Category Archives: The events

Film Festival Day 2!

My second day at the festival was just as jam-packed as the first. The first stop of my day was ‘The King and the Mockingbird’ which has always been one of my favourite animated films so I was excited to see how popular it was with other children. The answer? Very. The Maltings Art Theatre was packed almost to capacity and everyone seemed to be enjoying it, even though the film was subtitled and some of the audience were quite young. I think the parents enjoyed it almost as much as the kids!

My next stop was the ‘Costume Characterisation’ event hosted by the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Full disclosure, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan so the likelihood of me loving the event was high! When I arrived the room was packed with little ones who were all absolutely enthralled. The workshop started with a discussion about what judgments we make about based on their outfits, then they brought out a few costumes used in the actual Harry Potter films. Then the kids moved on to creating their own mood boards and the real selling point? The material they were using came from costumes used on the film set! From what I could tell all of the kids had a great time and I think their parents even learnt a few things!

I popped in on a screening of ‘Ponyo’ in the pool at Westminster Lodge. I only managed to catch it for a few minutes but all of the kiddies (and their parents) seemed to be enjoying the show and the fact that they got to watch it in the pool! I was slightly jealous I didn’t have a swimming costume with me so I could join in.

I made a quick dash then to catch a screening of ‘Crash Reel’ at The Pioneer Club. I’d heard the story behind the film before and so I was expecting it to be an emotional viewing but it really was spectacular!

My next stop was the Children’s Short Film Competition at the Verulamium Museum. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the event but I definitely didn’t get it. The films, especially those made by the younger children were amazing, some of them were very polished and professional and some were beautifully homemade. In fact my favourite film was light on technique but absolutely full to the brim with enthusiasm! And the film maker was only 6 years old to boot!

The last stop of my night was the screening of ‘Jaws’ also in the pool of Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre. The concept was amazing but I wasn’t sure about the practicalities, wouldn’t you get wrinkly in the pool for that long? But it actually turned out to be a really great night! There was even an inflatable shark in the pool!

Lauren 🙂

Film Festival Day 1!

So on my first full day of the festival yesterday , I was busy non-stop all day and it was really fun!

My first stop  was at the parent and toddler sing-a-long screening of Mamma Mia. When I checked in it was a lot quieter than I expected for a room full of toddlers but everyone seemed to be having the BEST time. All of the parents looked relaxed and happy to be able enjoy the film without worrying about the kids making noise. I even spied a couple of the toddlers dancing along, which as you can imagine was completely adorable.

My next event was the screening of the French film ‘Ricky’ for which St Albans Town Hall was transformed into a very Parisian cinema set up. I only got to see the first half of ‘Ricky’ since I had to rush to another event but the concept was really intriguing – a baby who grows fully functioning wings.

The reason I had to miss the last half of ‘Ricky’ was to catch the first part of Lars Von Triers ‘Nymphomanic’. I was looking forward to this film from the second I knew it was being screened at the festival and I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed! As an added bonus, due to some technical issues we were treated to an impromptu intro by Miranda Kane star of another of our feature films ‘Confessions of a Sex Worker’. Let me just say, Miranda was hilarious! Her intro was perfect for the film and I think made sure everyone felt slightly more comfortable for the upcoming film. On to the film, it was strangely emotional at times which I for one really wasn’t expecting, at point I might have been a bit misty eyed..

I then popped over to ‘St Albans Connection’ which was a series of short films either made by St Alban’s filmmakers or having a link to the local area. It was great to see recognisable places in some of the films or even recognise names and faces of those involved. It was the perfect event for a St Albans native or even someone just hoping to learn more about the area.

My day didn’t stop there and I then went to view the Over 18’s short film competition. The films were varied to say the least, there were dramas, comedies and even a parody to boot. There wasn’t a single film that I didn’t enjoy and from what I noted the rest of the audience felt similarly.

Finally on to my two evening events, the first was the ‘Women in Film and the Bechdel Test Panel’. The representation of women in film or any medium really is a subject close to my heart and a key theme of this years Film Festival so it was great to see such a strong turn out. The inclusion of audience discussion meant that there was a lively debate for the entire event and it was really great to hear the opinions of film industry insiders on the representation of women.

The last event I attended was the ‘Birds, Books and Gin’ event where we were given a really in depth look at Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ and to hear some of the reasoning behind his decision making process. There were also cupcakes and free gin cocktails, which were very popular (I only had one, I promise!)

Let me know what events you’ve attended/are planning to attend and how you found them!

Lauren 🙂

The Birds!

Yesterday we kicked off the opening event of the Film Festival, with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ at the spectacular St Albans Cathedral. Not only was the abbey all dressed up in purple and black but we also had a few feathered friends who swooped above the heads of the audience prior to the screening. Hedwig suffered from a little bit of stage fright when it was time for her big moment but during the pre show she was definitely a fan favourite!

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We also had amazing crow puppets created by Whole Hog Theatre. They added the perfect amount of gorgeous but slightly creepy to the atmosphere of the evening.


