Creating a Film Screening

Last weekend, I traveled to St Ives to support a workshop on DIY Cinema for young people of Tate Collective St Ives. LUX artists’ moving image distributors are currently on a month long residency in St Ives, so we had the opportunity to hear from Nicole Yip, Special Projects Curator at LUX, and Will Fowler, Curator of Artists’ Moving Image at the BFI National Archive.

I was particularly interested to hear the parameters of artists’ moving image today – and that GIFs, light art and installation can all fit within this bracket. Will told us a little about his career progression, and spoke with great passion about archiving and digitizing artists’ films, whilst Nicole showed some beautiful examples of artists’ work and shared a practical guide to sourcing artists’ moving image for screening.

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Tate Collective St Ives are currently working on producing a festival for their peers. The festival, programmed for September, will explore the theme ‘switch’ – activating people through art.  As part of this, young people are considering setting up a screening, and at this early stage asked about the practicalities of an open call.

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Here’s my list of top tips for creating an open call:

Motivation

  • Think about choosing a theme that film makers can respond to, that binds your screening together.
  • It’s a big ask to get people to make a new film – what do they get in return? Think about what incentive you can fairly offer for their time, or invite people to submit existing work.
  • Can you ask any digital ‘influencers’ to share your open call on social media? Any artists, bands or local community leaders you’ve worked with before?

Access

  • Consider that not everyone will have access to film kit. You could choose to make your open call more inclusive by asking for films shot on phones only – though this may mean lower quality of film.
  • Could you have a workshop or event where young people have access to facilities if they want to come and make a film but have no personal kit?

Safety

  • Don’t promise to screen everything – say a curated selection. That way if anything potentially risky comes through you haven’t committed to screening it.
  • Have some clear Ts&Cs for your open call  – here’s an example from Tate.

Receiving submissions

  • Capacity – remember you will have to watch all the films! It may be wise to set a time limit on submissions.
  • Set up an auto-thank you for submitting your film or have a draft email template for this, which acknowledges receipt and gives a timeline for when the film maker will hear back from you about whether they have won a prize or their film will be screened.

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