Friday, 27 June 2014

... and so it ends.

Source:, taken from 'Pocahontas' (1995), directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg

It is so weird how time flies when you are having a good, creative time. The festival is officially over and even though I am quite relieved that it is done, I cannot help but feel a little bit melancholic at the same time. Working at the EEFF has been an amazing experience for me and so have the 2 weeks of the actual festival. I got to work with new people and explore new, interesting aspects of the job (namely venue managing and what the work of a runner entails), I had the chance to meet and take care of foreign directors and producers who visited the festival but did not really knew anyone else in the city, and came across people that could potentially be beneficial during job seeking after this MA is over. 

After the intensity of the first few days, things got more chilled as time passed, since we had fewer and fewer responsibilities, as time passed. The most integral part of the last days was... partying. I am saying this in all seriousness. Festival guests that came to London for a few days wanted to see what the night life of the city has to offer, and the EEFF team was more than happy to show them around. Apart for been good hosts, going out at night after a hard day's work also helps to bring the team closer, as well as offers networking opportunities, especially in the festival parties, where a lot of people of the industry are gathered together, having fun, and getting drunk, which makes it easier for them (but also for me) to talk to them. It might sound weird, but parties are indeed a vital part of a festival, not only because of the fact that practically everyone likes dancing and drinking, but also because it reinforces team spirit and gives a sense of community to audience and guests.

Parties and fun aside, there is nothing that can make a festival worker happier than listening to directors and producers saying how pleased they are with the co-operation and how thankful they are for all our help. It makes it all worthwhile to know that the filmmakers are satisfied with how it went. That is practically the very reason we are all doing this!

It is always sad to say goodbye to something you love. On the bright side, this experience gave me so much insight into how film festivals are run, that I will be forever grateful to everyone that I got to work together with this year. My negotiation skills got better, thanks to the King's Professional Skills programme and of course the practice that I did during my internship (securing films with a low screening fee is not an easy job, but sales agents and producers are always happy to lower the price for a better position in the programme that will offer more exposure) and I got more confident and fluent (even though I still need to work on my accent, as my Director stated that 'your written speech is better than your oral'). Furthermore, I found out what my strengths and weaknesses are and how I can sell my skills to a new employer, and, most importantly, I was able to secure a couple of interviews because of my experience here. Plus, it was quite satisfying putting things I learned in this MA into practice. 

There is still a long way to go till I reach my highest career aspirations, and a lot of things yet to learn but, as they say, 'you have to start somewhere', and my start was pretty brilliant! 

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

So it begins...


Things I realised after the first 4 days of the festival:
a) There is a hell of a lot of things that can go wrong when you are working on an event
b) Working at a festival can be unhealthily stressful
c) I love this job (well, I realised that about 2 months ago, but it bears repeating)

The East End Film Festival kicked off last Friday with the spectacular Opening Night Gala at Genesis Cinema, that included the World Premiere of Dermaphoria, special guest Ron Perlman, a fancy party at Trapeze, lots of alcohol, and exciting networking opportunities. It is really hard to describe with words the feeling that I had during the Opening Night Gala; it was a mixture of excitement, anxiety and relief, mostly because everything worked out fine, at least as far as my responsibilities are concerned.

However, there were a lot of things that went wrong in the first couple of days, proving that running any kind of events requires you to think on your feet and be resourceful. The first few days I got to help out with the management of the EEFF events at Red Gallery, which included Grits 'N' Gravy. Grits 'N' Gravy was the first event that took place in that venue, during the first day of the festival, and things actually got kind of messy. The space was not fully decorated when guests and audience arrived, and due to the fact that it was the first day of screenings, some short films were not properly screen tested and we had to cancel the screening of two of them because, as it turned out, the copies we had were defective. The manager of the venue did her best with what she got but unfortunately it was not enough for a perfect day. Luckily, our guests were happy with the turnout, even though not even half of the venue was full. At least, we were better prepared for the rest of the events there; we took better care of the venue's appearance, screen and sound tested all of the films on time, and advertised the rest of the events better. For instance, on Sunday we had a full house at the World Premiere of a documentary about the Levellers, which was followed by a concert from the iconic indie rock band.

