Tags: Bursary Blog
Posted: Sun, 21 Aug 2016 17:33
Melissa Gueneau, Press and Marketing Coordinator at Broadway Cinema
Planning a trip to Sundance? Whether you are a volunteer or just attending the festival, here are five tips to help you have a great first Sundance experience.
1) KNOW YOUR VENUES. Although Sundance and Park City has an excellent free bus network that covers all venues, some theatres are further away than you may think – sometimes, much, much further away. The majority of the festival takes place in Park City itself, but screenings do take place in Salt Lake City and Ogden too, to give the local population a chance to enjoy the festival without having to travel miles in the snow. Watch out in particular for:
Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room – a luxurious ski resort and spa that sounds like it's nearby but is a good 45 minutes to an hour out of Park City. Although if you find yourself with a bit of spare time, Sundance Resort is a great place to have a nice dinner and a little break from the slight madness of the festival.
Peery's Egyptian Theater – not to be confused with the Egyptian Theatre. Whilst the Egyptian Theatre is at the top of Park City's Main Street and an absolute must visit for a midnight screening, the Peery's Egyptian Theater is all the way in Ogden which is over an hour's drive away from the main festival.
Salt Lake City Library Theatre – which, like the entry above, is not to be confused with the similarly named Library Center Theatre in Park City. Both will be shortened to "The Library" at one point or another but you may want to double check if you're not keen on the 30+ miles that will lead you to Salt Lake City.
2) LAYER UP. Pictures from recent editions of the festival may have looked sunshiny, but do not be fooled: Park City is a mountain town and in the middle of January it will snow. And I don't mean British snow. I mean real mountain snow. The kind that drops 3ft whilst you were watching a two-hour film. The kind that wakes you up with a snow cannon in the morning. And because Park City doesn't just have real snow, but real winter, it also gets cold. And I don't mean British cold. I mean actual mountain cold. Temperatures can drop all the way to -15C overnight and whilst it will somewhat warm up in the day, it will get cold again pretty quickly as soon as the sun goes down. Having said that, all the venues are extremely well heated. So you don't want to end up overdressing and then barely being able to breathe as soon as you walk indoors. The best way to handle this is to layer up – enough so you don't get cold if you have to queue two hours in the snow, but easy to peel off once you get inside where it's nice and cosy. Oh, and from the weather conditions described above, it goes without saying that you need gloves, a hat and some good snow boots. Sundance is the most laid-back film festival there is when it comes to the dress code. They want you to be safe, warm and comfortable.
3) TALK TO EVERYONE. Sundance is an extremely friendly festival and because the town is so small, almost everyone takes the bus or walks. You may end up in a queue in the snow for an hour, sharing a table at El Chubasco with a bunch of people, or wondering if you'll ever make it out of that ride to Temple on a bus sliding on snow and ice – chatting to the person next to you will immeasurably improve your experience. You'll meet great people – perhaps even a festival guest – and you'll exchange super helpful tips on what films to catch next. The Sundance programme is huge and might be a bit overwhelming but word of mouth travels fast. If you hear three different people recommend a same film you hadn't really planned on seeing originally – sign up to that waitlist immediately.
4) DON'T MISS NEW FRONTIER. We all know Sundance as the snowy capital of indie film. The film programme is so dense and so exciting that you will want to watch (almost) everything; all the while knowing that task is pretty much impossible. But since you're not going to be able to watch everything, you might as well allocate some time in your trip to go check out some of the New Frontier programme. New Frontier is a strand that focuses on the nature of storytelling and how technology impacts on the way we tell and experience stories. The strand celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016. The programme is extremely rich and offers a variety of experiences including film, art, live performance, virtual reality, and much, much more. It is an absolute must.
5) HYDRATE. This tip comes last but it is actually the most important one. If I had to only give one tip, that's the one I'd give. Park City is a mountain town. You are at high altitude and air is thin and dry. You will be tired, not running on much sleep or a healthy diet, and you really don't want to get altitude sickness (imagine having the worst hangover possible) to get a hold of you whilst your body is already trying to pretend it's doing okay. Sundance has water fountains in all venues and all over Park City. They are even marked on the festival maps. So grab a reusable bottle – you can get some free ones from Main Street – and drink up.
