Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

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Donald Binks

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Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 5:04 pm

Ever since I removed to my current little rural community it has been at the back of my mind to try and organise a local film appreciation group. The ball got rolling a few weeks back when another newcomer signaled her interest to me with the consequence that we have started on trying to drum up business.

Our first attempts were met with widespread apathy, we have gained just two and a half members. I say a half member because one woman got us to change the meeting night because she plays Netball of a Thursday. When we changed it to a Wednesday she still couldn't come. We had another meeting last night and she still didn't show up. Funny about that. Anyway, perhaps a notice in the local rag was insufficient to gain attention? So, I came up with the (rare) brainwave of organising a "Gala(h) Film Night" in aid of a local charity. That way we could kill two birds with the one stone, i.e., raise needed funds and draw attention to the film group.

One thing led to another and the local Fire Brigade was selected as the recipient of any folding stuff on the night. Of course it took them a while to let us know they were interested and when they did let us know their acceptance seemed devoid of any gratitude, but never mind, we will carry on regardless.

I booked the local hall, having to change the night I originally wanted due to a prior booking and paid the $50 fee out of my own pocket. The local Council has "audio/visual equipment" and have agreed to set things up for us on the night. (The equipment consists of a large screen, DVD projector and two big loudspeakers).

As I am the only one with a film library, I was the one presumably to set the programme. I thought that I would select films in keeping with a "Fire" theme. So have put Charlie Chaplin in "The Fireman" on the first half and set down "Ladder 49" as the feature. I also wanted to do the programme as it used to be done in the good old days of cinema entertainment. I can't afford to hire a full orchestra nor do I think we can get a Wurlitzer pipe organ installed in time, so I will play organ music from recordings beforehand and during interval. We shall start off with the old National Anthem - "Gawd Save the Queen" because that was always played at picture shows at one time. It was a good idea as everyone stood up, then sat down and shut up. (Just to be on the safe side, I have followed this up with "Advance Australia Fair", the current dirge). As I have said, we can't afford an orchestra - but I have the next best thing - a film of the Regent Theatre Melbourne orchestra photographed in 1931. That should go nicely, and besides, one can;t go wrong with some nice selections from "The Desert Song" (I would imagine).

Next I wanted to show a newsreel. These seem to be about as rare as hen's teeth to find - sure there are compilations in a more modern format but I wanted an old Australian newsreel. Just can't get 'em it appears. So, I found a 1934 Hearst Metrotone Newsreel that I thought fitted the bill.

Then as said, we have a Charlie Chaplin two-reeler - and then we move over into colour with a FitzPatrick travelogue and a Road Runner cartoon for the children present.

I gave a "test copy" of the first half to one of the group to look at. First off she said "That Newsreel's out. Too depressing." she said. I explained to her that I wanted to get an Aussie one, so she said for me to make enquiries and she'll pay for it. So, this morning I got a reply back - strangely enough from a company in America. "In terms of pricing we can offer the following rates: Entertainment / non-broadcast media / national / up to 1 year = U.S.$399 per clip - (a clip is defined as up to 10 consecutive seconds of use)." I was not too sure whether this meant that they charged per segment or charged for every ten seconds? The first way we would have been up for $A5,700 for a normal ten minute newsreel - or if it was US$399 for every ten seconds, we would be looking at about $A25,000 - just a tad outside our budget. Back to the drawing board on this particular segment!

I spoke to the man at the Council who does all the film shows and asked about the licensing rights for public performance. Even though the night is for a charity, we still have to pay - which I suppose is only fair, people are in business after all - but the Council may be able to absorb some of these costs so that we have more than a few pennies in the till for the Fire Brigade.

The local hall is quite adequate for our purposes. It can seat about 300, has a stage with curtains and there is a supper room adjacent. We can put the screen behind the curtains and have the ladies auxiliary slaving away in the other room preparing tea and refreshments for the interval.

With a bit of luck we might get more than two men and a dog turning up on the night - and we might actually get a few more members to our Film Appreciation Group enabling us to put on film shows as a regular local attraction.

I'll keep you posted on how we go. Perhaps others have had similar experiences and can offer us some advice?
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 5:10 pm

I gave a "test copy" of the first half to one of the group to look at. First off she said "That Newsreel's out. Too depressing." she said. I explained to her that I wanted to get an Aussie one, so she said for me to make enquiries and she'll pay for it. So, this morning I got a reply back - strangely enough from a company in America. "In terms of pricing we can offer the following rates: Entertainment / non-broadcast media / national / up to 1 year = U.S.$399 per clip - (a clip is defined as up to 10 consecutive seconds of use)." I was not too sure whether this meant that they charged per segment or charged for every ten seconds? The first way we would have been up for $A5,700 for a normal ten minute newsreel - or if it was US$399 for every ten seconds, we would be looking at about $A25,000 - just a tad outside our budget. Back to the drawing board on this particular segment!


