in the 1960s. The cinema opened as The Screen Room in 2002 but was closed earlier this year when the previous owners' lease ran out and it fell into a state of serious disrepair. Rescued by Amy and her business partner Will Haywood, the pair ploughed £30,000 into the cinema to fund a new floor, roof, seats and screen and have invested in state-of-the-art equipment with digital projection and Active 3D which is only available in a handful of cinemas worldwide.

The cinema reopens its doors to the public for the first time this week on September 8th to show the locally-made documentary 'Nottingham At The Cinema'. Screen 22 also plans to show a mixture of releases, a Sunday showing chosen in a vote on their website and the cinema is also available for private hire screenings. 

Full details about Screen 22 can be found at  

Friday, 1 July 2011

BATMAN- The Nottingham Story,

Hollywood Comes To Wollaton

Michael Caine in Nottingham ©
Gary Oldman in Nottingham ©
It all began back in May when auditions for paid extras were held at Capital FM Arena in Nottingham for what was rumoured to be a 'major Hollywood movie' as reported at the time by Nottingham Confidential here. Then on June 6 local television reports confirmed that the new Batman movie to be called "The Dark Knight Rises" would be filmed at Wollaton Hall which would double as Wayne Manor and the hall and park would be closed off to the public from from the 25 June to the 2nd July 2011.

As the crew began to arrive bringing their vehicles and equipment to Wollaton, news and information begin to trickle out onto the internet including photos of the graveyard set, the school bus, the Lamborghini Aventador car, amusing footage of a Batman crew truck accidentally crashing into the Wollaton Hall entrance wall and footage of Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway on the steps of the Hall itself.

Now we're into our second week of Batman at Wollaton and rumours and japes abound. Shocking pink 'Ha-Ha' clues have been fastened to lampposts in Wollaton and the rumours of gurkhas patrolling the grounds at night as security haven't deterred several local good-natured jump-over-the-wall attempts which have all proved short-lived and have been quickly chased away.

Morgan Freeman in Nottingham ©
Nottingham hotel guests have been blown away to find themselves coming across the likes of Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Matthew Modine strolling around the hotel foyer. "I came down to breakfast and Morgan Freeman was there and he said hello to me," one hotel guest is reported to have said, "he enjoyed having an Amaretto coffee and asked for extra liqueur", whilst another guest was shocked to find themselves sharing a jacuzzi with Lost star Nestor Carbonell.

Meanwhile dozens of Nottingham children have been recruited to take part in the film.The production team have been reported to very much have wanted people from Nottingham to appear in the film and the adult extras are believed to be being paid £120 a day for their work with some night time scenes continuing to film until 3am. "The crew is excellent," said one source, "they're really friendly, very nice to the SA (Supporting Artists). It's freezing because we're filming outside but they're giving us blankets and looking after us. They're good to us, everyone's enjoying it, there are so many first-time extras and they're just brilliant."
Nestor Carbonell in Nottingham ©
Confidentially, we still can't believe we have such massive British and Hollywood movie stars filming right here in Nottingham. Not only is it thrilling that Batman is actually being filmed here but it has also created such a buzz in the city, with film fans excitedly watching all the comings and goings around Wollaton, hugely enjoying all the fun and swopping and sharing all the rumours and the gossip. So it's a big thumbs up to everyone at the Batman set, good luck with the rest of the film and come back to Nottingham any time and hey Batman, maybe next time you could really go back to your roots and do some filming in Gotham.

This article is brought to you via Nottingham Confidential's Lovely Network of Spies with additional reporting by Tracy Mars. All celeb photos property of Nottingham Confidential, so no nicking!

***UPDATE 3 July 2011*** You can go ghost hunting this Hallowe'en at Wollaton Hall see full article here

The Batman crew at Wollaton Hall

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Paid Extras Urgently Required For Major Filming In Nottingham Right Now!

Local Nottingham people between the ages of 17-28 are required as paid extras in a Bollywood movie which is filming in the city until August 12. All nationalities are welcome to apply to appear in the film which will feature prominent local landmarks.

Naila Mughal with Shahrukh Khan
"The film stars Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor and we're looking for fresh faces, people who look around student age, " says Naila Mughal, the casting director for the film. "We won't be holding audtions this time, but you need to send all your details to us by email and then we will invite you onto set."

