Working with Archive Film

Here is an exercise we had to complete for my course:

Working with Archive exercise – Diane Di Prima: Women of the Beat Generation from Elizabeth-Valentina on Vimeo.

Using only footage/interviews and music from other sources we had to produce a 2 minute short film on a topic of our choice. As a result, I do not own any of to footage or audio featured in this video.

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Life on Two Spectrums

As part of my course at UCL I recently completed a short observational film called ‘Life on Two Spectrums’. It is a short documentary project looking at the experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The film follows Dan ‘Tia Anna’ Kahn, a drag queen with Asperger’s Syndrome who founded A.S.P.E.C.S (Autistic and Aspergers Persons of Every Category of (Queer) Sexuality) a support and networking group to help address the needs of the neurodiverse members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Watch below or at https://vimeo.com/199202763

Life on Two Spectrums: Autism and the LGBTQ+ community. from Elizabeth-Valentina on Vimeo.

TRIGGA Short Film

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Over the last few weeks, I have been working as the production assistant on ‘TRIGGA’, which is a Creative England and BFI Network supported short film that follows a young girl who confronts the bullies with the help of her horse.

W. C. Fields’ once famously said, ‘Don’t work with children or animals’. Well this film features both and one of my responsibilities has been to arrange licenses for the actors under 16. It has not been without its challenges, but I have learned a lot from the process, so I thought I would share a few tips with you.

Firstly, all actors under 16 need a license to be featured in a film, regardless of whether it is a short or a feature. This is for a number of reasons including; to ensure that the young performer isn’t missing excessive amounts of school time, as well as to protect the child.

The process of sorting out licenses takes time. Make sure you start your application for child actors early on in the pre-production process. The latest you should get applications to a local authority by is around 21 days before the shoot.

There are two types of licenses available: a standard license and an exemption license. It is best to check with your local authority to see which one is applicable for your shoot.

You will need to gather together quite a lot of information about each performer, including:

  • The school they attend
  • Their date of birth
  • Information about any previous performances
  • Information about previous payment received from performing
  • Details of any allergies or medical conditions
  • A photocopy of the performers birth certificate (or passport)
  • A headshot of the performer

This information is obviously private and confidential, so you must ensure that you safeguard this information. You can use encryption software if you need to send this via email and always ensure that you delete this information once the production is over.
Put all of this information in a separate PDF file for each performer (I would recommend Adobe Acrobat because it allows you to create reduced-size PDFs which are much easier to send).

Make sure that you send the files to the correct authority.

Prior to this shoot, I didn’t have any experience dealing with licenses for young actors and at first it seemed daunting. The process takes time, but it is relatively straightforward once you know what you are doing.

The shoot begins next week, but until then here’s a look at the crowdfunding video the team produced.

TRiGGA Crowdfunding video from Meloni Poole

Impact Distribution: A 12 Step Guide

If you’ve got an impact project, distribution can be even more complex but it can also mean there are more opportunities available to you.

With impact projects your primary goal should be to 1) get your film seen by as many people as possible and 2) to get it seen by the right people in order to achieve the outcome you wanted when making the film.

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BRITDOC’s Impact Guide: has some great information on how to successfully merge distribution and impact in a way that in mutually beneficial, cost effective and efficient.  Impact Distribution is about compromise and ensuring that both the impact and commercial return are optimised. The two can even feed into each other, creating the widest possible distribution using marketing and press buzz helps to build strong relationships with movements, charities, the press and influencers and these relationships then help with marketing and outreach.

Impact and Distribution are strongest when they are thought of as one: Impact Distribution, and they need to be planned and strategised together.

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During my time at Open City Doc Festival I attended a session run by Rebecca Ashdown, a consultant from Together Films. I’m going to share with you Rebecca’s 12 step guide to creating impact distribution strategies.

Step 1) 3 Driving Principles

When starting to think about your distribution strategy, thinking about your driving principles can really help. You have to consider your own ideal reach, revenue and (audience) reaction. As well as looking at how these link and overlap with each other.

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Its important to make sure your teams driving principles are all line up and that you’re all on the same page.

A helpful exercise to work this out is to make a list of the key words that come to mind when thinking about the project. These key words answer the question ‘What is your film about?’ and these make up your Issue Context.

Your issue context influences where you will want to screen your film and can help establish the right kind of partnerships with organisations, charities and key figures.

