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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:04 pm
by Dave Watterson
YES ...
For me this is what festivals are all about
most BIAFF visitors are like that.

The timetable for the Saturday and Sunday shows will be on the BIAFF website in a few minutes, so you can try to plan. You may find some rooms are packed, so having a second choice ready is a good idea. My only regret about BIAFF audiences is that they shy away from films over 12 minutes (the average) ... those whose longer films are shown on Sunday don't have to worry about that (!)

BUT supporting each other, talking about films ... YES YES YES.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:12 am
by Ken Wilson
Hi Dave and thanks for your confirmation of how the earlier round is judged at BIAFF on TVs. When people were messaging me and telling me this, initially I didn`t believe it. I would have thought that IAC resources could muster up 5 projectors and some kind of amplifier system.

I have been a judge for many competitions such as twice for the Burnley Festival, once at CEMRIAC once for the Guernsey Lily and 5 times for our own competition, plus many times for local clubs and a few times for Scottish clubs. At virtually all of these we projected the films on a large screen with sound through some kind of hi-fi system. You will know this Dave as we asked you and Jan to be our guest judges for one of our own fiction competitions. We saw all the films projected large and in comfort sat on armchairs and sofas. We had time to stop/ review and chat. Of course, as we have said before, it`s the huge number of entries for BIAFF that is an issue.

As I am a long time film-maker, I see the makers`points of view and judge and write critiques accordingly. I try to encourage and be constructive. Every film has taken a long time to produce and has had the makers heart and soul poured into it. For all this effort to be treated so badly as to be viewed on a hotel TV is just really not good enough in my opinion. This year I received comments about the sound being "uneven." How could this be assessed on a small TV speaker? The films sound fine on my surround system at home, but I know from giving club shows that picture and sound can look and sound very different at different venues.

Perhaps the IAC committee could just ask if 5 groups or individuals would bring a projector and amp to judge the annual event in the best possible way to give all film makers the respect they deserve?

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:50 pm
by Willy
I really do not understand why Ken has never been invited to be a judge at BIAFF. We all know that he is very experienced and he has good writing skills. I always look forward to reading his articles in "Film and Video Magazine". English is not my mother-tongue, but I am sure his stories are always written in simple and perfect English. That's my limited linguistic feeling. Tell me if I am wrong. Nobody will deny that we need judges like Ken.

It is not easy to find judges. David Newman must be praised for his work and courage. He is an excellent organiser. And all judges must be praised for their willingness to get exhausted after having watched a series of movies, boring and exciting ones.

Just like Ken I have judged for many competitions. For Guernsey, for Scotland, for the Netherlands (NOVA), the Mersey Ten Competition and many Belgian clubs. Brian Dunckley ever asked me to be a member of the final judging panel at BIAFF, but I recommended one of my clubmates who was with me at Norwich. And last year David Newman asked me to come to Newcastle, but I feared the long trip to the North in winter and Vera, my private nurse, preferred to stay at home.

Not only from Ken, but also from other friends and from my Belgian clubmate in particular I heard that all films are viewed on awful TV-sets.

A real story: I worked on the documentary "Guernsey, I Love You" for months and months together with my Guernsey-friends Mary and Peter. I enjoyed the long trips to their wonderful tropical Island. Together we could make a very good dramatized documentary. A special one. But unfortunately the result at BIAFF was very poor. 3 stars. After BIAFF we heard from a judge that our film had been viewed on a crappy TV and that the colours had not been adjusted. That judge apologized. We appreciated it, but it was too late. There was only one reward: our friendship with Mary and Peter. They visited us in Belgium last year. Next month we will meet again at SERIAC.

Conclusion: BIAFF must keep its good reputation, but all films must be shown on large screens from the first round onwards. Just like next Saturday and Sunday in Birmingham. All filmmakers deserve it. Enjoy BIAFF! I am jealous because I will not be able to come.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:08 pm
by Dave Watterson
My guess is that Ken has not been asked to judge at BIAFF because there is usually one or more films from him in the competition. We'd rather have him as a film maker.

Most experienced judges can make allowance for the technology showing the film ... but it is not ideal.

As Ken suggests one answer might be to have various people or clubs bring in their projection gear, sound gear and screen. Something like that used to be done years ago when the judging was in people's houses not a hotel, but that was before the days of one-lens projectors. (Remember those beasts with three soup-plate sized lenses on the front?) Mostly people brought in large TVs.

