I was up way too early for a Saturday. But, I met with Leoni, bright and early to pick up everything for my shift. I also met some of my team of volunteers, and then I made my way down to the Pioneer. On a slightly different, unrelated to film note, The Pioneer club is a youth club/charity in St Albans, which does amazing work within the community. It’s a skatepark on paper, but also hosts local bands and was the birth place of Enter Shikari. It was also my old stomping ground as a teenager. It caters to alternative tastes, allowing kids to be who they want to be without fear of judgement. It promotes an alcohol and drug free environment for kids to socialise and experience music in a safe environment. It’s fallen on hard times recently, with rumours of closure and less and less funding available. It holds a special place in my heart, mostly because when I was a teenager, it made me feel like I had somewhere where I would fit in and it gives me great pride to be able to work, just as a volunteer, with some of the staff there who make it so incredible. You can find out more about it at www.pioneerclub.co.uk.
So the first two events of the day ran together, so I got to see a bit of each.
How to Fight Like a Superhero with Colin Berry
This event last year was hugely successful, so this year Colin Berry, a local personal trainer and street combat specialist hosted a session on combat for screen. This session was all about making choreographed fights on screen look convincing, without actually having to smash each other into oblivion! It was mainly for kids, but we had a couple of keen adults getting involved too! When I finally got a chance to have a look in, I saw that Colin was coordinating the audience in sword fights, (Game of Thrones inspired?). It’s so good to see a different approach to films. Colin’s session was a really good example of how St Albans Film Festival stands out from the crowd, it’s not just about student filmmaking, or screening upon screening of films, it’s about the work which goes into cinema from every different type of professional, not just filmmakers. It was so good to see the kids getting involved, and getting excited about something which you wouldn’t typically associate with cinema. You can follow Colin on Twitter @streetdefence.
Costume and Characterisation: Warner Bros Studio Tour – Harry Potter
Now, I’m not particularly maternal. But I know that a group of thirty under 12’s was going to be a handful. Particularly with Harry Potter. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have never seen a group of children, so focused and fascinated, and so eager and keen. It was incredible. With experts straight from the tour, they came armed with fabric swatches, worksheets, and most importantly Harry Potter costumes. Delicately wrapped and protected with a loving but firm watch, the children were enamoured by these costumes. (It kind of helped that the woman presenting looked a bit like J K Rowling). The children were then invited to make their own Harry Potter costumes, to consider the impact of the costume on the character, and how that character is then presented on-screen. They were asked to consider their characters nature and how this should be reflected in the way they look. In a similar but altogether different way to Colin’s session, the Warner Bros tour encouraged children to think outside the screen, to think about what they are seeing and how that contributes to a film in its own right. It was, without being too cheesy, an absolute joy to behold, and one of the reasons I love volunteering for SAFF.
Premier of The Paddy Lincoln Gang
SAFF saw the British premier of The Paddy Lincoln Gang, an exciting event, which saw the cast and crew turn out for a very special screening of their new film. The turnout for this was exceptional. Well, we couldn’t have expected less considering it was the first time there had been a red carpet at the Pioneer! Amongst the cast and crew was Glen Matlock, the founding member of Brit Punk pioneers The Sex Pistols, who had a cameo in the film. Once all the interviews, photos, videos and screening was done, it was time to invite the real Paddy Lincoln Gang to the stage to perform a live set of music from the film and some of their own material. It is special events like these that will really make St Albans known as a leader in film. It was great to see so many people turn out for this film, and we had some really good feedback from audiences. I unfortunately, didn’t get the opportunity to watch the film properly, so cannot review it. But if you Google it, it comes up with a ton of information, one to check out.
Crash Reel – Sponsored by Oaklands College
Now unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see this, there were some issues with sound and I had to coordinate the ‘fixing’ of said sound issues, so I didn’t get to sit down (or at least stand!) and watch the film, which I was really disappointed about. Everything I have heard about this film is incredible, so I’m hoping to get a copy over the next few weeks and then review it as a retrospective. Sorry geeks!
So again, I want to thank all my volunteers, particularly for putting up with a particularly demanding event, being there to help out, even if it was boring ticket taking! And my biggest thanks goes to Anne at the Pioneer. Not only does she work tirelessly at the Pioneer as a sort of surrogate mother figure but she is the chairman of the charity, and does amazing work keeping everything the Pioneer stands for going. She was incredibly supportive of me and my volunteers, and everything in the festival.
For more on the festival visit www.stalbansfilmfestival.com where you’ll find links to their Flickr and blog.