Attracting New Members

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:18 pm

Film & Video Maker (the IAC's magazine) has not yet reached Watterson Towers so we look forward to reading all this.

There may be some scope for work with U3A (University of the Third Age) - a community scheme where people share their knowledge in a particular subject with interested newcomers to that field. It may be that IAC members could be encouraged to lead such groups. IAC might even prepare appropriate training materials - all of which would plug IAC.

Anyone who has tried SCUBA diving will have come across PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors). It is a cross between a professional body maintaining standards and a distance learning college. The organisation produces books, videos and so on for use by independent dive instructors. It also provides exam material and marking methodolgy. The individual instructors can then issue PADI qualifications in various diving skills. These are recognised by the vast majority of dive facilities, who usually insist on seeing the appropriate certificates before renting equipment, or allowing you to join a particular diving expedition. Students pay for each level of course - with the fee being split between the local dive instructor and PADI. Could IAC become something similar, offering jelp for clubs in running courses in various skills and issuing qualifications?

We used to sell standard IAC film leaders for members to use on their cine films. Would a video "title card" be a good idea? The notion is that anyone who sees a film by a member might be prompted to ask about the organisation. Lots of people give film shows to various community groups ... how about a little IAC advert they could tack onto their shows? (Michael Gough has done a very effective short promo for Rotary which shows what can be done along these lines while producing a very watchable short.)

We used to offer specific training courses on a national level ... but these are most effective when some major change in technology occurs and people are hungry for knowledge about it. Lots of us went on weekend courses to discover what NLE (Non Linear Editing ... aka computer video editing) was all about. As Mike points out there are so many different types of kit around now that we cannot do much in the way of technical courses ... but every movie maker still needs to know about framing, use of focus, use of sound and so on. Not to mention all the additional info needed for dramatic work. Is there scope for courses open to members and to everyone but led by IAC?
- Dave

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Mike Shaw
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Mike Shaw » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:52 am

I think the idea of the IAC offering training material for use by its members in places such as the U3A is excellent - and would get it noticed outside of our close ranks. Some years ago, I was invited by an old air force friend to give a talk on video editing at his U3A in Cranleigh, Surrey. He was in charge of the 'Computer' section. I'd never heard of U3A at that time, and thought it was a strange name for a local club. I was surprised to be talking to a group of about 30-40 keen and interested people - and even more surprised to discover what U3A was all about. Perhaps the most gratifying was the number of questions fired at me after the talk - and the number (so I was told later) of people in that group who bought inexpensive editing packages and took up editing their family and holiday movies.

I since found out that there are 3 UCA groups around where I live - all extremely active in a wide variety of areas.

Many/most of our members are sufficiently knowledgeable to lay the foundations for an interest in 'shooting' properly, and editing afterwards. With material supplied by the IAC, the name would be well promoted of course, and put before a wider public eye. BUT ... first and foremost, in my opinion, is not membership of the IAC, but membership of a local video-movie making club. They are our roots, and it is those that need the injection of fresh blood.

U3A is for the elderly - almost a captive audience and prime material for clubs - but again, there are other organisations that cater for a different and younger demographic. Rotary Clubs, History Societies, even Women's Institutes (!) and so on all have regular speakers on a wide variety of subjects: an appetite whetting talk on the 'Joys of videoing (family/holidays) - and editing the material' would, I am sure, attract interest among at least some of their memberships, especially if there is an offer to 'try things out at a local video club'. I say 'family/holiday' videos to start with, because that is what most people with a camcorder do and want. They can progress on to story and documentary films as skills and interest increases. IAC support of the talks would flag down its existence with a view to new members, but the prime concern, initially, (IMO) would be to get membership into a local club.

SO - first things first - the IAC needs to draw up a training programme/package, and perhaps a list of IAC members willing and able to go out and give the talks using that material. It would not be an onerous task for interested members - I doubt if any given area would have more than half a dozen or so in a year. But the IAC does need to get moving and put the wheels into motion. Yesterday.

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TimStannard
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by TimStannard » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:51 pm

Mike, it seems you and I are in total accord. Perhaps I'll move to Orpington :D

Keeping new people is the biggest challenge and therefore we need to address the problem of given potential members a reason to come bacl. I believe Reading's approach of a course spanning several weeks is an excellent approach and I'd advise any other clubs interested to contact them (assuming the IAC isn't going to be able to move extremely quickly.

Let's not get hung up in the name. Many many organisations are for amateurs and that does not carry the stigma that some attach to it here. How many IAC members are members of the English Golf Union, I wonder. An organisation which has very strict rules about what is amateur and professionals are obliged to wait a number of years before they can be re-admitted. Yet amateur golfers can be seen competing at the very highest level of golf.

