Judges and their credibility

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
Brian Saberton
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Brian Saberton » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:10 am

Everyone has to start somewhere and for the majority of newcomers to film-making my guess is that they will make holiday or family films. At some point the more enthusiastic will think about joining a club and go on to entering club competitions. Encouraged (hopefully) by favourable reaction to their work they might then think about entering BIAFF or other national/international competitions to see how they get on. This is the point where they will either be encouraged to advance into making something a bit more adventurous or be put off film-making entirely. I've seen and judged many a holiday film in numerous competitions but I wouldn't put them down just because they are holiday films as I would hate to think that I had deterred anyone from making movies. After all, it's something we do for fun - isn't it? I take each movie as something new and I don't care how many times I see places I've seen before - the author of the film doesn't know that, and to them that film will be their personal pride and joy. Quite often there will be a spark of talent, perhaps in the photography, maybe the editing or sometimes the treatment and that is one of the joys of judging - to see some potential that can be encouraged. So please, let's not be too down on holiday or family films - like I say, everyone has to start somewhere.
Brian Saberton

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Mike Shaw
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Mike Shaw » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:54 am

I agree wholeheartedly with that. I've seen holiday films (at the club) which the makers have considered unworthy of entering into a competition - and yet their movie would outperform many so called documentaries. Refreshingly simple, objective, and above all - entertaining, demonstrating creativeness and skill in both shooting and editing.

Too much emphasis, IMO, on the quality of the image ("look - you can see the legs on that bee on that tree over there...") rather than the quality of the shoot and the edit.

Michael Slowe
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Michael Slowe » Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:33 pm

Couldn't agree more Mike. It's the artistic quality that counts, not the technical skill. Almost anybody can produce good pictures and audio but it all hangs on what they do with it.

Chris Abram
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Chris Abram » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:46 am

Well I certainly started something when I began this topic and I have been fascinated to watch how the subject has evolved.
But guess where we are now after decimating several other topics? Back at travel and holiday videos!
Whatever has been said I will still carry on making my documentaries and travel videos. Why, because I do them for my own enjoyment. If they get entered into any competitions, club or otherwise, it is to see how my current filmaking is standing up against others.
Over the last two years I have been researching and filming a documentary but it could also be classed as a travel video, personally I do not care as long as people keep buying my heritage dvd's. Now, does that put me in the category of being a professional?

I think too much emphasis is given to categorising everything. I might not win major competitions but, as this began the whole discussion, "certain judges might not love my efforts", I seem to please my public judging by the number of requests I get to let them know when my next video will be coming out.
I love my researching, the digging out of old films which haven't seen the light of day for decades, the meeting of local historians who have spent a lifetime exploring their village and who should be holders of a Masters degree in village heritage, the getting permission to film in places which are normally out of bounds, the thrill of getting back home to see that you have found your "shot in a million", or the meeting of a veteran dog walker who, when you tell him what you are doing says," No I'm sorry but the main London to Carlisle Turnpike road is not this one that you are filming. It was that track over there!" Or simply sitting on a hilltop overlooking Morecambe Bay at sunset and watching the hundreds of thousands of waders, seabirds or geese migrating from Russia, setting down on the marshes and sandflats for their evening meal.
I make my programmes for ME and on the way hope to impart a little pleasure and knowledge to those wise enough to look at my programme or to invite me to give a talk to their group or society. This is my (all consuming) hobby, designed to present me with challenges in my old age to stop me going senile, which makes me feel good and which gives me ultimate pleasure and satisfaction when I actually manage to get to the end of the film.
I don't make the films to satisfy the whims and foibles of judges. I don't care whether certain organisations or film competitions here or abroad operate judging cartels as to why a member of their organisation should or should not win. I prefer the independant and independently minded individual judge who can assess a film on its merit, not on what is fashionable or in vogue this year. I make films because I ENJOY it and too many people forget that this should be the main reason for what is, for most people, a very enjoyable your hobby.
Kind regards
Chris Abram

Brian Saberton
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Brian Saberton » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:17 pm

Well said Chris.
Brian Saberton

col lamb
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by col lamb » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:05 pm

Chris

Well put.

I have certainly enjoyed seeing your movies in the North West, long may you continue

Col Lamb
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Michael Slowe
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Michael Slowe » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:08 am

Chris's last post was the most sensible in the whole thread. Of course we make films for enjoyment (and that includes even the big name professionals) and anyone who doesn't enjoy the satisfaction from making them is probably doing a lousy job. Speaking personally, I enter films in competitions and festivals in order to gain wider circulation for my productions. Prizes are naturally a welcome bonus, if only as confirmation that one is on the right track, but by no means should they be regarded as definitive. Film viewing is probably the most subjective activity imaginable, everyone re acts in different ways to art (and we should regard ourselves as artists) and all this anguish over judges and judging is misplaced in my view. Sorry to go back to Col Lamb's original complaint but he is just plain wrong.

