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INTERVIEW: Bangor University Film Society

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So, could you each tell me a little bit about yourselves and your role on the committee?

Lee: My name’s Lee Carson, and I’m the President of the society. I study a masters in Film Concept to Screen and have been in the society for three years, the previous two on the committee. It’s been good so far, I’ve really enjoyed it and I like the way we’re going.

Aled: I’m Aled Griffiths, like Lee, I study a masters here as well on the same course and did my undergrad here. This is my second year on the committee, I was on it last year too. I really enjoy the responsibility I have because I’m Vice President, so I like helping Lee out because we work well together. If I ever make a film or direct something I always like to try and get Lee involved in terms of producing and stuff so we clearly know how to run ship together. In terms of this year so far, it’s been going really well. A few hiccups here and there but really looking forward to seeing and working out where we are going. I think we are going in the right direction.

Beau: My names Beau Boogaart and I’m the Equipment Officer of the society, so that means I’m responsible for handling the equipment. I’m also a masters student, but the society allowed me to get onto my masters because I did my undergrad in Linguistics and because I was in the society last year, I made a couple of films and made a portfolio and due to that, I got onto the film masters.

Byron: I’m Byron Dean, I’m not doing a masters. I’m a second year Media and Theatre student. I’m the Secretary, ‘sexy sec’, that’s me. So basically, my job is to support these guys, organise rooms, but also work alongside the guys in terms of bookings for locations, and making their lives a lot easier. It’s nice working with new people every time around, teaching people new aspects of film.

Alun: I’m Alun Humphreys, and I’m a Film Studies student. My position on the committee is Equalities Officer. It’s my responsibility to make sure that everyone is being treated fairly within the society. I am the committee member that helps with the conflict between people. Making sure that everyone is safe and happy on set, helping out with issues that may arise when filming a short film.

Jess: My name’s Jessica Simms and I study English Language. I am the Treasurer for the society, so I’m responsible for looking after the money, making sure the right money goes in and out, as well as helping to fundraise.

Hannah: I’m Hannah Grimston. I’m a Creative Studies student and my position is Social Secretary. I organise socials, fundraising events and organise social media, but I’m also there if you want to have a chat about anything.How has the start of the academic year gone for the society so far?

Lee: I think it’s gone better than anyone could have expected really. We’ve had a huge increase in members, and we started back after the summer expecting bigger things; to get more members, have better projects as such, so we kind of went all out in freshers week and serendipity which really paid off because we got around 3 times the amount of members in the first meeting than we usually get and people seem to be enjoying it as well. It’s not just the numbers but the feedback we’re getting is purely good. Its nice to have first years come along and say how much they’re enjoying it. Not only are they learning about films, but they’re making friends and making them more confident with their course; I don’t think I could be happier with how it’s running.

Aled: It’s cool because two of us were on the committee last year, so we had a slight sense of how things were going and how they should be run. So we took that blueprint and tried to make it slightly better, so for the first time this year we’ve added a film screening element to the society because last year it was just film making and now every Thursday we have film screenings. So we had the Godfather last Thursday (12th October). It seems to be going down really well and we tie those screenings into what comes next with the workshops. So this week’s workshop will be all about directing and we are well under way with our productions at the moment as well. We’ve got 8 groups now making films, and with the massive amount of new people who have joined, we can make more films.

It’s been good so far, I’ve really enjoyed it and I like the way we’re going.

You’ve mentioned the greater interest and the society growing, and with Lee & Aled both being on the committee previously; what changed from last year’s Serendipity and freshers week?

Aled: Definitely upping the socials. We’ve already had more socials this year than we did last, which is insane. The overall production value as well, so better flyers, and we’ve got a new logo now as well which is much better than last years.

Lee: I think a large part of it was that the film society was rebooted a couple of years ago. 2 years ago it was around 10 members and then last year was a lot better.

Aled: Last year was the biggest improvement we saw.

Byron: I can remember compared to last year, the workshops have been a lot more detailed, we’ve got a lot more structure in place in terms of teaching people different concepts of film making.

Aled: Definitely. The biggest thing we’ve tried to implement this year is organisation, so last year we were organising what we were doing maybe the day before. We are now organising it weeks in advance. Like Byron says, the workshops have been much more in-depth.

Byron: A lot more interesting too.

President Lee Carson holding the Film Societies newly designed freshers flyers for Serendipity back in September.

What types of workshops do you offer?

Aled: So there’s 8 crews, each person in that crew has a role. So we have director, writer, cinematographer, sound and editor. Then a committee member is a producer on each of those things. The workshops revolve around each of those roles. So far, we’ve had a writing workshop which went down really well. Next week (17th October), we’ve got the directors’ workshop and after that will be camera, and each committee member teaches those workshops because we all have our own specialities, so Lee is sound and producing, Byron is really good at writing, Beau is into camera.

Lee: They take place every Tuesday at 6pm because we want the people in their production crews to be confident in the skill they’re doing. By throwing them in the deep end to get them to make a film but supporting them as they do it and teaching them the skills that they need. But on top of that we do open it up to anyone who isn’t in those production crews. So if people don’t want to make films but they just want to come along and learn for the week. If they want to work on camera skills or anything else then they can come and sit in.

