East Winds Film Festival – Post Mortem

Now that the East Winds film festival is over for another year, it’s time to reflect over all the hard work, organisation and perseverance put in by everyone involved. Before embarking on this module, I had little to no knowledge about how much work and involvement went into organising a film festival and the amount of staff it would take to get it publicised to be successful. It’s true to say that I’ve learnt so much over the duration of the module that I believe will benefit my in my forthcoming professional career.

For our module, Transcultural Distribution, we were required as a cohort to gain knowledge and understanding of how films are distributed and exhibited in relation to a Film Festival structure. We looked at how culturally and economically the film festival impacts how films are distributed and exhibited. Then ultimately use the film festival as a professional platform to exhibit our knowledge and skills to reach out to local audiences and international audiences too. Firstly it’s important to note that the East Winds Film Festival is an already established company and event. This means that we had to comply with what has already been before, holding the festival at Coventry University and exhibiting films from an East Asian background. The East Winds film festival is currently the only major film festival of it’s kind outside the capital of London and the first of it’s kind in the midlands. This is important to the ethos of the festival. Marijke de Valck wrote:

‘When one looks at the international film festival circuit from a spatial point of view, its complexity can be understood as an interrelation of the local with the global; the city with the nation; and the place of the event with the space of the media. From a temporal perspective the festivals revolve around both current affairs (programming as a politics of participation), the latest discoveries, news value, and historicity, as the oldest festivals continue to rely on their glorious pasts and a city’s history to maintain nodal positions on the circuit.’ (2007:215)

The festivals unique selling point as there is no other event that can bring what this festival promises to. As the city of Coventry is currently bidding for the City of Culture award, I think it’s important that festivals like East Winds brings something culturally alternative to the city along with the culture and history that Coventry has to offer. Also with the influx of student’s from such diverse backgrounds I think it’s significantly relevant to showcase art forms from an array of backgrounds and not solely British culture. Because the festival was already established, it has already received interest Worldwide from industry professionals this meant that we had to strive to get the festival as much attention as possible. The aim is to reach as many people through our marketing strategy online and in the community to make the festival as busy as possible. It’s said that:

‘Festivals have a number of advantages[…] in that festivals are events. And we are currently living in an event-driven culture […]Because they are events (if not spectacles, in the Debordian sense), festivals have a greater promotional budget to attract audiences’ (2009:24)

One would have hoped that if there was a low turn out overall, our opening night with typical film festival discourses such as; a red carpet, photographers, interviews and entertainment would draw in passers by looking for that ‘event-driven culture’.

To have been given the opportunity to work for and curate such a prestigious festival felt like an honour, but also a challenge. To get the festival marketed and promoted in time meant that we had to work to strict deadlines and sometimes think on our feet. The professional experience that we all gained whilst working on the festival is incredibly valuable as this is how it’s done in industry. We were all divided into teams with a different focus. As I come from a production background, it felt natural for me to apply for the role of production manager as I felt this could benefit the team to apply skills I’ve already gained. What I personally wanted to get out of this festival was experience leading a team, as someone who has previously worked alone and can sometimes find social situations intimidating, I wanted to push myself mentally and physically to not only manage myself but a team as well. I think leadership skills are invaluable when approaching a career in multiple disciplines and throughout the module I’ve broadened my knowledge both socially and technically. As aforementioned, I applied for, and received, the role of production manager and I knew how much of an important component the production would be to the overall marketing strategy for the festival. As a production team, we were in charge of coordinating the set-up of all equipment, organising the transport to locations and using the equipment and software to a professional standard. With a production role its imperative to have good time keeping and punctuality as without the production crew nothing can be captured and other people such as presenters rely on our presence. As production is an important component to the overall marketing of the festival, it’s important to be aware of our audience, keep all aesthetics consistent to comply with said marketing strategy. For instance, once we decided to go for the concept of Chinese ink paintings for the ident, it’s important to continue with that concept, which the marketing team did with the posters and flyers for the festival. As a production team we were in charge of operating all cameras for videography, all the microphones and sound recording equipment, using lighting effectively and editing all work to a high standard. I would have to say that my team were incredibly efficient with time management and presence, collecting equipment on time and being ready and set up to record on cue. All equipment was booked in advance to ensure that all other departments could meet their deadlines. Its imperative that all departments meet their deadlines so the preparation could run smoothly, with so many departments, briefs and deadlines if one team falls behind it means the whole festival can fall behind. I think that was one of my biggest concerns, because I’m not particularly good at allowing myself to rely on other people but as I discovered, the production team were reliable, consistent and did everything expected. I think perhaps that’s my biggest learning curve from the festival, putting trust in others professionally.