As far as One Stop Film Shop is concerned, all of its activities finished on Saturday and there were a lot of things that one needs to take into account for next year (that is, if they plan to do the same thing next year). First of all, nobody really cares for short talks on film related subjects and that was quite obvious from the minimal turn out. However, a lot of people showed up for the screenings. Especially on Saturday, when we screened the Top 15 films from the My London Film Competition, that the festival organised along with Time Out London. That was even more satisfying for me, because I had the idea for that screening; a way to thank the contestants for their submissions and honour the creme of the crop. Moreover, the space was beautiful, cosy and arty and it increased the visibility of the festival. A lot of people were getting inside asking for information and getting flyers and programmes, proving that such a space can be beneficial for the festival, but only as long as there are more activities and screenings going on inside.

It is quite obvious that festivals need a lot of attention to detail, and extremely good organisation and communication between the whole team. Also, venue managing is super interesting! It might be extremely stressful, but at the same time it is so fulfilling seeing people leaving the venue satisfied, with a smile in their faces. 

By the way, I already met a director, a producer and two actors. That is my payment for all the free work that I have been doing! 

Monday, 9 June 2014

As long as I work, so long do I learn.

Source:, taken from 'An Education' (2009), directed by Lone Scherfig

There are three things that I learned from this last, stressful week:

a) In the Cultural and Creative Industries you need to feel comfortable working on your own, but you should also not be intimidated by working with a big team. Communication might be relatively tricky but on the bright side, there are so many things you can learn from people that come from different backgrounds, and even countries. Employers expect you to be able to work autonomously, but also willing to cooperate with others, since nothing in the CCIs can be planned, organised and executed thoroughly without somebody's assistance. For instance, film festivals require people that acquire different kinds of expertise. You need to have someone in control of marketing/social media, content (online and physical), print traffic, press, hospitality, awards, venues, transport, graphic design, events, sponsors, and so on. It is physically impossible for one person to deal with all of these, but it is also highly unlikely for anything to work without the smooth collaboration between employees from different departments. For example, the one responsible for hospitality needs to talk with the Head of Programming and find out who is invited to the festival, then work with the marketing team in order to advertise the guest's arrival, and so on.

b) If you wish to work in events, you really need to master your time management skills. In my case, One Stop Film Shop appeared in the last minute, and it's incredibly stressful to organise a full week of activities just a week before they are actually launched. I had to brainstorm for ideas of activities, including screenings and talks, then find the contact details of people that we wanted to invite, email them with our idea, or even call them if they fail to reply to us quickly. Since I was not really working there full time, I had to arrange everything perfectly time-wise, and luckily everything turned out just fine, at least as far as programming is concerned. It remains to be seen if this venture will turn out right. By the way, the space is absolutely stunning. Judge for yourselves here.


c) One of Alison's advises during my research for speakers for One Stop film Shop, was to look for people that work at the Tech City, since most of the talks we were planning had to do with film and technology. I was not really familiar with the fact that London had its own version of Silicon Valley, let alone that it was located in East London. According to this infographic from MIT Technology Review (n.d.), it turns out that Tech City is one of the largest technology clusters in the world, that expands from Old Street to Stratford, with most of the companies concentrated around Shoreditch (BBC, 2010)

That realisation was particularly interesting due to the act that I feel like I am applying things that I learned from this MA in practice. According to Porter (1998), a cluster is a geographic concentration of companies, suppliers and institutions that specialise in specific sectors, and are competing but also co-operating with each other. It is like a city within a city, a place where cultural products are created and consumed at the same time.

From an academic perspective, Tech City is quite interesting, as far as theories of co-location are concerned. As Comunian and Chapain has stated (2010), through co-location the CCIs create a network that provides networking opportunities, the advantage of geographical proximity that allows workers to check out their competition and interact face-to-face with colleagues from other companies, thus giving a strong sense of belonging to the CCI workers, who connect their creative work with a specific place. It would be really interesting to explore how that particular part of London came to be the centre of technological advances of the capital, and how it adds to the city's marketability in a touristic sense. It is too late to change my dissertation topic now, right?

  • BBC, 2010. Cameron reveals Silicon Valley vision for east London. BBC, [online] 4 November 2010. Available at: [Accessed on 8 June 2014].
  • Chapain, C. and Comunian, R., (2010). Enabling and Inhibiting the Creative Economy: The Role of the Local and Regional Dimensions in England. Regional Studies, [online] 44:6, pp. 717-734. Available at: [Accessed 9 June 2014].
  • MIT Technology Review, n.d.. World Innovation Clusters. [infographic online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2014].
  • Porter, M.E. On Competition. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998.