Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

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Michael Slowe
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by Michael Slowe » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:12 pm

This thread has covered so many different aspects that it's difficult now to join in.
As one of the oldest IAC members (both in age and membership years) there are some things that I'd like to say. As someone has already mentioned, we can't harp back to the old days, pre digital, even pre television, but there are some points that may be valid. The huge success and international publicity enjoyed by the Ten Best Amateur Film competition mounted and run by the editors and staff of the magazine Movie Maker in the 1960s and 70s, does tell us one thing. Publicity is the key to a successful Festival. Movie Maker had a large circulation as it was sold and featured by newsagents, presumably both here and overseas. It did have an additional plus factor in that it was edited by the charismatic Tony Rose, ably assisted by Alan Cleave (an IAC member by the way).
The point that I'm coming to is that our magazine could be a far better promotion of the IAC and particularly BIAFF than it is. On line it should attract a wider following although I would still prefer a hard copy to be produced additionally. I think it may attract a younger readership if there was more focus on the artistic aspect of film making, discussion and articles on why a particular film was made and the choice of subject.

To answer an earlier topic, I always describe myself to people who ask, that I'm a film maker, albeit an non commercial film maker. Jill, does that fulfil your criteria? As to the competitive nature of Festivals, and in particular BIAFF,I can't see how on earth this could be detrimental. All films are welcomed, they all receive a critique and a very large proportion of the entry is screened. I often enter films to 'commercial' festivals, the prize for me is merely getting a film 'selected' for exhibition. Of course the main prizes are way out of reach for me but there is still the satisfaction of a screening, rare though this is for me.
We are at a cross roads as far as Amateur film making is concerned. The old club structure is disintegrating, only the IAC can survive and publicity is the clue to that. Someone suggested a paid executive, I say hooray for that. Increase our subs slightly but that would be a huge step in the right direction.

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John Roberts
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by John Roberts » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:53 pm

Publicity is absolutely the key! It makes a product/service seem more successful, and success breeds success. The problem with the IAC, one that I brought up at an AGM a number of years ago, is that before deciding what to throw resources (people, cash, etc) at, the IAC must surely decide what it is trying to do. To date I, and most others, have yet to receive a satisfactory answer, but not for want of trying from all sides - although the raison d'être of the IAC remains 100% valid, it is changing technology and the utilisation of it which makes the IAC appear redundant.

The magazine is a bit of a paradox. More than two years ago I proposed putting FVM online, with an interim period where both this and the printed copy would be available, before changing to an online version only. This would give time for objections to be raised. I'm not sure how many members took note of the annual expenditures of the IAC (those that bothered to turn up to the AGM) but the outlay for the printed version of FVM is massive. I'm not going to quote figures, but it's huge! This is just for printing and postage - not for the actual desktop or editing work, which was monetised separately. The online FVM proposal was to save this expenditure in order to enable a drop in subs, to attract new members who thought the outlay was not worth the return. The online magazine would have remained as a members only benefit, accessible via a link or password protected area of the forum.

And here is the paradox: If we make FVM, the IAC's main 'selling point,' available to all for free to enable it to publicise the IAC - what are the members left with for their sub money?

Playing devil's advocate (looking at the IAC as an outsider) we would be left with: a dwindling number of affiliated clubs that one doesn't have to be an IAC member to join (my own club seems to have had zero contact with the IAC for years apart from a club copyright licence to allow members who make films as 'the club' to show their films in club competitions); we have a failing regions system, most of whom don't even advertise themselves on social media to make members of the public aware they exist; a copyright clearance scheme which is quite restrictive because it's designed for the old club exhibition system; an internet forum that anyone - IAC member or not - can join; and BIAFF, which anyone can enter and which ought to be self-supporting from its entrance fees without relying on the dwindling funds of the IAC.

I'm not in favour of increasing the subs. Switching to an online FVM will save tens of thousands a year, which can be used for example to reduce subs, and/or include the copyright clearance licences in the annual subscription, and/or employ a 'paid executive' to properly promote the IAC. I'm not even going to mention precious resources such as paper, CO2 emissions from printers and delivery vans, recycling costs of discarded magazines etc - something we should all now be aware of and trying to tackle. Put it online and have done with it, and use the savings to catapult the IAC into the early 21st century and out of the early 20th.

In 2017 I also suggested other things such as 'virtual' regions, centralised contacts, regional threads on the forum as well as members-only areas, all to try and save money, generate interest and increase the number of volunteers who simply didn't want to, or couldn't, spare the time to wade through an antiquated administrative system that appeared to be of little benefit to existing or potential members.


Of course, none of it amounted to anything and we simply blundered on the way it had always been done, because that was the way it had always been done. One of my final comments was that in time, with no changes, the IAC will simply become BIAFF, and BIAFF will solely represent the IAC. But maybe this is not a bad thing; according to paragraph 3a of the 1932 IAC memorandum:

"The objects for which the Institute is established are:- To promote the advancement and improvement of general education in relation to all aspects of cinematography and associated audio and visual arts and the development of public appreciation of such arts."

