What, and where, is community film? In this, the first of three blogs on this topic, I want to explore the big, top-down dimension of broadcasting. Does it have a thriving, retreating, or merely a residual community dimension?
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
What, and where, is community film? In this, the first of three blogs on this topic, I want to explore the big, top-down dimension of broadcasting. Does it have a thriving, retreating, or merely a residual community dimension?
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Volunteers will be able to move from less to more technical roles if you employ a negotiated and a flexible approach to production. In fact there are so many roles that you could incorporate in your production that it makes sense for people to have multiple and shifting tasks rather than fixed job descriptions.
Where is the film set?
What’s inside the frame / view-finder?
Is there any self or group-censorship going on?
Are there any ethical issues? Are we taking enough risk?
Is there a fear of participation? What’s the underlying cause? How can it be addressed?
Is our film essentially an internal or external evaluation?
A celebration or a satire?
Has the film become a story that holds your attention?
Is there a creative angle?
Are there solutions to problems presented?
Perhaps most significant is the effort to find a quirky, distinctive or even a humorous angle. Volunteers should be proud of their film production and product, and not all community films have to be a dreary mini-tragedy. (Nor, for that matter, a 2 hour epic!)
Thursday, 18 November 2010
|A Scene from Te Whare (The House), Dir. Richard Green|
Please comment below if there are other sites that you have found helpful for your fim and community work
The International Community Film Forum and Facebook Site offers general support and advice for community film makers and participatory video.
FilmAid engages communities to shape the messages most needed for their survival and strength. We work with communities to create films and videos in their own voice, and to show these films in the most impactful and appropriate settings. FilmAid screenings range from intimate discussion of 40 people to large outdoor screenings, reaching thousands at one time.
Culture Unplugged. Watch films (documentaries, short films, interviews) at this online film festival. Discover film-makers and their voices. Learn about social issues prevalent in the modern world. Vote for the art & entertainment that is evolved and exists for transformation towards new future. Promote consciousness about humanity & environment - our culture, nature & life driven by the spiritual state, individual and collective.
MFDI’s motto is that a video is only as good as the number of people that see it. Over the last 15 years, MFDI and its sub-distributors have distributed many thousands of videos, mostly into Africa, and had hundreds of broadcasts on African (and other national) television stations. http://www.mfdi.org/
Video Volunteers’ vision is a global social media network, which provides solutions-based media for marginalized and poor communities around the world. http://www.videovolunteers.org/
In 2002 the World Bank asked 60,000 people living on less than a dollar a day to identify the single greatest hurdle to their advancement. Above even food, shelter or education, the number one need identified was access to a voice. Hear that voice on http://www.ch19.org/
WITNESS uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. WITNESS empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change. WITNESS envisions a just, equitable world in which all individuals and communities are able to defend and uphold their human rights.
10 tactics provides original and artful ways for rights advocates to capture attention and communicate a cause. It includes a 50-minute film documenting inspiring info-activism stories from around the world and a set of cards; with tools tips and advice, for you to work through as you plan your own info-activism. http://www.informationactivism.org/
Campaigners and the media have a complex relationship. This section explores how to work positively with the media. http://www.campaigncentral.org.uk/know-how/using-media
Friday, 29 October 2010
London River (2009)
It was an aesthetic delight to experience the work of Sotigui Kouyaté in his highly engaging last film London River (2009) which won him a ‘Silver Bear’ at the Berlinale Filmfestival. Interviewed in 2001 he explained how he felt about his roles as an African and a storyteller:
Let’s be modest. Africa is vast, and it would be pretentious to speak in its name. I’m fighting the battle with words because I’m a storyteller, a griot. Rightly or wrongly, they call us masters of the spoken word. Our duty is to encourage the West to appreciate Africa more. It’s also true that many Africans don’t really know their own continent. And if you forget your culture, you lose sight of yourself. It is said that “the day you no longer know where you’re going, just remember where you came from.” Our strength lies in our culture. Everything I do as a storyteller, a griot, stems from this rooting and openness.
Sotigui Kouyaté was a Malinese actor and storyteller who sadly died in Paris on 17 April 2010. He began his theatrical career in 1966 at the age of thirty. In addition to twenty or more film appearances and roles he has worked with the legendary ‘intercultural’ world-theatre director, Peter Brook, in the adaptation of the Indian epic The Mahabharata (1983), which came to Glasgow’s Tramway in 1989.
