Manifesto for Change

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Jameela M Boardman
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Manifesto for Change

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

* This compilation follows from previous discussions in other threads *

The fact is that IAC membership numbers are declining, and the existing membership age profile is noticeably lacking of younger people. Without 'Change', this trend will continue until the inevitable happens! ...This proposed 'Manifesto for Change' is aimed at reversing this decline into a positive expansion.

1. Constitution no change
The original 1932 constitution is perfectly valid exactly as it is, to quote from the last AGM financial report:
The Charity's object and its principal activity continue to be that of the promotion, advancement and improvement of general education in relation to all aspects of cinematography and associated audio and visual arts and the development of public appreciation of such arts.
We take this original high thinking and apply it to the times we are living in now.


2. Purpose and Focus
It is recognised that there are many levels of personal involvement in Amateur Film and Video making, and all are part of this community. However it is anticipated that for new and younger members, the primary purpose and need for this Institute will be from those who see it as their Vocation, rather than their Hobby – a 'Vocation' free of the constraints of the commercial world but aspiring to the same quality. An analogy is open-source software in computing.
...This in no way depreciates the value of hobby films made for the entertainment of family, friends or self, rather it is about the need for an Institute.

To quote a previously made definition...
To an outsider 'hobby' and 'vocation' may look the same, both can involve considerable time and expense, but the crucial difference is that of intention. A hobby is optional, a vocation is the purpose of one's life.

If we write, or make films speaking truth to power, or showing the stupidity of war, or what it is to be different, etc, this is our vocation, not a 'hobby'.

Those of us who see our activity as a vocation, albeit unpaid, then the competition culture is wholly inappropriate. To have a film put down as the loser in a competition such as BIAFF, is sadistic towards the artist who tried to speak out. Perhaps the film was aimed at a different type of audience. Perhaps the judges were not familiar with the issues. Perhaps the filmmaker just needed guidance not a kicking.

Competitions have winners and losers, artistic expression does not.

3. BIAFF Change of Focus
To change the style and focus of our main event; the British Amateur International Film Festival, making it more of a spectacle attracting the wider public, and less about the competition element, though both sides will coexist.
To quote from a previously made suggestion...
A festival should be a festival not a competition, but could we not at least abolish the: 'One, Two and Three star awards', while offering these filmmakers the option to withdraw their work and improve it in line with the feedback given, then re-enter their film for the following festival, otherwise it will only be selected for viewing in the current festival if time allows? ...This will separate out those films that mean a lot to their makers, but are really unfinished projects.

4. Election of Council
The default position where council members are re-elected needs to change. We need to strive towards continually getting some new people on the Council while still maintaining stability. This replenishment needs to be perpetual.
It is proposed that in the AGM election at the end of their current term in office, all existing members present a summary of what they intend to do in the same manner as new candidates will do. Thereby ending the current situation of re-election by default.


5. Replacement of FVM magazine
Due to the high cost of publication, the excessive lead time between writing and print, and also the pressure it puts on an editor to maintain neutrality in times of change while keeping the content to a fixed size; the existing paper 'Film and Video Maker' magazine will be replaced by an upgraded forum, where members can also post pictures and video clips besides their text, also to have click-able links to uploaded PDF attachments.

A section of this new upgraded forum, will be the new platform that contributing authors within the Institute self-publish their articles, while giving the entire membership freedom to comment and discuss the topics as per the existing forum.

Our existing phpBB forum is capable of being extended to all these functions we need if they are enabled, and possibly with software 'extensions'. Currently pictures can only be added if they are remote content on another website such as this on my own website, for which I obviously have permission to use as an example...
Image
(Castlerigg stone circle, Lake District, GB)


6. Use of Technology for Meetings
To work towards the implementation of Multi-platform Video conferencing for all IAC meetings, both for the council and for the whole membership. (e.g. Zoom or Skype)

Electronic Voting will also be set up on the IAC website in a members only area. Again this is possible with the existing phpBB forum if a members-only area is set up.

During the transition, detail instructions with pictures, are to be printed and posted out to the entire membership to help those unfamiliar with the new technology.


7. Database or Network of potential helpers
Members to be encouraged to offer their time and skill, with the extent of travel they are able to cope with, in return for similar help with their own projects. Thereby building a mutually supporting community far wider than a single club could manage.

In the independent commercial film world, there is a parallel with the website 'Shooting People'.
https://shootingpeople.org


8. Policy of Free Speech but no insults or abuse
An advantage of being free from commercial interests, is the ability to produce controversial content, especially as seen from the perspective of the establishment. Though this freedom must be used responsibly and no insults of any kind, nor incitement to violence made to any other person, member or otherwise. This rule will be enforceable. We want to cooperate together in a pleasant harmonious manner, even when we disagree over issues.


