Where to from here?

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Michael Slowe
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by Michael Slowe » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:14 pm

Ned, you have triggered some old memories with your tale of the London FilmCo-Operative. Wasn't there another group who met in premises above shops somewhere in Soho who were making wonderful films on 16mm, this was in the 50's and 60's when this was considered very advanced. They were winning Ten Best Awards in that great competition organised by the late lamented Tony Rose and Movie Maker magazine. They managed to attract entries from budding professionals which we aren't getting today, more's the pity, because I honestly don't think that the standard has risen since those days, possibly it has even regressed. Many of that group went on to make names for themselves in the commercial film world, which, I imagine, was their original aim. Would that we had people in the IAC and some of the clubs with the same aspirations.

Frank Maxwell
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by Frank Maxwell » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:21 pm

Another group from that era was the SINGLE8 ASSOCIATION.

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:04 pm

Michael - are you thinking of The Grasshopper Group, who most famously made The Battle of Wangapore?

edin
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by edin » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:08 pm

[They managed to attract entries from budding professionals which we aren't getting today, more's the pity, because I honestly don't think that the standard has risen since those days, possibly it has even regressed]

Thus is the rub! There are many young filmmakers across the UK who make films, that are self funded productions through offering shares in the production or crowd funded, both via the Internet. Their intention, like in the former cine era, is by showing at the various natonal and international film festivals, to get their productions noticed. These are the "budding professionals" who are out there today. Maybe they do not join the IAC, either beacause they have never heard of it or it is does not fit in with their perceived career development plan.

These "budding professionals" are the product of the various colleges and universities that offer film and television production courses. At these centres they have access to a wide range of modern production facilities and equipment, support cast and advice to enable them to produce their films. Their film making aspirations are also heightened as a result of this access to knowledge and resources. After qualifying they find the world is a hard place to be a budding filmmmaker, as suddenly they have no access to the same level of support/film making kit or the money to purchase the necessary equipment they need.

Hence the growth of self funded film making within this age group. The standards of their productions can be high and because we do usually see them, we can make false assumptions about the contemporary film making community.

I offer the above to show that there is still a vibrant film making sector within the younger age group, but like you, I don't know how the IAC or local film clubs can tap into this sector and encourage them to take out IAC membership.

My only suggestions is that when they attend filmmaking courses they are offered free IAC membership so that by their inclusion, the IAC get a higher visibility, and through time some converts may be gained.

Michael Slowe
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by Michael Slowe » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:39 pm

Yes Dave, The Grasshopper Group, I did visit their premises once or twice in my 8mm days. By the time I was making films on 16mm they had disbanded I think. Most of them went on to work in the industry.

Edin makes exactly the point that I was referring to. There are, of course, plenty of film makers out there, you only have to look on Vimeo, but they prefer to work with like minded people with similar aspirations, most IAC members are more settled and less ambitious. That doesn't mean that we can't all prosper under the same umbrella surely.

col lamb
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by col lamb » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:00 pm

Perhaps the question should be:-

What can the IAC and its affiliated clubs offer to young movie makers?
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John Roberts
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by John Roberts » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:25 pm

I hope I can manage to slip this post in, between the plethora of replies from Col's last question :wink:

The answer is surely 'I don't know' and edin argues the point well, citing the main reasons why 'young people' do things in their own way. During my first club associations the internet was just emerging, and no-one had a clue as to how it would turn out (if only we knew!) To learn something I had to get the bus to W H Smith in order to buy a magazine, or join a local club, which I did.

Today, I can learn (probably almost) everything I need to know without leaving my studio, through online tutorials and how-to's, chat to people via email or forums (as we are doing now; 20 years ago the idea hadn't even been conceived - we would have to meet up face to face or correspond via letters) and if I get stuck I can ask for help on a forum and any number of people, the majority of whom I have never met, never will meet and only ever appear there to answer questions and help people, will give me an answer within minutes. From the other side of the world, quite possibly. When I've finished my film I can get constructive comments from Vimeo or a load of abuse and 1,000,000 hits on YouTube (as long as I feature a cat somewhere in the film). And the only reason I needed to get off my chair was to shoot the footage.

Anyone that has studied marketing will know about USP - the Unique Selling Point. So what is the IAC's USP? What is it that it can uniquely offer as a benefit to attract young, younger or simply more members? The music licence is a great offering, but it won't attract the kind of young budding filmmakers we have been mentioning here - they don't want 'wallpaper' music, they want something bright, fresh and possibly unique (it's a USP for them too) and there are countless musicians and composers out there also trying to break into their own respective scene who are usually willing to supply specially composed and performed music for a mention in the credits. Many 'less ambitious' young filmmakers simply don't care. Chuck a video on YouTube, add the obligatory copyright disclaimer "this music doesn't belong to me... blah blah blah" and no-one, not even the record companies, seem to care either.

These are the 'budding professionals' who don't necessarily make films solely 'for the love of it' but as a means to an end. Can they be classed as 'amateur?' Possibly in the strictest sense of the word but surely the vast majority of them have a constant watchful eye on the next professional opening. There must surely be a demographic profile of enthusiastic filmmakers that can be tapped into as well - not only the 'budding professionals' but men and women of all ages that have made or would like to make a film, and make it to the standard they want, no matter how high that is. People with a creative or artistic streak that have no professional ambition, but own a camcorder, DSLR or even iphone and want to 'have a go' or learn more.

But, as I am typing this, it dawns on me that edin has already discussed where the 'young filmmakers' are looking for their resources, and the 'enthusiasts' out there probably look in the places I mentioned above - emails, forums, Vimeo and YouTube.

So what is the IAC's USP...? Don't all shout at once... :D

John

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by Dave Watterson » Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:03 pm

Twopence-worth from me ...


