Attracting New Members

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john ingham
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by john ingham » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:47 pm

The way theirs works is different to most clubs... they meet in a pub once a month... they have a face book page .. and when people start a project..they all seem to want to help..and i am talking all age groups

My little short is building nicely with loads of support from the group

I have now just started a FB page where we can build the project....

i think the difference these days is ..many younger people will prefer the pub/facebook route where as many older people will enjoy the club scene....

saying that..there is always the odd case..just look at this forum....without being one ..this forum works as a small club... i have put films up and i have been given fantastic help and advise... without actually meeting any of you...

I guess what i am trying to say is..maybe the IAC needs to expand in new ways like a FB page.. In Exeter the local centre which puts on plays, short films etc etc also taps into the shooters site on FB and adds competitions and events
Keep trying, for one day you will get it right

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Peter B
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Peter B » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:39 pm

Hi John.

The IAC already has a facebook page, you'll find it here: ... 1271848296
My attempts at videos & AV sequences can be found on my website-

john ingham
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by john ingham » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:47 am

Thanks Peter... i have clicked like so it will be easier to follow...

My comments have came from being new to this filming world..and by the sounds of is the aim to attract new members...
I did the odd google search and found this forum... I think it would be easy to advertise in some circles, like the uni's and colleges where film making is taught..but getting to the independent guys who don't belong to clubs will be hard.
Keep trying, for one day you will get it right

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by TimStannard » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:05 am

People who attend courses at universities and colleges are people who are looking to a career in media and are unlikely to be interested. I suspect they set their sights "higher" than what they perceive as mere pensioners who are hobbyists.

Certainly any attempts we have made to liaise with local colleges have met with polite disinterest.

There is a distinction (as made clear by the IAC website contest) between the traditional clubs and film making groups. Shooting people would appear to be in the latter category and is more likely to appeal to the students than the traditional clubs.
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Willy » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:18 pm

I am thinking very hard... I have already suggested the following thing: let's create the atmosphere of a real filmclub (posters etc...). The interior of a clubhouse is important. Something I remember: once I was in a clubhouse that had large film reels on the walls as a decorative element. Good for nostaligic souls like me. With some simple objets like film reels and rolls of film you can create fantastic things. My favourite restaurant is called "The Scenario". On the walls you can see impressive painted pictures of film stars like Marilyn Monroe, Laurel and Hardy, etc... By why not filmstars that are young and still alive.

One of our friends said something like : let's organise attractive events to attract new members. Maybe the following idea: one of the best BIAFFs ever was the one at Royal Tunbridge Wells. The screenings took place in different rooms at the hotel, but... the winners' show was somewhere else. Daring! Very courageous! A coach took us to the film gala on Sunday. It was well organised. The films were projected on both sides of the screen. Everybody could see everything. Also the subtitles.

But imagine: also the next BIAFFS are organised like that: screenings in four different rooms on Saturday and the winners' show in an auditorium with at least 300 seats on Sunday. Maybe it is only a dream. Maybe it is also too expensive to hire an auditorium at a university for instance. I know there is a filmmaking section at Exeter University. I am sure they must have an impressive auditorium. And what about Harrogate, one of the cultural entres in Britain? But yes, perhaps you need quite of lot of money to pay for an auditorium room in Harrogate.
The winners' show could be preceded by a dance show or some other entertainment. I remember the one at BAFF about ten years at Buxton. But it was after the Gala dinner. Why not on Sunday? The British are best at organising such shows at UNICA. I remember Blankenberghe. British humour is best.
Willy Van der Linden

Peter Copestake
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Peter Copestake » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:22 pm

I agree with the idea that we do not need young people and that a steady supply of oldies would be enough to keep the IAC alive.
The U3A approach sounds good to me, but I'm not a good teacher, though I could demonstrate I suppose. As for Rotary, Probus and such like - I have been a repeat 'speaker' at the first for years and years, certainly from when it was cine. I have been welcomed, felt at home, even been asked to join, but not one of the audience has joined our local club. The same with Probus. Have been showing annually for a few years, our treasurer (for 38 years!) has been a member of Probus for years, some of them are also Rotarians, but none have joined our group. We have been featured on BBC regional News and the BBC has acquired rights to show one of the club's 50 year old films and when an extract is shown they put up the club name on the screen. We are THE amateurs in the district and were asked to make the film for the Portas Pilot Project application.