London River finds Sotigui Kouyaté working brilliantly with Director and writer Rachid Bouchareb in a film whose story unfolds in the context of the terrorist bombings of London on 7 July 2005. The 9/11 bombings appalled the world and have been subject to a variety of literary interpretations and layers of cultural reconstruction, as well as dubious projects of commercial exploitation. The London and Madrid bombings have been less well covered and are less well understood. But Bouchareb’s moving and poetic film is less an attempt at documentary retrieval of the facts than an opportunity to reflect upon the awkward colliding relationship between an African-French Muslim and a white Guernsey-Christian, who come to London in search of their missing children. As Bouchareb states in the interview reprinted on this site, his film was ‘first and foremost a human drama.’ Prayer and religion is a major theme for the film, but it does not organise the subject matter. Rather, we follow the performances of Sotigui Kouyaté and Brenda Blethyn as the painful necessity of intercultural dialogue and communication emerges through their conjoined destinies. Loneliness and despair alternate with hope and redemption in a film that never collapses into cliché or easy emotional effects. I’d recommend the film and the interviews to anyone interested in contemporary society or postcolonial themes, and would also hope that the film reaches a wide audience beyond the arthouse circuits and smaller indyfestival. The themes that London River presents are global issues; but they are also a call for local interaction, dialogue and conversation, here and now, on our doorsteps. As Sotigui Kouyaté elegantly says in his interview:
“The theme of the film doesn't just concern Africa, but the whole of society. That is, it is about the crisis of communication and the problem of identity. This is particularly relevant to Africa. I believe that every African has a duty towards Africa, since every African carries Africa within him. But Africa is terribly misunderstood - by others and by itself: the word 'Africa', itself is such a superficial term, given the diversity of nations and peoples. African is 3 million metres squared - that's the size of Europe, the States, China and Argentina all together! We can't talk of it as if it were a single entity, there's more to it than that. One of the interesting things about Rachid's film is that he shows an older African travelling abroad to find out what Africans abroad are like, what motivates them. Many films show African-Americans going back to the old continent to discover their roots, but this film shows the reverse of that.”
This, for me, is the first time I've seen that on film. But while I am African, and always will be, what matters most to me is humanity. In any story, if the human being is not at its heart then it doesn't interest me. London River is about the problems that life poses for mankind. It has to do with the attacks of 7/7, and it also talks of Islam, but these subjects are not at its heart. Rather, it wants to show the difficulties people have in accepting one another, the fear they feel. It is a film about how we react to things, and this is what interests me. It teaches us that when you meet the other, don't be scared to look them in the eye; for if you are brave enough to do so, you will finish by seeing yourself more clearly.”
London River is now available on DVD
For further information, please see the London River website
Friday, 15 October 2010
Having worked as Director of the International Community Film Forum since 2006, I’m delighted to be serving as one of the Film Editors with the Postcolonial Networks website. We would welcome posts on a variety of topics - from film reviewers and critics, to amateur and professional film makers. The posts from members are an opportunity to share your creativity; to stimulate new conversations and to foster critical dialogues.
As a reviewer you might be interested in offering a subversive or experimental reading of mainstream blockbuster films. Perhaps you want to produce a cross-cultural reading that the intended spectator may not have experienced. You may have relevant personal experience that challenges the tired stereotypes that populate our screens. It would be inspiring to read appreciations of film work that has a spiritual dimension; that promote greater understanding between faiths; or that explore the relationships between the material conditions of being and the associated postcolonial forces and theories that appear, or fail, to be relevant.
We are also keen to have questions, notes, and queries. Someone ‘out there’ may know how to find the answer, or where to find it. Also don’t be afraid of being categorised as theologian or cultural theorist – remembers that we want explore connections and overlaps as well as being honest about perceived limits and boundaries.
We would be delighted to have posts which reflect the full range of world cinema and transnational film. If you have favourite directors we would love to hear what you value in their work. You might provide supporting contextual information that will help to introduce their work to new audiences and again we value work that promotes dialogue and debate.
If you have been involved in film making here is an opportunity to write about your experiences. Whether you’re a director or a runner; a scriptwriter or an actor; an editor or a sound engineer you experience will be valued. Film involves ideals, compromises, setbacks and defeats. Sometimes this situation is caused by money and resources; sometimes its poor decision-making or taking the right risks. But we can learn from our successes as much as our failures. A collectivist of communal approach is the underlying principle of a networked group. Accordingly, we celebrate posts that are considerate, creative, critical, crafted and constructive.