Ian, as previously mentioned in this thread an "Association of Independent Film Makers" or such like already exists in the IOV and we need something that distinguishes us from people who do it for a living or we might as well merge.
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: Attracting New Members

Post by Willy » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:44 pm

Tim and other friends say: "Let's not get hung up in the name." Ok, I agree, but I would like to say one word about it. Also in the Dutch language the word "amateur" gives a bad feeling. However, each time when I read Tim's messages ending by Proud to be an amateur film maker. I do it for the love of it! I say to myself "Me, too!" Actually why should we be ashamed to be called "amateurs"? But I understand what you mean, Ned and yes, ok, ... when I joined the IAC BIAFF was still called MOVIE 1999...

Yes, we live in the age of internet, but I am a very serious-looking man and if you would like to take a picture of me with a smile on my face then you must to it when I am taking "Film and Video Magazine out of my letterbox. I can't miss it. I fear that the number of IAC-members falls if we have a magazine only on internet. But that's my opinion.

How to attract young members? That's the question everywhere. Not only in Britain, but also in Belgium, France,the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, etc... On the continent our websites and magazines and ... only show photographs with bald headed vintage gentlemen with white moustaches and ladies with knee problems and back aches. We're all clubs for retired people, aren't we? Let's be honest. We cannot attract young people showing such photographs. The generation gap has become very wide. Wouldn't it be good to try and give our publications a younger appearance? I remember a picture in an old AMPS-magazine: a group of young and old friends standing next to each other. They had just made a film together. I loved that picture. Why not asking young film enthusiasts to write articles? And what about a "corner" for film students? Also here on this fantastic website!

I also think of the atmosphere in our clubhouses. Why not hanging framed posters of new films on the walls? Pictures of young sexy film stars... One of the members of my club went to a cinema and asked the manager some of those huge and impressive"pancartes" or cardboard pictures that you can see at the entrances. He didn't have to pay for it. Thanks to him we could create a special atmosphere. Everybody could feel that we were in a real filmclub! After a year or so we replaced the posters by other ones. Maybe the IAC can play an important role by finding posters and other things to enthuse filmclubs and their members.

Internet! ... Yes, I agree, Ned and other friends... Some years ago the City of Ostend in Belgium organised a competition/festival on internet. The theme was "The City of Ostend". Maximum length of the films: 3 minutes. The first week three or four films appeared on the Ostend website... After three weeks the viewer could enjoy about 15 films and compare them... I myself had made one about a famous Ostend painter called James Ensor. After the deadine there were about 30 different films about the City of Ostend. Then all competitors and other people were invited to a filmshow with proclamation. I was one of the "losers", but I had enjoyed the "spectacle" on internet for about six weeks. My question (or suggestion): Could a similar festival not be organised by the IAC? So the British International Amateur Film Festival (or "Movie 20.." or ...), but also a competition on internet for very short films. Maybe schools could be invited to take part in that competition and could be offered free membership the first year and could be given sealed certificates with some aura IAC-certificates that they can be hung in the corridors of the schools.

"Courses run by the IAC. Yes, you are right, Dave. I thought that the IAC already runs courses on a local and regional level. In Belgium the CvB, which is the national umbrella organisation, started to organise such courses many years ago. On the CvB-website you can find a list with the names of people who are willing to teach filming techniques or other things like framing, writing screenplays, lighting, sound, working with simple cameras etc... The length of each lesson is 2 hours. The more members your club has the more free lessons it can ask, but the umbrella organisation CvB (let's say the Belgian IAC) pays the course instructors. At this moment it is about £20 per hour. Mind: the CvB is now a part of the Ministry of Culture, but it was not about 10-15 years ago. For instance a club with at least 10 members can ask for two "IAC"-courses a year. At least 15 members means 3 free "IAC"-courses a year... The club itself only has to pay for petrol or public transport. My own club "Focus Willebroek" had enough CvB ("IAC"-) members to organise three free courses a year. The last course we had was about how to interview people. It was given by a professional cameraman who works for Channel 1. It was a practical course... I used to be one of the other instructors. I was invited by clubs and also by two different regions, but I stopped with it some years ago. Sometimes I had to do a distance of more than 70 miles this to teach only two hours. Sometimes it was a very long trip and I came back home after midnight.