Posted: Wed, 01 Jun 2016 16:59
A report from Georgia Pinfold, see the film at youtube.com/watch?v=axw6BVFrgJQ
Imagine books made music, Dogs & Cats in slow motion and Shakespeare's, Romeo and Juliet set at a beach. Flatpack Film Festival exhibited all of that…and more! On day one we explored central Birmingham and made our way to Impact Hub, a modern, stylistic venue filled where we were put into groups for a team building exercise called Spaghetti and Marshmallows led by YouTubers Jonbehere (Jon Aitken) and Shamphat (Shamil Ahmed).
After networking and building relationships with likeminded people we plunged into a Vlogging masterclass with Jon and Sham. I learned a lot about the composition of an image and top tips into vlogging, including always remember to look down the lens to create direct address with your audience. Their ideas were insightful to the vlogging industry, which I didn't know much about. From there, we found some films to see and headed to BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) to see Rare Visions: Shakespeare on Film, for his 400th death day anniversary?! There was a mix of humorous pieces and live action performance combining film and music, which was unique and although it was not to my taste, it was a superb concept.
For me, the Sound Book Project was the most innovative idea I saw over the weekend. The combination of music, books and film put together my three favourite mediums to create boocordions? (Accordions and books ha!) It was so clever, something I had never thought of before and would happily see again.
That evening, we watched a brand-new feature film based on the Tom McCarthy book, Remainder. The cyclical structure joined with the psychological thriller genres intrigued me, and at some points freaked me out! It only took a single gruesome shot to allow me to look away. I particularly found it amazing how a fantasy narrative could feel so real! From watching and enjoying the film so much I would like to read the original book to compare it and endure the amazing writing of Tom McCarthy.
Day 2, Laura and I got to interview Sham and Jon about YouTube and their ideas. Although they are not the most well-known YouTubers on the web, their passion for vlogging is just as big. I learned a lot from their work, how to address their audience and to always be themselves on camera (which I need to work on more). Overall, their work was encouraging and made me think about vlogging in the future. The concept of vlogging is perplexing, striking the balance between the real world and the fantasy vlogging world. The weekend as a whole was remarkable, introducing me to new films that I wouldn't usually watch. I hope to vlog again in the future and to continue going to film festivals to widen my knowledge of film.
Posted: Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:13
Audience Development, Diversity and Engagement Co-ordinator - Broadway
Film Programmer and Producer
As one of the six-participants on the National Film and Television School's first Black Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) Leadership Programme, I'll undertake an intensive six-month programme of individual training, coaching and mentoring, allowing me to rapidly develop my career confidence in today's industry, with the ultimate aim of developing my leadership skills.
The BAME Leadership programme is a new programme to rigorously encourage diverse representation in the film industry, bringing on the next generation of diverse talent working at executive level in production, distribution, sales and exhibition. Supported by Creative Skillset, the scheme is aimed at emerging film business executives from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds with a proven track record and the potential to lead in their industry to take part.
The programme kicked off with a 2-day immersive boot camp for the group as a whole with sessions focussing on building and honing leadership skills. The boot camp consisted of a packed schedule of guest speakers from across the film industry, including Ben Roberts and Ben Luxford (both from the BFI), Duncan Kenworthy (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill) and Finola Dwyer (Brooklyn). The venue was the Über modern Ingenious Media offices; very inspiring!
As a group we gained a wide ranging insight into the financing, sale, business affairs, marketing, domestic and international marketing/distribution of film, including up-to-date analysis of current market and financing conditions, and the practical and negotiation skills required to facilitate a project's success.
Participants were then matched with a mentor (a senior executive) for the duration of the initiative, and allocated sessions with a career coach. I am absolutely delighted that my mentor is Duncan Clark, President of Distribution at Universal Pictures International.
Why the need for a Leadership Course to target specifically BAME communities?
