BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

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tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by tom hardwick » Wed May 01, 2019 10:47 am

In Durham we judge films in hotel bedrooms. Nowt wrong with that. We're in Judgement Mode; thoughtfully serious and constructively analytical.

At BIAFF on Sunday we watch the same films in a completely different Entertainment Mode. We let the films wash over us, tickling our senses and playing on our emotions. No pressure; we take it or leave it.

I'm not surprised this long thread has criticised the judges, but I'd like to address one point. Writers have said that judges have put them off even entering the competition, yet this can be turned on its head. Judges too are being judged, and unless greater openness as to who is to blame is revealed, people won't be putting themselves forward as judges in the future.

Anyway, as Bob Lorrimer is too modest, I'll attach his Diamond appraisal here:

THE IAC BRITISH INTERNATIONAL
AMATEUR FILM COMPETITION 2019
Judges’ Comments

Title: Highly Likely
Number: 17049
Award: 5*, then subsequently Diamond

Lots and lots of ticks in the ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’ columns on the judges’ hymn sheets ensure that this laugh-out-loud comedy lands firmly in the Five Star category. And I do enjoy writing up Five Starrers, as I feel enthused and recharged and full of admiration for what can be achieved in so few minutes of screen time.

It’s good that we’ve been pre-warned by having the vocal chord paralysis explained, but the following title could happily stay on-screen for longer. We liked the jump-cut editing used to good effect in the stuck lid scenes, coupled with the gasps, facial twitches and little noises uttered by the assailant. The audio is a treat, with the spot effects and the music building to a crescendo as horrifying realisation dawns, and there’s the exaggerated sounds of the lid hitting the ground and the tiny screams and quick cutting that made us all wince at what was happening and all laugh at the outcome.

Great use is made of wide-angles to amplify the facial expressions, as the whole film relies on this heavily. There’s maybe some over-exposure of the brick wall and at times it seemed unnecessarily sharply focused, but no matter - congratulations on your Five Star Award and brave editing style. No shot outstays its welcome; all are tightly frame-accurate. The film may well be very topical, but right now it’s a LOL production, indeed it is.

Tom Hardwick FACI

On behalf of:
Jackie Williams FACI, and Celia Hardwick

tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by tom hardwick » Wed May 01, 2019 11:49 am

Jill Lampert has been very vocal on this thread, so I'd like to share my delight at seeing her film with you lot. Here goes:

Young Performers

4 stars

Young Performers jump-starts, and from that point on it's the never-let-up editing that makes this such an entertaining film to watch. We're taken right into the thick of it, with rehearsals, auditions, interviews and props all piling in on each other, and we're hardly given chance to breathe.

So the pace change at the end with the on-stage synchronicity of the whole cast singing Don't Go Breaking my Heart is perfect, and we found ourselves smiling happily as the applause built up. We really had the feeling that we'd genuinely been involved in all the hard work, and we could really appreciate the dedication that these children had invested in getting Aladdin onto the stage and into the limelight.

Special mention should be made about the film's picture quality, and on a 65'' OLED it was tack sharp. There were exceptions, and unfortunately they do stand out and somehow intrude in such a high quality production. It was good to see differential focus soften the background at rare times, but this technique could well have been used more often throughout the film, so heavily does it rely on talking heads.

The exposure too was generally spot on, and the stage-lit performers were beautifully exposed. So too the individual interviews, with each child being interestingly lit and, unusually, cropped to portrait mode. Again, it's the one or two over-exposed scenes that are sore thumbs in such an excellent production.

Best of all was the spontaneous replies, (we're a happy family), the genuine enthusiasm the youngsters had, and we appreciate the effort that the filmmaker has put into making the kids feel at ease and then editing their replies so compassionately. There would be an awful lot of audio dropouts if the word 'like' was systematically removed however.

The audio is good, albeit with an understandable hollowness in the auditions. The voiceover is clear and adds gentle background information, just as it should.

No scene outstays is welcome, and rapid fire snippets pile on top of one another. It's delightful, it's what gives the film energy, and ensures it a very genuine Four Star place.