9. National and International
The IAC is a British organisation with International connections. With the demise of similar organisations in other nations, there exists scope to expand our international reach by the use of new technology and video conferencing. Membership is to be open globally, but will remain a British based organisation. All times stated will be Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
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It is human nature to resist change of something that has become established, but if the IAC does not evolve as the needs of new filmmakers change, then it will not survive. We all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves, but it must be fit for purpose in today's world.

Jameela M Boardman
Last edited by Jameela M Boardman on Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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TimStannard
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by TimStannard »

Thanks for your thoughts Jameela, much of which, as you know, I agree with.

However:
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am However it is anticipated that for new and younger members, the primary purpose and need for this Institute will be from those who see it as their Vocation, rather than their Hobby – a 'Vocation' free of the constraints of the commercial world but aspiring to the same quality. An analogy is open-source software in computing.
To date the only person whom I have seen anticipates this is you. Indeed there is some evidence to support the counter argument that younger film makers thrive on competition and popularity rather than artistic integrity. If, on the other hand, you were to argue that there are fewer and fewer means where artistic integrity can be acknowledged and we require more outlets where that is valued over popularity (and by extension, the IAC sould be encouraging this) I wholehertedly agree.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am 3. BIAFF Change of Focus
To change the style and focus of our main event; the British Amateur International Film Festival, making it more of a spectacle attracting the wider public, and less about the competition element, though both sides will coexist.
I have nothing in principle against this though I'm afraid that emphasising art over popularity might result in smaller audiences.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am 4. Election of Council
The default position where council members are re-elected needs to change. We need to strive towards continually getting some new people on the Council while still maintaining stability. This replenishment needs to be perpetual.
Agreed. The difficulty, as will be confirmed by committee/council members of clubs and organisations up and down the country, is finding anyone who is both willing and able to take on any leadership roles, who is also acceptable to at least some of the membership. If you have any ideas how we can encourage this, please suggest them.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am 5. Replacement of FVM magazine
Due to the high cost of publication, the excessive lead time between writing and print, and also the pressure it puts on an editor to maintain neutrality in times of change, while keeping the content to a fixed size; the existing paper 'Film and Video Maker' magazine will be replaced by an upgraded forum, where members can also post pictures and video clips besides their text, also to have click-able links to uploaded PDF attachments.
I like the paper magazine. It's arrival in the post is significant, unlike yet another updated web page. I'd be sad to see it go, but I'm not going to make a fuss about it, if it stands in the way of progress. I'd like to see the money saved go towards a properly managed and published website/forum such as you suggest. There's only so much we can expect willing amateurs to be able to do with no budget (especially when the website appears to be tolerated rather than actively supported and engaged with by the Council).
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am 6. Use of Technology for Meetings
To work towards the implementation of Multi-platform Video conferencing for all IAC meetings, both for the council and for the whole membership. (e.g. Zoom or Skype)
I'd argue "supplement" rather than "replace". Video conferencing is not the same as face to face meetings. Indeed I was reading an article in PC Pro Magazine only this morning (I subscribe to the printed version rather than online, because it's important to me) arguing that even telephone meetings are in many ways preferable to video conferencing as people act in different ways when they know they are on camera (and not in the same way as they would face to face) and visual cuesare lost or misinterpreted due to image quality and latency.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am 7. Database or Network of potential helpers
Yep. Has been mooted for years but requires someone to put a team together to set this up. Again, capable volunteers are hard to come by. Use the money saved by not publishing print copies of FVM?
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:04 am 8. Policy of Free Speech but no insults or abuse
I'm confident this is already covered under "acting in a manner likely to bring the Institution into disrepute" or some such wording. No harm in explicitly stating this on any unmoderated platforms though.

Finally, I think a large part of a reluctance for change comes from the fact that you ask the average member what they want from the IAC and they'd be hard pushed to tell you. Similarly, ask the average non-member (perhaps the target "younger filmmaker") what might tempt them to join an organisation and they'd be equally hard pushed to tell you.

You're a bit of an exception, having a clear idea of what you want/what you think the organisation needs. But you're not alone in this.
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Thanks Tim,

Just to clarify about where I "anticipated that for new and younger members"...

We now live in a world with YouTube, Vimeo, and festivals specifically for 'Shorts', so why would new people want to join an established Institute unless they are serious about this activity? ...I am thinking media students and professional media people who are trapped in a restrictive role by their employment, but in their own time want to have the freedom of being purposeful Amateur.

...Like airline pilots flying microlights in their spare time! It's all about Freedom.
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by TimStannard »

OK At the risk of digging over old ground I could simply post on YouTube (and potentially monetize an/or gain likes), but I want to improve. Feedback on YouTube, is very mixed and wholly unreliable.

