YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

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: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Brian Saberton » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:54 pm

Congratulations John on your well deserved success with your terrific film "Thinking Time" which I have just enjoyed watching. I can't wait to see it on the big screen at BIAFF and I agree with Michael that it will go down a storm at the Festival.
Brian Saberton

Jill Lampert
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Jill Lampert » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:30 pm

So, without knowing whether this could apply to others, I would like to say 'thank you' to the judges who said what they thought about the film but didn't make comments without knowledge of the circumstances.
If any of this rings a bell with anyone it's perhaps because I have vociferously campaigned about this in my region, and I really hope that the improvement continues.
Peter, I'm not from your region, so what you say doesn't ring any bells - but I'm very interested in your thoughts on this subject. Please could you say a bit more about it? I'm not sure that I understand. Could you give examples of the sort of comments from judges that are acceptable/helpful ? And examples of what sort are unacceptable/resented ? When I enter films in competitions I like the judges to tell me as much as possible about what they liked/didn't like about my film and how they think I could improve my film. I can always ignore what they say if I don't agree with it, but I always want to learn, and comments from anyone who's watched my films feel worth thinking about. Honest feedback is hard to come by. So as a judge I tend to give honest feedback to the best of my ability and hope that's what film makers want. But it's hard to know whether that really is what other people want. I hope that they will (as I do) ignore anything I say if they don't agree with it.

John, congratulations on your well deserved awards for your stunning film. I'm so glad that you entered it in BIAFF so that now everyone else can enjoy it.

NB I did judge at BIAFF this year, but I didn't judge either Peter or John's films at BIAFF!

Jill

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John Roberts
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by John Roberts » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:13 pm

Thank you Brian and Jill :D

Personally, I've always welcomed honest, constructive feedback but sometimes found it hard to come by at inter-club level. One of the reasons I didn't make films for my club for 15 years was because of the dismissive comments I had received and heard, and I began to wonder what was the point of spending so much time producing something to be proud of for it to be dismissed by a judge because they didn't like one particular aspect of it. I once saw a film presented by a member of my club, after which the judge simply said "I don't like modern music" and moved on.

However, without wanting to divert this thread too much, I have to thank Jill's helpful and constructive comments about 'Thinking Time' at last year's South Yorkshire Competition, which prompted me to re-visit it and make some changes. Nine times out of ten a fresh pair of experienced eyes can spot something amiss, especially after viewing and reviewing our films countless times. It's easy to pixel peep but sometimes more difficult to keep focused on the overall picture!

I too agree that grading and constructive opinions are required, otherwise, for me, there is nothing to aim for and I might as well watch my films at home. I'm always interested in feedback and I possess the desire to constantly improve my work through comments of far more experienced film-makers than I :)

John

Michael Slowe
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Michael Slowe » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:23 pm

Peter, I think that in this instance, when the judges say they would have liked more sparkle, they don't mean it literally. It's not the lighting that they are looking for but possibly a little ingenuity in the telling of the story, that indefinable 'extra' that catches the imagination. It's difficult to be precise but when you see it in a film you know that it's there. Actually, having seen the film you refer to I don't see how you could have presented your subject very differently, as we have discussed.

The circumstances around the production are of no concern whatsoever for the judges. They are asked to view a piece of work and comment on it. If it had to be shot in pitch dark standing on one leg that, as far as their remit goes, is irrelevant. Many people get confused by this aspect of film judgement, particularly those who go through hell itself to make their film!

Bob Lorrimer
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Bob Lorrimer » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:54 pm

I rather agree with Michael, Peter.....Judge's can only comment on what they see. How a film is made, whether it be shot in a single day or over two years in a rain forest is an irrelevance. A film either entertains, intrigues and 'holds' the attention of the audience or it does not.

I am astonished at how closed we ALL are to the criticism of Judging Panels (and I include myself). I suspect that the problem lies in the psychology of 'self '.

IE: "I made this film, I made the decisions, I created the edit and therefore, as I am generally right in my choices, my finished product must be a Winner!" (simples).

Of course, We think nothing of castigating the efforts of our fellow Directors when it comes to a comparison between their films and our own. It's the less admirable part of human nature.

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Willy
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Willy » Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:20 pm

First of all, congratulations to you, Bob! Once again your results are fantastic. Do you still remember that we met at Petit Bôt on the isle of Guernsey? You were the only man on the beach of that little bay. You had just done some camera work. You showed me the coin. Etc...

Now you said : "A film either entertains, intrigues and "holds" the attention of the audience or it does not." Of course you are right, Bob, but it also means that the filmmaker must be lucky.

Showing my documentaries I always hope that the audience and the judges have a wide interest. I always hope they have some cultural background. I hope you don't find it haughty when I am saying this. I will try to explain better.

