Category Archives: Interviews

Animation Workshop – The Showreel

Well, it’s a week on from the animation workshop and its well and truly the end of the summer holidays (and from the looks of it, the end of gorgeous summer weather – but it was good while it lasted, wasn’t it?).

This weekend we caught up with Richard Shaw who ran last week’s animation workshops; he’s been busy compiling all the work of the summer film workshop to bring us a completed show reel.


Richard said of the week, which concluded with a short half an hour screening in The Maltings Arts Theatre; “it was different from what I normally do – given the amount of time we had to work on things. Usually, I only get to work with the kids for half an hour or an hour at a time!”

“Also, the number of children I was working with was a change for me: there were almost 20 kids there. It was a challenge to keep everyone entertained, but it was good fun,” he said.

If it was a challenge, it certainly didn’t show, as the only glitch in the showcase of work came in the form of a technical hiccup – the work itself, produced by children in groups of two to five members, amounted to fifteen videos.

Richard said: “I think the work was well received by the parents and families that came to watch [at the Maltings].”

“I didn’t do any plasticine animation last week [festival director Leoni Kibbey managed this are of work], but I felt very in control with what I did; some of it was my Pixilation stuff that I’ve practised before using lots of props – just fun little things from the pound shop that we could easily replace.”

“One of the things we did try out for the first time was the film about the apple. Given the amount of time we had, I could work closely with a group and we came up with this film all about an apple that comes to life – I had them chasing it up and down the room, we used green screen, there was even an interview with apple at the end: it was a lot of fun!”

Mr Shaw says he will definitely be keeping in touch with the St Albans Film Festival, and hopes he may be able to get involved with next year’s film fest. “I’m hoping to submit something for it, actually” he says. We wonder if it will feature our favourite live apple?

Check out some of the other animations here.


Interview with competition Finalist Adam Awni

Following the music video screenings, I interviewed Adam Awni who had had two of his music videos shortlisted in this category of the competition. He is also attending the festival to promote his new short film; Bunny, which currently has an online treasure hunt across the Internet to unlock content, with only 24 days remaining.

He explained that he had entered the competition after hearing about the film festival from a friend. He said: “I work in London, so St Albans is quite nearby. I’d heard it was the first year of running and it’s really good”

As well as being lucky enough to have two entries shortlisted Adam is using the opportunity to publicise his new film project, “I’ve been using the opportunity to flyer and network with other film makers to promote Bunny” he says, and points out that even the t-shirt he is wearing displays artwork from the film and its social media promotion.

Bunny flyer

Bunny flyer

Bunny is a 20 minute thriller/horror that took four months to write. Adam calls it ‘this generation’s version of Misery’. I asked if it has any ankle-crushing moments like Misery, and he assures me there is at least one shocking moment that will stick in your head.

“There are some cool, gore moments. Our prosthetics  artist has worked on all of the episodes of Game of Thrones  and Prometheus, but Bunny is not all about the effects. I believe in a good film, the story should carry it, which is why it took so long to write, because I wanted a story that hadn’t been seen,” Adam said.

From our chat, the resounding message was that Adam’s big aim was to reach a fresh, new concept  for a feature film that would  make people afraid. As a blogger and social networking enthusiast, most interesting to me however, was the way Adam was utilising social media and re-examining the way we all use the Internet in our lives – on two levels.

Firstly, his 50-day media promotion, funded by Kick-Starter  (there is only 24 days left, so if you want to get involved, don’t wait around), uses social media.

It comprises of an online treasure hunt using media platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud and Twitter to reveal hidden messages, which can be used as passwords and clues to unlock content. Adam says everything that is unlockable is content of the film, and for him the challenge was to not only use social media for the treasure  hunt, but to utilise the function of said media (music on SoundCloud, videos on YouTube, etc).

The second level of utilising the popularity of social media is to play on the rising popularity of dating websites: “Bunny uses a dating site in its plot to make us scared of something that’s real in life. The best, scariest movies play on a real thing that we can experience in our lives and social lives, and that’s what makes it scare us. The characters in Bunny meet through a dating website,  which has become more socially acceptable than in the times when Hard Candy was released.”

“We have even made this website which has ‘malfunctioned’ to make the private chat section of our characters public, so you are seeing the early relationship develop, which has involved extra  script,” he says.

My final 2 minute quick-fire round-up of the film (I had to finish up the interview in time for the next event)  was that:
– The final film is a bit secretive, there will be no online download as Adam wants it to be in cinemas – it is going to be screened in two cinemas in London, one in Birmingham, with some interest in Manchester (the full film is 50% funded already through crowd-funding).
– Bunny is a character (but I’m not allowed to know anymore)
– The film includes a horrific female villain, the definition of a femme fatal.
For more information please visit

Adam went on to win the award for Best Music Video.


Vinyl Review

The Opening Film of the Festival

Vinyl Premiere

This was the first screening of the festival weekend. My full review of this will be live on Monday, but as a teaser: familiar faces, new faces, strong laughs, repetitive soundtrack (I literally hated the main song by the end of the movie), emotional moments, developed – and sometimes under-developed – relationships, smiles, triumph, true story.

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?