Future for clubs -

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ned c
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Future for clubs -

Post by ned c »

This is a more general look at the future for clubs inspired by the "Borehamwood" thread. Here in the USA the traditional video club is almost extinct; as far as I am aware there are no more than three really active clubs in the country. I can't speak for Canada but the cancellation of the annual Canadian Festival suggests that their situation is not very different. Obviously the traditional model of the club is in trouble. There are a few exceptions but these are the product of strong and dedicated management but will they survive the loss of these people; is there a succession plan?

For most of us movie making is a group activity; particularly if we make narrative movies; so we need a "crew" to work with but do we need a club? In the area where I live there is a lot of movie making going on organized by young (20s through 30s) movie makers. There is no club; no chair person, treasurer, meeting organizer; they just get together and make movies. I belong to a group of theater producers; what in the the UK would be an "amateur dramatic society" and we have created a film unit. You may have seen some of our movie productions in BIAFF (we are The Space Between). By being embedded in a theater group there is access to a wide range of support, skills and ages.

It seems to me that trying to breathe life into a moribund club by trying to attract under age members is an act of desperation. What future do the readers here see for clubs; what do they expect from a club? Wouldn't local Festivals fill a need for an audience; vide Basingstoke, here in S Utah we have both Docutah and a local Festival supported by the local commercial cinema group. Good luck to those clubs that thrive but why try reviving the corpses when something very different may be more effective? What form should it take?

Here are a couple of our productions

https://vimeo.com/user3134480/videos

ned c
Michael Slowe
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Michael Slowe »

As Ned writes, film making generally is flourishing, world wide. I attended this week the Open City Documentary Festival organised by London University (UCL) on their 'campus' off the Tottenham Court Road and it has been a raging success. Over four days the place was humming, with five cinemas operating in the well equipped lecture theatres. I wrote about this last year when I was lucky enough to have a film selected for inclusion. This year I was not so fortunate.

My point though, is to suggest that we possibly try and connect with festivals such as this, support them and get amateurs to enter films - most of the entries were professional or film school or youngsters starting on careers - but I saw little that might scare off any competent amateur. Clubs in Britain are still surviving but many are morphing into film making groups as described by Ned. Connecting with the wider film making world might breathe new life into us.
Mike Shaw

Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Mike Shaw »

Coming from a very active club with around 70 members - with another club just a few miles away with around 30-40 members, it is difficult to conceive what clubs are not doing to attract newcomers - of any age. However, one has only to look at the (total lack of) support given by the magazine world to the hobby here to realise that there is a general problem of disinterest out there. (Stills) Photographic clubs seem to fare better, though they too may be going through similar problems.

I have heard discussions where the idea has been mooted of video and photographic clubs joining forces - with arguments both for and against from members of both types of club. The idea must be more appealing these days, I'd have thought, with 'still' cameras having the capability to shoot movies, and vice versa of course. However, apart from composition perhaps, there is probably little similarity between the two. I have always been fairly impressed at the festivals of the AV Presentations and their techniques - which are becoming increasingly animated and bordering on the realms of a video. Others, I know, do not share the same interest.

In spite of the fact that more and more families are using camcorders as well as still cameras to record family events and so on and the fact that one can now even shoot videos on smartphones, as a hobby or as a creative medium video clubs are simply not a big attraction. Perhaps ours is successful because it is also has a number of 'socialising' events?

When you see that a 20 odd second clip of a man chasing a dog gets 'millions of hits' on YouTube, while a well made film draws a considerably smaller audience, you begin to think ...

Maybe groups of like minded people getting together to make a movie is the way it will go. That's how the pro world works of course, with almost everyone being a 'freelancer'.

Just need somewhere for the like-minded people to get together in the first place ...

A club, maybe?

:roll:
Michael Slowe
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Michael Slowe »

Nice one Mike!
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TimStannard
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by TimStannard »

Mike Shaw wrote: Just need somewhere for the like-minded people to get together in the first place ...

A club, maybe?
That's rather what I thought I was joining when, as someone who'd just bought his first camcorder, I joined Staines in 2006.