To apply to take part, you need to send an email with the heading "Nottingham Extras via Nottingham Confidential" in the subject line. The email must include your name, age, nationality, mobile phone number and a recent photograph and be sent to

More details about Naila Mughal can be found on the website

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

CITIZEN NOTTINGHAM Steve Best Director Of Nottingham Feature Film Zombie Hood

My Nottingham Day
Photo by David 'Dwyz' Wayman     
I usually wake around 8am and just have coffee. I normally sleep quite well unless I'm thinking about creative stuff, or if I have a new idea for Zombie Hood, which is a full length feature film I'm currently making in Nottingham. If I have a new idea I will lay there and play the scene out for two or three hours in my head which means I only get a few hours sleep and it's the same if I have an idea for one of the games I'm working on.

I'm a Community Producer for two games companies- on Mondays and Wednesdays I work from home for an Italian company called Geniaware and the other three days I go into Nottingham and work for Monumental Games. When I'm working from home I'll have a quick lunch and while I eat I'll spend some time looking at the film on the computer, I'll look at some edits I've done, maybe make some alterations or adjust the sound or the colours. The days I'm working in town I go to Flavours in Hockley for lunch and I have exactly the same thing every day which is a bacon and sausage sandwich, they're really nice people and do really good food.

I'm originally from London and moved here to work for Monumental Games, a Nottingham company that started here about 5 or 6 years ago. It's a good place to work for and we're currently working on a new game called Little Horrors. I'm settled here now and I've found I can be a lot more creative in Nottingham, in London there was so much red tape whenever you wanted to do something, or you had to jump through hoops to get a licence for something. In Nottingham people will jump through hoops to actually do something creative! It's a completely different way of working, there's so much talent here and people are willing to do stuff for free just to get the experience. And they're probably putting in better performances because they're doing it for the love of it.

I learnt film-making when I was at school, and then I bought my own film equipment and started teaching myself. I've made a lot of short horror films but I always wanted to make a zombie film! We've had so much interest for Zombie Hood here in Nottingham and have a very talented team, particularly in make-up and special effects, but a lot of people were excited just to be a zombie and they still can, anyone who wants to join our zombie horde is welcome. And we could do with having an extra person experienced in film lighting too if anyone would like to get in touch. I have great confidence in our team, there are no egos, everyone just wants to make a fantastic feature film. And it is a big commitment, we started filming in February and we'll be working on the film till early next year. We've had a lot of support from local venues in Nottingham such as Dogma, who gave us free rein to film there for a whole weekend with our fantastic cast including Marcus Akin from Big Brother!

When my working day is over I come home and I would probably eat another fry up for dinner but my partner wouldn't like to eat that so we go for meat and veg which I cook, I do all the cooking at home. Whenever I can in the evenings I'm back working on the film again, looking at the footage we've got so far and checking over the script. To unwind I like to catch a film or DVD, although I find it hard to switch off and tend to notice the lighting and how the film was made. But I find I nearly always end up back on the PC looking at the footage. I never have a day when I don't do some work on the film, not a single day goes by without thinking about it. I go to bed between midnight and 1am, my brain is usually buzzing unless I fall asleep watching a film. I dream about horror, I have lots of nightmares which I love because they're really good and give me lots of ideas! But I never dream about zombies. Never.

You can apply to join the zombie horde in Zombie Hood or help with the lighting by emailing
More details can be found on the official Zombie Hood website
Sunday, 8 May 2011

Extras Casting For Major Feature Film In Nottingham!

There's still time today, Sunday 11th May 2011, to audition at Capital FM Arena right here in Nottingham to take part as a paid extra in a major Hollywood film- exciting stuff! Open castings are being held until 6.30pm this evening only for men and women of all ages (aged 18+) to take part in a 'society function' scene being filmed at a country house. Filming will be over a couple of days beginning on June 27.
Rumours are this is going to be a BIG movie, 2020 casting has supplied extras for X Men, Harry Potter and James Bond films in the past. So if you've been waiting for that first big break to get into movies why not go along today and try your luck- and let us know confidentially how you get on!
**UPDATE 6 JUNE 2011**  We can now confidentially reveal that these auditions were for the new Batman movie starring Christian Bale. Scenes for the movie will be filmed over two weeks from late June at Nottingham's Wollaton Hall which will feature as Bruce Wayne's home. 
***UPDATE 1July 2011***  Batman- The Nottingham Story, Hollywood Comes To Wollaton full report and photos here