Targeted support of under-represented groups to encourage leadership is an essential strategy to address the current imbalance of diversity representation and equality of opportunity, particularly in arenas of strategic-decision making, such as commissioning and production. In a recent article the BFI stated:
"…picture of inequality among the workforce is bleak when looking at senior positions …fewer people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BAME), women and people with disabilities are employed in senior positions. What's harder to quantify is the effect that peoples' background plays in how successful they are in film, but anecdotal observations suggest that class is a strong factor affecting people's engagement with film and progression within the film industry".
Not very encouraging, I'm sure that you'll agree.
What is positive is that the industry does recognise that diversity is good for business. Variety magazine highlighted the "wildly inaccurate" figures when predicting the opening-weekend results of films with diverse leading cast, citing "Straight Outta Compton's $60.2 million debut was roughly $20 million more than most trade publications had predicted". Diversity means choice, and from my experience in films exhibition, I do know that audiences are thirsty to see fresh ideas and new cultural perspectives.
The BFI also support this view stating that "Diversity is not only good for creativity, it's also good for jobs. It supports economic growth, it taps into what audiences want to see and it makes good business sense".[ii]
I genuinely believe that the film industry is a fantastic place to work and I don't believe that "gatekeepers to power" are particularly racist or prejudice, however as part of this discussion, we should consider the phenomenon of unconscious bias, defined by the Equalities Challenge Unit as:
"Implicit or unconscious bias happens by our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realising. Our biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. We may not even be aware of these views and opinions, or be aware of their full impact and implications."[iii]
Social-economic factors and class are also important considerations when looking at access to opportunities and career development, in an industry where professional industry networks and contacts are critical to progression.
I'm not a supporter of nepotism, for me finessing the craft of the business is paramount. I'm an experienced film producer and programmer and it's important for me to be considered for my skills and abilities. As a black woman I'm not asking for special treatment, simply equal access to opportunities.
So, more to share with you in my next blog post, I'm looking forward to the journey ahead.
Sophia Ramcharan is based at the Broadway Cinema as the Audience Development, Diversity and Engagement Co-ordinator.
To read the BFI report in full see: http://www.bfi.org.uk/about-bfi/policy-strategy/diversity
Posted: Tue, 16 Feb 2016 15:41
Melissa Gueneau, Press and Marketing Coordinator at Broadway Cinema
As a film-lover, Sundance Film Festival has always been on my bucket list of things to experience. For the past 30 years, the festival has been home to some of the most exciting and bold independent filmmaking, as well as a hub for up-and-coming talents. Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson all got their big break at Sundance. But if the idea of discovering the next Steven Soderbergh before everyone else, spending 10 days in a gorgeous snowy mountain town, and the odds of bumping into Robert Redford wearing a woolly hat all sound dreamy, heading to Sundance can be a rather expensive affair. Flights, accommodation, accreditations, food, winter gear – all of it adds up pretty quickly, to the point where it becomes more of an investment than a wintery cinematic outing.
There are ways, however, to keep the costs down and still have a brilliant experience. One of them is by becoming a volunteer. This year, Sundance recruited over 2,300 volunteers covering all aspects of the festival, from snow shovelling, to ushering and ticketing, to running venues, to looking after industry members. To put it simply, the festival would not run without them. As part of my role at Broadway, I oversee some of the coordination for Mayhem Film Festival and volunteering at Sundance meant my trip could also be a learning experience – and what better place to learn than at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.
The application process for Sundance's volunteering programme opens in August. You need to fill in an online form, not dissimilar to a job application. The volunteer team then gets in touch in November to set up a phone interview, after which you eventually find out whether or not they have been able to find a role for you. The whole process is usually complete by the end of November. If the timeline does seem a little tight for a trip in January, it is still entirely feasible, and if you are planning a trip anyway, you can still book flights and accommodation ahead of time. Where volunteering will save you money, is when it comes to film tickets. Depending on how many hours of your time you give to the festival, you will be rewarded with a full accreditation or volunteer tickets.
Sundance is very grateful to its volunteers and there are other perks for those willing to give it a go. In addition to access to screenings, volunteers each receive a branded jacket designed specifically for them, a full festival catalogue, access to the staff and volunteer party, special advance screenings exclusive to volunteers with filmmakers often in attendance, and a fair amount of free snacks throughout the festival. There is also Volunteer Appreciation Day during which the festival celebrates its volunteers with volunteer-focused short films in front of every screening and a party for volunteers only. Volunteers are helmed as "the real stars of Sundance", and if the tagline sounds cheesy, it does really reflect the perception from festival staff.