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We also had two fantastic choirs to kick off the event Big Sing initially and then The Correno Singers who definitely got everyone in the spirit of the evening.

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And then finally we started ‘The Birds’ which is scary enough on it’s own but add to that the haunting backdrop of the abbey and all the decor it made for quite an exciting viewing.

All in all, the night went fantastically everyone had a great time. We couldn’t have found a better way to start what is going to be a really exciting festival weekend!

We have plenty of events on throughout the rest of the weekend, if your still looking for events to attend have a look at our programme here!

Hope to see you around the festival! Let me know what your planning to see.

Lauren 🙂

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.

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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.

Animation Bootcamp – 27th August

Following the success of the St Albans Film Festival film bootcamp at the start of the month, the second week of summer holiday events kicks off on Tuesday 27th August, after the back holiday weekend.anibootcamp

This four-day animation workshop gives attendees a chance to make their own short films, try their hand at stop motion production and even animate themselves.

During this week, animator Richard Shaw will be teaching the animation course for 8 – 16 year olds.

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Richard recently worked with children at a music festival, delivering a short Pixilation workshop – see some of the fun stuff they got up to here:

We are looking forward to sharing stories and short films from the animation week soon.

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Film Maker Bootcamp – 29th July

In just over a week (from the 29th July) the first of the St Albans Film Festival summer workshops will begin with the 5-day Film Maker Bootcamp. This workshop focuses on making a mini movie in the space of just one week, with films covering genres including Superheroes, Sci-fi Comedy, Western, Drama and even Zombie movies. The week will conclude with a family and friends premiere screening.

filmbootcampThis is the second event of the Post-‘St Albans Film Festival 2013’ calendar, following a rare screening of Colour Me Kubrick in May, which included a brilliant ‘meet the screen writer’ Q&A session. Colour Me Kubrick was not released in the UK as it received no funding from the British Film Institute, and so the DVD for the screening was sent from Czech Republic, making the event all the more exclusive.

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Writer Tony Frewin, spent a long time answering the questions of the audience at the Maltings Arts Theatre (St Albans) and claimed the film had ‘written itself’ as it was based on the true story of confidence artist Alan Conway. The aptly named Conway, who impersonated film maker Stanley Kubrick for several years, was played by film legend John Malkovich – who Tony says was his first choice for the part, as he has the range needed to play such a role. Tony says his claim was supported by Malkovich’s work ethic: he was always on time and had the confidence to creatively add his own spin to the role; introducing the many accents his character uses and even cheekily adding a line about himself [John Malkovich] in.

Writer Tony Ferwin

Writer Tony Ferwin

These kinds of events are a great way to hear behind-the-scene seldom told facts and anecdotes. Tony Frewin, who also worked with Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey, recalls Mr Kubrick’s reaction to Alan Conway; saying he jokingly called him an ‘ingrate’ for only watching a bit of one of his films (and not liking it!) and claimed he would get him back by impersonating him in return.

Iris Zaki, director of My Kosher Shifts

Iris Zaki, director of My Kosher Shifts

To show a continued commitment to the St Albans Film Festival competition entrants, the Colour Me Kubrick screening opened with a viewing of the short film; My Kosher Shifts by director Iris Zaki.

We look forward to more events like this over the coming year in the lead up to St Albans Film Festival 2014, and wish all those attending the Film Maker bootcamp this month the best of luck with your debut films!

Rounding up the St Albans Film Festival

A fortnight on and all the film editing  blog proof-reading and inputting videos to posts on this blog has been completed. I’ve done a little re-vamp of the blog to keep it relevant over the next year, while Leoni will be blogging from now until the next year’s festival.

Video: with thanks to Christopher Thomson for his editting skills (christopherjthomson.com) and Alton Wahlberg for the original song (altonwahlberg.co.uk)

I suppose that just leaves me to sign off from this blog and from the St Albans Film Festival 2013. The festival was an amazing experience, and one which I was honoured to have been able to have been a part of in its debuting year.

During the weekend of the festival, I stayed with a local family and on the second morning we discussed the surrealism cinema event at the  Clock Tower and spoke of the idea of immersive cinema. Peter Trevelyn pointed out to me that if one understands the expression of ‘immersive cinema’ as being an experience of a film outside of a conventional movie theatre, the entire St Albans Film Festival was an immersive cinema experience. Leoni actually did it – a film festival, in a city with no cinema!

Being able to engage with make-up artists, stunt men, directors and choreographers meant that film lovers could enjoy the festival for so many different reasons and on so many different levels. My only regret of the weekend is that there was so many interesting things going on at once, and this meant visitors could not experience everything the festival had to offer in its entirety. Maybe next year if could be spread out over a week, instead of a weekend? 🙂

The St Albans Film Festival is already taking submissions for next year’s film competition -details of which (and submission forms) can be found here: http://www.stalbansfilmfestival.com/

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