What constitutes an amateur film?

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tom hardwick
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What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by tom hardwick »

This year, at the online Zoom BIAFF judging sessions, there were two or three films that blatantly contradicted the spirit of the rules governing eligibility, primarily in the funding department.

They've subsequently been removed from our competition, but we still have to be a bit careful. I've been in with judges where the very finest amateur movies have been criticised for being 'far too professional'. In other words some judges have only wanted films that look amateurish to be called amateur films.

There are any number of simple, short, clever, beautifully produced films on Vimeo that would all win solid 5*s at BIAFF had they been entered. There appears to be no reason to make them, no commercial gain is evident and it's probably independent filmmakers showcasing their particular set of skills in the hope of being noticed, and ultimately, employed.
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Dave Watterson
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by Dave Watterson »

The current rules state:

This competition is for films made by individuals or groups for pleasure and not for commercial gain. The following are, however,
permissible:

1) Films made by IAC regions and clubs for the benefit of those organisations.

2) Public or private exhibition and sale, where the proceeds are solely for the benefit of clubs, regions or bona fide charities.

Any sponsorship must be used only to cover production costs and the expenses of the production team and actors, and not for paid assistance
from video professionals, either for filming or post-production (apart from the making of copies). Members of the production team, including
actors, should not be paid for their time devoted to the production, other than expenses.

If it is discovered, either before or after making any award, that the film has infringed these requirements, the organisers will have the right to
disqualify it, revoke the awards and reclaim any prizes.

Any film that is subsequently marketed or distributed commercially is liable to forfeiture of any BIAFF awards issued. The IAC and BIAFF logos may not be used in connection with any film without express permission from the organisers.
-----------------
Personally I view the last point as rather petty. But otherwise it all seems clear.

The problem is how to tell if a film was made for commercial gain. The sheer quality of the film / the number of people listed in the credits are not reliable indicators.

In recent years many entries have come from film schools - the excellent Dearly Departed, which won Best British last year, was a graduation piece.

This may suggest advantages in Ned Cordery's suggestion of re-instating the "Student" category.
ned c
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by ned c »

What do you mean by "blatantly contradicted the spirit of the rules?" Please be specific because there is as you point out a desire for a sort of "amateur" quality that some people want with an avoidance of being "too professional".

When I was involved with AMPS here in the USA we opened the Festival up to a wider international entry which the locals greeted with cries of pain claiming we were admitting professional films; two of the culprits were Michael Slowe and Willy Van der Lnden! They regularly produced films superior to the local products and were seen as stealing the awards with superior funding and equipment; untrue of course.

Having made this point it is important that we understand in what way the entries were unacceptable so that we can avoid this problem.

ned c
tom hardwick
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by tom hardwick »

I think, Ned, that your question should be specifically aimed at David Newman, as it is he who has final arbitration rights over who gains entry to the competition and who does not.
ned c
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by ned c »

Thanks Tom.

David Newman can you expand on this situation please?

Thanks

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by TimStannard »

Budget in excess of $1M? Speaking hypothetically, of course.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
tom hardwick
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by tom hardwick »

I know what you mean Tim, nudge. What about $2.3m?
ned c
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by ned c »

Now that BIAFF is on Film Freeway it is going to attract "pot hunters" from every corner of the film making spectrum. An additional load on David Newman to spot the ringers. But then I suppose a multi-million film could be made "for fun".

I entered two films via Film Freeway to BIAFF and the only indication I have that they were accepted was a request for permission to download by someone unspecified! Hope they made it.

ned c
tom hardwick
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by tom hardwick »

Thumbs up for Last Lines, Ned.
Michael Slowe
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by Michael Slowe »

I don't agree that the size of the budget necessarily has anything to do with the quality of the film. Personally, I have hardly spent a penny on films that I have made over the last forty or fifty years, apart from film (long ago) and equipment of a standard that most serious amateurs use. I always go along with Ned's criteria, that the film must be made purely for pleasure with no intention of commercial sale or marketing. As some people remember, one of my documentaries was taken up by a minor Sky TV channel and I did charge them purely so that the IAC could receive the money.

This discussion has been going on for years, so, if the odd "non qualifier" creeps in, does it really matter? With many of the "marginal" film school entries to the old Ten Best there were a number very much on the margin, but, were they not good watching! Baby on the lawn films may be amateur but is that what we want in festivals?
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TimStannard
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by TimStannard »

Michael, I don't think anyone here is arguing that big budget = high quality film. The question Tom asked was whether some of the films were truly made for the love of it and without paying the production team - ie in keeping with the spirit of the competition.

Now it IS possible that someone spent in excess of a million (Wikipedia had the film to which I referred as having a budget of $3.5M and IMDB had it at an estimate of at least $1.5M) without paying anyone on the production team anything other than expenses, but I'd venture to suggest it's extremely improbable.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
ned c
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by ned c »

Tim; I seemed to have missed something; what film are you quoting?

Thanks

ned c
tom hardwick
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by tom hardwick »

You haven't missed anything Ned, it was just one of the films Tim and I were asked to judge raised our suspicions as to its amateur status. Googling its production costs tended to confirm our thoughts. Good film though, no doubt about it.
Ken Wilson
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by Ken Wilson »

Just to add my two pennyworth here...
I was on a judging panel at the online BIAFF judging this year and on the Saturday, we had a 100 minute film. A bit unusual for the length of most amateur films, but not unique. The film had high productions values, well acted, nicely shot, great sound and so on, but along the way suspicions were raised about it qualifying as an "amateur" film.
Over the long list of credits at the end, we had stills of the crew posing with lots or pro looking equipment. One of our panel of 3 judges did a very quick check on IMDB and saw that the film`s production costs were around £115,000. Personally, I think this brings it further into question if this film was eligible for the IAC competition (non profit making, made for love etc).
The panel member raised the issue with David Newman who has apparently withdrawn it from the competition. Yes we do not necessarily want to have "amateur films (awful word) to look "amateurish", but the competition should be fair for all. We don`t have a local pub football team playing against Brazil in the World cup! It also severely discourages bona fide "amateurs" from competing if they perceive it that they have no chance of getting near to any winners cup.
Michael Slowe
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Re: What constitutes an amateur film?

Post by Michael Slowe »

Ken, I wonder what the score would be? How quickly could the Brazil team get the ball in the net after each kick off?
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