Anyone out there?

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TimStannard
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by TimStannard »

Jameela M Boardman wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:15 am Gosh, what a story, I admire your tenacity!

In reading it though, I can't help but feel again that the problem is 'competition culture'! ...but I won't start on that subject again here :wink:
I don't think Howard has a problem with competition - indeed he isn't trying to "beat" anyone other than his own achievements.

He does appear to have issue with some of the judges comments and he might have that anyway whether or not there were grades awarded.

Of course, you might argue that the problem is allowing people to comment on films - but then none of us would ever learn anything about how others see our work (in which case why make it?)
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
Michael Slowe
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Michael Slowe »

Can I jump in to this select group discussing the kit that they use and their aims regarding film making.

Being a great deal older than any of you, I started with Standard (not even Super) 8mm film using a wind up Bolex P1 with a wonderful Hunter zoom lens. Editing was done on the dining table with scissors and a small viewer. When one film won a Ten Best (the equivalent of a BIAFF Diamond today), I turned to 16mm film and a Beaulieu battery driven camera. I was then able to equip myself with a basic professional set up, enabling precise synchronisation of visuals and audio, though of course both had to be acquired separately. Quite a few of the resulting films were selected to be shown at the NFT which was fun. No 'story' or 'drama', just impressionistic, mostly 'cut to music' pieces which I could produce entirely on my own.

When video arrived I was horrified by the awful picture quality and, rather like Howard, gave up for a number of years. Then, with digital imagery and computer editing I re started with a Sony DSR 300 camera, shoulder mounted shooting standard def 4:3 aspect. Still working alone making documentaries I've staggered along ever since. Changing cameras to firstly the splendid Sony EX 1 still in SD, now a Sony PXW Z150 which will shoot either HD or 4K. All these cameras had fixed zoom lenses as I can't shoot my sort of 'catch as catch can' whilst having to change lenses. Editing on the now outmoded Media 100 has been a real pleasure. Mac based and so versatile that I've never considered migrating to Final Cut, Avid, Vegas or, the current star, Adobe Premiere Pro.

I'm with Ken in wondering how on earth Howard-Smith can make seven films in one year! It takes me at least a couple of months to cut a film. I shoot a lot of footage for documentaries because it's very difficult to judge what you're going to get. I suppose the story films that he makes are scripted and therefore it's easier to assemble the storyline.

Sorry for this long scribe, almost as long as some of dear Willy's!
Howard-Smith
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Howard-Smith »

With regard to editing, Michael, I quite agree that editing a documentary must be far more difficult and time-consuming than editing a linear story film.
These days I edit very promptly and quickly after each filming session. Let’s take this week for instance. I’ve had two lengthy filming sessions in a park with a couple of actresses for a complex film entitled OFF THE CLIFF, in which a 13 year old girl befriends a homeless woman. Monday: a 150 minute filming session. By Tuesday night I’d completed the editing resulting in a five minute scene. Wednesday: another 120 minute filming session for a scene later in the film. Again, I’d completed the editing and had another scene completed running at 4 minutes. So 9 minutes of running time filmed and edited within 4 days. Once I start editing a scene I usually carry on, with just a few coffee breaks, until the job’s done.
That’s one of the reasons why I’m able to make so many films in a year!
Howard-Smith
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Howard-Smith »

Tim mentions that I have issues with some of the judges’ comments. It’s true, I do, even though I shouldn’t and I try not to. As a regular first round judge I know that the judges do their best to be honest, impartial, fair and objective. But they can’t always get it right. One example of this:
My 4 star thriller PIECES has a dialogue scene at a table outside a cafe. I had to re-record the dialogue for redubbing as the original sound was unusable due to too much extraneous background noise. Problem is, the judges said that the sound for this scene was all wrong because clearly “the redubbed sound was recorded indoors”.
WRONG!! I know full well that recording indoors would be a big mistake for redubbing a scene that takes place outdoors which is why I re-recorded the actresses’ voices IN THE OPEN AIR in the middle of their gardens.
So I couldn’t help but feel a bit irritated!
However, it’s best to put aside any niggles like that and move on.
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TimStannard
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by TimStannard »

Howard-Smith wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:53 am Problem is, the judges said that the sound for this scene was all wrong because clearly “the redubbed sound was recorded indoors”.
WRONG!! I know full well that recording indoors would be a big mistake for redubbing a scene that takes place outdoors which is why I re-recorded the actresses’ voices IN THE OPEN AIR in the middle of their gardens.
So I couldn’t help but feel a bit irritated!
And this is one reason in favour of a judging training and accreditation system. People are often unintentionally thoughtless in their critiques - very often when they are trying to be most helpful. I know I have been and I am aware of it so I try to choose my words very carefully nowadays (Howard may disagree with some of my comments, but I'm sure he knows I have considered them carefully.)