Finally, I’d suggest that we don’t frighten ourselves into silence by fearing the orthodoxies of postcolonial theory. Theoretical discourse is more of a willing servant rather than a brutal master!
[Subsequent posts from me will be outlining useful books and online resources; exploring topics such as community film and participatory video; reviewing world cinema; interviewing film makers and researchers; thinking about ‘film’ theory; decolonizing film]
Sunday, 10 October 2010
A survey of current ideas and opinion indicates widespread confusion and a lack of intellectual coherence about the meaning of the Big Society. The gaping holes in community life; the broken ties and weaker networks suggest a variety of remedies coming from unexpected sources. But in this case the source of well-being is Poisoned by Lucifer himself. Gerald Warner was an early critic, writing a blog in The Daily Telegraph entitled ‘David Cameron's Big Society is a grotesque fantasy inspired by leftist subversive Saul Alinsky’
That’s just the first rhetorical canon. There’s a familiar fear which Burke best expressed in his Reflections on the French Revolution, that an artificial and manipulative state-funded programme is at odds with the organic and local community structures of civil society. As Gerald Warner asserts “Real communities have the WRI, the British Legion, bowling, tennis, cricket clubs – naturally evolved organizations.” The proposed 5000 strong army of community organizers is one fear. Another fear expressed is that the “community organizing movement” has been linked to President Obama, that it’s secretive and manipulative (conspiratorial), even that it’s Satanic.
“If you ever doubted that, under Cameron, the Conservative Party has become ideologically and culturally de-racinated, has lost its political compass and is occupied by an alien clique that has disfigured it beyond recognition, here is the incontestable evidence.
For Gerald Warner it’s a farcical invention, “the whole Heath-Robinson contraption” Repeatedly, one is reminded of Burke’s satirical notion of an artificial (French Revolutionary) constitution; an innovative disaster, and a monstrous assembly of parts that do not fit together, divorced from Nature. The new constitutional proposals are likely further to test the monstrous direction of ‘democracy.’
The oddly inspiring figure chosen by the conservatives is Alinsky. According to Melanie Phillips, ‘Alinsky was a ‘transformational Marxist’ in the mould of Antonio Gramsci, who promoted the strategy of a ‘long march through the institutions’ by capturing the culture and turning it inside out as the most effective means of overturning western society.’ She shares Gerald Warner’s fears for the future, and is in state of disbelief:
“The British Conservative party has signed up to the revolutionary Marxist politics of Saul Alinsky and his seditious strategy of using ‘community organizers’ to turn the people against the state and against the bedrock moral and social values of their country – and it is almost certainly too ignorant, lazy or stupid to realize that this is what it means.
Unbelievable.” (2 April 2010)
For left critics, the Big Society masks our corporate emasculation. As Hilary Wainwright comments in The Guardian:
“But control over what? His idea of the "big society" is pitched at minimizing the power of the state, while doing nothing to give people the power to control the private, "free" market and the inequalities it produces.” (14 April 2010)
“In Britain today, just 947 people – the directors of the FTSE 100 companies – control firms worth more than £1 trillion. (And those directors paid themselves more than £1bn last year into the bargain.)” (14 April 2010)
The Big Society, for Wainright, becomes a kind of infantilism, more Big Toys than Big Society:
‘Cameron's invitation to join the government conjures up a toy-town democracy, a patronising attempt to divert our anger from the real centres of power.”
See also "Wasteland: Europe stalked by spectre of mass unemployment" By Alistair Dawber. The Independent. 16 September 2010.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
In low budget and community film making a lot of attention is paid to the participatory process and less to what creates an imaginative product worthy of a wider public. But I believe that creativity and quality are essential.
Experience shows that there’s some core advice that could help you to produce a high impact and engaging product.
With that in mind I’ve produced a short list of tips from my project notebooks. in order to help you to create an award-winning short film.
If you have any other tips and advice or stories, why not share your experiences?
