Hannah Higginson

Hannah Higginson

Hannah Higginson's blog

Day Three – Vast Imaginings

Today everyone in the group had a chance to pitch ideas around the strand they are interested in working on, share the experience that they will bring to producing team and highlight what they hoped to get out of the project.  The ideas were brilliantly articulated (the pitching workshop last week seemed to have done the trick) and I finished the session feeling very inspired about the work the group will create.  Some of the things I had scribbled down – in no particular order – were:

I want to work on the Sci-Fi strand because I know nothing about the genre’

Why don’t we film famous movie scenes on people’s mobile phones so people have something to take away

I am interested in collective identifies and Afro-futurism

Children are just like us – only smaller

‘I want people to be immersed in the storyline’

Let’s set up a fictional travel agency

One of my skills is having a vast imagination

Fun Palaces are a celebration of people’s curiosity

We could engage people through the Good Gym

The Rocky Horror show kept going round me head

I have loads of experience of audience led projects

Our panel included Matthew Austin, Co-Director of MAYK. I was reminded of a great list of tips for producers he put together for last year’s programme. I sometimes re-read them myself when a start a project so thought it would be good to share them as we embark on the live projects. 

  • Be an enthusiast – see as much as you can, get involved in things, don’t just restrict yourself to the artform in which you work
  • Always admit when you don’t know the answer to something – it’s much better than trying to fudge your way through something
  • Don’t panic about money. It’s only numbers on a spreadsheet.
  • Make sure you have time to think
  • Say yes to everything for a few months
  • If you smell a rat, stay away. If a project or a job doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t
  • Ask the big people – you’d be surprised who agrees to meet you for a coffee
  • Never think you can do everything
  • Surround yourself with friends and collaborators who can do the things you can’t do
  • Don’t ever get seduced by the comfort of administrating or organising the thing you’re supposed to be doing.
  • Try and compartmentalise. If one aspect of a project is going wrong, don’t let it take over. Acknowledge there’s a problem and find a way to solve it, but don’t let it drag the rest of the project into a vortex of panic
  • Know your audience
  • Always try and think of a different way of doing something
  • Always ask why
  • Be brave
  • Be open to ideas
  • Be a good listener
  • Be a good collaborator
  • Get good at spotting an opportunity and taking advantage of it
  • Be willing to play the long game
  • Be willing to muck in
  • Be nice
  • Have a sense of humour


Day Two: Live Briefs

Day two began with Clare Leczycki (Watershed’s cinema programme coordinator) presenting The British Film Institute’s latest blockbuster season – Days of Fear and Wonder. The season’s theme will run through all three of the live briefs the Future Producers are devising and delivering – Late Night Screenings, Fun Palaces and Family Arts Festival.

Days of Fear and Wonder will take audiences into the unknown through a giant leap into Sci-Fi film and television from October to December 2014. Presented in cinemas and online on BFI Player, and in partnership across the UK with the BFI’s Film Audience Network, the project will feature over one hundred film and television titles, plus spectacular events, must-see film and DVD releases, extra special guests and much more.

The Future Producers will programme a series of late-night screenings and events throughout October as part of Watershed’s Sci-Fi season. They will curate the film titles and programme the offer around the films, such music or a party, to bring a new younger crowd to Watershed.

Jess Hoare (iShed projects coordinator) then introduced the group to Fun Palaces, which will kick start the Sci-Fi season at Watershed over the weekend of Sat 4 and Sun 5 Oct.  Fun Palaces – a national event that aims to explore and celebrate arts organisations as open and fun spaces – are programmed not for audiences but by audiences. Inspired by the Pleasure Gardens, the Fun Palace was designed to link arts and sciences, entertainment and education, in a space welcoming to all – especially young people, who may find institutions daunting.

The Future Producers will  programme Watershed’s SciFi Fun Palace exploring the science behind the fiction in consultation with the audience. Everything they programme will be free and the emphasis is on engaging diverse communities in programming with them and coming along to the event.

Roseanna Dais from the Watershed communications team then presented the final live brief the Future Producers will be developing – the Family Arts Festival. The Arts Council launched the Family Arts Festival last year and over 2,000 events were hosted across the UK. The aim of the festival is to develop the range of arts events and activities available to families. This year’s event will take place from 17 Oct – 2 Nov (half term).

The Future Producers will programme a series of space inspired family friendly events in October half term to sit alongside the screening of E.T. as part of the Sci-Fi season.  They will work with members of the Pervasive Media Studio community and engage a family audience in the often-unseen part of the orgnisaton. The festival is all about enabling all family members to enjoy creative digital cross-artform activities together.

To get them immersed in the briefs the group then took part in a series of activities including Sci-Fi Charades and Pictionary, brainstorming ideas in response to the public consultation about Fun Palaces and playing the Pervasive Media Studio residents DareDevil’s app Challenge Off.

Sci-Fi Pictionary was one of my personal favourites. Can you guess these film titles?

Next week all of the Future Producers will pitch ideas against one of the strands. We will then form them into three groups to work on producing these live projects throughout the duration of the programme.

The group has been asked to include the following for their pitch:

  • What project/season/festival would they be interested in working on?
  • What experience would they bring to the project?
  • What skills would they like to develop through producing the project?
  • Outline their initial ideas in response to the challenge?

They have been asked to think about the following questions when developing their pitch:

  • Are your ideas realistic in-terms of the budget?
  • Have you thought about how you would engage an audience before/during/after?
  • Have you considered how you would connect with communities online?
  • How do your ideas sit in relation to the wider context of Bristol and beyond?
  • Who might you want to collaborate with and why?
  • What would success look like?
  • What do you hope the legacy of your project might be?

Next week we look forward to welcoming Katherine Jewkes, Digital Associate at National Theatre Wales, Matthew Austin, Co-Director of MAYKVictoria Tillotson, Producer at Watershed and Laura Kriefman, founder and choreographer of Guerilla Dance Project to hear their ideas and help us start to shape the work the group are going to produce.

Future Producers 2014 is Go!

Future Producers 2014 starts tomorrow and we are really excited to have Sarah Ellis a Digital Producer at the Royal Shakespeare Company to kick off this year’s programme. Sarah will be sharing with our group of aspiring young producers what she thinks the the role of a producer is in realising exciting ideas that engage audiences.

Sarah’s Midsummer Night’s Dreaming project was a collaboration with Google’s Creative Lab that explored the performance of the play in real-time live and online.  In 2012, she produced the online project for the World Shakespeare FestivalmyShakespeare which searches for  Shakespeare’s digital heartbeat through a data aggregator called Banquo. It searches for references of Shakespeare and his plays through Twitter, Flickr and Ebay. myShakespeare includes a series of think pieces submitted by people from around the world and an international commissioning programme featuring artists from a variety of art forms – Central Saint Martins, Brendan Dawes, Tim Etchells, Will Power, Kate Tempest, Tom Uglow and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa.