Page 1 of 4

BIAFF 2018

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:53 pm
by ned c
I was interested to discover that BIAFF 2018 has its own website have I missed something somewhere?

ned c

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:08 pm
by John Roberts
Hi Ned,

I proposed the establishment of a dedicated BIAFF website in 2015 to separate it from the (necessarily complex and all-encompassing) IAC main website. The intention was to allow the competition and festival to be promoted and targetted independently. It was subsequently set up in 2016 for BIAFF 2017, after the BIAFF 2017 event it was updated with the results and links to online films as well as interviews, and has just been updated once more with details of BIAFF 2018.

So, er, it's been there a while :D

Best wishes - John

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:51 pm
by Dave Watterson
I expect Ned has been busy with DocUtah festivals and, I hope, with some film making.

It is always a problem of publicity and promotion - festivals, events and websites all need to be known. We are competing against industries with huge advertising budgets.

As well as keeping an eye on here and very occasionally helping Jan with the IAC website, I run two sites for UNICA ( and and try to keep Facebook pages for IAC and UNICA alive.

It is not dissimilar to trying to promote a club ... it can seem like shouting into an anechoic chamber. But every now and then someone emails, or comments in a magazine, or turns up because they saw that advertising.

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:47 pm
by ned c
Thanks to John & Dave for all your contributions; I know how busy Dave is as at one time he was also webmaster for two websites in the USA! My question is that I was completely unaware that the BIAFF website existed and it is not linked on the IAC website in the BIAFF section. Where was it announced; did I miss the announcement?

Yes; there will be entries from SW Utah this year and DOCUTAH has had another successful year. We had almost sold out theaters for each showing which is gratifying for the organizers and good news for the entrants. Out of 450 entries we screened 64. We are still working on a rescue operation for AMPS although this is proving difficult. The problem every voluntary organization faces is finding people with the time to devote to the work involved. DOCUTAH now has a dedicated person in the university film department responsible for DOCUTAH admin; what a difference that makes!

I hope to be at BIAFF next year.

ned c

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:57 am
by Michael Slowe
Ned, I am, as you know, a great fan of Docutah, having been lucky enough to have an 'official selection' a couple of years back. I urge all documentary makers to enter and follow this festival, they are very keen and organise splendidly. Ned, I have one for you for 2018.
As to BIAFF, this really does seem to be the one remaining major festival for non commercial films and consequently, vital that it flourishes. Dave (and John), has any progress been made in finding a permanent venue for screenings other than a provincial hotel with either small rooms or low ceilings. As always I suppose these things are determined by finance. How do other festivals manage and might it be worth asking some outfit like Sony to sponsor it?
Good idea to have a dedicated site for BIAFF, much easier to point film makers to it.

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:15 pm
by John Roberts
Hi Michael,

BIAFF 2019 arrangements are ongoing but we do have a short list of possible locations with venues that can offer a 'cinema style' Sunday Award Winners Show, something that was positively welcomed following the results of the survey at BIAFF 2017. In the interim, BIAFF 2018 still needs a lot of behind the scenes organisation to ensure the weekend runs smoothly for all the attendees, a task which takes the best part of 18 months of enthusiastic work from a small core of dedicated but soon-to-be-knackered volunteers! As Ned rightly pointed out, finding folk to volunteer even a modicum of help in any way is proving increasingly difficult, and this in turns 'loads' the remaining volunteers with even more tasks, which only results in the task of volunteering looking even more daunting!

The major problem with future BIAFFs is that apart from the feedback regarding the presentation of the Sunday Award Winners Show, the outcome of almost everything else ran closer than a BREXIT poll giving the organisers, i.e. us, no clear idea of what the attendees, i.e. 'you', want BIAFF to develop into. Therefore we are firmly stuck, as before, in trying to keep two distinctly disparate groups of people happy. Personally, I am pleased that the Sunday Show is heading in the direction it is. '50%' of the attendees are happy with the existing Saturday mini-cinemas, despite their many venue-dictated limitations, so our major problem now is not necessarily the cost of the event but finding a venue(s) that keep all satisfied; something that has become much more difficult now we have to find a rake-seated 'cinema' venue!

As always, volunteers and suggestions are welcome!


Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:30 pm
by Dave Watterson
UNICA is - not surprisingly - facing many of the same problems.

Most people who attend BIAFF do not take much interest in it beyond the weekend itself. They have other concerns such as their regions, their clubs and for some of them ... their lives. :shock: So their views are rarely given and even more rarely carefully thought out. But people so tend towards conservativism of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" style. They are resistant to change. Once a change has been going for a couple of years they accept it as the new norm.

