BIAFF 2014

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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fraught
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BIAFF 2014

Post by fraught »

The judging weekend for BIAFF14 approaches and i've been reading my Briefing pack front to back in readiness. I've just done my test, where i had to watch 9 films that are a good representation of the range of awards to be given, then without looking at their actual award, i had to work out what i would give them. Out of the 9 films, i was spot on for 5 of them, close on 2 of them... and shockingly way out on the other 2.

Now i've read the guidelines on what makes a film worthy of which award and i do agree with them. But for these two films in particular... i was very, very shocked with what the judges of those years had given them. Just goes to show that art is very subjective and what i find rather average or pretty poor, someone else may find amazing and full of interest.

It's going to be an interesting competition! :)
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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by TimStannard »

"Shockingly way out" puts you in good company :)
Seriously, do you get an opportunity to discuss with the panel and/or the actual judges where you saw something different from what was awarded? Or are you left to "go figure". I'd like to think the former as this would lead to you or the other judges or perhaps both to develop a greater understanding.
Ah well. I hope you've got a thick skin, Geoff.
Staines will be a breeze by comparison.
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fraught
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by fraught »

LOL... cheers Tim. I guess the whole process will be revealed on Friday night. Really looking forward to it. I've complained about the judging in the past, so it's time i put my money where my mouth is. ;-)
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Dave Watterson
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by Dave Watterson »

If it all goes as usual the theory is that you and the panel you are with discuss the rating you give a film. If you really cannot agree, you tell the Competition Officer and he can put the film to another panel. If the difference between panel members is small: (say) "very good 3" versus "doubtful 4" you go for compromise. In such cases where I favoured the higher mark I would volunteer to write the film up, hoping to indicate with my words what I enjoyed so much.

I have witnessed cases where a thoughtful panel discussion has totally changed the mark a film receives and in one cases listened in fascination as an experienced judged talked himself round from low to high as he went over a film's strengths.

I said in theory. In practice there is a risk that everyone buckles down to scribbling notes about the film just seen, otherwise it can be hard to remember details when writing a report a week later.

As I am a slow writer with dreadful handwriting my problem was always to write a summary of my views to give to the panel member who was writing up a film. That really has to be done pretty much at the moment or at least in the next break ... everything is so rushed. I would rather go home, reflect on my thoughts and email the writer ... but some people will have written most of the crits on their journey home - especially given the length of Sunday rail journeys in winter!

BUT the chances are that on 90% of the films you see, you will be in complete agreement. Ironically, perhaps, it is the unusual films which can split opinion.

And for all those anxious people waiting for their results ... it takes a few weeks after the judging session before the results can be announced.

The Competition Officer checks with the crits as they come in over the next couple of weeks to be sure the agreed mark is clear - sometimes it is not and a flurry of emails results. He then has to assemble a programme for the BIAFF screenings, balancing grades, type of film, region of the country/world, lengths and themes to make shows in the Saturday mini-cinemas which are the same in running time, have a good mix of films and genres et. etc. He sorts that out first, so that when he sends the results out, he can say "and your film will be shown on Saturday / Sunday at BIAFF" in the relevant cases.

The results should start to be known around mid March ... please do not bother the Competition Officer in the next 6 weeks or so. The poor man is holding down an important job and doing all the BIAFF work in his spare time. Answering unnecessary emails and phone calls in this period only slows down the processing for everyone.
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fraught
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by fraught »

Thanks Dave, that was really helpful. :)
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Michael Slowe
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by Michael Slowe »

People do seem to get "their knickers in a twist" over BIAFF results. As a very old man - first major award back in 1976 I think - I have learnt to be relaxed and content to let matters take their course. I can honestly say that I've never been surprised by any grade that I've received in all the years since 1976. I have found the grading to be consistent and fair, certainly as regards my own work, maybe a few qualms over others from time to time. As has been said many times, judging films (or any art for that matter) is largely subjective and impossible to regulate. So please don't let's get over wrought either before or after the results are known.