I can think of no one who has joined the club as a result of any of this.

So I think that we must still ask why? Then I thought "well why did I join?" Because I wanted to make better films. And why did I want to make films at all? Because I kept being asked to give talks to groups. I'm a poor public speaker so I was glad to be able to say 'No, but I can show you a film'. This was successful enough. Quite soon I found subjects that I thought-
1. would make a good film and 2. should be more widely known and 3. would serve a useful purpose.
I have made several useful films. I have made them for a purpose, which was NEVER to win competitions, though some have.
I could go on, but what I am trying to say is that there may not be that many people who actually want to do the things that we do for the reasons we do. Are there that many people even trying to make films apart from recording their children growing up? (Apart from students who go to film school any way)
I hope Potters Bar FM will tell us whether anyone did actually join. By the way, all our meetings are free to anyone without joining though they may feel they are expected to pay for their tea and biccies.
And I would like to hear if there is any more to the Orpington success than already mentioned, though Orpington is another world from Pendle.
Peter Copestake

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by ADBest » Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:09 pm

I don’t like lost causes, but I have recently been closely involved in one.

My video club gradually faded over about 10 years from a healthy 15 to 20 members down to 6 with the inevitable consequence.
I have now joined a new club with 15 to 20 members and have visited, through inter-club competitions and exchanges, another 5 clubs. They are all the same: same age group, same interests. None of their members aspiring to be better than part time wedding videographers, and even these are few and far between. It would appear that many clubs are going the same way.
Most members, if they give it any thought at all, are happy with the IAC the way it is. They cannot see that we are aboard the Costa Concordia.

There are a number of very successful clubs and this thread has aired a few of the reasons for their flourishing; strength to their elbow. However the IAC foundations rest upon the ‘average’ club and the organisation will not survive without a renaissance of the strugglers. Save the clubs and the IAC Membership will look after itself.

So much for the doom and gloom.

In the dying days of my former club we found a successful formula for attracting new members. Unfortunately what we had to offer on club night was, by this time, inferior and not attractive enough to retain interest.

Our ‘success’ was based on an interesting and helpful Web-site which promised help with video related problems. Locals experiencing difficulties found their way to our site and came along to be helped. If our club night ‘content’ had been as interesting as it was when we had 20 members then our membership would have been sustained against the ravages of the Grim Reaper.
I think we have to acknowledge that in these days with husband and wife both working then neither have the time to pursue hobbies before they retire. (The same malaise infects sports clubs, scouts, horticultural societies and other organisations relying on voluntary workers – ask David Cameron about his ‘Big Society’). Consequently our target membership intake will inevitably be the recently retired.

Hope this helps.

One final thought before getting back to my video editing. If you have a Web-site then make sure that it is kept up to date. Nothing is more off-putting than finding information advertising something which happened 9 months, or even a year ago. Also try to persuade your club members to transact their frequent instances of inter-member help through the club forum. This is the best bait for local search engine users.

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:02 pm

Several good ideas seem to be emerging.

Willy - very few British clubs have their own dedicated club-room. Most use a meeting hall attached to a church, social club or other organisation. This is shared with all sorts of other clubs and groups. So any ideas for interesting wall decorations have to be in a form which can be taken down at the end of the meeting, stored away and put up at the start of the next meeting.

I share your view that BIAFF in Tunbridge Wells managed the Sunday gala show far better than any other I have attended. I do wish other regions would adopt the ideas they used - especially projecting onto two screens, that were back-to-back in the middle of the hall. It gave everyone a much better view than usual.

It is interesting that several people have laid emphasis on supporting the clubs. As I said previously it seems to me clubs do not gain a lot from IAC membership.

IAC has roughly 260 clubs and about 1550 individual members ... what we do not know is how many of those members are also part of a club. Sometimes we act as if they were all "lone workers".

Let's see if we can come up with specific suggestions for promoting what we do.

AD Best suggests a problem-solving website and invitations for those with video difficulties to come to the club ... that is surely an idea many clubs could adopt. Even if a problem comes up that no one in the club can solve, they will be able to help the enquirer dig around Google better and can offer to pass on the query to others in the IAC for advice,

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:59 am

A little has been said about the role of websites in all this.

Peter Kidman and I began a major effort a couple of years ago to help club websites improve. We wrote both a general set of articles and a tutorial for beginners on the use of the free Weebly system.* We also started the annual competition to find The Best IAC Club Website ... since competitions are so much in the blood of the movement. As with entries in the IAC Film Competition, we hope that the detailed crits we send to webmasters are just as valuable as the chance to receive a trophy at BIAFF.

