What do you think about this ?

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Willy
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What do you think about this ?

Post by Willy » Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:19 pm

On this forum we have already talked about judiging films many times, but yesterday I had an interesting chat with a photographer and now I would like to know what my English friends think about the things he said.

I talked to him at the interval of a Belgium-Holland Film festival organized by my club. Two Dutch teams of 4 filmmakers competed with two Belgian teams of 4 filmmakers. The atmosphere was wonderful. Maybe the festival was as friendly as the Guernsey one.

500 euros for a door
Also some members of our local club of photographers attended our festival. One told me : "Some weeks ago I was at an exhibition together with a friend. We watched the "pieces of art" hanging on the walls. I was looking at one picture that was not special in my opinion. It was only the photo of a door. I didn't see any artistic things in that picture. My friend said it cost 500 euros. I was quite surprised. I didn't like it at all. He didn't like it either, but he said ... yes, as you see that picture was taken by .... who is a wellknown photographer".

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It reminded me of an other chat some weeks ago at a meeting. One of our friends had been a judge at a local heat and said something very strange about a film that he had judged. He said : "I dind't understand that film at all, but yes, I gave him very good marks because he is such an excellent fillmmaker with a good reputation !".
Willy Van der Linden

ned c
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Post by ned c » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:20 pm

"Art is in the eye of the beholder". In a world where everything is given a value the originator of a work of art is an integral part of the value of the work. During his lifetime you could have bought a van Gogh for the price of a glass of wine, now you would have to sell the vineyard. So the art market is an artifical creation driven by perceived value.

With the arrival of DVDs we can all rent or own the finest films made so the art of film falls outside the traditional art world and we are the beneficiaries. I have bought around 200 films on DVD and tape over the years that for me are great/interesting films and I have watched them all more than once and with the advantage of chapters can study selected pieces.

Talking to many n-c film makers I am surprised how many of them show no great interest in commercial films. For me they are a source of inspiration and technical information. I enjoy the "bonus features" and the commentaries and try and learn from them.

Is a sheep in formaldehyde art? Not for me but maybe for you, it's that damned judging thing again!

Ned C

Roy

As Posted

Post by Roy » Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:20 pm

Hi, What Willy says, reminds me of a discussion I had with the Late Tony Rose who was editor of Movie Maker and one of the final judges of the Ten Best Competition. He was staying with me for a couple of nights prior to judging a local competition.
During the course of a late night drinking and talking session he said all the preliminary judges automatically passed through the various stages of the competition any competitor that was known to be a good filmmaker in previous years. The final judges, him included, looked forward to see the latest work of the winners they had chosen in previous years. Maybe they did eventually pick the right Ten for their winners , but not always according to the avalanche of dissenting letters sent to the magazine. So who knows, maybe a little known judge at the first stage of the competition could of prevented an eventual winner. I am inclined to think that this procedure is carried on today in competitions which use preliminary stages before arriving at a final winner. Great for the Winner and I am always pleased for he or she, even if sometimes I think a better film lost.. But it's not for me. I think so called competitions are divisive and create an elete, which should't exist. I'm all for public shows where there are no winners or losers. Roy

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:37 am

I'm all for public shows where there are no winners or losers.
Me too, Roy, but at present a competition or competitive festival seems the only way to get people - even other amateur film makers - to attend screenings.

As for the "awards go to the known good film makers" issue - this prevalent notion seems to bear little relationship to the facts. Consider 2007's major UK festivals:
o
BIAFF won by an Austrian who had two previous successes in the festival. Of the other top award winners Lester Redding, The Partners, John Astin and Bristol Club have a track record. Most of the rest do not.

COTSWOLD top award to an Austrian with no previous films known here. Of the other winners those with a track record are Terry Mendoza and Lester Redding, Phil Martin, Robert Lorrimer and Altrincham Club. Other winners had only one major win previously.

GUERNSEY most of the top awards went to overseas entrants either unknown in UK or with only one previous film known here. Of the British winners only Altrincham Club really has a track record. Other winners had only one major win previously.

In none of these did major awards go to regular "big name" entrants like Michael Slowe, Ken Wilson, Willy Van der Linden, Urbain Appeltans, Alan Colegrave, Michael Gough, Circle Eight, Channel 7 ...

Dave

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Willy
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Post by Willy » Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:57 am

In none of these did major awards go to regular "big name" entrants like Michael Slowe, Ken Wilson, Willy Van der Linden, Urbain Appeltans, Alan Colegrave, Michael Gough, Circle Eight, Channel 7 ...
No, Dave, you're right, and I enjoyed these festivals more than ever before. It means that the British systems are much better than on the continent.
Willy Van der Linden

Roy

Subject as post

Post by Roy » Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:45 pm

In none of these did major awards go to regular "big name" entrants like Michael Slowe, Ken Wilson, Willy Van der Linden, Urbain Appeltans, Alan Colegrave, Michael Gough, Circle Eight, Channel 7 ...
Just a quick reply Dave. Your stats. are very interesting but nothing to do with what I said. I didn't say that well known filmakers always won. What I did say was that well known film makers were automatically passed thru the early stages of a multi staged competition. In most cases deservedly so. When it comes to the latter stages before the final judging, it may not always be deservedly so. Some early stage judges could ,and some do, take the view that previous winners who have had praise heaped on them by their fellow filmakers and who also happen to be judges from time to time, then these competitors must always make good films, in actual fact well known filmakers can also make turkeys. Note I am not making judgments about the system, It doesn't concern me as I no longer enter these competitions. All I say is what I have been told in the past and WHAT HAS BEEN REPEATED TO ME VERY RECENTLY BY AN EARLY STAGE JUDGE in a national competition. I would say to Filmakers who go pot hunting, dont blame the judges if your film gets nowhere, most of the judges would't have seen your film. How the final judges can declare a winner as the best in the competition I don't know considering they have not seen most of the entries. I appreciate that it is not practible for the same judges to see all the entries, but that is no excuse for some people to go into denial when someone gives a view they can't agree with. Well Good luck to all the winners, both those who win on merit, and those who win by luck. It means nothing to the outside world. Some of the biggest box office flop in the commercial cinema are those which have been praised to the hilt by critics,who are in effect, judges. Roy

