View from The Chair

view from the chair

It seems like ages since I last wrote a piece for the viewfinder, and I guess that’s because… it is ages! Of course, I’ve left it till the last minute, and my faithful fairy Godmother, Peter Lodge has emailed me saying “Where’s your View from the Chair?” and so I’ve locked myself away, not to emerge till my 1000 words has fully spouted.

I’ve now finished my first Oscar night, and I think it went very well. John Epton stepped in at the last minute to make the Oscar night video, and made a really impressive job of it. I think the film is such an important part of the evening, as it gives a sense of occasion to our most significant evening of the year, and it’s also really helpful to see a selection of the films that were entered into each category. In addition the amount of organisation that Brenda and Freddy did running up to the Evening…  Well, you wouldn’t have wanted to do it, it was so much!

Congratulations to Barbara Darby and Reg Lancaster for their success in the Top Ten, my favourite competition of the year, and congratulations to Lee Relph for winning the Annual competition with, from what I can see, the only drama entered, and absolutely deservedly so.

It’s a fascinating quandary with dramas and documentaries, where they’re judged equally, but from the makers point of view they’re not remotely related! Of course there’s a reason why we only have 1 drama for every 100 other films, and that’s because they’re so much more involved. But OVFM has such a Dream-Team of good filmmakers that anyone wanting to make a drama, has a rich pool of talented crew to pick from and equally, an enthusiastic pool of new-filmmakers who want to come along to a shoot and pick up experience.

Mike Shaw has announced a couple of times about his Singing in the Rain shoot. I think he has enough experienced crew on board now, but if there’s anyone who would like some experience of working with a different team to their usual one, or even someone who’s never made a film before, and wants to see how it all works, then please, please get in touch with Mike, and volunteer your services. You don’t get many opportunities like this to work with experienced filmmakers, so snap them up while there’s a chance!

My first “pet” project since becoming Chairman is now nearing its proving time, and that project is the Club Shows. Historically there’s been a somewhat confusing situation where we always have a Spring Show that includes all the winners from the Annual Competition, and if there’s enough good films left over we put them in an Autumn Show. Now, you may ask why do we put all the winners in the Spring Show? The reason is that a few years ago, we used to present the winners with their trophies at the Spring Show, and so it falls to reason that the Spring Show should show all those films too. However we started to hear grumbles from the audience that the presentations were somewhat boring and irrelevant if you’re not a club member and just an audience member, so we decided to have an Oscar night and present the Trophies there. What a fantastic idea that was too!

However, the idea of the Spring show being the award winners show stuck in the culture of the club, and we struggled a few times with somewhat lacklustre Autumn shows. It was often said that this was because we simply didn’t have enough strong films for two shows, and that we were only left with average films for the Autumn shows. I just want to make it clear that by “average”, I mean films that are still perfectly good and VERY watchable but just not as outstanding as the winning films. We’d already shown most of the strong films at the Spring show, leaving us only a bag of average films for the Autumn Show. My idea was to mix the strong and average films together, as a selection of outstanding and average films which would still hopefully make for an excellent interesting entertaining show

My plan was that at the beginning of the year, we would create a list of all the films made in the previous year and films entered into the Annual Competition and that would give us our bag of films for the Spring and Autumn Shows. Then we would sit down, and plan the Spring AND Autumn Shows at the start of the year, ensuring that we created a good spread of films equally for both shows.

Unfortunately, Committee meetings aren’t videoed or recorded, but to our credit, we hardly ever broke out into fist-fights debating this change. Never ever let it be said that your Committee isn’t passionate about the club, or that they don’t care.

There were a few challenges to this change though. The first problem was the last Autumn show, where we had banned ourselves from using some of the films we might have normally used, as we were saving them for the following year, so Colin and his sub-committee stepped in and created a show from films from the past 5 years that hadn’t been shown before in any show, and older outstanding films that had been discovered as part of our Archive process. This created a show that I hope you’ll agree was a great success if a slightly different format from usual.

With the Autumn show in the can, we waited till the Annual competition had finished, and Mike Turner, David Laker and myself sat down to have a look in our bag of films (is that the correct collective noun?) to see if we had enough quality to make 2 shows, or whether we’d be having just the one show this year.

I don’t know if you’ve ever looked back at a list of film titles, and wondered what a film was about, because you’d forgotten or don’t remember seeing it? Well imagine looking at every film made in the last year, and you can imagine our fear! Fortunately, Mike saved the day. You might not have realised, but six months ago, when we were planning this, Mike had a great idea. Every club night, he would note down the name, the author, and a brief synopsis of what each film was about. I can tell you that without Mike’s list, choosing the two shows would have been an impossible job!

As it turned out, the club members didn’t let us down. We went through the list and extracted any film that we thought was good enough to be in a show. I think by the end, we’d picked enough films to make two and a half excellent shows and actually had to decide which ones to cut to make the shows a decent length!

So when you go to our Spring Show on 25th March, (free to club members), please keep your ears open and feed back to us what people thought. It may be that my master plan didn’t actually work out, and the old format of a prize-winners Spring Show was actually the best way.