Yeah, that'd be for use in a TV show or commercial, not for screening.
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Donald Binks

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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 5:13 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
I gave a "test copy" of the first half to one of the group to look at. First off she said "That Newsreel's out. Too depressing." she said. I explained to her that I wanted to get an Aussie one, so she said for me to make enquiries and she'll pay for it. So, this morning I got a reply back - strangely enough from a company in America. "In terms of pricing we can offer the following rates: Entertainment / non-broadcast media / national / up to 1 year = U.S.$399 per clip - (a clip is defined as up to 10 consecutive seconds of use)." I was not too sure whether this meant that they charged per segment or charged for every ten seconds? The first way we would have been up for $A5,700 for a normal ten minute newsreel - or if it was US$399 for every ten seconds, we would be looking at about $A25,000 - just a tad outside our budget. Back to the drawing board on this particular segment!


Yeah, that'd be for use in a TV show or commercial, not for screening.


It seemed frightfully exorbitant to me. I was very clear in my email as to exactly what we were going to do so I don't know how anyone could misunderstand our intentions - then again, most people I seem to have to deal with these days have brains that would fit into the beak of a canary.
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Marr&Colton

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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 4:33 am

Donald,

I feel your pain! For decades I've been organizing and presenting classic movie programs around my city---and now very successfully in my home Palace Theatre.

1. If you are showing movies in a public space, the space must have a "blanket license" which is common for
public libraries or other educational venues. It's either that or everything must be PUBLIC DOMAIN that is showed.
It's easy to do your homework to verify Public Domain titles. Look at this site's well researched list of titles:

http://www.buyoutfootage.com/pages/pd.htm

I'm not sure what copyright restrictions are for Australia.....

2. You can count on people being totally unreliable on showing up. The only members of my home group who regularly
attend are the most hard-core classic movie fans. With everyone else, it is not a top priority.
All the years I did public shows it was either feast or famine---hardly any attendance or a full house!
I also fell for the "change the day and I can make it" excuse with the same results.

3. For any classic program to be an accurate recreation of the old days of movies, you need a shorts program which can include newsreels, cartoon and possibly a comedy and/or serial chapter. I run weekly movies so I always include a serial chapter. Running these programs at a home theatre doesn't have to take copyright into consideration since all commercially available DVD material is licensed for home use. I seldom take requests or not run a short just because someone expresses an opinion. I was there in the theatres in the 1950s and know what a correct shorts program is from that era.

It is VERY satisfying and fulfilling to present good, clean classic movies to others!
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 6:57 am

My advice:

Quality programming will always attract and keep an audience, although it may take time.

Advertising is key. Start small with flyers in local businesses, many of which will allow you to drop off ads at counters or on bulletin boards. Government agencies (at least in the US) like libraries will only let you do so if you have non-profit status.

Don't get discouraged. Do this for yourself and your own enjoyment and try not to get frustrated or turn this into a job. The second it becomes a chore it won't be worth the effort anymore.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 7:41 am

Marr&Colton wrote:Donald,

1. If you are showing movies in a public space, the space must have a "blanket license" which is common for
public libraries or other educational venues. It's either that or everything must be PUBLIC DOMAIN that is showed.
It's easy to do your homework to verify Public Domain titles. Look at this site's well researched list of titles:
I'm not sure what copyright restrictions are for Australia.....

Once we get a "society" established, then we register it and qualify for a special public showing licence which, if memory serves me correctly, is $50 per performance. At the moment I do not have anything established and so have to contend with the normal restrictions, however the local Council is helping us out seeing the night is for a local charity.

3. For any classic program to be an accurate recreation of the old days of movies, you need a shorts program which can include newsreels, cartoon and possibly a comedy and/or serial chapter. I run weekly movies so I always include a serial chapter. Running these programs at a home theatre doesn't have to take copyright into consideration since all commercially available DVD material is licensed for home use. I seldom take requests or not run a short just because someone expresses an opinion. I was there in the theatres in the 1950s and know what a correct shorts program is from that era.

