George Salt has emailed me following the festival inviting me to volunteer for the Slapstick Festival (22nd – 25th Jan). Unfortunately I am filming ‘The World Of The Willows’ during this period, but it is really nice to still be included in his social network for people to contact regarding this style of work. I feel like I definitely did a good job at Afrika Eye if he is still considering me for future film festival work. It’s a shame not to get involved with another one, hopefully I will continued to be considered in the future by George.
Today marked my involvement with Afrika Eye, I spent the majority of the day at the event and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Everyone was really friendly and fun to work with, making the experience much more enjoyable. I arrived at 9.45am for my shift and begun by helping Factory Studios take down the rig from the previous nights performance. We then brought all the equipment (amps, drums, mixing desk, etc) down to their van and I saw them off before moving up to the front desk located upstairs at the Watershed.
[ Image Source: http://www.afrikaeye.org.uk ]
I spent the next few hours stationed on the front desk directing attendees to their events and answering any queries. I was also dedicated the task of creating a database for all the feedback forms, once I created the template it as able to be duplicated so other volunteers could input the results from each event. I split the database across a word document and excel spreadsheet. The longhand responses could be documented on word whilst the tick responses could be put into Excel so that graphs can be quickly drawn. I even had time to go through all the feedback forms from last nights session and create the first set of data.
Come 11.45am I headed down to the ‘Pitching Q & A’ session, running slightly later than scheduled due to the mornings event. Surprisingly their was only 5 people attending the session, the whole reason why I opted for this session was the opportunity to hear feedback from industry professionals about individual ideas. This session ran smoothly and I found it extremely informative, I know I have taken a lot away from it. Hearing the suggested pitch structure from the professionals and their experiences of pitching was something I could really relate to. For example Kahlo Matabane had pitched his documentary of Nelson Mandela for months and it wasn’t until he produced a trailer that he instantly got a response, it was actually picked up the same day by BBC.
I took a short break after the session and returned at 2.30pm to help out with the ‘Painting With Light’ workshop. This was essentially long exposure photography with a variety of lights, children were then invited to pose whilst others painted images around them. It started out as playing with the lights and as each session progressed we had the children more focused, drawing geometric designs to reflect the African culture that the festival was embracing. One cool piece of equipment they had was a ‘Pixel Stick’. We applied this into long exposure photography by uploading .bmp files and as I would walk with the stick so the image will start to flash through which in turn slowly revealed itself on the screen.
Following the session my involving with the festival sadly came to an end. I was able to catch George Salt before I headed off and thank him for the experience, hopefully I will hear from him regarding the pop-up cinema screening in Stokes Croft later this month. The festival was a really fun experience, it opened my eyes up to a slightly different side of filmmaking that I would otherwise not see. Especially seeing so many events and experiences for the public to come and get involved with, a prime example of performance media breaking away from the tradition medium of film. It’s the type of thing you can only truly experience by being there (i.e. South African choir).
Today was a brief session prior to the festival kicking off, all of the volunteers met at the Watershed for a quick presentation about health and safety on the site and general things to know. We were then giving a quick tour of the site by one of the building managers. Following the Watershed talk we had a quick meeting with George Salt and the rest of the team to go over the events happening this weekend and make sure everyone was happy. I’m really looking forward to getting involved tomorrow, everyone is really friendly and I know that alone is going to make the experience enjoyable, it’s pointless doing any work unless you enjoy doing it.
A few changes made to the rota, thankfully I managed to secure the shifts I really wanted. I felt the Producer Q & A would be a fantastic session to sit in with, hopefully getting some useful tips I can use this year when producing ‘The World Of The Willows’. I also put myself forward for one of the workshops, I have a lot of experience working with children (Nailsea School, Timber Lake Camp, etc) so I hope to prove a useful asset, it should also be a great change of pace from the rest of the festival seminars.
Tonight all the volunteers for the festival met at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft for the Afrika Eye Film Festival. We were introduced to all the organisers of the event and given schedules for the entire event. The timing for event runs for the follow:
Friday 7th – 1pm to 12.15am
Saturday 8th – 10am to 11pm
Sunday 9th – 10.45am to 9.40pm
After a quick brief about how the event will be running for the weekend we all confirmed our availability, from this George Salt can then draw up schedules and let us know when our shifts will be. I listed my availability for Saturday & Sunday until 5.30pm.
Training for volunteering in the Watershed will be 10am on Friday 7th November for approximately 1 hour. I have expressed interest in working the following sessions:
Pitching Q & A – An expert panel where people can pitch ideas and ask questions about pitching. This session is a great opportunity to gain industry knowledge around the fields of producing and directing, something that will be relevant to my involvement with some of this years projects.