Mind you I have seen many a projector in homes and in cine clubs, that is poorly adjusted. Vary few systems are right straight from the box. They are often calibrated for office presentations of spreadsheets in a semi-darkened room. At home we use a test disc to calibrate and adjust for each new projector and even each new lamp.

I believe there may be changes next year, if only because the hotel used for the last few years is changing hands. The critical difference would be for IAC Council to accept the principle that the competition/festival (for they are one really) should be subsidised from IAC's reserves. Jan and I will be at the AGM, maybe all of us should come ...

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:50 am
by Ken Wilson
It`s a nice theory Dave that as a regular film maker this is the reason I have not been asked to judge. However, Howard Smith tells me that he has judged for the past 5 years and Howard seems to enter many films into BIAFF every year. 7 films this year I believe? He is not the only one who enters the competition but also judges. In addition, due to work and life commitments, I made no Phase 4 films in 2011, 2014, 2015 or 2017.

I believe that Brian Dunckley didn`t allow judges to also be entrants when he was competition manager if I am correct? I guess David Newman has little choice when judges are not as plentiful as they once were! No that isn`t the reason. Answers on a postcard...

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:29 am
by Michael Slowe
Ken, probably because you're an awkward so and so! Only joking, I too don't get asked to judge, although, to be fair, I did do one year in Bernard Ashby's
time, that's before you were born.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:46 pm
by Bob Lorrimer

Thank-you for showing the DRILL .... I did indeed make the film on my own and I am astonished that it plays as well today as it did ten years ago!

Since the success of the Drill, I have always tried, in the 'writing' of my mini-epics, to come up with a double ending which defies the expectation of the Audience. I have this year achieved something similar in HIGHLY LIKELY an improbable masterpiece!

I made 'Rock Bottom' also on my own at 'Petit Bot Bay' (Guernsey) beach over two mornings. The first morning I left the airport with my suitcase and directed the Taxi Driver to take me to the beach before I travelled on to the Hotel for the Guernsey Lily Festival. The Taxi Driver was not keen on leaving me alone on the beach, early morning , with just my suitcase......fearing that I might be in a depressed state!

The Canon 7d was a great DSLR Camera but very difficult for a lone filmmaker! It had no reversible screen and was prone to overheating.....I could not see myself at framing was hit and miss which is why the shots are static....the camera might be ten yards away!

I returned to repeat some of the shots the following Day.....and, of course, You and your party arrived in time to see me running back wards and forwards in the distance, on the surf- line like a demented 'Retriever'. 'Rock Bottom' continues to be my most successful film thanks to the Guernsey Festival with approaching 68,000 views......and I am still astounded at it's visual quality which has much to do with the extraordinary geology of the Beach as it does me.

Thank you for your gracious support,


Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:30 pm
by Willy
Last weekend the Flemish Amateur Film Festival (VAC-Film Festival) took place. Flanders is the Dutch speaking part in Belgium. "The Swimming Pool" made by my clubmate Werner Haegeman won the 1st prize. He is the overall winner! As you already know he will receive a diamond at BIAFF. There was a second and third prize, too. But there were also two special awards. The first one for "originality" won by the movie "Have a Look in the Fridge" made by my other clubmate Werner Van den Bulck. He was even a final judge at BIAFF. The second special award for "best camera work" won by "Neil Ross, his Sheep and Dogs", a coverage of a tourist attraction in Scotland. It's my own 3-stars film at BIAFF. 3 out of 5 awards or prizes at the Flemish Amateur Film Festival! A success for my club. Very encouraging. There were 48 entries. Some names of other Belgian filmmakers that had entries: Urbain Appeltans who even received the Daily Mail Trophy at BIAFF and Tony Jacobs who ever won a diamond award (or international medallion) for his movie "Yellow Tulips" and for "Career". Do you remember?