Wrong! I discovered I'd joined a social club where videos were just an excuse for a get together. The "like minded people" who wanted to make films and improve their film making were a subset. We had evenings where members presented their skills or whatever which were nothing to do with film making and didn't even have film/video content to support it. We had an evening on flower arranging and one on painting watercolours - all very interesting, but not what I'd joined Staines Cine & Video Society for.

Over the past few years some fo us have managed to change the emphasis such that our programme is all about films (our previous chairman succeeded in his aim of moving the emphasis from "watching" to "making" and I'm trying to continue to move the club in that direction). Funnily enough, this hasn't really had any effect on the people who come along and have no interest in film making. This really does vindicate my suspicion that many simply come along for social reasons and would do so whether we had James Cameron, Alan Titchmarsh or the local WI giving us a talk.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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Willy
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Willy »

I think I did my utmost to attract young people to my own club. As I was the chairman I even "sponsored" some of them. Stupid of me. I would not do it anymore. Young Douglas, Davy and Samuel ... Where have they gone?

I lent Douglas my camera to make his first film "Foxtrot". I was proud. Douglas became "the signboard" of my club. He even won a diamond award at BIAFF with "My First Shakespeare". A wonderful film. Davy fell in love with his guitar again. Who can blame him? And Samuel? Just like Douglas he joined a filmschool. He, too, won a diamond award. Do you remember "Amber"? Samuel must be an academic "bachelor" now I think. He disappeared just like my own club and maybe just like Borehamwood.

We lost our clubhouse... Two members who were in their fifties passed away. My treasurer resigned because he lived too far from our club and he felt he was too old... One suffered from ... And I myself ... I moved to an other town. We had a nice dinner in a restaurant and we gave all our money to "Clini Clowns", a group of clowns who go from one hospital to another one to entertain children who suffer from cancer. I myself joined two other clubs. They are totally different. I am in my mid-sixties. I belong to the younger ones...!

Are clubs still useful? Yes, definitely they are, but the generation gap has become too wide I fear.

To be honest ... Hasn't it become difficult to find young people who are willing to be acting secretaries, treasurers or chairmen? Hopefully I am wrong, but I have some experience. In sports clubs it is different, but in filmclubs???
Why? I don't know.

Example : I remember that one of our youngsters wanted to buy new device for our club. He wanted this and he wanted that... To do this you need money. But how do you get money? You must make efforts...

But, yes, maybe I am too pessimistic. I admire Lee and other friends who still have the courage to try and a find a solution for the future of our clubs. I also think that Ned, Michael and other ones are right. We must try to alter direction. There are many people today who have a camcorder and who are not creative...

In Belgium there is a successful Short Film Festival every year. It is more successful than our own festivals in a droll style. But the participants only seem to be filmschool students. They are very creative. However, their films have been sponsored by the Flemish Government. I could not believe my ears when I heard the sum of money they receive. One said openly at a regional event that he had to pay his actors and that he and his filmcrew spent some nights in a hotel. The only location was the seaside...

Clubs like Mike's are exeptional I think. On the Continent (let's say Europe) it is just like in the US or in Canada. But we need clubs to stimulate socializing, to show our travel movies and films about family events in order to improve them or even to make no budget or low budget fiction films because we love it.
Willy Van der Linden
col lamb
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by col lamb »

Well said guys.

Those clubs with 70 members are very lucky, we have about 15, other clubs in the North West have similar if not smaller numbers with. A few have 30+ members but I am unaware of any with the 70 that Mike refers to.

Despite having a University less than 1 mile away from our meeting venue that has a flourishing media department in the last few years we have occasional visits and only one post grad who is a regular visitor.

There are to many distractions in life and alternatives to the club method of movie production, like I have said repeatedly putting your movie on Youtube, Vimeo etc does not necessarily mean that just because you have 10,000 hits the whole of the movie has been watched.

We would love to have more members and we have tried repeatedly to get feet through the door but retaining them is another matter. Our programme is varied and over the last few years we have moved away from the just watching movies to practical evenings of improving techniques, scripting and yes even making movies.