Should a critic just point out what they think is wrong (and right) or try to be helpful? Is it a BIAFF judge's role to try to educate?

One problem with the latter is they may get it wrong and, in the eyes of the film maker, this invalidates ALL their comments. I'd argue that in Howard's example, the judge got it RIGHT - it sounded wrong. What they got wrong was the CAUSE not the EFFECT.

I'd speculate that (in the example above), the critic noticed the audio was somewhat drier than expected and made the assumption it was recorded indoors. In the case of Howard a comment saying the dubbed sound seemed rather dry would be appropriate. However, the same issue when made by an inexperience film maker might well be because it had been recorded indoors and such a comment might genuinely have helped said film maker. The judge was wrong to assume, but trying to be helpful.

Possibly the correct comment here would be along the lines of "the audio (for this section) didn't match the environment in which the scene was filmed - as if it had been recorded indoors - thus clarifying to Howard in what way it sounded wrong, but pointing an inexperienced film maker to the fact one shouldn't try to dub external scenes with internal sounds. Of course any soundie worth his salt could probably match environmental audio anyway, but that's beyond what we're talking about here.

Funnily enough, in one of the first films I submitted to BIAFF, I made the opposite mistake. It was a documentary, of sorts, and I took great care to record the voice over under a duvet. Net result - a v/o which sounded far too dry so I added some reverb. The comment came back that it sounded like it had been recorded in bathroom (that's a fair comment - it didn't say I HAD recorded it in a bathroom).

The same film had some fairly wobbly hand-held footage and I was aware of this. One judge tried to be helpful by suggesting various ways in which I might improvise stabilisation. The thing is, I was already aware of those techniques, (but had neither the facilities nor the opportunity to utilise them) and so the comment came across as patronising - even though I understood it was well-intentioned.

Another film of mine was praised for its green screen. There wasn't any green screen - it was all in camera!

In conclusion, judges should never make assumptions about why something is as it is.

Much more difficult to deal with is when a judge doesn't understand a film/plot (which is usually obvious to the maker who may have been involved in writing, directing and editing). But that's a whole different discussion :)
Tim
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ned c
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by ned c »

The problem for the BIAFF judges is that they have to put their thoughts and conclusions in writing and deliver them to the film maker. There are three parts to their responsibilities; technical critique; artistic critique and selection for screening. In this the BIAFF is unique; other festivals aim for screening selection which may be very dependent on the judge’s preferences. The type of audience also influences the selection process; for BIAFF the audience is amateur film makers and friends of a certain age and background. Not much demand for esoteric impressionistic films or blood up the walls and frenzied Zombies. Putting critiques in writing and delivering is a high risk process. One year in DOCUTAH we sent the judges review sheets to the entrants; bear in mind the majority were professional film makers. The resulting wall of fury from the film makers convinced us never to do it again. Apparently professional documentary film makers take even quite gentle criticism very poorly.

One of the things Michael and I share is that in our film making maturity we have produced BIAFF one star films. In my case “I need a Vacation”; made for the local Guerrilla Fest where it won the Audience Choice award. If you compare the film with the stated criteria for a one star film there really is no match. So what happened? The judges took against the number of zoom shots; quite intentional in this sort of “send up” movie, somehow they missed the point.

The moral is to read the BIAFF judges reports; approve the bits you like and ignore the obvious mistakes they have made.

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by TimStannard »

Just for clarification, BIAFF judges do not decide what will be screened, though the top films will always be screened. Of the others, the Competitions Officer decides on the screening and aims for a balanced programme - a task in which he succeds admirably.
Tim
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Howard-Smith
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Howard-Smith »

In the final analysis, I always hope that my efforts will be appreciated by judges but I realised a long time ago that, despite the judging guidelines, judging isn't an exact science. A film that impresses one particular group of BIAFF judges may well fall flat with another set of judges.
It was a great honour that my film NOBODY ASKED was included in an online festival streamed at 7.00 pm this evening:
THUNDR SHORT FILM SHOWCASE
It was selected as one of the Top 8 films officially selected from all the films submitted to THUNDR during August.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdIiWWdN8Mg
NOBODY ASKED was the 7th of the 8 films.
The results of the competition will be emailed to me within the next 2 or 3 days apparently.
This film was deemed to merit a 2-star award at BIAFF 2020.
Howard-Smith
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Howard-Smith »

I absolutely agree with Tim that David Newman does a fantastic job of selecting a balanced and entertaining programme for BIAFF each and every time.

