Independent Cinema Office Blog

News and views on the world of independent film

10 questions for... an ICO intern!

Posted Friday 15 August 2014 by Sarah Rutterford in Cinema Careers

Aga Baranowska
Aga Baranowska, our most recent intern hard at work!

At the ICO we offer internships in the office during busy times, and this year we took on Aga Baranowska (@BaranowskaAga) who impressively combined ICO office duties two days a week with studying for her MA at Birkbeck. We always endeavour to make our interns' experience as varied and enriching as we possibly can and below, Aga answers our questions about the experience... no pressure, Aga!

Why did you apply to be an intern at the ICO – what did you hope to learn?

As soon as I saw the posting on the website, I was really excited about the internship opportunity! I had been following the ICO for some time, and wanted to learn more about them. I was new to the UK, so I wanted to gain valuable work experience here and learn specifically about the British film industry, and I also hoped I would learn about different areas of the industry thanks to the ICO’s activities being so varied. The posting was for an Events & Admin internship, helping with ICO training courses and Screening Days, so I knew I would be able to use my events management skills.

After I sent in my application, I was invited for an interview. Hurray! My interview was with Becky Clarke and Sarah Bourne. We talked about the ICO, the role, my experience and my expectations for the internship. The interview felt natural, and Becky and Sarah were friendly and passionate about their work, which perfectly describes the atmosphere in the office as I discovered after I started the internship.

What studies were you doing alongside the internship? Has the internship had any impact on your academic work (other than taking time away from it!)?

I’m doing an MA in Film, Television and Screen Media at Birkbeck, University of London. One of the reasons I chose this programme was because it combines academic work with practical opportunities. As I want to work in the film industry, gaining work experience alongside completing the MA programme was very important to me.

Even though the internship at the ICO was not part of my programme, the experience has added to the knowledge I’ve gained in my studies. Earlier this year, I took a Film Festivals module, and as part of the course I attended the Berlin International Film Festival. Talking to the ICO programming team about their experiences at Cannes and helping with the ICO’s Develop Your Film Festival course shed new light on the topics I studied in this module.

What key films and/or cinematic experiences informed your love of cinema?

There have been many films and experiences over the years that have shaped my love of cinema. When I took the Intro to Film course in my first year of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, I was amazed by the films we saw each week: we started with Citizen Kane, and continued with The Piano, Raise the Red Lantern and I am Cuba. Combined with my first exposure to film history and theory, it was a hugely impactful experience which convinced me that film was not only my passion but also the career I wanted to pursue.

Then I saw a retrospective of South Korean cinema at the New Horizons Film Festival in Poland. The films I saw, Old Boy, Peppermint Candy and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, had a profound impact on me. As a result, I changed my university programme, added East Asian Studies as one of my majors, started learning Korean and eventually lived in South Korea for a summer. I still have a soft spot for Korean and East Asian films.  

A couple of years ago, I started reading more about women’s cinema and feminist approaches to film studies, and I have become so interested that I’m planning to focus on this area in my dissertation. It is impossible to list only a couple of films here, but since moving to London I have been enjoying Chantal Akerman’s retrospective organised by A Nos Amours, events put together by the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image as well the ICO’s Jemma Desai through her initiative I Am Dora, and Selina Robertson through her film club, Club des Femmes.

Please describe a typical day for you at the ICO...

My day would depend on what was happening at the ICO. A week or two prior to a training course or Screening Days, I dedicated my time to these events. I helped with updating and printing hand-outs and packs, as well as preparing name badges and other on-site material.

On other days, I assisted with events that were scheduled for later dates by updating the ICO website, preparing e-mail blasts and promoting the events. I also worked on a number of other projects, for example, researching and compiling a list of arts venues, theatres, community halls and village halls in Wales to promote the Neighbourhood Cinema event.

Please can you give an overview of your experiences?

I started my internship at the end of March and was originally meant to finish in June. However, I enjoyed it so much that I extended my time and stayed until the beginning of August. I mainly helped with Screenings Days and training courses, but I also conducted research for ICO releases, collected and entered film data for programming activities, and updated the database used by everyone in the office.

Over the course of my internship, I had the opportunity to attend two Screenings Days events, one in London and the other in Cardiff. It was a great chance to see first-hand the important role the ICO plays in the film community. Making a contribution to the work the ICO is doing was definitely the most rewarding aspect of the internship. Throughout my time, I always felt that I was working on meaningful tasks and projects, and I truly felt part of the team.

What have you learnt from the experience? What do you think you’ve gained?

