| Organising BIAFF 2015
By members of the SERIAC team
Chairman Rita Hayes |
The organisers know what they want, but
the challenge is in turning ideas and suggestions into a
workable, successful event. |
Our first problem in the process of bringing BIAFF 2015 to the SERIAC region was to locate the right hotel.
|This was not as easy as you might imagine, for we found
lots of seaside hotels that at first seemed to fit the bill.
However, looking into things more deeply, we found that most
either had no parking or made high charges for cars parked on
site. Additionally, it was almost impossible to find hotels in
our region that offered single rooms, meaning that single
occupants would have to pay over the odds to stay in double
I ended up contacting Best Western and told them our requirements. The company soon got back to me suggesting the Coniston Hotel, Sittingbourne, which met the majority of our requirements, and would offer a special reduction for single occupants. As we discussed the finer details, I mentioned that we needed four cinemas operational during the event. It turned out that they had three rooms which were fine but two that only seated fifteen people. I asked David Newman if the two smaller rooms could have the same films showing, so that thirty people could see that programme at once. David felt that it would be more useful to show a different programme in each, in order that more films could be shown, so we ended up with five cinemas - one more than we had planned!
The staff at the hotel were superb - nothing was too much trouble for them and they cheerfully saw to all our needs. The one worry that I had was the tea, coffee and biscuit breaks. At our various meetings prior to the event, I reminded the hotel staff of the problems that we had faced in the past in this regard, as everyone arrives at once and needs to go to the next film session within half an hour. They listened to our concerns, took them on board, and came up with the idea of having members of staff pouring drinks at different tables. This worked splendidly, and as a result, the usual problems caused by people helping themselves to drinks did not arise this time. The staff also gave out menus for evening meals at breakfast, which also led to quicker service later each day.
The event, however, was not confined to the hotel, and when we did venture out we met with a sunny, dry day (something hardly guaranteed in England in April) and this added greatly to the enjoyment. The trip to Chatham Dockyard was enjoyed by all, with the highlight being a fascinating film set tour, an ideal activity for Film Festival trippers!
The organising of BIAFF 2015 presented a lot of hard work for
our council members, who spent two years preparing for the
event. By the remarks received so far, it was well worth all the
effort put in.
Secretary Brenda Troughton |
Two years ago the IAC asked if SERIAC
would run the 2015 BIAFF event.
With some trepidation our Council agreed that we would undertake the task. The first business in hand was to find a suitable venue as described by Rita (above).
A date was fixed and then the discussions began over the costs.Council members made many journeys to Sittingbourne to consult and discuss and finally a price was agreed.
The next obstacle was to decide on a coach outing.There are many
places to visit in Kent but at last we agreed on the Chatham
Historic Dockyard. Rita and Freddy visited the dockyard to
ensure it wasn’t too far and had the facilities we needed.We
were also offered a tour of the locations used for filming e.g.
TV programmes such as Call
the Midwife. Coach prices were checked and the coach
was booked.Everything seemed to be going well. |
The next job was to work on a booking form and to have it printed. By this time we were in 2014 and the forms needed to be sent to Garth to be included with Film and Video Maker Magazine. An online printer was found at a good price and the order was sent over the internet.
The next big job was the programme which I said I would take on. I spoke to Brenda Granshaw at the Stratford AGM and she assured me this was a straight forward copy and paste job. However, there were several changes to the order of the films and many council members were called upon to proof read. The online printer was used once more. They were unbelievably helpful, rushing through the printing and delivering from Germany in a few days at a cost of only £330.00.
| (Rookie) Treasurer Freddy Beard
My experience started off very well
with booking forms and cheques in almost every post. Then came
the balances of the payments – again, just take to the bank. But
then some people had to drop out. Overall we had 10
cancellations, most of them regulars at IAC events and we missed
|Chairman at the time Ron Prosser|
SERIAC organised their last BIAFF in 2007 and Reg Lancaster
and myself were joint festival officers. Between us we undertook
a lot of the organising ranging from printing all the tickets
needed, putting up acres of blackout, arranging the back to back
screens and synchronised projection and printing of the
We were suddenly made aware that the ballroom, where the Sunday
award show was to be held, had no light switches in the room,
being controlled by a computer housed in a “Broom Cupboard”
It made us wonder what sort of idiot had designed this for a new hotel.
By the time BIAFF arrived common sense had prevailed and dimmer switches had been installed – albeit behind the screen on a very dark stage.
Due to a low ceiling the screen was not high enough to
accommodate subtitles and I know this irritated a lot of our
visitors but there was little we could do about it. This is a
problem shared by most modern hotels these days I’m afraid.
Technicalities aside and from a pastoral side of things we were very pleased with the hotel and the service we received. Nothing was too much trouble for them and our every request was carried out swiftly and efficiently and the food they served was excellent. All of our visitors that I spoke to endorsed this view and everyone appeared to have enjoyed the weekend.
| Projectionist David Fenn |
Preparing for BIAFF - A Cautionary Tale
|Projectionist Graham Evans |
How was it for us?
Fortunately the projection of the film was clear of obstacles
as it pointed towards the screen between the seats along the central isle.
We tried the projector out and succeeded in getting a good picture clear of seats and audience (though the occasional shoulder was visible on the bottom corner of the image). We then wired up the speakers, taking the wiring around the edge of the room secured by duck tape. We tested the sound system and video switching mechanism.
We were told
that we would have to black out the windows in our room and were given black plastic
on a roll to do this. We measured the windows. We had our own duck tape and we borrowed
scissors and cut the blackout to shape then stuck them up, taking care not to stick
duct tape to the window frames. The outside windows got very warm with sunlight on
the Saturday and we had to make 'running repairs' on the black out between films on
On the Saturday we arrived just before 9am. I had kept the key to the room overnight so we went straight in and switched on the kit. Long after the festival was over, I looked back an old email address only to find instructions from the organisers (who had been using my current email address for other correspondence about projection work). Seeing it afterwards, most of it was common sense or known to me except for one requirement. This was to provide background music in the cinema as people entered to provide atmosphere. We could have provided this had the correct up to date email addresses been used by the IAC.
Once we got going, our 4 sessions ran reasonably smoothly. All the discs ran correctly except one where there was a progressive lip-sync problem. On reflection this may have been due to me re-editing a DVD to get rid of the menu. If so, I apologise - I should have tested the new disc over the whole length of the film.
Occasionally we switched from the film to the screen saver a bit too quickly during the end credits but generally the transitions worked well between the two images. Switching the lights on and off was easy with two operators. We kept within our session times.
| Raffle Organiser Peter Hughes|
Organising a raffle can be tortuous - finding the appropriate prizes, timing and
method of draw. Here in the SERIAC region, we are very lucky that all this year's
BIAFF prizes were donated and we thank all the donors.
| Photographer Keith Sayers
It would be nice to say that I have a wealth of experience in photographing BIAFF but
the truth is, as a region only gets to host it around every seven years, this is not
the case. So, although I had limited experience from the last time SERIAC was involved,
I was still learning on the hoof.