By the way Chris, I loved your Morecombe Bay film, it's as far from a boring holiday documentary as you could imagine, you sell yourself short.

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Willy
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Willy » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:40 pm

Michael Slowe wrote:Chris's last post was the most sensible in the whole thread. Of course we make films for enjoyment (and that includes even the big name professionals) and anyone who doesn't enjoy the satisfaction from making them is probably doing a lousy job. .
Yes, I also appreciated Chris's last message.
In his first message he said "I am in a shock ..." but also he also told us how much he had enjoyed making his film.

I am a Streber !
I think that almost eveybody who said something in this thread agrees that we make films for fun. On the other hand ... festivals are competitions. It means that we also want to compete. We must not be hypocrites either. As Michael told us : a good result is a bonus, a sign of appreciation.

I myself enjoy making trips on my bike (I should do it more !). If I take part in a race (=competition) then I do it for fun, but also to have a good result. I would be very proud if I could win the Tour de France ! We must not be ashamed to say that we are also Strebers or that we are even eager to win. It is only wrong when it degenarates into a kind of sickness. Unfortunately this happens from time to time. Perhaps more on the continent than in Britain. Jealousy is such a phenomenon. I don't think I suffer from it because in the course of the last ten years I encouraged numerous excellent Belgian filmmakers to take part in British festivals (to beat the Brits ! ). (= joking). I "created" my own competitors sometimes. I sent them information. I even sponsored some (clubmates) and translated their films.

It is good that there is some discussion.
However, it is also good that there is some discussion. That's what a forum is for. If everybody would have the same opinion, life would be very boring. The ones who don't write anything, don't write anything wrong. That's the advantage of not writing something.

One moment I was a bit surprised when one of our forum-friends said about me : "Just a thought ... if Willy is not against documentaries at international festivals (which means he probably is !) ..." I think that about 80 % of my films are documentaries or travelogues and every year I have at least three entries for BIAFF and Guernsey. I love diversity at festivals, but to be honest I find that it is a pity that not more fiction films are shown by real hobbyists. Ken Wilson is doing his utmost to stimulate it. Please, enter his festival ! If I could, I would, but I am a foreigner ! On the continent we have the same phenomenon. Only the Dutch seem to make more fiction fillms. The last few years I have made all kinds of films and I feel that you need more sense of creativity when making a story. Of course if you try to find out the story for your film yourself. Maybe this thought is controversial.

Things like this are a dime a dozen.
I also remember what Brian said. We must encourage friends who make holiday films. You always start with something. Indeed, perhaps later they can make something more artistic and with more creativity. There is only one fear : beginners having made holiday films must not be disillusioned or discouraged by their first results at festivals. In my former club holiday filmmakers often said : "I do not want to take part in the regional competion because I have no chance to have a good result". Once a judge had written about a clubmate's film : "Your film ? ... Things like that are a dime a dozen (two a penny)." Of course my friend was very disappointed.
Willy Van der Linden

Brian Saberton
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Brian Saberton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:31 pm

I came across this quote today in Jack Cardiff's autobiography "Magic Hour". Whilst discussing the making of "A Matter of Life and Death" Jack Cardiff asked Michael Powell if he made films for all types of audiences or just for himself. Michael Powell shook his head vigorously and replied "I make films for myself. What I express I hope most people will understand. For the rest, well, that's their problem."
Brian Saberton

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Willy
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Willy » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:56 pm

Brian Saberton wrote: Michael Powell shook his head vigorously and replied "I make films for myself. What I express I hope most people will understand. For the rest, well, that's their problem."


Of course, in the first place we make films for ourselves. That's clear. I have always enjoyed making all sorts of films. It already happened that friends asked me : "Can't you make a film about my region ?" I have already said "yes", but only when I loved that region and also to learn more about it. But to be honest I am also happy when also other people enjoy my films.

In The CinemaSource.com I read the following thing said by Steven Spielberg : "Just make the kind of movies (people) want to see." It seems reasonable enough, hopefully this summer will provide a much need box office boost. ... Of course, we are not Steven Spielbergs. We are hobbyists. The larger the audience the better for Steven Spielberg.
Willy Van der Linden

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