Independent Cinema Office Blog

News and views on the world of independent film

Posts from April 2013

News Round-up... 26/04/2013

Posted Friday 26 April 2013 by Jon Spatz in News Round-up

Travel through time (in cinema)

SPOILER ALER- Oh, too late.

Sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and...

The Death of Cinema (in Italy)

And In Other News

... Which begs the question, what else could be shown in cinemas to pull in those punters? #getiton

Events

Jobs

  • The wonderful and vibrant Chapter Arts Centre of Cardiff (the UK’s most peaceful ‘urban space’), are looking for a Development Office to assist in their fundraising operations – you have to be awesome, obviously, but for more click here.

Submissions

  • Consider yourself the next Philip French? Stop sniggering in the back there! Well, @edmfilmfest has confirmed the return of the Student Critics Jury. A brilliant initiative to support future film criticism, applications and further info can be found here.
  • @VMShorts is Britain’s biggest short film competition and is now open for submissions. Need I say more? How about, £30,000 in prize money?
  • The submission process is now open for Save Our Scripts – mentioned a few weeks back as one to watch, this is an excellent opportunity to develop your project with expert producers and screenwriters.
  • I don’t think there is a more contemporary short film contest: Firefox is asking filmmakers to submit short films about the power of the web. Should lead to some interesting films, and the prizes are pretty great.

Training

  • @Film_London are running ‘Cultivate: Inspiring Future Audiences’, a UK-wide programme that aims to provide the necessary skills to develop film education programmes in cinemas and festivals – pertinent, no?
  • Aged 18-25 and interested in/already are making documentaries? Well @FirstLightFund is working alongside The Grierson Trust to provide you with a wealth of invaluable info and experiences that will help you realise your aspirations. This really is a no-brainer.
  • @sheffdocfest, in partnership with @SkillsetSSC, present a training and networking opportunity aimed exclusively at documentary-makers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; “a workshop designed to arm you with the skills and inside knowledge needed to make sense of today’s reality of fractured funding models and internet-connected audiences.”sounds good to me!

Good Reads

And Good Day

From Doodles to Digital

Posted Friday 12 April 2013 by Tilly Walnes

Kristina Johansen, of Dundee Contemporary Arts was one of the participants of the ICO Creative Digital Marketing course, which ran over a six month period, encouraging participants to experiment and pilot new approaches in their venues or film festivals.  Here she talks through her experience of the course and shares what was learnt from her campaign.

Young People wearing masks in the front row at Discovery Film Festival

Children in masks at Discovery Film Festival

I was excited to attend the ICO’s Creative Digital Marketing course way back in September 2012. Being relatively new to the world of marketing cultural cinema, I was looking forward to meeting people working in the same field from across the UK as well as to being inspired by new digital marketing initiatives.

What followed were a jam-packed two days where we were given a series of workshops and presentations from leading industry figures and agency representatives who told us about a selection of the brightest and the best in digital marketing practice. From the secrets behind Secret Cinema’s social media campaign to the Royal Opera House’s new dynamic data strategy there was lots to learn and be inspired by. But the most fascinating and refreshing element of the sessions was getting to meet with peers working in similar organisations.

Children in a workshop at Discovery Festival

Whilst it is great to hear about cutting edge developments and best practice, sometimes what is most inspiring is hearing about people in the front line, working on real projects with all the real constraints of working for a publicly funded arts organisation. One of the most interesting initiatives discussed on the day was the Watershed’s post–it note analogue tweet project, which allowed the audience to respond to Lars von Trier’s controversial film Antichrist using just post-its stuck to a noticeboard which were then shared digitally.

Following the sessions all the participants were challenged to take one idea from the two days and try and implement it when they returned to the office (easier said than done with an ever-ringing phone and overflowing inbox) and I thought that Watershed’s analogue tweet idea might work for us.

Discovery notecards

At DCA we have an active Twitter and Facebook community and I wondered if this would be a way for us to bring some of that interaction into our building space. We decided to take the idea of analogue tweets and apply it to one of our biggest events of the year the Discovery Film Festival.

Discovery Film Festival (or just plain Discovery as we call it behind the scenes) is Scotland’s International Festival for Young Audiences. It is now in its 9th year and runs over two weeks from the end of October to the start of November. These two weeks comprise three public weekends that include film screenings, workshops and a related exhibition in DCA Gallery, and on weekdays we welcome school and college students from across the local region for screenings and gallery tours.