Step 2) Impact Objectives

You need to be clear about what you want to achieve with your film. It can be something simple such as:  To raise the visibility of an issue.  The more specific you can be about your objectives, the easier it will be to establish your target audience, KPIs and Partners.

Step 3) Target audience

Having a picture of your target audience can really help you think about the distribution of your film. Rebecca gave us the advice of literally drawing a stick man when thinking about your audience. Next to the figure write down their age, what they like doing, the social media platforms they use and how they connect with friends. For example:

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From here you can think about The 1: 9: 90 Rule.  A common tool used marketing, for a whole host of products including consumer goods and fashion as well as films. The rule helps you understand the ways in which people create content, share and influence each other.

Aprox. 1% (often less) of the people on the internet who view the content are considered creators, they will create content about the topic.

9% are contributors or curators, they might share or comment on posts.

90% are simply consumers or as the diagram I found(Below) describes them, ‘Lurkers’. They will see the content but they will not post anything about it themselves or share it.

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www.grahamdbrown.com has a more detailed breakdown of the rule.

Step 4) Outcomes and KPIs

KPIs are Key performance Indicators.

Your KPIs can vary from project to project, but it is important that you establish what your desired outcomes are in order to evaluate your success further down the line.

Possible KPIs: Reaching a number or shares online, Screening the film in a certain number of universities (e.g 50 out of the 200 universities in the UK), linking the film to a particular day e.g international women’s day or just raising the profile of the issue.

Step 5)Strategic Partners

Rebecca: ‘Don’t work in isolation! It’s important to think about how you can join forces with other people.’

Try to build up a network of partners. You can do this by running some of your key words/objectives in a search engine to see which organisations or individuals could be a suitable fit. Put all of the possible partners into an excel doc and work your way through them.

Step 6) Impact Timeline

Like with any project, it’s important to think about how long each step is going to take. Creating a timeline and setting target dates for completion is important. On this timeline you can mark down any deadlines, for festival submission or for approaching VOD platforms.

Step 7) Platforms

Think about where you want your film to be screened in relation to achieving your impact goal. Rebecca encouraged us to think outside the box, not every film is necessary suitable for a cinematic release. VOD platforms might have more impact or setting up your own screening in an unusual event might be better suited to your film.

Step 8) Communication and PR

For this step it is a good idea to go back to your audience profile stickman and think about how they access information. Does your target audience respond to leaflets or online posts? You can also try to engage with unlikely supporters at this stage.

Step 9) Website / Social Media

It might seem like an obvious step, but having a website and social media pages is very important to reaching out to people.

Step 10) Budget

Everybody to change the world, but its very hard to do with no money. -Rebecca

Have a budget and stick to it. Write down all the costs regardless of whether they are big or small.

Step 11) Funding

This is obviously closely linked to step 10. There are lots of different ways of getting your project off the ground financially.

  • Kickstarter
  • Individual investor
  • Trusts
  • Foundations
  • Film Funds

Explore different avenues and if you have built a strong partnerships with people early on they can help at this stage.

Step 12) Evaluation

Recording as much data as possible is really important. It can help you on your next project and it can be useful to show this data to funders.

Take note of audience numbers, ask them for feedback and write down other forms of engagement as possible, such as tweets.

It’s key to remember to be as honest about what isn’t working as well as what it. Don’t just record the positive feedback. The criticisms will help you develop the project.

Vlogs vs. Docs

Vlogging is a deeply personal, informal way of connecting with large audiences. At Sheffield Doc Fest 2016’s ‘Vlogs Vs. Docs’ panel, Jolyon Rubinstein from ‘The Revolution will be Televised’ said Youtubers connect with their audiences ‘in a way that alludes commissioners’.

The under 25 audiences connects with this content because they see the people who produce them to be ‘just like them’. Their honesty is the source of their power and watching their videos becomes a part of their subscribers everyday lives.

Watching television is a laid back form of consumption whereas vloggers are able to actively engage with their community and take audience feedback on board much quicker, making vlogging much more of a two way connection. This two way connection is likely to be one of the reasons the under 25s engage with vloggers so much.

