The IAC Star Ratings

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Ken Wilson
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Ken Wilson »

To make myself clearer; I know that Judging is a thankless task! I have done it many, many, times! I am also not suggesting that anyone is being paid one penny for doing it. Volunteers are needed and without the freely given time of those who organise an event, view, check and categorise the movies (the competition officer) arrange for the judging sessions and all the rest; there would be no event at all. At our own (P4) festival show and the competitions associated with it, most of this falls on myself and my wife. Rarely do we get any thanks for doing it, only criticism. So why am I making these points about BIAFF?
As a film maker (competitor) and also a judge/ adjudicator, I realise that it is all very difficult a task and no system can ever be totally fair and accurate. However, my point is, that the meanings of each level in the new star system are clearly not fully understood my the various groups of judges. If we are going to have an annual competition, shouldn`t everything possible be done to make the system as fair as possible?
Ned said:
I don't think we should take judging too seriously; it is completely subjective and essentially a bit of fun and an opportunity to have some of our films reach an audience.
I have never been much into sports. My passion is making and watching movies. It is not a hobby, which to me suggests something to fill in your time, like stamp collecting. Movies are my passion. So try telling a football supporter when a decision by the referee means your team has lost that it`s just a game! Sorry but judging is not just a bit of fun. If that`s what it is, why bother at all?
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Dave Watterson
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

As I understand it the philosophy behind the IAC Competition is that it operates in two parts:
1. Grading
2. Competition

Grading
Every film entered is assigned to one of several "quality bands" - it does not matter if they are called blue/bronze/silver or 1-star, 2-star or commended/highly commended. Their purpose is to give movie makers a general idea of how well they are doing. Generally they should move up through the "quality bands" over time as their technique and ideas improve. I regard this as part of IAC's education function.

Competition
The films in the top "quality band" go to a final jury for the real competition ... the time when the best movies battle it out. The jury can give special awards (Diamonds) and a number of specific prizes for Editing, Acting, Best Club entry, Best youth entry and so on.

So I agree that it is very important for those doing the Grading to have a very clear idea of what each "quality banding" should include. Personally I do not think that has been the case for a few years. Competition Managers make efforts to establish the standards but in my humble opinion they have not completely succeeded. Make no mistake - the gradings for the last few years have generally been fair, but there have been more anomalies than I would like.

-Dave
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Willy
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

Dave Watterson wrote:As I understand it the philosophy behind the IAC Competition is that it operates in two parts:
1. Grading
2. Competition ...

Make no mistake - the gradings for the last few years have generally been fair, but there have been more anomalies than I would like.
-Dave
Ned is right !
I agree with everything, Ken. I understand what you mean. I have the impression that some friends on this forum prefer categories. I am not going to repeat what Ned Cordery has said. He's quite right. Some friends also find gold, silver and bronze for the first, second and third in each category very logical. I wonder what you think about this, Dave, because you are a prominent judge all over Europe and in the UK. I wonder how many films you have already seen and evaluated. That must be impressive. I also find your judges' comments very impressive and fascinating which does not mean that I always agree with everything, but I am sure that you do not always agree with me. Imagine that we all have the same opinion. Life would be very boring. Ken, Ned and I, and maybe also the other ones, have also been asked to judge movies in festivals and competitions, but I am sure that you know the systems in other countries better than we do.

Preferences
One thing is as plain as a pikestaff : an ideal system does not exist. There will always be criticism. However, non-commercial filmmakers must always be encouraged to take part in our festivals. That's the most essential thing. Me too, I am sure that the gradings have generally been fair at BIAFF, but as you told us there have been many anomalies. Maybe it's also because our festivals are a hotch potch of all genres of films. I am sure that every judge has preferences. Judge X prefers fiction films. Judge Y prefers documentaries. This has an effect on the grades. That's human. By using different categories these anomalies can be avoided more or less, I think.

To be honest : I myself give preference to fiction films because they require more creativity, though I have made lots of documentaries and traveloques myself. The last five years, however, my documentaries are dramatized. I enjoy making such films.
Willy Van der Linden
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Dave Watterson
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

You bet we all have differences ... I treasure the arguments I have had with many contributors to the forum - in private more than in public - about films and film-making. So long as we remain friends, healthy discussion of differences is great. It helps define us: each to the other.

I'm against categories.

I understand the point being made, but where do you stop? A wildlife documentary about butterflies is a far different thing than a documentary about narrow-gauge railways. A study of how political change impacts a third-world country is not closely similar to a personal story of mountain-climbing. Non-realistic forms in plasticine animated to music is not the same as a sequence of hand-drawn stills to rhymed narrative or puppet plays. Do we split holiday films according to the destinations? As for drama - how different are a romantic monologue, a club comedy, a tale of child-murder and a farce with a hundred dentists pursuing a patient?

How do you categorise a dramatised documentary like "Insect Man", "Splendid People" which has three main subjects intertwined, "Beyond the Clouds" a meditation on bereavement or "A Rather Different Year"?

