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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:45 pm
by Jill Lampert
The word ‘hobby’
Jameela, I am not sure whether you are saying that the word ‘hobby’ is off-putting to younger people because they may not understand its meaning, or whether you are also saying that anyone who has filmmaking as a hobby can’t be a serious filmmaker?

I agree with you that the use of the word ‘hobby’ does not in itself convey the seriousness of our filmmaking, and I agree that that is a problem. As Tim says, no one has come up with a word that does satisfactorily describe our engagement with making films.

I wonder if you have any suggestions for what would be better ways of describing what we do? A better label?

Here are some of the things I can say about myself. I’m sure all of them would be off-putting to some people, and none of them conveys everything I’d like to say about my artistic endeavours in one word:

I MAKE films. I do. It’s true! But mostly if I’m telling people that, I don’t feel that I can leave it at that, because I fear that I would be misleading them into thinking that I am a professional filmmaker.

Filmmaking is my OCCUPATION. It is the thing I occupy my time doing. I couldn’t fill in my passport saying that my occupation is filmmaking, because that would imply that it was a paid job. Nevertheless I spend more time doing it than I ever spent on any of the paid jobs I had.

I’m an AMATEUR film maker. I do it for the love of it. I do not get paid.

Filmmaking is my HOBBY. It is an interest I pursue in my spare time for pleasure, not for financial gain. I’m retired, so in a way ALL my time is spare time.

Filmmaking is my means of ARTISTIC EXPRESSION. Through my films I express myself creatively. It is an outlet for my creative impulses.

I make films because I MUST. I feel a compulsion to make films.

I like to PLAY with filmmaking. I love experimenting with film. Trying new tricks…new pieces of equipment…new techniques…trying to express things visually in different ways.

Filmmaking is my AMBITION. I want to learn. I strive to improve every aspect of my filmmaking. I want to reach the highest standard of filmmaking that I’m capable of.

I find that making films is FUN. It fills me with joy, whether doing it on my own or as part of a team.

Filmmaking is my PASSION. I LOVE doing it. I spend a lot of my time thinking about it.

Having serious things to say
Jameela, you make the point that many young people have serious things they want to say. I agree with you.

It is also true that many older people have serious things they want to say. I am old and I have serious things I want to say. My films are a way of expressing myself.

The IAC is full of people who take filmmaking seriously and have serious things they want to say.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:03 pm
by Jameela M Boardman
To say serious things, how can this be understood from a description using the word "hobby"?

It is about initial perceptions.


If a new filmmaker makes a film to change people's thinking,
then enters it in a film festival,
but that "festival" is really only a competition,
and the film receives a poor score -- because the criteria is of lesser issues;
then it must be really devastating for that person who spoke out.

Art is expression, it cannot be judged by Criteria

...Which way do we desire the IAC to evolve?

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:17 pm
by Jill Lampert
In answer to Jameela's question "Which way do we desire the IAC to evolve?" I would like to say that I'd like the IAC to stick with BIAFF. If it was realistic for the council to put on a non-competitive festival as well, that would be wonderful! But I know that there are only a few people who give their time to doing all the work of running the IAC and that it might be unrealistic to ask for two festivals a year.

BIAFF is a competitive festival for amateur filmmakers, and in my view it's the best thing of its kind out there. Films are judged by a panel of 3. They try to adhere to set criteria devised at a meeting which was convened by the Competitions Officer. The judges provide written comments. I consider that if this is sensitively done it is an incredibly valuable thing for all entrants. The comments should ideally give the entrant pointers to what can be done to get the message across more effectively.

I think that if this new filmmaker that Jameela refers to wants to succeed in the aim of changing the way people think, s/he needs to engage the audience, and this will probably only be achieved with a pretty good grasp of the art and craft of filmmaking. A low star rating suggests to me that the judges were distracted by some shortcomings in the way the film was made. The best thing to do to get the message across is to learn about filmmaking! How? Join the local IAC affiliated club? Seek out opportunities for comments on his/her films. Ask trusted friends to comment on 'nearly finished' films. Read/listen to judges' comments on his/her own and other people's films. Watch relevant educational videos on YouTube/Vimeo. Read. MAKE FILMS - I think the very best way to learn is by DOING.