Jon Pegg
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Jon Pegg » Wed May 01, 2019 1:27 pm

The judges comments were a welcome change to what you usualy get from festivals which is a copy and paste reply either stating yr film was great but didnt make or your film was great and we are showing it.
We as a team appreciated the fact we got not 1 but two lots of judges comments and they brought up different things.

Id really reccommend trying a few "bigger " or more commercial fests and you will see how lucky you are with what you get.

Michael Slowe
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Michael Slowe » Wed May 01, 2019 3:04 pm

Jon, I have in past years, when a film gets decent awards,entered a number of commercial and other fringe festivals. There are a limited few where, provided you opt for it, you get a critique, and these are generally well worth getting. However, as you point out, the vast majority merely send a standard E Mail: " bad luck, your splendid film was one of thousands and didn't quite make it. Please spend more money next year and try again." I have had some selected for showing and that is quite rewarding provided the presentation is as good as we had at BIAFF this year. Your film, which we saw on Sunday, would certainly be popular I'm sure, it's a great script, very well acted, shot and edited. It was good to have the opportunity of a couple of chats, I think I'll take up boxing in order to benefit further from your skills!

Tom, your exposition on film judging is a masterclass! That's why most film makers that I know have such confidence in you. I don't think that there were many complaints this year concerning judging. The grades awarded throughout the competition appeared to me, in respect of the films I saw, about right.

Jon Pegg
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Jon Pegg » Wed May 01, 2019 3:59 pm

Michael Slowe wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:04 pm
Jon, I have in past years, when a film gets decent awards,entered a number of commercial and other fringe festivals. There are a limited few where, provided you opt for it, you get a critique, and these are generally well worth getting. However, as you point out, the vast majority merely send a standard E Mail: " bad luck, your splendid film was one of thousands and didn't quite make it. Please spend more money next year and try again." I have had some selected for showing and that is quite rewarding provided the presentation is as good as we had at BIAFF this year. Your film, which we saw on Sunday, would certainly be popular I'm sure, it's a great script, very well acted, shot and edited. It was good to have the opportunity of a couple of chats, I think I'll take up boxing in order to benefit further from your skills!

Tom, your exposition on film judging is a masterclass! That's why most film makers that I know have such confidence in you. I don't think that there were many complaints this year concerning judging. The grades awarded throughout the competition appeared to me, in respect of the films I saw, about right.
Hey Michael was great chatting with you over the weekend,The Bham film fest was top notch for presentation as its rare you will see your film on an Imax screen and while very slick did not have the warmth and friendliness of yr festival.A couple of others frankly are souless affairs.Im hoping the Heart of England film festival in Coventry in June will be good as I know one of the organisers and they have put a lot into it and just love film.

Michael where can i check some of your films out do you have any links please?

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by TimStannard » Wed May 01, 2019 4:08 pm

Jon, I'm sure Micahel will respond shortly (although if he doesn't, his films are here https://www.michaelslowefilms.com )
Before too long many of the films entered for BIAFF 2019 will join those of previous years on the official BIAFF website: www.biaff.org.uk and earlier years on the IAC website www.theiac.org.uk which also contains several "making of" films.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

Jon Pegg
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Jon Pegg » Wed May 01, 2019 4:17 pm

TimStannard wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:08 pm
Jon, I'm sure Micahel will respond shortly (although if he doesn't, his films are here https://www.michaelslowefilms.com )
Before too long many of the films entered for BIAFF 2019 will join those of previous years on the official BIAFF website: www.biaff.org.uk and earlier years on the IAC website www.theiac.org.uk which also contains several "making of" films.
Thanks Tim.Should Ep 2 ready pretty soon if you fancy a sneak peek

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by TimStannard » Wed May 01, 2019 4:43 pm

Some brilliant posts, Tom! I'd encourage you to submit the main one explaining the "human/practical" side of judging to FVM for a wider audience than those here (where you are, to some extent, preaching to the converted).

My comments about THE SWIMMING POOL weren't intended as a defence, indeed I see no need to defend our decision, rather as an insight as to why one of the judges thought this the best comedy. I know I really appreciate reading other judges comments about other films. I learn a lot from them.