UNICA is just the same ... we ask for suggestions and get little feedback, of which very little is thought through.

There is one difference: money. For once in its life IAC actually has money, so it could subsidise the competition and festival heavily ... thus fulfilling part of its role as an educational charity. That would make the possibility of renting a theatre or cinema practical. It could allow people to be paid to work for the event for a few weeks or months each year.

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:25 pm
by John Roberts
Pumping money blindly into BIAFF is not necessarily the correct path to follow, and it has to be remembered of course that BIAFF is not the sole reason the IAC exists. It's true, the IAC does appear to currently have some spare cash, and I wasn't a part of it during its darkest financial days, but the current trend in falling membership results inevitably in falling income, and returns from investments are not what they used to be (don't we all know that!) The IAC already fulfils many roles as an educational charity, not least in its support through the regions in the way of grants, but for BIAFF itself to be turned solely into an educational event to further fulfil that role on paper will require an even more radical change than most would accept.

No-one is suggesting that BIAFF be self-sufficient, but subsidising the competition and festival heavily is not the answer IMHO. The problem with paying volunteers for weeks or months is that there is a danger of a precedent being set, then where would one stop? As members of Council we are neither paid to attend meetings nor subsidised for our travel, would we dip into the coffers as well? What about the regions? Would offering volunteers money to keep the regions ticking over result in an influx of offers of help? If so, then it's for the wrong reasons. As Dave suggests, most people who attend BIAFF have little interest in it beyond the weekend itself. The same is true for the regions because they are experiencing the same issue. There is simply a dedicated core of people who try and keep everything ticking over and occasionally try something new in an attempt to get people interested in becoming involved.

To pump money heavily into BIAFF for anything other than a very short term plan will result in only one thing: The IAC will not live to see its telegram from the Monarch...

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:33 am
by TimStannard
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

Whilst this doesn't appear very forward thinking, as far as most attendees go, the impression I get is that BIAFF does work pretty well for them.

* It is well organised - to the extent that so long as attendees fill out their order form correctly and arrange travel to and from the hotel the rest of the arrangements for the whole weekend are taken care of.
* An awful lot of films are screened
* There's a bit of other entertainment - speaker at the gala dinner and excursions for variety.
* The only thing we regularly hear about from attendees is the unsuitability of some of the smaller cinemas and not being able to get the screen high enough to read subtitles.

From the entrants' points of view it is also mainly good:
* It's a very reasonable cost to enter
* There is about a 50/50 chance of your film being screened in the largest amateur film fest in the UK
* Your film is viewed, graded and commented upon by three (or six in the case of 5 stars) judges
* The only negative is apparent discrepancies and discontent with some of the judges comments or stars awarded. However, you will get this with any competition and at least at BIAFF, with judges comments being given to the maker, there should be some knowledge of how the ranking was decided.

From the judges' points of view (and I frequently talk to a few of them throughout the year) it is less satisfactory. To be fair,this is hearsay, so please correct me if I am wrong in any of this.
* It's a long working weekend comprising nothing but watching/judging films
* The viewing facilities (hotel rooms) are often "sub-optimal" with hotel TVs not producing the quality of image (and definitely not the quality of audio) required for a film designed to be shown in an auditorium.
* Films watched only once
* Only six minutes after each film to discuss, rank and make notes.
* Judges have to pay their own expenses

Aside from that I can barely imagine the masses of work put in by the competitions officer and his team collating all the entries, separating them out into viewing session for the judges, collating and chasing the written comments, putting together the programme etc etc.

So, what do we actually want to improve? From the point of view of the attendees and entrants it is certainly fit for purpose.

Do we want to encourage more entries? I'm not entirely sure. From an entrant's point of view this would mean a lesser chance of one's film being screened - on the other hand, this might improve the quality of those films which are screened (though isn't it better to show a selection of films across the range of one-start through diamond?). More entries would also increase pressure on the judging and administration systems.

It seems to me the area where the organisers need to concentrate their efforts for improvement is on making life easier for the organisers and judges themselves. I suspect there is an understandable reluctance within these volunteers to be seen to be spending money on themselves, but I would argue from the above that this is where the greatest benefits might be achieved. If stories I've heard are to be believed, the first place I'd start is to hire in decent TV and audio equipment for the judges.

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:37 pm
by Dave Watterson
I did not mean to suggest just throwing money at BIAFF ... but that IAC should not insist that BIAFF and the competition should break even.