The only general competition I have been involved in, which tried to separate categories and "judge like with like" was the Cotswold Festival. One year the final judges saw all the comedies first thing in the morning, one after another. Late in the afternoon we were in the documentaries and had three films about tree frogs one after the other. Aaaargh! That was never repeated.

In France for the FIFA Festival I was on a jury for wildlife films - which was interesting as much for the specialist knowledge of fellow-jury-members as the films. That festival is mainly for professionals but has an amateur section. The pro stuff was good but began to seem pedestrian. The variety in the amateur section was a blessed relief for all of us. In Belgium I was on the jury for the late, lamented De Drake Fiction Film Festival ... which was great! We had all sorts of drama: small and personal, grand farce, romantic drama, costume drama, science-fiction, children's drama and so on.

Sorry, guys, it all sounds like special pleading. ("Give me a category for personal memoirs about growing up in Little Puddleton as the only black child in the family of twelve with the local poacher as father" and I'll win!")

Dave
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billyfromConsett
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by billyfromConsett »

For me I'm persuaded that most of us won't be happy with the awards we receive. Receiving comments and even having a gentle re-edit on occasions is good for me.
But I won't take this film-making business more seriously than football - to me it's a hobby, abeit an expensive one.
ned c
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by ned c »

I believe that categorisation by genre is much better than just an open free for all. Yes butterflys v railways is not easy but they are both dealing with a "real life" situation and share many basic similarities that make them very different from narrative, experimenatal or animation films. Obviously it is possible to sub-categroise to absurdity, "documentaries about snails made on Wednesdays" comes to mind; but some degree of categorisation is essential, I believe.

My point about judging is that there is a real risk in taking awards and judges comments too seriously. The classic example is of David Lean who, after being personally slaughtered by the New York critics circle for "Ryan's Daughter" did not make another film for 13 years. OK, not all attributable to the NY critics but it is agreed that they were a major factor in his loss of enthusiasm for large scale movie making. I personally think that "Ryan's Daughter" whilst not his best work has stood up quite well.

I make n-c movies for two reasons; I enjoy the creative process and I hope that my work will reach an audience and I will get some feed back from them. In the case of documentaries that they will make people think, perhaps even respond. Festivals, judges and awards are a part of this process and it's nice to have "high honors" but this is not why I do it.

I take my hat off to those Festivals that provide detailed judges comments, even where I don't agree with them I find them stimulating.

I agree with Ken that film making is our passion (however not sure the stamp collectors see their activity in a different light); but, film is an ART form, an act of creativity subject to the different interpretations of creators and audience and that is one of the great attractions.

ned c
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Willy
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

ned c wrote:I believe that categorisation by genre is much better than just an open free for all. Yes butterflys v railways is not easy ...
ned c
I appreciate your opinion, Dave. I understand what you mean. You are right. Watching 4 or 5 travelogues one after an other is perhaps not so enjoyable than watching different genres of films. However, just like Ned and some other forum-friends I find categorisation more logical.

At school we learnt mathematics. Algebra and geometry are different forms of maths. Take languages : French, Italian, Chinese, English are different languages. Biology and physics come under science. But we speak of science teachers, language teachers and maths teachers. You have a gift for mathematics or you have a gift for languages. It's also like that in filmmaking. Every filmmaker has preferences.

I also accept that some friends prefer other hobbies. I remember you are a real magpie, Billy, a real Newcastle fan. Soccer was my passion when I was a teenager. I played football three times a week until I became a bench warmer. After some time the bench had become too hot and I stopped playing football, also because I had to study very hard at that time.

Perhaps it's interesting, Dave, that we try something else. Now I have decided to make a documentary about the Yorkshire Dales. Again something with actors. I have just started to prepare the film. It always takes some years to finish such a film. But I sometimes wonder if the audience of festivals will still enjoy my style after some time. This time it is difficult to get into my stride. I feel it.

I make films for fun, but I also hope that the audience enjoy my films. Ned has given the example of a professional filmmaker who didn't make films for 13 years. Maybe the same is happening to Jan Baca. Be sure, Ned, I will take part in AMPS again, but not with my newest film because again it's one about the War. Your American friends would say : there he is again. The regulars of film festivals like John Astin, Ken Wilson, Michael Slowe etc... are in the same boat. From time to time I jump into the water. At this moment I'm trying to make a short fiction film. It's a challenge. I'm anxious to know what my friends will think about it.
Willy Van der Linden
Brian Saberton
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Brian Saberton »

Star ratings were good enough for the Ten Best so I can't see what's wrong with using a similar system for BIAFF. Personally I find the ratings to be quite useful and having served on the judging panels in the first year they were used at BIAFF I found the process to be relatively straightforward and easier to use than the old Blue, silver etc. The competition officer provided written guidelines for the judges and in a plenary session on the Friday evening we were coached in the new system before viewing and discussing selected entries to determine a common standard of assessment. I don't agree with the proposition that films should be sub-divided into categories. I don't suppose that any system will ever be perfect but I know that my fellow judges took great care over their consideration of the films we were asked to view; it was certainly much more than a bit of fun. Anyone who puts a film into a competition be they beginner or advanced worker deserves to have their work assessed to the highest standards.
Brian Saberton
Ken Wilson
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Ken Wilson »

There has been a lot of sense talked on this thread from Ned and Willy.
Ned said:

I believe that categorisation by genre is much better than just an open free for all. Yes butterflys v railways is not easy but they are both dealing with a "real life" situation and share many basic similarities that make them very different from narrative, experimenatal or animation films. Obviously it is possible to sub-categroise to absurdity, "documentaries about snails made on Wednesdays" comes to mind; but some degree of categorisation is essential, I believe.

