Thursday, 28 June 2012

Observing people's reactions to the riots last summer was a frustrating experience. In its immediate aftermath any attempt to understand the situation was shouted down with cries of 'feral youth' and 'criminal underclass', as previously liberal minded people started calling for martial law and extolling the merits of the water canon.

Thankfully, as the dust has settled the debate has moved on. There was the Guardian / LSE study, the verbatim theatre production at the Tricycle, the book by Tottenham MP David Lammy. And now this: a feature length documentary called Riot from Wrong. Made by young people, the film promises to bring their unique perspective to the mix - something which has been largely overlooked in discussions surrounding what was after all a youth-led phenomenon. Can't wait to see it.  


Despite our notoriously rubbish weather, summer in the UK is synonymous with music festivals. If you’ve ever found yourself in a muddy field amid a crowd of sweaty revellers thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool to start my own festie?” read this sage advice from three people who did…

Planning it takes ages
So you’ve got a 10k sound system and more mates in bands than you can shake a welly at? Good for you – but to organise a festival properly you also need time. “Start way in advance before the date,” recommends Zaran Vachha, founder of Rivington Street Festival, which took place in venues across Shoreditch for the first time this June. “I started probably a year in advance. I run events all the time but [was surprised at] the volume of people I had to speak to.”

You won’t just be chatting up potential venues, sponsors, bands and stallholders, you also need to get the police and local council onside. And forget creative vision and charisma – this lot want to see your licenses and safety plan. “The most boring safety regulations are what councils and police care about most,” Zaran points out. “You can have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t jump through their hoops the festival’s not going to happen.” Jumping through hoops isn’t as speedy an endeavor as it sounds. Zaran again: “Dealing with councils is a slow process. You have to wait for them to get back to you and can’t really push them to do anything because once you start getting pushy, they’ll just tell you to f**k off.”

Read the full article on IdeasMag.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Stuart Smith has designed photobooks for Elliott Erwitt, Martin Parr and Mark Power, among others. He spills the beans on the photobook design process – and shares some advice for photographers thinking of having a go themselves…

When photographers approach you to design a book, do they usually have a clear idea of what they want? 
It depends. They sort of do but often the goal posts change. They think they know and then we talk about it and find it’s roughly where they want to go but we end up going a different way about it.

What’s the most difficult part of the process? 
Convincing them that I know better.

And how do you do that? 
It just takes time and trust. We’ll have two or three meetings until they get it. And if they don’t get it, we don’t do the book because we don’t get on.

What are the most common mistakes you encounter from photographers?
First of all, it’s too big in size: they think it’s got to be big because their ego’s big. The second problem is it’s too big in content: they don’t edit or they can’t help but put more pictures in. The third problem is probably the order of the pictures, the fourth would be the actual pictures, the fifth would be the title, the sixth would be the positioning of the pictures on the page – they try to do something a bit special or a bit different.

Read the full article on IdeasMag.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Mosaic Films’ Managing Director Andy Glynne has pioneered the use of animation in documentary, winning a BAFTA, among other awards, for his short film series on mental health, Animated Minds. For his latest offering, Seeking Refuge, Andy uses animation to tell the stories of young refugees. Here he tells us why…

I first thought of using animation when I was making documentaries about mental health.

Mental health is very much a subjective experience. To try and convey that through talking heads gives no sense whatsoever what it’s like. My background is as a psychologist; I used to sit with patients who were talking about their difficulties and there’s a struggle to convey what it’s like, but with symbols or metaphors, you can give them another way to express themselves.

As I started getting into animated docs, I came up with a manifesto of when you should [use animation] and when you shouldn’t. Absolutely [you should] when you’re protecting anonymity, when you’re trying to convey internal experiences and when metaphor is better than literal interpretation: if someone’s being tortured and they’re describing what the feeling’s like, for example. There’s a big trend for people to just use animation because they like the idea of having animation in films and I think it’s a waste of money when that happens.

Read the full article on IdeasMag.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Oxfam’s cutting-edge campaigns with Martin Parr, Rankin and Alejandro Chaskielberg prove charity photography has left the clich├ęd, sensationalist images of the past far behind. We ask Oxfam’s Head of Stories, Film and Photography, Kate Pattison, how emerging photographers can use their talent to help others…

What is Oxfam’s policy on how you represent people photographically? 
We believe people should be represented as human beings with dignity. The way you judge whether or not a picture should be used is by thinking: if that was someone in your family, would you want it to be shown? Anything that takes away their humanity, we would never use. It’s also about breaking the stereotype about Africa being this place where people are victims. It’s [about] presenting people in their true light as agents of their own destiny.

There will always be times when it’s important to show the situation as it is – if you’re documenting a humanitarian emergency and people are hungry, ill or injured, we do need to show that. But there are ways of doing it that move away from shocking sensationalism and show people’s humanity and strength – little things like [showing people] holding someone’s hand or cradling a baby.

What’s the best way for a photographer to approach you with their work? 
Do something proactive. We’ve got 800 shops on the high street – go and do some photography in a shop. That’s going to make us think, “Wow you’ve actually done something that shows you’re keen to work for Oxfam”. If you don’t want to do that, just send off your most amazing brilliant picture. Embed it in an email and ask when’s a good time to call.

Read the full article on IdeasMag.

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