We did all this because we recognised that clubs - and even IAC nationally - cannot compete in the PR and publicity stakes with the marketeers for major breakfast cereals, wahsing-powders and car insurance.

But a website is effectively free, 24/7 and 365 days a year worldwide publicity.

The IAC's website is widely recognised around the world as one of the biggest and best of its kind. It is far from perfect! (I am echoing the shout of Jan, the webmaster when I say that.) But it does get a wide range of readers and generates some new mebers for IAC. We hope it also helps point people to clubs in their area.

Some clubs have reported that potential members have found them through their websites.


We still find that each mailing of Film & Video Maker and the regional newsletters contain announcements of events that no one has sent to the IAC website. Why not? All publicity helps. What's more on the web publicity can be in colour and as long as you like - no restrictions on printing costs - and you can include video.

* The articles and tutorial are on the IAC website under the "Clubs" menu.

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Alan » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:08 pm

Apologies for coming into the chat a bit late. Afraid it's a bit of a long post, so grab a cup of tea...or a brick to throw at the screen! Hehehe.

I'll start with a little bit of a story:

We had a new starter at work a few months back who came a sat next to me. It turned out he was an avid film maker! What you might call an 'Idie filmaker'. I mentioned 'The IAC' to him. Never heard of it, was the response! I recently showed him the mag and pointed out the three major selling points of 'The IAC' (music license, our BIAFF competition and the mag). His general response was that it would not make him join. On looking through the mag he pointed our the seniority of the people in the pictures. They were not of his peer group.

My observation of 'hobby' film making, and I maybe completely off the rails here, is that the senior film makers are those who set up the clubs in the past to enjoy their hobby when life was not full of as many distraction as there are today. Committes were formed, constitutions founded, Chairman, treasurer and secretary appointed, etc and so on and so forth....then film making could commence.

Today, the systems still works for those people who are now retired and able to enjoy their hobby all the more and still run the clubs.

But the thing is, the next generation of film makers (and there are a lot of them) just want to make films. They don't want the constraints of a formal club. Instead they have loose groups, search out projects to work on, advertise for people to come and help. It works, many films get made and if I am honest some are really outstanding and boardering on professional.

And to be honest this is how I really would like to make film. In fact two years ago I did just that and made a film about the environment with 20 people from 9 countries. It was an amazing experience...even life changing for me!

So my thoughts are, if 'The IAC' is to survive and grow it really does have to evolve. Things can stay as they are if people want. There is nothing wrong in that. The downside of course is that it will fold, but hobbyist film making will go on regardless.

However, I don't think any of us in 'The IAC', regardless of age want that to happen. Simply because there is soooo much potential for 'The IAC' to serve a purpose and grow to meet that purpose.

And here's the thing: What is the the purpose, objective and dersired outcome for 'The IAC'?

For me 'The IAC' should be for any one with a life long or passing interest in the audio-visual arts in all its forms. It should encompass and be accessable to those who are:
  • Film students hoping to go pro
    Families who want to improve their family event captures on video
    Indie film makers who want to collaborate with anyone and everyone
    Schools who what to give their students of all ages an opportunity and experience at the audio-visual media
    Single film makers who just want to do their own thing
    Senior people who want to do things their way
    Club people who like the social approach
    Pros who what to delve into the unpaid and hobbyist world.
    And any other group I have not been able to think of!
In order to tap into all the above the real key is the website. It should be an amazing and inviting, enticing 'portal' for all the above to find what they need.

In a nutshell the aim has to be for 'The IAC' website to be a single source for film making knowledge, experience, equipment guides, genre explanations, script writing help, music advice, filming making skills basic, intermediate and advanced. In needs to be the place to go for every film maker pro or not! Some pages can be for everyone. Then to entice membership the more interesting stuff can only be accessed by members perhaps?

I know a lot of work and upkeep goes into maintaining the website by a small number of people, but with all respect the homepage does not SCREAM Film Making at me. Where are the pictures of film crews, clapper boards, sound equipment, actors, projection equipment, scripts and the ability to clip on each of those images to easily find out more? The only 'slight' nod to film making is the 'IAC' badge on a film background. As I say, I really do appreciate the effort that goes into the website, but it really needs to draw people in.