But what do you learn from volunteering at Sundance? Well, you learn a lot. Training is tailored to each role individually, but you will generally be given a sense of what Sundance stands for with an emphasis on the fact that you are now part of the family and that for the 10 days of the festival, you are the face of the festival. Ahead of your trip, your inbox will fill with volunteer expectations documents and information about the department you are joining. Most of it will sound like common sense, but there is a reason the information is sent to you, and it isn't in any way for patronising purposes. There is no culture of presumption at Sundance. The festival will never presume that you know how to do something, unless you have specifically told them you do. Everyone receives the same starter's guide, so the rules and expectations are the same for everybody.
And it really is in your best interest to give it your all. Everything you learn from your experience, you can pretty much bring back with you and apply to your day job – customer service, how to show initiative, team building, management skills, communication, not to mention anything specific to the role you are in. The more you give to your role, the more you learn, the more you experience the festival, the more you learn. And so does the festival. Feedback is warmly welcome and any mishap, mistake or bump on the road is immediately acted upon, possibly making it one of the best run festivals out there.
I haven't even mentioned the best part of volunteering yet – the people you'll meet. There are so many volunteers at Sundance that the diversity of backgrounds is impressive. Some people work in the industry, others just love cinema. It isn't hard to imagine that in a few years time, some of the people you met volunteering might return to the festival as guests. The story goes that David O. Russell used to be a driver for the festival. It's not just the other volunteers however, the whole film industry is there, and networking has never been so easy. Forget everything your parents ever taught you and speak to every single stranger you meet. You'll come back with a full address book and a few friends too.
You can probably learn a lot from Sundance by simply attending as a regular patron, but it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the festival and trying to watch as many films as is humanly possible. Volunteering gives you a chance to see how it works from the inside and that type of experience is absolutely invaluable. And there is still plenty of time to enjoy a few parties and watch tons of great movies. Speaking of which, watch out for Tickled, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Birth of a Nation and Life, Animated.
But there must be some downsides? Well, temperatures will drop to -11C, your nose will start bleeding for no apparent reason, you will be woken up by the avalanche cannons, you will be out of breath every time to try to do anything remotely physical, there is a 95% probability you will return from your trip ill and exhausted, and you will be the only person of the festival not to have had your picture taken with Elijah Wood (or whatever actor seems to be going around at the time of your trip). What I'm trying to say is: Sundance is a winter festival. Not a British winter kind of thing, a real full-on winter weather festival. If winter and snow isn't your thing, but you still like the sound of volunteering, there are other A-list festivals with volunteering opportunities like SxSW in Austin, and TIFF in Toronto – both of which are much warmer and both of which will probably have Elijah Wood DJing somewhere.
Posted: Mon, 14 Dec 2015 12:31
This Way Up Conference 2015
Rebecca del Tufo, Programming Manager, Saffron Screen
I attended This Way Up Conference 2015, or #TWU15 as we were encouraged to use in our tweets, looking for ideas for the future development of our cinema, inspiration to refresh me at the end of a long year, and thoughts I could use right now to improve what we do. I met all these aspirations and more in an intense and highly enjoyable two days of talks, panels, discussions and networking at the film exhibition innovation conference organised by three northern Film Hubs and hosted at Manchester's beautiful new HOME.
Ideas came from discussions about the flow of traffic through your cinema (make sure customers go through your bar to increase spend per visit!), talks about what others are doing with event and participatory cinema, and the whacky Choose Your Own Documentary where the audience's votes at key junctures shaped the way the film and story flowed.
Inspiration came from the ever-brilliant Carol Morley, director of Dreams of a Life and The Falling, who makes films for people, not for any particular audience, is bored witless about being asked what it is like to be a female filmmaker, and loves seeing films on the big screen, enjoying the noise (and smell!) of the people around her. Cinephilia and what it means to share our passion in film with others was also a stimulating session – with a list of out-of-the-ordinary films I now need to go and watch.
