Tag Archives: festival

Introducing the St Albans Film Festival 2014 Character

Last year’s film festival became instantly recognisable on posters, t-shirts and online, thanks to its purple branding and Droog character, which represented the festivals’ underlying theme; Stanley Kubrick.

Kubrick lived and filmed most of his work in the area and the late film director/ screenwriter’s wife, Christiane Kubrick became the festivals first Patron after opening the 2013 debut festival, with inspiring words of support.

Christiane Kubrick, opening the festival

Christiane Kubrick, opening the festival

Each year, the festival will celebrate a new theme but keep the distinct purple branding.

birds hitchcock

As announced on our previous blog post, this year’s film festival theme is Birds, the feathered kind in – homage to Alfred Hitchcock and also women, in film and film-making and we can now reveal the character for this year.

st albans fim festival 2014 character

Expect: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds to be screened; a ‘Birds themed cocktail bar’; appearance by St Albans Director Dan Smith, currently directing for Sir David Attenborough a 3D Animated film where Natural History Dinosaurs come to life, including the very first birds; a live demonstration of remote control heli-camera/drones that are used widely in blockbusters to capture amazing aerial shots; screenings of films featuring amazing women such as Judi Dench in the new Shakespeare film Muse of Fire, and lots lots more.



May 1st – 4th 2014 is the date for the 2nd International St Albans Film Festival and entries have already started flying in from as far as Japan, Brazil, Australia & Iceland.

If you would like to take the leap and enter the next festival you could be in with the chance of winning part of the £3000 cash prize, a crafted trophy and respect from your clan!  Anyone can enter a short film of maximum 20 mins in length into one of 7 categories, listed below:

MAIN SHORT FILM – Any short narrative film that is a work of fiction eg: drama, comedy, romance, thriller. Last years’ winner was from France – Fabrice Braq’s film ‘Time to Split’ a relationship drama which cleverly used a split screen process.

DOCUMENTARY – Any short documentary film about any subject at all from big world issues to personal stories that matter to you. We even had a beautifully shot film in year one by director Michelle Becker which showed us how to bake a really tasty cake!

MUSIC VIDEO – Any music video from any artist, band or performer around the world. The Artists from the music videos that get accepted are asked whether they would like to perform live at the festival, a great way to build your audience and fan base!

ANIMATION – Any animation short, whether it’s suitable for children, adults or both. St Albans born and bred Arthur Melbourne-Cooper made the first ever animation over 100 years ago so this category is very significant for those who enter to be part of the City’s animation heritage.

OVER 18S – Any type of film whether it’s a work of fiction, documentary, animation or music video that deals with subjects suitable for an over 18 audience only. This could be for example horror, violence, adult language, erotica. Last year’s festival saw some really great entries – an interesting one that caught our attention was ‘Phone sex Grandma!’ by Jack Truman, USA.

STUDENT FILM – Any film by a student age 16+  Perhaps you are at film school and are carving your filmmaking career or maybe you are studying something else at school or college and just have a passion for film and filmmaking?

YOUNG STUDENT FILM – A film made by a child age 5 – 15, about any subject, it can be documentary, animation, drama.. whatever you like. Last year we had films entered from USA, Scotland and all across the UK in this category and a special children’s red carpet awards ceremony.

It costs £30 to enter a film, £20 for a student & £10 for a child. If you keep an eye on the Facebook & Twitter accounts @StAlbansFF there are often chances to win a free entry. Everyone whose film gets selected for screening will get a pass worth £40 to attend the festival events so it’s really worth entering.

The deadline for sending in your short film is 1st February 2013 so get creating and see the website to find out details of how to enter and be a part of the next spectacular St Albans International Film Festival as it takes over the City once again.  www.stalbansfilmfestival.com


Film Festival Takes Off!

Film Festival Director, Leoni Kibbey, shares with us her thoughts on the Film Festival last year and what she has in store for 2014.

ImageIn early March this year the fledgling St Albans International Film Festival soared onto the calendar of St Albans. Visitors in their thousands flocked from as far as the USA to attend the inaugural event. Greeted by over a hundred smiling volunteers (made up of enthusiastic St Albans city folk & students from University of Hertfordshire) film fans were guided to one of the twenty-two venues across the city, where they could immerse themselves in a multitude of events. These included; feature film premieres, ‘in competition’ short films selected from around four hundred entries (..and sent in from thirty countries around the world!) or to take part in fantastic creative workshops.

