On Thursday we held our first ‘Open Screen‘ of the year. We have been running these friendly networking sessions for 5 years now. They provide a great opportunity for local film makers to show their films, finished or unfinished and get feedback from amateurs and experts alike. There have been some wonderful collaborations born of this monthly event. (It runs every 2nd Thursday of the month from 7:30-9:30pm at Film Oxford.)
This evening was one of the best with lots of the elements we, Dai Richards and I, who currently host the evening at Film Oxford, want it to include – a variety of videos with film makers ranging from beginners to experienced and lots of networking before the screenings and at the mid break.
We started with Bill Frizell who films and photographs on a pocket stills camera. He works for the NHS and cycles through the Warneford Meadow every day. On his way he stops at the same point and takes a photo. This is a document of a piece of land which could have been built on if campaigners had not managed to change its status to a Town Green in 2009.
Using Movie Maker he knitted together photos over several years showing the seasons, how the path changes its route as cyclists and those on foot avoid the winter mud. This three minute piece is still in progress and so Bill added a live musical accompaniment on his ukulele.
He also showed a short film about the Oxford Dance Camp which he helps organise. In the past he has shown a video about the rich compost made from the eco toilets at the event and this time the video documented his sunflowers – giant sunflowers which he grows at home and then transports to the field in a car trailer to decorate the camp.
Next up was Miguel Mocho who had made a film for the campaign group Oxford Vegan Action. It was filmed one afternoon and a one minute edit was uploaded to the web within a couple of hours – super fast turn around to advertise the group’s activity.
Then a sociology student showed his film about immigration – the interview was beautifully lit, the story engaging but the discussion after was nearly all about the ethics of telling what looked like real individuals’ stories only to find at the end that the subjects were actors and their stories an amalgamation of case histories from a report. Those with many years of documentary experience felt this information should have been clear at the beginning of the film rather than the end.
‘Keep it Fluffy,’ a film by Adrian Arbib, was in two parts – the first a narration with images of his stunning black and white photography from the Solsbury Hill road protest back in the 90’s. The second half filming in 2013 showed campaigner Andrea Needham on land near her home which was about to be bulldozed for a road and industrial units.
During the break it was great to see everyone chatting away – helped by the snacks and drinks everyone had brought along. The event is free so we rely on this pop-up bar to keep us all fed and watered.
Students from the Shooting Video course showed their quirky videos after the break.
The first called ‘Time Capsule‘ was, it was pointed out, beautifully filmed, well edited, good music and well paced but interestingly difficult to work out what was going on – have a watch – what do you think? We were assured no flies were hurt during the making of this film!
The Thief was another engaging film made on the Shooting Video course. Discussions centered around whether they should have included the very last shot – take a look…
Alice Kanterian, who works at film festivals, spoke about virtual reality films she’s experienced at festivals and to finish off the evening I showed a couple of minutes from my latest home movie – my new year’s resolution is to digitize my video archive off mini dv and even a few Hi8 tapes. For the last three years I’ve been making my kids a video of them for their birthday. One tape I digitised had drop out and damage so do make time to get your tapes archived before it’s too late. You’ll need the video camera or a player and cables to connect it into your computer or google ‘tape conversion’ and pay someone else to do it for you!
I also showed some brief clips from a discussion I filmed between Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Zac Goldsmith at the Oxford Real Farming Conference from 4th of January.
I spent the conference zigzagging between two cameras. From the Open Screen discussions we decided you needed more than two cameras to cover all angles, more than one camera operator and possibly a phone or GoPro actually on the stage as an extra backup. Remote controls for the cameras would be lovely as would a mixing desk to get most of the edit done during the event – but all of this would require a bigger budget than was on offer this year. Editing took me till 3am before filming the next day of the conference but it was an interesting talk for my first job of the year.
Next month’s Open Screen is on the 8th February – do come along to watch and discuss and please email beforehand if you’ve films to screen firstname.lastname@example.org
In March I will be running a Reel Women film course – it fills up quickly so book a place if you interested. We’ll be showing the film made on the course among many others at March’s Open Screen which is on the Wednesday 7th to fit in with other women events taking place in Oxford. This will be a women’s film night as part of International Women’s Week. All welcome to come along but films will be about women or made by women this month.