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:56 pm
by Jon Pegg
Great weekend at BIAFF in Birmingham
Firstly got to thank the organisers on a fantastic event and the most friendly and welcoming festival i have attended.
Really good to meet and chat with Tim,Michael,Dave,John,Jan and many others.
Watched around 40 films and enjoyed all of them.
I support the festivals because i beleive no film should ever be unwatched and some festivals you go to and they are quite empty for certain sections.Your fest had four rooms and every room was practically full for every film which I found great and was impressed.
The sunday event showing the films before the awards was a great idea and made for a lovely atmosphere.
Our film was well received and 6 of the 9 cast made it along to watch and get up the awards which is what its all about.
We won best british in fest which was brilliant and just topped off the weekend perfectly.
Some of my weekend highlights.
Neil Ross his sheep and dogs I really enjoyed this and knowing nothing about sheepdogs was amazed by how clever they are.Could easily have watched this as a 30 min documentary no problem.
The real slim lady I enjoyed and i was impressed by all the entries in the under 21 section.Including Bobby goodchild and the confession which really made me laugh.
Girl A was very good and made me want to see what happened next.
Who dun did it was another that caught my eye.
Seconds out from mid cheshire movie makers was really good and had the vibe that made me think it could be easily extended into a feature film.
On a side note got chatting to the these film makers and have agreed to go up and talk about filmmaking at one of there club meetings.
Target earth was unreal and great to watch
Black forest made me want to go out and film some woods and birds lol.
Bite off made me laugh out loud and IMO should have got best comedy it was really funny.
Night tide great use of editing
Highly Likely was great fun and Living with the flood was something I enjoyed that I usually wouldnt.

Will be back next year and will be telling people about this great fest.
Thanks again for putting on such an amazing showcase you should be very proud of yr staff and great attendees.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:42 am
by Howard-Smith
It was another great BIAFF weekend. I’ve entered films for BIAFF and attended the whole event every year since 2008 and would never want to miss it. I’m just sorry that the attendance figures decrease each year for some unknown reason despite the number of entries remaining roughly constant. John Howden made a good point: we could double the attendance for the Sunday next year if we all took an extra person with us.
The Crescent Theatre was an ideal venue for the Sunday show with the large screen, first class projection and banked seating. I for one will be more than happy if BIAFF returns to Birmingham next year.
With regard to the hotel, my only ‘negative’ comment is that apart from the excellent breakfasts I found the other meals to be below standard compared with previous years... and why wasn’t there any coffee to follow at the Gala dinner?
We all have our own opinions about the films. One that stays with me was a 5 star film called LOST MIND by David Brezina shown on Saturday, which I thought was worthy of a Diamond.
I’m not going to give my opinions on individual top award winning films on this forum. As ever I thought some were truly excellent and others weren’t. There was one in particular that irritated the hell out of me but my lips are sealed as to which film that was.
My three 4 star films shown on Saturday seemed to go down well judging by the positive feedback I received from people attending. Maybe on a different day with different judges two of these (BLOODY BRILLIANT and LIKE A BULLET) would have hit the heights and made it to the Sunday show. BLOODY BRILLIANT seemed to elicit from the audience more laughs than the film that won ‘Best Comedy’. LIKE A BULLET has just won ‘Best Mystery Film’ at the Flicks Film Festival in London.
See you all again at BIAFF next year.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:11 am
by TimStannard
Despite not having entered a film this year, let alone having one screened, and having seen all the Sunday as well as plenty of the Saturday films before, I thoroughly enjoyed this BIAFF. The venue for Sunday was superb and I would be extremely disappointed if the IAC reverts to hotel function rooms in the future.

Great sound and great projection.

I spent all my time on Saturday in one room and again projection and audio were good, if not quite up to the arena filling sounds on Sunday.
I have no complaints about the meals, but both venues might consider new strategies for dealing with 150 people wanting coffee & tea at the same time. The low ceilings in the mini-cinemas are a bit problematic.

I have little doubt there were occasions of panic beneath the surface (where does Linda get here energy from?), but from an attendees point of view everything seemed to run very smoothly indeed. My congratulations and thanks to everyone involved.

It is also very encouraging to hear and read "newcomer" Jon Pegg's comments - whilst we might bemoan falling attendances, he was clearly impressed at how well attended BIAFF is compared with other festivals. We need to work out how to capitalise and improve on this. Perhaps a regular venue will help. Thanks for coming Jon and for persuading so many of your cast & family to attend. I can't guarantee you'll win "Best of British" next year, but we'd love to see you there.

Judging? Meh! I went along expecting the usual disagreement and was not disappointed - and of course this year I was on the receiving end of the criticism. It was fun having Michael Slowe sitting behind me telling me where we'd got it wrong (and occasionally right)! All good humoured, of course, but I do understand the disappointment when one's own film doesn't do as well as another which one feels is inferior.

However I doubt there was much disagreement about films winning the Daily Mail and Best British entries.

The young faces this year were of particularly high quality and it was a shame there weren't more youngsters present to witness how well received tehir films are among what is surely not their target audience.

Thanks to you all for your company.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:39 pm
by Bob Lorrimer
I for one was thrilled with the projection in the Sunday Crescent theatre Auditorium.....and more importantly the 'Audio' which gave rise to a truly weighted and cinematic delivery in a totally blacked out environment.

