Beyond Boundaries 360, in partnership with Watershed delivered Films in your Front Room, a season of online film events showcasing underrepresented voices in film during lockdown. The selected programme was focused on the ideas of community, identity and belonging.
Seven members of Film Hub South West's development programme Beyond Boundaries 360 organised and delivered an online season of four online film events in partnership with Watershed as part of the BFI FAN season Film Feels: Connected, during the first UK lockdown in August 2020.
The diverse programme showcased underrepresented voices in film and included a selection of local short films from the South West, a LGBTQIA+ cult-classic, a thought-provoking award-winning documentary from Spain and a popular romantic comedy from Zimbabwe.
Beyond Boundaries 360 is a Film Hub South West development scheme providing skills, networks and routes into film curation / event producing with a focus on creatives that are under-represented in the industry.
The events were delivered by; Nia Evans - who was interested in showcasing new shorts by local Bristol-based filmmakers, Lauren Tenn - who was keen to showcase Devon and Cornwall filmmakers’ work, Rebecca Ballard - who specialises in female representation and is the Lead Programmer and Producer for Queer Vision Film Festival, Sauda Kyalambuka - from St Pauls Film Club is interested in family friendly films and using films to support children's and young people’s education, and Lorena Pino Montilla - who is experienced in organising community film events from around the world with her project Getting Together Through Films and eager to promote films from Spain and Latin America.
The organisation of the events was also supported by Akulah Agbami from Sheba Soul Ensemble, which works centre women and black voices, and Tay Aziz who is passionate about different cultural representations and championing issues of environmental justice.
Produce and deliver as a collective a series of film events, providing a cinematic experience to audiences missing cinema during lockdown.
Create a space to put into practice previous skills and knowledge learned during the training provided by Film Hub South West from fundraising to event delivery.
Use the online platform to extend a sense of community through film across the South West region.
Offer a series of film events alongside and additional activity with each screening, ranging from discussions with filmmakers, to guest speakers with specialist subject knowledge, to craft workshops alongside a family film.
Generate a space where participants feel free to ask questions and discuss films meaningfully together.
Raise awareness about different realities around the world using films as a tool.
Audience participation came from different areas in the South West, including Bristol, Plymouth, Wiltshire, Somerset, but also from some other regions as the Midlands and London.
Each event showed small but consistent growth in the number of people attending and engaging. There was positive feedback from the participants and audience members in all the events.
It was an invaluable and unique experience for members of the group working as a collective in record time to produce and deliver a series of online film events as part of a national season.
Three of the four events had the participation of film directors. The fourth event had a live performance, a bingo, and a quiz. All of which created a deeper engagement.
It has highlighted that there is an audience for experimental and community programming.
It’s also encouraged the group to work more closely with new and local filmmakers.
Watershed, Film Feels Connected, Queer Vision, Come the Revolution
Budget in brief
Overall budget: £2,350
Key income sources: £1500 Film Hub Midlands (Film Feels Connected), £750 Marketing Watershed (in-kind), £100 Marketing Come the Revolution (in-kind)
Subsidy per head: £13.35
Partnering with Watershed was a key factor during the promotion of the series. It allowed a natural association with the prestige and positive values of the organisation. In addition, a wider marketing impact with the use of their brand, logo and weekly promotion in their newsletter and social media.
The audience was very participative, and it motivated a conversation about the films during each event.
The programme offered a varied selection of films appealing to a diverse audience including short films from emerging filmmakers, international cinema from Spain and Zimbabwe and a LGBTQ cult classic.
All members of the group worked well together in supporting events and sharing skills and knowledge.
A chance to showcase local filmmakers and give films newer and bigger audiences.
All wraparound activity was well received and facilitated deeper engagement with the films.
The presentation of six short films from local filmmakers with the presence of all of them during the introduction and discussion after the screening was a highlight. As was the Q&A with co-director of The Silence of Others directly from Madrid and participation of Cook Off! Director’s. Combining a live performance before the screening brought a fun energy and a cross-over queer audience.
What you would do differently if you did it again
The total number of attendees could be higher, probably with a promotion aiming to a more specific target and working with some more time in advance.
Lockdown was also lifted during the online programme so some events were affected by local in person events and the improving weather in August, which might have otherwise not had an effect.
It would have been good to have more time to group together and plan a more integrated programme and more time for a launching campaign.
To find a criteria for programming reflecting the different personal area of interests and what brought the films together.
This was the first time for the group organised as a collective, so did not have a mission statement or documents in place to fall back on, so this was a lot of work to create in the lead up to the events.
Knowledge & Experience
We worked in a team of seven people. Each of us have different visions, expectations and approaches to cinema and film curation. However, there was a common interest in connecting with audiences through cinema and discussing films. Being part of a BFI national season has offered a relevant developing opportunity to the group. The group supported and offered mentoring and assistance to the lead of each event where they lacked experience or knowledge in a particular area.
The events were a natural progression from the training received as part of Film Hub’s Beyond Boundaries 360 programme alongside the weekly film club ran during lockdown.
At the same time, the events can be considered as an inspiration for the next generation of creatives in the region and the limitless opportunities offered by films and cinema.
The four events intended to reduce isolation during lockdown providing a space to share ideas, learn, and entertain using films as a resource. This helped to create a strong sense of community of people passionate about films in the South West and beyond in a period when it was not possible to connect with each other in person easily.
• “This season is for everyone who is missing the experience of watching films together, who wants to feel connected to the local film community, or who simply wants to watch something new and exciting without leaving the comfort of their home”. (Visit Bristol)