I think the innovative way that we have had a thoroughly professional and practical module embedded within in our course is so contemporary in such a academic context, that it allows us to expand our knowledge theoretically as well as broadening our skills professionally. I’ve always been very critical of my self and my work but over the duration of the festival I’ve learnt not to take it so personally and to see the bigger picture. I’ve learnt so many organisational and planning skills that are really going to benefit me in so many directions. The biggest achievement for me was to approachable and help members of my team recognise the confidence in themselves and seeing our progress as a team and as individuals has been so very rewarding. Having being able to rely on my production team when I was taken in bad health was a huge learning curve for me. Ching Hui especially deserves credit for being such a great support to the team and challenging herself as well as all of us to do the best job that we possibly can. I look forward to the future and using all the transferable skills I’ve gathered throughout this module and working alongside of a team in the future. I hope that the skills and techniques I’ve taught other people throughout this module will benefit me socially and help me in my aim towards becoming a teacher.

Peranson, M. (2009). First You Get the Power, Then You Get the Money: Two Models of Film Festivals. On Film Festivals. London: Wallflower.

Valck, D. M. (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam University Press.

 

East Winds Film Festival – Live!

It’s the week of the festival and everyone if frantically preparing for the big opening. As planned, I used the time to gather ‘filler footage’ of the set up and coordination of the festival. I used the quiet time to acquire different creative shots that can be used in the marketing materials for future East Winds events. As I took the time to capture all the detailed decorations for the festival, my team worked on capturing a time-lapse shot of people attending the first viewing. The energy was so electric for the build up of opening night, we we’re all excited for the guests to arrive and for our virtual audience to tune-in with us through the live stream.

Throughout the opening ceremony I was filming ‘behind the scenes’, capturing all the photographers as they we’re taking photos on the red carpet, all the videographers and the DJ. As the night progressed, Fengu Zhai and I decided to take the opportunity to record some interviews with people who had attended the event to find out their thoughts and the impact the festival has on the University, the wider community and us as a cohort. We filmed interviews with a diverse set of people from the module moderator, festival directors, Coventry locals and other staff and students from the university. It was great that we got to have the opportunity to conduct these interviews as it gave us an insight as to how valuable the film festival is in bringing more culture to coventry but also allowing us to partake in such an outward facing event.

On the Wednesday Evening we we’re fortunate enough to have Latkamon Pinrojkirati (pim), join us for a Q&A after the screening of her film ‘School Tales’ (2017), for the evening I was in charge of co-ordinating the set up and filming of the Q&A. I had set up three cameras along with my team to capture one shot of Pim and her interpreter, a camera to capture the the audience as they ask the questions and one final camera set up at the back of the cinema to get a wide shot of the whole audience and Pim. Although I’m used to filming in these kinds of situations, I found the lighting very dark to focus on the individual asking the questions. Due to this I had to manually control the focus on the camera which meant that it was very tight to get the shot in between the transition of question and answer. In retrospect I would have set up two audience facing cameras, one on each side of the cinema so if the timing was too tight for me then I would have had back up footage. Despite this I’m very happy with the overall ascetic captured over the course of the week and so grateful to have taken part in the East Winds Film Festival.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Ten

This week is all about the preparation for the event, planning what production equipment that will be needed and positioning. I went over to square one to take another look at the layout of the space we have to use but because nothing is set up yet it’s not possible to do a plan of what shots to take where. Because of the amount of preparation that will need doing to set the space up next week I think it’s best to just be on location all day to capture the behind the scenes set up of the festival. This way I will familiar with the space and will have time to get filler footage of the decorations, the set up and then finally the start of the festival. This week is pretty quiet production wise but I know it’s all going to be really busy and demanding next week. We’re almost there!