I have some other, maybe bad ideas, but this message in my foreign school English is already a long one and I must try not to repeat the ideas of other forum friends. I appreciate this thread very much.
Willy Van der Linden

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Peter B
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Peter B » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:09 pm

I have no problem with the word "amateur", I'm quite happy to call myself an amateur photographer, because that's what I am, I'm not a professional photographer, I don't do it for the money!
Out of curiousity I looked up the word "amateur" and among the definitions I found was: "a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons." none of the definitions I found implied that being an amateur was in any way second rate. I think there is a big difference between being an amateur and being amateurish and sadly there is a tendancy in some people's minds to confuse the two terms.

As to the topic that started this discussion, I think all clubs, groups and societies are having problems attracting members. It seems that these days some people just don't want to join anything, I've no answers as to why, but I think publicity is important. Clubs etc need to get their name out there where the people are. The other thing is to have an interesting and varied programme that will attract local movie makers in, and keep them once they're in.

I remember the IAC title film leaders that Dave mentioned, my father had some, and I think it an idea worth reintroducing in a new format for today's digital age. I've got a collection of title slides that I use at the end of my AV sequences, some have the IAC logo on some don't, perhaps I should use the IAC versions more often to publicise the IAC. There's already a link to the IAC website in the video section of my website.
My attempts at videos & AV sequences can be found on my website- http://www.dragon-sanctuary.co.uk

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by john ingham » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:12 pm

Not really bothered about the name as the initials sound good anyway

i would look for a club/organisation that put on a few competitions each year and also a good section on (filming, audio, scriptwriting, lighting, etc etc ) by its own members not just links to youtube

also i think you need to take into account Non club members .....20 Non club members could amount to a club
Keep trying, for one day you will get it right

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:56 pm

Some very helpful ideas coming up in this thread.

Just to touch on two points in Willy's fascinating description of the Belgian situation:
  • I did not include IAC Regional events, some of which do include seminars and workshops, because ... and few seem to take this on board ... the Regions are not in any formal sense part of IAC. They are the backbone of the organisation, but have no formal place, are not entitled to any of the income from memberships etc. This separation between IAC and the regions has historical reasons but is something I would like to see changed.

    The size of the country is important. There is no location where people from the extreme ends of the country could gather for a one-day event without some of them having to pay for overnight accommodation ... and the travel costs are significant. The NLE training weekends at Wansfell College were excellent value, but much more expensive for people from Scotland or the Channel Islands to attend, than for people from North Thames. This is not a criticism ... it is always difficult for a national body to serve all its members equally.
John - I wrote a paper for IAC Council over a decade ago listing a number of organisations which are generally known only by their initials, such as C&A or B&Q ... but behind the debate over the name is the issue of who IAC is trying to serve.

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Mike Shaw
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Mike Shaw » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:53 am

I see the training sessions as being more local orientated than National - but with background and source material supplied by the IAC. I agree with Dave - a 'national' course would attract far too few people for the reasons he outlined, whereas something local, promoted or announced in the local press and using local venues would be far more viable. Using existing 'other' club/society events (giving them talks as meetings speakers) provides us to a large degree a 'captive audience' and would not only cost little (just source material and hand-outs), but may also provide an income (speaker 'expenses').

There are thus two areas that can be tackled - providing speakers at other organisation's meetings, to 'whet the appetites' of those, say, owning a camcorder 'just' shooting family movies - a sort of 'Look what you could do and how much better it can look' approach. And proper training sessions perhaps at a local (video) club premises or even at a local school - with a (small) fee for the course. Either or both would also be a good 'hunting ground' for new members to local video clubs. Which is what this thread is all about.

Just as I think the word 'Amateur', when applied to film-making, has been usurped to mean amateurish for some reason (who worries about being an 'amateur golfer', or being involved in 'amateur dramatics'?), I also think we can get hung up on the 'age' thing. Members of video clubs tend to be 'older' because they're the ones with the time on their hands, and in most instances, the money in their pockets - compared with the younger generation. Young people don't need/want clubs so much - they have their group of friends and they have their careers, wooing and young families to fill their time. While it is good to get young blood into a club, the best age of new recruits would, IMO, be those about to retire. Looking back at my own life before retirement age - I'd never have had the time - or inclination - to join a video/movie-making club. I neither needed nor wanted such a thing. Career, friends and family filled all the hours. I made home movies with a cine camera in the same way I took photos of the family and holidays ... as a record.

So - let's not get too hung up on craving for a youthful membership, but concentrate on what we can achieve, and swell our ranks with those most likely to join and 'stick with it' - retirees....

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Willy
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Willy » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:36 pm

I told you about the CvB (read "IAC") courses here on the continent. Yes, Dave, you are right. Belgium is only a small country. Instructors, or speakers, don't need any accommodation near the club that has invited them.