Aled: For those who are interested in making their first film, the best thing that anyone in the industry can tell you is to jump straight into it. Get on set. That’s where you learn, that’s where you make the mistakes and learn from them.

Having seen some of your productions such as The Decision and The Bag, could you tell me how long is the process in making your film pieces?

Aled: In terms of last year, the first batch of films were made from about September till maybe October and then we took a break until January with the second batch running from about January till May. But this year we’ve extended that first batch because we had that two months of November and December of just nothing, so this time round we’ve already started production, working from now until December on these films before kicking straight into the next one. But last year, in the second batch we had three films made, whereas this year we’re expecting maybe four or five.

So the first batch of films that are made from September to December, will they be shown at socials?

Aled: We’re planning the showcase for that now at the moment. We are hoping to collaborate with the masters students that are currently finishing up their degrees, to make a joint, big event.

Lee: Because of how it ran last year, we spent a month on the first films and had a small screening which was open to the public which will happen again this year and because we spent 5 to 6 months on the second batch of films, we made it into a larger showcase, which will be the main one of the year in Pontio cinema.

For those who are interested in making their first film, the best thing that anyone in the industry can tell you is to jump straight into it.

Have you received any feedback on any of the films you’ve made so far?

Aled: The showcase we had last May went down extremely well. We had members from BAFTA there and a lot of people from the industry too. Lee and I went to a BAFTA event in the summer as well and we spoke to some people who we didn’t even know were there, they didn’t know that we had run it and they said how great they thought it went and the standard of the films were so high. We are definitely looking to replicate that this year for sure.

Lee: And we got good feedback from the school about how they thought it went and we get people who come along to the society who are like ‘we watched this film and it was really great and it’s the kind of stuff I want to do’, which is really cool to hear.

Aled: Its funny because it seems to be everytime that happens, they’re telling that filmmaker that their film was good but they don’t know that that’s the person behind the film. It’s interesting that that is always the case. It’s nice really because a lot of the time, people don’t get the recognition for being behind the camera.

A poster for the film The Decision.

Obviously, you’ve mentioned your socials, your screenings; how have they gone so far?

Aled: Very popular. Hannah, our new Social Secretary, is doing an absolutely stellar job at the moment. Constantly throwing ideas towards us. Last night (Friday 13th October) we had our first themed pub quiz. Her and Beau did a really good job together on the quiz in general, especially how they presented it. The turnout was almost double what we expected and it went down really well. We had a screening afterwards, which again, went down really well. Quite a lot of people stayed which was surprising considering how late it was.

What socials and/or workshops have you got coming up?

Beau: There’s a Halloween social on the 30th October. A pub crawl with all the members hopefully dressing up as film characters.

Aled: You will have just missed our first Pontio partnership screening. We have Pulp Fiction showing on the 26th October, which is a FilmSoc event. The following month, on the 30th November, we’ve got Whiplash in Pontio Cinema, and before that, they will be screening The Decision to make it a FilmSoc event.

You’ve just mentioned Pontio; are they very supportive?

Lee: They are. A few of us were in Pontio with our society hoodies on and Emyr, the man who runs the cinema, came over to us and said ‘oh, you’re the film society? We should get involved!’ And ever since then it’s been emailing and meeting and that’s how we contacted Pontio for the showcase last year and he’s just been more and more keen to get involved this year. So we’ve agreed on a monthly screening that Film Soc sets up. We set a poll for the society and email Emyr the results, meaning we can control our own work as well.

Aled: So typically how it goes is that each of the committee members will select a film. We’ll then poll that for the society and the society will choose what they want screened. We decided on Pulp Fiction just to get the ball rolling and then Whiplash is the first one to have been chosen.

Lee: And then in December, we’re hoping to put out a competition to our society. Maybe a 48-hour filmmaking challenge or something along those lines. The winning entry will then get shown before the feature in Pontio cinema in front of the general public.

Aled: The point of it being a FilmSoc screening is so that we show something of FilmSoc’s beforehand. So after The Decision has been shown, we’re hoping it will whet their appetite enough for them to go ‘I want that sort of exposure’.

Lee: I think it’s good for people to see their own work up on the big screen because it’s the best way to inspire and to see the reception from the general public.

There’s a Halloween social on the 30th October. A pub crawl with all the members hopefully dressing up as film characters… 30th November, we’ve got Whiplash in Pontio Cinema, and before that, they will be screening The Decision to make it a FilmSoc event.

If you had to move to a desert island and you could only take five films with you, what would they be?

Lee: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, American Beauty, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shawshank Redemption, The Little Prince (animated).

Aled: The Shining, Skyfall, Road to Perdition, The Godfather, Elephant

Beau: The Rabbi’s Cat, Comet, Spotlight, Room, Arrival

Byron: La Haine, My Life As A Courgette, About Dr Souffle, Edin, Victoria

Alun: Taxi Driver, Shutter Island, The Dark Knight, Reservoir Dogs, The Conjuring 2

Jess: Gone Girl, Hot Fuzz, La La Land, Trainspotting, Anastasia

Hannah: Trainspotting, Heathers, Labyrinth, Hick, Rocky Horror Picture Show

Don’t forget to follow the Bangor University Film Society on all their social media pages!

 

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Jack Hollinshead

Film Editor 2017/18 Sport Editor 2016/17

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