With regard to the sound for my outdoor cafe scene, the problem is that I don't know what else I could have done with the sound. It had to be redubbed; I re-recorded the words outside; I matched the lip sync exactly; I added a wild track of street noise. If it sounds wrong then it must be down to the inadequacy of my equipment.

I wish I could afford new equipment but I can't. And I'm a one man band, doing absolutely all of the technical aspects of filmmaking myself - directing, photography, sound recording, editing. I don't suppose my films can ever quite match up to the best films which are almost always made by a team. (Bob Lorrimer, Michael Slowe and John Roberts are notable exceptions to this).
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

With the greatest of respect, why do you all cling to this "competition culture" when it is clearly inappropriate for artistic work?

Why can't a "festival" just be a festival? ...a celebration of the diversity of what can be achieved independently.

It is as though you are trying to defend a competition principle here, that is indefensible!

...Is it not time to extend beyond the current audience?
Howard-Smith
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Howard-Smith »

I've kept quiet about 'Competition Culture' until now but, for what it's worth, despite the inevitable flaws in a competition system, I like competitions. I always have, going right back to the Movie Maker Magazine 'Ten Best' competition which I entered many times during the 1970s and 1980s. Competitions give me something to aim for. If and when I ever attain a Diamond Award or a special award for editing or best story or whatever, I will feel that I've achieved something and that whatever film-making talent I have will be recognised at least by somebody. Yes, I feel disappointment when films are rated lower than I think they deserve at BIAFF, but this spurs me on to try even harder next time. I cherish the nine curved glass trophies that are displayed on my cabinet which I've won at the CEMRIAC Spring Movie Festival over the last 6 years. They are something tangible to possess to show achievement and have value for me.
As someone has pointed out in the past, just about every one of the Arts has a competition:
The Academy Awards and Baftas
The Turner Prize
The Booker Prize (or whatever it is now)
The Nobel Prize
The Pulitzer Prize
The Tony Awards
The Olivier Awards
The (Sky) Landscape Artist/Portrait Artist of the Year
etc.
and I'm happy with all that.
Long may the competitions continue.
All the films that either don't 'win' anything or are not even entered for competitions can still be appreciated purely on their own merits.
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Dave Watterson
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Dave Watterson »

Thanks (!) to Covid there was no UNICA Festival and competition this year ...
BUT
11 countries contributed 20-minute film programmes to share online in a non-competitive presentation.

They have been online for several days but if you are very quick you may see them:

https://vimeo.com/showcase/7450374
password #Film#Show#2020

In a small way here is a sample of the kind of event Jameela favours.
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Image

I admire the way you don't seem to be demoralised by hurtful comments or inaccurate assessments, but alas we are not all so thick-skinned.

Above is a freeze frame from a scene of my current project, where both characters are played by yours truly, as indeed were the 3 cameras operated, separate audio recorded, and editing done with multiple key frames on the crop position for the upper video track, and time stretch used to accurately fit each character's listening pauses in their dialogue together. The scene builds to a debate and concludes with an argument between the two characters. There are 50 scenes in total, but this one is the most difficult.

This is certainly stretching my skills. But for me this is not what it is about, rather it is the story I am attempting to tell. Many months have been spent developing the script from a nebular idea that desired expression.

But will this be shown at any "festival"?

As the saying goes: "Once bitten, twice shy!"
Michael Slowe
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Michael Slowe »

Jameela, I wish you luck with this! You really are giving yourself a hard task. It's hard enough making a film just from behind the camera (and computer), but to do all that is amazing. But, that's the point, we can do whatever we please without having to justify anything to anybody else. I hope that we can see the finished article (what year?), do you have a web site?

Nice garden by the way.
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: Anyone out there?

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Michael, thank you for your encouragement, much appreciated.

I do feel strongly that in a world where commercial media is controlled by the few, supporting thought provoking, independent, non-commercial film making is most important. This is the role I envisage for the IAC, which includes but also extends beyond its current focus.

Yes I do have my own website -- spiritual philosophy related to gender sort of stuff.
https://www.northspirit.org/

Uploading to this is how I managed to include a photo in the forum, as images can currently only be posted as external links.

Regarding this current video project I am doing, all the outside shots need to be completed before the weather gets cold, as wearing coats would rather mess up the continuity!!

If it turns out as hoped, then it will probably just go on my own website due to my anxieties.
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