I agree that it is VERY hard for anyone who enters a film and gets a low star rating. We've done the best we can. We think it's good. We've put our whole selves into it. A low rating can feel like a personal criticism. But if the rating system is to have any meaning, the star rating must reflect what the judges assess to be the quality of the film.

If the filmmaker wants to show their film in a non-competitive festival, as things are, he/she will have to look elsewhere.

I'm all in favour of the IAC continuing to hold BIAFF and to stick to it being a competion with sensitive, helpful comments so that it combines competion with guidance. Much though I'd like there to be opportunities to show films non-competitively, I would be very sad to see the IAC drop BIAFF.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:37 am
by Dave Watterson
Jill mentions a very important fact: the IAC is run by a small group of people, who in addition to all the normal work and family demands on their time are involved in running their clubs and often running their regions. There is not much time and energy left over for running national events, whether these be training sessions or festivals.

It would be tactless to talk of their ages ... but many of them are almost as ancient as I am!

Yet this year they ARE organising not one but two huge festivals: BIAFF and UNICA.

BIAFF and its linked competition runs in the first half of the year (8th - 10th May) in Stratford upon Avon.
UNICA which lasts over a week is ion the second half of the year (8th - 15th August) in Birmingham.

Both events will be fun, fascinating and full of friendship! There will be more people from other countries at UNICA ... people learning about the wonders of a "full English breakfast", discovering the delights of pies, coping with black-tea-and-cold-milk ... not to mention our currency ... and trying their hand at our language. What they all have in common is an enthusiasm for films made outside the constraints of the commercial system.

Both events are run by the same group of IAC officers.

Think on!

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:00 pm
by TimStannard
I think Jameela and I are never going to agree about "hobby". I think she has a very different perception of the word than I and everyone I've discussed it with. As for "serious" ... thousands of hobbyist astronomers around the world continue to contribute enormous amounts to our understanding of where we came from and where we are going as well as explaing why (in a physical sense, if not a spiritual one). That seems pretty serious to me. Throughout history important discoveries have been made by people investigating things as a sideline to their primary occupation (ie their hobby).

Jill's comments about a film maker wanting to change the way people think are spot on! The IAC is about the art of making films, not a platform on which to spread a message (unless it's about the art of making films). This is not to say that films shown cannot contain a message - indeed the very best often both contain a message and engage the audience. Indeed, if well made, the audience may well be unaware of how well the film has been made and feel that it is solely the message that has engaged them.

But if what is important to you is getting the message across, you need to employ the craft of film making or employ someone who has those skills.

Just extending Jill's comments ...

When Ford want to persuade you to buy their new model, they don't make the adverts themselves - their business is manufacturing and selling cars, not persuasive film making. That aspect they pass on to an advertising company - who themselves hire in the skills required to make the adverts.

I don't believe the IAC is about the message (we'd have members with conflicting messages, most obviously different religions), but it is about improving how people put the message across and engage an audience. Is it clear? Does it explain Who, Why, What, When, Where and How? Does it inform or educate? Is it entertaining?

The last of these might seem like frippery, but an entertaining film is more likely to remain in the audience's mind.

For what it's worth, I cannot recall ever hearing anyone at an IAC or associated film festival saying they didn't like a film because they disagreed with the message.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:58 pm
by ned c
Time for some radical thinking:

1.Maintain the structure of the IAC as it is with club members in the regions and individual members.

2.Move the magazine to an on-line magazine with a member’s access password.

3.Appoint a paid Director of Festivals using the previous funds for paying the editor of the magazine. The Director to be responsible for organizing, marketing and promoting BIAFF working with the Council. To develop a system for circulating a selection of films for local showing working with the Regions. To develop additional national and local festivals to meet special needs.

4.Have three entry categories into BIAff; general; student and school. Entry fees for IAC members to be 50% of that for non-members. Students to be financially rewarded for top three winners.