- We followed a 40 20 40 'Guide' for project time and resources: 40% Pre-Production planning / 20% Production Filming / 40% Post-production - editing, reflecting, promoting, screening
- We are close to the life of the people involved (by us, for us / inside out)
- We have a lively sense of where we live: place, environment, or locality = our grassroots, our heritage, our futures
- We explored relevant issue(s) (for participants making the film AND for viewers at screenings or online)
- We employ film ‘crew’ services, and trainers and facilitators who who have experience of participatory work and who are committed to our project aims
- A new take on an old question; re-framing, re-imagining a question
- An embodied concept – our idea grew hands, legs, feet, eyes and ears – it came alive
- Engaged and participatory exploration of the topic with research ‘answers’ from many angles. But more than just face-to-face interviews with experts (talking heads)
- Telling a story well – twists and turns, surprise endings, re-appearances, character work, setting and context
- We identify and discuss anchors for our film to hold it all together – place, person, topic, journey, object
- Smiling and laughter in the making. Not another miserable and hopeless and dreary community film…
- We seek out older and younger perspectives (avoid what do they know? / I’ve seen it all before!) – collide and overlap opinions, make them meet?
- Everyone works as a team and also gives his or her best as an individual
- We love and relish our detailed planning and development – who, what, where, when, why. It’s our roadmap to success
- We like the big picture: a sense of the whole visual environment (panorama) or soundworld
- We like the little world; zooming in on telling details (the part is a part of the whole story)
- We are sensitive to ethical issues and educational growth; to risk analysis; we have consent forms and use them; safety first.
- We analyze stereotypes and extreme positions (sensitively) and find the story behind the story
- Fact: Those who do great interviews are not always the most senior, best paid or most confident people
- We pay a lot of time and attention to sound recording and soundworlds because film is also about listening skills
- Compellling music can lift a film / soundtrack editing matters too. We like visual rhythm.
- Time-keeping and time-management – are everyone’s responsibility
- We make an honest and critical choice of the best footage throughout and enough we leave enough time for a good edit as a collective
- We review and reflect as we go along – are we getting what we want? quick n tight?
- keep it short – no windbags please ! not a 2 hour community film!
- We present real issues and people, not a Hollywood fantasy land !
- It’s not about the money, it’s time and commitment …
- We share our experience with other groups and learn from them
- we thought and did a lot about screenings, DVD design and packaging, online, publicity; we had a great product as well as a great time making it
- golden trophies? really ?
Thursday, 22 July 2010
A Postfilm Journey:
Thursday, 8 July 2010
For clarification, I'd offer several points:
'Future': are we thinking about what we will be seeing in 3 years' time or 5, or 10 ?
What aspect of the future are we thinking about? The history of 'film' accommodates and demonstrates swift and revolutionary changes, e.g.
technological such as sound and hand-held cameras, digital etc
educational: skills and training
(non-) commercial structures
distribution systems and platforms
creating new markets, niches, tastes, (sub)genres
There is no reason to assume that the pace of change has stopped or is slowing, what will we see next?
How are we defining 'film' ?
Who will be making 'films' and what will they be making?
What will 'making' mean? For instance, will the market in moving image be much more dominated by transmedia and interactivity/gaming. e.g. many adolescents have spent more of their time gaming than they have in formal schooling
Where will film-making be taking place? How significant will be the shifts in production centres at local, regional, national and international level?
A “Summary” so far, and sorry if it appears to polarise debate (but see 3, below)
POSITION 1: (The Future of ) Film=
stars, top-down model
Hollywood or Bollywood?
the past = the present = the future
bigbudget & rights management
POSITION 2: (The Future of ) Film =
variety of platforms
Youtube and Nollywood etc
grass-roots, bottom up approaches
POSITION 3: Future of Film = elements of 1 and 2 (above)
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Saul Alinsky's 1971 book, Rules for Radicals has been cited recently as an influential source for David Cameron's campaign for a Big Society. The main themes are the importance of citizens as participants and opportunities for re-engagement and re-empowerment.
If you're already questioning why the Conservative manifesto employed a guiding quotation from that book, you're not alone. One alarmed commentators was Gerald Warner, writing in the Daily Telegraph on April Fools' day 2010:
"David Cameron's Big Society is a grotesque fantasy inspired by leftist subversive Saul Alinsky"
"Yet the Conservative Party blurts out this admission in the launch document of Big Society. There is a pedantic debate over whether Alinsky was technically a Marxist, or by-passed Marx as old-hat. What is beyond question is his project to overthrow capitalist society and to do so through infiltration of political parties, institutions and, above all, by the use of “community organisers”. Anybody who thought claims on this blog of Cultural Marxism influencing even the Tory Party were exaggerated can now think again."
I've selected some quotes below from Alinsky's book which I hope readers will find useful:
"What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."