I have learned a lot! As I had hoped, I learned about various areas of the UK's film industry. That was crucial for me: being relatively new to the UK but hoping to work here I knew I had a lot to learn, and the internship has helped me in this regard. I have also gained a better understanding of the various roles within the industry, and the difficulties that each sector faces.

The ICO staff are knowledgeable, experienced and always eager to share. I have had a number of talks about the industry with Simon Ward and Becky Clarke, which were incredibly informative and inspiring. They also shared tips about working in film which I know will help me succeed in the industry.

What aspects of working here have you enjoyed the most – and the least?!

I enjoyed the projects I was working on, and the one compiling the list of venues that would be interested in starting a film programme in Wales is definitely at the top. Not only did I get to know Wales and its communities a little bit more, but it also felt rewarding when people were interested in the event that I was contacting them about.

However, I would have to say that the most enjoyable aspect of this internship was working with the welcoming, open and friendly ICO team. Everyone is passionate about film and I loved being part of this environment, talking about films and directors on a regular basis throughout the day. I appreciated listening to various opinions and sharing my thoughts, and I have a long list of wonderful films mentioned in the office that I will be catching up on.

Has the internship helped you gain entry into the industry, and do you think it has improved your job prospects?

Yes and yes! The internship has without a doubt opened up new opportunities for me. The experience allowed me to enhance my CV, gain valuable career advice and meet people from different areas of the industry. What I found particularly unique about my experience at the ICO is that everyone in the office was eager to share career advice and supported me in my search to secure a position following the internship.

Have your overall career ambitions changed since doing the internship?

I have realised how important it is to gain diverse experience in various sectors of the film industry to be able to fully understand it. I think this is reflected in the diverse activities of the ICO, and the career paths of many of the staff members. My overall career ambition has definitely been influenced by this experience, but more importantly it showed me generally that there are many different paths that can lead you to achieve your career goals.

Finally: if you were giving advice to future ICO interns or interns within the film sector generally, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer suggestions. I think it shows that you are interested in the organisation and the wider industry, and are engaged in your work.

Take even the smallest tasks seriously and be committed to the project you are working on. Some projects might not be glamorous, but it is still important to get them done as well as you can.

Be passionate about cinema and dedicated to working in the industry. You must be both committed and organised to be able to devote your time and attention to the internship while possibly working part-time, studying, or sometimes doing both at the same time.

Thank you ICO for an amazing internship experience!

Thank you, Aga!

News round-up... 6/8/2014

Posted Wednesday 6 August 2014 by Sarah Rutterford in News Round-up

The trailer for At Berkeley: our superb new documentary by Fred Wiseman

News

  • We've still got spaces left on our new training programme REACH: Strategic Audience Development for Independent Exhibitors. Bursaries (via Creative Skillset and the BFI Film Audience Network) are still available towards course places and delegates will get a free - yes, FREE - pass to Cambridge Film Festival. Don't miss out!
  • We've also opened applications on Get It Seen, a course giving emerging film producers the inside track on the UK distribution and exhibition sectors. Find out more.
  • Screening Days is growing with the addition of new Hub-based events - in addition to our two ICO National Screening Days - dated for the coming year. This represents a fantastic opportunity to catch all the key upcoming releases! See all upcoming dates.
  • We were excited to see so many key documentary filmmakers highlight Frederick Wiseman - director of our upcoming release At Berkeley - as their favourite documentarian in Sight & Sound's 100 Best Documentaries Poll, which listed Titicut Follies (1967; no. 27 in the main poll, no. 6 in directors' favourites) and Welfare (1975; no. 47 in the main poll) as his best works.
  • We've also been adding to our project, Fred Wiseman: Reality and Film, collating documentarian's responses to their favourite Wiseman films - Joshua Oppenheimer chose Titicut Follies and Eric Steel, Domestic ViolenceRead more.
  • Studio Ghibli fans everywhere were aghast this week when a decision to halt production was announced, but now it seems the closure may only be temporary - what's really going on? The Independent takes a closer look.
  • The European Film Academy has launched a fund to support jailed Ukranian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov.
  • There will be an ICO contingent at Venice Film Festival in a few weeks' time - check out the line-up, which includes the world premiere of Inarritu’s Birdman, Fatih Akin's The Cut, David Gordon Green's Manglehorn, Michael Almereyda's modern-day Cymbeline and Roy Andersson's snappily titled A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting the Nature of Existence. Exciting!

Calls for submissions & other opportunities

Essential reading...