5.Establish a network of IAC member screeners who view the entries at home and write reviews, reward them with reduced rates for attending the Festival
6.Appoint a member of Council to be responsible for training and education. To work with local educational organizations to develop programs. Fees for IAC members to be substantially reduced.

The most important asset of the IAC is BIAFF; a portal onto the wider world, not the magazine which is limited to members.
ned c

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:04 pm
by TimStannard
Well worth discussing all of those, Ned.

I presume you mean pay for the Director of Festivals from the cost of producing the magazine, rather than the editor.
If we move the magazine online - which would have a much higher visibility than BIAFF - in my view it is essential we have expertise in a paid webmaster/editor.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:35 am
by Jameela M Boardman
Dear Ned,

I applaud your radical thinking, but I disagree that "the most important asset of the IAC is BIAFF." ...Surely the most important asset is the membership itself, of which only a fraction ever attend BIAFF, but every member receives a copy of the FVM magazine!

So BIAFF would be better described as our most valuable public relations activity, not 'asset'.

Aside from this, my personal opinion is BIAFF's popularity and the IAC's popularity would be greatly improved for the future by getting rid of the competition culture and replacing with diversity of artistic expression, as my articles have outlined amongst other points. It is a very weak argument against me for people to infer that what I say is different to how things have always been done!

Also, in my article I did not suggest replacing the paper magazine with an on-line version, rather I suggested having an on-line copy that people could add comments... which is rather more focused than what this forum does.

Writing an article for a magazine is a time consuming act; carefully considered words with several revisions that best convey the authors intent -- so different to much on-line chat. Therefore to assemble and edit all the articles submitted, the role of a magazine Editor is a difficult one. ...Adding a paid 'Director of Festivals' as you suggest would be great, but not at the expense of losing our magazine Editor - our Institute's Journal.

If we took notice of the non-competitive Glastonbury Festival, we might actually be able to go big and make some money, thereby have several paid staff!

...Just my opinion!

See picture at ... 84473).jpg

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:33 pm
by TimStannard
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:35 am
If we took notice of the non-competitive Glastonbury Festival, we might actually be able to go big and make some money, thereby have several paid staff!
It's almost as if you haven't read John Roberts' response (point 6) in this thread.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:38 pm
by ned c
The magazine is an internal publication distributed to the iAC members; it in no way expands or promotes the Institute outside its limited readership. To reach the wider world of film makers there needs to be something visible to them; as the BIAFF can be accessed through FilmFreeway and through its own dedicated website this is the only contact the Institute has with film makers other than its own members. The magazine consumes a large part of the IACs income and my point is that this is largely unproductive in terms of developing membership.

I am not particularly concerned that the Festival be competitive or not, although recognize that the process of selection for screening is competitive.

If I were going to asset strip the IAC the only asset I would keep is the BIAFF! Recognize that most festivals are not part of a sustaining membership organization so the question is does the BIAFF need the IAC?

Aside from the discussion about the BIAFF and the magazine what are the benefits of membership? Why should a young person with a mortgage; family; student debt, but a love of film making join the IAC?

ned c

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:04 am
by Jameela M Boardman
Exactly as you say Ned, "...what are the benefits of membership? Why should a young person with a mortgage; family; student debt, but a love of film making join the IAC?"

...Realising that I come from a different perspective and find the IAC as it is, wholly inadequate, I have written my articles this year in the hope that my different viewpoint can bring some awareness, before the IAC gets itself into terminal decline, as I see it.

Contributors to this forum thread may genuinely believe the 'competition culture' is inclusive for all, but I say it is not -- as I have previously explained why.

My comments, all of them, are NOT intended as insults to anyone, but as as an invitation to see the possibility of a different future.

I do believe there is a need for a strong alternative to commercial media, with a spectrum from the serious to the light. ...So a declining future or an expanding future for the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers?


Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:37 pm
by TimStannard
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:04 am Contributors to this forum thread may genuinely believe the 'competition culture' is inclusive for all, but I say it is not -- as I have previously explained why.
Jameela, you are inferring something from what you have read without justification. What I, and others, have said here is not that the "competition culture" is inclusive to all, but that BIAFF and the IAC are inclusive to all.