Following on from that, there could be training courses and collaboration days advertised for everyone as well as the special interest groups, but with huge discounts for members.

Why not collaborate with universities and colleges. Have student membership rates with reduced competition entry fees. It's just finding ways of helping bring film makers together. It could be a link to the professionals and professional organisations for those who want to make that step into the pro world. It coulld enable the pros to access the film making enthusiast world.

On reading some of the comments above to me 'The Institute of Amateur Cinematographers' should not be an institute, amateur or just about cinematographers. It is a British Organisation for the Audio-Visual Arts!

I feel that if the 'IAC' is to not just survive, but to grow and thrive, then this is what it needs to evolve to - and swiftly!

But if the 'IAC' is to evolve so that it can engage with as many people as possible who have an interest in the Audio-Visual arts then maybe we need to re-visit what the purpose, objective and desired out come is for 'The IAC'.

I kinda think until all the above is agreed upon, then we can not progress how to retain and attract members to this audio-visual/film making arts community.

Once there then 'The IAC' needs to understand what would make each group/type of film maker want to join the new 'IAC'. What would attract them? What would they be able to get out of it? What would 'The IAC' offer that that film makers could not get elsewhere? We really need to put ourselves in their shoes and not second guess them.

When we have that under our belts then I guess we can start to build up the relevant 'facilities'/support structure/subject areas, etc, so that it is ready to go. Then the advertising can begin with great gusto and be properly targeted, for instance:

Adverts in universities that do video courses.
Camcorder sales points, including the web sales points.
Forums where indie film makers hang out.
An advertising guide for clubs to help them recruit.

I've thown some ideas out up above and in doing so I hope I have not put anyones nose out of joint. Apologies if I have, but as I say, we need to evolve. I hope it helps a little, because I want the British Organisation for the Audio-Visual Arts to thrive! Ooops! Hehehee.

Best wishes,


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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:18 pm

For anyone wondering ... the exciting film project Alan worked on was:

You cannot get a better example of an amateur film, made on a worldwide basis using connections outside the traditional film club movements.

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:41 pm

Alan ... you seem to have shocked everyone else into silence.

Have you said it all, perhaps?

The more I think around the issues, there is one group not in your list: the people who want to belong. There are a lot of people who pay membership fees and attend IAC events who never have and probably never will make a film worth the name. They come along because they support the idea of amateur/non-commercial film making, they enjoy the better films they see and love the company of fellow enthusiasts. They do not want to learn editing, to operate a camera, to write or act or decorate sets. But they will happily make teas, greet guests at clubs, give hospitality to visiting speakers and make up the audience. We need some subtle way to encourage them.

Brian Saberton
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Brian Saberton » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:38 pm

Dave touched on the subject of clubs and what the IAC can do for them and it occurred to me that it might be worth drawing some comparisons with the camera club scene which, at least in Scotland, is currently very healthy with clubs attracting new members from a very wide age group. My own club is a member of the Scottish Photographic Federation (SPF) which, in turn is part of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB). England and Wales is split into several geographic federations similar to the SPF which in essence bears strong similarities with the IAC regions. Clubs pay a membership fee to their local federation based on membership numbers and this gives the club access to several services such as: Public liability and trustee liability insurance. Equipment insurance for clubs/individuals (at extra cost), regional/national inter-club competitions and photographic salons, AV events, lists of approved competition judges within each regional federation and lists of lecturers within each federation. All this information is collated into a booklet issued to all affiliated clubs on an annual basis. The individual federations are responsible for finding and offering training for judges and for compiling lists of speakers for their areas.

I suppose it's a fact of life that people tend to look for what they get out of something, rather than what they can put in, ("ask not what the IAC can do for you, but rather what you can do for the IAC" to paraphrase the late President Kennedy) and I suppose there will always be people who will look for reasons not to join something, although I have to say the rationale behind that argument eludes me! I also have to say that being put off by people with grey hair sounds a bit ageist to me.

Film-making as a hobby, pass time, vocation, call it what you will has suffered probably more than many other activities from almost constant upheaval and turmoil for many many years, primarly due to changing technology so we haven't exactly had it easy. The growth of the internet, social media, smart phones, i pads etc etc has radically changed the way we can shoot and view films and yet and yet, there is still a thriving interest in the big screen with UK cinema attendences increasing again last year, Cineworld planning to open several new cinemas and the independant sector also doing well.

