2012 EAST END FILM FESTIVAL

So yet again I’ve been AWOL for just a minute too long off Developed Society, but I have good reason and I’m going to fill you all in on some of the things I have been getting involved with.

Working as a Freelance Production Assistant/Co-ordinator, I and most freelancers find that we will often have some downtime between projects, and that’s what the beginning of June was, my downtime. So rather than twiddling my thumbs I thought I should get more involved in more film type stuff. So where better to start than a film festival. Not only are film festivals a celebration of film, they are also the ideal place to connect with other passionate film lovers, makers, festival curators. So I decided to dismiss being a hermit, dwelling in my bedroom, watching endless films for a moment in life as an Event assistant/Photographer/Marketeer at this years East End Film Festival.

East End Film Festival Opening Night Gala

Why the East End Film Festival? Well firstly because Shoreditch, Whitechapel and the surrounding areas are conveniently a quick train ride away. And secondly it’s a London based festival I had heard of that is fairly popular, apart from the BFI London Film festival. And most importantly because they had a great line up, with tonnes of films I really wanted to see and great industry sessions with all the top dogs of the film world i.e. BAFTA, Shooting People, BFI, Four Corners, Film London and many others. My involvement along with many of the other volunteers started off with some good old distribution of programmes at stations including Liverpool street, where I was faced with city workers not willing to engage in a second of eye contact with you. But after some tactic tweaks programmes were flying out of my hand. And those of you that follow me on twitter I am certain that you would have noticed my shameless plugging of the the festival. Probably lost a follower or two due to my timeline takeover strategy. Meh. Then my role escalated to opening night event assistant. That involved sourcing a lot of bits with lo-to-no budget and calling in favours. So I have dipped my finger in most of the nooks and crans of organising a film festival.

The festival commenced with Sunday’s fringe event Cine-East. Cine-East was a full blown takeover of the east end, screening over 1000 films, in 100 venues, all for free. I was stationed at the super cool shoreditch venue The Book Club. At The Book Club we had Screen Social give us music and film concoction with loads of great performers, including Lee Clayden, who had a lovely rich voice. They also brought in Script Read East and they gave an animated reading of Kerry Barlows bookies based play Soft Ground.

Script Read East @ Screen Social

Industry Session Panel: Shooting People and others

My next sting during the festival was at the opening night, which was a loooooong but worthwhile day. Apart from doing many other tasks I was chief Root Brew bar lady. It smelled so good, fruity and gingery. We were also graced by the multi talented performer Lianne La Havas and her guitar. If you haven’t heard her subtly powerful vocals where have you been! Her voice filled the enchanting Saint Annes Church in Limehouse. And yesterday it was all going down at the Brickhouse. If you work or want to work in film there is no question that that was the place to be. Organisations, groups, filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers all filled the venue ready to soak up invaluable advice and knowledge through their ears. I go to my fair share of industry talks, conferences and so on, and I often get a lot out of them. But my advice is to keep going. You will always hear something new or even be reminded of previous advice. But mainly they’re a great place to meet people you could potentially collaborate with. Initially I try to shy away from networking and all that, but in this industry there really is no place for that. So I drank my gin and juice and gradually found my voice. For this session I was a self-designated photographer, which was fun practice of working with low light. But it also gave me the chance to listen in to all the sessions on the day. So I have compiled a top 10 film practitioners advice that was given by all the speakers. There were so many crucial tips and detailed information given, so I am going to give you the ones that stuck with me.

1. Don’t wait till you have a budget to start making films. They might not all be great and you might not want to show it to anyone, but is not in vain and is a process of learning and perfecting. With technology available to use in this day and age your film can be shot on an  cheap-ish DSLR camera or even an iPhone.

2. Vono.com was giving us the scoop on online distribution and utilising peer-to-peer file sharing and free online film databases to gain exposure for your film. His point was that some exposure and buzz is better than no exposure. Sitting around and hoping your film will be recognised by a festival and even beyond that can be a counter-productive route to take, especially when you can build a following online instantly. This is probably a good strategy for first time filmmakers, but is not for everyone.

3. Use your network around you. Colleagues, friends, family, rope them into helping you, even in a small way. Organise your contact list and nicely approach people that could be of help. Whether it is a camera you can borrow, props for the set or just even a tweet might be the key to your success.

4. Crowdsourcing. This is a great way to grow your budget for you film. Indiegogo and Kickstarter are the main ones for film, but you can try to think out of the box, and it might be just sending out emails to everyone in your inbox or adding a donate via paypal button to your website. Be thankful when people do donate and try not to waste their money. Usually one crowdsourcing site is fine. Don’t over expose or complicate it!

5. There is no room to shy away when promoting your film. Having a personable and charismatic nature will help when you are talking about your film to whoever. Being able to confidently speak at Q&A’s and most importantly pitches is key. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so practice. This is where friends and family will be useful.

6. Make sure your DVD works when sending it to festivals. It can be a costly error and they will not chase you for another copy.

7. Don’t spend all your budget on making your film. Once it’s made it needs to get out there. Festivals submissions and marketing are key. Although make sure you are sending it to the right festival. Cannes may not be the best festival for your short film. It could get lost amongst all the features.

8. This is a general one. Be nice to people on your way up, because you don’t know who’ll you meet on your way down, or along the line.

9. Filmmakers don’t get lost in film. There is a bigger world out there and this is where you find your stories.

10. Knowledge is key, just like in most cases. Read a lot, watch a lot, research a lot, do a lot, keep yourself busy. This will give you an advantage. And most importantly don’t give up, especially if you know you can do it. Plenty of rejection is inevitable, but success and good things will crop up from time to time and it’ll be all worth it.

Hope that has given you a sense of what was happening at the East End Film Festival and in my life right now.

The East End Film Festival is going on until Sunday, so make sure you get down to one of the venues to experience a festival with loads of eclectic films and a feel good energy.

Here are some more snapshots of the festival so far.

Filmmaker Jack Ayers spreading knowledge

Festival goer at The Opening Night Gala of East End Film Festival

Rookies Guide to Success Industry session at the East End Film Festival

Pick up a programme

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About Cheryl
Screenwriter and Director in the making. Inspired by music, style, literature and people. Learning to love life more everyday.

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