BIAFF is a festival with a competition element, but it is also a festival where a very wide variety of films about all manner of subjects made by people with a range of technical and artistic ablilties and, increasingly, from different cultures. Indeed juniors are invited to submit films but decline to have a grade awarded (thus removing any competitive element) and have been for many years. I see no reason why this shouldn't be expended to all entrants.

However there is some justification for the competitive element. You have noted yourself that attendence at BIAFF is declining. You have suggested that removing the competitive element might increase attendence. I'd suggest that if we have problems getting bums on seats when people are offered the best amateur films we will struggle even more if we are just offering some amateur films.

Of course, we won't know the effect of removing competition unless we try. Perhaps Sutton Coldfield's 2017 "Feel Good Film Festival" might offer some insight. It was a success, but it was a one-off and the fact it hasn't run in subsequent years might indicate it wasn't successful enough to sustain an audience. I don't know, but I suspect it is more to do with finding a team to organise it, which seems to be the biggest stumbling lock to getting anything off the ground these days.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:04 am My comments, all of them, are NOT intended as insults to anyone, but as as an invitation to see the possibility of a different future.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:42 pm
by Jill Lampert
Is the IAC fulfilling the needs of current members? Ned has asked what IAC membership has to offer. Two members of my club have given up their membership this year. I don’t know exactly why, but it does make me wonder what benefits they are relinquishing? In principle these two ex-members can still enter BIAFF if they wish, and they can read the club’s copy of the magazine. As Ned has observed, the IAC music licence has very limited usefulness.

How do other Forum contributors encourage new club members to join the IAC?

IAC member screeners
– I haven’t heard this suggestion before, Ned. Sounds interesting? And is it something that could be considered more generally? I wonder whether IAC members would like the opportunity to get written feedback on their films? The Forum has a section for that, but I wonder whether there would also be room for more private feedback?

John Roberts’ suggestion of a database of people who were willing to help with various aspects of filmmaking could perhaps include this? It is a great shame that John found that there was ‘little appetite’ for that database. It sounded like a good idea to me. In fact that could potentially be a reason to join the IAC!

Feel Good Festival Tim, the Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers Feel Good Festival was a success in many ways. It had a terrific atmosphere. We had very positive feedback. We had entries from members of our own club and some other film clubs in CEMRIAC and one entry from an IAC member who lives as far away as Devon. We had one entry from someone who had nothing to do with any film club or the IAC or anything like that. Our audience consisted of entrants and their families and friends as well as members of our club. Very few who were completely unconnected, despite great efforts to publicise it. A write up of the festival in a local free newspaper resulted in one new member joining our club.

Was it competitive? No. That is there were no prizes. But films had to be under 5 minutes and they had to be ‘feel good’. We rejected some that we felt didn’t quite fit the criteria. If we’d had more entries than there was time to show in the theatre where we held the event, we would have had to reject more films.

Would we run another one? Yes! It was a joyous, uplifting, celebratory event! Would I expect it to result in a flood of new members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers or the IAC? No! Why haven’t we run another one? Tim is right that it is difficult to join a team to run it when we’re all so keen to spend our time on making films!

A totally non-selective festival?
I think Jameela would like a totally non-selective festival. I wonder how such a thing could be organised? And I wonder whether there’d be many people willing to go to a screening where they risked sitting through long films made by beginners?

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:55 pm
by Bob Lorrimer
Ref: Jameela Boardman’s appeal for change.

In many ways I believe She has some very good points to make….personally I look forward to the delivery of the FVM magazine; just as I did, once upon a time, to the publication of the monthly MOVIE MAKER Magazine in the ‘60s. In fact when I was a young Hotel Apprentice in London and living in a grim bed sitter in Earl’s Court the Magazine and it’s pages of Comments, Articles and Competitions was of more importance to me than the relentless nature of my work.