Part of me likes the idea of all comments being publicly available - this would help others understand the judges' reasoning - but I can understand many film makers might not want this - and it would almost certainly cause judges to exercise more reservation in their comments.

Arguments as to "best this" and "best that" aside, I really do agree with Jill that the real purpose of comments should be to encourage film makers. Whether that be to encourage established film makers who feel they are perhaps falling from favour to continue to make films and perhaps explore new directions or novices to understand a little more of what makes a film appeal, comments should be helpful, positive and (as I've learned from earlier discusions in this thread) specific.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

Bob Lorrimer
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Bob Lorrimer » Thu May 02, 2019 6:53 am

An Excellent and well reasoned Post Tom! (Tom Hardwick on the difficulties and constraints or 'judging a competition' when compared to watching an entry for 'entertainment purposes'.)

And thank-you for picking up on the nuances of my film "Highly Likely" - a Journalist's story which just ran and ran until the endless issue of Brexit usurped all!

Michael Slowe
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Michael Slowe » Thu May 02, 2019 1:23 pm

Jon, you are welcome to have a look at my web site where virtually every film I've made since 1970 can be found. Most are also on Vimeo but are harder to find, the web site is easier and is (as Tim has already posted) michaelslowefilms.com my favourites there are The Last of The Wolfgang, Melissa and Hounds & The Huntsman, although some of the earlier 'cut to music' were quite fun in their day before everyone was doing that!

I'm afraid that as I enter old age my film making has declined rather, I'll make more of an effort in view of Tom's so inspiring advice.

Jill Lampert
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Jill Lampert » Thu May 02, 2019 2:16 pm

I thought it was a cracking BIAFF weekend. Yes! I agree with Michael that it was the best ever. Efficient, smooth organisation. Excellent projection. The Crescent was a WONDERFUL venue. And I saw masses of films that I enjoyed and many really inspirational ones.

Tom's post is excellent! Very interesting. It really brings home the importance of the opening seconds of a film in a competition setting. Makes one wonder how Roma won an oscar! :D (Actually I really enjoyed Roma.)

Regarding Tom's point about judges being judged and that it's only fair to name them, I would like to clarify that I am not intending to 'get at' any individual judge(s)! I am only concerned about the quality of judges' comments, and I believe that any judge can do it right if he/she is fully aware of what the purpose of the task is. I wish there was a way that the IAC could ensure that in future all judges' comments do include appreciation of the strengths of films as well as providing constructive criticism of weaknesses, and are encouraging and helpful to filmmakers.

Ken Wilson
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Ken Wilson » Thu May 02, 2019 3:48 pm

First can I echo what has been said already here about Tom`s excellent advice on catching the judges` eye and his insight into his judging methods. Perhaps you could send this on to be published in FVM? I agree that films in competition, watched at a festival, can seem very different to showing it to your actors, a video club or when it`s being edited here at home. All very different scenarios. I had in previous years set up an occasional system to send a first DVD copy to other film makers to give an appraisal before they go into BIAFF, but time this year didn`t allow for it. We had 3 new films and they were edited right up to the wire. Getting such feedback is very useful as you are told things you didn`t realise. You are so close to the films by the end that all judgement disappears. One of our films was shown to Cheadle club on the Thursday prior to BIAFF. Added to the judges` comments, on the Monday I re-cut it and shortened the film by 70 seconds.

But I realise that you have to grab the audience (and judges) attention from the start. With this in mind, our 2018 thriller "Breaking Point" starts out with the first shot as we track in to a woman`s body on a kitchen floor. We don`t know if she is dead or alive, or what has happened. The film then goes into flashback to explain how we arrived at this point and the story unfolds.
Several of our actors who appeared in the other two of our 2018 films thought this one was our best for quite some time. The panel of 3 judges didn`t agree and gave it 3 stars. It therefore wasn`t shown at BIAFF though one of our comedies, a 4 star award, was. But this is not that unusual and again confirms that we all have different views and opinions and as Tom says, we have different experiences, likes and dislikes, prejudices and more.
Comedies are probably the hardest films to make. I have made some successful ones but now seem to have lost the knack though for reasons unexplained. I did think that "Bite Off" was by far the best comedy and couldn`t understand why "The Swimming Pool" won it (and was it a comedy?) "Caught Short" was not my sort of film. Toilet humour is not my thing at all.
2018 seemed to be the year of the Drone as we saw at least 10 films with Drone shots. Also it was the year of the films without an ending as there were several of these too.
There were many really great films this time though and the addition of the Crescent Theatre was a fantastic improvement.