Imagine you have made a film about George Orwell and his allegorical novel "Animal Farm" which reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution 1917.
If the audience is not interested in literature and history it is very difficult to draw their attention from the beginning till the end of your film.

Once I made a film about the European Schools. A Belgian judge said : "I hate those students being spoilt all the time". I got bad marks for my film. "Schola Europaea Symphony" was very successful at other festivals.

I just wanted to show how spoilt those students were, but I also knew that the judge tried to become a teacher himself in "prehistoric times" but he failed. Now he hates education. He hates teachers.

Sometimes people say about my films : "There he is again with a British film! I don't like his films anymore. How petty he is!" I am not exaggerating you know. I have a written evidence. Of course I don't mlnd. I enjoy making those films.

So in other words it shows again how subjective everything is. I must say that I am very happy with the criticism on my films by the BIAFF-judges. I always appreciate their comments. They always show great expertise in the field of filmmaking (technical aspects and contents.) Nobody knows it all. Filmmaking is not an exact science, a science capabable of accarute quantitative expression.
Willy Van der Linden

Michael Slowe
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Michael Slowe » Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:47 pm

Willy, first of all may I say how sorry I am that you are not able to attend this year's BIAFF, I was looking forward to a conversation with you, I wish you well.

Your comments about keeping audiences interested in a documentary if the subject is 'not their bag' is topical as far as I'm concerned. My latest documentary features a classical musician and his career, which you might think, would bore the pants off people not familiar with classical music. I was nervous when I showed it to a group of youngsters and was surprised (and gratified) that they liked it and were interested. Likewise other audiences who were not particularly keen or interested in music, when asked if there is too much music in the film, invariably said no.

So, the subject of a documentary need not appeal only to those who know about it so never be put off making a film on almost anything, you can be surprised as I was!

Bob Lorrimer
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Bob Lorrimer » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:17 am

Hi Willy and I can certainly remember You watching me run around Petit Bot Bay beach - it must have been quite a joyful moment for you all!

ROCK BOTTOM has gone on to have an astonishing 56,000 views on VIMEO........although that is no indication that the Viewers watch it to the end!

Are your films on Vimeo? Perhaps you could post a link to us all.

***

I agree entirely with your comments and I must be more 'open' to the works of others. A subject matter which is not normally our point of Interest can still make for a diverting movie when produced by a capable Director.

I look forward to seeing Michael's film and other's at Chesterfield.

A bientot,

Bob

Peter Copestake
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Peter Copestake » Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:28 pm

Sorry to delay responding, Jill, and thank you for asking for more detail. I'm sorry I wasn't clear. Thank you too, Michael - response below.

To start I'll quote from a short article I was asked to write for our region's newsletter as I hope it explains where I am coming from.

"To make a documentary takes different skills from those needed for a drama. The first needs a calm person who will adapt very quickly to a given situation and to the individual being filmed, being able to draw them out without imposing their own personality. There may be only one opportunity to take a shot.

The drama requires a strong personality who can control cast and crew and can set up a situation to their own requirements, being generally able to take time to make sure all is as they wish before shooting and can re-shoot if necessary, keeping the others calm."

I use the term 'documentary' in the sense of recording real events or people, not the sort of "Countryfile" presentation where the scene has obviously been set up. I include 'reality' - public happenings where one just hopes one's position will cover the action.

Comments I haven't appreciated include "... a pity we didn't hear the vintage (horn) gramophone." They did! but with a scarcely used 78 the sound was so good they didn't hear the expected clicks. They probably had never heard such a quality model.
"You should have used a tripod; there seemed to be enough room for one." No there wasn't, which is why I'd left it at the door. This sequence (of one of the last Greek sheep bell makers) was taken from a half-sitting position on a windowsill with a 20 foot drop behind with an ultra-wide-angle lens because some of the action was only 3 feet from me and my feet were at risk of being burnt by red-hot metal. I was credited with having "chosen a character" with a particularly striking face. His was the only workshop in the town. One cannot choose the characters for documentaries. What? Fly to Greece and then say 'I don't like the look of the man'!
Criticism of the sound of a celebrity presenter's voice dropping when he turned away from the camera - he'd chosen to use a roving microphone not the one we had provided. Criticism of too many shots including Health & Safety men in HiVis jackets. They were there, in front of everything! Criticism of a craft process going on as long as it did (the bell makers again). We were making the only known record of a dying craft.

Comments I do accept include "If you are going to take flower shots they need to be absolutely sharp and brilliant" or words to that effect. "Such low-angle shots of an interview are ridiculous." Probably right - the reason was a heavy camera on my hip and the need to be fairly near so crowds didn't intrude, but as someone has already said 'that's not the judge's concern, they can only judge by what they see.'

