Category Archives: Screening

A weekend away with Emmi in Cardiff

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for our film Emmi! On Saturday 24th June we played at two film festivals (Oakville in Canada and Cardiff). We also held a local screening in Oxford last weekend. I’ll cover more on the latter in separate post, for now I’ll concentrate on the film festival weekend.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to make the Oakville Film Festival (based just outside of Toronto). Susie and I recorded a message for the festival to play before the film (I now appreciate how much I hate talking to a camera – like talking into an answering machine only worse!).

Oops - what I've said now?

Oops – what’s he said now?

Susie and I both made it to the Cardiff festival however (not only would this be our first film festival experience, it would also be our first in Cardiff). You can read Susie’s take on the whole experience here. Susie was 30mins away but already had other plans for much of the weekend, so I was flying solo for the most part. My train (with incorrectly issued ticket) arrived a little later than planned. Almost immediately I started wandering in the wrong direction (typical) but thankfully it didn’t take too long to find my bearings. It was immediately apparent that Cardiff was fun, diverse and vibrant.

Walking around Cardiff
I managed to find my hotel (Park Plaza), check in and freshen up. I lucked out with the bed – absolute luxury!

Plaza Bed

After unpacking, I received a text from Susie and went to meet her at the train station. We then proceeded to Kongs to collect our festival passes. Kongs is a retro-arcade bar fill with old favourites such as Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Outrun 2 (had no idea they made a sequel!) as well as having Blue Moon on keg – nice!

Kongs

Our screening was part of the “Fiction Part 2” session and was located around the corner in a venue called 10 feet tall (presumably because the building is tall and thin). When we arrived on the top floor we found that the whole place had been decorated like a big top, it looked great!

The Big Top
Unfortunately the Comedy section was playing down the road at the same time, which was no doubt a busier session. The biggest surprise came when a former colleague of mine (having just moved to Cardiff) turned up just before our film played. Nice to have some additional moral support. Afterwards we found a nice bar and had a catch up before all heading our separate ways. I decided to grab some food at Wagamama before returning back to the hotel.

I originally planned to attend “Moon Dogs” and “Twisted Tales” during the evening at Jacobs Market but to be honest I was quite exhausted and the bed was far too comfy. I also factored in the thought of wandering around a strange city on my own in the dark having just watched a bunch of adult horror shorts. I phoned the family to says hi before running myself a lovely relaxing bath (with no children invading – bliss). I also spotted Casino Royale was on – perfect! I made it to about 10pm before sleeping (with no kids invading – bliss). This is very early for me being as I rarely get to sleep before 1am normally. Unfortunately I woke at 4.30am and didn’t get back to sleep properly. At 7am I decided to give up trying, get up, shower and enjoy a nice hearty breakfast. As a child I was always told “never eat too much before swimming or you’ll sink”, I decided to check out the pool facilities anyway. The pool was lovely and I managed to get in about 40 lengths before more people started to arrive.

Plaza Pool
I decided to retire to the steam room (which I had all to myself). After what was now my third shower of the morning, I decided to take a short wander around before checking out of the hotel.

The Plaza is based in the castle quarter almost right next to the Castle itself. As you can see the Welsh are quite patriotic!

Welsh Flags

The castle itself cost money to visit, so I just browsed the outskirts.

Cardiff Castle

I have to say I loved the animals carved on the castle walls.

Animal stonework
I walked around some nearby parks/gardens before returning back to the centre, it struck me that there were two things were in great abundance here: shopping arcades and Greggs bakeries (these were everywhere).

Shopping Arcades

There were also a numerous statues. Initially I chuckled at a guilty seagull on the head of Aneurin Bevan (Welsh Labour Party politician and chief architect of the National Health Service) before noticing a more poignant message about the Grenfell Tower disaster at the base.

Statues

After a spot of people watching over lunch, I decided to head down St Mary’s Street to see the Stadium and the river Taff. On the way I bumped into a wonderful mechanical clock.

Clock and Stadium
I was starting to get a bit concerned that I hadn’t seen any welsh dragons other than on flags, but thankfully I found this one on my way back to the hotel.

There be Dragons
The rest of the day I immersed myself in the festival watching the Female Director session and the remaining two fiction sessions. All of these took place in the Old Market Tavern. These seemed more popular than our session, hope to cover a bit about the films I watched in another blog post.