Today, frankly and tragically , the entire FVM Magazine could or certainly should be published “online” as Jameela suggests. I have no idea how one publishes an online Magazine but I certainly respond these days to many Tutorials, Films, Equipment Reviews, and Comments which I follow on the internet. The Magazine would almost certainly benefit from an Online Platform and it would certainly reach a much broader if not vast online readership. The paper version of the FVM understandably lacks the instant interaction which is now so much a part of our daily internet lives, (for better or worse).

Jameela is right…interaction will attract the younger people who could, perhaps, upload their work to the ONLINE Club Magazine and accept the critique and brick bats that goes with publication. A costly physical magazine has almost certainly run it’s course. You can upload anything to the internet and inevitably much of it is unwatchable BUT VIMEO itself has a curated "STAFF PICK" page which shows the best current work as the Staff perceive it. Unfortunately achieving the status of STAFF PICK is now immensely difficult due to the sheer volume of superb work...but if you do have your film chosen the Viewing Rate is breathtaking. In the very early days of Vimeo two of my own films were chosen as STAFF PICKS. Today's work on Vimeo is of an incredibly high standard and it is after all a Film maker's showcase - a calling card for the skilled but unemployed.

Jameela’s well reasoned article has some controversial issues concerning the artistic nature of film. However, The VIMEO format differs substantially to the nature of "Club Film making" which is quite simply: “ YOU WATCH MY FILM and I WILL, in turn, WATCH YOUR FILM.”

For me; one Puff of a steam train setting off to Inverness will make my eye lids burn with the effort of keeping them open. I know of Others who have watched my own short, award winning projects, with complete bewilderment……in a Club, photographic or otherwise, that’s the deal…..we learn to advance our own art form by watching through the enforced lens of other film makers.

I feel there is another unavoidable problem with Amateur film making : It is often abundantly clear that a person who joins the IAC Club system and who has a natural, God-given talent for the Medium will seek to move forward in to the Professional world. The complexity of film making demands a team of skilled people to satisfy the passion for both "project quality" and the constant need for a "livelihood."

I have admiration for Ken Wilson….he organises a team of actors and technicians to execute his Scripts. That alone is a formidable task...and it is a task that has to be constantly begged, encouraged and cajoled weekly until the film is in the 'can'. (Remember; Ken's hero appearing on the last day of a shoot with a totally different hairstyle!)
It is immensely difficult to emulate the Professional World without considerable resources, available expertise and expense. Film schools and Universities can draw on a ready made and willing pool of ‘help’ and equipment . It is much more difficult for the dedicated amateur to raise the necessary Crew from the world of working life. I don't particularly want to work on my I became older I just happened to find that I could get things done in my own peculiar way and still make films to a reasonable level.

The advent of computing and very High Definition cameras has edged us all a little closer to the slick working of the professional screen. I believe I can say that in the field of Amateur Documentary film making the current documentary film makers within the IAC are almost on the same playing field as the professionals.
I hesitate, when asked, to say that I am 'also an Amateur film maker' ... but that is what I am ! I do not make a living from my work but if a couple of hundred thousand people watch it on Vimeo - then I am at least travelling the right road.

The buzz words of our times are ‘diversity’, ‘inclusivity’ and ‘interaction’ and one thing is certain: exclusivity, as in our once comfortable World of ‘Cine film’, is as doomed as 'Acetate splicing' and the combustion engine.

Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:25 am
by Jill Lampert
Bob Lorrimer says that if FVM was online it would have a much higher readership. I imagine this would only happen if it was not in a ‘members only’ area? If the magazine was available to the public would this increase the membership of the IAC?

Bob is right that putting our films online is a way of getting to a much wider audience. I can see that a ‘staff pick’ on Vimeo is a form of selection/competition which is a real vote of confidence and very satisfying for filmmakers whose films get picked and also brilliant for viewers because they can choose to watch films that they already know someone thinks have special merit.

But for me there's nothing like a live audience. I do put some of my films on YouTube. I’m delighted when they get lots of views. But even knowing my film has had hundreds of thousands of views doesn’t give me anything like the pleasure I get from showing my films to an appreciative live audience – even a small one.