East Winds Film Festival – Week Seven to Nine

We’ve all been on study leave for the past few weeks so there hasn’t been much progression production wise as most of the cohort has been out the country so it’s been great to use the time to look over what we have done so far. I began editing together some of the footage captured from The Mocking Bird and I began to synchronise the audio files to the visual files so the vocals matched up. (I’m a perfectionist when it comes to dubbing and I can’t stand it being out of sync so a lot of time was spent on this.) This week back at uni I’ve been off due to some health concerns but my team managed to edit together the magazine show in such a quick turn around. I watched the finished edit of the magazine show before it was sent to the Festival directors and I was so proud of how it looked. The editing was wonderful and my team had done a fantastic job, I wish that I had been around to help out but despite my absence they created a fantastic piece of work. It’s been great to work along side such a talented group of individuals and also to watch our progress in helping each other learn new skills. I think confidence wise we’ve all come on along way and it’s great to experience that journey as a team. As it gets closer to the festival I’m so excited to work with my team on the capture of the big event.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Six

This week we’re in Paris! As a cohort we travelled to Paris to conduct a research trip, I was caught up in other commitments for another module so didn’t have much involvement in the film festival this week. I know the other production team are working on videography in Paris this week with our presenters so I am really excited to see what they have been working on!

East Winds Film Festival – Week Five

This week the East Winds Film Festival went on the road on a trip to The Mocking Bird Cinema. It was great to hear that the film festival had gained an external partner with one of the independent cinemas in Birmingham. As a cohort we went over to the cinema to watch Japanese sci-fi anime, Akira.

Production wise, my team was in charge of the sound and video production of the interview with the owner of The Mocking Bird. Along with the interview itself it was my job to capture ‘filler footage’ to be used in the final edit of the film festival magazine show. As I have previously shot promotional videos I really enjoyed capturing people’s enjoyment at The Mocking Bird and I pretty much had a camera on my shoulder for most of the day. My team proved to be a little less confident than myself in giving direction to the interviewee, so that is something that will need working on. Despite this, my team are learning how to set up and capture the sound very well. During the showing I was made aware that the initial ident and trailer were going to be played before the screening of Akira so I stood at the back of the cinema ready to capture the reactions of the cohort as we made our debut. I think this week is the first week we’re beginning to realise the opportunity that we have here. Working alongside The Mocking Bird cinema will really broaden our audience to the city of Birmingham and hopefully gather a wider audience to receive the films we will be screening. I think gathering filler footage is really one of my strong points because there isn’t many limitations and I can be creative with the focus and exposure on the camera. Also it allows me to work on my own for a while which I’m incredibly comfortable with, I think that I will make it my responsibility to do this consistently throughout the festival week along side working with the team.

Once we got back from The Mocking Bird it was time to reshoot the opening of our magazine show with out three presenters. It was apparent before that what the other production team had filmed the sound wasn’t a high enough quality so to tackle that problem I took out three tie microphones for each presenter along with a boom microphone so we had plenty of sound files to work with to make sure it was as professional as possible. It was a long day of filming but overall I’m so happy with how well and professional everybody worked, we did a few takes to make sure we had ample footage to work with and the presenters were great!

East Winds Film Festival – Week Four

This week the teams had to work on the production for the magazine show, after a managers meeting we had formulated the structure of the magazine show and my task was to film and head the production of a ‘Cold open’. The idea came from the communications team to plan and film the spoof of a famous scene from an East Asian film. I mostly worked along side the communications team for this task which took me out of my production role and had me cutting out famous film characters to imply a class of students. Despite my enjoyment of filming and live editing this task, it was decided that the outcome looked too rushed (We had to film and edit it in one morning) and it was axed from the final edit of the initial magazine show.

Along with this I had to plan and conduct an interview with one of the members of a team to find out what was going on behind the scenes. I thought it would be best to interview someone from the communications team because at this stage of event planning they seemed to have had more of a substantial work load with press releases and such. I set up the camera in the MA Communications, Culture and Media office to showcase the work of the cohort in the background of the subject I would be interviewing. I had also been approached by a member of the cohort, Jemila Haruna who wanted to gain some production experience in the set up of equipment and the capturing of visual and sound material. I took Jamila on as I thought the experience would be valuable for both of us, I could work on my leadership and teaching skills along with Jamila gaining some production experience. Maria Mantaluta from communications was our interviewee and she did very well in the delivery of what is going on behind the scenes.