"The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people. One hundred and thirty five years ago Tocqueville gravely warned that unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves, self-government would pass from the scene. Citizen participation is the animating spirit and force in a society predicated on voluntarism. (p.xxv)
(p. xxv) Here we are desperately concerned with the vast mass of our people who, thwarted through lack of interest or opportunity, or both, do not participate in the endless (p. xxvi) responsibilties of citizenship and are resigned to lives determined by others. To lose you “identity” as a citizen of democracy is but a step from losing your identity as a person. People react to this frustration by not acting at all. The separation of the people from the routine daily functions of citizenship is heartbreak in a democracy.
"It is a grave situation when a people resign their citizenship or when a resident of a great city, though he may desire to take a hand, lacks the means to participate. That citizen sinks further into apathy, anonymity, and depersonalization. The result is that he comes to depend on public authority and a state of civic sclerosis sets in.
"From time to time there have been external enemies at our gates; there has always been the enemy within, the hidden and malignant inertia that foreshadows more certain destruction to our life and future than any nuclear warhead. There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.”
Beyond the Big Society idea, Alinsky's preoccupation with the combination of opposites suggests another discourse underpinning the surprise joining of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives:
Perhaps also welcome is the notion of open-ended. Alinsky quotes Niels Bohr, speaking out against dogmatic ideology “Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.” (4)
He further explores dualities such as ying and yang etc
“We know intellectually that everything is functionally interrelated, but in our operations we segment and isolate all values and issues.” (15)He further quotes Bohr on complementarity “There is not so much hope if we have only one difficulty, but when we have two we can match them off against each other.”
and on p. 16 Alinsky quotes the philosopher Whitehead
“In formal logic, a contradiction is the signal of a defeat; but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress towards a victory”
The jury's still out on politics, philosophy, radicalism; the Big Society Rulebook is yet to be written. I tend to agree with Alinksy at this point: there are more questions than answers
Have the subversives really taken over the Conservatives?
I look forward to reading your Toolkits and Action Plans. Look out for my forthcoming blog 'The Spectre of Community'.
Monday, 28 June 2010
Making a film is an exciting project for any organisation, but what is involved is often poorly understood. But don’t be put off, it’s just a case of being clear about what you want to do at the outset.
A community film is a great way to bring people together because film-making requires a collaborative approach and a wide range of skills. The first point to consider is whether the priority is process or product.
A process led approach values inclusion, participation and engagement of the (initially untrained) target group(s). This approach values learning skills and everyone enjoying taking part
A product-led film leaves most of the work to a commercial company and the focus will be on a highly-finished glossy product. Stakeholders will be consulted, but most significant roles will be undertaken by staff who are very experienced and highly trained.
Some people would argue that the process and product distinction is not as clearcut as it first appears; but thinking about your aims and objectives will at least help you to clarify what you need to do.
The 3 Stages of film-making
(1) Pre-production is the planning and development stage: rationale, aims, scripts, budgets, locations, roles, timetables etc;
(2) The production or filming stage;
(3) Post-production involves editing and selecting from what has been filmed and the use of distribution formats such as dvd. Be prepared to spend 80% of your time on the first and third stages. You might also want to think about public presentations, screenings, discussions, online forums...
Defining a Rationale
Target? Who is your finished film for? Is it aimed at the general public (to be posted on YouTube)?
Or is it intended more for internal use - for staff or service users? Perhaps a limited edition souvenir DVD ?
If the aim is to document an event such as an activity day then the project is already time-specific.
Remember that only the most dedicated participants will want to sit through a 3 hour film. A 5- minute film could be much more effective and practical.
Style? Funny or serious ?
A film can be very effective in shifting perceptions, in raising awareness and supporting your campaigning objectives. Perhaps the idea is to produce a promotional film that can be added to your website, or sent out as a DVD to your supporters. In that case it would be detrimental to end up with an amateurish product that suggests an unprofessional organisation. Shoddy communications will do more harm than good.
On the other hand real people talking about their experiences can be more powerful than the best actors! Try to think in terms of people and 'The Story' rather than idea and propaganda!
A job for everyone
If the emphasis is on process then the main resource will be volunteer time, people commitment and training, perhaps over 3 months.
There are as many roles as you have volunteers, and most of these will be behind rather than in front of the camera. Consider roles such as producer, director, camera operator, sound. Perhaps there is a role for a researcher and an interviewer (a community reporter).