Michael. The judges made absolutely no adverse criticism,(!!!) the point about 'sparkle' was taken from the explanation of the different star ratings and I meant to imply that I fully accept the grading. Of course if I had been able to use a proprietor with a striking face (see the bell-maker, above) and cotton mills had strong directional lighting instead of the necessarily virtually shadowless kind they do and the looms had been polished not dusty there would be more literal 'sparkle' but as Willy says if you are going to make a film about reality you do not have much choice. And if my leading character had a strong regional accent that would have been even better.

I share Willy's anxieties about whether judges will be interested. Like him I make films about things/people that I find interesting and I have quite an enquiring mind. I do expect others to have similar broad interests but also I probably expect that, sooner or later, there will be interest in something that once existed but no longer does.

Ironically, since deciding to cut a 25 minute film down to 10 minutes I have left out what seemed to me to be the most interesting part - how they wove the loops into 'terry' towelling, as it was very difficult to get quality footage of that detail and even if judges had accepted that weakness I THINK they would have said it was too long for a general audience which is another thing that annoys me. It seems to me that they are judging what the audience is, or, more probably, they are really saying they aren't interested. (see above).

Sorry to go on so long.
Peter Copestake

Jill Lampert
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Jill Lampert » Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:30 pm

Thank you for that, Peter. Very interesting. I agree with many of the points you make. I’d like to pick up on just a couple of points.

You mention that you don’t like it when a judge says that a film is too long for a general audience. It irritates you because you think the judge really means that he/she is bored. I can see that maybe that is an annoying formulation. It would be better to be straight and say “It felt too long for me.” And I agree that the judge can only speak for him/herself and so to guess what all members of a general audience might think is just that: a guess.

But I wonder if perhaps what the judge is trying to say is that if you were to show your film to an audience who was not a ‘general’ audience, but rather an audience who had a specific interest in this subject then the film might be exactly the right length. Those with a specific interest might like to see far more detail than a general audience would. But for a general audience (and the judge is including him/herself as an example of that sort of audience) it is too long.

On another point, I agree that whether or not the judge will be interested is always a worry. Willy’s example of the judge who couldn’t bear to see spoilt students is an extreme example, but that sort of thing is bound to happen sometimes, and there’s not a lot we film makers can do about it.

However, for myself, my thinking when I’m making a film is “How can I make this film interesting even to people who might not be much interested in this subject?”

I find that some film makers can get me hooked into a film on a subject which I have previously had no interest in at all. That is a great skill. I’d love to have it!

Jill

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TimStannard
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by TimStannard » Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:18 pm

An interesting explanation by Peter which highlights how comments made by judges, presumably with the intention of being helpful, can be insulting to film makers.

"You should have used a tripod; there seemed to be enough room for one." That, in my opinion, is a thoughtless comment.The judge is in no position to tell whether the maker could use a tripod or not and, as with the rest of the film, can and should only judge it by the end result. The maker might have been able to have stabilised the shot better, the maker may not have been able to stabilise it any better and has decided that the film is better including a sub-standard shot than not including it at all. Only the maker knows this. What the judge really should have said was "(such and such a shot) was really not stable enough (and detracted from the film or whatever)." In other words the judge should comment on what he thought was wrong and why it was wrong in the context of the finished film rather than speculating as to what was wrong when shooting.

"... a pity we didn't hear the vintage (horn) gramophone." An easy mistake to make. Far better would have been - "it might have been more effective if the sound of the gramaphone sounded more vintage" (but that's easy to say with hindsight). And Peter, this is a useful comment to you because although it may well have been a genuine horn gramaphone, it clearly didn't sound like this judge expected it to sound - sometimes we have to "cheat" to make things sound or look like people's expectations.

And I'm afraid Jill, you have inadvertently fallen into the same trap in your follow up:

"However, for myself, my thinking when I’m making a film is “How can I make this film interesting even to people who might not be much interested in this subject?”"

Even if you didn't mean it as such, it carries an implication that the film maker has not given any thought to how to make his documentary more interesting to a general audience. Again the judge does not know whether the maker has tried to make it more suitable for a general audience and failed or not given it any thought whatsoever.

I reiterate, I believe that all these comments are made in the best of faith, with the intention of helping the maker, but please, judges, don't make assumptions about what we have thought about (probably agonised over for days or weeks) or the conditions under which we filmed a scene. Just judge us on the success or failure of the finished article, what you thought worked and what didn't and why.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

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Willy
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Willy » Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:42 pm

Jill, I am sure we all appreciate your work very much. I have read more than one report written by you on behalf of the judging panel. The written comments are exemplary. I have also read Tim's ideas with interest. I think he wants to show that every word is important and can be interpreted in a wrong way. Great caution is required when giving your opinion.