  • What's it like to attend a film festival in a country at war? Read this brilliant report from Odessa International Film Festival which has gone ahead despite the conflict in Ukraine.
  • A great post on The F Word by one of our programmers, Selina, on the films in the BFI's Teenage Kicks season this summer.
  • An excellent aide-memoire for anyone planning an artists' film screening from no.w.here.
  • Which cinema is set in a converted 14th century barn and first screened films to local troops during WWII? August's Cinema of the Month!
  • Two equally inspiring pieces - the first on Spectacle, an entirely volunteer-run cinema in Brooklyn: "Seven days a week the volunteer-made, volunteer-run, 30-seat screening space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hustles out a menagerie of films — rare, radical, forgotten, misbegotten, offbeat, and controversial — which they charge $5 to see"...
  • And the second on Budapest Film Zrt, Hungary's largest art house cinema network, with assistant programmer Orsi Farkas talking about how and what they programme, their audience development work, and their fight for funding.
  • And finally, something completely essential: Moomin rules for a happy life.
  • Moomin

Outdoor cinema at the Barn

Posted Thursday 31 July 2014 by Sarah Rutterford in General, Pop-up and Event Cinema

Outdoor cinema at the Barn
An outdoor screening in the lovely grounds of the Barn Cinema, Dartington

With weather like this, it's only natural that our thoughts should turn to films in the great outdoors! The Barn Cinema in Dartington, Devon runs lots of Outdoor Cinema screenings every year and here Barn's Cinema Manager & Film Programmer (and ICO Technical Ambassador) Jim Whittle tells us how they do it. 

Over to you Jim! 

The Barn Cinema runs a full-time film programme with at least three screenings per day run by a small team of seven staff. Although we all love working here, we don’t struggle to fill our time so when our Artistic Director approached me in the cafe and asked ‘Can we do outdoor screenings as well?’ I of course, said yes! Four years on and our outdoor film programme has expanded from three screenings per year using 35mm to twenty screenings at five different events at Dartington and across Devon - now using 2K digital projection with a choice of two sizes of screen.

Our most recent event was a series of six films over two weekends in July. Our preferred blend of new releases alongside classic and cult films can make the programming quite tricky; this time around we got a good mix with Walking on Sunshine and Tammy for our new releases (which we also screened inside the Barn Cinema for several days each), A Hard Day’s Night and The Birds for our classic film offering and for the cult film lovers, Pulp Fiction and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Outdoor cinema at the Barn
A rapt audience at one of Barn's outdoor screenings

The screenings take place in a small car park area immediately adjacent to the cinema and the cafe in Dartington’s formal gardens, so the location is ideal - both practical and aesthetically pleasing. We also have the added bonus that should it rain hard, we can quickly move the audience into the cinema and continue the screening.

For projection, we use an NEC800C / Doremi server which is located inside the cinema’s stage loading area, meaning at the end of the night we can simply shut the doors and the projector is safe. For other venues, we have made a shed with portholes to house the equipment. Our sound system is a Dolby DMA8 plus coupled with a CP650. We only use centre, left and right channels and feed the signal through a Soundcraft mixer to a powerful PA system. Our screens are standard cinema type screens either rigged to a Prolyte truss or a scaffold structure depending on the size screen we use. We are lucky that Dartington operates several high spec studio spaces and we have access to the rigging and PA systems as well as some technicians to help set it all up.

Outdoor cinema at the Barn
Waiting for the film to begin...

The weeks leading up the screenings are very busy with equipment being sourced and checked out and a lot of time checking the Met Office website. This year, the weather was very kind with lovely sunny weather; it remained warm right up until the end of the films. This helped us sell out most of the screenings with large audiences for the remainder. The events are well supported by local people and there is a marked difference in atmosphere from indoor screenings: people arrive with picnics, wine, blankets and often dressed up before films. The sight of the audience (and staff) up and dancing their way through Walking on Sunshine will stay with me for a while!

Not only do the outdoor screenings provide very welcome income during what is often a very quiet time for cinemas, but the cinema team gets a lot from these events. Everyone chips in, from making DCP trailers to designing posters and handing out leaflets in the town, not to mention rigging scaffolding, moving PA systems, seats and projectors. It is an enormous amount of additional hard work but always brings the team together and gives an enormous sense of achievement. At the end of the night, once everything has been put away and tidied up, we all share a midnight pint of cider to unwind!

Would I recommend running outdoor screenings to other indie exhibitors? Yes, you won’t regret it!

Thank you, Jim!

News round-up... 22/07/2014

Posted Tuesday 22 July 2014 by Sarah Rutterford in News Round-up

Motovun
Motovun - the glorious backdrop to our Developing Your Film Festival course, run alongside the Motovun Film Festival

News

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