We decided to travel to Birmingham by car and this worked fine until we hit all the diversions and road works which confused the sat-nav. But we got things sorted in time for the Friday dinner. Food was good for a corporate hotel, though not spectacular. But it was ok. Breakfasts were very good.

On the Saturday the mini-cinemas suffered from the usual compromises. Low ceilings meant several of us had to stand at the back to read the subtitles, but the standard of films was very good. I was at times distracted in the Barra room by sound coming through from the one next door. We could hear applause and laughter as well as extracts of the soundtrack of other films. This was a bit annoying and I am easily distracted I have to admit. Could these rooms have been separated somehow?

So overall it was a great success and feedback here seems to indicate everyone would like the next festival to be there again. The small IAC team clearly worked very hard to run the event and finally we now have the Sunday event sorted out. I am thinking that Saturday and the mini-cinema shows will be a harder nut to crack due to costs. If the theatre could be booked for that day too (and there is a second one, a studio theatre under the main one) we would have fewer films shown, so that probably would be a compromise too far. But it was great to meet and chat with everyone again and there was a lot of inspirational movies to see over the two days.

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by TimStannard » Thu May 02, 2019 7:32 pm

Ken Wilson wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 3:48 pm
First can I echo what has been said already here about Tom`s excellent advice on catching the judges` eye and his insight into his judging methods. Perhaps you could send this on to be published in FVM?
Already suggested.
Ken Wilson wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 3:48 pm
I did think that "Bite Off" was by far the best comedy and couldn`t understand why "The Swimming Pool" won it (and was it a comedy?)
I don't expect you to agree, but hopefully, if you read my explanation above, you now have some understanding :) (And I'm happy to discuss this further by PM)
Tim
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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by TimStannard » Sun May 12, 2019 6:18 pm

Links to many of the films plus interviews with many of the makers (thanks to Jan, Alan Colegrave/Alistair Biggar, Tom & Celia and maybe others) have now appeared on www.biaff.org.uk.
Willy will be interested that theres a lengthy interview with Werner & Francis.
Tim
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Ken Wilson
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Re: BIAFF 2019 at Birmingham

Post by Ken Wilson » Tue May 14, 2019 11:28 am

I have been meaning to add new posts about the BIAFF event but time has been in short supply just now. We have bought a new puppy, a Border Collie, so we now have two farm bred Collie`s and this takes up quite a bit of time.
However...to reply to Tim, yes we can send private messages about comedy Tim. It is a complex subject and I can`t really give answers to it as I suspect no-one else can. We have made some very successful ones (by judges and audience reactions) and also some flops. Our most successful one was "Dropping Off" made in 2002. Even now at club shows and festivals, someone will come up to me and remind me how much they liked this one "The man on the railway bridge film" that they rarely know the title of. It seems this may be the pinnacle of my film making. We made several more comedy`s that won awards, but not recently. What works and what doesn`t?

TV comedy writers struggle to make good shows. It`s probably one of the toughest genres to get right. But several people said they didn`t "get" "The Swimming Pool" film including me. Not as a comedy and not even as a film. I think the "Best" comedy as judged by the panel, should be the one which makes you laugh the most, but clearly, as always, there are different views. When all is said and done, taking into account all the technical aspects, the creative decisions like the story, acting and all the rest, it comes down to: did we "like" it? This is clearly more so with comedy as the audience is required to participate by reacting with a laugh. Even though there is the "internal laugh" where we smile or chuckle inside but no sound leaves our mouths, so it is not so obvious if we find it funny but in a more minor way. It is reassuring as the film`s writer/ maker when the audience laugh at your gags but excruciating when they fall flat. Who knows what will work and what will not? The uncertainty has killed many comedians like Tony Hancock. So we liked the "Bite Off" film and thought it the best in the comedy category. But it was a great weekend and hope we hear soon what are the plans for 2020.

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