Pinhole Camera Workshop – This session will be creating pinhole cameras with children aged 12 to 18 years. I have used pinhole photography before to various degrees and think I can offer some knowledge and experience to the session.
Hopefully I will get these sessions, but I am more than happy to get involved in the festival wherever I am needed. George will be emailing us soon to confirm the shifts each of us will be working.
The Watershed became the first dedicated media centre in the UK in June 1982. It is a creative ecosystem pushing the boundaries by combining and overlapping various economies. The building consists of three cinemas, The Pervasive Media Studio, event spaces, a cafe and office space for staff. Most of the general public would think of the Watershed purely as a cinema or cafe but it does so much more for the arts community.
The venue hosts a variety of film festivals including Depict, Encounters, Black Pyramid, Afrika Eye, and the Slapstick Film Festival, These festivals expand beyond the realms of screening films, commonly offering a huge range of classes, activities and discussions. The Watershed goes beyond these festivals and continues to offer a huge range of events around the calendar, also getting a name for promoting items away from the mainstream media, earning it the title of an ‘indie cinema’.
In recent years its continued online presence has proved increasingly important as it promotes much of its activities and exclusive digital art displays from international artists along with local community work. The domain ‘DShed.net’ is full of a diverse range of artwork ranging from video to photography and everything in between.
iShed is another scheme established by the Watershed aiming to develop talent through creative collaboration. Their portfolio is vast supporting individuals financially with sandbox funding schemes, along with running their own events/activities and overseeing research into the media industry. Pervasive Media was founded by iShed with the specific aim to support interdisciplinary research and development in partnership with HP Labs and UWE.
The Watershed is more than just an events space or cinema, it is a vital centre piece in the Bristol media landscape, often being the key venue in bringing together so many creative types. They develop “cultural engagement, imagination and talent, in the belief that the route to better futures is open, disruptive and co-produced”.
Vacancies are advertised through the Watershed website, employing around 70 full time staff there is a huge range of opportunities available. With so much happening it is the case of waiting to see what comes up and see if it can be specific to the career I want in the future. As it is such a diverse enterprise it is important to wait for the right opportunity and not rush into a department that will track you deeper in the company and further from the role you want in that company (i.e. bar work).
This is definitely a company worth monitoring to see what comes up. The fact it is such a social hub for the media community makes it a vital networking opportunity always available. With so many successful years in the heart of Bristol it can only go from strength to strength.
I already have a good sense of the festival from when George Salt came to visit us at Bower Ashton, seeing as that was so long ago I felt it was worth taking a look into the festival so I can be fully clued up ready for my involvement.
Afrika Eye was founded in 2005, and since 2013 its commercial success has dramatically increased following three of the biggest African Film Festivals uniting with Afrika Eye to bring a greater variety of contemporary African cinema to a broader UK audience. The four festivals consisted of Africa in Motion (Edinburgh), Afrika Eye (Bristol), African Film Festival (Cambridge), and Film Africa (London).
The festival aims to promote the richness and diversity of Africa through film, education and cultural exchange. It is a non-profit organisation and has been supported by a number of arts and council funds including the Watershed who house the majority of the event. Afrika Eye list the following aims on their website:
- Offer access to a wide range of films not generally available through mainstream programming.
- Offer a broader context and deeper understanding of film arts and culture.
- Offer insight into specific countries of Africa through their politics, society, tradition and beliefs.
- Celebrate the significant creative role that Africa plays in todays social, cultural and political landscape.
I admire what the festival stands for, I enjoy how it stands apart from other film festivals as it encourages social change and conversation. It isn’t just about screening and awarding short films, but using it as a method to raise awareness to african culture and bring it into the mainstream UK public eye. I’ve seen a little about the programme in the lead up to the festival and I am eager to see what it is all about.
The festival can be a great opportunity to network. I can’t see any direct opportunities within the festival as it is a seasonal job, but I like to think the individuals involved are the ones who can give me a gage of the film festival network as a career opportunity. This will be my first time working for a festival and I am eager to get stuck in, I’m also eager to take in so much from another culture during the course of my placement.
George Salt came in to speak to our year about the Afrika Eye Film Festival before the summer. At the time I expressed interest in the festival but due to commitments at Timber Lake Camp over the summer I was unable to help until nearer the actual festival. I have since emailed him following my return to check if the opportunity to help out was still available (at the time I told him my availability after the summer). He is still eager to have me help out, I’m really looking forward to this opportunity as its something a little bit different from work I’ve done before. I’ve never had a chance to get involved with the inner workings of a film festival so I’ll look forward to this fresh perspective on the short film work flow (rather than being behind the camera). George has sent out the following email, so now I’ll await on further details and the volunteer meeting.