Thank you Dave for your wise words, keeping everyone in order as usual.
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by fraught »

Some people can take criticism, some people can't. Good to know Michael that you are in the former category. The thing with Film making is that everyone involved is always so enpassioned with their piece of work, so making judgements of any kind needs to be handled with care. My aim as a critic is to be open, honest, and constructive, It's what i would want. Not trying to embaress Dave here, but i have seen him fill film makers with joy and the want to improve their skill with his enthusiastic, passionate and critical analysis of their films. I aim to aspire to his excitement levels. :)
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Ken Wilson
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by Ken Wilson »

I didn`t know that it was BIAFF judging this weekend. Good that reading the forum keeps us "in-the-loop." I was asked last year at BIAFF by one regular judge why I didn`t judge at any of the IAC International competitions although I have been involved with other competitions. I answered truthfully, that I have never been asked and that remains the same today. I made it known via the forum a year or two ago that I would judge if asked and if available, but I still haven`t been approached. Perhaps I have been too vocal with my views in the past, who knows?
I know that for 18 out of the past 19 years we have had at least one film (and sometimes as many as 3 films) in the competition and it used to be the case that entrants couldn`t judge, but that rule has recently been relaxed, though not everyone agrees with it of course.
So this year we have just the one film entered and we hope to be at BIAFF in Bedford. Again it depends on several factors, work being one of them.
Now that the other big festivals have gone BIAFF is the one chance to meet everyone again and to see what kinds of films people have been making. It always inspires me and the wheels start turning on the journey home.
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by fraught »

I was asked to be a Judge at BIAFF, late last year, it was a complete surprise to me. I'm am very honoured that i have been asked. I can be quite vocal on this forum from time to time, so Ken i don't think that that is what is preventing you from being asked. I'm not sure how the whole process works... but i'll put in a good word for you! :)
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col lamb
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by col lamb »

One thing for sure when the results are published there will be a rating system that can be applied to each movie maker who will post comments on their results: -

Ecstatic

Overjoyed

Pleased

Accepting

Disappointed

Irate
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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by TimStannard »

Col,

you missed Dumbfounded and Bemused :)

All in all it doesn't really matter. What matters is that people see your film and are prepared to comment on it truthfully as they see it.

I'm rather surprised that Ken is waiting to be asked as I understood that the IAC was short of judges.
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by fraught »

Great post Col. I'm sure between us we can come up with some more. Flabbergasted?

BIAFF is great for feedback and for the chance to watch your film with an audience... which is the best thing to get from a film competition. Nothing beats that adrenaline rush you get when the opening credits of your film roll to a large audience. It's worth the admission price alone. :)
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by Dave Watterson »

I cannot speak for the Competition Officer - and I am sure he will be far too busy for a while to even consider responding - but can I remind you that IAC tries to ensure that films in the International Competition are not judged by people from their own IAC region? That means trying to find people from each part of the country to be judges. Since the judging weekend is in the North East it is perhaps easier to find people prepared to be judges there. Remember judges pay their own travel expenses!

We have sometimes published on the IAC website a simplified indication of what the star ratings are intended to convey. The problem about committing any judging system to paper is that people - both judges and competitors start to argue about tiny nuances of meaning in the words. The basic assessment of any film is going to be largely a "gut feeling" - albeit by a "gut" (and here with my stomach I am speaking personally!) that recognises qualities of technique and their lack.

As to which film comes top ... study Cannes, Sundance and most enormous festivals ... the top film is often one of those with a simple, clear story line. Is that simply because everyone is exhausted at the end, or because what we value in film is clarity and simplicity? The final jury can only consider what they see and hear ... and can only make their best judgement.
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by Michael Slowe »

When you leave a cinema you 'judge' the film you've just seen. You comment to your wife or companion do you not? Did you enjoy it, was it technically pleasant to watch, did you feel satisfied? So, where's the mystery? That's what our BIAFF judges have to consider, it's not rocket science. All they then do (as one might after a cinema visit) is to give it marks out of ten, except that this is then translated into numbers of stars.

By the way Ken, I too don't get asked to judge, although way back in the 1970's I remember doing a session at Bernard Ashby's home in Ealing. Mind you, be careful what you're asking for, it's a tough grind.
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Re: BIAFF 2014

Post by Mike Shaw »

Fraught - I went (obviously!) through the same nine 'tests' with similar results. Spot on with five, one out on three of them, and way out (2 star difference) with one - I wonder if that was one we'd both agree on?

The star ratings and why they're given is pretty specific and well documented - that should make life easier. But - as you mentioned I think - people see different things in a film and that can affect their judgement.

I understand this year there will be a longer discussion time than when I did it before. Which will be great.

Also, hopefully, my suggestion that a second DVD be provided will be supported by more entrants this time - so that whoever is writing up a particular film doesn't have to rely on his/her memory or other people's notes, which can be pretty scant.

Ever changing groups of judges view a small batch of films at a time - and divide up the write ups for that group of films between them. The two weeks following the judging weekend can be pretty hectic!

It is a great weekend. As Dave says - you won't see any films from your own region. Or your own films of course - if you have any entered!

Look forward to meeting you up there ...
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