There is a strong argument that there is no such thing as a commercial short film these days. Obtaining any sort of wide distribution for shorts is rare and the financial rewards scant. Thus anyone making short films is pretty much defined as "a non-commercial film maker".

Many years ago we loosened the definition of amateurs to allow people who made occasional wedding videos into our circles. So anyone who tries to get distribution or recognition for their films is not ruling themselves out of bounds.

To be fair to IAC, it has not focused so tightly on clubs. In fact I started discussions about their role some years ago, because I worried that they were being neglected. The clubs may be limited in many ways, but their social aspects should not be overlooked. Most clubs have members who rarely, if ever, shoot a movie but who come along to every meeting because they enjoy the company and talking about the hobby.

I am inspired to write tonight because earlier in the week Jan and I visited the Bristol Club. We have met them several times. They are impressive. The club has changed over the years. They came to wide attention with their historical feature-length films Cabot and Clarkson which were hugely ambitious. The club includes several people who are or have been working in television and their technical knowledge is invaluable. They have strong contacts with local amateur dramatic groups. In recent years they made a conscious decision to change their style. Now they positively encourage new and relatively younger members to create their own films while the older experts assist. And I mean that. They do not take over or act as back-seat drivers, they lend their skills as asked by the director. They rarely offer advice and never insist on having their way.

This approach has encouraged a raft of new talent to make a remarkable range of fine films. The ten we judged this week included 4 dramas, 1 travelogue, 1 illustration of a poem, 2 classic documentaries and 2 experimental films. The general standard was good and there were some outstanding movies.

Where did they find the new members? They spotted that a local evening class in film making was cancelled due to lack of funds, so they persuaded the lecturer to present his course over several weeks at the club. They advertised widely that anyone interested could come along and included in the cost of the course a year's membership of the club. The club room was packed for the course run by Don Fairservice, who inspired and encouraged everyone as he explained the craft of film making and especially his own field: editing. Many of the most interested students stayed on at the club.

None of this answers the question about what IAC can do for individuals or clubs, but it shows that all is not doom and gloom.

Dave

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John Roberts
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by John Roberts » Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:50 pm

It definitely isn't all doom and gloom, Dave, and it's great to see such a forward-thinking club such as Bristol pushing the boundaries of what clubs can achieve. They are lucky of course in that they have a number of members who have worked in the profession, as a handful of other clubs have, although the vast majority of clubs are made up of enthusiasts of varying capabilities and ambition.

Obviously if the lecturer was trying to organise an evening class in filmmaking then there must have been a reasonable local demand for it in the first place (media or arts students etc, I don't know) before Bristol took over. It's a shame that more clubs are not ambitious enough to actually initiate such a course themselves in the first instance.

As Ned C's original post was regarding the IAC, I have no need of course to point out that the vast majority of most clubs' members are not members of the IAC, and have no desire to be, especially if they are attending only for the social aspect. It might be interesting to ascertain how many IAC individual members belong to affiliated clubs, and also how many members the affiliated clubs hold in total.

ned c
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by ned c » Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:58 am

This thread has gone down some interesting lines. The Bristol story is I believe a potential style of the future, this is, engagement with the community, in their case via a salvaged film making course. I suspect that the lecturer is very capable and inspired the people in the class. A recurring theme in the world of film & TV is "convergence" and successful groups are made up of a wide range of capabilities, interests and enthusiasms, writers, actors, sound recordists/mixers, musicians, cinematographers, dreamers and so on. They may not be a traditional club but make films and enjoy the process. Here in SW Utah our fluid groups and TSB have found one way which seems to work.

Organizations such as the IAC are an important central reference for groups and individual film makers and we need a voice in a world of special interests. Dave's comment about short films underlines the reality of the commercial world, there is virtually no market for short narrative films and a thin market for short documentaries so a lot of film makers are what we may have called "amateurs", now n-c.

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John Roberts
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Re: Where to from here?

Post by John Roberts » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:23 am

Some interesting points indeed, Ned. As the thread progressed I found myself to-ing and fro-ing between the potential benefits of the IAC targeting individual filmmakers, or clubs, or both. The way Bristol have remodelled their club has to be applauded, but exactly how much intervention or support was given by the national body I'm not sure. We previously discussed clubs being member-led so it's entirely feasible that Bristol would have remodelled themselves whether the IAC existed or not, but not every club nor the majority of members in any given club will want to change.

I can almost see the future being 'super clubs,' fewer in number but with larger memberships made up of the more diverse aspects of the filmmaking craft. They might possibly meet socially once a month, because a great deal of communication and creativity can now be achieved online, and this is only set to increase. For years I have received song parts online, loaded them into my software, written and recorded my parts and sent them back. Most bands work like this now and with the advent of the 'Cloud' or whatever it is currently called, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that entire film edits can be accessible to any member of the production team from one of those 'super clubs', no matter where they are based. 'Local' and 'Regional' will no longer be the defining factors of a club, instead we could be talking about 'fiction/drama' or 'documentary' super clubs. Super clubs with large memberships can work in smaller teams (or even individually) on several projects simultaneously, at different levels of ambition or ability. Most of the help a team or individual might require should be accessible from within the super club itself, from other IAC affiliated super clubs, or from my other point below.

I'm glad you mentioned some of the more specialised artists in your post, Ned - I was going to propose that a central list of available and enthusiastic writers, actors, musicians etc be considered, so that IAC affiliated clubs or individual IAC members can contact them and arrange something of mutual benefit. A kind of 'accessible-by-members-only' register, the participants of which being reasonably certain that they will be contacted by enthusiasts and not time wasters.

Just some thoughts :)

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