A couple of days ago I was browsing in WH Smith and noticed a new magazine for sale called (if I remember correctly) Digital SLR Film making. If you haven't already come across it, this new publication is aimed at independant professional film-makers who are using DSLR cameras rather then video cameras to shoot their movies. This trend (and I'll guarantee it will be just as unstoppable as all the other technological advances, so let's not react against it) is bound to affect the amateur market and I reckon we'll soon begin to see a gradual decline in the number of camcorders on the market. After all, there are plenty of people shooting movies on their mobile phones these days. But let's be positive about this. If someone has purchased a digital stills camera that happens also to shoot movies I bet they'll be tempted to give it a try and, who knows, this might result in more people taking up the hobby and maybe, just maybe, thinking about joining a club or forming a group. Either way don't you think that this could be a potential and valuable source of new members for the IAC? Perhaps photographic magazines, such as Amateur Photographer who at one time had a cine page, would be a good place for the IAC to promote their activities. As an experiment I recently I made a movie filmed on my Canon G12 compact camera and I have to say that the results are pretty good so, for the average snap-shotter who might only shoot holiday films, this provides everything they need on a single device that can be slipped into a coat pocket.

There is also AV to consider because I know that there are many people who work in audio visual that have joined the IAC because of the availability of the copyright license scheme. AV is currently exceptionally popular, with many camera clubs having their own audio visual groups, and it woudn't surprise me if there are more people making AV sequences than making films - some are probably doing both, because movies can be incorporated into AV sequences. Another great potential source of new members I would suggest.

Dave is bang on the money when he discusses people who just want to belong. Norman Speirs has often commented on the phenomenon of people who simply want to feel part of something, without necessarily aspiring to greater things. If they come along to our clubs they provide the film makers with an audience; they might also be happy to help out behind the scenes but sometimes it is simply about feeling part of something where their enjoyment could simply be receiving a regular magazine (printed of course!) where they can read about everything that is going on.
Brian Saberton

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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Mike Shaw » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:55 pm

I really think that both Alan and Brian have hit the nail bang on the head with some excellent thought provoking ideas.

The 'IAC' (whatever name it is given) should be carrying out the wishes of the clubs, rather than the clubs - and their members 'applying for membership' to join the IAC.

I like the naming concepts as well - the Federation of Movie-Making Clubs, or Alliance of Movie Making Clubs concept totally avoids any connotations of amateur, whilst implying (the word 'club') that this is for the 'non-professional' film maker (in the money earning sense) but rather for the hobbyist.

Further. If a small part of all club members subs are used to fund the 'IAC' (using the current name), then all club members are automatically members of the overseeing organisation (currently known as IAC) - and IAC membership is dramatically and suddenly a healthy number. Which would look good in reports and give confidence and credence in the 'society'.

However - The magazine would not be viable that way, of course - thousands of copies to be supplied, without sufficient funding so to do ... UNLESS ... as club members they are automatically 'regular' or associate members (name needed) of the 'IAC', but if they pay an extra sum (the difference between what they have to pay to the club as part of their IAC funding, and the current IAC membership fee), they become 'full members' (name needed) - entitling them to receive the magazine, and possibly, the music licence (fee must cover both of course).

Thus, every club member is a 'junior', or associate member of the 'IAC'. But can pay to be come a full member IF they want the benefits of a magazine, music licence, and whatever else costs money to provide. In other words everyone who joins a club becomes a member of the 'IAC'. If they want a magazine and movie licence, that costs extra ...

No doubt there are lots of holes which need plugging in this idea - which really just pulls together, possibly, some of the thoughts from Alan and Brian.

But I do like the concept of a Federation or an 'Alliance', and associating the governing body with the clubs it (should?) represent to the outside world. Not too keen on the 'audio-visual arts' phrase - believing that motion or moving (arts) is OK, but audio-visual per se may meet with opposition.

The problem, of course, and I do recognise it, is persuading clubs to possibly increase members subs, and parting with a proportion of those subs to help run the 'overseeing body'. They may well ask 'Why should we pay that...'. So, strong valid reasons would need to be provided - benefits to club members that a governing body can provide. I'd say we were half way there now - with the clubs paying (?) to be affiliated to the IAC.

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Attracting New Members

Post by Dave Watterson » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:01 pm

Interesting ideas from Brian and Mike. How would you serve the "lone worker" who cannot or does not wish to join a club?

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