John R

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TimStannard
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by TimStannard » Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:47 pm

You make good points, John, and I'm sure I'm not alone in remembering you making them before.

Admittedly I've only attended a few AGMs but as I understand it, whilst we may be struggling year on year with funding, we actually have a lot of money in the bank. The question must be how best to invest to increase the membership, rather than how can we reduce expenses. (I'm not suggesting we shouldn't always be looking to make best use of resources but pointing out that we are not in dire financial straits).

Several suggestions have been made over the years as to how we might use funds in order to increase benefits of our members and whilst there may be an element of reluctance to change, one stumbling block I do recall is that we cannot spend money for the sole benefit of our members because we exist (as John says) To promote the advancement and improvement of general education in relation to all aspects of cinematography and associated audio and visual arts and the development of public appreciation of such arts. Note: not to promote it within our membership but within the public.

These objectives were written in a very different world and, as I understand it, form part of our terms as a registerd charity.

They make it very diffcult to provide member-only benefits which might make membership attractive.

Perhaps it is time we ceased being a registered charity and became a members' club. We would, presumably, lose access the money in the bank, but is seems to me this charitable status is causing us more problem than it's worth. We might be able to retain the IAC as a charity for the organisation of BIAFF and perhaps subsidising other festivals and training programs as it does at present. But perhaps the majority of our subscriptions could go to a new organisation which exists for the benefits of the members.

I do appreciate that the biggest hurdle to any such new organisation would be the naming thereof ( amateur, hobbyist, non-commercial, enthusiast, expressionist, craftsperson ...) :)
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

tom hardwick
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by tom hardwick » Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:11 pm

F A S C I N A T I N G

And all this burst up through the tarmac just as I was wondering whether the cost of running these online forums was worth it, seeing as they generated so little traffic .. and even less comment.

But look what you've done Jameela. Sit back and feel proud. Your short one page FVM article has generated shed loads of thoughts, ideas and controversy. Your 'add comments' closing line has certainly done that, though the sadness is that few FVM readers will ever find their way to these online pages. Would that just snippets from such thoughtful and eloquent comment writers could be rounded up to fill a couple of Reader's Letters pages in the next issue.

I do like the idea of the mag going online, and as a consequence gathering unto itself a much wider audience. Sending the link onwards spreads the word with compound interest. I also find that my own technical articles, when printed on paper, often have photos (that I've slaved over in Photoshop) printed just 2'' wide. Reading an online PDF means you can zoom into any image with ease, enabling you to see the tiniest details.

Would that my articles generated a hundredth of the response that yours have Jameela. With no 'add comments' facility, my three days of work bi-monthly over more than 20 years has simply left me wondering if anybody cares, agrees, cries, shouts, laughs, yells. Are you not entertained?

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John Roberts
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by John Roberts » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:53 pm

Hi Tim, yes you're right on a lot of points and I'll admit to being a little out of touch these days with the inner workings. Despite my repeated urgings at Council, most of their officers appear to take little long-term interest in the forum.

You are of course absolutely right that the IAC needs to reverse its decreasing membership, and equally correct that no-one can decide how best to do it.

Charitable trust status does give us a heap of money back as Gift Aid, at the expense of being restricted by a few technicalities, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive from our own 'Memorandum and Articles' which still hold true. Splitting BIAFF from the IAC would be possible, but BIAFF is not the issue here - it is, as I see it, value for money for IAC members' subscriptions: what 'bang' do they get for their 'buck?'

I also agree that there is cash in the bank, and there was a time (before my time) when there was no cash in the bank. Due to the hard work and re-jigging of the organisation by dedicated Council members, the IAC bank balance was increased, and this is a well-known story in Council. BUT... it cannot happen twice because the number of members was far higher than it is now; membership levels are dropping worryingly as 'leavers' (for whatever reason) far outstrip 'joiners.' The cash in the bank is boosted 25% by Gift Aid and some diligent investments, but the fact is as membership decreases, subscriptions also decrease, and we have already reached the tipping point.

I'm not sure becoming a 'members-only' club would help, because the same issues apply. What does the IAC offer any potential member for their annual £40-ish that they cannot get elsewhere for free? Times have changed and the way information is disseminated has changed; there is nothing we can do about that apart from adapt to it. Social contact is done either at club level, where club members pay their own subs to that club with little or no requirement to join the IAC as well, or at BIAFF et al, where entrance fees should ideally fund the competition and there is also little or no requirement to join the IAC.

Putting FVM online and making it available to everyone, either as a PDF format booklet or as individual articles on a forum, works well in principle as long as membership doesn't decrease because of it. It's easy to say that membership might increase as a result of FVM's increased readership, but unless one has to be an IAC member to read it, what incentive is there to pay for it via subscription? The latest IAC accounts should be available at the AGM, but a quick scan back over the last few years' documents reveals that PRINTING the magazine consumes between 50% and 70% of subscription income just by itself. At which point do we say that the cash could be better diverted? When the IAC is in financial crisis again with so few members left it has no option but to become what I predicted it might become in time: BIAFF?