It was worth it. ( I have been whining about Audio for a decade - so I can whine no more!)

The Hotel was great for me.....I thought the food excellent too and the Breakfast. The lack of Coffee after Dinner was perhaps an oversight. However the Hotel's proximity to the Q carpark and numerous foodie outlets, as well as the Theatre, was a bonus.

Birmingham appears to have changed out of all recognition and a huge investment program is self evidently under's about time. (Unless it is all about the imaginary Hogwarts Special - HS2!)

There were many excellent, and I mean excellent films to watch. I missed out on most of the early shows so I do hope Authors send their Vimeo or YouTube links to the IAC website .

All the films were great.....and some astonishing! TARGET EARTH and EVERYTHING REALLY NATURAL were frankly phenomenal - well done! I found the quality of the Lego animation and in particular the 'timing, audio and framing' of that film astonishing.

KAGE was remarkable....original and breathtaking...for me the film veered a little too much toward 'Art House' which stole a whisker of the limelight from the extraordinary talents of the two dancers.

MAKING FRIENDS relied heavily upon dialogue. The film was expertly edited and completely masterful in terms of dialogue intercutting. I liked the ending of MAKING FRIENDS... too.....but I would have liked more THREAT (coming from the exterior) during the course of the running time as on occasions the film felt like a stage play. Having said that the actual delivery of the complex production was exemplary!

The quality of the BLACK FOREST together with it's fantastic audio and music was superb....what camera work!

The young people made truly fantastic Calling Cards with GIRL A and SHELTERED. The subject matter of both films was the ever popular Angst and Abuse genre ... I thought both films were superbly crafted throughout - if a little BLEAK!

I was delighted with some of the directorial devices used in the BITE OFF film......I had wondered if the 'single conceit' might outstay it's welcome but the Director had a number of long, powerful, head and shoulder lingering shots of the nail biter which transmitted to me that he was questioning not only his competitive ability but the validity of the Competition as a whole. (Some might say they felt the same when they had watched my own HIGHLY LIKELY!)
A further device he used was the same 'POV Jump cutting' as the Bouncer warned off the unseen "SKY" crew .... a modern cinematic device that tickled me no end.

Well done to one and ALL!

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:05 pm
by Michael Slowe
Best BIAFF ever in my opinion, and I've been attending since 1973 (Howard, you're a newcomer!).

I endhorse those who urge Council to make this venue permanent. It surely could not be bettered anywhere in the country. Central, second largest town, newish and comfortable hotel and, best of all, a great cinema (theatre) for the main shows. The organisation was, as usual, faultless and there were always people in authority available to answer queries.

Tim, I wasn't complaining, just joshing you, we all know how difficult it is to categorise and rate so many different types of productions. I felt quite humbled by the high standard this year, it is certainly rising in my opinion. One big moan however, how did "Bite Off" not win Best Comedy over "The Swimming Pool"? The latter hardly raised a smile with those sat around me and surely was not even a Diamond. No other moans though and I must say it was a fabulous two days, any film maker would be well advised to submit and attend next year.

By the way, watch out for "Golnesa" at next year's Oscars. After all, "Roma" won one this year and people I spoke to who have seen both, thought "Golnesa" even better. That would be something for BIAFF to boast about, premiering an Oscar Winner!

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 7:42 am
by TimStannard
I know you were joshing Michael - hence the comment about it all being in good humour.
And speaking of humour ... BEST COMEDY is a particularly subjective category (and I was rather expecting this decision to be one of the most contentious).

I can't speak for the other judges but for me that means the best film which is a comedy.

BITE OFF was a fantastic mockumentary and received many well deserved laughs. CAUGHT SHORT also received many laughs in its brief screen-time. If the award was for film with the most laughs then surely one of these would have won. But the award is for BEST COMEDY. If one were to compare Annie Hall and an episode of Friends, I have little doubt that the latter would receive more laughs but which is the better comedy? There is no "correct" answer. The award is BEST COMEDY not recipient of most laughs and not even funniest film.

The eventual winner and HIGHLY LIKELY both had very high production values. Bob's film (which thoroughly deserved it's DIAMOND) is a great effort managing to mix two punchlines and several minor gags into a very short time.

But THE SWIMMING POOL won and, as I recall, it was unanimous among the three final round judges.