Like your good self I too have fond memories of the good days of proper cinematic presentation - when showmen were in charge of things. It was all the little things I noticed - the timing of the tab opening and closings, the screen tabs, the dimming of the house lights, use of pageants on the tabs, focusing the film etc., I also used to work in premiere cinemas and so got to know a lot of the art first hand from old-timers. Nowadays all the art of presentation has walked out the door. So yes, I am presenting a full first half! :D I had actually thought of including the first episode of a serial and then a slide on afterwards telling the audience that if they wanted to see future episodes they would have to join the group. :D

[color=#000000]It is VERY satisfying and fulfilling to present good, clean classic movies to others!
[/color]

One might hope that what we are doing might catch on and the idea progress through to the big cinema chains and re would see a re-appearance of good presentation? Nah? ... Yeah, you're probably right. Why would they want to go to all that trouble when they can earn more from popcorn than they can from showing pictures.....
Last edited by Donald Binks on Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 7:46 am

maliejandra wrote:My advice:

Quality programming will always attract and keep an audience, although it may take time.

Advertising is key. Start small with flyers in local businesses, many of which will allow you to drop off ads at counters or on bulletin boards. Government agencies (at least in the US) like libraries will only let you do so if you have non-profit status.

Don't get discouraged. Do this for yourself and your own enjoyment and try not to get frustrated or turn this into a job. The second it becomes a chore it won't be worth the effort anymore.


The only trouble is the definition of quality. One member of our group is obsessed with "Road Runner" cartoons - then most members of a male audience 9in my town would think those Sylvester Stallone pictures about pugilism would be hot stuff. But, joking aside, I would like to gradually educate audiences into film appreciation by exposing them to a wide variety of films and styles.

Advertising is under control. I have done what you have suggested - almost to the letter. (Great minds think alike). We are also putting up colour posters in nearby villages - plus we are getting a full page free ad in the local rag which will run four weeks. There just won't be any excuse for people not to attend! :D

Thanks for your comments. Appreciated.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 8:07 am

Donald Binks wrote:We shall start off with the old National Anthem - "Gawd Save the Queen" because that was always played at picture shows at one time. It was a good idea as everyone stood up, then sat down and shut up. (Just to be on the safe side, I have followed this up with "Advance Australia Fair", the current dirge).


What, no "Waltzing Matilda"?

It's been a very long time since I organized a film day, and things have changed drastically since then -- i.e, people are no longer the least bit interested in attending a festival of old movies. Still, some of the old lessons might be not entirely useless.

1) Pick a thriving charity to work with you. Your fire brigade's less-than-graceful response should have been a warning-bell. Pick a seniors charity, or even set up in a seniors residential building. Pick a disability charity that has some reach or a strong membership list, even if it it only 200 members. If they're paid-up members, they'll show up for the event, because the fact they paid a membership fee shows they have some commitment to the organization.

2) Get some youthful whippersnapper to ace the local social media for you.

3) Have something for snacks. There should be a local sandwich shop or donut shop that would be willing to provide food for free or for a reduced cost (and you charge the viewers full cost in order to make a bit of money out of it). You probably have a Starbucks around, since Starbucks has colonized every country on earth; ask them for support, free coffee, and more snacks. The more snacks, the better, and if you hold the showings in a seniors residence, you can give the residents any leftovers you can't fit into your own fridge.

4) Have some fun activity for the viewers during breaks. For example, auction off the right to throw a shaving-cream or whipped-cream pie in the kisser of some popular local individual (cover their clothing by cutting a head-hole in a plastic garbage bag). The auction money, of course, goes to the charity.

5) For free advertising, alert the local radio shows, newspaper, local TV news show, etc., and invite them to interview you. Costs you nothing but your dignity and reputation for probity. In fact, invite someone from the local TV show to be the volunteer victim of the pie-throwing -- that will certainly guarantee big coverage on the telly.

6) It could be a good idea to match the films to the expected audience and/or the charity. My film shows were for a Deaf charity and the primary target audience were members of the Deaf community, so every film I picked was a silent.

7) Go heavy on the comedy. People want to laugh.

Jim,
who also has some snake-oil available to sell to you.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 8:28 am

....
Last edited by Donald Binks on Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 8:31 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:We shall start off with the old National Anthem - "Gawd Save the Queen" because that was always played at picture shows at one time. It was a good idea as everyone stood up, then sat down and shut up. (Just to be on the safe side, I have followed this up with "Advance Australia Fair", the current dirge).


What, no "Waltzing Matilda"?

One rarely hears this played in Oz nowadays. It's all the usual foreign tripe that's played - all boomity boom boom.

It's been a very long time since I organized a film day, and things have changed drastically since then -- i.e, people are no longer the least bit interested in attending a festival of old movies. Still, some of the old lessons might be not entirely useless.

I tend to agree, one has to warm up the victims to the more agreeable repertoire.