If there is a magic solution to getting a club thriving and moving forward in a progressive manner then we would certainly like to know what it is.

As for the lack of magazines that Mike commented on, it is sad that they all folded but the information is out there on the net, its just that you have to hunt for it and that is perhaps the way the IAC's own website should be developed further with an online magazine section. If I do have one adverse comment to make on the IAC website and that is that the front page has been static for two months.

This also leads on to FVM, and my question....do we need it in a printed form?

Mine arrives, it is read and then goes in the recycle bin, I'd much prefer it to be sent out electronically and then I could save it to my Android tablet. This already happens with another "Club" I am involved with and a few magazines that I get I opt for electronic versions wherever possible.

As times change the IAC, clubs and members need to adapt to the changes.
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
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Mike Shaw

Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Mike Shaw »

I tend to agree the IAC website - certainly the home/news page - could be more dynamic. But it does demand a heck of a lot from volunteers who look after the site. I know from bitter experience just how much is involved in keeping a site fresh - my own site copllapsed about 2 years ago when I lost the site on my PC and couldn't (or the software I use couldn't) make sense of the site when re-downloaded, so I'm going through the painful process of re-creating it all from scratch (so much is way out of date anyway). I also launched and managed the Seriac website for a while - even one as small as that is a massive (unpaid) time consuming task. But I digress ...

I don't think there is any magic secret formula for generating membership - what works for one area certainly doesn't for another area. Yes, a lot of people see the local club as a social event: I guess we are lucky in that an above average number of our members seem to be interested in making films as well, but we also have 'watchers' - but who nevertheless get involved in other essential club activities, such as catering...

I don't mind 'on line' magazines, but not exclusively. I like to read FVM in places where I don't have a computer or laptop readily available - and I have no current need for an iPad thing (if I do ever get one, it'd be an Android anyway). I'm sure there will always be a proportion (small perhaps) of people who will want a hard copy, but I do appreciate that a smaller print run doesn't lower the cost proportionately. It may be that it is simply more viable to have the larger print run (even so - it cannot be that large a print run, if membership is anything to go by). Postage must now be a crippling factor - so maybe people ought to be asked - 'will you be happy receiving only a web copy'. I won't be, and I am sure i won't be alone. (I actually also keep back copies - bound, and going back about 10/11 years ... how sad is that? But I do like to refer to them frequently for a whole variety of reasons...). For me, a printed magazine is like a printed manual - the 'on-line' help is great, but there is nothing like browsing through a manual when away from the machine.

Maybe the name of our society or our clubs is a bit of a put-off ... but I don't want to stir up that hornet's nest again!
Chrisbitz
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Chrisbitz »

col lamb wrote:Well said guys.

Those clubs with 70 members are very lucky,
I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, but I'd just like to give credit where it's due - OVFM's 75+ members isn't lucky, it's a credit to the last 20 years of hard work by the committee and Reg Lancaster and Mike Turner's Chairmanship. Maybe they spotted the rot (whatever it was when culture and society started changing) before it took hold and it reduced membership below that critical mass of a club, and down to a small group.

They've created an atmosphere of welcoming and inclusion, and kept the focus of the club on film-making and storytelling, and keeping it away from the modern disease of equipment and technical specs. Too many people appear to talk the talk, but when you dig deeper, they're not film-makers, just technical equipment operators. If you gave them an old VHS camera to make something with, they'd have no interest in making anything.

That's the magic secret if you ask me. :-)
I like to make films, this is- my Youtube account. What's yours?