My own reasoning (I can't speak for the others): The humour is both dark and understated which appeals to me. The coda cleverly subverts the moralistic ending of the main story. Every character (except Mrs Gnome) is moralistically flawed. There was some lovely composition in the shots with some good use of focus pulling. Excellent foley and ambient sound. The "wildlife shots", which I know didn't work for some people, for me acted as a "bridge" between the fantastic world in which the Gnomes live and the real world. They add some light relief being both cute and humourous (the "plop" as the snail apparenty falls into the swimming pool - perhaps prescient of the pool deaths we are to witness later). It is an unusual, slightly off the wall tale, very well made and which kept me engaged throughout. Oh yes - the acting was flawless as well.

Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 10:21 am
by tom hardwick
Your film’s in competition.

As one of the very many judges at BIAFF, I was privileged to see a vast cross-section of films over three days of intensive film appraisal. With only a running time given to us at the start, I could feel the expectation and excitement mount as each film hit the screen. A hotel room TV screen admittedly, but read on.

All the judges are in lean-forward, poised concentration mode, acutely aware that potentially this one screening is the only chance they’ll get to evaluate the feel, pace, storyline, editing, photography and overall competence of the filmmaker. It’s a lot to ask of the three people that sit in judgement because potentially they’ve been in this mode for hours, if not days, before your film hits the screen.

I should point out here that the availability of 'take-home' evaluation DVDs and web links is a tremendous boon to anyone tasked with passing judgement. I'm always acutely aware that the 5 minute film that unfolds before me may well have taken as many months to get made, and as such I feel it demands my time, space and OLED TV to see it and hear it at its best.

And so my point is this: remember that however good your film is as a stand-alone work of art, when you’re in competition with others the boundaries change. Maybe even the rules change. You want to get noticed? You want to get lots of stars, fame and recognition? The best bit of advice I can give you is to make a film for competition and not necessarily for showing as a stand-alone entity.

The film has only been going 10 seconds, maybe less. Yet in this very short time all the judges know. Expectations are raised or hopes dashed. The opening seconds of a film tell the judges what to expect, what lies ahead.

I cannot stress enough that you only have a few seconds to captivate the judges, to convince them that to keep watching will burn your film into their memory, want them seeing more, even change their lives. These few opening seconds are your first impressions, where you meet the judges for the first time. These seconds, as too are the same seconds at your job interview, are precious, a never to be repeated experience, so you should treasure the opportunity and make the most of them.

I’ll let you into a little secret, and that is that judges are only human. Despite our very best intentions, we humans tread life’s path and come to the judging table warped by circumstance. We come from all walks of life and arrive with our frailties and biases, likes and dislikes, skills and worries, prejudices and assumptions.

We try to be as objective as possible in our appraisals, but judging art is not a game of numbers. Years ago we used to mark films out of 10; so many points for photography, editing, sound, that sort of thing. Happily those days are long gone, but maybe unhappily for some the judges are looking ever deeper into your film in an effort to understand and be emotionally moved, however slightly, by it.

So your film is seen by three randomly-chosen judges and as the film fades from the screen they have to quickly write down their feelings, thoughts, impressions and comments. These same judges then discuss amongst themselves as to where your film lies in the overall competition, thrashing out a star rating that befits the standards of the competition as a whole.

Then after days of judging they have to retire and do constructive write-ups using all the notes made by the two other judges that they sat alongside. I had nineteen films to appraise and writing constructive and helpful comments on so many takes a determined effort of will and a great deal of concentration.

But let me come back to my opening line and it is this: remember that your film is in competition with others, with all that this implies. Remember too that the judges sit through many hours of what I might term ‘worthy documentaries’. As I say, nothing wrong with these as stand-alone information boards, but when you’re in competition your film needs a special something to get noticed.

It may not be obvious what this special something is, but here’s a tip: get your film seen and judged before it’s entered in competition. This may sound like a needless occupation as you feel you’re entering this very competition to get feedback, to see where you stand alongside other filmmakers, to get to hear ideas from people who have trodden that path before you. But it’s worth doing, I promise you.

So before you enter, get a truthful pair of eyes to appraise your film. Sit someone down and ask them to watch your film and tell you as honestly as possible what they see, what they would change, what they particularly liked, how they felt at the end of it.

Does your film have repeatability stamped all over it? Does it plod, state the obvious or entertain, surprise and delight? Armed with this honest appraisal go back to the timeline and make changes, and make them knowing that in this digital age nothing is lost. You can keep any number of different versions of your film; just make sure that the film the competition judges see is the one that will stand muster when it’s one of 220 films that are going to be shown in three days.