Just before the end of the final session, I rushed off to quickly grab some tea before crossing the river to the Tramshed (unsurprisingly a former tram depot) where the festival awards were being held. I was also planning to catch up with Susie again. Upon arrival I was greeted to live music and some familiar faces who I’d met earlier in the day. Shortly after this Susie arrived.

And the Band Played On
Even though we had the excitement of seeing our film in the nominations for best fictional film, it came as no great surprise to me that we didn’t win it (Susie was perhaps a little more disappointed). The reality was that there were almost 40 films in this category competing for a single accolade! Even so, this was a most enjoyable way to end the festival. After all of the awards were done and dusted we went back to the car and began to navigate our way back. The trip took a couple of hours, but it was lovely just chating on the way home. We had completed our first ever film festival. Now we just had the small matter of a film screening to organise.

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Emmi Screenings

We’ve had a short run of success with Emmi recently, the film will be playing at three screenings over the next few weeks (highlighted below on the off chance you might like to attend):

24th June – Willson Oakville Film Festival

For our friends in Canada, we will be playing at 9.30pm alongside the Australian feature film ‘Broke’. We are sad we won’t be there in person but we plan to have a special message before the film screens. Visit here to book tickets.

24th June – Cardiff Mini Film Festival

We will be the last film screened at the ‘Fiction Part 2’ section at The Big Top on Saturday afternoon (I suspect the film will screen between 5-5:30pm). Susie and I also plan to attend the festival, so if you see us or come along please say “hi”. If you plan to attend the whole festival, we can get reduced rate festival passes (get in contact for details). For more information at the Festival – visit here.

1st July – Ultimate Picture Palace, OXford

Susie and I are holding a special (and free) local screening at 2.30pm. This will be followed by a short discussion and hopefully a few outtakes. Seats are limited so make sure you sign up on our Eventbrite page if you plan to come along.

Emmi Screening Invite

After the Bombs

Most of the films shown at Film Oxford’s monthly 10×10 meetings showcase documentaries/causes/charity work. This month had a fictional film in the mix called “After the Bombs”.

After the Bombs

During this session I realised the following:

1. In film terms I prefer fictitious work over factual pieces. This is the polar opposite of how I generally feel about books.

2. In the 10×10 sessions people tend to be much more critical of fictional work. The audience are more forgiving towards documentary work (even if details are incorrect, an argument is one-sided or the quality of coverage/footage is poor).

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Premiere League

Last week I was in conference manager mode overseeing the official UK premiere for the Macedonian film The Third Half.

ThirdHalf01

I will no-doubt review the film soon, but this isn’t the main focus of this post. Like most event management – organising a premiere is an exhausting process requiring a ridiculous amount of forethought and planning  (for what essentially lasts only a few hours). If it goes well, it should be seemless. If it doesn’t, well that doesn’t even bear thinking about!

Having run a couple of my own film premieres in the past, I was already reasonably aware of the type of requirements involved. This was on a grander scale however. We needed to make sure everything would run smoothly but there were a couple of bumps to overcome beforehand:

1. The local AV support team were down in numbers or unavailable to cover the event. Therefore I had to step up and make sure I was completely up-to-speed on any technical issues which might/might not occur during the evening.

2. The film was passed on in a format which would not work with our systems. I needed to convert the film into a compatible form. This wasn’t totally straight-forward and took a bit of time to figure out. The biggest obstacle were the subtitles.

3. Despite having a guest-list it was impossible to predict the exact numbers attending (film journalists/media were invited, but we were not sure if they were going to show). This made things interesting as a drinks reception planned for the end of the evening. It needed to be flexible, classy but not  over-indulgent. We couldn’t afford go wildly over-budget or under-cater, a surprisingly tricky balance.

4. We were planning to do a Q&A with the director Darko Mitrevski. Unfortunately it transpired Darko would in LA for the premiere date agreed, so we needed to do this using the wonders of technology (also factoring in any time-differences). This created some additional complexity to the event.

Thankfully, I’m happy to say all the hard work paid off and the entire team helping (many of whom were volunteers) did a fantastic job. There is usually something a bit magical about a film premiere. Even though I was there in an official capacity, I’m pleased to say that this was no exception. Well done to all involved!

10×10 February 2013

Last Thursday was the monthly 10×10 event where filmmakers gather to talk film, network, showcase and gather feedback about their projects. The event has an Oxford slant but any filmmaker is welcome to attend.