"all of the above is nothing more than nonsensical ramblings, and definately should NOT be misconstrued as anyone's official policy"
Mike Shaw

Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Mike Shaw »

Yes, that's a point. Club members tend to be far more interested in making films than proudly boasting the specs of that new super duper hoki koki 2000. And the general cameraderie is also key. Never a dull evening. Always a good laugh somewhere along the line ... everyone gets on with everyone ... hmmm. Maybe there is a simple magic secret after all - simply have fun?
ned c
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by ned c »

It is clear that a successful club (organization, enterprise, corporation) e.g. that to which Mike belongs; is a product of good; consistent management with clear objectives. The question is that if the club is to survive does it have successors to those wise people who set it on course? Herein lies the main problem; when I was in my 30s/40s I was happy to take on voluntary positions in the clubs of which I was a member. But that was a different world; Corporate life was less demanding; life somewhat slower paced. I suspect that the management of most clubs is more likely to be of retirement age along with the majority of the membership. This is why I feel the traditional club is on its last legs and new model is needed that reflects life in the 21st Century.

ned c
Mike Shaw

Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Mike Shaw »

. The question is that if the club is to survive does it have successors to those wise people who set it on course?
And the answer is yes, definitely - in fact Chris who speaketh above, is one of them ... he is hardly even approaching middle age, and is the current (excellent, vibrant) chair of the club, with a healthy set of equally younger members on the committee ... and even younger members - down to their teens - among the membership.

Perhaps it's simply a question of attitudes and approach after all ... as he says, the tech stuff is interesting - and necessary at times, but not the god. We make films for fun. We have fun making films. Somewhere along the line, we learn a bit in the process. It's a big draw.

Perhaps going at it hammer and tongs with one eye on the latest specs and the other on budding talent and a demand for total perfection, is just a bit of a put-off for the majority of wannabe film hobbyists. (Note I said wannabe hobbyists - not wannabe Steven Spielbergs!)

Perhaps we should be called the Film & Video Hobbyists. :wink:
Peter Copestake
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Peter Copestake »

I suspect that the management of most clubs is more likely to be of retirement age along with the majority of the membership.
There will be no shortage of folk, then, though if the PM has his way they may be 70+ and worn out.
Peter Copestake
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TimStannard
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by TimStannard »

Chrisbitz wrote:
col lamb wrote:Well said guys.

Those clubs with 70 members are very lucky,
I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, but I'd just like to give credit where it's due - OVFM's 75+ members isn't lucky, it's a credit to the last 20 years of hard work by the committee and Reg Lancaster and Mike Turner's Chairmanship.
Most, if not all clubs have a few very hard working members. I think you're missing a key factor, Chris, and that's enthusiasm. One thing that comes across whenever I meet up with people from Orpington is the sheer enthusiasm. What is needed is a few people (not just one or two, but four or five) people with enthusiasm to continually drive the club forward. Once you've got that, hard work is pleasurable and second nature. And enthusisam spreads. That's, perhaps where Orpington have had an ounce of luck or two.

The reason I say you need four or five is that clubs can get a temporary lift when one or two enthusiastic members give it a push, but after a year or two, it's all too easy for them to realise they're the only ones putting in all the effort - if you have four or five, friendly competition can develop, both in making films and in bringing something new to the club.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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Willy
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Re: Future for clubs -

Post by Willy »

Yes, you are right, Tim. A table has four legs. It must have at least four legs otherwise it falls. In 2010 my own club lost one of its very enthusiastic members. He was one of the members who visited the Hayward Heath Movie Makers in September 2009. I remember that on our way back to Belgium we talked about the scenario for a new one minute movie... I would be the main actor. A golf player. Ludo would be my caddie. The golf ball would fall into his wife's navel, his wife who would be lying on the grass and enjoying the sunshine. We laughed a lot. But unfortunately ... Ludo had always been my assistant.

A short time later an other young and enthusiastic member lost the final battle... I felt desperate... Our club was like a table with two legs... It fell... The end of our club.

But now a word of cheer. I also remember the Orpington Club when I attended the Guernsey Lily Film Festival some years ago. Maybe I am wrong, but I think they celebrated their 50th anniversary. They were very lively. They were all very enthusiastic! So they had left Poole or Weymouth to cross the ocean in order to organise a feast and at the same time to support the organisers of the Guernsey Festival. That was very sympathetic and encouraging... And yes, they also,offered me a piece of their delicious cake.
Willy Van der Linden
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