Practical ideas to improve our cinema right now included realising that everyone finds it hard to do things for the first time and we should make their journey, and their approach to the cinema, as easy and welcoming as possible. We are thinking of adapting the online story we developed for our autism-friendly screenings into something generally available so that people know what to expect when they visit us. Oh, and I checked our Trip Advisor ratings, and was thrilled!
Having recently added the Bath Film Festival F-Ratings to our website (for any film where a woman has directed or written the film or a woman features prominently on screen), the panel about such information endorsed my view that this is information that could interest and educate audiences and might lead to a change in the industry. And I'm already trying to ask the first question in any Q&A of a woman (possibly encouraging them in advance).
I was delighted by the response of Madeleine Probst of Watershed to the squeeze on cinematic release windows and the rise of VoD: build more cinemas to make sure people everywhere can see a broad range of releases, and encourage distributors to use individual cinema's own audience engagement to promote a film.
My biggest disappointment was not getting into the panel discussion about empathy and our neuropathic responses to different films, and how we can use research to curate and then encourage audiences to watch more diverse films. Maybe next time …
And finally, the people. There were networking opportunities and we were frequently encouraged in different panels and sessions to talk to the people around us to find out more about them and discuss our reactions or views of different topics. Meeting everyone from the BFI to tiny film collectives via a fabulous-sounding cinema in Poland added connections, insights and new friends in a vibrant film world. I've already put in my request to go to This Way Up 2016 which will be hosted at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
Posted: Mon, 07 Dec 2015 12:30
Knowing what the latest breakthroughs in best practice surrounding your industry is key to ensuring you stay ahead of the curve and provide better overall experience for your audiences, as part of my role as Audience Development Co-ordinator at Broadway this is one of many fundamental principles that we look to build upon .
Conferences and seminars usually introduce new ways of working that have been tried and tested to a degree of success, so the overall objectives for attending This Way Up was to evaluate at how my organisation was approaching the set themes being explored and also to try and vindicate or question decisions made within my role over the past few years, as well as discussing related topics arising from these objectives with my peers.
Establishing top of mind awareness is critical in any strategy, but make no mistake about it, attending seminars ,networking events or conferences can be key to informing strategy if done properly. One of the most important elements—and one of the most overlooked to getting the most out of such events is to make sure your face and your message get in front of the same -and the right people .
A certain motivation for attending This Way Up was how I could learn a whole lot more from watching and interacting with industry leaders face to face. Attending a conference where these figures are speaking allows you to ask them all the burning questions you have. You can ask or impart some advice and possibly make a connection you can take advantage of in the future. And as I found out, attending a conference can help you on your way to becoming an expert yourself.
One of the most insightful and inspiring keynotes I have attended for a long while was Cross the Streams: Risk and Reward in Audience-centred Approaches by Anna Higgs, which was absolutely on the mark for me. Anna really found a way to engage with the delegates in the screen with her use of well-known 80's blockbusters, but she demonstrated a wealth of knowledge of film audiences, new practices and what insights can be gained from the work she has been undertaking, actually sharing the data gained from practice, which is rare in this instance and certainly set the bar for the other speakers at the event. She also highlighted those not just exhibitors, but what film makers and even distributors can learn from audience data and informed decisions when marketing and creating product.
I love data, it has had such positive impact for our organisation and has enabled us to do wonderful things, so I was really looking forward to Data is Beautiful, Honest. The room was asked about the use of data and it became increasingly apparent that everyone had access to data sets, but no one really had the understanding or time to analyse their data.
Instead of tackling this valuable insight head on, the conversation drifted from pricing structures to how organisations should be sharing data, which was the common theme throughout the event. The disappointing aspects of this seminar was the complete failure to address the common need for training in data collection and analysis, as well as the lack of example in how data is used in practice, successfully, in an exhibitor. I may also add that leading industry figures failed to share any sorts of credible data with the delegates, something which I think completely contradicts their rhetoric when it comes to openly sharing data.
As well as valuable insights gained talks giving by industry leading figures / organisations, a real benefit was felt from open discussions and networking after events, this was supported by the grand scale of employees from different areas of the attending exhibitor, meaning the conversation was ever changing, informative and provided a great platform for future collaborative work.