Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bite the mango

I'm not sure why "Bite The Mango" Film Festival is so named, except that it maybe gives a bit of exotic flavour to Bradford (and boy, does that place need it - maybe Bradford has its charms, but the municipal nightmare of concrete and ring road that seems to comprise the city centre manages to keep such delights well hidden). It showcases a range of films that otherwise might struggle for a screening because they're not the usual Britflick fare, yet they're not full on Bollywood. (Point of info for non-Brits, Bradford has a significant population who originate from the Indian sub-continent, linked historically to the textile industry, is famous as THE place to go if you want really good Indian food, and also provides a massive audience for Bollywood movies).

Unfortunately, despite spending the weekend at a film festival, I managed not to see any films at all, although there were a few I would have loved to see. I went to some of the "industry weekend" sessions, and the networking party, but have to wonder why the main event of the industry weekend (the networking and company showcase) was scheduled so that attending that meant missing two of the key films, "Little Box of Sweets", and "Halal Harry", both of which I would've loved to see.

The session on "The Future of Film-making in Yorkshire" was a massive disappointment, a mixture of patronising advice ("get a job as a bar maid while you wait for an industry job to come up"), and self congratulation ("we've got lots and lots of schemes to help people, so we'll just keep mentioning the one person who's made it in the last few years, but never mind that we can only quote one success, we're great, really we are") - although some of the questions from the audience showed astonishing naivety - "it's really hard to move to London and live on someone's floor while looking for a job in the film industry so can't there be a grants system to help?" Yeah, sure, I've got an idea for a scheme - it's called "pay me to lounge around and wait for my big break so I don't have to get off my arse and make it happen for myself". Actors know that the chances are, they're going to have to spend some time doing crap jobs to make a living while working their guts out to get auditions and get a break. Writers know that the chances are, they're going to get a stack of rejections despite the efforts they make to carve out writing time around family life and making a living, and ultimately it comes down to the question "is stopping doing this less painful than carrying on?" There can't be many people who approach the film industry thinking it's a quick n easy route to fame and fortune, can there? Hmmmm.

Next was a session on "The Short Film Experience" - this was a good session, a bunch of people who had actually made short films, worked with short film makers, distributed and exhibited shorts - so, a chance to spend an hour or more with people who were talking from experience about what they look for in a short film (originality, and characters who make an impact), the purposes of short film-making (the chance to be experimental, the opportunity to learn your craft), and the impact short film making had on their careers. It would've been good to see more of their films, but overall, this was the best session.

The networking party was fun - I met someone I hadn't seen since he and I were on the same writer development programme at West Yorkshire Playhouse a few years ago, he's now into props and sets, and is interested in working on our next film; also met a couple of actors, a few producers, an editor, swapped a load of business cards. The good thing was that although the numbers in attendance were relatively low (200ish people?) they're all local, and all keen to work and collaborate. Some had even heard of us, due to Richard Hammond's accident and our press coverage - "oh, you're the ones filming out at Elvington" - this part of the world may be small, but there are some very talented and very keen people around here.

Today went to a session on "Working with actors" - interesting, but again, one of those sessions where you think much of what's said is common sense - the only problem with common sense being that it's not half as common as it needs to be.

And that's it - I would've liked to see tonight's film, called "Echo Park LA" in this country which to my mind is nowhere near as good or as evocative as its original title "Quinceanera". But it was a choice of "find things to do for 6 hours in Bradford, with a headache" or "go home, crash out, recover from headache" - I chose option b.

And now it's bedtime.


Blogger Optimistic_Reader said...

These workshops and seminars are always a bit of a mixed bag it seems.

In response to your message on my blog: yes, I'd love to meet up when you're in London. Is it for the London Film Festival? Going to try to make the most of that this year. Drop me in an email and we can try to sort something out - it's in my profile.

3:22 pm  
Blogger Stacie said...

Hmmm...I wonder if the distributor/producers/etc. thought people wouldn't know what a Quinceanera is? It has become rather common knowledge here--at least if one is a little bit aware of Latino culture.

9:02 pm  
Blogger Stacie said...

Interesting--it kept it's original title here...

9:03 pm  
Blogger Mollywags said...

Exhausting reading again - and a continuing example of how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to 'hang on in there' for that magical big break. The Hull shorts festival sounds promising though (at least according to The Guardian)
Love from us

10:00 pm  

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