The speakers always receive a form from the "IAC"-secretary before going to a club. They have to answer questions like : "How many people were there? Was there enough interaction? Was the club well equiped? Could you start at the right time? Were they enthusiastic?" The completed form must be returned to the "IAC"-secretary within a short period. But also the chairmen or club secretaries have to fill in a form with questions like "How many people were there? Was there enough interaction? Was the course interesting? What could be done better?...

Yes, you are right, Mike. Young people don't have enough money to buy cameras, editing machines, etc... I must admit that I myself started at the age of 50. However, we can always try to attract schools and school children. In Britain, more than on the continent, school curriculums offer drama and music. That's fantastic. But why not filmmaking after school periods? Creativity is so important in life. Last year the projection of films made by school children was a succes at Weymouth I remember. I myself had to show my film in a different room at that moment.

Indeed, it is better to aim at the age group of 40 or 50. When there is an event at school we can sometimes see parents, grandmas and grandpas with cameras. Maybe they are the hobbyists we need for our clubs and for the IAC! But we must not forget the children themselves!

A totally different suggestion: we provide dealers with leaflets about the IAC. In that way we can ask the buyers of new cameras to join the IAC or any club or region. In shops or at fairs we can find those leaflets. When I visit my casablanca-dealer the poster in his shop "Join the Casapen club" is always the eye-catcher! "Casapen" is a group of casablanca enthusiasts in the City of Antwerp.

Indeed in Britain our clubs don't come under the IAC. I can't give my opinion about this as I am a foreigner. Maybe they
could form the backbone of the IAC. In Belgium they do. Once I had the impression that the CvB (Belgian "IAC") thought they could miss the regions and local clubs as a backbone because they started to say that membership of a club or region was not necessary anymore. Now I understand. I think they said this to attract young people who don't want to join our clubs and regions that are in decline.

Now I am a member of my local club "Pirroen Lier". I pay 45 euros a year. What is included ? The national magazine "Beeldexpress", 10 euros for the club, 10 euros for the region and 5 euros for copyright called SABAM. Mind, these figures are not right. They are more or less fictitious. If you wish I can ask the right figures.
Willy Van der Linden

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by ned c » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:54 pm

The general public are unaware of the strides that have been made in
"amateur" movie making with the impact of the digital age so a showcase is
needed where the public can view the best of the UK productions from the
BIAFF. Compile a DVD with program notes on how the movies were made and
what is involved; have each of the regions arrange at least two or three
showings in major towns in their region. Through local press; radio;
internet; flyers; other organizations and word of mouth; promote. If
necessary the I.A.C. to provide funds to help with the rental/costs of the
venue. Invite audience participation by having the movie makers present and
taking questions. Have promotional info from all the clubs in the region.

Whatever approach is made to increase membership will not be free of costs;
aim to maximize the impact by reaching as large an audience as possible.

I too don't mind being called an amateur (although for many years I wasn't one) but it's a matter of perception and the term in the world of film has a clear and unfortunate connotation.

ned c

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Mike Shaw
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Mike Shaw » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:31 pm

My experience has been that quite a number of schools - more than one might imagine - do indeed have a 'movie making section. As long as ten years ago I was asked by a local school's 'video club' to play a role in one of their films - I believe they simply got 'tired' of dressing up young students to play old people's roles. With such groups in schools - plus a tutor to guide and help them, AND a room full of all the equipment, it isn't all that surprising they're happy to stick within that group. Many of the films in the 'Junior' session at BIAFF last year that Willy referred to indeed came from such groups, and school groups regularly enter (and win) at the Kent Film Festivals. One film, I recall, lasted over an hour ... and had Brenda Blethyn cast in a role - which she played, as to be expected, absolutely brilliantly - and for free!

This is yet another reason why I suspect local video clubs may not be able to attract young film-makers - they already have an outlet for their endeavours, among others their own age. Plus mentors/tutors. Plus all the equipment. However, it might be an idea to try to 'affiliate' a school video group with a local club, for the mutual benefit of both groups. That is something for each club to sort out in their own area.

I believe the original post was about getting membership to the IAC: I really do think that, with so many clubs complaining of falling numbers, the first priority should be to get members through their doors: IAC membership could follow. Indeed, if EVERY individual club member were to join the IAC, I really do think IAC membership would increase tenfold or more! So, to increase IAC membership - look no further than our own doorsteps for a 'captive' and 'target' audience! Having been an 'Ambassador' for the IAC, visiting clubs to try to win new members, I know that isn't going to happen ... people simply say - "I don't need any of that...". So, the IAC has to offer more - to existing club members!

