Review: Field of Corpses @ Lichfield Garrick

Field of Corpses

Field of Corpses

There was a time when Lichfield was a sleepy little backwater. It’s still got that lovely small-town feel, but on Saturday night international glamour truly arrived, fittingly in a stretch limo.

Because this was the Garrick premiere of Field of Corpses, a professional full-length feature film produced by first year Foundation Degree students in Film and Television Production Technology and Management at South Staffs College based right here in the city.

So under a barrage of flashing cameras its stars alighted at the city’s first ever red carpet event amid the popping of champagne corks. They joined a tuxedo-clad audience at the first night screening of a delightfully gothic moody thriller with an unsettling glimpse into what ancient terrors may lie just behind the city’s beautiful façade.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but what I saw was a slick, totally sophisticated first rate full-length feature film that mixed the slick production values of TV’s Midsomer Murders with a truly cinematic sense of film noir. The cleverness of its sinister gothic tale, a sort of infusion of Holy Blood and Holy Grail mixed in with a complex web of personal agendas made The Da Vinci Code look like a script for Sooty.

If at times I was baffled by the mystery this fitted the plot perfectly as each of the characters involved in the story saw only their own small part in it.

Similarly its subtle palette of half tones and dark brooding atmospheres, of early mornings and late nights perfectly matched the tale’s sinister half truths and superstitions.

In my opinion the film could well have stood a longer showing to the general public at the Garrick, the natural venue for home-grown talent – after all, there’s no cinema in Lichfield, and not much on the telly these days. Certainly, the film deserves a wider showing.

Among the cast Catherine Manford was outstanding as feisty archaeologist Danni. Paolo Allen brought a genuine ambivalence to the role of tortured cleric Tony while Gerry Hinks effortlessly evoked the silky treachery of the ecclesiastical back stairs.

The screening was the result of months of hard work by a large dedicated crew of students but special mention must go to Producer Zak Smith and Director Ryan Priddey, while special congratulations go to Director of Photography Rory Barber. These are future stars.

Of course the real plaudits must go to the main man, course tutor (or Programme Manager, Media) Terry Foster who dreamt the whole thing up and was the inspiration and means for it to happen.

As the centrepiece of the city’s first Inspire Film Festival Field of Corpses may well have made history by putting Lichfield on the cinematic map. And how fantastic that these dedicated students don’t have to travel to a metropolitan centre to get this sort of training any more. Bring it on, filmmakers. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

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13 Comments

  1. Barry Scott

    7th July, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    The story was great. The acting, incidental music and photography were top notch – but the sound, lighting and editing were abysmal.
    How the film got through it’s initial (post edit-suite) screening without someone saying “hang on, something’s gone wrong” is beyond me.

    Congrats to the first year FD media students for arranging a wonderful premiere though – everybody seemed to enjoy the evening, even if the film was a bit of a anticlimax!

  2. Student at SSC

    7th July, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Phil,
    Sorry for the lack of info. The film was produced by the FD year 2’s. The year ones organised the Festival and the Premiere along with massive help and direction from Terry Foster, Leanne Humphries, Chris Hopkins, Neil Brockhurst, Irene Irving and Leigh Moylan (media staff) with out whom there would have been no Inspire Film Festival.
    There were some technical faults with the screening of the film itself.
    The Lighting was fine (on the DVD) but, as one of the techies said the projectors at the Garrick were built for conferences and such, therefore they could not produce the same image as that was on the film. Hopefully we will get more funding and support next year to be able to hire the proper film projectors and equipment.
    The sound is fine on the original files and edit but unfortunately there was a problem with the DVD or DVD player making it out of sync, this had been checked and was fine before so it must have been damaged. If more of the students who made the film had been able to make it in at an earlier date and check the film thoroughly some of the issues might have been avoided, however students will be students and this is a steep learning curve.
    This did not however detract from the effort, quality and hard work (from the students of the FOC film) which showed from the film that night. I’d like to applaud them all for successfully producing such a complicated and difficult film to make and I’d like to wish them all great success in the future, hoping they will look back on all this fondly.
    We are incredibly sorry that the errors occurred and hopefully this did not spoil the evening. My apologies to everyone and assurances that these issues will be addressed for future showings. Many thanks to everyone who attended and helped out over the weekend and massive thanks to everyone at the Garrick without their constant help and support along with providing the venue the weekend would not have been as good as it was.

  3. Barry Scott

    7th July, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I anticipate the errors will be corrected in the final version, and I look forward to receiving my promised DVD of the film.

  4. Sue

    7th July, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I would like to thank all the Inspire Festival Staff for their hard work and dedication. My son really enjoyed the workshops and meeting fellow film makers. He was very privileged to attend the premiere of ‘Field of Corpses’ and was in awe at the quality of the film. I look forward to the Festival in years to come, and for putting Lichfield on the film industry map.

  5. theaardvark

    8th July, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Is this film available to purchase or download at all?

  6. Student of South staffordshire college

    13th July, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    The Inspire film festival was a great success, well done to the FD 1’s and the staff for putting it all on. I know how hard they worked on putting this weekend on. The premier really hyped up the film and was fantastic, really felt like a premier. However, the film it’s self was very very poor, I’m not saying this out of spite, but as a film maker. I can tell that there was a lot of effort put into the film, but from what i could see only a select few had been dedicated, i know for a fact that the editor left the edit to the FD 1’s to finish, very unproffestional, i felt like the film had let down the college and the actors, it was truly terrible, and the out of sync sound wasn’t because of the dvd at all, some of the dialouge had to be recorded seperatly beacuase of the terrible sound which was recorded while filming was to bad to use, most people cpuld tell that a mile off. All in all well done to the FD 1s and FD 2s because getting a feature film just to be made is hard enough.

  7. Another Student of South Staffs

    14th July, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    “the out of sync sound wasn’t because of the dvd at all, some of the dialouge had to be recorded seperatly beacuase of the terrible sound”

    Actually the sound was out of sync due to the DVD player, I have tested this myself, its fine on a computer.

    Not saying it wasn’t bad quality, it was, sound had to be re-recorded, but the notion you know that it wasn’t the DVD is ridiculous and you should prove it if you make this claim.

    Thanks to those who struggled to get this finished i know you did a fantastic job given the tiny time constraint and those out to criticize would be hard pressed to get anything more from that film, i invite them to do the same and see if they can top it.

  8. Student of South staffordshire college

    21st July, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve seen little bits myself on a computer and i can safely say that bits of the dubbing did not match the mouths. And I don’t blame the people or edited the film foe this, I blame the brew who filmed it.

  9. Tom

    22nd July, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Where can members of the public who missed the showing at the Garrick get hold of this film?

  10. j ay

    15th September, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    At the end of the day the film was a triumph especially as towards the end only Zak Smith and Jacob Whyte gave a damn whether tit was finished or not. Maybe those leaving negative comments would be taken more seriously if they were even literate.

  11. Nick Brickett

    16th September, 2010 at 10:31 am

    @Barry Scott – have you received the DVD you (and everyone else) were promised from last year’s première?

  12. Sue

    17th September, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I spoke to the staff at this years Festival and they were going to sort it out

  13. Phil

    21st November, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I appeared in the film but cannot get a copy – does anyone know where to get one from?