The above clarified an important point and countered Dave`s drift into silliness. Of course I could have suggested a similarly ridiculous angle: "The Best film made by a one legged man by the name of Steve" or some such thing, but I thought this was a serious discussion.
I remember some other item on the forum some weeks ago where it was suggested that the IAC executive took no regard of comments which were made on here. If we are going to mock what I think is an important area of discussion, there is little wonder if this were true.
It is clear that we all have different viewpoints and our outlook on movies is quite varied. To Billy it is a hobby. As I said, it`s much more than that to me. At many of the club shows where we visit, I have been amazed at how many people take an interest in film making and make it a hobby in their retirement. It`s like: "Well now I`m retired I need a new interest." Good for them too. But I was interested in film making by about 10 years old and though there have been peaks and troughs over the years, this interest has always remained and is now stronger than ever. One way or another it has been part of my life for about 47 years.
So I agree that placing films in categories is a good idea. In any case, this is done already in many competitions. Films to a set theme or to a certain time limit.
A ONE MINUTE film competition or a FIVE MINUTE film competition for example.
As Brian has said, nothing wrong with calling them STARS or anything else, but I remain convinced that not all judges were "singing from the same song sheet (list.)
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Dave Watterson
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

I apologise if my attempt at humour in considering film categories appeared to mock films or film-makers. My intention was only to point out that categorisation may not be so helpful as it seems at first glance.

I should remind all of you that I am not a member of IAC Council - but I hope that those who are Council Members and who read the forum accept that in an informal discussion like this we sometimes make jokes. These should not be seen as reducing the seriousness of the points being made.

Dave the contrite.
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Stephen
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Stephen »

Excellent Dave ...

Forums on the internet must be left to allow the true voice of contributors, without fear of ridicule or likewise.

If members of a council or official body wish voice their opinion, great, put a disclaimer in the post to that effect, it is their opinion only...

this is a great place to be, there are some really friendly peeps here and a lot can be learned and shared.

the more peeps get involved the better the forum will be for all.

I still find it incredible the ratio of active posters to lurkers on this forum !!!!!
Stephen

Film making is not a matter of Life and Death
It's much more important than that.
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billyfromConsett
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by billyfromConsett »

Long live Dave's posts. Surely humour has a place.

A hobby
I do feel that film-making for most of us is a hobby/past-time/creative interest. If I turned it into my profession to feed and cloth the family, it would cease to be fun. And fun is the bottom line. It doesn't mean that I would be happy for to pay up for disappointment in fee charged competitions mind. If that was the case I'd question whether I'd continue to support those competitions.

I might call it my hobby but let's not belittle that point. I aim for good standards - I want to achieve quality and professional looking results. I can only give it so much time - a family need things too.

Senior film-makers who have put huge amounts of time/money/effort into film-making for many years are due the respect they've deserved.
It's probably the case though that this thread doesn't get us many brownie points with our top brass. But an open forum is here for general discussion, not just censored chat. Maybe disgruntlement re the star rating system will be reported on. It's only my opinion, and may not sound like I'm talking sense - I'm sad to hear that - But I'd take any genuine issues I've got directly to council.

The Lurkers
The ratio of active posting to just looking is pretty huge. I can't explain it. At least people find it worth looking at.
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Willy
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

Dave Watterson wrote:I apologise if my attempt at humour in considering film categories appeared to mock films or film-makers.

Categorisation or I don't take part in BIAFF anymore ! (joke)

Yesterday I was at the proclamation ceremony of our regional competition. My club did quite well. We won two gold medals, one in the category experimental and one in the category reportage films. Also one silver in the category fiction films.
(not a joke).

The overall winner was a duo : Tony Jacobs and Gerrit Van Caekenberghe. They made a film about a homosexual boy whose father was an ambitious member of a Flemish National Front party. Maybe you remember that I told you that this man really passed away some months ago. It gave a strange feeling to see Jef back. I myself played a supporting role in the film. Tony Jacobs made the films "Yellow Tulips" and "Career" some years ago. He was very successful at BIAFF. It's possible that Tony and his co-producer Gerrit will take part in BIAFF again next year. I already keep my fingers crossed for them to win a gold medal in the category fiction films at BIAFF.

Willy (serious, but teasing)
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