When you have worked on a film for months or even years it gives a good feeling that the judging panel shows respect for what you have done. Yesterday I was in my club. A member of our regional "board of governors" had been invited to criticise some of our films. He studied the arts of filmmaking. He is professional and has a little firm (film and photography). I remember that once he said "As a judge you must be as hard as possible".

I really felt sick last night. He couldn't say anything positive. He was splitting hairs all the time. I counter-attacked and praised the qualities of each film. That man had started to show two short TV-films. He said that the structure of these TV documentaries was excellent : 1/4 (introduction, set up), 2/4 (middle...), 1/2 (end, conclusion, message)... Take them as an example he said. In the second film no one could say where the middle part started. I am sure that he showed these TV-fillms to avoid any criticism by my clubmates... But I said : when there is some discussion about the structure of the film it proves that the structure is not very clear. The storyline is not good. Maybe he thought I was in a bad mood yesterday. A judge must always try to enthuse filmmakers, in particular hobbyists or non-commercial filmmakers like us.

I think it must be difficult to find people who are willing to spend their time on judging and who are serious and honest. In Belgium judges always use a magnifying glass to detect mistakes. Sometimes it is unbelievable what they dare to claim. Maybe they sometimes think "Hurray, I have found something! I have found a mistake!". Sometimes the mistakes are not mistakes at all.

If judges only write positive things the filmmaker may think that his film deserves a diamond award. Indeed, that's risky. However, the filmmaker must also know that the level of emotion or entertainment can also be decisive to classify the films in the right way. A film must hold the attention of the audience. Indeed that's very essential. I can imagine that it is the case with Michael's pianist film, thinking about his documentaries about the alpacas, the hunting dogs, the painter, the circus gymnast (I have forgotten the right word in English). I am also sure that Bob's films will be very entertaining again. I love his English humour. Etc...
Willy Van der Linden

Jill Lampert
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Jill Lampert » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:23 pm

Ghosh it is easy to say something which isn’t clear!

Tim, I was writing about myself as a film maker. I am at a loss to know how I could possibly be interpreted as implying that someone (who, I wonder?) has not given thought to whether to make a film (which film, I wonder?) more interesting to a general audience.

Anyway, I’ll have another go:

I was trying to say that when I make a film I try not to think “Will the judge be biased against my film because he/she is not interested in the subject?” Instead I try to concentrate on how I can make it so incredibly gripping that only someone as biased as Willy’s failed teacher judge could possibly not be interested.

Maybe everyone else thinks just like me? I don’t know. I wasn’t making any assumptions about the way anyone else thinks. I was just telling you all how I think about it when I go about making a film.

To me it seems pointless to be anxious about whether the judge will be interested in the subject, because that is out of my hands. I agree with Willy that whether the subject is of particular interest to the judge is a matter of luck. I always hope that judges (be they at BIAFF or at club level) will be open minded people with wide interests. But it would be completely unrealistic of me to imagine that all judges will have the same level of interest that I have in the particular things which I choose to make films about.

The thing that is in my hands is to learn to make my films more interesting whatever the subject is.

I didn’t intend to be judgemental about any film or any film maker or any judge! I hope I haven't offended anyone.

Willy, I should think Michael could make a film about the second brick to the left in my garden wall and any audience would be entranced. That’s the skill I’d like to acquire.

Jill

Peter Copestake
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by Peter Copestake » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:40 pm

Yes, Willy, you are probably right -
And Peter, this is a useful comment to you because although it may well have been a genuine horn gramaphone, it clearly didn't sound like this judge expected it to sound - sometimes we have to "cheat" to make things sound or look like people's expectations.
Actually, I'd taken a tiny bit of top off the sound to reduce the hiss, this before the days of digital, and a pro sound friend of mine said I was wrong to do that I should have put some clicks ON if anything.
But, sorry to digress folks, when I first filmed the gramophone being used the spring had broken and it didn't really work. Next time we went it had been spotted on TV (not my film!) by the son of the man who'd made it who had asked to see it and when he did asked if he could repair it, so then we played it with an unworn record. I cannot remember the piece but I used it in the film to accompany pictures of a tattered dying tortoiseshell butterfly struggling on the floor while the commentary was explaining that the room and the gramophone had been played to off-duty airmen between bombing raids on Germany in WWII.
I cannot remember a judge commenting on this but although it's now years ago (Hi8) it always pulls at my heart when I hear it.
Peter Copestake

col lamb
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Re: YOUR BIAFF 2013 RESULTS

Post by col lamb » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:42 pm

I think that Jill hit the nail on the head with her last comment about a Brick in the Wall, the art is to make the movie interesting whatever the subject

After all who would have thought that a movie about a guy cutting and shaping bits of wood and fixing them together would be so entralling, entertaining and so brilliant......................by the way well done John.
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