You could also think costumes, make up, music-making, posters and publicity, ushers, refreshments …some people may have more than one role or job to do. So multi-skill to avoid boredom and lack of variety.
But the editing process can be quite complex and it makes sense to leave it to a small team or to one trained individual.
Fundraising and resources
With professional suport, you may expect to pay $1000 or more for a 1-day film shoot to produce a 3 minute film. In briefing a film company be clear about how you want to engage the real-life community most effectively and ensure that ethical issues such as consent are fully understood.
If you are buying your own equipment prices start at £80 for a very basic flip camera; expect to pay £300 for a good camcorder, and over £1000 for a second-hand semi-professional camcorder. DVDs printed with cases cost about £1 each and online upload on YouTube or Vimeo is free.
It makes sense to consider a do it yourself approach if you have time to experiment, or if you budget is very restricted. Sometimes it makes sense to have professional support initially, and then transition to a more independent approach.
© Dr Ian McCormick. But please do contact me if you want to use the TEXT of this article as a guest post on your blog. With attribution offered I seldom refuse! Drop me a line.
Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences (2013) ...
also available on Kindle, or to download.
Dr Ian McCormick is Director of the International Community Film Forum.
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Celebrity and Community are much-abused words.
The darker (or should we say glitzy?) face of celebrity is greedy, ego-centric people and their failing relationships; their multiple addictions; their constant see-saw between the need for high visibility and a hard-won private life. Occasionally, a token charity is endorsed, or a baby adopted – and that provides the living proof of the beating human heart.
For many people of modest means there is an objection to the cult of celebrity, and a system that permits awesome inequality. Is a footballer really worth a million times more than a nurse? It’s not the indvidual celebrity that we love or hate, it’s the systematic inequality that sanctions it. Perhaps we need to remember, however, that celebrity springs from celebration – coming together to share and endorse something. Pleasure not pain.
The word community has its own problems. First, we are beginning to doubt that it exists. People don’t know their neighbours, let alone trust them. Private pools, clubs, societies, cars, schools, property allow people to build a wall around their life, cut off from the ‘great unwashed.’ And the local community can be a prison house for ordinary people too; we find ourselves trapped in a concrete jungle without local amenities, or we just don’t share the same language, gang or subculture. A local community can also imprison with the dead hand of low aspiration and low achievement. We are told that in some communities social capital is undetectable. That said, there are often rich and nuanced linkages between people that the sociologists and policy makers are unable to quantify. And communities often unite around an issue, if they have the opportunity or the confidence
But when celebrity and community authentically meet few would doubt the benefits.
I would like to briefly note the work of a community media company based in Manchester UK who have worked with over 80 local people to write and produce a 40-minute film called Green Wave. It’s set in the year 2080 and deals with a range of ways that ordinary people can make a contribution to tackling climate change. the project was inter-generational, with a cast ranging from a baby to 87-year-old Ralph Wagstaff. Participants explored meaningful green actions and learned act for the first time.
Guest star appearances have come in the shape of John Henshaw (Early Doors) and Frank Sidebottom comic Chris Sievey. They will be joined by Danielle Henry (Torchwood and Survivors). Commensurate with the civic pride, the film’s premiere will take place at Manchester Town Hall.
The crossing of celebrity and community has gained publicity and esteem for the project, for the film company, for the participants, the stars, and climate change awareness. A virtuous circle and all-round winners !
A Note on REELmcr
“REELmcr is a dynamic, not for profit social enterprise, committed to giving a voice to the most alienated, deprived, under represented and vulnerable communities. We provide intergenerational community groups from across the North West, with the opportunity to gain experience of innovative media production and a chance to tell the personal or collective stories of individuals and communities, using filmmaking as a medium for storytelling, encouraging groups to focus on the issues that affect all members of their community, rather than their differences, cohesion is the goal that underpins all of our projects.”
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Let's also admit that a film can be made for next-to-nothing if you are living in an affluent country.
- by borrowing equipment from a government/ community organization, or from an individual, or a private, a charity or an NGO;
- by sharing skills from those who have been taught or had the time to teach themselves;
- by employing the time and commitment of volunteers.
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Screen WM Event at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
10th June 2009
It was reassuring to hear Lord Puttnam speak. What an asset he is for the industry and for those who care about film.
In particular, I enjoyed his emphasis on the social role of film. It's so easy to fall in with the prophets of technological progress, innovation, and digital skills, as though these are a worthy end in themselves; as though we could eliminate poverty through digital equality and having more gadgets.