1) Pick a thriving charity to work with you. Your fire brigade's less-than-graceful response should have been a warning-bell. Pick a seniors charity, or even set up in a seniors residential building. Pick a disability charity that has some reach or a strong membership list, even if it it only 200 members. If they're paid-up members, they'll show up for the event, because the fact they paid a membership fee shows they have some commitment to the organization.

Where I live is a small rural village with only about 500 people. The other charities are very sparse and have committees with people now too old to get involved with anything. The local Fire Brigade seemed the only viable option.

2) Get some youthful whippersnapper to ace the local social media for you.

Umm, that'd be me? :D - I have put an add on the Community Facebook page. I have also done a blanket email to local businesses to donate a sum towards an advertising slide at interval.

3) Have something for snacks. There should be a local sandwich shop or donut shop that would be willing to provide food for free or for a reduced cost (and you charge the viewers full cost in order to make a bit of money out of it). You probably have a Starbucks around, since Starbucks has colonized every country on earth; ask them for support, free coffee, and more snacks. The more snacks, the better, and if you hold the showings in a seniors residence, you can give the residents any leftovers you can't fit into your own fridge.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Fire Brigade will be in the supper rooms armed with lamingtons, sponges and other delicacies to be washed down with a cuppa.

4) Have some fun activity for the viewers during breaks. For example, auction off the right to throw a shaving-cream or whipped-cream pie in the kisser of some popular local individual (cover their clothing by cutting a head-hole in a plastic garbage bag). The auction money, of course, goes to the charity.

Although we have the support of the local Federal M.P., he is not attending - probably he has got wind of your idea?

5) For free advertising, alert the local radio shows, newspaper, local TV news show, etc., and invite them to interview you. Costs you nothing but your dignity and reputation for probity. In fact, invite someone from the local TV show to be the volunteer victim of the pie-throwing -- that will certainly guarantee big coverage on the telly.

There is no local TV in Oz any more. It is all networked throughout the nation. I did try and speak to one of the Community wireless broadcasting stations in Ballarat (the closest big town with stations). Nobody got back to me after several attempts at contact. A man has to give up.

6) It could be a good idea to match the films to the expected audience and/or the charity. My film shows were for a Deaf charity and the primary target audience were members of the Deaf community, so every film I picked was a silent.

Doing that my son - have Charlie Chaplin in "The Fireman" for the first half and "Ladder 49" for the feature

7) Go heavy on the comedy. People want to laugh.

My presence should be enough to spark sufficient mirth from all concerned.

Jim,
who also has some snake-oil available to sell to you
.

Oh? I had heard that you had sold out?
Last edited by silentfilm on Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed Donald's colors to make the post more readable.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 3:19 pm

Okay, you youthful whippersnapper...

In a town of only 500 people, you certainly have your work cut out for you. Sorry if I may have underestimated the challenges you face.

What do the other 499 people do with their time? Are there 100 bowling fanatics? Do all 500 townsfolk cram into the only pub every night for a brew and a chat? Do they revel in speed-sewing competitions? Support the local Aussie rules football team every Saturday noon when they go up against the team from the nearby town of 700-residents called Roo Poop, NSW? Whatever it is, look for some way to combine that event with yours. Two shows for the price of one.

Jim
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 3:33 pm

Jim Roots wrote:Okay, you youthful whippersnapper...

In a town of only 500 people, you certainly have your work cut out for you. Sorry if I may have underestimated the challenges you face.

What do the other 499 people do with their time? Are there 100 bowling fanatics? Do all 500 townsfolk cram into the only pub every night for a brew and a chat? Do they revel in speed-sewing competitions? Support the local Aussie rules football team every Saturday noon when they go up against the team from the nearby town of 700-residents called Roo Poop, NSW? Whatever it is, look for some way to combine that event with yours. Two shows for the price of one.

Jim


Yup, a bit of a challenge - but that makes it more interesting! Luckily there are other villages and communities within Coo-ee (Aussie expression meaning 'close-by') so we can probably look to a base of say 2,000-3,000. Unfortunately the local pub has been closed since the great flood of 2011. It is being renovated and fixed up but you are right in saying that it was the raising of the elbow that was the main activity undertaken by locals.

Why I thought it might be a bit of a go-er is that a film group established itself fairly recently in a town about 100 km to the south-west. They have been successful and have regular screenings although the films they show in my opinion are the ones that nobody would wish to look at.
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Re: Trying to set up a Film Appreciation Group

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 7:05 am

Hi Donald:

I've been involved in film societies in Australia since 1959 and may be able to provide some assistance.

Perhaps you could PM me.

Cheers
paulb

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