Alongside the programme of films and educational workshops was a plethora of culture and entertainment; the Clocktower became an immersive cinema experience, the Culture Cart’s very own Tom- a  posh gentleman on a bike, had people lino printing film themed artwork; local poet Anthony Adler helped our festival go-er explore the inner mind of a film character; live music was performed by a selection of the bands from our music video competition, guests sampled the special ‘Mothers Milk’ concoction served by a seven foot tall Droog at our Clockwork Orange themed ‘Milk Bar’ and there was even a film pub quiz that lasted a marathon 5 hours!

The glamorous closing ceremony hosted by DJ Martin Collins of Magic FM awarded over £3000 worth of prizes and the sponsors; University of Hertfordshire, Blanco, XLN Business Services & Top Talent Acting agency gave out awards to the commendable winners.

It was an astonishing sight to see screenings packed full, working relationships and friendships being forged and most of all to see the community come together to create the solid foundations for a successful annual cultural event. We had spread our wings and successfully flown.

St Albans Film Festival is important for many reasons. Not only does it celebrate local filmmaking talent, but it promotes tourism and boosts local trade. It also educates and inspires the next generation of filmmakers as well.

The festival recently won the St Albans Mayors Pride ‘Cultural Innovation Award,’ which is a huge boost to moral as we gear up for festival number two.

May 1st – 4th 2014 is the date for the Second International St Albans Film Festival and we are delighted to announce that the theme for next year’s festival is BIRDS:  by birds we mean women in film as well as the feathered kind! We will be announcing the programme over the coming months.

If you would like to take the leap and enter the festival, then the deadline for sending in your short film (max 20mins– but the shorter the better) is February 2013. Anyone can enter a short film into the competition and we welcome films of any genre and about any subject. Our categories this year include: Short Films, Music Videos, Animations, Student Films and there is a special category for films made by budding film makers aged between 5 – 15! As we all know, the months fly by, so get creating!

For more information on the upcoming festival or to find out details of how to enter and be a part of our next festival head to http://www.stalbansfilmfestival.com

1 day to go!

This is it! One more sleep and the St Albans Film Festival will be getting into full swing! I genuinely cannot wait to feel the buzz in the air of St Albans that the weekend will bring, and I really hope the weather will hold out too, so the town can embrace this lively, cultural, family-orientated event.

As a student, I often feel we get labelled as troublesome and apathetic, but if there was ever an event to show our good side to the local community (my uni – the University of Hertfordshire is just 10 minutes down the road) the St Albans Film Festival would be it. This last month I have met young local volunteers: giving up their weekend to direct the public, man the box office, check tickets, etc.; student volunteers: getting involved with workshops, filming and interviewing to enhance their degrees; and people like myself who are just darn nosey and want to know and meet everyone they possibly can.

I have been lucky enough this week to get chatting to Abu Ullah, by chance, who’s heading up the team of media students working on filming and interviewing the event, and upon hearing about my blog – he instantly signed me up to one of the teams! Which is so handy, because I now have a little base to check in with and team to fall back on (I’m no longer a Billy  No-mates Blogger! Yay!).

photo of Abu's meeting for student film-making volunteers

Abu’s meeting for student film-making volunteers

I attended a group-meeting run by Abu at the University of Hertfordshire to have a last minute run-through of interviewing techniques and how to use the equipment and was amazed to see an entire classroom of students helping out!

With my new team-role in place, I headed over to St Albans to check in with Leoni, tell her about my chance encounter, and go over the final plans and arrangements for the weekend.

While I was there, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many new additions in the shop (can’t believe it will all be gone next week though!) and was even more delighted to receive my press goody bag of bits! From DVDs to chocolates, CDs to coupons, it was such a lovely, unexpected treat.

goody bag

Surprise goody bag

Then, it was down to business: buying my festival t-shirt, collecting my press pass and organising the events I will be covering (I have so many pretty tickets now!).


Festival clothing


Tickets galore!

I left the shop to Leoni’s chorus of “enjoy the weekend!”. I sure will!

So I sign out now, sitting amongst my mass of charging technologies (phone – check! Camera – check! Flip video camera – check! iPad – check! – all the blogger on-the-go essentials), filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation. Bring on the Festival weekend!

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?