For this we wanted to give our audience a way to tell each other and us how they felt about the festival. Because the festival is aimed at children and young people we didn’t want to rely on written comments. So we came up with the concept of postcards that provided a space for a drawing or comment depending on how people wanted to respond.

Audience response to Alfie the Little Werewolf

The postcards were handed out at all Discovery events, from screenings to workshops, and the completed cards were displayed on A-Frame boards in the public spaces of DCA. On the back of the postcards we left a space for people to add their contact details to our mailing list so the postcards also provided a valuable opportunity for data capture.

We got lots of responses, particularly on the opening weekend, which featured a gala screening of Alfie the Little Werewolf. Lots of the children and adults who saw the film took the opportunity to tell us what they thought, including drawings of scenes from the film.

We then turned the analogue felt pen doodles into digital 0s and 1s by tweeting and sharing photos of the front of the postcard with our followers, who liked and shared them in turn. We were really happy with the project, it provided a way to animate the space in our building with visual representations of how the festival made people feel. Next year we plan to improve on it by empowering our volunteers to tweet and share the images more frequently using our newly improved wifi network.

Audience feedback on Discovery festival

The second session of Creative Digital Marketing was held this February 2013 where we all came together to present the results of our pilot projects. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear real stories and learn from each other’s successes and failures. I was really encouraged by the positive feedback I got from my presentation and was inspired by everyone’s enthusiasm and ideas.

Projects which stood out for me included: Jo Comino’s analogue tweet strategy for Borderlines festival 2013 (which you can read about on the Guardian Culture Professionals Blog), Andrew Knight’s twitter film meet for Broadway cinema in Nottingham - check it out at broadwaychat - and BFI’s experimentation with expanded audience engagement through Pinterest.

Image response to Discovery Festival

The presentations provided a great jumping-off point for discussions. Hot topics of the day included: how to get the best from volunteers on social media whilst trying not to worry too much about your brand; what was Pinterest for and how it could be used for cinema marketing without infringing copyright; and how digital content creation can blur the line between programming, marketing and audience development.

It’s impossible not to feel energized by my time on the ICO course Creative Digital Marketing. It was a fantastic and valuable experience for me and I know I brought some great things back to the office as well as meeting a brilliant network of people.

*

Find out more about Discovery here:

More Top Tips from the Creative Digital Marketing Course here:

And an excellent round up of Social Media top tips is here.

“Shag-a-Dalek, baby!”

Posted Monday 8 April 2013 by Kevin Harley in Film Releases

To celebrate the restorations of two Dr Who feature films, now available for booking on DCP, we invited groovy Whovian Kevin Harley (The Independent, Total Film) to tell us what he digs about The Doctor.

 Dr Who and the Daleks

Groovy alien world, man!

Dr Who and the Daleks (1965)

The title implies otherwise, but the key element in Dr Who and the Daleks isn’t Daleks. It’s doors. As the TARDIS doors open and the travellers peer into the psychedelic glow of a random alien planet, the only thing wrong with the picture is that the preceding, Earth-based scenes weren’t shot in black-and-white. “Rather exciting, isn’t it?”, chuckles Peter Cushing’s kindly “Dr Who” to Roberta Tovey’s young Susan, bridging the age gap on-screen and among fans (age range, seven to 70) who relish that week-in, week-out “not in Kansas anymore” spirit at Doctor Who’s core: a spirit of any-time, any-place possibility that has thrust the show through 50 years of life.

True, Amicus’s ’60s Dalek movies contain enough deviations from Who lore to give hardened Whovians hernias. But they also embrace enough of the source to prove its versatility. Challengers to Hammer, American producers Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg changed the Doctor (doing some serious eyebrow acting, known quantity Peter Cushing replaced cranky William Hartnell); his name (the Doctor became Dr Who); and his identity from alien to human (he doesn’t say he’s human, though, so insert open door to fan-fic options here: maybe he’s just in retirement?). Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, became younger; the TARDIS became just TARDIS; the wum-wa-wum theme tune went; and jaunty humour and pop colours dominate so much, you half expect Austin Powers to burst through a door crying, “Shag-a-Dalek, baby!”