I was very happy with the framing of the interview and thought the shots looked very aesthetically pleasing, I thought it was best to film the interview in a talking head style to keep it looking professional and because that is the interview style I’m used to. In retrospect after hearing feedback from the interview I was told that it was too ‘BBC-ish’, (which isn’t the worst criticism in the world), but I agree that the interview was too ridged and I had played it safe to the style in which I was comfortable. I think that perhaps to keep the film festival media young and fresh it would be better to take more risks and think outside the box a little bit more.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Three

This week we we’re given the task to come up with a concept for a magazine show for the film festival along with ideas for a PR stunt to spark attention and gather momentum for East Winds. Throughout my experience in working at the DMLL I was lucky enough to learn a few marketing techniques within event planning and I knew that if we are going to create a PR stunt it needs to be coherent with the way in which we sell the festival. My first initial idea for the PR stunt was taken from the Sony bouncy balls advert. I was thinking about it from a production stance as if we had many cameras from many angles we could make it seem as if the volume of bouncy balls is more than in reality…

I thought it would be great to have some purple bouncy balls from Coventry Cathedral down to Square One, where the film festival would be taking place. I knew the branding is very important and if we used the same purple for the bouncy balls as we did for the purple font on the logo our audience is more likely to associate the two colours together. The second idea I came up with Rose Gorgieva, we were carefully thinking about the branding of the festival and the concept of ink, if we were going to continue using the ink splatter throughout the festival branding then perhaps it would be a good idea to mimic the ink aesthetic with some purple powder paint. We took our inspiration from festivals of colours or cultural celebrations like Diwali.

The magazine show I had little to do with the planning as I wanted to give others a chance to take the lead with planning. I agreed to take part in the production of the magazine show once the concept had been planned and thought out.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Two

The first brief our production group was given was to create an ident for the film festival and a trailer for the film festival. As the ident is the initial logo that the audience will see we knew it had to be bold, have a theme that can run throughout the festival and be memorable. As a group we decided to think of discourses surrounding East Asia that we could adopt to use for the marketing of the ident. We knew the colour for the East Winds was going to be this rich purple so we played around with different ideas. Initially we thought about Thai tattoo styles, Chinese calligraphy and the final idea we took from Chinese ink paintings. We liked the simplicity of droplets of ink that could perhaps swirl across the screen and leave behind the East Winds logo which would then have a moving wing. Although as a team it was very easy to come up with the ideas, executing them would prove to be more difficult. Although I have had lots of previous experience in post production I lacked the skills to create the ident. Luckily two members of our team were able to create the ident on time for the deadline and as a group we were so happy with the result. Because I was more skilled in using Premier Pro, I worked on the film festival trailer. I had also been requested by the Communications manager to edit together the first draft of a video version of the press release. Although the video press release was never actually released I was happy with how my team was working together, full of encouragement for one another and offering skills exchange so we could all learn a bit more of what we needed. This weeks brief made me aware of how little I knew about Adobe After effects and it’s requirement in the production industry. I now know this is a skill I will really need to work on if I’m going to be flexible and efficient in a production role.

Some of the Idents that were made…

East Winds Film Festival – Week One

As I have been part of the media department at Coventry University for a substantial amount of time now, I was already aware of the East Winds Film Festival and it’s origins from the East Asian Film Society. Over past years, I had attended the film festival twice and even written some reviews of films of the festival. When it was announced that the East Winds Film Festival was going to be embedded into our module, Transcultural Distribution, I was excited that as a course we have been given the opportunity to gain some experience in event planning and production which is the field I have worked in previously. As a cohort we are very lucky to partake in an outward facing event that promotes engagement from the local community but also transcends internationally with involvement and engagement from film companies and members of industry from East Asia.

Throughout my work on my undergraduate degree I managed to gain skills and experience in Videography and these skills took me to Costa Rica to work alongside one of the leading news outlets of San Jose. I also had been working for the Disruptive Media Learning Lab for over a year specialising in sound and video production of events and promotional material. Having learnt how to navigate a camera and work the set up of all technical and sound equipment it seemed natural for me to go for the role of production manager as I believed my previous experience would be very beneficial to the production team as a whole. I’m experienced with working under pressure, working to deadlines and all pre and post production techniques. As there was an overwhelming amount of people applying to work within production we were split into two teams and to my delight I was appointed production manager of team one.