Kicking off the line-up, I offered to give a 20 minute chat about making Spare Change and screen a rough cut. It provided some useful feedback and I think overall the film is heading in the right direction. Showcasing to other filmmakers is even tougher than showing “your baby” to a general audience. Why? They are far more likely to be more critical, in particular about the technical side which most others would likely to ignore. The most important questions I needed to know was “Did you understand it”, “did it hold your attention”. With a sigh of relief, a “yes” to both! Continuity gaffes in the edit went unnoticed, which I hope is a sign that people were following the characters and the story more.

Next up was called a 6min short called Bound made by Michael Hawkes as part of the OFVM shooting video course. This was fully completed project unlike Spare Change – but it provoked an interesting discussion afterwards. Michael was the only personal who was at odds with the technical side of the Spare Change rough-cut. I am thankful for him to highlighting his criticisms. I take them onboard – one particular comment I am going to rectify in the final edit.

Michael understands all the technical sides of a film-camera and is clearly gifted with this aspect. Indeed it was a gorgeous film to look at and had a supremely strong opening – hooking the audience right from the start. Yet, I personally feel it soon got bogged down with the technical artistry to the detriment of story dynamic. The upshot was by the end – the majority of the audience seemed confused about what the film was actually trying to say and several people admitted they lost interest. It made sense after we were told by Michael after the film, but it wasn’t obvious during the film itself. The editor in me was shouting “cut down, re-focus and make it more concise”. But why not make your own mind up?

If nothing else this re-enforces the point that you can get away with a couple of technical aspects so long as the story and character dynamics keep an audience captivated. It doesn’t work the other way around. Good storytelling is the single most important thing!

Speaking of good story-telling, one of the highlights of the evening for me was the showing of Medieval Hunger, a charming CGI animation made by Ryan Harrison and Monica Nanglu. This took about 6 months to complete with a core team of 5 people behind it. It took a simple idea and was extremely accomplished. The main criticism (easily fixed) would be that the opening/ending needed some editing work. These things could be easy fixed and well done to both Ryan and Monica – I found this simply delightful.

Other things showcased items were:

66 Months

A trailer shown in tribute for local film-maker Gordon Wilson who sadly died of a heart-attack aged 47 just before the 10×10 event. Gordon had a tough life himself and concentrated on making films about people marginalised who are in society. This film was made in collaboration with another Oxford Film-maker James Bluemel and follows the abusive relationship between two alcoholics over 66 months in Oxford – not for everyone, but very powerful stuff indeed!

Martin Lipson showed part of a documentary he produced (I believe it was called Leaving Home). This was the charting the history of his Grandfather who disappeared for several years for reasons apparently unknown. He managed to trace things back and uncover some of the facts which lead up to and followed this disappearance. This was a very personal piece. The thing which I particularly loved about this was what a wonderful gift will be to share with future generations of the family.

On School

This video campaign aims to open a new secondary school in Oxford, something which long overdue and hasn’t happened for far too long. It was made by local film-maker/campaigner Zoe Broughton and teacher Eylan Ezekiel. You felt for Eylan, he is very animated and easy to talk with in real-life, used to talking in a larger group. Yet he openly admitted it is a whole different world once a camera is directed at him (something I think most can relate with). This was punctuated with nice clips of hand-drawn pictures.

Etiquette screening (27th April)

Etiquette is the code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group (thanks Wikipedia). It is also our latest short film.

So if you see only one film on a big screen next weekend, see Avengers Assemble. If you see two (or you aren’t a fan of Superheroes) and you also live nearby Oxford then why not pop along to see our latest short film?

Alex Babic

Etiquette is a comedy which follows the mishaps of Trevor who is once again faced with his two worst fears in life: being social and the fairer sex. Trevor might not like the idea of the screening but hopefully you will. The film has a very “Oxford” flavour to it, being as it was filmed in the county, with mostly local actors and crew.Etiquette promo

After the film, there will be a short Question and Answer session with Director Andrew Carslaw and Producer Sherilee Wedderburn.

Still here?

Okay, here are the details:

  • The screening will begin at 7pm on Friday 27th April.
  • The event is free and you are invited to bring not just yourselves but friends, partners etc along also.
  • The film will be shown in The Denys Wilkinson Building, OX1 3RH – which is opposite St Giles Church on the corner of Keble Road/Banbury Road.

Hope to see you there! If you have any questions, please ask in the comments section below or on our Facebook Page here.