Monthly Archives: February 2013


Students helping out

This week at University of Hertfordshire I’ve been happily (accidentally) getting chatting to other students helping out at the St. Albans Film Festival. I’ve met two students that are going to be interviewing for the film fest, and one filming. Can’t wait to keep in touch with them and what they’re doing now! It’s making me excited!


The Film Competition

The main eventcompetition flyer of this year’s St Albans Film Festival is the short film competition.

The competition will be the element of the festival that brings in international visitors to the city, as the 350 entries were submitted from 30 different countries, as far and wide as Australia, Singapore, Greece and the US.

Festival director Leoni Kibbey expects that the weekend of the 8th-10th March will bring in guests from America and Europe especially, and has labelled it a truly international event.

There were six categories in short film competition, which have been whittled down to those to be screened over the festival weekend at a number of quirky and unique venues across the city.

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The six categories in the short film competition are:

  • Short Film – short narrative live action film between 1 and 20 minutes long
  • Student Film – short film made by a student of any age from 5 to 95.
  • Music Video – under 6 minutes.
  • Documentary – inspiring short documentary film.
  • Children’s Film – U Certificate films for family audiences, aimed at children.
  • Over 18s Films – Something for the grown-ups!

The professional film makers had to submit their entries by the end of December 2012, and the mini student films had to be completed by January. There is a £500 award for the winner of each category, with the awards ceremony taking place 7pm on Sunday 10th at the Havana venue.

competition flyer




Students can get a whole weekend of activities for only £30 concession! Festival tickets available from the Box Office. The Pioneer Club are working with to help provide 10 festival passes to young people and students age 11 – 25 who cant afford the ticket price and would like to attend. Anyone who would like to apply for one of these passes should email:

Individual screening and workshop tickets cost £7.50 each (concessions £6).


Once visitors have purchased their pass, festival organisers will email them with the choice of screenings and events, which will also be available on the film festival website this week, so they can send through your ticket selections, which the organisers will send to them with their pass or they can collect in person from the box office at the Lower floor of Lussmans restaurant in Waxhouse Gate, St Albans AL3 4EW.


The box office will be open on February 2, 9, 16 and 23 and over the weekend of the festival 8-10 March.


The pass will also entitle visitors to discounts and offers at venues and shops throughout the city.


Volunteer Briefing

On Friday (22nd Feb) I took another visit to St Albans to check in with what was going on with the St Albans Film Festival. I went along to gate crash the volunteer’s briefing that I knew was happening that day to meet some of the many volunteers keeping the festival ticking along and to find out what has motivated them to do so.

outside the shop

Another visit to the shop on Market Place, St Albans

This year the Festival hasn’t received the funding to pay staff, and so is reliant on volunteers to work over the weekend of the 8-10 March. This includes helping with workshops, directing guests to the locations on the day, and selling tickets.

From the looks of the number of people in the room for the briefing (there was more volunteers than chair space and people were sitting on cushions on the floor!) there are plenty of people out to support the festival, which has been funded in large part by the festival director herself, Leoni Kibbey.

breifing from Jenny

Jen Ainsworth breifing a room of volunteers

Like all first-time events, the planning is not without its hiccups; in this case it’s the arrival of the volunteer uniforms. In-keeping with the festival logo (a ‘droog’  from Clockwork Orange) volunteers will be supplied with bowler hats, but the fancy purple bowler hats on order from China haven’t arrived yet, so it may be a case of reverting to less fancy black plastic ones for the weekend. Nonetheless, volunteers will still be given the fancy ones when they do arrive, albeit after the festival is over. If you see a new fashion craze of purple bowler hats hitting the South East of England in the coming weeks – you heard it here first!


Despite the lack of hats, there is festival clothing for sale in the 33 Market Place shop

While shift sheets were being sorted and questions answered, I set about finding out what makes people so keen to want to help out at the festival for free. The first person I spoke to turned out to be Leoni’s child minder; Annie Robb.

Annie said that she has been a friend of Leoni for a long time and for her, volunteering was as much about “supporting an amazing lady” as it was supporting a local event. Annie revealled that Leoni had even cast her son in couple of roles in the past.

“I’m also local to St Albans”, she said. “I live behind the old cinema on London road, which is currently being restored. There is a rich hertitage here in St Albans, particularly around the film industry, and the film festival will bring so many positives to city.”

Siobhan palmer, a former student who is also local to the area said;  “I’m not at uni, but I still wanted to help out, because of my interest in films. For me it’s about pursuing an interest and having the opportunity to get involved with the film industry in this way. Hopefully I will make good connections from working at the festival”.