Another way in which television and vlogs are different is the level of regulation. Only recently, (as of August 2015), did the ASA implement regulations in the UK regarding product placement and branded content for Vlogs. These regulations do not stipulate that vloggers can’t enter into a commercial relationship with a brand in the UK. They do however state that if a Youtuber is including paid product placement in a video they must disclaim it. Amazingly though this is still not the case in the States, I worry about the effect these ‘advertorials’ and product placements are having on the very young youtube audience who engage with and idolise these vloggers as they might not realise the youtubers are being paid to say they love the products they are endorsing.

Companies have to deal with tough restrictions when it comes to most advertising platforms so it is no surprise we’re seeing a rise in the number of companies reaching out to popular Youtubers and taking advantage of the unregulated online space.

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However, a vast majority of vloggers are very young. Fully understanding and complying with the rules and regulations is a big responsibility and it can have considerable repercussions. Vlogger, Jonathan Joly  advised bloggers to bear in mind that ‘The internet doesn’t forget.’ and that you have to be careful about which companies you align yourself with.

Open City Doc Fest

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I spent the weekend in London to attend Open City Doc Fest. Like Sheffield Doc Fest, Open City Doc Festival is about more than simply exhibiting films. Its programme  also features live events and performances as well as really interesting masterclasses and panels.

I attended three really insightful panels hosted by organisations such as Doc Heads, Festival Formula and Together Films.

The first panel I went to ‘The road from shorts to features’ was hosted by Doc Head’s founder Tristan Anderson.

Doc Heads Trailer from Doc Heads on Vimeo.

Tristan began the session by giving everyone some advice ‘Your first film will be your worst, get it out of the way..’ He followed this up by showing us a great short film called ‘The Gap’ which perfectly explains why it getting your first film out of the way is so important in the process of making work that actually matches your taste level.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

Then by using filmmaking duo Matt Hopkins and Ben Lankester, who’s film A Divorce before Marriage premiered at the festival, as a case study we looked at the steps required to make the transition from short docs to features.

A Divorce Before Marriage – Official Trailer 1 from A Divorce Before Marriage on Vimeo.

Matt and Ben, as many filmmakers before them, explained that they were required to produce commercial content in order to make their company, Progress Films,  financially viable and for them to go on to produce their creative work. Matt explained that whilst ‘A Divorce Before Marriage’ had not financially enriched them. It was the work that they were most proud of. They explained that when you’re working on projects for free you have to look at the bigger picture and remember than something will come from it eventually. The duo produced a series of short character portraits for a collection called ‘England your England’. Although they ended up having to fund it from their own pockets, their films were selected as Vimeo Staff Pick and they established a community of filmmakers around them who appreciated their work. From the series, they received commercial work.

Richard from England Your England on Vimeo.

I think its really important to remind yourself of the hard work people have had to put in to get to where they are today, so I found the session both really inspiring and informative.

 

 

In future posts I will share what I learnt in the sessions with Festival Formula and Together Films.

Build your own film night:

Last week Flatpack: Assemble hosted an evening masterclass in Birmingham’s Impact Hub to inspire a new generation of cinephiles to create their own film nights.

After Cocks & Docs I am more interested than ever to continue organising film nights in the West Midlands. I want to do this because I love the idea of bringing people together in a cinematic space to share exciting content and to build a community of creative, like minded people in my home town. Film nights also give people an excuse to actually leave the comfort of their own house and socialise with new people.

byofnm3 They explained that at their core, film nights consist of three elements. Films, Places and People. You can control the films, you can control the place but you cannot control the people. You need to make the event special in some way to encourage audience members to attend. This can be done by showing content that can’t be seen anywhere else, holding the screening in an unusual venue or having an interesting mix of people/entertainment (such as dancers/musicians etc.)

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Here are some of Flatpack co-founder Ian Francis’s top tips on hosting your own film night:

  • Keep distractions to a minimum eg. natural light/noises from the venue
  • Don’t over programme, make sure you schedule intervals.
  • Make sure the audience are relatively comfortable
  • Think about the trajectory of the evening and the mood and tone of the films you screen.
  • Clear all the rights and licenses for both the venue and the films
  • Seamless presentation is important. In a later post I will break down some of the advice the Flatpack team had to offer about screening conditions.

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I’m so pleased to see Flatpack Festival organising more events across the year and reach out to people in the West Midlands, encouraging them to engage with film. If you don’t follow them already, you should…@flatpack

Flatpack Film Festival 2014 Trailer from 7inch cinema on Vimeo.