The most common complaint I hear about BIAFF is that it is uncomfortable and difficult to see the award winner shows in a packed, flat ballroom. That is where it would be worth spending money on hiring a cinema/theatre with raked, comfortable seating.

I agree with Tim, that the judging situation is not ideal and asks a great deal of the judges in terms of time, energy and travel costs.

Tim - and others - may not realise that there really is not a competition manager's team. David Newman does 99% of all the work from logging entries, checking forms and payments, finding judges, planning judging screenings, checking written comments, planning the BIAFF programmes and following up afterwards to make sure awards are sent out. A previous competition officer reckoned it involves working 9 months of the year and for the last few months pretty much working 18/7.

On the wider picture: there is no point in IAC dying out with a big bank balance ... we should spend money wisely and certainly should offer expenses to committee officers. They give their time, energy and experience ... they should not be out of pocket.

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:47 pm
by Michael Slowe
If I'm reading Dave correctly, I think that he is saying what both of actually believe, namely, BIAFF should be handled on a more 'professional' basis. That is not to say accept professional films, certainly not, BIAFF is the one remaining beacon for amateur (non commercial) film makers. However, it is unreasonable to expect people to work as hard as has been pointed out, for no recompense at all. BIAFF should be run as many other festivals are run, and, presumably, they all make money too! The entrance fees are, to be sure, higher than those charged at BIAFF but you can't get success nowadays without either requiring people to work hard for nothing, or charging the 'punters' a sensible fee. The IAC as an institution manages very well with volunteers generously giving their time and we as members appreciate this enormously. The film festival is a slightly different matter, this, in my opinion, has to aim to match the many other festivals, not just here in the UK, but abroad. It is the IAC's flagship and a successful, worldwide, amateur festival would (and does) enhance our whole image. I'm afraid Dave is right, money is a huge factor in this, maybe not thrown but slid gently along the bar might be the answer.

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:31 pm
by JanW
I am usually one of the 'silent readers' of the Forums, but this discussion caught my eye.

First, apologies to Ned if the launch of the dedicated BIAFF website was not announced loudly enough. It is always helpful to have things like this pointed out. I'll take a fresh look at the IAC website and make sure there are more explicit links in both directions.

Re the Festival, the Council members have a tricky task. They have to continue satisfying the loyal supporters while enticing new people to come along. Numbers are dropping.

I'm not convinced a 50% chance of having your film shown is a plus, if it ends up being shown to two people and the projectionist.

I've been thinking a lot recently about what makes a festival buzz. Any suggestions?


Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:13 pm
by ned c
Judging: in my opinion the days of judges watching films on inadequate TVs with poor sound in hotel rooms are surely over. I have enjoyed the privilege of being involved in three on-line judging and screening events where I watched the entrants on my 55 inch 4K TV with excellent sound. In the case of DOCUTAH as screeners we are a team who rotate through the team members homes. The debate after the viewing and before we complete the report can be vigorous indeed! This still requires an organizer to receive and collate the reports but the task is much less onerous than arranging hotel accomodation and having judges travelling long distances all at their expense. Pre-screening of entries remotely and then selecting those to be screened also reduces the work load.

Organization: the days of purely voluntary maintained organizations are surely numbered. The problem we have faced for AMPS is that three sets of administrators have had to give up as the real world of demanding work leaves them no time for voluntary activities. This is the world today. Retirees are a diminishing resource in a demanding activity; long term success depends on continuity. I believe that to sustain BIAFF a paid part time, paid administrator is going to be required.

ned c

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:36 pm
by TimStannard
JanW wrote: I'm not convinced a 50% chance of having your film shown is a plus, if it ends up being shown to two people and the projectionist.
Fair comment. Perhaps I'm lucky in that I've never sat at a screening with only one man and his dog. Having said that, I'd still rather have a film shown than not (assuming it is of passable quality - and I appreciate this can be subjective). Whether it's worth it from the organisers' or projectionists' points of view is another matter.
Good to have you joining in, Jan :)

Re: BIAFF 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:27 pm
by Michael Slowe
Rather going against my earlier post I have experienced watching a 'selected' film at a commercial film festival with an audience maybe not one man and his dog but four instead. On the very few occasions of having a film selected I noticed that the the audience consisted mostly of film makers with films in that particular programme. Not all that different therefore from the BIAFF side shows. This is not to say that I stand by my comments and fully agree with everything that Ned writes in his last post.