Finally, I spoke with a 2012 Graduate from Bedfordshire University, Justina rude. Justina is a film maker and camera operator and wanted to use the opportunity to gain an inside look at the film festival. She said; “I’m looking forward to helping filmmakers and experts with the technical workshops”.

Justina has experience of  using professional film equipment and wants to share her skills. She has her own website: and hopes her volunteering will help her to make potential job connections.

Ticket prices

Festival volunteers will receive a staff pass to an event of their choice, as well as the bowler hat uniform

Oh, and incase you read my last blog  and are wondering if Leoni is still surrounded by those stacks of programmes; of the 3000 that were printed, less than 1000 are left.

Starting out at the film fest

This week I made the short journey from Hatfield to St. Albans (about 20 minutes by public transport if you take the bus from the Galleria stop) to meet St. Albans Film Festival Director Leoni Kibbey.

Not yet being totally familiar with  St. Albans (although I’m sure that will change over the coming months), I wasn’t entirely sure where I would find the festival shop, but given that it’s practically on top of the market (33 Market Place) it wasn’t too hard to find.

Festival shop window

I immediately recognised the purple festival banners and ‘droog’ character, and took a moment to view the quirky window displays of bowler hats and ribbons and vintage camera equipment before taking a breath, preparing my friendliest smile and venturing inside.

Bowler hat window display

I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but when I entered the rather empty room there behind a desk was Festival Director Leoni, amidst a mass of festival programmes and flyers, and trying to contend with a phone call, a client in the shop and myself walking through the door. I recognised the look of enthusiastic, passionate and (perhaps) exasperated busyness on her face (I’ve been wearing that expression pretty much constantly since starting my final year of my degree) and knew right away that I was going to love getting involved in the festival and getting to work with Leoni.

Film Festival poster in the shop

Once her other customers were satisfied, I took a seat and Leoni got chatting about my role of blogging, and, essentially, what her vision for the festival was all about. She smiled as she told me of the number of puzzled people she’d encountered when explaining she was bringing a film festival to a little market town that has no cinema, but nonetheless she wants the event to become an annual one.

“As it’s the first one, we’ve not really had the funding this year, but hopefully it will get bigger and better each year” she explained.

I just couldn’t stop thinking about the fact there was going to be a film festival in a town with no cinema. Why would she choose to host the event here? She’s either a visionary, or I’m alone in a building with a mad woman, and only a stack of festival programmes for protection… But she seems a normal, successful, totally-up-for-a-challenge workaholic, rather than a Jack Torrance (The Shining). So I stick with it, as she tells me all about the competition categories for this year (more on that in a later post) and then it dawns on me… She’s a genius.

 St. Albans’  historic and charming scenery will suit an art and film culture perfectly. Plus it’s only about 25 mins train journey from Kings Cross station (I speak from experience) and just a stone’s throw from some of the most prestigious film studios in the world Leavesden, Pinewood and Elstree.

It might not have a cinema, but St. Albans boosts plenty of film industry connections, which is the driving force behind the festival. Arthur Melbourne-Cooper who, in 1895, developed the first British 35mm moving picture camera and was a pioneer in making moving pictures, was born in the City.

The much celebrated Stanley Kubrick also came to settle in the area. The legendary director  lived just outside the city and created some of his most famous work in the local area, where he also eventually settled until his death in 1999. Kubrick’s manor was used as a nerve centre for his film productions: the Shining was finished there, and Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut were started and completed there.

The organisers of the festival are optimistic that this annual event will put St Albans firmly on the movie tourism map.

Leoni says: “Not many people are aware of St Albans’ strong connections with the film industry, and I am hoping that the city’s first-ever film festival will help to raise its profile internationally too. The Oscars will have just happened, but St Albans will carry that Oscars excitement on through this very special weekend. The City will be a fun place to be with the thrill of movie-making all around the City centre, and a great festival vibe too. Children will be encouraged to get dressed up in film-themed fancy dress, there will be film pub quizzes, interactive events where people will have a chance to get on camera or try things out behind the scenes, and celebrities from the world of film, art and music milling around the town.”

So roll on 8th March!

… I still find myself using the bus journey home as an opportunity to visualise all the ways you can make an improvised shield from a festival programme though, just in case. Who’s the mad woman here?


The count down to the Film Festival begins…

Less than 1 month to go!

A poster for the St. Albans film festival

The start of the Film Festival promotions 2013