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:02 pm

Hi Roy,

You are right - sorry - I did not deal with the point you raised but got a bee out of my bonnet. SoCo News has had editorials on this general topic of "famous names" for the last two issues and I don't see the evidence for it.

But you were specifically referring to pre-selection judges.

They can often be the weak point in any competition. Faced with something unfamiliar they may pass it simply because they don't understand it ... or fail it for the same reason. They tend to be happier dealing with the familiar.

It can happen that pre-selection panellists at an international festival have seldom seen anything outside their own club, let alone attended a national or international festival. That is not to put them down. They work hard, generally do a good job and are often good critics. They simply lack experience of a range of work.

Final judges can, of course, only work with what they are given. And yes, I have known times when they disagree with the pre-selection team. On a couple of occasions they have demanded to see something they knew from elsewhere which had not been passed by the pre-selection team and it has done well. On a few occasions they have "sent something back" - in effect demoted it one level of award.

Amateur movies average about 11 minutes each. Add a 4 minute pause to each film for writing notes etc.

BIAFF has around 250 entries a year - about 63 hours.
Guernsey 150 - about 38 hours.
the Cotswold around 140 - about 35 hours.
and
the Festival of Nations 950 entries - about 238 hours!!!

Realistically a final judging panel can only deal with 30 - 35 films in a day (8 or 9 hours). BIAFF has its final team working for two days or more. Guernsey and Cotswold have them for one day. Festival of Nations has them for a week.

It is not perfect.


Dave

ned c
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Post by ned c » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:29 pm

The real test for judging would be to have panels made up of film knowledgeable people across a wide age range who have no connection with the n-c (amateur) world. One can imagine the mayhem this would cause as films would, I suspect, be judged in a completely different way.

I once heard of a Festival that invited a professional film critic to be a judge and (s)he just panned everything, is this an urban myth or did it really happen?

ned c

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:31 am

I don't know a specific case of a film critic as judge but have known of UK regional festivals and national festivals where people working in the industry have been involved and their comments had to be tactfully "lost" by the organisers.

In the industry - as in many of the arts - criticism is hard and short. We tend to mollycoddle entrants because we see it as our job to encourage film making of all kinds, not just to encourage the very best.

Dave

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Post by Brian Saberton » Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:32 am

Speaking as someone who has done some judging at various levels my reasons for doing this are to encourage people to improve their film making and to make more films. In all instances where I have been involved in first round judging all films submitted have been viewed in their entirity. Of course we all have different tastes in film and it is inevitable that there will be occasions when the audience will disagree with the judges selection but It would be a poor world if we all liked the same thing. Also, a film that does well in one competition won't necessarily achieve the same degree of success in another because it depends so much on the quality of the other films in that particular contest.

Judging arouses so much passion and judges can be subject to so much criticism I sometimes wonder if it's worth doing at all, but then I think of the film submitted by a tentative newcomer and the hope that a few words of constructive suggestions and encouragement from the judge will nurture a future talent. That's what makes it worthwhile.
Brian Saberton

Roy

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Post by Roy » Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:00 pm

I wonder if soft pedalling on critism encourages mediocrity. If organisers of big competitions want professionals to judge their competitions they should not supress the judgments. I think that amateurs should be judged by amateurs because outside of the amateur cosy little world, there lurks another world of viewers who are not so forgiving. Roy

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Post by Dave Watterson » Wed Nov 07, 2007 11:50 pm

You are right on both counts, Roy.

Some festivals want the kudos of having a judge who is a professional film or tv person. Many such people are very perceptive and have lots of experience of what works, what does not and why. They tend, however, to express themselves a bit too forcefully or brusquely for comfort.

Other events almost seem to encourage bland comments and soothing noises from the judges. They want to keep their entrants happy so they invite fellow amateurs who are sympathetic - perhaps too much so.

Luckily there are many festivals and competitions where the organiser wants and encourages real criticism but couched in relatively gentle language. One competition manager usually reminds his judges that "to many film makers a movie is their baby ... speak harshly about it at your peril!"

You can find judges from professional or amateur ranks - the trick is to find people who can say what needs to be said without being - or appearing to be - offensive. That way you can help people get beyond mediocrity.

Dave

Roy

post subject

Post by Roy » Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:13 am

Hi Dave, I think you are the first person ever to agree with me on this subject. I would say however before leaving the subject that surely people who spend money to enter national and international competitions must think in their own minds that they have a chance of winning. In that case they should be grateful to receive professional comments however harsh. You have to be cruel to be kind. Perhaps the organisers are more concerned about getting the poor losers to enter again next year and so swell the coffers and, so in a way encouraging
mediocracy. If the filmaker wants to continue his losing ways by being like an ostrich, then he should carry on with his entries into his club competitions and not venture into the national events. In the words of the once famous song Bless 'em all, the good, the bad, and the inbetweens. Roy

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