PS: Tom - I always read your articles with interest and I'm always entertained!

PPS: I have just taken a quick look at another (non-film) forum I am a free member of - oh to have just a small slice of their traffic: 3,700,000 posts, 335,000 topics, 63,000 members and usually 300 people online at any particular time! Not bad for a hobby :wink:

John R

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TimStannard
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by TimStannard » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:40 pm

John Roberts wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:53 pm
I'm not sure becoming a 'members-only' club would help, because the same issues apply.
My only reason for suggesting that was that I was under the impression (from comments from the Council at AGMs I have attended) that the few suggetions from the floor were quashed due to the fact they would been seen as members only benefits and thus contrary to our charitable status. John, you have been co-opted onto the Council and I'm happy that you have corrected my understanding.

Coming back to the main question fo what does (or can) the IAC offer:

1. The Copyright licence - it's not as irrelevant as some have suggested. If you want to use commercial music in a film in an amateur competition, you need copyright clearance. This is the only affordable way of doing it. There's a load of royalty free music out there, but some people, myself included, still want to be able to use a pice of recognisable music now and again.

2. FVM as discussed here. Members only (members benefit) or available to all (increase interest in the IAC) Tough choice. Making it available to all, especially if free and on-line, would make it very difficult to change back to members only, I would imagine.

3. Something I've not seen mentioned for a while - It provides some form of structured, national organisation. One wonders how relevant in this day and age where rigid structure seems to be avoided in favour of web-like networks. Indeed this more nebulous way of arranging groups of people with common interests may well be a reason for younger people find clubs and organisations (in many areas, not just film making) old fashioned. Ironically whist eschewing organisations based on skill set/craft/hobby they are happier than ever to band together behind a particular commercial brand. As an amateur film maker, it feels natural to me to want to belong to and contribute to a major UK based amateur film organisation. I'm not sure that younger people feel drawn towards it in the same way I do.

It's been suggested many times before, but if we were to create a usable database of people interested in different aspects of film and their skill sets/interests this is something which could be both useful to existing members and relevant to new/non-members. Make it the "go to" database and the IAC becomes relevant to the modern world. How it would increase membership I don't know (it wouldn't work if it was members only) but it might well bring the IAC to the attention of younger film makers again.

Potentially such a database would include people from all aspects - producers, technical crew, actors and people who just like being involved who might be prepared to help with catering, act a as a runner and appear as extras - the sort of jobs that many club members currently are happy to fill.

There would obviously be some sort of facility for recording one's geographical area, willingness to travel, availablilty (including "Sundays and evenings only), subject/material preferences.

More controvertially it might include some sort of grading system (eg ratings of actors, camera) either in a public method like Amazon stars or Tripadvisor, or perhaps have a system whereby it's possible to PM people about other people they've worked with.

This would be a massive undertaking and we'd have to guard carefully against abuse as well as ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, but think of the benefits.

I'm looking to make a film with our club but need external help. I'm looking for someone with experience of filming at night, four actors: M&F 20s-30s to play young couple, M or F 20-55, physically fit, to play burglar, M or F 23-45 to play police officer. Shoot includes interior and exterior shots of people in cars at night time. Anticipate 4 nights production between December and March.

I can and will achieve this by getting in touch with members from other clubs and local dramatic societies (others might use sites like Shooting people for cast), but if I had access to a database as suggested above, I'd be able to cast my net wider as well as post my requirements there.

It is, of course, entirely possible that such facilities already exist, but i'm not aware of one that is aimed fairly and squarely at amateur (non-professional) projets.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

Michael Slowe
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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by Michael Slowe » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:49 pm

Tim's suggestion of a 'film makers data base' seems a very interesting and modern way of uniting him makers, which is what the IAC is meant to do. Speaking personally, if I want to discuss any thing with a fellow film maker I telephone or E Mail friends within the IAC more often than not. If there was a data base how many more people might it attract? Certainly it would be a way to establish contact with youngsters who would probably come across the site if it is cleverly named.

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Re: Jameela Boardman's Article FVM October 2019

Post by TimStannard » Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:47 pm

JanW wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:34 pm
2)The comments in this thread - I hope a Council member or a Forum member can summarise this discussion for the next issue of FVM so that it will be read by many more members. If no-one has time, I'll volunteer.
I, for one, am very disappointed that there was no mention of this very interesting thread in FVM.

This is in no way a criticism of Jan as I know whe has been unexpectedly overworked due to Dave having the audacity to take some time off sick and she having to perform the honours at the AGM on top of everything else she has to do!

I just wish somewhere in the publication there was mention that there is this discussion going on and that all members are more than welcome to contribute.

I would send a letter in myself, but I'm only too aware that, given my status as the most frequently posting person here, it could be taken for self promotion. It's not. I just believe the topic of the future of the IAC deserves more contributions and a quicker response than a letter one month and a response two months later.

Can I ask those of you who belong to clubs to really push this forum at your next few meetingas and see if we can't get a few more people on board.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

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