(Across most of Africa 97% of the population is not online.)
Lord Puttnam reminded us of need for a prior engagement with community and citizenship which might be supported by the dream of improved communications; social connection rather than fascist exclusion.
Also resonant for me in his speech was the notion of global dialogues and environmental issues. He was looking to the new, younger generations to raise awareness and understanding. He appeared to be critical of the lack of adequate rewards for filmmakers and the poor system for distribution beyond the mainstream. Cheaper technologies offered astonishing opportunities, but we still need to learn the craft. It's one thing to give people literacy, another thing learning how to use it for social profit. Again, it's not just having technology, its the context in which it is materialised that matters.
He welcomed the 'gaming' community but appeared to question whether they had so far discovered a founding genius who would take them to another level.
The gaming panel explored also the social and educational aspects of gaming and opportunities that may exist for innovative collaboration. I feel that there is still a great wall here for non-youth non-specialists whose perception of gaming is boys and violence and bad role models and short attention spans and repetitive strain injury and ....
It was particularly helpful to hear about some of C4's 14-19 projects as a useful corrective against the demonisation of gaming. The evening concluded with credit crunch wine, canapes and networking.
Time to turn up the volume and press record. Let's communicate. Getting your message out may not be as difficult as you think. When we started our community film festival in Northampton we had few difficulties gaining the attention of local, regional and national media. The BBC spent a whole day with us; we had several radio appearances and multiple pages of coverage in the newspapers.
If we had paid for our publicity as advertisement we would have needed tens of thousands of dollars. As a small non-profit venture our project needed the oxygen of free publicity to make it a success.
In these cash-strapped times a well-crafted press release is an excellent source of free publicity and not as difficult as you may think. In our rush to digital we often forget the reach, coverage and the value of the existing traditional media.
In fact, local media are hungry for news items to fill their columns. National media and regional TV, however, tend to cover larger events of ‘national’ and topical significance. But they will lend and open ear, as we found, to worth causes and innovative projects.
(If you want to copy this item into your own newsletter please credit my name and blog
Community Media - Interactive World http://cmactivist.blogspot.com/
Here are some tips and golden rules for writing effective press releases:
Stick to one page of A4.
Less than 200 words is good and 50 words is even better.
Use short sentences and paragraphs. You are not writing an academic thesis.
Provide ALL the information that the editor may need.
A useful reminder is to interrogate your story or event with the SIX Ws:
“Who, What, When, Where, Why, hoW”
Who and What should be covered in the first paragraph; the other four Ws must be covered elsewhere in the story.
The first paragraph should catch the journalist’s attention.
After the six Ws, consider the ‘So What’ factor. What makes your event special or unique? have you invited a local celebrity to appear, or to endorse your event? Local politicians or celebrities will often send a message of support underlining the importance of your work to the community.
It’s advantageous to provide short quotations from people: staff, volunteers, and service users.
Local media are often more interested in the personal or individual angle of a story rather than an abstract issue or concept.
To write your own headline make it pithy, witty and short. Think of a keyword that sums up what you are trying to do; use less than 6 words.
Ideally you should ask someone else to read your press release - community is an activity.
Always use a spell check before submitting your work.
Your press release begins with a publication date or
--- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ---
before and after the text that you want published.
---NOTES FOR EDITIORS ---
additional information about your group. The Editor may use the notes supplied if they have more space available on the day.
Finally include a section called
--- CONTACT ---
and supply all contact details an editor to follow up.
Ensure that the contact person will be available. Many stories do not appear because the journalist was unable to contact anyone after 5pm.
If you have a Communications Strategy you may be writing a Press Release once a month or more.
Sadly, many Press Releases are just sent out at the end of a project. Aim for a least three news stories for any projects. It’s more effective to build your local media relationships by involving the public in your story as it develops. Just think - all projects have a beginning, a middle and an end point - as well as challenges and setbacks that you can use to your advantage.
Use local surveys and face to face interviews to increase dialogue and interactivity. If you are using digital social media these functions will be easy and inexpensive to build into your work.
Announce successes but also appeal for help when you face challenges. Look out for milestones such as volunteering targets met, funding awarded, service user achievements, awards and endorsements.
After sending your news follow up with a phone call - voices build media relationships.
Dr Ian McCormick is Director of The International Community Film Forum and Festival, www.icff.info and works as a social media activist.