Yet vital elements remain. Hints of teatime horror include a POV woods chase: yes, it’s The Evil Dead for kids! And that thing creeping out from under a coat... is it... could it be... a claw? The appendage belongs to a Dalek mutation, seen here for the first time in colour. The multi-coloured paint jobs on the casings compromise their uniformity, but the comeback to that criticism isn’t rocket science. Never mind the naff fire-extinguisher gusts (safety regulations) these Daleks shoot: don’t they look cool in colour, towering over the invading Thals from the peak of the Dalek city? Every home should have one. Every home surely did in 1965, when they were bigger than God, the Beatles and, even, Doctor Who.

The stress on the toy-friendly tyrants reminds us that this is Doctor Who aimed younger than usual: the film is shorter, simpler and more open to marketing tie-ins (Daleks in more colours? More toys to collect!) than the seven-part TV story it drew on. But the beauty of Doctor Who is that there’s room for all-comers in the TARDIS, from those who revel in the adventure, to those who see (not too fancifully, as it happens) depths in the storytelling. Then and now, it’s a benevolent open doorway to the imagination, with no strict door policy on viewers. The new series agrees: notice the way the doors open on the story at the end of the new title sequence, revealed in 2012’s Christmas special. Wherever Doctor Who opens its doors, that’s its home until next week or, in this case, the next movie.

Dr. Who and the Sugar Puffs

Nom!

Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD (1966)

The success of the first Dalek movie made a sequel a shoe-in. This time, Amicus adapted the TV story The Dalek Invasion of Earth and upped the budget, with the serial offenders of morality ushered to the screen by the fiscal power of cereal. Sugar Puffs sponsored the film, leading to blatant product placement and the fear that the Daleks might at any point threaten to “Tell ’em about the honey, mummy.”

Slightly alarming as it is to see Sugar Puffs posters pasted all over a devastated London in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD, that impressively realised capital still helps to sell this superior sequel. London 2150 doesn’t look too far removed from London 1965, but the wrecked buildings (one great stunt sees a character flinging open a door to an empty space where the front of a building used to be) and murky undergrounds (home to a resistant Tube-way army) are ravaged and resonant; especially so, you’d imagine, for audiences of the day. With the Second World War relatively fresh in people’s minds, the political subtexts of Terry Nation’s creations could not have been more obvious had the Daleks romped up a cover of “Springtime for Hitler”.

But if DIE isn’t subtle, it is fun. High points include the Dalek spaceship docking in Sloane Square; the Daleks rounding on a shed in that classic Whovian mix of the alien and the banal; the Dalek-converted Robomen and a submersible Dalek trapping our heroes in a scare sandwich; a Dalek towering over Bernard Cribbins, whose cockney copper ably replaces Roy Castle’s comic relief from the first film; and the way the Daleks die.

DIE elevates the Dalek defeat from its predecessor to the level of Dalek death porn, which tells us something about kids’ special relationship with the rotters: the way that it straddles the fear/fun divide somewhere between the Daleks’ relentless death-rattle intonation and the buzz of seeing them flung down bomb shafts, smashed by speeding vans or otherwise battered. The heroes deliver the smackdown, with the Doctor – sorry, “Dr Who” – declaring, “There’s always an answer to be found, if you only dig deep enough.” Or whack the buggers hard enough.

The film merely died at the box office, sadly. Producers’ pockets didn’t go deep for a third: where were Rice Krispies when they were needed? But the Daleks lived on in the TV series, the big-screen redesigns (check out those sexy bumpers) being famously re-used in a story called The Chase. And, you might argue, their big-screen incarnations helped to show how Doctor Who’s MO of simplicity and possibility might last: by embracing the promise of change.

News Round-up... 05/04/2013

Posted Friday 5 April 2013 by Jon Spatz

Snow covered London

Brrr.

In this edition of the News Round-up I have decided to be all 'positive spin'.

So it’s unseasonably cold and our springtime is going to be like this for the rest of... well, forever according to climate scientists and the changes occurring to the gulf stream may in fact induce a new ice age; but hey, it’s perfect cinema-going weather, right?

YEAH IT IS!

News

Events

Submissions

  • Aesthetica Short Film Festival is open for submissions and they are looking for innovation (naturally) – get over there and submit!

Support

  • The wonderful people of Freshly Squeezed International Student Film Festival have a kickstarter campaign on the go and they are deserving of some support. Go-Go!

Good Reads

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This is the official blog for the Independent Cinema Office, the national organisation for the development and support of independent film exhibition in the UK.

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