Unlike you I don't have any ambition to produce high art, nor do i have a message I wish to get across. I am "merely" a hobbyist.
But I am serious about my hobby and therefore it is only natural that I would want to belong to an organisation with others who are serious about film making for the love of it. Does that answer your question?

I don't believe I am alone. Indeed I suspect the majority of the current membership fits this category. I also supect there is a massive untapped pool of people who also fit into that category who have never heard of the IAC or who have for some reason been put off joining the IAC.

I am not objecting to widening the membership - although as far as I'm aware there are no "requirements" other than a love of film making, we certainly count professionals among or membership.
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Amateur film, AV, and video making includes a whole spectrum of people - including many similar to yourself, but is not a common theme between members; the desire to improve?

Any significant change at the IAC will only happen if a majority of members vote for it, that applies to these changes that I have compiled, or any other kind of change that other people may suggest. ...So the arguments for 'Change' have to be well reasoned -- maybe I have succeeded, maybe I haven't.

But the default position of 'No Change' means continued rapid decline, unless something totally miraculous occurs!

...So my open request to all members is please state your views; is this a lame duck, or is now the beginning of revival?
tom hardwick
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by tom hardwick »

The search facility on this forum is pretty comprehensive Jameela, and it's quite enlightening to note that that I've put up 800+ posts whereas John Howden (chairman) and Simon Sumner (vice chairman and youth liaison officer) don't appear to have posted at all.

This doesn't necessarily mean they're not active readers, but if you want to start changes happening then it's probably best to start engaging council officials.
Michael Slowe
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Michael Slowe »

I am in pretty much total agreement with Jameela with a few exceptions. She seems obsessed with wanting the elimination of competition among film makers and their films. I can't understand why. Without competition how do you decide which films are shown in a "main" programme? Some judgements have to be made, and what's wrong with that? She paints a sorry picture of film makers feeling humiliated by judgements! What nonsense. All art is up there to be criticised and artists should have enough sense to either see that maybe their work is not as good as they thought it was, or, that the judges are stupid (which they sometimes are). But to be discouraged shows a lack of character and self confidence.

I'm a great supporter of the printed magazine, so much better than peering at a computer screen, which we have to do for a large part of our lives anyway.

Video meetings and presentations are now much the vogue and I suspect will be one of the main permanent changes to our lives after the virus. However, group meetings are essential also, humans are still humans before AI gets us, but admin matters are easily dealt with digitally I would have thought.

Finally, the make up of the Council. As Tim says, do many people want to serve? Jameela can propose anyone she likes for election, as can anyone else, where's the problem?

As to the young film makers who regard it as a vocation, well, so do I, at the ripe old age of 85. I live film making, night and day, much to the dismay (and more) of my lovely wife. we must somehow attract them into the IAC, goodness knows how.
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Dear Michael,

Regarding competition culture; I don't think I'm "Obsessed" about it, but I am a 'Stubborn' sort of person, and from my perspective this issue is a serious problem for the IAC which needs to be discussed between both sides of the argument. -- But if only 'competition supporters' discuss together, then what do they learn? ...In the end though, people vote with their feet, they either feel welcome in an organisation, or they don't. (me included)

However, I recognize that many existing members love the competition buzz, and that is why I have suggested the compromise of only handing out 4 star, 5 star and diamond awards. All other entries just getting their feedback privately (Judge's comments) plus the option to withdraw and resubmit a modified version in the next festival.

Regarding the paper FVM magazine, I too feel it a sad loss to see it go. ...But if the membership agrees the extra cost, then both paper and online versions could be released together. Though if we only do one, then it should be the online version for the reasons stated.

Jameela
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Michael Slowe »

Jameela, we aren't very far apart then. I agree that just the leading films get publicly graded, and your suggestion concerning all the others is a good one. Most semi pro festivals do the same, they announce 'selections' for exhibition together with main prizewinners, perfectly sensible. Mind you, they could include some comment from whoever judges them, but they rarely do!

Do you think that the IAC could connect with younger film makers through some sort of feature on say, You Tube? Where else could we catch them? I have suggested universities previously but this has I think been tried. This is the key to the survival of the IAC, no question about that.
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Once we get ourselves to be an attractive proposition, we then go for a massive publicity drive everywhere we can think of that potential new members might look.

For example: A5 flyer sheets sent to every college and university that has media studies courses. Bundles of 20 flyer sheets posted to all IAC affiliated clubs with the request to please help spread the publicity campaign by giving out to local libraries, community centres, and public notice boards. ...PDF versions of our flyer sent to as many "professional media" support organisation as we can think of. JPG versions of our flyer available to every member who has a Facebook account or other social media account with the request to please post online.