Dave was right when he said Regional councils are very isolated from the IAC: the IAC gets the regions to hold their festivals and AGMs (and then takes a proportion of any profits!). but after I made a fuss about that a few years back, the IAC then also helped with some of the finance towards doing that. County Festivals are even more independent of the IAC - here in the South East, County Festivals were inaugurated to help pay for the cost of our regional magazine - and to provide all film makers in the county, whether IAC or club members or not - with an arena for their work. I don't think any other region holds County Festivals the same way, but I don't know.

The magazine and the Licencing arrangements are perhaps the only real main attractions to the IAC - plus, I have found, owning the IAC's authoritative membership card can act like a 'Press Pass' in certain situations - and get you into places and vantage points otherwise not available. But for the IAC to succeed further, IMO it needs to add to its portfolio - and being able to provide (from its membership) training facilities at a local level could be a part of that portfolio. But there needs to be more.

I'm afraid I am totally against dropping the printed magazine for an 'on-line version: nothing to stop both being available, but I will always want a printed version I can take with me, without having to lug some electronic gizmo around in the hope I can access the Internet, freely, wherever I happen to be - whether a London Tube or bus, or sitting on a bench in a park.

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Chrisbitz » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:00 am

There is a saying I often mull over in my mind - "If you want something you've never had before, you have to do something you've never done before."

I feel the IAC needs to adapt and be more open to ideas and change..

In a discussion about saving a fairly significant film competition, I made a suggestion along the lines of - Is there anything the IAC could do to support or encourage this competition, since they probably have the largest directory of amateur filmmakers in the country? In response, I was looked at as if I'd gone insane, and told that's not what they do...

On another occasion, I was asked by the IAC for some photos for Blitz and Bananas, a very large production OVFM were involved in, involving people from 1 month old to 91 years old! The photo I was specifically asked for (chosen from the online stills collection) was a picture of two people, working on camera and sound, both over 75 years old. I sent the requested picture, but also remarked that we have a huge selection of pictures of young people working on the film too, and it would be good to show young people involved, but I heard nothing more about it.

I think the idea of "an IAC type organistion" is absolutely necessary, but I'd be interested in what's fundamentally changed since the 70s?

This forum is an absolutely excellent example of a forward thinking organisation, but we all know how much it's pushed and marketed to the membership.
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"

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:09 pm

Glad you joined in Chris ... since your club is being cheered as an especially successful one.

A problem for any national hobby organisation is that hardly anyone want to take on responsibility for running it. Most of the present IAC national council are already busy making films, helping to run their club, helping to run their region ... and that's before all the other demands of family, work and other interests. If all the old-hands stepped down at once, would IAC survive? I am not sure it would.

I want to say that ... so that they do not have to!

I only wish that the default response from IAC Council - and most of their counterparts in other hobbies - could change from "no" or "we'll look into it". For a few years I had the pleasure of working with a committee that liked to say "yes" ... even if some members were sceptical about whatever new project or scheme was being proposed. The overall view was that making a few mistakes was acceptable, if it also meant developing occasional successes. Those meetings were a joy to attend, everyone went home feeling enthusiastic and willing to work for the cause.

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by john ingham » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:27 pm

this is how the shooters are building membership

https://shootingpeople.org/channel4
Keep trying, for one day you will get it right

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by ned c » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:09 pm

John's post clearly shows where the future really lies. The clubs are a lost cause; they have no real future. OK; so three or four clubs are thriving but they will last just as long as their enthusiastic management are willing to put in the time and energy to keep them going. Here in the USA we have just two clubs that I am aware of that are reasonably active and one of those is showing signs of stress. Clubs will die out along with their aging membership. The co-operation between Shooting People and Channel 4 is an example of one future with an obviously professional slant so different from the needs of the aging amateur.

All the IAC needs to do is run the BIAFF with a very broad base and special deals and awards for members with inexpensive membership fees. Go on Withoutabox and expect hundreds of entries with the associated income and costs. What else does the IAC offer? A magazine; a rental library and the music licences. How relevant is the music licence now? It seems like a good idea but do young film makers care when they have music composition programs and a number of young and willing composers out there and happily push the bounds of copyright?

I have grown increasingly pessimistic as this debate extends. What is the situation with other central amateur organizations in Europe and how is UNICA faring? No doubt a huge change has taken place in the world of movie making and the old structure is increasingly irrelevant. Anyone optimistic out there?

ned c

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