The main info is on the IAC website, which is kept updated. So what we need from a flyer is the attraction to look at the website!

One caveat though, I expect there will still be a time delay between us making changes and new people coming on the role, but without change, I cannot see it happening at all.
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by ned c »

Why should a young person with a mortgage, family, a degree in film, working in a retail outlet, a 4K telephone and a love of film making join the IAC?

(if you wonder if such people exist they are certainly here in SW Utah and make lots of films).

At present the benefits of membership are a well produced magazine which costs over 50% of the iAC income; slightly reduced entry fees to BIAFF. Am I missing anything?

1. Move from a print magazine to an on-line version and make the funds released available for other more productive uses.
2.Divide BIAFF into two major sections; General; open to any non-commercial films and Student open to students from kindergarten to university; OK subdivide for fairness; this is where the future of the IAC lies. Make substantial financial rewards to the High School/University entrants winners. Offer High Schools and Universities a special membership of the IAC which would permit multiple entries at reduced rates. Have the student entries judged/selected by a panel of academics/industry representatives. As many student films are made as calling cards for commercial employment this will lend additional credence to the Festival.
3. In the General Section of BIAFF offer additional awards to IAC members.
4. Comment: I hear Jameela's thoughts on Competition but it is an inescapable fact whether in the form of awards or selection for screening.
5. Set up the register of experts available only to members.
6. Have regional screenings with reduced entry for members.

All the above are easy to do and will quickly tell us if we are on the right path. As far as publicity is concerned use the web; promote on all the resources; I have little faith in pamphlets; just more untargeted costs.

ned c
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by ned c »

Next morning. In all the discussions there is little attention to what the benefits of membership are. If these cannot be clearly defined and be of value then there is no point to the organization. BIAFF could be a free standing Festival with its own management; it doesn't really need the IAC.

It seems to me the IAC has been an umbrella organization for clubs and with these in decline it needs a new role. Why do organizations fail? Loss of relevance and/or poor management. In spite of the overall decline of clubs some flourish; why? Good management; but in voluntary organizations this lasts only as long as there is management continuity.

ned c
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Dave Watterson »

The IAC Annual General Meeting and "Members' Voices" will be online on Saturday 10th October 2020 at 11.45 - until 15.00 (BST)

Use this link to register your attendance and get the Zoom link information:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/iac-annual ... 2986027519
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by TimStannard »

Well done, Jameela, for getting your Manifesto for change published in FVM. It may drive a few more people here - let's hope so.

One thing I should have picked up on earlier in your definition of vocation:
If we write, or make films speaking truth to power or showing the stupidity of war or what it is to be different etc; this is our vocation, not hobby.

In terms of film making (and therefore within the remit of the IAC) I think you are entirely wrong. In the above examples, film making is not your vocation, your vocation is getting your message across. Film is merely the medium you have chosen. You might equally also do this via books, radio, websites, dance, newspaper advertisements etc. This is a subtle but important distinction.

The film itself film should be viewed as any film (including a lowly club comedy) might - part of which would include how well you get the message across - but not how worthy the message is.

I think (I can't find it at the moment) Michael Slowe said he saw his film making as a vocation. I wouldn't wish to speak for Michael, but I'm pretty confident that what he means by this is he wants to make the best possible film which tells the story he's telling, which may (or may not) include getting a message across. When I see a Michael Slowe film, I see a subject has caught Michael's imagination and which wants to present in a way that will engage me, in an interesting, artistic and sometimes emotional manner.
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: Manifesto for Change

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Ah but...

In an abstract sense, yes filmmaking skills are independent of the purpose or the intention of film, but our purpose or intention becomes inherent in our approach to the technical issues...

If one person considers this an engaging spare time hobby, and another person using similar equipment regards it as a vocation, then the appropriate way of communicating with these two people will be different. For those like myself who are emotionally involved with the artistic expression in their work, the message of the film cannot be detached from the skill of its making. So appropriateness is needed.


Now this issues was raised in paragraph 2 of my "Manifesto" regarding 'Purpose and Focus', which I feel is most important to become clear about. The IAC membership numbers are declining, and we now live in the age of Youtube which draws most of the younger 'hobby' video makers. So to attract new and younger members for our continued long term survival, it seems to me that we need to broaden our horizons. We need to consider our 'Purpose and Focus' for the future that gives added value, and then use language that would not be off-putting to potential new and younger, serious filmmakers. I have argued my case sufficiently now.

An alternative 'Purpose and Focus' could be stated as the organiser of BIAFF and the publisher of FVM magazine, though I doubt this will change the declining membership. Rather I try to make the case for supporting a serious alternative to commercial media in the way open-source software is to commercial software.

But if the above logic is wrong, please dissuade me of my illusion.
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